Guest Curate Breyer Visits Downtown Roseville Food Truck Mania!

Hi, I’m Breyer, filling in for my nephew Bishop, who has the week off from his tremendous responsibilities of curating Cook CPA.  Since I’m guest blogging, I thought we would visit a local Roseville event and check out the scenery.

 BREYER!

BREYER!

Each month Roseville hosts a Food Truck Mania at the intersection of Lincoln & Vernon Streets in downtown Roseville.  Yesterday evening, August 14, I took my mom Evelyn out on the town for some tasty food truck streets.

krushburger

Krush Burger Truck home of the delicious smells!

Krush Burger Truck home of the delicious smells!

 

First we stopped by one of Cook CPA’s favorite clients, Roseville Cyclery, located on Vernon Street, just down from the tasty treat trucks.  They have an amazing selection of two-wheeled transportation in all shapes and sizes.  We talked with one of the human owners, Oliver, who we were very excited to meet and chat with because he smelled a lot like his Doberman Kaizer!

Roseville Cyclery

Then, we proceeded down to the food truck event.  There were a few fellow friendly dogs around, but overall, it was mostly humans eating tons of delicious smelling food!  Mom bought this delicious plate of food from Krush Burger.  We sat and ate at one of the fancy stand up tables, which was perfect height for my food delivery via sloppy humans!!  I had the most delicious bite of lobster roll…mmmmmmm!!

Mom's Delicious Dinner

Mom’s Delicious Dinner

After we finished eating dinner, mom ate this huge snowcone.  It smelled like something no smart dog would want part of,  but I waited patiently while she finished gazing over at the civic center water fountains which were off by the time we got there.

 Downtown Roseville Fountain

Downtown Roseville Fountain

Overall, it was a great time and good idea to get mom out of the house.  I would highly recommend this to any other doggie adventurer!

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Curate Bishop – Weekend Adventures!

Office curating can have its stressful moments, that’s why it’s important to take breaks during the weekends to reset and enjoy nature.  Even though it’s extremely warm outside, I let mom take me on adventures around California to seek out nature.  Our most recent trip was to Pt. Reyes, California.  On this trip, we brought along my best friend, Caspar, for some hiking and beach running.  Caspar is a lab, and he seems to really like that scary, noisy, wet stuff mom called the “ocean.”

Beach Buddies

Beach Buddies

After running and walking for a few hours, we finally made it to sand next to the ocean.  Mom let Caspar and me off our leashes and we ran like the wind in circles around and around and around.  It was so much fun and made Mom laugh REALLY hard!  Caspar ran straight to the ocean and tried to get in until that huge ocean tried to attack him –then he just lay down for a bit.  I tried to follow him, but it was too scary!!

Caspar's Break

Caspar’s Break

 

We ate some of Mom’s lunch, and then took a quick nap before our trip back.

I had so much fun, I slept the whole way home!

Riding Home

Riding Home

Stay tuned for our next adventure!!

Bishop, Curate at Cook CPA Group

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Bishop the Cook CPA Curate

Hi, I’m BisBishophop the Cook CPA Curate.

Before I begin blogging about our activities, achievements and Cook CPA news, I thought I would introduce myself and why I curate the Cook CPA office.

I was born in September 2013, along with six other brothers and sisters.  We come from a very respectable line of performance and show shelties.firstbord

This was me at one month, back then I was known simply as “Firstborn.”

I am a Shetland Sheepdog, often referred to as a “Sheltie” which are known for being a herding dog breed.   Shelties are also known for being energetic, fiercely loyal, and hard-working.  Often I am shy and reserved with strangers, but once I get to know someone, I offer as much love and curating as I can!

 

This brings us to why I’m charged with curating at the Cook CPA office.  A Curator in biblical terms refers to someone (or some dog) who is vested with caring for the souls of a parish.  In broader terms, a curator oversees and manages collectibles, artwork or historic items. desking it So, in essence, my job is to watch over and guard the souls of those at Cook CPA, and anyone who is affiliated with our firm, clients, vendors, neighbors.

