How to prevent your own fiscal cliff

While our representatives in Washington attempt to come up with a plan to avoid a national financial cliff, many of my clients are attempting to deal with the uncertainty that abounds.  My advice is to focus on what you know, and what you can control.
Here’s a short list of the more significant tax changes scheduled for January:

  • In California, sales tax will increase by .25%.
  • Medical deductions on your Federal return will have to exceed 10%, and not 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income.
  • Flexible spending account deductions will be reduced. READ MORE

HARP 2.0 to the rescue

If watching home values fall and gas prices go up leaves you feeling like you’re caught in the middle and being squeezed real hard, it may be time to make some changes in the financial areas that you can control.  For most people, the place to start is with housing expenses.
If your housing expense is your largest expense, you may want to downsize or refinance.  Can’t refinance because your home is underwater?  Now you may be able to — thanks to HARP 2.0. READ MORE

Coming to your mail box soon…cost basis decisions!

Some of you may have already received a notice from your mutual fund companies or your brokerage firms asking what method you would like used to determine the cost basis of your holdings.  Perhaps you’re not sure 

 what cost basis is, 
 what are the different methods to calculate cost basis,
 which method is best for you, or how you will make a choice,
 and why you’re even being asked? READ MORE

The $5,800 – $11,600 tax deduction you could be missing

Why Health Savings Accounts (HSA)s Look Better than Ever Since I entered the insurance business in 1983, I have never seen so little information available to buyers on such an important decision as health care. I teach insurance planning, for goodness sakes, and even I have trouble rooting out critical issues in my own Blue Shield policy.To put it bluntly — buyers beware. And be educated! READ MORE

Hidden costs and lost deductions

As you may or may not remember, I do some tax preparation. I say “some” as I just began doing individual income tax preparation last year. Well, this year I had the opportunity to do the taxes of a retiree with significant assets and investment income. And as I saw the total tax liability rise, I began to look for deductions. Finally it struck me that there must be some offsetting investment expenses.


Will 2008 tax laws put you in the breeze or leave you high and dry?

Here are a couple of the most relevant changes that will affect or benefit most of you. If you want to read highlights on all the changes or you want more detail, the IRS web page has a great article.

In the Breeze
A first time home buyer credit of up to $7,500 is available for homes purchased from 4/9/08 – 6/30/09. “First Time” really means any individual who has not owned a home for the last three years.  READ MORE