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Individual TAXES

How Unemployment Effects Your Taxes
  Unemployment has been holding steady recently at 3.7%. But there are still some people losing their jobs — particularly[...]
Update on Retirement Account Required Minimum Distributions
  If you have a tax-favored retirement account, including a traditional IRA, you’ll become exposed to the federal income tax[...]
How renting out a vacation property will affect your taxes
  Are you dreaming of buying a vacation beach home, lakefront cottage or ski chalet? Or perhaps you’re fortunate enough[...]
Keep these 3 issues in mind after you file your return
The tax filing deadline for 2023 tax returns is April 15 this year. If you need more time, you can[...]
Beware of a stealth tax on Social Security benefits
Some people mistakenly believe that Social Security benefits are always free from federal income tax. Unfortunately, that’s often not the[...]
How to File for an Extension or Your Taxes
  The April 15 tax filing deadline is right around the corner. However, you might not be ready to file.[...]
How to Save More With Your 529 College Savings Plan
  With the high cost of college, many parents begin saving with 529 plans when their children are babies. Contributions[...]
If you didn’t contribute to an IRA last year, there’s still time
If you’re gathering documents to file your 2023 tax return and you’re concerned that your tax bill may be higher[...]
If you gave to charity in 2023, check to see that you have substantiation
Did you donate to charity last year? Acknowledgment letters from the charities you gave to may have already shown up[...]
IRAs: Build a tax-favored retirement nest egg
Although traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs have been around for decades, the rules involved have changed many times. The Secure[...]
Should a Married Couple File Jointly or Separately?
  When you file your tax return, a tax filing status must be chosen. This status is used to determine[...]
Don’t Overlook Taxes When Contemplating a Move to Another State
  When you retire, you may think about moving to another state — perhaps because the weather is more temperate[...]
Get ready for the 2023 gift tax return deadline
Did you make large gifts to your children, grandchildren or others last year? If so, it’s important to determine if[...]
The kiddie tax could affect your children until they’re young adults
The so-called “kiddie tax” can cause some of a child’s unearned income to be taxed at the parent’s higher marginal[...]
It’s possible (but not easy) to claim a medical expense tax deduction
One of your New Year’s resolutions may be to pay more attention to your health. Of course, that may cost[...]
Court awards and out-of-court settlements may (or may not) be taxed
Monetary awards and settlements are often provided for an array of reasons. For example, a person could receive compensatory and[...]
Answers to your tax season questions
The IRS announced it will open the 2024 income tax return filing season on January 29. That’s when the tax[...]
11 Exceptions to the 10% penalty tax on early IRA withdrawals
If you’re facing a serious cash shortfall, one possible solution is to take an early withdrawal from your traditional IRA.[...]
Don’t overlook taxes when contemplating a move to another state
When you retire, you may think about moving to another state — perhaps because the weather is more temperate or[...]
The “nanny tax” must be paid for nannies and other household workers
You may have heard of the “nanny tax.” But if you don’t employ a nanny, you may think it doesn’t[...]
What You Need to Know about Restricted Stock Awards and Taxes
  Restricted stock awards are a popular way for companies to offer equity-oriented executive compensation. Some businesses offer them instead[...]
Two New Tax Provisions May Soon Provide Emergency Relief
  Perhaps you’ve been in this situation before: You have a financial emergency and need to get your hands on[...]
Key 2024 inflation-adjusted tax amounts for individuals
  The IRS recently announced various 2024 inflation-adjusted federal tax amounts that affect individual taxpayers. Most of the federal income[...]
4 ideas that may help reduce your 2023 tax bill
If you’re concerned about your 2023 tax bill, there may still be time to reduce it. Here are four quick[...]
Don’t forget to empty out your flexible spending account
If you have a tax-saving flexible spending account (FSA) with your employer to help pay for health or dependent care[...]
Contributing to your employer’s 401(k) plan: How it works
If you’re fortunate to have an employer that offers a 401(k) plan, and you don’t contribute to it, you may[...]
Are scholarships tax-free or taxable?
With the rising cost of college, many families are in search of scholarships to help pay the bills. If your[...]
The tax implications of renting out a vacation home
Many Americans own a vacation home or aspire to purchase one. If you own a second home in a waterfront[...]
Casualty loss tax deductions may help disaster victims in certain cases
This year, many Americans have been victimized by wildfires, severe storms, flooding, tornadoes and other disasters. No matter where you[...]
What are the tax implications of winning money or valuable prizes?
If you gamble or buy lottery tickets and you’re lucky enough to win, congratulations! After you celebrate, be aware that[...]
