Category Archives: Current News

2017 Tax Accountant In Fort Collins

Shaw & Associates – Your Tax Season Professionals

April 18th is when you need to mark your calendar as the tax deadline for 2017. If your taxes are getting a little time consuming or a bit complex, it may be time to consider the best tax accountant in Fort Collins, Shaw & Associates.

Did you know we offer three types of tax planning services as a Fort Collins accountant? We offer tax planning & consulting, tax preparation & compliance as well as IRS representation should you need it.

Our tax planning & consulting services allow you to have access to the changes in tax laws & regulations before you have to file your annual income taxes. Having our expert tax professionals assisting you and helping guide you through this process can make tax planning & consulting a breeze!

Next up we offer tax preparation & compliance for those of you who feel frustrated when preparing your own taxes. Our goal is to help you get the tools, guidance & expertise needed to make tax preparation as painless as possible.

Lastly, we offer IRS representation should you ever get the uncomfortable letter in the mail. We have significant experience in dealing with various tax authorities at the local and national level and want to help you should you need it. We know the nuances of dealing with the IRS and can make it as painless & stress free as possible for you.

As you can see, we offer plenty of services as a tax accountant in Fort Collins and are capable of helping you with your personal or professional finances this tax season. So if you are in the decision making process about which Fort Collins accountant you should use, make sure to choose Shaw & Associates!

Fort Collins CPA

Shaw & Associates – Your Fort Collins CPA & Accounting Firm

At Shaw & Associates, we believe in our community and that is why we are proud to serve as a Fort Collins Accounting firm that you can be proud of. Our founder has been a Fort Collins CPA since 1997 and Mr. Shaw has been a Certified Public Accountant since May of 1983 as well.

We know that most people only think about accounting when bills are due or during tax season. But our team thinks about this every single day and we are focused on making sure that the services we offer provide you the peace of mind and expertise you need to navigate any financial situation you find yourself in at the moment. We know that tax season can be stressful and that is why we want to make it as easy as possible for you to navigate. You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind and that is what we try to provide for you.

As a Fort Collins Accounting firm, we have supported multiple groups in the community that give back to the citizens of Fort Collins. We love being supportive of the Boys & Girls Club of Larimer County, The Food Bank of Larimer County and the OpenStage Theatre & Company to name a few. We believe that what we offer is more than just being a Fort Collins CPA. We believe that civic engagement is as important as the quality of service you offer and that is why we love living and working in Fort Collins. We consider ourselves a part of this city and that is why we believe in doing the best work possible for those who choose to work with us.

So this tax season, be sure to pick up your phone and call us at 970.223.0792 if you have any questions. You can also reach us online at http://www.kevinshawcpa.com or visit our office at 1044 West Drake Road, Suite 201, Fort Collins, CO 80526.

The Shaw Atlas February 2017

 

Welcome to The Shaw Atlas, the monthly newsletter from Shaw & Associates, CPAs & Financial Advisors. We look forward to keeping you abreast of ever-changing tax codes, providing you with money saving accounting tips and illustrating proactive strategies to help you achieve the financial life you envision.

 

Happy 20th Birthday!

Thank you to all of our clients, families, and friends for spending the last 20 years with us. We truly value all the people we have come into contact with over the years, and can’t wait to celebrate many more birthdays to come. 

 

 

 

Your Accountant’s Guide To Financial Fitness

Accountant in Fort CollinsBe sure to check out our blog for added information and entertainment from your local Fort Collins accounting firm. This month’s blog highlights the 8 ways to shape up your finances and get financially fit after the holidays. The financial management solutions we provide as your, go to, financial advisor can help you stay on track with your financially fit game plan. Check out the full blog here.

 

IRS News

Special Rules Help Many People With Disabilities Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service wants taxpayers with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to be aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and correctly claim it if they qualify.

The EITC is a federal income tax credit for workers who don’t earn a high income ($53,505 or less for 2016) and meet other eligibility requirements. Because it’s a refundable credit, those who qualify and claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax or even get a tax refund.

The EITC could put an extra $2 or up to $6,269 into a taxpayer’s pocket. Nevertheless, the IRS estimates that as many as 1.5 million people with disabilities miss out on this valuable credit because they fail to file a tax return. Many of these non-filers fall below the income threshold requiring them to file. Even so, the IRS urges them to consider filing anyway because the only way to receive this credit is to file a return and claim EITC.

