What’s Love Got to Do With Leadership?

What’s the most important attribute of a good leader? While it’s difficult to pinpoint one single overarching attribute, exceptional leaders usually have love. One of the main reasons for this is that love brings out the best in people, no matter the situation. 

So if you’re a leader looking to get the most out of the people you lead, then learn to love them. Here’s how you can lead with love

Always be encouraging – whenever someone is struggling, give him or her hope by offering encouragement. It might be the difference they need. 

Show appreciation – make sure you show those you lead appreciation whenever possible. Let them know when they’ve done something good. 

Be flexible and empathetic – set the expectations and be prepared to enforce them. But you should also be sensitive to others’ needs. 

Listen – leaders who love know how to truly listen. They’re open to ideas and suggestions from those they lead. They aren’t afraid to keep learning and growing. 

Teach, don’t criticize – people will make mistakes. No one is perfect. But rather than criticize, leaders who love take those moments to teach and train. That makes a huge difference in helping people learn from their mistakes and get better. 

Mean what you say – it’s easy to pretend to care. But good leaders really do care about the people they lead. So when you ask someone how he or she is doing, make sure you mean it.

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Is Your Large Tax Refund a Good Thing?

What’s the best part of tax season? When it ends, right? Well, for many taxpayers that might be the answer. But for millions, the fact that they get a large refund is probably what comes to mind. A big tax refund might seem like a great thing on the surface. Who doesn’t like to get a bunch of extra money? 

The problem is, in most cases, that money is not really extra. The fact is it’s actually money you could’ve had at your disposal throughout the year. It’s money you could’ve used for several other things, including savings or investing. 

Instead, that money goes to the government, which can then collect interest on it. That means you’re not collecting interest on it, or using it for anything else. Just think of how useful that extra money might be if you have an emergency come up during the year. It could make a huge difference in your overall financial picture. 

If you’re refund is large, you would be smart to make some adjustments in order to reduce it. Start by checking your W-4 to make sure your withholding amount is accurate. You don’t want your employer to withhold too much, or too little. 

Once you start seeing the extra money in your paycheck, you shouldn’t go out and blow it. It’s smart to put that extra cash into your savings. That will give you a safety net in case of an emergency, or in case you haven’t withheld enough.

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The Big Changes You Need to Know Before Tax Day

It’s safe to say this could be one of the most interesting tax filing seasons in the last several decades. This is the first year of filing taxes under the new Tax Cut and Jobs Act. And that means there are significant changes you need to be aware of this tax season.  

But first, the tax fling season begins January 28 and returns are due on April 15. The shutdown may or may not cause a delay in getting your refund. But it will definitely reduce your chances of getting assistance from the IRS. So what about those big changes? Here’s what you need to know. 

There is no more personal exemption. That means you will no longer be able to claim a personal exemption of $4,050 for you and each of your dependents.  

You can now get a $500 temporary credit for non-child dependents, such as adult children with disabilities and elderly parents. 

You can no longer claim a deduction on all your state and local taxes (SALT). You can claim up to $10,000, but anything over that amount in no longer deductible.  

Your mortgage interest is still deductible, but only up to $750,000 of your mortgage debt. The amount was lowered from $1 million last year. But this does not affect homes already purchased before 2018. 

Several other tax deductions have also been eliminated, including:  

  • Tax preparation 
  • Alimony payments 
  • Disaster expenses 
  • Moving expenses 
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Will the Shutdown Delay Your Tax Refund?

Whether or not you’re following the government shutdown, eventually it could affect you. For most people, life has continued as normal since the federal government decided to shut down late last year. 

If you don’t work for the government, then chances are you haven’t noticed any significant changes to your daily routine. However, the 2019 tax season officially kicked off on January 28. And the shutdown could start to affect just about everyone at that time. 

While the IRS has said it will begin accepting tax returns on the 28, that doesn’t mean taxpayers will get their refunds on time. Much of the IRS staff will not be working during the shutdown. An IRS spokesperson would not say how long the delay would need to last for tax refunds to be delayed. 

However, for the millions of taxpayers that file early, a delay is very likely. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to file. Even if you choose to wait, it’s still a good idea to get everything ready to file your return. If refunds do take longer to be processed, by filing early, your refund will be one of the first ones processed when the IRS does start issuing refunds.

How Will Billion Dollar Lottery Winner Fair Under New Tax Law?

What would you do if you won $1.5 billion dollars? That’s exactly what happened for one ultra lucky individual in October. The life of the winner of the largest single ticket jackpot in history will never be the same. What about his or her taxes? We all know the amount of a lottery jackpot is never the actual take-home amount. 

Even if the winner chooses the annual payment, he or she will still have to give a large portion to the IRS. If the person selects the lump sum he or she will get $877 million upfront. Not bad. 

But then come the taxes. So how will the Tax Cut and Jobs Act affect the winner’s actual take-home amount? For starters, before the new law the highest tax rate was 39.6 percent. Now it’s 37 percent. That’s a saving of about $23 million. On the other hand, the state and local income tax deduction is now limited to $10,000. Previously, there was no limit. That would cost the winner as much as $64 million. 

However, the actual amount of that deduction would have been limited to about $35 million, meaning a federal tax bill of about $14 million. Thanks to the $23 million saved from the new lower 37 percent tax rate, the net gain would be $9 million. 

The other law affecting the final take-home amount is the estate tax exemption, which increased to $11.18 million for each individual. This would save a married couple about $4.5 million in taxes. So, if you add up the numbers, the new tax law will likely save the winner about $13.5 million, when compared to the old law. 

