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Optima Newsletter – November 2022

Optima Newsletter
Expenses You Didn’t Know Were Tax Deductible

Tax deductions can help lower your tax bill and even increase your tax refund on your return. Here are seven tax deductions you might not know are deductible. 

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How to Avoid Tax Scams and SMishing

The IRS recently announced that there has been an increase in tax-related scams where taxpayers personal financial information could be at risk of being exposed or stolen. CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang provide helpful insight on what tax scams to be on the lookout for and how to avoid them in the future.

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Vehicles for Business Use

You can deduct vehicle expenses if you use your car for business purposes. You can even deduct the vehicle’s entire cost of ownership and operation, with some limitations, if it’s only used for business purposes. Tax implications can vary on this topic, so it’s important to understand the deduction rules when it comes to vehicles for business use. 

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How Home Equity Loans Affect Taxes

Sometimes the idea of taking out a second mortgage can be a viable solution to eliminating debt, funding home renovations, or paying off unexpected medical bills. Before taking out a home equity loan, you should know the tax implications that come with it. 

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An Update on Fed Rate Hikes

an update on fed rate hikes

American households have been feeling the full effects of inflation all year with rates at their highest since early 2008. To support a healthy U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve, also known as the Fed, has raised its federal funds rate. Put simply, the federal funds rate is a suggested interest rate for banks to use when lending money. The Fed raises and lowers the rate accordingly to control the money supply and help keep inflation under control.  

Fed Rate Hikes in 2022 

In 2022, the fed funds rate has increased seemingly every other month. So far, the Fed has made the following adjustments: 

  • March 2022: The Fed raised its rate from 0.25% to 0.50% 
  • May 2022: The Fed raised its target rate range between 0.75% and 1% and announced it was reducing its holdings of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. 
  • June 2022: The Fed raised its target rate range between 1.5% and 1.75%, the largest rate hike in nearly 20 years. 
  • July 2022: The Fed raised its rate to a target range between 2.25% and 2.5% 
  • September 2022: The Fed raised its target rate range between 3% and 3.25% and announced the anticipated rate by the end of 2022 to be 4.4%. 
  • November 2022: The Fed raised its target rate range between 3.75% and 4%, the highest level since 2008. 

What’s Next For the Fed? 

In October 2022, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to measure inflation, showed some signs of cooling prices in some areas. While this may sound encouraging, the Fed has announced that it does not view the small change as a victory. The option of raising their rate range in the December policy meeting is very much a possibility that Americans should prepare for. In fact, several financial institutions have predicted a rate of over 5% by March 2023.  

What The Fed Rate Hikes Mean for Americans 

The Fed rate hikes impact anyone who uses or is seeking financing because of rising interest rates. Home buyers have experienced higher interest rates on mortgages, meaning less buying power. On the flipside, home sellers might see a decrease in demand because it’s more expensive to purchase a home right now. Credit card debt also becomes more expensive since consumer debt interest rates rise after rate hikes. One of the few positives of rate hikes is that rates on savings accounts have increased slowly. Putting money into a high-yield savings account or a CD during inflation can result in greater interest yields. 

Tax Relief for Those Affected by Fed Rate Hikes 

Just about everyone in the U.S. has been affected by fed rate hikes, either directly or indirectly. On the tax side of things, the IRS has increased their interest rates for overpayments and underpayments to 6% per year, compounded daily. This rate is up from July’s rate of 5%. Higher rates make it a worse time to fall behind on tax payments, so staying compliant is even more crucial during this time. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

Which Income Types Are Taxable?

Generally speaking, most income sources are taxable. However, there are some income types that are exempt from taxes. CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang  discuss different kinds of income that may or may not get taxed and provide insight on how you can find out if your income is taxable or not. Optima Tax Relief has a team of dedicated and experienced tax professionals with proven track records of success.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

Divorce Can Impact Your Tax Liability – Who is Responsible?

Filing taxes after a divorce can be complicated, especially when sorting out the tax liability that the parties are legally responsible for. CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang discuss how married couples should file their taxes, as well as how they can end up with a tax balance after a divorce – and what they can do about it. Optima Tax Relief has a team of dedicated and experienced tax professionals with proven track records of success.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

How to Maximize Tax Benefits of Gifts

how to maximize tax benefits of gifts

Whether you’re a frequent or seasonal giver, you should know how giving affects taxes. Giving can affect taxes in several ways, primarily through deductions and credits. Here are some frequently asked questions on how to maximize tax benefits of gifts.

What is a tax-deductible donation? 

The IRS considers a tax-deductible donation to be any contribution of money or goods to a qualified tax-exempt organization. In order to deduct these contributions during tax season, you must itemize your deductions by filing Schedule A. 

How much can I deduct? 

Typically, you can deduct up to 60% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) if you are donating to a charitable organization. If you are donating to another type of organization like a private foundation or fraternal society, the limit is much smaller. These can range from 20% to 50%. If you exceed the limit for the year, you can carry over the excess contributions over the next five tax years.  

Some contributions may lead to only a partial credit. For particular donations, a taxpayer will only receive a portion of a credit. For example, if you purchase a shirt that is a part of a charitable cause, the entire price of the shirt is not deductible. The fair market value must be determined and subtracted from the cost of your purchase in order to determine the amount of your donation.

What are qualified organizations? 

A qualified organization is one that you make a charitable donation to that can be deducted during tax time. Some of these organizations include religious organizations, governments, nonprofit schools and hospitals, war veterans’ organizations, and others. Some that do not qualify for tax-deductible donations are social or sports clubs, most foreign organizations, lobbyist groups, homeowners’ associations, individuals, political groups and more. More common forms of donations like blood, time and services, and raffle tickets may not be deducted. However, you may deduct out-of-pocket expenses that related to volunteering if they were not reimbursed. These can include mileage, gas, and supplies.  

Tax Relief for Gift Givers 

Before you give, it’s important to learn how to maximize tax benefits of gifts. Whenever you donate, it’s important to keep records, no matter how big or small the contribution amount. Bank statements or charity receipts will suffice for monetary donations. If you make donations automatically through paycheck deductions, the contribution amounts will show on your W-2 or pay stubs. If you donate goods, you are allowed to deduct the fair market value of the items. In other words, you may deduct the price a willing buyer would pay for them. The rules surrounding tax-deductible donations can be tricky. However, Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers.

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