Evaluate whether a Health Savings Account is beneficial to you
With the escalating cost of health care, many people are looking for a more cost-effective way to pay for it.[...]
Investment swings: What’s the tax impact?
If your investments have fluctuated wildly this year, you may have already recognized some significant gains and losses. But nothing[...]
Selling your home for a big profit? Here are the tax rules
Many homeowners across the country have seen their home values increase in recent years. According to the National Association of[...]
Are you married and not earning compensation? You may be able to put money in an IRA
When one spouse in a married couple is not earning compensation, the couple may not be able to save as[...]
Being a gig worker comes with tax consequences
In recent years, many workers have become engaged in the “gig” economy. You may think of gig workers as those[...]
What Tax Do I Pay as a Contractor in Illinois?
If you're a self-employed contractor in Illinois, you must pay Illinois self-employment tax and income tax if your net earnings[...]
4 tax challenges you may encounter if you’re retiring soon
Are you getting ready to retire? If so, you’ll soon experience changes in your lifestyle and income sources that may[...]
Can you deduct student loan interest on your tax return?
The federal student loan “pause” is coming to an end on August 31 after more than three years. If you[...]
Benefits of a living trust for your estate
You may think you don’t need to make any estate planning moves because of the generous federal estate tax exemption[...]
Disabled family members may be able to benefit from ABLE accounts
If you have family members with disabilities, there may be a tax-advantaged way to save for their needs — without[...]
Pocket a tax break for making energy-efficient home improvements
An estimated 190 million Americans have recently been under heat advisory alerts, according to the National Weather Service. That may[...]
Can you deduct student loan interest on your tax return?
The federal student loan “pause” is coming to an end on August 31 after more than three years. If you[...]
Moving Mom or Dad into a nursing home? 5 potential tax implications
More than a million Americans live in nursing homes, according to various reports. If you have a parent entering one,[...]
Retirement account catch-up contributions can add up
If you’re age 50 or older, you can probably make extra “catch-up” contributions to your tax-favored retirement account(s). It is[...]
Inheriting stock or other assets? You’ll receive a favorable “stepped-up basis”
If you’re planning your estate, or you’ve recently inherited assets, you may be unsure of the “cost” (or “basis”) for[...]
That email or text from the IRS: It’s a scam!
“Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams,” according to the IRS. The[...]
The best way to survive an IRS audit is to prepare
The IRS recently released its audit statistics for the 2022 fiscal year and fewer taxpayers had their returns examined as[...]
Are you married and not earning compensation? You may be able to put money in an IRA
When one spouse in a married couple is not earning compensation, the couple may not be able to save as[...]
That email or text from the IRS: It’s a scam!
“Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams,” according to the IRS. The[...]
When can seniors deduct Medicare premiums on their tax returns?
If you’re age 65 and older and have basic Medicare insurance, you may need to pay additional premiums to get[...]
Reduce the impact of the 3.8% net investment income tax
High-income taxpayers face a regular income tax rate of 35% or 37%. And they may also have to pay a[...]
Benefits of a living trust for your estate
You may think you don’t need to make any estate planning moves because of the generous federal estate tax exemption[...]
Paperwork you can toss after filing your tax return
Once you file your 2022 tax return, you may wonder what personal tax papers you can throw away and how[...]
The IRS clarifies what counts as qualified medical expenses
If you itemize deductions on your tax return, you may wonder: What medical expenses can I include? The IRS recently[...]
There’s a favorable “stepped-up basis” if you inherit property
A common question for people planning their estates or inheriting property is: For tax purposes, what’s the “cost” (or “basis”)[...]
Questions you may still have after filing your tax return
If you’ve successfully filed your 2022 tax return with the IRS, you may think you’re done with taxes for another[...]
The tax rules for donating artwork to charity
If you’re an art collector, you may wonder about the tax breaks available for donating a work of art to[...]
Two important tax deadlines are coming up — and they don’t involve filing your 2022 tax return
  April 18 is the deadline for filing your 2022 tax return. But a couple of other tax deadlines are[...]
The 2022 gift tax return deadline is coming up soon
  Did you make large gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs last year? If so, it’s important to[...]
Answers to your questions about 2023 limits on individual taxes
  Many people are more concerned about their 2022 tax bills right now than they are about their 2023 tax[...]
Tax-saving ways to help pay for college — once your child starts attending
  If you have a child or grandchild in college — congratulations! To help pay for the expenses, many parents[...]
SECURE 2.0 law may make you more secure in retirement
A new law was recently signed that will help Americans save more for retirement, although many of the provisions don’t[...]
What Are The Tax Rules Involved In Donating?
  The holiday season is here and many people plan to donate to their favorite charities or give money or[...]
