Category Archives: Financial planning

Will Congress — new or old — do anything about expiring tax breaks?

The election is over, the people in their infinite wisdom have spoken…but here we are in mid-November and we still don’t know for sure what the tax laws are going to be for this year.

The problem is that a bunch of tax breaks and benefits have not been extended to 2014. These include:
–The $4,000 deduction for higher education tuition & fees.
–Deductions for state and local sales taxes.
–The ability to donate up to $100,000 from your IRA to a charity instead of taking a taxable required minimum distribution.
–The $250 deduction for classroom expenses for teachers in grades K-12.
–Credits of up to $500 for energy-efficient home improvements.
–The ability of businesses to write off more than $25,000 in new asset purchases.

The Wall Street Journal summarized tax breaks it thought Congress should address. A lame-duck session might do something about all of this. Or it might do nothing. But either way, until we know for sure what the tax laws are for 2014, the IRS can’t finish programming its computers, which means that this is likely to be another tax season in which taxpayers will be unable to file their returns in early or even late January.

Watch this space for an update.

Paying for college when you can’t pay for college

Every year I consult with clients who have children applying to college and who don’t have enough saved–or don’t have anything saved–to cover the costs of a higher education. In The New York Times, Ron Lieber has a good piece guiding parents–savers and non-savers alike–to figuring out how much a school might actually cost you… Continue Reading

How Oregon is helping a billionaire save some bacon on Bacon

There are two current mysteries about Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucien Freud. First, who paid $142.4 million, the most ever paid for a work of art at auction, in November for the triptych? Second, why is it currently being displayed a mere three miles from my home, in the well-regarded-but-let’s-face-it-not-internationally-renowned Portland Art Museum? Can’t… Continue Reading

Morningstar says, “Go west — or east — for college savings plans.”

Morningstar, the mutual fund reviewer and financial advisory firm, has come out with its ratings of Section 529 college savings plans, with top ratings going to plans in Alaska, Utah, Nevada and Maryland. Morningstar’s top-rated plans: Alaska’s T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.), Maryland’s College Investment Plan (T.… Continue Reading

It’s hard to hang a tax break on a thong

Repeat after me: Just Because You Wear It For Business Doesn’t Make It Deductible I want my small business clients to write off every expense they’re entitled to. Supplies, business travels, meals, conferences–we take everything that’s allowed. I get very skeptical, though, when they start telling me how much they had to spend on business-related… Continue Reading