Archive | January 2013

Senior Paper

Now that I’m in my final semester of Undergrad, it’s time to face that beast that haunts every college student’s dreams: the Senior Paper. Actually, I’m rather excited about it.

ORU’s College of Business has a great system for Senior Paper: each student has their choice of four paths to take:

  • Writing a Business Plan
  • Consulting with a local company
  • Membership in our Enactus chapter, with weekly work minimums
  • Creating a business, getting funding, and making a profit in Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship was originally my path of choice, until life’s circumstances pointed out that it wasn’t feasible. That was quite a disappointment, since I know I could have made a good profit with a one-man Income Tax business.

Instead, I’m taking the Business Plan route. For some, this is kind of the default path- the easiest way to just get the grade and move on. That’s not my focus at all. In fact, the grade’s just a necessary anecdote. This is about writing my business plan, for the business I intend to start someday. It’s about taking the first concrete step in what I fully know is a 5 to 10 year goal, and maybe longer. It’s about my dream. And it’s about facing the realities that I’ll need to confront and overcome to make that dream a reality.

That’s a tall order, to be sure. But I don’t feel like it’s too much to ask of myself. After all, I planned my college route four years ago. Some goals have changed over time, but I’ve never scaled back my plan. And in early May I’ll take a short walk and prove that I can plan for years ahead and end up exactly where I decide to be.

Happy MLK Day, everyone. It’s a good day to talk about dreams.

 

Thanks for reading,

-Taylor

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Tax Rates: 2012 & 2013

2012

It can sometimes be a bit hard to find the year’s income tax rates (And who really wants to navigate the IRS website anyway?), so here they are for 2012 as much for my sake as for any reader’s. See below for the tax rates for 2012, which are the ones you need to use to file your return between now and April 15th.

2012 Tax Rates

2013

NOTE: These are the rates for 2013, and will apply to the return you file in 2014. Do not use them for the return you file this year.

2013 Tax Rates

 

Comparison

If you look, you’ll see that this year we have six tax brackets, ranging from 10% to 35%. We still have those six brackets for 2013, but with an increase in the limits of 2-3%. What’s really notable is that 2013 includes a seventh bracket at a rate of 39.6%. Ouch!

While that seems like a reasonable step-up at first, take a closer look at that 35% bracket. For Single taxpayers, that bracket is only $1650 wide! In fact, married couples have the widest margin in that bracket with $51,650. What the heck?!? That verges on punitive, especially when you consider that the 33% tax bracket is over $215,000 wide for a Single taxpayer. But where’d it come from?

Well, it’s the result of the “fiscal cliff” debate. Doctors and other well-paid professionals owe the Republicans a big thank-you for what they were able to accomplish, relatively little that it was. The Republicans’ original goal was to set the highest bracket at $1 million+ in income, but negotiations pared that down 60%. By contrast, President Obama and the Democrats wanted to set the bar down at $200,000 or $250,000.

I try not to comment on politics here, but felt I needed to explain where that craziness came from. And, yes, I’ll admit I’m biased. I’m pro-business, after all…something on which the President and I clearly differ. Well, such is life.

 

Thanks for reading,

-Taylor

Estate & Gift Tax

Well, I’m officially back at school. I’m looking forward to a great final semester of Undergrad (man, does that feel weird or what?) and looking forward in anticipation of my summer internship with Grant Thornton, L.L.P. A lot of things are getting close, now: Grad School, first full-time job, first apartment, etc.

But on the topic of this semester: I’ve got a class that I’ve looked forward to for quite a while now. As odd as it may seem, this class is Estate & Gift Tax. (I admit, I’m a bit of an Accounting & Finance nerd…but you already knew that.) So what will this involve? A lot of it, of course, will be the legal side of things. We’ll go over the relevant laws and regulations, and from what I hear we’ll memorize a good chunk of them. In and of itself, that’s not so exciting. What is exciting, though, is what it will lead into: the basics of estate planning.

The professor who teaches the class spoke in my Personal Financial Planning class last semester, and outlined a couple of basic setups for estate planning in the two class sessions he spent with us. I’ve gotta say: wow! There are some very simple tools available that can all but eliminate estate taxes on up to a million dollars. I’m guessing more advanced ones can take you quite a bit further, but there wasn’t really enough time for that. Thus, I’m taking the class now.

Why so excited? Well, here’s why: if you do’t have a proper plan in place you’ll pay up to around a third of your estate in taxes. That means important family property or the family business may have to be sold off just to pay the tax. That just sucks. But maybe that’s not a huge consideration for most people. That’s alright. I’d still recommend finding the most suitable and most effective plan for reducing your estate tax, and for this reason: you already paid income taxes on every bit of that value! In my opinion, that stuff’s been taxed already and the government has no right to take it away simply because you died. I believe you have a right to pass on what you’ve built up to your spouse and/or children, to charities, and to other beneficiaries…in it’s entirety. The government won’t be anything like responsible with it anyway, so placing as much of it as legally possible out of their reach is, to me, the best course.

 

Thanks for reading,

-Taylor

Back from the Holidays

I’d like to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Also, we didn’t die on the 21st. Turns out ancient indians just aren’t that reliable. Or rather, our pointless hyping of something into a monster it never was just isn’t that reliable.

In other news, I’ve received my grades for the Fall 2012 semester. (Disclaimer: I tend to hold myself to standards that sometimes verge on crazy, so some of my thoughts might seem a bit odd to you.) I was actually a bit shocked that I maintained my usual grades given the unusually demanding semester I had. My Undergrad GPA for the semester was a 3.92! I did lose my Grad School 4.0, though, falling 3.8 points (or about 0.5%) short of an A…talk about aggravating. I’d almost rather have been further from an A rather than be so close and not get it.

Look for some new posts from me soon. I’ll probably put a few more up on IRAs before finding a new topic.

Finally, good luck to everyone returning to school and to all the auditors, tax staff, and corporate accountants out there who’re staring the next several months in the face!

 

-Taylor