In my research of the curation of souls, I notice that souls require much nurturing.  I’m just the dog to do it!  Often, when my hard-working Cook CPA souls are in need of a break, I will let them take me for walks, or simply roll around on the floor to give them a well-deserved smile.  Nurturing can simply be a nudge with a sturdy nose or throwing myself in a deep Curate trance on the floor for hours at a time.  It is difficult work some days, but it’s manageable.

trancethrow rugDo not try these maneuvers at home! 

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Fiscal Cliff Looms: Take Action Now

small_5995105398Deal or no deal on the Fiscal Cliff, there is still a lot you can do to reduce taxes and fund your retirement dreams. Here are the best moves to reduce estate taxes, fund retirement and create a health savings account before the year ends.

Year-End Giving To Reduce Your Potential Estate Tax

It may be time to reevaluate your estate plan. Unless Congress takes action before the end of the year, the federal gift and estate tax exemption, which is currently set at $5.12 million, drops to its pre-2010 level of $1 million ($2 million per couple) in 2013. In addition, the maximum estate tax rate is set to increase in 2013 from 35 percent to 55 percent.

Gift Tax. For many, sound estate planning begins with lifetime gifts to family members. In other words, gifts that reduce the donor’s assets subject to future estate tax. Such gifts are often made at year-end, during the holiday season, in ways that qualify for exemption from federal gift tax.

Gifts to a donee are exempt from the gift tax for amounts up to $13,000 a year per donee.

Caution: An unused annual exemption doesn’t carry over to later years. To make use of the exemption for 2012, you must make your gift by December 31.

Husband-wife joint gifts to any third person are exempt from gift tax for amounts up to $26,000 ($13,000 each). Though what’s given may come from either you or your spouse or from both of you, both of you must consent to such “split gifts.”

Gifts of “future interests,” assets that can only enjoy at some future time such as certain gifts in trust, generally don’t qualify for exemption; however, gifts for the benefit of a minor child can be made to qualify.

Tip: If you’re considering adopting a plan of lifetime giving to reduce future estate tax, then don’t hesitate to call us. We can help you set it up.

Cash or publicly traded securities raise the fewest problems. You may choose to give property you expect to increase substantially in value later. Shifting future appreciation to your heirs keeps that value out of your estate. But this can trigger IRS questions about the gift’s true value when given.

You may choose to give property that has already appreciated. The idea here is that the donee, not you, will realize and pay income tax on future earnings.

Gift tax returns for 2012 are due the same date as your income tax return. Returns are required for gifts over $13,000 (including husband-wife split gifts totaling more than $13,000) and gifts of future interests. Though you are not required to file if your gifts do not exceed $13,000, you might consider filing anyway as a tactical move to block a future IRS challenge about gifts not “adequately disclosed.”

Tip: Call us if you’re considering making a gift of property whose value isn’t unquestionably less than $13,000.

Income earned on investments you give to children or other family members is generally taxed to them, not to you. In the case of dividends paid on stock given to your children, they may qualify for the reduced 5% dividend rate.

Caution: In 2012, investment income for a child (under age 18 at the end of the tax year or a full-time student under age 24) that is in excess of $1,900 is taxed at the parent’s tax rate.

Fund Your Retirement Account

Retirement Plan Contributions. Maximize your retirement plan contributions. If you own an incorporated or unincorporated business, consider setting up a retirement plan if you don’t already have one. (It doesn’t need to actually be funded until you pay your taxes, but allowable contributions will be deductible on this year’s return.)

If you are an employee and your employer has a 401(k), contribute the maximum amount ($17,000 for 2012), plus an additional catch up contribution of $5,500 if age 50 or over, assuming the plan allows this much and income restrictions don’t apply).

If you are employed or self-employed with no retirement plan, you can make a deductible contribution of up to $5,000 a year to a traditional IRA (deduction is sometimes allowed even if you have a plan). Further, there is also an additional catch up contribution of $1,000 if age 50 or over.

Create a Health Savings Account

Health Savings Accounts. Consider setting up a health savings account (HSA). You can deduct contributions to the account, investment earnings are tax-deferred until withdrawn, and amounts you withdraw are tax-free when used to pay medical bills.