How Savings Bonds Are Taxed
  Many people have savings bonds that were purchased many years ago. Perhaps they were given to your children as[...]
Does Illinois Have a Capital Gains Tax?
Capital gains taxes must be monitored and paid for federal and Illinois state tax returns. Although much of your overall[...]
How Inflation Will Affect Your 2022 and 2023 Tax Bills
  The effects of inflation are all around. You’re probably paying more for gas, food, health care and other expenses[...]
Is Your Withholding Adequate? Here’s How To Check
  When you filed your federal tax return this year, were you surprised to find you owed money? You might[...]
Can Homeowners Deduct Seller Paid Points?
  In its latest report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that July 2022 existing home sales were down[...]
Why You Shouldn’t Forget Income Tax When Planning Your Estate
  As a result of the current estate tax exemption amount ($12.06 million in 2022), many estates no longer need[...]
What Are Some Year-End Tax Planning Ideas For Individuals
  Now that fall is officially here, it’s a good time to start taking steps that may lower your tax[...]
What Are Some Financial Consequences of Tax-Free Bonds?
  If you’re interested in investing in tax-free municipal bonds, you may wonder if they’re really free of taxes. While[...]
How To Plan A Tax-Smart Year-End Gifts Strategy
  Are you feeling generous at year end? Taxpayers can transfer substantial amounts free of gift taxes to their children[...]
Vehicle Expenses: Can Individual Taxpayers Deduct Them?
It’s not just businesses that can deduct vehicle-related expenses on their tax returns. Individuals also can deduct them in certain[...]
Is Your Withholding Adequate? Here’s How To Check
When you filed your federal tax return this year, were you surprised to find you owed money? You might want[...]
How To Avoid The Early Withdrawal Tax Penalty On IRA Distributions
When you take withdrawals from your traditional IRA, you probably know that they’re taxable. But there may be a penalty[...]
The Kiddie Tax: Does It Affect Your Family?
Many wonder how they can save taxes by transferring assets into their children’s names. This tax strategy is called income[...]
Interested In An EV? How To Qualify For A Powerful Tax Credit
Sales and registrations of electric vehicles (EVs) have increased dramatically in the U.S. in 2022, according to several sources. However,[...]
Five tax implications of divorce
  Are you in the early stages of divorce? In addition to the tough personal issues that you’re dealing with,[...]
Your estate plan: Don’t forget about income tax planning
  As a result of the current estate tax exemption amount ($12.06 million in 2022), many people no longer need[...]
Social Security benefits: Do you have to pay tax on them?
Some people who begin claiming Social Security benefits are surprised to find out they’re taxed by the federal government on[...]
Is it a good time for a Roth conversion?
The downturn in the stock market may have caused the value of your retirement account to decrease. But if you[...]
Is Alimony Taxable in Illinois?
In recent years, spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, has changed in Illinois. State tax law changes affect the tax[...]
Thinking about converting your home into a rental property?
In some cases, homeowners decide to move to new residences, but keep their present homes and rent them out. If[...]
Want to turn a hobby into a business? Watch out for the tax rules
Like many people, you may have dreamed of turning a hobby into a regular business. You won’t have any tax[...]
Valuable gifts to charity may require an appraisal
If you donate valuable items to charity, you may be required to get an appraisal. The IRS requires donors and[...]
Caring for an elderly relative? You may be eligible for tax breaks
Taking care of an elderly parent or grandparent may provide more than just personal satisfaction. You could also be eligible[...]
IRA charitable donations: An alternative to taxable required distributions
Are you a charitably minded individual who is also taking distributions from a traditional IRA? You may want to consider[...]
Are you ready for the 2021 gift tax return deadline?
If you made large gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs last year, it’s important to determine whether you’re[...]
Married couples filing separate tax returns: Why would they do it?
If you’re married, you may wonder whether you should file joint or separate tax returns. The answer depends on your[...]
How will revised tax limits affect your 2022 taxes?
While Congress didn’t pass the Build Back Better Act in 2021, there are still tax changes that may affect your[...]
Does Illinois Have A Gift Tax?
Let's examine what a gift tax is and the situations in which it is applied. Also, in short, Illinois does[...]
Flexible Spending Account Money: Remember to Spend It All
Do you have a tax-saving flexible spending account (FSA) with your employer to help pay for health or dependent care[...]
Factor in taxes if you’re relocating to another state in retirement
Are you considering a move to another state when you retire? Perhaps you want to relocate to an area where[...]
Feeling generous at year end? Strategies for donating to charity or gifting to loved ones
As we approach the holidays, many people plan to donate to their favorite charities or give money or assets to[...]
