How To Plan For Retirement by Salvatore Candela

The IRS is set to begin receiving tax returns on the 27th.

That means, it’s about to get VERY busy around here. Which is exactly how we like it.

We’ve been preparing since the summer for this year’s tax return process, integrating all of the nuggets we’ve been unearthing within the “new” (as of last year) tax code that we now operate under, and we are pretty excited about putting our knowledge to work on behalf of our clients.

So, again: there are many good reasons to get in here as early as possible. I covered them last week, but briefly:

  1. Get your (potential) refund sooner
  2. Peace-of-mind to get the paperwork monkey off your back
  3. Get ahead of the fraudsters
  4. Make any plans to get any amount owed handled without being in scramble-mode
  5. Get a jump on using the entire 2020 calendar year for effective tax planning (to save even MORE next year)
  6. Get a good spot on our calendar before it gets full!

That’s a bunch of good reasons.

Now when we DO meet with our clients, we are picking through history — we are helping you sort through your 2019 and make sure that the numbers match … AND, of course, that YOU are able to take advantage of every possible legal and ethical method to hold on to your hard-earned dollars (or sometimes receive a nice bump in your supply from a refundable tax credit).

But we also like to spend time future-casting.

That means that we get to be ones who dream with you — ones (beside you and your spouse) who focus not just on accurately recording “history” but also about the real-world implications for what life will look like down the line.

And when we do this, it makes me wonder if financial counselors do the same thing with retirement?

In fact, I know that some of them do.

But, on the chance that your particular financial planner only pays attention to the numbers, and doesn’t help you evaluate some of the other components of your retirement situation, here’s a few ideas for some practical things you can do.

Would you add anything to this list? I’d be interested in your comments…

How To Plan For Retirement by Salvatore Candela

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

When you’ve hit a certain stage of life, you shouldn’t just plan for retirement, you should rehearse for it. 

Because retirement can last multiple decades, it’s more important than ever that “pre-retirees” (those who plan to retire in five to seven years) practice how they want to live without work as the organizational focus of their lives.

Test different living-style options

For example, many Queens people dream of selling the family home and traveling in an RV or going abroad. Practice this by renting a camper and going on the road for a long vacation. You may discover that travel is exhausting or boring to you.

The same holds true for relocation dreams. Rent a home where you think you may want to retire to see if it really is where you’d like to move. The weather may not suit you, or the community may not be your cup of tea. Work out these details before you commit to an expensive change.

Get your marriage prepared

Most couples spend much of their early years working and, thus, spending much of their time apart. It may take some time to get used to the other person’s schedule, habits, and routines.

Make sure you can live on a set budget

Most Queens retirees’ income is significantly less than their preretirement income. Add up all the Social Security benefits, pension income, and 401(k) and IRA savings to calculate what you can realistically expect to live on each month. Then live on that amount for a month to determine what changes, if any, you need to make to your plans.

I hope this all helps! Again, we’d love to dream-plan with you about this when we see you this year, even if just for a few minutes while we look over your return information.

But just know that even if that conversation isn’t something you’re ready for, we’ve got your taxes covered.

To your family’s financial and emotional peace…

 

Salvatore Candela

(718) 894-1500

The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC

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2019 Tax Planning and Almost Completely True Facts About Salvatore Candela

Yes, here I am again — and yes, I know the W-2’s haven’t arrived, and you might not have begun to really think about little ol’ Salvatore Candela and your taxes yet. But today I want to offer you some reasons why … well, you should.

In fact, there are LOTS of good reasons.

For instance: get your refund sooner.

Yes — I’ve written before (and will again) of the many reasons why you don’t want to “allow” your hard-earned money to be held by the US Treasury Department on your “behalf” so that they can (oh so kindly) “refund” it back to you after you file your taxes. But not everyone listens. That’s okay.

And yes, if you’re due a big refund, you might even want it sooner — and we have options that can help you do that quick.

But there are other reasons too. Reasons like…

2) Peace of Mind. Get that paperwork monkey off your back. In fact, don’t EVER let it even be on your back. Let us do the heavy lifting.

3) FRAUD. Tax time is famous for criminals grabbing Queens identities and filing fraudulent returns. The sooner YOUR returns are filed means the less risk for someone to hack your information, and take YOUR money. Get ahead of the criminals.