In effect, medical expenses paid from the account are deductible from the first dollar (unlike the usual rule limiting such deductions to the excess over 7.5% of AGI). For amounts withdrawn at age 65 or later, and not used for medical bills, the HSA functions much like an IRA.

To be eligible, you must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), and only such insurance, subject to numerous exceptions, and must not be enrolled in Medicare. For 2012, to qualify for the HSA, your minimum deductible in your HDHP must be at least $1,200 ($1,250 in 2013) for single coverage or $2,400 ($2,500 in 2013) for a family.

 

photo credit: Rob Lantz via photopin cc

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TAX CHANGES (SO FAR) FOR 2013

  Fiscal cliff?  What does that mean to you?  No matter what happens taxes will be going up.  So more of your net income will go to taxes.  What can you do? 

  • Analyze your expenses.  I suspect there is not much left there to cut but can’t hurt to make sure.  One client is considering buy some land to grow their own hay.
  • Increase rates.  A consistent 3% – 5% increase each year is preferable to suddenly having to increase rates significantly one year.  Your clients will not remember that you kept rates the same for the past three years.  It is a much more difficult conversation to have while a 3% increase is smaller enough that people can understand why.  A nice letter explaining increasing costs is also a good way to ease the change to your customers.  If you increase rates 3% for three years, that would be over a 10% increase! 
  • Market!  Bring more money in is still the greatest challenge.  Review what has worked and not worked this past year.  Develop a written plan for 2013.  How much more $$ a month would make you life easier?  We would be happy to work with you to identify cost-effective marketing strageties for your facility. 

One of our clients reduced to her expenses by putting her broodmares in leases, sold some babies and started marketing her stallion to generate income.  All worked so well that she is turning a profit now! 

Want to make 2013 your most successful year yet!!  Give us a call to see how our team can help you.

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Disability insurance: When are benefits taxable?

Have you wondered what would happen if you were unable to work for an extended period of time?  Could disability insurance as part of your financial plan? If so, the next decision is how to pay the premiums. Here’s why: The choice you make now can affect the taxability of the benefits received later.

For example, say your employer offers disability insurance as part of a cafeteria plan. When you sign up, the premiums are deducted from your paycheck before taxes. You’re getting a current break in the form of excluding the premiums from income, and later payouts of policy benefits are generally taxable to you.

What if you pay part of the premium with after-tax income and your employer pays the rest? In that case, policy benefits are split into taxable and nontaxable portions.

Illustration:

You pay 40% of the premium and your employer pays 60%. Benefits are 60% taxable.

If you opt to buy a policy yourself, premiums are not deductible on your personal tax return, and benefits you collect are not taxable.

Like other aspects of financial planning, choosing insurance involves weighing your alternatives and selecting what’s most suitable for achieving your goal of protecting and growing assets. Give us a call. We’ll help ensure that your financial plan remains on track.

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Rethink Your Capital Gains Strategy for 2012

The typical investment advice at year-end is to sell losing stocks to offset gains you have taken for the year. This year that strategy may just be the wrong way to go. Here’s why.

The maximum rate on long-term capital gains is scheduled to rise from the current 15% to 20% next year. Also scheduled for 2013 is an increase in the top rate on dividend income from the current 15% to 39.6%.

If you expect these scheduled rates to occur in 2013, it may make sense to harvest gains before year-end. Remember, wash sale rules do not apply to gains, so you can repurchase a similar investment immediately. This tactic may allow you to “reset” your basis for a future sale while benefiting from current low rates.

What about investment losses? Despite the uncertainty over a possible increase in tax rates, it’s a good bet that some rules — such as those covering capital losses — will not change. When pruning stocks from your portfolio, keep in mind that capital losses are more valuable when tax rates are higher. You may want to postpone taking losses until 2013 if you think rates will be higher next year.

In your investment review, don’t overlook the new 3.8% Medicare surtax that will apply to certain unearned income, including interest, dividends, capital gains, and passive rental income. If this surtax goes into effect as scheduled, an individual with adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more ($250,000 for couples filing jointly) could pay an effective federal income tax rate of 43.4% on some income.

Individual situations will vary, so consider all the relevant factors in making your year-end decisions. For assistance in your analysis, contact our office.

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