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At Caiafa & Company LLC, we want our clients to have current information regarding our CPA and tax services. Your financial situation is always changing, and if your tax situation or retirement plan needs to be adjusted, we are always ready to be on hand to help. Whether you are an individual or a small business owner serving the Milford and New Haven area, our office has the resources to help you. Our team takes pride in our communication level; we can be in touch as often as you need, regardless of the service you require. With that in mind, we want to make sure that you stay up to date with the current news from our office and the resources we recommend. Take a look at the links below if you need more information about our tax services.

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Ideas to Help Teach Your Kids About Money

It's never too early to start teaching your kids about money. By proactively explaining how money and banking work in the real world, you can help them begin their adult lives on solid financial footing. Here are some ideas.
• Help kids to start earning money. Letting kids earn money is a good first step to learning positive financial habits. Teenagers can get a traditional job or line up babysitting work to earn some cash, whereas younger children can mow lawns, pick weeds, or do other age-appropriate household chores.
• Open a bank account. Kids need a place to store any money they earn, as well as cash they receive for birthdays and holidays. Plenty of banks offer checking and savings accounts for children and teens, provided parents or a guardian are also on the account. This is also a great opportunity to teach how to balance a bank account every month.
• Get a debit card for older kids. There are many teen checking and debit card options available today, including some free options. For example, Capital One offers a teen checking account option with no fees, no account minimums, and a debit card for kids.
• Help teenagers build credit for the future. You can add teenagers to credit card accounts as an authorized user to help them build credit history over time. Just remember that the impact on a teen's credit will only be positive if you pay bills on time and keep debt levels within a reasonable range.
• Teach about investing. Kids with earned income can contribute money to their own IRA. There are also online apps for teenagers that can help them monitor their investments, such as the Greenlight app, which lets families manage money and research stocks and ETFs.

Teaching kids about money can give them a head start with being financially savvy. The lessons they learn can help them minimize debt, save more money, and potentially have enough money when they retire.

#Financial #BankAccount #buildcredit
... See MoreSee Less

Ideas to Help Teach Your Kids About Money

Its never too early to start teaching your kids about money. By proactively explaining how money and banking work in the real world, you can help them begin their adult lives on solid financial footing. Here are some ideas.
• Help kids to start earning money. Letting kids earn money is a good first step to learning positive financial habits. Teenagers can get a traditional job or line up babysitting work to earn some cash, whereas younger children can mow lawns, pick weeds, or do other age-appropriate household chores.
• Open a bank account. Kids need a place to store any money they earn, as well as cash they receive for birthdays and holidays. Plenty of banks offer checking and savings accounts for children and teens, provided parents or a guardian are also on the account. This is also a great opportunity to teach how to balance a bank account every month.
• Get a debit card for older kids. There are many teen checking and debit card options available today, including some free options. For example, Capital One offers a teen checking account option with no fees, no account minimums, and a debit card for kids.
• Help teenagers build credit for the future. You can add teenagers to credit card accounts as an authorized user to help them build credit history over time. Just remember that the impact on a teens credit will only be positive if you pay bills on time and keep debt levels within a reasonable range.
• Teach about investing. Kids with earned income can contribute money to their own IRA. There are also online apps for teenagers that can help them monitor their investments, such as the Greenlight app, which lets families manage money and research stocks and ETFs.

Teaching kids about money can give them a head start with being financially savvy. The lessons they learn can help them minimize debt, save more money, and potentially have enough money when they retire.

#Financial #BankAccount #BuildCredit

The Psychology of Saving - How to Change Your Money Habits

Cutting expenses is often easier said than done. It’s easy for somebody to say Just cut your expenses! Stop getting a to-go espresso everyday! Eliminating something from your monthly budget, though, may come down to figuring out the best way to change your spending habits. Here are several ideas that may help.
• Build a list of named goals. Getting motivated to save can seem like a chore when you're not saving for something specific. Consider writing down on paper two or three goals for something specific you want to save for, then open a savings account for each goal. For example, you could start a beach vacation fund, a college savings account, or a new golf clubs account.
• Give your goals a visual element. Bring your goals to life by creating something that lets you track each one as you save. This could be a savings spreadsheet that breaks down your goal into manageable chunks of weekly savings, or it could be a poster board with sections to fill in as you save money and get closer to your goal. Also print several images of what you want to buy and hang them up around your living quarters.
• Always pay yourself first. Set up automatic transfers to your savings accounts and pay yourself first. This ensures that your savings become a priority, and that you don't accidentally spend the money on other bills and expenses.
• Immerse yourself in education. Fill your mind with financial lessons you want to learn about. Read books, listen to podcasts, and read essays from financial experts to help you learn new habits surrounding saving and investing.
• Make new friends. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said most people become the average of the five people they spend the most time with. If you’re surrounded with people who are constantly struggling with money, it may be time to expand your social circle. Look for like-minded people by joining online groups centered on financial topics and attending money-related meetups in your area.