To qualify for EITC, the taxpayer must have earned income. Usually, this means income either from a job or from self-employment. But taxpayers who retired on disability can also count as earned income any taxable benefits they receive under an employer’s disability retirement plan. These benefits remain earned income until the disability retiree reaches minimum retirement age. The IRS emphasized that social Security benefits or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) do not count as earned income.

Additionally, taxpayers may claim a child with a disability or a relative with a disability of any age to get the credit if the person meets all other EITC requirements. Use the EITC Assistant, on IRS.gov, to determine eligibility, estimate the amount of credit and more.

People with disabilities are often concerned that a tax refund will impact their eligibility for one or more public benefits, including Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid, and Food Stamps. The law is clear that tax refunds, including refunds from tax credits such as the EITC, are not counted as income for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits. This applies to any federal program and any state or local program financed with federal funds.

The best way to get the EITC is to file electronically: through a qualified tax professional; using free community tax help sites; or through IRS Free File.

Many EITC filers will receive their refunds later this year than in past years. That’s because a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the EITC and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until mid-February. The IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27. Taxpayers claiming the EITC or ACTC should file as soon as they have all of the necessary documentation together to prepare an accurate return. In other words, file as they normally would.

The IRS and partners nationwide will hold the annual EITC Awareness Day on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 to alert millions of workers who may be missing out on this significant tax credit and other refundable credits. One easy way to support this outreach effort is by participating on the IRS Thunderclap to help promote #EITCAwarenessDay through social media. For more information on EITC and other refundable credits, visit the EITC page on IRS.gov.

 

Shaw & Associates Happenings

Kevin is a grandpa!

Charlotte Virginia Yadon was welcomed into the world at 10:10 a.m. on December 14, 2016

 

Cassy Nittmann, Office Manager

 

Happy 5 Year Anniversary, Cassy!

Congratulations to Cassy Moorhead, Bookkeeper, for your 5 years of service.

 

Accountant in Fort Collins

8 Ways To Shape Up Your Finances From Your Accountant In Fort Collins

Accountant in Fort Collins As your accountant in Fort Collins. We can help you stay on track with your financially fit game plan. We are almost a month into the New Year. The Holidays have ended and maybe your new year’s resolutions have too. Do not let that stop you from getting fit financially.

Here are eight classic ways to work on your financial management solutions that will keep giving all year.

  1. Create a budget. Mapping out your financial journey can be the best way to make sure you get where you are going. Start your plan by creating a budget. Be sure to add room for vacations and play time. If you have a guide, it will be easier to stay on track. There are plenty of free templates and apps to assist you.
  2. Pay yourself first. This concept seems so easy, yet it is so important. To pay yourself first means to put your money into savings and retirement first. When you create your budget you should allot for savings and retirement. However, if you don’t pay these first it is very easy to find ways to spend the money before it gets into the savings and/or retirement accounts. If you pay yourself first you won’t be tempted to spend the savings.
  3. Design a timeline to save for big purchases. A timeline gives you a visual for those big purchase savings. This can help you see how much you have put toward a goal or purchase in increments. This gives you greater satisfaction and incentivizes the save. What will you put on the timeline?
  4. Save for emergencies. This is a given but not always seen as valuable. As your accountant in Fort Collins, we want to ask. Should you start saving for the vacation and big purchases; and do you really need to save for the unknown? YES! Without a doubt, if you have emergencies covered you will actually be able to go through with the other expenses you have planned. Generally, you would start with a minimum of three months’ expenses. Having a core fund available is going to help you feel secure and allow for all of the other investments to happen. The plan you build in step one should start after the three months savings are in place. When you have three months out in expenses, you will not be living paycheck to paycheck or under stress. You are prepared to live your most fit financial life.
  5. Diversify. Spread money across investment accounts (stocks, bonds, mutual funds CDs), do not put it all in one place. With modern technology, there are some fun ways to invest. The new platforms such as crowd funding let you invest in new companies. Talk to your local agent to help you invest, divest, and grow your funds in various ways. This can be lucrative and interesting as an investor which we suggest as your accountant in Fort Collins.
  6. Insurance and estate planning – liability insurance, disability insurance. These are vital to health and fitness. These core-planning exercises will secure your future. The most important aspect of estate planning is having a will. If you have not drawn up a will, now is the time. For insurance planning you can evaluate your assets and make sure, they are each covered and secure. Please talk to your financial planner about these critical areas.
  7. Minimize your tax burden. Make sure you keep good records of all of your financial and tax transactions., Consider creating a tax folder to better organize your taxes. This is important so that your tax accountant in Fort Collins can minimize your taxes. The less taxes you pay the more you are able to save.
  8. Pay them in full – credit cards, student loans, and car payments. This can keep your credit score in the best condition for the year. You will be able to live the life you want if you keep your accounts in good standing.

