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Tax-planning ideas for 2021

Posted on August 6th, 2021

As we head towards the end of 2021, it is a good time to review your current income tax planning before April 15, 2022, rolls around. Regardless of your age or income level, it is always a great idea to keep your tax bill to a minimum and stay ahead of your tax strategies. Here are a few tax strategies to incorporate into your planning before the end of the year.

Make contributions to your Retirement Plan

If you are currently employed, it is not too late to contribute to an IRA.  There are a few limitations if your income is above the current phaseout, or you participate in your employer’s plan. If you are in a low enough tax bracket, a Roth IRA contribution might be a better choice.

To reduce 2021 income taxes, employed individuals can contribute to either an IRA or an employer sponsored retirement plan—401 (K), 403 (b) or similar plan.  If the employer has a matching contribution, you want to maximize that as well.

The retirement plan contribution limits for 2021 are as follows:

$6,000 in an IRA if you are under 50

$7,000 in an IRA if you are 50 or older

$19,500 in a 401(k) if you are under 50

$26,000 in a 401(k) if you are 50 or older

These limits did not increase from 2020.

Donate money to charity

If you itemize, consider donation money to a charity.  Make sure that you keep receipts and keep track of your contributions.  Another idea is to donate stocks to charity for a tax write-off. You can deduct the fair market value of those stocks if you have held them for a year and you can avoid capital gains taxes if they have appreciated in value since you first purchased them.

Not only will you be able to deduct the fair market value of those stocks, provided you have held them for over a year, but you will also avoid paying capital gains taxes if those stocks have appreciated since you first bought them.  A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a perfect vehicle to make a charitable gift, even if you have not decided which charity is to receive the donation.

Take advantage of greater charitable deductions available for 2021

You are now allowed to donate and deduct from taxes up to 100% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) to a public charity in 2021

Retirement plan required distributions are back for 2021

In 2020, retirement plan required distributions were waiving under the CARES Act.  This expired in 2021, so required distributions are back for those over the age of 72, or 70.5 if this age was reached prior to 2020.

Expand use of 529 accounts for education savings

College savings plans such as a 529, can provide several tax advantages.  Earnings are free from income tax and the gift exclusion allows owners to treat up to $75,000 of contributions as though they had been made of a five-year period. Education expenses that are allowed now include laptops, computers and related technology.  Families are also allowed to use up to $10,000 annually for K-12 tuitions.  Check with your tax professional since there may be state income tax consequences.

Utilize losses from underperforming investments

If you have investments with unrealized losses in your portfolio, selling them at a loss could benefit you tax-wise. You can use capital losses to offset capital gains, and if your losses exceed your gains, you can use up to $3,000 in losses to offset ordinary income (in other words, the IRS will not tax up to $3,000 of your other earnings). Furthermore, capital losses can be carried forward to future years, so if you have a remaining loss once you have offset your gains and $3,000 of income, you can use the remainder to lower your taxes in years beyond 2021.

The tax code has many complicate provisions, so it is best to consult your tax professional before implementing these strategies.  For a free consultation, please call us at 469-701-1710.

Tips to Managing Your Business In A Pandemic

Posted on March 8th, 2021

By Carolyn Rayner

This past year has been a difficult and trying time for individuals and businesses. So many businesses, especially in the Restaurant and Retail sectors have literally been shut down.  Although the government has stepped in with many resources for businesses such as the Main Street loan and the Paycheck Protection Program, it is still a frustrating time to be running and maintaining a business. Here are a few tips to help you manage your business during these uncertain times.

  1.  Keep a positive attitude.  Try to focus on the positive sides of your business and what motivated you to start a business in the first place.  Keep a positive vibe going with your employees and although many of them are working from home, try to have weekly zoom calls with your team to keep collaboration  and comradery going.
  2. Keep in touch with your customers.  Reach out to customers by touching base with a phone call, text or email.  This is a time of isolation for many and by reaching out in some form, it shows your customers or clients that you are thinking of them.
  3. Keep working on getting new business.  This is actually a great time to reach out to people you have met through networking or referrals.  With so many people working from home, it is a great time to contact them.
  4. When it comes to marketing, get creative.  Host a free webinar about your services or start blogging on your website and social media channels to position you and your company as an Industry expert.
  5. Focus heavily on your financial status.  Although many individuals and businesses are suffering financially, this is a great time to review contracts you have with various services that you need for your business and access whether you are getting the most bang for your buck.

Lastly, this too shall pass and hopefully we have all learned how to adjust our business model during a stressful and crazy time.

Five Things To Think About When Hiring a CPA Firm

Posted on January 11th, 2021

By Carolyn Rayner

Hiring a CPA firm for your business or your personal taxes  can be a daunting task.  After all, you are trusting virtual strangers with your very private information as well as taking a risk that they are experts in their field and are up to date with all of the latest professional rulings and guidance.  Here are five things to keep in mind when interviewing a CPA Firm:

  1. How long has the firm been in business and who will you be working with on a day-to-day basis?  Firm history is important because many businesses fail within their first 2 years of business, so you want a firm that has a strong history of surviving through good economies and bad.  Also, who will you be assigned to work with on your taxes or audits?  Many times, the Principals of the firm come to the initial meeting to “wow” you and then you are handed off to a Junior person.  Make sure you meet the staff member that you will be working with.
  2. What is the size and capabilities of the firm?  If you run a small-mid-sized business, you don’t need a Big 4 accounting firm.  You need a firm that understands the challenges of running a small business. Learn about their specialties.  If you need a firm to help with back office accounting and bookkeeping or to help with QuickBooks, ask about their strengths in those areas.
  3. What vertical market are you in?  If you run a restaurant or retail store, it is good to have a firm with similar clients so that they understand your industry.  If you run a non-profit, it is essential to hire a firm with non-profit experience and clients in the non-profit space. Does their client roster consist primarily of business-to-business clients or business to consumer clients?
  4. Do you have rapport with the firm? It is crucial to have rapport with the firms’ Principals and staff members.  They should respect you and work with you as a partner, explaining things along the way and not try to intimidate you with “CPA” language.
  5. Lastly,  Ask for references, don’t just rely on reviews and testimonials on their website.  Get at least 3 client references that you can call and get personal feedback on their experience working with the firm.  Have a list of pertinent questions available when you speak to them so you can address issues that might affect your business.

 It is best to interview at least 3 firms before hiring one.  Take your time, do your homework and you will find a firm most suited to your business or personal needs.


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