Blog

How to minimize distractions while working from home

April 1, 2020

Working from home has increased in popularity over the past several years. But today, amidst the COVID-19 crisis, it’s not only popular, but required for many. Moving from a hustle-and-bustle professional workspace to a home office can be a major transition for many. To help you make the move successfully, here are a few tips to reduce distractions while working from home:

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Why file your tax return early? Lots of good reasons...

March 16, 2020

If April 15 always seems to sneak up on you, get out in front of this year’s tax deadline and file early. Here are a few top reasons why you should…

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Social Security and Taxes

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

March 1, 2020

As a CPA, I am often asked about the tax aspects of Social Security income. Whether you are facing an impending retirement or looking out for someone who is facing this situation, let’s go over some common questions that people ask me.   

 

What happens if one begins taking Social Security at age 62? Your monthly benefit will be at least 25 percent less...

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What you need to know about changes to retirement and 529 plans

February 24, 2020

The new budget bill passed by Congress on December 20, 2019 impacted both retirement and college savings plans. While many are still waiting for further guidance from the IRS on several details of the bill, we compiled a short list of the major changes that may affect you.

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Smart tax tips for 2020

February 17, 2020

It’s that time of year when everyone can agree on one thing: Paying taxes is a drag. As we progress into a new tax season, follow these tips to help avoid a heavy tax burden this year: 

 

 

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5 tips for hosting magical meetings

February 3, 2020

Okay, so maybe not magical…but there are things you can do to rev up engagement in your meetings. After all, it’s likely that you spend at least 25 percent of your professional time in meetings, so why not put a little work into making them more appealing for all those involved. To get you started, give the following five tips a try:

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College Kids Can Cause Tax Filing Problem

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

January 25, 2020

As a parent you have prided yourself on guiding your child to become a self-reliant human being. They take on seasonal or part time jobs and help, in part, pay their way in college. Now that your child is back in college for the spring semester, you go back to your routine and try not to be a helicopter parent.

 

Before you and your spouse accumulate your tax documents to...

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Set your career goals for 2020

January 15, 2020

There’s no better time to talk about goals than the start of a new year. And what better topic than your career? The following are a few tips to help you set reasonable and achievable goals this year:

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A Pain-Free Tax Season

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

January 3, 2020

It’s that time of year again and you may be feeling the dread of tax seasons past. You have anxiety about what tax documents to gather and where you misplaced them. You are grabbing your small business’s bank and credit card statements and receipts to do a full year’s bookkeeping that you have neglected until now. You had made a resolution to do a better job at being...

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Financial resolutions for 2020…Get on a healthy track as the New Year kicks off

January 2, 2020

The New Year is the best time to take stock of your finances. So, as you begin the season of self-reflection and goal-making, take the time to review your spending and start making plans for a financially healthy 2020! Here are a few tips to get you started:

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A healthy twist on holiday dessert favorites

December 16, 2019

The holidays are all about spreading cheer…not calories and cavities. So, why not try a few dessert recipes that put a healthier spin on some holiday treat favorites. We offer a few tested (and delicious) recipe ideas for you here:

 

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Hosting an employee holiday party that is festive, frugal and free of stress

December 2, 2019

Hosting a holiday party for your staff is one of the best ways to show them you care—while also creating some meaningful, team-driven memories. Follow our tips below for hosting a memorable soiree that doesn’t push your stress or your budget past your limit.

 

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Year-end Tasks For Businesses

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

December 1, 2019

The end of the year is here and business owners have a short period of time to put a nice ribbon on 2019. There are some things from a tax liability and compliance standpoint that must be kept in mind to have a smooth tax season and start off the new year right.

 

First and foremost, are the books of the business up-to-date and in good order? If they are, you and your tax...

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Thinking about retiring? Here’s an easy 5-step calculation to see where you stand.

November 15, 2019

If you have retirement on your mind, the big question is this: Are you in a financial position to do so? While nothing replaces the advice of a seasoned advisor, you can take your first step to answering this question by applying a simple 5-step calculation.

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Enjoy the deals without the Black Friday rush this year

November 8, 2019

If you’re not a fan of Black Friday chaos—you know…the crowds, the rush, the relentless search for a parking space—then ditch the onsite shopping this year while still enjoying the sweet deals.

