Are There Any Tax Benefits Coming to the Middle Class?

Now that the president and his administration have announced their plans for an overhaul to our nation’s tax system and code, most taxpayers are wondering how it will affect them. While there are many reports that the nation’s wealthiest will get even wealthier, thanks to the tax breaks laid out in the plan, the administration continues to tout the benefits that will be coming to the middle class.

Is it all political rhetoric or do the middle class really have something to look forward to? Generally, it looks like the new proposals could lead to lower tax bills for many people. However, at the same time, many of the most popular tax deductions could also be cut, which might not sit well with a lot of taxpayers.

On the plus side, the president would like to raise the standard deduction for both single filers, as well as joint filers, which would lead to lower tax bills. It would also mean an easier tax return process because most people would not have to itemize their deductions. The downside is that many tax deductions people count on every year would be eliminated, except the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable contributions deduction.

The plan also calls for fewer tax brackets, which would likely lead to a lower tax bill for most taxpayers, but not all. The new tax plan also calls for greater tax breaks for parents, especially those who pay for childcare, as well as possibly increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Business owners would also see lower tax rates under the plan, which would be a huge boost to small businesses.


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Is Your Takeout Habit Dragging You Down?

What’s for lunch today? Did you bring your lunch with you? The business world is busy and professionals are always on the go, which means sometimes they don’t even have time for lunch, let alone to bring a self-made lunch from home. Thus, the delivery and takeout food industry is a huge business.

Eating out, in one form or another, is easy to do, but that extra cash you keep spending every day really starts to add up if you’re not paying attention. So how can you tell if your takeout habit has become a problem? There are some telltale signs.

First off, if you’ve noticed a lot of traffic coming and going from your place on a regular basis, then chances are you call the delivery driver a little too often. If they know how to get to your house without using GPS, then they likely have been there too many times already.

If your house or apartment is starting to be overtaken by takeout containers, then you probably rely on these services too much. A sure sign is the tower your kids built in the living room with all the Styrofoam towers that have been building up.

An easy way to curb this bad habit is through some sort of financial tracking system, such as This type of system is free and will track all expenditures and classify them into categories (car, education, travel, fast food, etc.) for you. This helps you see exactly where you’re spending your money and enable you to budget better. It’s easy to order delivery because it’s convenient, but utilizing a financial tracking system can show you how much you’re spending on takeout over time, and you’ll likely be amazed.

These are just a few examples of some of the signs that your takeout habit has gone too far. If this sounds like you, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your meal planning and sign up for a financial tracking system. Otherwise, you could end up sending your deliveryman’s kids to college instead of your own.

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Trump Administration Proposes Sweeping Tax Cuts

After months of promises, a brutally combative campaign and election, and the first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump and his administration have released their tax plan, which promises to include “the biggest tax cut” in the history of our country, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director, Gary Cohn.

While the proposal does make big promises it did not include many specific details. For example, although the administration is promising to decrease the number of tax brackets to three, it did not reveal the planned income levels of those brackets. The plan also promises to change personal tax rates and eliminate many of the deductions that the nation’s wealthiest individuals use, but it was light on details.

On the other hand, some details were revealed, including the plan to greatly reduce corporate tax rate from the current level of 35 percent to just 15 percent. The plan also calls for allowing a pass-through rate for business owners, which would allow self-employed individuals to be taxed at the corporate tax rate instead of the personal income tax rate.

Meanwhile, even though the income levels for the three proposed tax brackets were not revealed the tax rates were: 35 percent, 25 percent and 10 percent. Some of the other significant proposals include:

  • The elimination of the estate tax
  • A one-time repatriation tax
  • Standard individual tax deduction being doubled
  • All itemized tax deductions being eliminated except mortgage payments and charitable donations
  • Repeal the Net investment income tax of 3.8 percent
  • Eliminate the alternative minimum tax
  • Eliminate state and local tax deduction

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Traveling Abroad? Try These Top Global Breakfasts

Anyone hungry for breakfast yet? As a high net worth individual you most likely spend a lot of time traveling, for both business and pleasure. One thing that many people love about traveling to foreign countries is all the new types of cultural experiences they get to have, including experiencing many new foods and delicacies.