4) Make plans for what you might owe. This is way less fun. But you know what’s even LESS fun? Scrambling to avoid penalties in a couple weeks (or even worse — days), because the return was filed in April … and you have to make fast decisions about a big number. Yikes. (But again — we’re here for you, even then. But it isn’t fun for anyone.)

5) To start early on 2020 tax planning. Let’s clear the deck ASAP and get you as clean a slate as possible to be proactive about this year’s taxes. 2019 is already in the rearview, but we can do things NOW to help.

6) Our calendar will be getting full. The sooner you get your stuff to us, the sooner we can do our thing. And as you’ll see in a moment, you WANT us on your side.

And you might be wondering: “Should I use Salvatore Candela’s team for my taxes this year?”

Well, with apologies to a certain lawman based out of Texas named “Walker”, I have put together some very true, not-at-all-made-up FACTS which might help you answer that question.

2019 Tax Planning and Almost Completely True Facts About Salvatore Candela

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Looking for reasons to use our services this year? Try these on for size. There is even a decent chance that at least some of them are true.

1) Salvatore Candela does not sleep after tax season, but only waits.

2) When the IRS Man goes to sleep each night, he checks his closet for signs of Salvatore Candela. Carefully.

3) Salvatore Candela can lead a horse to water AND make it drink — and analyze a prior-year tax return at the same time.

4) Salvatore Candela counted to infinity — twice. The IRS is still counting.

5) When Salvatore Candela falls into the water, Salvatore Candela doesn’t get wet. Water gets Salvatore Candela. And all documentation is still preserved.

6) Salvatore Candela CAN believe it’s not butter. Treasury agents think that it is probably butter.

7) Salvatore Candela doesn’t read the tax code … but simply stares it down until the information submits.

8) Salvatore Candela can divide by zero. Legally.

9) If you look closely, you can see Salvatore Candela in every scene of Avengers EndGame. Captain America was grateful for the tax advice.

10) Salvatore Candela has never blinked over the course of life. Never. Unlike the IRS when they pick up the phone and Salvatore Candela is on the line.

11) Salvatore Candela once fixed an incorrect tax return by 
simply looking at it. With eyes of fire.

12) Salvatore Candela has never been “away” on vacation. Resort locations come to Salvatore Candela. Even during tax season.

13) Salvatore Candela never hides, but only seeks. And always on your behalf.

Don’t you feel better with Salvatore Candela on your side? Only certain parts of this are actually true, of course. But I’ll leave it to you to figure out which parts.

And all kidding aside — I want you to know how deeply we appreciate the opportunity to serve you and your family with your tax work. With tax season coming at us, it’s important that I communicate that we are so grateful for the chance to put our very specific set of skills to work on your behalf.

We’re here to help. Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Salvatore Candela

(718) 894-1500

The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC

Salvatore Candela’s 2019 Tax Documents List

The new decade is finally in full swing.

With big holidays the last couple weeks, you might be like me — this week is when the real work begins. The work of doing something NOW to start in on those goals for the year.

As I recently wrote: it’s not about the goals … intentions backed up by ACTIONS are what matter.

But wait — 2019 isn’t actually over yet.

No, I’m not stuck in the past. But hey there, it’s me, Salvatore Candela — your friendly, Queens TAX professional.

And I hate to break it to you, but we’ll be reliving your 2019 decisions here in the next few months when we complete your tax return. I hope that’s not too scary of a thought.

The very good news (if you’re my client) is that my team and I have big sleeves, and lots of tricks up in them to keep your tax bill as low as (ethically and legally) possible. And yes, that’s even if we choose together to opt for the standard deduction.

Those who know, know.

Now, the start of actual tax filing will not begin until January 27th (this is UPDATED from last week). That means that the IRS won’t be issuing refunds or otherwise officially accepting returns until that time.

And as in recent years, the IRS will delay processing (by 2-3 weeks) those income tax returns that have the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC). Some shady characters have used those credits in the past for shady things (hence the issuance delays), but there ARE other options for faster refunds, if that’s something you want to explore.

So yes … living in 2019 again with good ol’ Salvatore. But let’s make that process smooth, shall we? Here’s my annual list of things you should start pulling together as soon as you can…

Salvatore Candela’s 2019 Tax Documents List

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”  – Henry David Thoreau

Filing your taxes on your own is not for the faint of heart. That’s even with nice-looking softwares on the market which purport to make it easy for you.

But that’s what we’re here for. Let *us* make it easy for you.