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Starting A Second Business

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

November 1, 2019

If you’re starting a second business, then you know everything that’s involved with launching a new venture. However, there are a few business basics that every entrepreneur should revisit with their CPA/accountant before diving into another enterprise. Consider these planning basics:

 

 ·         Determine...

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What you need to know about the new overtime rule

November 1, 2019

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule that allows a much larger pool of employees to earn overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Specifically, the DOL raised the salary level for employees who are counted as “exempt” (or unable to earn overtime pay).

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Launching another business? Be sure to cover a few business basics…

October 15, 2019

If you’re starting a second business, then you know everything that’s involved with a business launch. However, there are a few business basics that every entrepreneur should revisit before diving into another enterprise. Consider these business basics and then put them into a well-thought-out business plan:

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3 cybersecurity tips to protect your small business

October 1, 2019

The 2019 small and midsized business (SMB) Cyberthreat Study from Keeper Security reported that nearly two out of three SMB owners do not feel threatened by or are not concerned about cyber attacks. Yet, in the previous year’s study, two out of three business owners reported falling victim to some level of data breach.

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De-stress your workday!

September 16, 2019

We can all get caught up in the day…meetings, calls, texts, emails and the myriad of other workday demands that pile up quickly and can create unwanted stress.

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About to get grillin' for Labor Day? Mind a few of our safety tips first.

August 29, 2019

Labor Day is upon us—a popular holiday that is dedicated to the millions of women and men who keep this country going strong. For many, it also means that it’s time to break out the grill for that big end-of-summer celebration. And because most of us aren’t Grill Masters, this is a good time for a refresh on some basic grilling safety tips to keep everyone safe and the party going.

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Back to school on a budget: 4 solid tips to save you money

August 19, 2019

Let’s face it. Kids aren’t cheap, so you have to save money where you can. Back-to-school shopping is a good place to start because costs can add up quickly—especially if you have more than one child. Consider these tips for sending your kids back to school without breaking the bank.

 

 

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Get your share of the Equifax $700 million data breach payout

August 6, 2019

According to the commission's online claims process, those whose personal information was exposed can opt for 10 years of free credit monitoring, which breaks down as follows: Four years via the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and six years specifically through Equifax.

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Claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit for summer camp and daycare costs

Peter VanderWoude, MS. CPA, CGMA

August 1, 2019

With all the tax law changes this year, be sure that you are getting your just deductions in the coming tax season. That is, qualifying deductions that fall under the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Here’s the scoop…

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Tax Depreciation

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

July 1, 2019

This month’s topic is very important to business people and makes an enormous impact on income taxes owed now and in the future. Let’s avoid the details and instead go over the broader concepts about depreciation.

Any asset used by a business, such as a machine, vehicle or building, experiences a decline in value through usage and the passage of time. That reduction in...

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Payroll Taxes

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

May 24, 2019

When a person reaches a point in their working career where they want to start their own business, part of the planning process has to account for the federal and state taxes that will be owed. Most people have an idea of the income tax ramifications of their business profits, but forget that there is an equivalent to payroll taxes as well, which is called the self-employment tax. The...

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Tax Season Surprises

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

April 26, 2019

Were you happy with your tax return results? Most people probably were happy with the results of tax law changes. The folks that were not pleased were those taxpayers who got an unexpected tax due or small refund surprise. Let’s review some of the tax surprises that do occur and how you can avoid them in the future.

If you are a retired senior and have a modest  income...

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IRAs and Taxes

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

March 27, 2019

Is there anything you can do to save on 2018 taxes before April 15? Yes, you can likely make a tax-deductible Individual Retirement Account (IRA) contribution subject to rules covered in this article. If you do make a contribution, the limit for 2018 is $5,500, plus an extra $1,000 if you are over age 50 for a total of $6,500.

How much will you save in taxes? To calculate, just take...

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Withholding Enough Taxes?

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

March 1, 2019

Did your tax return results match your expectations? If you have read or watched news articles on what some people have experienced on the front end of this tax season, you may feel uneasy about your own tax return results as you file by April 15th. Clearly, there is a disconnect between expectations of tax reform that was billed as lowering federal income tax for most people in 2018 and the...

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Is Your Tax Data Secure?

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

January 31, 2019

In past years, how often have you communicated sensitive tax information with your tax preparer through email? Probably a lot. Stop it now!