In fact, when you are traveling abroad there are all kinds of unusual and different types of foods to try, including for breakfast. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and while that’s still up for debate, it is true that a good meal to start your day always feels good.

So with that in mind, let’s look at some of the top breakfasts meals from around the world.

Natto, which is made fermented soybeans, is a top choice in Japan. If you visit the Netherlands, then you might want to start your day with some Hagelslag, which is buttered bread covered in sweet sprinkles. It might not be healthy, but it sounds delicious.

Of course churros are always popular, no matter where they come from, but in Spain, where they dip them in hot chocolate, it’s a perfect start to any day. Looking for something with a little more substance, then give Croque Monsieur a try when you travel to France. This posh ham and cheese toasted sandwich is a hearty way to start your busy day.

Another hearty option, if you find yourself in India is Masala Dosa, which is a light and crispy pancake made from black lentils and rice batter, which is then filled with onions, potatoes and spices.

So, what’s your favorite meal when traveling abroad? Let us know in the comments section below and then enjoy your breakfast.

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Don’t Let These Common Misunderstood Tax Facts Hurt You

So how much do you know about taxes? Or more importantly, how much do you think you know? There are a lot of tax facts out there, and just as many tax misconceptions. Unless you’re a tax professional, chances are there are a lot of things about taxes that you might not be aware of, and other simple misunderstandings that could hurt you just as much.

For starters, everyone loves to get a big tax refund. However, that’s not necessarily the best thing. A big refund means that you have allowed the IRS to hold that money for you all year, instead of having it your disposal for whatever you might need, or use it for. It’s much better to actually get a modest refund.

While tax deductions are great, tax credits are where the real money is. Deductions decrease your taxable income, which is nice, but credits can actually reduce your taxable income and in many cases increase your refund.

While it might seem like a no-brainer, the fact is there are still some people that think you don’t have to report all your income. However, you are responsible to report income from all sources, including payroll income, capital gains, gambling winnings, prize money and hobby or self-employment income.

Another misconception people have has to do with filing an extension. Taking this measure not only allows you more time to file your taxes, but also if you work it out with the IRS you can also get an extension on how long you have to pay off your tax debt.

Lastly, while many people fear being audited, your chances of actually being chosen for an audit are quite low. Additionally, you can reduce your chances of being audited by keeping careful records, reporting everything and avoiding any errors in your return.

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It’s Time to Start Preparing for Your 2017 Taxes

The tax season is officially over for most people, and by now many taxpayers have already put their refund to good use. However, while almost everyone would rather not think about taxes for the next 10 months, or so, the fact is, this is a good time to start looking at next year’s taxes. In fact, by taking a close look at this year’s return, you can learn some important things for next year.

So here are some things to pay attention to. First off, did you get a large refund, or did you end up owing the IRS money? Chances are, one way or the other you need to take a look at your W-4. If you get a big refund then you are probably having too much withheld. On the other hand, if you still owed the IRS money then you are not having enough withheld.

Your 401k is another thing to revisit. Are you maxing it out? If not, then you are missing out on some extra tax savings. Of course, if you need that money now then you can only set aside so much. However, if you can afford to put more away for later, then you should definitely take full advantage of it.

Another good thing to start planning for right now is your list of deductions. Start tracking your receipts and keeping an accurate record. This will help you when you try to figure out your itemized deductions next year.

Lastly, if you like to make charitable donations then you could use your IRA to make those contributions. You get to help a good cause and the contribution won’t hurt your adjusted gross income.

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These Situations Could Lead to a Higher Tax Bill This Year

Unless you’ve filed for an extension then the tax deadline is officially upon us. That means you need to get your taxes in pronto, if you still haven’t. While most people hate doing their taxes, they do enjoy the typical reward after the hard work is all done: a nice refund check.

However, there is no guarantee that you will get a refund. In fact, it’s entirely possible that you could end up owing the IRS some money, even if you weren’t expecting to. That’s because there are certain life events and decisions that can end up putting you in the red instead of the black.

For example, if you have started a side business there is a good chance you could end up owing more in taxes than you expected. If you don’t plan ahead and you don’t make any estimated tax payments on that additional income, you will owe some extra money when you report it come tax time.