Below is a list of what you will need during the tax preparation process. Not all of them will apply to you — probably MOST will not. Nonetheless, it’s a useful checklist.

Before you get overwhelmed: yes, this is a long list — but it’s the unfortunate reality of our tax code that it’s not even comprehensive! But these items will cover 95% of our clients. Really, this is for ensuring that we’re able to help you keep every dollar you can keep under our tax code.

Also note: Certain deductions went away this year, that we’re used to handling on behalf of our clients. And some that you might be used to as well. This list has changed a little, and I’ve notated additional changes coming down the pike.

But again … we will be your guide. That’s what we’re here for.

Even if for some strange reason you won’t be using our cost-effective services this year, feel free to use this list as a handy guide…

Personal Data
Social Security Numbers (including spouse and children)
Child care provider tax I.D. or Social Security Number

Employment & Income Data
W-2 forms for this year
Tax refunds and unemployment compensation: Form 1099-G
Miscellaneous income including rent: Form 1099-MISC
Partnership and trust income
Pensions and annuities
Alimony received
Jury duty pay
Gambling and lottery winnings
Prizes and awards
Scholarships and fellowships
State and local income tax refunds
Unemployment compensation

Health Insurance Information

NOTE — As it says on the IRS health insurance information page, form 1040 will not have the “full-year health care coverage or exempt” box and Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, will no longer be used. You need not make a shared responsibility payment or file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, with your tax return if you don’t have minimum essential coverage for part or all of 2019.

* All 1095-A Forms from Marketplace providers (if you purchased insurance through a Marketplace)
* Records of credits and/or advance payments received from the Premium Tax Credit (if claiming)

Homeowner/Renter Data
Residential address(es) for this year
Mortgage interest: Form 1098
Sale of your home or other real estate: Form 1099-S
Second mortgage interest paid
Real estate taxes paid
Rent paid during tax year
Moving expenses (if in active military, and moving for new orders)
Reimbursements for moving (counts as ordinary income)

Financial Assets
Interest income statements: Form 1099-INT & 1099-OID
Dividend income statements: Form 1099-DIV
Proceeds from broker transactions: Form 1099-B
Retirement plan distribution: Form 1099-R
Capital gains or losses

Financial Liabilities
Auto loans and leases (account numbers and car value) if vehicle used for business
Student loan interest paid
Early withdrawal penalties on CDs and other fixed time deposits

Automobiles
Personal property tax information
Department of Motor Vehicles fees

Expenses
Gifts to charity (receipts for any single donations of $250 or more)
Unreimbursed expenses related to volunteer work
Investment expenses
Job-hunting expenses
Education expenses (tuition and fees)
Child care expenses
Medical Savings Accounts
Adoption expenses

Self-Employment Data
Estimated tax vouchers for the current year
Self-employment tax
Self-employment SEP plans
Self-employed health insurance
K-1s on all partnerships
Receipts or documentation for business-related expenses
Farm income

Deduction Documents
State and local income taxes (note: $10,000 limit, as last year)
IRA, Keogh and other retirement plan contributions
Medical expenses
Other miscellaneous deductions

An important thing to understand is that we will guide you through the process, and that although much has changed this year, we are on top of these changes on your behalf.

We’re here to help. Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Salvatore Candela

(718) 894-1500

The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC

Salvatore Candela’s Guidelines for Setting Financial Goals You Can Keep

Just like last week, this week straddles the holidays, and so regular routines are still a little choppy, probably, for you.

And here at Team The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC, we’re working HARD on end-of-year moves for various Queens clients, as I write this, knowing that EVERYTHING changes on Wednesday of this week (which might already be past by the time you read this).

It’s a whole new decade, which I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere. 😉

And, in my opinion, these upcoming weeks are actually crucial to how the rest of your decade goes. 

Why? Because intentions backed up by ACTIONS are what matters.

No, I certainly don’t subscribe to a mystical law of attraction — but I DO believe that how we act out what we intend to do sets a subconscious belief system in place which can have an impact for months — and even years (decades?) — at a time.

In other words — do what you *intend* to do this week, and it’ll be much easier to carry that forward into the rest of 2020 … and the entire decade. At least, that’s been my experience.

What about you? Do you find the beginning of the year to be full of opportunity? Or is it full of discouragement? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

And as I mentioned, for my staff and me … it’s certainly full of preparation. This is one of our most intense years of groundwork for tax season, simply because we continue to uncover fun little nuggets within the tax code that we are using on behalf of our clients.