We realize you cannot do this alone. These are easy steps to take, but you may need help. Reach out to one of our “personal financial trainers” at our Fort Collins accounting firm for your financial fitness guide. Get started with a better financial you in 2017!

If you have any questions call us at : 970.223.0792.

Your Fort Collins Accounts and Loveland Accountants.

Even When It Comes to Taxes, There Are a Few Silver Linings

6a00d8345157c669e201bb07c6d527970d-640wiIn the middle of an avalanche of returns and tax preparation, we have to take time for some levity. Working 60 hour weeks can drain the whole team, so we try to find the silver lining, and look at what makes us love our jobs, why we love our clients, and concentrate on a few things that make tax season in April, really, not so bad. As we embark on 20 years in business, we thought it would be fun to share 20 reasons that you can think more positively about taxes. Take a look, and feel free to send your own reasons our way (if you can think of one or two).

  1. The weather in Colorado tries, in fits and starts, to transition to some more spring and summer-like behavior. It’s that dose of the unexpected that keeps us on our toes, looking at whether we need to grab our shorts or snowshoes to get to work.
  2. We get to see more of our clients. Some of them we only see once a year during tax season, so it’s an opportunity for us to say hello, catch up, and hear how everyone is doing. If you haven’t come to say hello to us, please do.
  3. And everyone gets to see a lot of each other – we’re always grateful for our team of bright and fun-loving individuals that make coming to work enjoyable.
  4. In April, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After the 15th, you’re off the hook (we tend to stay busy with extensions, but most people are less stressed) for another 12 months. Although we always recommend that you start planning early. Preferably January.
  5. Spring time is the time to start planning summer vacations. We’re definitely thinking about what to do with our comp time after all the aforementioned extensions are filed and taken care of.
  6. Tax season does help you appreciate the things your taxes pay for – paved roads and schools are part of what make Fort Collins such a wonderful community to live in.
  7. Even though most of us are up to our eyeballs in paperwork, we know that everyone else is going through the same thing. Welcome to this exclusive club called being an adult!
  8. You can start spending your money uncontrollably again, safe in the knowledge that tax season is gone for another 12 months. But we would always recommend taking the opportunity to come talk to us about responsible financial planning, so you can make it rain in 20 years.
  9. Our clients feel safe in the knowledge that they have a CPA that’s working hard to get their taxes in on time and making sure that everything is present and correct.
  10. If the positivity isn’t working for you, tax season is a great time to find something new to curse about, or come up with really creative, compound curse words.
  11. Taxes pay people and build the infrastructure to build pipes to carry our poop away, and it’s hard argue with that.
  12. Okay … so maybe 20 reasons to see the positive side of taxes is a bit of a stretch, but what isn’t hard for us is to share how excited we are to celebrate our 20 years in business with you.

When it comes to April 15th, we are reminded of what really matters for making our business a success: YOU! Next time you come by, let’s cheers to our 20 year anniversary together, because we wouldn’t be celebrating tax season, or any other season for that matter, if you weren’t a vital part of our team.

LUCK IS A STRATEGY… especially if you are seeking your own pot of gold.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the harder I work, the luckier I get?” Often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, the quotation has become a credo for ambitious folks everywhere. Having grown up in an Irish family that takes our Irish heritage very seriously, I have been surrounded by lucky proverbs and shamrocks all of my life. And while St. Patrick’s Day makes us all feel the need to pretend to be Irish for a day, most of the celebrating is steeped in debaucherous behavior, pictures of tiny green men, Guinness, and food coloring. So, what about the luck of the Irish? Is there such a thing?

This got me thinking about luck and how wealth, good fortune and financial strength often go hand in hand with what one thinks of being lucky. In my years in business, I have come to realize that luck is a strategy, and not necessarily a divine happening.