Getting married or filing for divorce can also impact your tax status greatly. If you change your filing status to married filing jointly, you could end up owing more than you did when you filed as a single. Additionally, when you get divorced you might end up losing some of the deductions you once enjoyed when you were married.

There are several other events in life that could negatively affect your tax bill, including selling your home, withdrawing money from a retirement account, losing your job, winning prize money or receiving an inheritance from someone. The bottom line is, there are several things that can affect your tax bill, so make sure you track everything and be prepared for the worst. As always you can contact us at GROCO for more tax help.

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President’s Tax Plan Changes Back at Square One

Taxes, taxes, taxes! It was arguably the number one issue during the recent presidential election and President Trump made it very clear that he planned to make some major changes to our country’s tax code. With the republican-led House and Senate in place, it seemed like it would just be a matter of time before major changes occurred.

However, as with the new administration’s efforts to change the nation’s healthcare plan, the president is finding tax reform to be anything but easy. In fact, according to recent reports, President Trump has now tossed out the tax reforms plans he campaigned for and is basically going back to square one.

As with most issues on Capitol Hill, the administration is finding it difficult to work with the many different parties involved, as well as finding common ground that appeases everyone, or even enough lawmakers in his own party. At this point, the president and his administration have not been able to find much they can agree on with other lawmakers in Washington, which means any major reforms are still on hold.

The new administration wants to cut taxes in an effort to improve the economy, especially in industrial locations and depressed rural pockets where many of his supporters live. However, those efforts have not amounted to any changes that everyone can agree upon at this point.

So, while everything from the payroll tax to corporate taxes could eventually be in play, at this point the stalemate in Washington Continues.

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How Three Important Life Decisions Will Affect Your Retirement

How close are you to retirement? Is it just around the corner or is it still years away? Regardless of how you answer that question, planning for retirement is something that everyone should do. And waiting till you’re 55-years-old isn’t a good idea. It’s best to start that plan as early as possible. The sooner you get started the better off you will likely be when retirement finally comes.

Planning for retirement consists of several important decisions and of course the plan will be different for everyone. However, there are three crucial life decisions that everyone will need to make regarding retirement, the consequences of which will determine how much you enjoy your retirement.

First off, you will have to decide how you want to live: lavishly or frugally. Almost everyone would love to live a lavish lifestyle. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. However, most people will never have that opportunity. But anyone who does want to live more lavish lifestyle in retirement has to make sure to save enough along the way. Retirement can last many years, so you need to save enough to cover those expenses. If you want the lavish lifestyle, you’ll have to save a lot more.

Another important decision in retirement is whether or not to downsize your home and your possessions. Of course finances will play a big role in this decision, but so will location, both yours and your extended family’s. Downsizing could help you save money on living expenses and could also add to your savings if you make a nice profit on your home.

Lastly, your decision to work with a financial advisor could play a huge role in your retirement. It’s vital for retirees to make wise financial choices, including with their investments, which is why starting or continuing to work with a financial advisor is a very smart move both before and after you retire.

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Making the Most of Corporate Tax Reform

Although nothing major has happened yet, rest assured that corporate tax reform is on the way. The Trump administration has made big promises and at some point they are coming. So far, the president has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, while republican leaders in Congress have proposed a slightly more modest reduction to 20 percent.

Either way, the cut would represent a significant reduction form the current rate of 35 percent and corporations would see a huge boost. For example, if the effective tax rate dropped to 8.4 percent, then S&P companies would see the amount of pretax income they keep jump to about 85 percent from the current amount of about 76 percent.

The president has also proposed a repatriation rate of only 10 percent. In other words all the corporate income that companies are currently holding overseas in order to avoid the 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate would only be charged a 10 percent rate if it were brought home to the U.S. There could also be a removal of the interest-deductibility, which could actually hurt earnings, but the tax breaks would far outweigh the losses.

Therefore, if you add it all up you get a lower corporate tax rate that would boost earnings by about 11 percent combined with a repatriation rate that would boost earnings another 2 percent. Removing the interest-deductibility would lower earnings by 2 percent, therefore leaving a net boost of 11 percent to S&P 500 earnings.

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