Planning for year-end gifts with the gift tax annual exclusion
As we approach the holidays and the end of the year, many people may want to make gifts of cash[...]
Is a Health Savings Account right for you?
Given the escalating cost of health care, there may be a more cost-effective way to pay for it. For eligible[...]
Selling a home: Will you owe tax on the profit?
Many homeowners across the country have seen their home values increase recently. According to the National Association of Realtors, the[...]
How Long Does it Take to do Taxes?
Filing income taxes is much more involved than filling out a couple of forms and submitting them. Record keeping and[...]
5 possible tax aspects of a parent moving into a nursing home
If you have a parent entering a nursing home, you may not be thinking about taxes. But there are a[...]
Tax-favored ways to build up a college fund
If you’re a parent with a college-bound child, you may be concerned about being able to fund future tuition and[...]
Retiring soon? 4 tax issues you may face
If you’re getting ready to retire, you’ll soon experience changes in your lifestyle and income sources that may have numerous[...]
How to Ensure Life Insurance Isn’t Part of Your Taxable Estate
If you have a life insurance policy, you may want to ensure that the benefits your family will receive after[...]
Home sales: How to determine your “basis”
The housing market in many parts of the country is strong this spring. If you’re buying or selling a home,[...]
Who qualifies for “head of household” tax filing status?
When you file your tax return, you must check one of the following filing statuses: Single, married filing jointly, married[...]
New law tax break may make child care less expensive
The new American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides eligible families with an enhanced child and dependent care credit for 2021.[...]
Didn’t contribute to an IRA last year? There still may be time
If you’re getting ready to file your 2020 tax return, and your tax bill is higher than you’d like, there[...]
What You Need to Know About Lake Forest Property Taxes
Property tax is taxation applied to physical property in a particular jurisdiction that's owned by an individual or legal entity.[...]
Real Estate Transfer Tax in Lake Forest, Illinois
Any real estate purchase is a major undertaking. You must organize a significant amount of paperwork throughout the transaction, including[...]
Educate yourself about the revised tax benefits for higher education
Attending college is one of the biggest investments that parents and students ever make. If you or your child (or[...]
Maximize your 401(k) plan to save for retirement
Contributing to a tax-advantaged retirement plan can help you reduce taxes and save for retirement. If your employer offers a[...]
Understanding Illinois Unemployment Benefits
Whether you've found yourself unemployed indefinitely or just between jobs, it's essential to know how and when you qualify for[...]
Divorcing couples should understand these 4 tax issues
When a couple is going through a divorce, taxes are probably not foremost in their minds. But without proper planning[...]
What tax records can you throw away?
October 15 is the deadline for individual taxpayers who extended their 2019 tax returns. (The original April 15 filing deadline[...]
What Vehicle Expenses are Tax Deductible?
Vehicles are one of the costliest items to own. Besides having to make a large initial investment, you also need[...]
Why it’s important to plan for income taxes as part of your estate plan
As a result of the current estate tax exemption amount ($11.58 million in 2020), many estates no longer need to[...]
Homebuyers: Can you deduct seller-paid points?
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that existing home sales and prices are up nationwide,[...]
Back-to-school tax breaks on the books
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, students are going back to school this fall, either remotely, in-person or under a hybrid schedule.[...]
More parents may owe “nanny tax” this year, due to COVID-19
In the COVID-19 era, many parents are hiring nannies and babysitters because their daycare centers and summer camps have closed.[...]
Conduct a “paycheck checkup” to make sure your withholding is adequate
Did you recently file your federal tax return and were surprised to find you owed money? You might want to[...]
If You’re Selling Your Home, Don’t Forget About Taxes
Traditionally, spring and summer are popular times for selling a home. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a slowdown[...]
Student loan interest: Can you deduct it on your tax return?
The economic impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is unprecedented and many taxpayers with student loans have been hard hit.[...]
ARM vs. Fixed Mortgage Calculator
There are a few key differences between adjustable-rate mortgages and fixed-rate mortgages that are important to understand before choosing between[...]
What’s Actually in an Investment Portfolio?
Your portfolio of investments and how you allocate them is key to your success as an investor. The assets in[...]
Tax credits may help with the high cost of raising children
If you’re a parent, or if you’re planning on having children, you know that it’s expensive to pay for their[...]
Reasons why married couples might want to file separate tax returns
Married couples often wonder whether they should file joint or separate tax returns. The answer depends on your individual tax[...]
Can you deduct charitable gifts on your tax return?
Many taxpayers make charitable gifts — because they’re generous and they want to save money on their federal tax bills.[...]