No matter how you slice it, this ultra lucky lotto winner is now a very wealthy individual.

Incoming House Democrats Win First Tax Battle

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The calendar year has not yet changed, which means newly elected members of the House and Senate have yet to officially take their seats in the Nation’s Capitol. However, House democrats are already busy making changes in preparation for the new year. 

And one of their top priorities is raising taxes. Newly elected democrats are taking aim at the tax Cut and Jobs Act. And they’ve taken a big first step in their goal to raise taxes, especially on the wealthy.  

The Washington Post reported that the incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.), confirmed last week that he would not honor the three-fifths super majority requirement to raise income taxes. 

That decision will overturn the previous rule put in place by the outgoing Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). That rule made it impossible to raise income tax without a three-fifths majority approval. 

The change could make it easier for House democrats to pass new proposals ultimately designed to raise taxes on the wealthy. The decision comes after pressure from newer, more progressive democrats, who want to create more revenue to fund things like universal health care and free college tuition. 

Republicans were quick to attack the announcement, saying democrats could use the change to raise taxes on the middle class.

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Could You Claim a Tax Credit for Your Nanny?

Although tax laws have certainly changed under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, there are still numerous tax credits available. Some of these credits are obvious. But there are several you might be overlooking. 

For example, did you hire or use a nanny throughout the year? Many high net worth individuals with kids employ nannies. If you’re one of them, then you could be eligible for the child and dependent care tax credit. With this credit you could qualify for as much as $1,050 for a child younger than 13. If you have more than one child, that number rises to $2,100. 

However, be aware, if you’re hoping to qualify for this credit then everything has to be “on the level.” In other words, you must pay your nanny legally, as an employee, and remit the necessary employment taxes. If you’re paying your nanny under the table, then you won’t be able to qualify for this credit. 

In order to be in compliance with the IRS, and be eligible to claim this credit, there are a few things you must do. You need to fill out a Form I-9, a Form W-4 and a Schedule H. 

A Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of your nanny. A Form W-4 allows you to withhold federal income from your nanny. And a Schedule H shows how much you paid your nanny. It also shows how much you spent in applicable Medicare and social security taxes, and unemployment. 

Once you have everything in order, you will likely qualify for the credit.

Are All Fines Non-Deductible?

A few weeks ago Elon Muck made some big news when he got in trouble with the SEC. The agency investigated the Tesla CEO after he made public comments about possibly taking the company private. There was even talk he could be ousted from Tesla. In the end, he was able to keep his post as CEO of the car company, but he was forced to step down as chairman. 

Additionally, he and the company were both hit with $20 million fines. So could they possibly use that $40 million as a tax deduction? Well, according to one report, Tesla did expressly agree in a court filing not to claim a tax deduction for the $20 million. 

So that leads to the question: aren’t all fines by the government for breaking any law non-deductible? Section 162(f) of the tax code would seem to spell that out. However, there are so many potential exceptions that many companies figure out to write off even some the biggest fines. 

Even though the laws were made a little stricter under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, there are still ways to write off fines. The IRS allows taxpayers to write off some restitution payments to come into compliance with law. As for Musk, there was no report as to whether or not he agreed not to use the fine as a deduction. So it’s entirely possible he will find a way to do so. 

What a $1000 Investment in Tesla 8 Years Ago Is Worth Now

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Have you ever fancied yourself zooming around in a Tesla? Perhaps you already own one of these amazing vehicles. You might even own stock in the company. Many Tesla drivers have also invested in the company. So what is that investment worth? 

At the time of this writing, Tesla Shares were worth roughly $320 each. No doubt that makes this an expensive stock to get into currently. But what about eight years ago? How much would your investment be worth now if you had purchased Tesla stock back in 2010?  That all depends on how many shares you purchased. 

For example, if you had put $1,000 into Tesla eight years ago, at $17 per share, and held onto all of your shares, that investment would now be worth nearly $19,000. At the time of this writing (Dec. 20) Tesla shares were valued at $320 each. That means the shares have increased to nearly 19 times their original value. 

Although the company has a seen a big drop in recent days – shares were valued at nearly $368 each on December 12 – that’s still a number to get excited about. If you were one of the lucky, or smart, ones that invested in the company, then no doubt you’re enjoying your gains.

This Could Be the Year to Stop Itemizing Your Deductions

Tax season is just about here again. That means millions of people are getting ready to gather up all their financial information for the year 2018 and file their returns. This year will be like no other, thanks to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.  

One of the biggest questions taxpayers have every year is whether or not they should itemize or just take the standard deduction. It used to be a major issue for many taxpayers. Itemizing is always more time-consuming, but often saves you money. 

However, that question will likely be a lot easier to answer this year. The standard deduction has nearly doubled, meaning most taxpayers will not have enough itemized deductions to surpass the new standard deduction amounts. If you’re still not sure, here are four things to consider. These can help you determine if it’s time to stop itemizing. 

1. How much mortgage interest did you pay this year? If it wasn’t much then chances are you won’t surpass the standard deduction amount. 

2. If you’re counting on a large deduction coming from your state and local income taxes, remember there is now cap of only $10,000. 

3. How much did you donate to charitable causes? If you didn’t donate a lot, then chances are it won’t help your total enough to justify itemizing.  

4. If your medical expenses were minimal this year, that’s another good sign that itemizing might not be worth it.