#MoneyHabits #Save #Goals
... See MoreSee Less

The Psychology of Saving - How to Change Your Money Habits

Cutting expenses is often easier said than done. It’s easy for somebody to say Just cut your expenses! Stop getting a to-go espresso everyday! Eliminating something from your monthly budget, though, may come down to figuring out the best way to change your spending habits. Here are several ideas that may help.
• Build a list of named goals. Getting motivated to save can seem like a chore when youre not saving for something specific. Consider writing down on paper two or three goals for something specific you want to save for, then open a savings account for each goal. For example, you could start a beach vacation fund, a college savings account, or a new golf clubs account.
• Give your goals a visual element. Bring your goals to life by creating something that lets you track each one as you save. This could be a savings spreadsheet that breaks down your goal into manageable chunks of weekly savings, or it could be a poster board with sections to fill in as you save money and get closer to your goal. Also print several images of what you want to buy and hang them up around your living quarters.
• Always pay yourself first. Set up automatic transfers to your savings accounts and pay yourself first. This ensures that your savings become a priority, and that you dont accidentally spend the money on other bills and expenses.
• Immerse yourself in education. Fill your mind with financial lessons you want to learn about. Read books, listen to podcasts, and read essays from financial experts to help you learn new habits surrounding saving and investing.
• Make new friends. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said most people become the average of the five people they spend the most time with. If you’re surrounded with people who are constantly struggling with money, it may be time to expand your social circle. Look for like-minded people by joining online groups centered on financial topics and attending money-related meetups in your area.

#MoneyHabits #Save #Goals

Start Your Tax Planning NOW!

Keeping your taxes as low as possible requires paying attention to your financial situation throughout the year. Here are some tips for getting a head start on tax planning for your 2024 return:
• Review your paycheck withholdings. Now is a good time to check your tax withholdings to make sure you haven’t been paying too much or too little. Use this online tool from the IRS to help calculate how much your current withholdings match what your final tax bill will be.

Action step: To change how much is withheld from your paycheck in taxes, fill out a new Form W-4 and give it to your employer.
• Defer earnings. You could potentially cut your tax liability by deferring your 2024 income to a future year via contributions to a retirement account. For 2024, the 401(k) contribution limit is $23,000 ($30,500 if 50 or older); $7,000 for both traditional and Roth IRAs ($8,000 if 50 and older); or $16,000 for a SIMPLE IRA ($19,500 if 50 and older).

Action step: Consider an automatic transfer from either your paycheck or checking account to your retirement account so you won’t have to think about manually making a transfer each month.
• Plan withdrawals from retirement accounts to be tax efficient. Your retirement accounts could span multiple account types, such as traditional retirement accounts, Roth accounts, and taxable accounts like brokerage or savings accounts. Because of this, consider planning your withdrawals to be as tax efficient as possible.

Action step: One way to structure withdrawals is to pull from taxable accounts first, and leave Roth account withdrawals for last. Another approach is to structure proportional withdrawals from all retirement accounts, which would lead to a more predictable tax bill each year.
• Net capital gains with capital losses. If you have appreciated investments you’re thinking about selling, take a look through the rest of your portfolio to see if you have other assets that you could sell for a loss and use to offset your gains. Using the tax strategy of tax-loss harvesting, you may be able to take advantage of stocks that have underperformed.

Action step: Make an appointment with your investment advisor to look over your portfolio to see if there are any securities you may want to sell by the end of 2024.
Tax planning can potentially result in a lower bill from the IRS if you start taking action now. Please call if you have questions about your tax situation for 2024.
... See MoreSee Less

Start Your Tax Planning NOW!