Many people have delved into the topic of skill vs luck, and Michael J. Mauboussin boils it down in his book The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing, by saying that if you can lose on purpose, strategy matters. If you can’t, you are dealing with luck, pure and simple. At Shaw and Associates we love the idea of luck, but we know you can make your own if you think strategically about your future and your finances.

When it comes to great financial performance, we have witnessed the proof that success factors are tied to planning and careful thought rather than wishful thinking. So, here are a few ways we think you can work on reaching the pot of gold you are seeking without having to rely solely on hope and prayer.

Make a Budget and Stick with It: Budgeting may not be your favorite word, but if you use a budget, it does give you the opportunity to see very clearly where your money goes each month, and how you can plan for expenses on the horizon. Some clients have said that simply having a budget has changed their life and allowed them to sleep at night.

Reduce your Debt: This may seem obvious, but if it was the norm, everyone would be doing it. When you eliminate debt, you have more control and you will regain the freedom that comes with letting go of the binding chains that debt creates. It may not be easy, and it may be an arduous process, but the peace that you will regain will be completely worth it.

Have a Plan for the Future: When you have a clear plan, you are better equipped to make financial decisions. Short-term thinking leads to short term results, but big-picture thinking gives you the impetus to reach those stretch goals you set and be prepared for what comes your way.

We hope your St. Patrick’s Day is filled with the green-laden party that we have all come to know and love, and keep in mind that when you think strategically about your finances, you will keep the green in your pocket.

If you have questions about budgeting, debt management or general financial planning, contact us at info@kevinshawcpa.com. We offer a judgment-free consultation that can help you see a clearer financial picture.

Why Embracing Diversity is Good for Business

diversity-e1425048481664February is African American History Month, and when you think of how far we have progressed when it comes to celebrating our differences, it gives us a reason to stop and reflect on the theme of diversity.

Diversity is a pretty hot topic of workplace conversation these days, and while we all view it differently, it is an aspect of living and working that serves to enrich our values, experiences and opportunities.

The word “diversity” has many different meanings, but for us at Shaw & Associates the concept goes far beyond the boundaries of race, color, creed or cultural dispensation; it inspires creativity, new perspectives and new opportunities.

As an example, we have always taken gender and age diversity very seriously, and we are consistently seeking to build a balanced workplace. Beyond working to instill diversity inside of our office walls, there are many ways to encourage diversity beyond the team level, and one of the ways we have done this at Shaw & Associates is to place a great emphasis on community involvement. By working with local community groups that rely on the support of businesses and individuals, we are able to see through a different vantage point. And, the lessons that community involvement can teach us are critical to our internal values as a company: to remain respectful, show a genuine interest in those we interact with, and stay open-minded as to what can be learned from the situations or others. Of course, community involvement also has the added benefit of networking, strengthening relationship among employees, and helping teams see new perspectives.

What does diversity mean to you and why do you think it is important? Respond with your thoughts about diversity and you will win a pair of tickets to any 2016 OpenStage Theatre performance.

Social Security New Rules

Social Security New Rules

There has been a popular Social Security strategy that allows a client, upon reaching full retirement age, to file for Social Security retirement benefits, then immediately suspend them. Because benefits have been filed, the client’s spouse is permitted to request spousal benefits upon reaching eligible claiming age. And because the benefits of the primary worker are subsequently suspended – and therefore are not actually received – the original filer can still earn delayed retirement credit increases of 8% per year for waiting.

Under new social security rules recently enacted, however, if someone suspends benefits, then all benefits associated with that person’s earnings record as suspended, including both individual retirement benefits and spousal benefits. This effectively ends the file-and-suspend claiming strategy in the future.

The new rules become effective April 30, 2016. For anyone that became 65 ½ years old by October 30, 2015, there is still an opportunity to file-and-suspend under the old rules prior to the new rules becoming effective. This can be a significant financial planning strategy during retirement.

If you have any question please do not hesitate to contact us at info@kevinshawcpa.com.