Also, an important note: the start of actual tax filing will not begin until January 20, 2020 for most returns. This does NOT mean that we can’t begin the preparation process earlier (we can, if you really have your paperwork in order), but it does mean that the IRS won’t be issuing refunds or otherwise officially accepting returns until that day.

The IRS is also continuing to delay processing (by 2-3 weeks) of those income tax returns that have the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC), since these credits have often been the focus of misuse and abuse. There are other options for faster refunds, if that affects you and is something that matters to your situation.

So, let’s turn the page into the 20’s today, shall we?

Salvatore Candela’s Guidelines for Setting Financial Goals You Can Keep

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” -John W. Gardner

At the risk of making you feel badly, I should tell you that for every seven years you delay saving and investing for the future, you cut in half the income you might enjoy at the end of your life. So, let’s make 2020 the year we finally do this thing right together.

Here are some guidelines, should you choose to accept them…

1) Set goals that are attainable … and share them.

First, ask the right questions, and stay the course until you’ve found the answers. Goals that are shared are ten times more likely to be acted on. Don’t wait until you have everything set up to seek out accountability.

2) Make the goals CLEAR (and concrete) then write them down.

Set your savings goals as a specific annual percentage of your adjusted gross income (AGI). It’s a great idea to save at least 10% of your AGI in tax-free retirement accounts and another 5% toward retirement in taxable investments. If you are behind on your savings, you may want to save even more in order to catch up.

3) Identify the strategy to meet those financial goals.

This should include prioritizing the appropriate retirement vehicles. Start by investing just enough to get the entire match from your company’s 401(k) plan (if you have one), and then fund your Roth IRA accounts next. After these two, make certain you have enough non-retirement savings.

4) Set it so you can forget it.

Automating the deposit of money in an employer-defined contribution plan is easy. Automating a taxable savings plan is just as painless. Most banks or brokers offer an automatic money link between an investment account and a checking account. They should also offer a monthly automatic transfer between the two accounts.

Going into further detail would entail sitting down and creating a true, full financial plan — which is impossible over a blog post (though very doable in person).

But I will say one last thing: the most critical component of wealth management in the new year will be AGI minimization. It’s never been more important to monitor the number upon which the IRS is basing their picture of you. Let us help you do it right.

Warmly,

 

Salvatore Candela

(718) 894-1500

The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC

Salvatore Candela’s Annual Holiday Prayer

Congress has been busy.

They’re home for the holidays, but before they left, they passed a flurry of bills that you might be interested in.

Oh, and yes … the House impeached the President. There is also that. I make no comment about that, but I DID want you to see these provisions that had been set to expire (but which are now extended into the 2019 tax year — and in some cases retroactively “extended” so that they would apply to 2018).

Specifically, they extended…

  • The ability to exclude from gross income the amount of discharged debt in connection with the reworking of a mortgage on your principal residence.
  • The option to count private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums as qualified residence interest and deduct it as an itemized expense.
  • The continuation of the 7.5 percent deduction floor for itemized medical expenses.
  • The renewal of the educational above-the-line deduction for tuition and qualified fees.

They also passed the SECURE Act, which is worthy of its own note in the future.

But I also want to share with you my annual holiday prayer here, especially in this age of impeachment and social media-driven antagonism, as it seems … pertinent.

At least we have the holidays.

But even these can so easily become stressful. Because whatever your faith background, it’s hard to ignore the holiday clamor. In my opinion, it’s a crying shame that a season of reflection and prayer would become transformed into something so… busy. It’s almost as if we now have to rush around to purchase or artificially create these nostalgic moments, when they probably would have earlier happened on their own.

Now look — as a proud Queens business owner, I have no problem with people earning money during this season … I just wonder when it’s time to say “enough”?

Maybe it really is the holidays, because as I’ve been meeting with Queens clients recently, I’ve discovered that many of you are worried and stressed — about finances, business problems, family, personal circumstances, etc. It’s not my job to save the world on your behalf of course, but I do get to be somebody in your world who can encourage you to slow down, take a breather and keep your perspective on what’s really important.

Salvatore Candela’s Annual Holiday Prayer

“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” – William Butler Yeats

“God, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

“Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

“Remind us, Lord, that the scary-looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares …

“Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slowly through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

“Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Amen.”

Warmly,

 

Salvatore Candela

(718) 894-1500

The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC

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