Most of us like the familiarity of email, but it is the culprit in 91 percent of all security breaches. All it takes is one click of your mouse to open a malicious link or file. Your security is compromised and you won’t even know it....

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Tis Tax Season!

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

January 1, 2019

Have you seen the new federal Form 1040? The front and back has been reduced to a half page each, a bit bigger than a postcard. There are an additional six numbered schedules to this year’s Form 1040 to expand on the lines that have been reworked on the personal income tax return. The 1040EZ and 1040A forms are no longer available. Will it be easier to file your income taxes now? Take a...

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Year End Tax Tips for New Yorkers

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

November 28, 2018

By now most of you are aware that the new federal tax law has limited the state income tax and real estate tax deduction to $10,000 as part of itemized deductions. With the increase in the standard deduction, most people will claim the standard deduction for federal income tax in 2018. New York’s tax law used to require that if you took the standard deduction for federal purposes, then...

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Business Owner Tax Tips for Year End

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

November 1, 2018

With the books closed for October, a business owner usually asks their tax professional to calculate a projected year-end net income and income tax liability. If it has been a profitable year, the owner will want to gauge how much to spend on equipment that can be written off on the tax return to reduce taxes.

With the new tax law for 2018, businesses can, in most cases, claim up to...

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Upgrade Your Bookkeeping Process

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

September 24, 2018

Do you have an iPhone or an Android phone in your pocket? Perhaps an iPad or Android notepad in arm’s reach? If not, how about a current laptop or desktop computer with a broadband internet connection? I know there are a few of you that still have a basic cell phone and have never owned a computer. This article is about moving your bookkeeping away from piles of paper to a progressive...

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Withholdings and Estimated Taxes

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

September 1, 2018

If you have concern after reading a recent article in the newspaper about the potential for some tax payment surprises at tax time due to a decrease in federal tax withholdings, you are not alone. Not only do we have federal tax law changes for 2018 to contend with and understand, we all need to see if the tax withholdings and estimated payments we have paid in during the year will have us...

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Surprises for 2018 Taxes

Peter VanderWoude, MS. CPA, CGMA

August 1, 2018

Most taxpayers will pay less federal income taxes for 2018. There are, however, some changes in the new tax law that will cause some of us to pay higher taxes. Let’s look at a few surprises.

Are you an employee that is required to drive, other than commuting, thousands of miles in your own vehicle for work? Perhaps your employer gives you a monthly allowance, but it does not...

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Why Your Income Tax May Decrease - Part II

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

July 1, 2018

Last month’s tax article covered how the new tax law’s increase in the standard deduction and the decrease in tax rates may yield a lower income tax liability for each of us. This lower tax liability may occur even with the elimination of personal exemptions and the likelihood that our itemized deductions will not exceed our standard deduction for 2018.  

Once taxable...

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Why Your Income Tax May Decrease in 2018

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

June 1, 2018

Last month we went over the changes in standard deduction levels for your filing status and limits on itemized deductions for 2018. Even with personal exemptions being eliminated, and the possibility of having a higher taxable income on the same income level as the previous year, most of us will likely pay less federal income tax in 2018. Why is this the case?

The primary reason we...

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Will You Itemize This Year?

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

May 1, 2018

With 2017 tax returns completed under a tax code that most of us were familiar with for years, we are now entering a new world for next tax season and it could have a major impact on your tax situation. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) has changed the tax code and it includes changing the level of deductions we can take against our income.

There are two ways to take deductions...

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Extension of Time to File

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

April 1, 2018

Ever not have enough time to file your tax return by April 15th? Perhaps some of your tax source documents were only recently received. Perhaps “life” happened and you are not able to file your taxes on time. Sometimes life happens to your tax professional, too!

What do you do? The answer is easy. You file an Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S....

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Progressive Communications With Your Tax Accountant

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

February 15, 2018

After 75 years of serving tax, bookkeeping and payroll clients in downtown Cortland, Equus Advisors Tax and Accounting Professionals are moving on from only printing paper documents. It is not just us, every business that wants to maintain or grow their operations must be able to serve clients that want the convenience of mobile technology. The “Cloud” is no longer the new thing,...