Keeping your taxes as low as possible requires paying attention to your financial situation throughout the year. Here are some tips for getting a head start on tax planning for your 2024 return:
• Review your paycheck withholdings. Now is a good time to check your tax withholdings to make sure you haven’t been paying too much or too little. Use this online tool from the IRS to help calculate how much your current withholdings match what your final tax bill will be.

Action step: To change how much is withheld from your paycheck in taxes, fill out a new Form W-4 and give it to your employer.
• Defer earnings. You could potentially cut your tax liability by deferring your 2024 income to a future year via contributions to a retirement account. For 2024, the 401(k) contribution limit is $23,000 ($30,500 if 50 or older); $7,000 for both traditional and Roth IRAs ($8,000 if 50 and older); or $16,000 for a SIMPLE IRA ($19,500 if 50 and older).

Action step: Consider an automatic transfer from either your paycheck or checking account to your retirement account so you won’t have to think about manually making a transfer each month.
• Plan withdrawals from retirement accounts to be tax efficient. Your retirement accounts could span multiple account types, such as traditional retirement accounts, Roth accounts, and taxable accounts like brokerage or savings accounts. Because of this, consider planning your withdrawals to be as tax efficient as possible.

Action step: One way to structure withdrawals is to pull from taxable accounts first, and leave Roth account withdrawals for last. Another approach is to structure proportional withdrawals from all retirement accounts, which would lead to a more predictable tax bill each year.
• Net capital gains with capital losses. If you have appreciated investments you’re thinking about selling, take a look through the rest of your portfolio to see if you have other assets that you could sell for a loss and use to offset your gains. Using the tax strategy of tax-loss harvesting, you may be able to take advantage of stocks that have underperformed.

Action step: Make an appointment with your investment advisor to look over your portfolio to see if there are any securities you may want to sell by the end of 2024.
Tax planning can potentially result in a lower bill from the IRS if you start taking action now. Please call if you have questions about your tax situation for 2024.

Oh No! Your Tax Refund is Now a Bill

Many taxpayers start preparing their tax return with hopes of receiving a sizable refund, only to find out that their actual refund is much smaller than expected — or that they actually owe the federal government money instead! If this happens to you, here are some of the likely reasons:
• Higher take-home pay. Look at last year's W-2 and see how much was withheld for federal income tax. Now check this year's W-2. If it is lower, you will need a corresponding reduction in your tax obligation to get the same refund as last year. The good news? You've had more of your income available to you throughout the year. The bad news? Paying less tax each pay period can result in a lower refund or even a tax due balance at tax filing time.
• Withholding tables are not always accurate. The IRS provides businesses with tax tables to figure out how much of your paycheck should be withheld to pay your taxes. While these tables are mostly accurate, sometimes these tables instruct your employer to withhold more than necessary — leading to a refund. But sometimes the opposite is true and your employer may not withhold enough — leading to a balance due.
• You earned money from a side hustle. You are responsible for making payments to the IRS for taxes you owe from working a side hustle or as a freelancer. If you didn't make these payments to the IRS as you were earning the money throughout the year, you'll have to make a lump-sum payment when you file your tax return.
• Your state takes a different path. Tax laws passed by many states closely mirror tax laws passed by the federal government. But many times these laws never match 100%. This means that while you may see a refund on your federal tax return, you might end up owing money on your state tax return.
With the uncertainty of whether or not you'll receive as large of a refund as you're expecting, consider holding off on plans to spend your refund until your tax return is finalized.

#Withholding #higherpay #StateIncomeTax
... See MoreSee Less

Oh No! Your Tax Refund is Now a Bill

Many taxpayers start preparing their tax return with hopes of receiving a sizable refund, only to find out that their actual refund is much smaller than expected — or that they actually owe the federal government money instead! If this happens to you, here are some of the likely reasons:
• Higher take-home pay. Look at last years W-2 and see how much was withheld for federal income tax. Now check this years W-2. If it is lower, you will need a corresponding reduction in your tax obligation to get the same refund as last year. The good news? Youve had more of your income available to you throughout the year. The bad news? Paying less tax each pay period can result in a lower refund or even a tax due balance at tax filing time.
• Withholding tables are not always accurate. The IRS provides businesses with tax tables to figure out how much of your paycheck should be withheld to pay your taxes. While these tables are mostly accurate, sometimes these tables instruct your employer to withhold more than necessary — leading to a refund. But sometimes the opposite is true and your employer may not withhold enough — leading to a balance due.
• You earned money from a side hustle. You are responsible for making payments to the IRS for taxes you owe from working a side hustle or as a freelancer. If you didnt make these payments to the IRS as you were earning the money throughout the year, youll have to make a lump-sum payment when you file your tax return.
• Your state takes a different path. Tax laws passed by many states closely mirror tax laws passed by the federal government. But many times these laws never match 100%. This means that while you may see a refund on your federal tax return, you might end up owing money on your state tax return.
With the uncertainty of whether or not youll receive as large of a refund as youre expecting, consider holding off on plans to spend your refund until your tax return is finalized.