2015 Tax Planning

2015 Tax Planning

Kevin Shaw
Shaw & Associates, CPA

Kevin Shaw Tax ServiesI know it is hard to believe but 2015 is rapidly coming to a close. This is the time of the year that many of my clients are setting appointments to get a better idea of what their projected tax burden for 2015 is going to be and to identify areas where they can minimize their taxes. I like to use our October newsletter to encourage early tax planning, since once the year is over there are few opportunities to take steps to lower your current taxes. In this regard, I am going to identify a couple of the more common strategies you can consider, but since everyone’s tax situation is different you may want to meet with your tax advisor before the end-of-the-year to create a plan tailored to your situation.

1. Accelerate Deductions & Delay Income – Since most individuals and small businesses are cash-basis taxpayers, the timing of when you pay for tax deductions and when you receive income can have a significant impact on your final tax bill. The general rule of thumb is to accelerate payment of items that could create tax deductions and to delay receipt of income that would increase taxes. You would be surprised at how simple some of these can be such as paying your mortgage due January 1st in December, prepaying property taxes, paying for college tuition in December instead of in January, accelerating business deductions, etc. You could also delay receipts of bonuses, if your employer would agree, or delay collection on customer receivables. The important thing is to not make these decisions until you fully understand your tax situation. If, for instance, 2015 is a low income year as compared to what you believe will be a higher income year for 2016, you may actually want to accelerate revenues and delay deductions the reverse to push more of the income into the current year when your marginal tax bracket is lower.

2. Medical Deductions – Since medical deductions are only deductible if in excess of 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), a good strategy is to “bunch” your medical expenses into one year as opposed to spreading them out over several years. If you incurred significant medical expenses in 2015 and will exceed your floor, you would want to consider accelerating medical procedures into 2015. Medical expenses include dental, eye doctor, chiropractors, etc. Conversely, if you had very few medical expenses to date in 2015, you may want to defer as much as you can to 2016 when there may be an opportunity to bunch. As a quick example, if your AGI is $50,000, your medical floor is $5,000. If you have already reached that floor or are close, you would accelerate 2016 medical deductions to make them deductible in 2015. If you wait, you could have $5,000 of medical expenses in both years and none of it deductible due to AGI limits in both years.

3. Long-Term Capital Gains – This is one of my favorite strategies and can generate significant tax savings. Many people do not realize that if you are in the 15% marginal tax bracket or lower, any long-term capital gains from the sale of securities, real estate, etc, are taxed at 0% until the 25% marginal tax bracket is reached. A married couple filing jointly with taxable income (after itemizing deductions and personal exemptions) below $74,900 are taxed at 15% or lower. As a simple example if you have gross wages of $50,000 and itemized deductions and personal exemptions of $20,000, your taxable income is $30,000. You could generate $44,900 of long-term capital gains and pay no additional taxes. If you have an investment portfolio, you should definitely look at this every year.

4. Roth and Traditional IRAs – This is an area that really impacts your long-term financial goals and objectives. One of the most frequent questions we get is whether to make contributions to an IRA and, if so, whether to contribute to a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA. This is truly specific to the individual and there are so many different scenarios that impact the decision. Some of the questions relate to comparing the short-term benefit of a current tax deduction from contributing to a Traditional IRA vs. the long-term benefits of not paying taxes on withdrawals of Roth contributions or earnings. There are other things to consider as income limitations can put you into a situation where you are paying a penalty for making contributions when you should not have. Although the decision to make these contributions can be delayed until the April 15th tax deadline it is better to address this early so that you do not find yourself trying to make decisions under a tight tax deadline.

These are but a few of the many areas we discuss with our clients. The more complex your tax situation is (own businesses, rental real estate, have stock options, etc.) the more important it is to have a tax planning meeting with your tax advisor. If you believe we can be of assistance, please contact Kayla at (970) 223-0792 or email kayla@kevinshawcpa.com to schedule your appointment.

Realities for Children- Toy & Winter Gear Drive

Realities for Children is needing help to collect winter gear & new toys for local children who have been abused, neglected or are at-risk. 

New toys that are needed:

  • Books
  • Games
  • Puzzles
  • Sporting Goods
  • Dolls
  • Learning tools
  • Stuffed animals etc.

Winter gear that is needed:

  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Gloves
  • Jackets
  • Boots etc.

The drive is going on November 15th through December 15th. If you would like to donate, please stop by the Shaw & Associates office Monday – Thursday 8am-5pm and Friday 8am-12pm and place your unwrapped donations in the big red collection bin. 

If you have any questions, please contact Kayla at kayla@kevinshawcpa.com or 970-223-0792

Thank You!