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Tax Update: The New Pass-Through Deduction for Small to Mid-size Businesses

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

February 1, 2018

If you own a business or rental property where the income is taxed on your personal income tax return, you should get up to speed on the new “pass-through” deduction for 2018. It’s likely that you have heard about the pass-through deduction being up to twenty percent of your “qualified business income” from a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability...

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Getting Ready For Tax Season

Peter VanderWoude, MS, CPA, CGMA

January 1, 2018

Now that Congress has rewrittten the tax code for 2018, tax attorneys and CPAs will study the tax bill for changes that are not well known. Congress will likely make some modifications throughout 2018 to the tax code to fix issues that come up. Of more importance to us right now is to get ready for the upcoming tax filing season with the following reminders.

If you are a business...

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When Tax Laws Change

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

December 1, 2017

While Congress attempts to make major changes to the tax code, should any of us be concerned? If you have read articles outlining proposed tax law changes, you probably realize that many of us will owe less taxes in 2018 and some of us will owe more.  

Of concern to those of us in high tax states, like New York, are the itemized deductions (when they exceed the standard...

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Avoiding Late Payment Penalties

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

November 1, 2017

No one likes to pay penalties or interest! It’s possible even if you have a tax refund to still be subject to penalties from both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and New York State. Let’s go over why these penalties happen and how to avoid them in the future. 

Both the IRS and New York State expect all income taxes to be paid in by the last day for estimated tax...

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Year-End Tax Checkup

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

October 1, 2017

When you close your business’s books for September, will you be handed an “October Surprise?” Will business profit good news also be tax liabilty bad news? October is the time of year when updated tax liability projections are made based on what has happened through the first three quarters and what the business owner projects for the last quarter. If additional estimated...

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Keeping Good Records

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

September 1, 2017

Have you ever made a resolution on April 15th to do a better job of maintaining business and tax records? If you haven’t made progress in that regard, you can be forgiven for being distracted by our wonderful summers in upstate New York. Now it is September, so let’s use the fall season to start anew!

If you have been using handwritten records or a spreadsheet, there is a...

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Paperless Tax Process

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

August 1, 2017

The bank calls you while processing your loan application and asks for a copy of your income tax return. Can you put your hands on it without turning the house upside down? If you can’t find it quickly, you end up calling your tax preparer to get another copy. If you did it yourself…perhaps you will have to order a transcript from the IRS.

All in all, keeping paper tax...

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Going Into Business, Part II

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

July 1, 2017

Last month we covered the income and self-employment tax ramifications of going into business as a sole proprietor. The key takeaway from that article is that a change of mindset is needed when a person makes the transition from employee to business owner. This month we will go over another area where I have seen misunderstandings: Sales Tax.

Most of the time when a person goes into...

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Going Into Business, Part I

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

June 1, 2017

You or someone close to you, through necessity or to fulfill a dream, has left employment and gone into business for themselves as a sole proprietor. Congratulations! For many of you there may be misconceptions about taxes that may dampen your enthusiasm come April 15th. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.  

Setting up a sole proprietorship can be as simple as...

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Lifetime Learning Credit

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

May 1, 2017

Last month we covered the more valuable of the two education tax credits, the American Opportunity Credit (AOC), which is used for the first four years of post-secondary education. The other education credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, does not have a limit on how many tax years it may be taken, but there are some differences with how it is calculated compared to the AOC.

With the...

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American Opportunity Credit

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

April 1, 2017

Many high school seniors by the beginning of April have a good idea where they are going to college in the fall. As a parent, you and your child may now be studying college financing packages. Your next decision with your student is to decide where to send in the deposit to secure a place in this fall’s freshman class. Congratulations to your child!

The American Opportunity...

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Tax Preparation Choices

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

March 1, 2017

If you need your income taxes prepared and filed, there are a number of options in which to complete this yearly task. The level of service you need depends on what you are looking for in a tax advisor.

There are two directions to go in. If your tax situation is simple or straightforward and you just want your tax returns prepared, you could use just about anybody who puts out a...

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A Little History On Taxes

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

February 1, 2017

Taxes have been around as long as…well, thousands of years! Some are simple to calculate, others, like income tax, are much more complicated. In the United States of America, we had our first income tax in 1861 during the Civil War, which was repealed in 1872. We got another round in the mid-1890s. Then in 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified which ushered in a...