4 New Law Changes That May Affect Your Retirement Plan
If you save for retirement with an IRA or other plan, you’ll be interested to know that Congress recently passed[...]
Using your 401(k) plan to save this year and next
You can reduce taxes and save for retirement by contributing to a tax-advantaged retirement plan. If your employer offers a[...]
Take advantage of the gift tax exclusion rules
As we head toward the gift-giving season, you may be considering giving gifts of cash or securities to your loved[...]
The “kiddie tax” hurts families more than ever
Years ago, Congress enacted the “kiddie tax” rules to prevent parents and grandparents in high tax brackets from shifting income[...]
The “nanny tax” must be paid for more than just nannies
You may have heard of the “nanny tax.” But even if you don’t employ a nanny, it may apply to[...]
Summer: A good time to review your investments
You may have heard about a proposal in Washington to cut the taxes paid on investments by indexing capital gains[...]
You may have to pay tax on Social Security benefits
During your working days, you pay Social Security tax in the form of withholding from your salary or self-employment tax.[...]
If your kids are off to day camp, you may be eligible for a tax break
Now that most schools are out for the summer, you might be sending your children to day camp. It’s often[...]
Donating your vehicle to charity may not be a taxwise decision
You’ve probably seen or heard ads urging you to donate your car to charity. “Make a difference and receive tax[...]
It’s a good time to check your withholding and make changes, if necessary
Due to the massive changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the 2019 filing season resulted in surprises.[...]
Selling your home? Consider these tax implications
Spring and summer are the optimum seasons for selling a home. And interest rates are currently attractive, so buyers may[...]
Three questions you may have after you file your return
Once your 2018 tax return has been successfully filed with the IRS, you may still have some questions. Here are[...]
Vehicle-expense deduction ins and outs for individual taxpayers
It’s not just businesses that can deduct vehicle-related expenses. Individuals also can deduct them in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, the Tax[...]
Careful tax planning required for incentive stock options
Incentive stock options (ISOs) are a popular form of compensation for executives and other employees of corporations. They allow you[...]
Home Office Deduction: Pasquesi Sheppard’s Guide
Working from home has its perks. Not only can you skip the commute, but you also may be eligible to[...]
Investment interest expense is still deductible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll benefit
As you likely know by now, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduced or eliminated many deductions for individuals.[...]
What will your marginal income tax rate be?
While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) generally reduced individual tax rates for 2018 through 2025, some taxpayers could[...]
A review of significant TCJA provisions impacting individual taxpayers
Now that 2019 has begun, there isn’t too much you can do to reduce your 2018 income tax liability. But[...]
Catch-up retirement plan contributions can be particularly advantageous post-TCJA
Will you be age 50 or older on December 31? Are you still working? Are you already contributing to your[...]
Consider all the tax consequences before making gifts to loved ones
Many people choose to pass assets to the next generation during life, whether to reduce the size of their taxable[...]
529 plans offer two tax-advantaged education funding options
Section 529 plans are a popular education-funding tool because of tax and other benefits. Two types are available: 1) prepaid[...]
Tax planning for investments gets more complicated
For investors, fall is a good time to review year-to-date gains and losses. Not only can it help you assess[...]
Teacher Tax Deductions: Everything You Need to Know
When teachers are setting up their classrooms for the new school year, it’s common for them to pay for a[...]
What is AMT?
The AMT stands for the Alternative Minimum Tax. It is a modified income tax that occurs when a taxpayer takes[...]
Why the “kiddie tax” is more dangerous than ever
Years ago, some parents and grandparents attempted to save tax by putting investments in the names of their children or[...]
The tax impact of the TCJA on estate planning
The massive changes the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made to income taxes have garnered the most attention. But[...]
Sending your kids to day camp may provide a tax break
When school lets out, kids participate in a wide variety of summer activities. If one of the activities your child[...]
Be aware of the tax consequences before selling your home
In many parts of the country, summer is peak season for selling a home. If you’re planning to put your[...]
Can I Claim My Parent as a Dependent?
Perhaps! If you’ve taken care of a parent, s/he may qualify as a dependent. Claiming your parent as a dependent relies[...]
How to check your federal tax status
Check the status of your federal tax account with an IRS online tool. Individual taxpayers can use the tool to[...]
IRS Can Detect Inaccurate Tax Reporting
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will be changing the tax rules of the road for alimony. Under current[...]
Size of charitable deductions depends on many factors
Whether you’re claiming charitable deductions on your 2017 return or planning your donations for 2018, be sure you know how[...]
State and local sales tax deduction remains, but subject to a new limit
Individual taxpayers who itemize their deductions can deduct either state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes.[...]