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New with the Old: Accounting and Tax Firms Combine to Serve Clients Better

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

January 1, 2017

The roots of Equus Advisors and Cortland Bookkeeping and Tax Service extend back to 1943 when Clarence Green opened his practice in the Cortland Savings Bank Building. Since then there have been two owners before Peter VanderWoude assumed ownership in 2015.

Charles Cook purchased the practice in the late 1950s and Paul Lorenzo purchased it in 1976. In 2015, Peter and Paul joined...

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New Year Tax Refund Filing Tidbits

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

January 1, 2017

Soon we’ll have a new President and likely there will be some tax changes made for the 2017 tax year. Before that happens, we have to worry about filing our 2016 income tax returns.

There are some things to keep in mind in the next month or two that will likely delay the e-filing of your tax return or at least delay the expected receipt of your income tax refund.

With...

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Tis The Season For Giving 1099s

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

December 1, 2016

The end of another calendar year is almost upon us. For those of you with a business, reporting payments made to individuals during 2016 of $600 or more is required by January 31. Rather than scramble at the last minute to determine whom you should send a Form 1099, let’s go over some criteria and a process to help alleviate any stress.

If you have a business or rental property,...

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Receiving Assets Through An Estate

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

November 1, 2016

Many senior citizens give sizeable gifts during their lifetimes to their children. Last month we went over the tax aspects of making gifts. A scenario was presented in which a mother gave her five children Google stock valued at $100,000 which she bought years ago for $10,000. Each of those children, if they sold the stock right away, would report one fifth of the $90,000 capital gain of...

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Are Large Gifts Taxable?

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

October 1, 2016

Sometimes clients ask me if a large gift they received from someone during the year is taxable income. Receiving a gift is not an income taxable event. However, if you then sell the gift you may have taxable gain on sale to report on your income tax return. More on that later.

If you give a large gift to someone this year and its value is over $14,000 (referred to as the Annual Gift...

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What is Use Tax?

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

July 1, 2016

Prior to the internet shopping boom, many saavy people in our area of New York State used to enjoy shopping at the outlet stores in Reading, Pennsylvania. There was a large selection of goods, low prices and…the icing on the cake…no Pennsylvania sales tax on clothing.

As these folks drove back home up I-81 and crossed the state border, those bags of clothing purchased...

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Hobby or Business?

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

June 1, 2016

The US Treasury recently pointed out that the IRS is missing opportunites to identify taxpayers who offset their income with “hobby losses.” Uh-oh! Whether a person’s business is regarded as a hobby, where losses are not deductible, or a business, where losses are deductible, has confused many of us. There is not a clear set of rules, but there are guidelines to make the...

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IRS Phone Scams

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

May 1, 2016

Have you recently received a set of telephone calls  purportedly from the IRS that worried you? If you called the phone number left as part of those messages, you probably spoke with a scammer who told you that you have a tax bill overdue and if you don’t pay it immediately then two Revenue Agents will be at your door in short order!

If this happened to you and you found...

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How to Reduce Your Tax Burden

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

April 1, 2016

It’s early April and most people have already filed their tax returns for 2015. If you were dismayed by a tax due, perhaps you asked your tax preparer, “How can I reduce my taxes?”

The answer to that question can fill books and your tax advisor generally does not have enough time during tax season to give you a thorough answer for your specific situation. Let’s...

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How to Choose Your Tax Advisor

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

March 1, 2016

If there is ever a hot topic this time of year, it is “who do you use to prepare your taxes and what do you pay?” How you answer that question depends on what you look for in a tax advisor.

There are two directions to go in. If you just want your tax returns prepared, you could use just about anybody who puts out a shingle. If you are looking for more than that, then you...

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Taking the Pain Out of Tax Season

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

February 8, 2016

If preparing for a visit with your tax advisor leaves you fretting over what to bring with you, then relax! This article will help guide you to complete the task in an organized and efficient manner.  

Following the flow of the income tax return, let’s organize your tax documents and receipts into five categories: income, adjustments to income, deductions, tax credits and...

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Our New Website

Equus Accounting Group is excited to announce the recent launch of our firm’s new website. We’ve been working very hard to enhance our website and give our firm a fresh look. We’ve also continued to research and identify the latest and greatest technologies to improve the services we provide and ensure we continue to meet your needs.

Take a moment to look around our...

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