#Withholding #HigherPay #StateIncomeTax

Retirement Plan Options for Small Business Owners

Offering a retirement plan can be a powerful tool when you’re competing to attract the best employees. And if you're a sole proprietor, a retirement account can help you save even more money for the future. Here are some of the most popular retirement options for small business owners, along with ways to help with the cost of starting and operating a retirement plan.
Retirement plan options
• Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA Account. Contribute as much as 25% of your business’s net profit up to $69,000 for 2024.
• 401(k) Plan. Contribute up to $69,000 of your salary and/or your business’s net profit.
• Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA Account. You can put all your business’s net profit in the plan, up to $16,000 plus an additional $3,500 if you’re 50 or older.
Tax breaks to start a retirement plan
• Tax Credit for Startup Costs. A tax credit equal to 100 percent of the administrative costs for establishing a workplace retirement plan is available for up to three years for eligible businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Businesses with 51 to 100 employees can still be eligible, which caps the credit at 50% of administrative costs and with an annual cap of $5,000.

Taking advantage: This credit could potentially cover all set-up and administrative costs during the first three years of a plan's existence, as average 401(k) set-up costs range from $1,000 to $2,000, while average annual administrative costs range from $1,000 to $3,000. To keep your annual administrative costs as low as possible, it may be worth shopping around to look at different plan providers as the fees can vary.
• Tax credit for employer contributions. Eligible businesses with up to 100 employees may qualify for a tax credit based on its employee matching or profit-sharing contributions. This credit, which caps at $1,000 per employee, phases down gradually over five (5) years and is subject to further reductions for employers with 51 to 100 employees.

Taking advantage: Once this tax credit expires after the plan's first five years of existence, employer contributions to 401(k), SEP, and SIMPLE plans are still tax deductible up to certain limits. This means that both the employer and employee can continue to reap tax savings for the entire life of the retirement plan.
And remember that employees can still contribute to their own individual IRA. So let your employees know that in addition to having either a 401(k), SEP, or SIMPLE account through your company, they may also qualify to contribute to their own traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
It's never been easier or more affordable to start a retirement plan for your business, so if you have not already done so, look into the alternatives that best fit your business.

#RetirementPlans #TaxBreaks #EmployerContributions
... See MoreSee Less

Retirement Plan Options for Small Business Owners

Offering a retirement plan can be a powerful tool when you’re competing to attract the best employees. And if youre a sole proprietor, a retirement account can help you save even more money for the future. Here are some of the most popular retirement options for small business owners, along with ways to help with the cost of starting and operating a retirement plan.
Retirement plan options
• Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA Account. Contribute as much as 25% of your business’s net profit up to $69,000 for 2024.
• 401(k) Plan. Contribute up to $69,000 of your salary and/or your business’s net profit.
• Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA Account. You can put all your business’s net profit in the plan, up to $16,000 plus an additional $3,500 if you’re 50 or older.
Tax breaks to start a retirement plan
• Tax Credit for Startup Costs. A tax credit equal to 100 percent of the administrative costs for establishing a workplace retirement plan is available for up to three years for eligible businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Businesses with 51 to 100 employees can still be eligible, which caps the credit at 50% of administrative costs and with an annual cap of $5,000.

Taking advantage: This credit could potentially cover all set-up and administrative costs during the first three years of a plans existence, as average 401(k) set-up costs range from $1,000 to $2,000, while average annual administrative costs range from $1,000 to $3,000. To keep your annual administrative costs as low as possible, it may be worth shopping around to look at different plan providers as the fees can vary.
• Tax credit for employer contributions. Eligible businesses with up to 100 employees may qualify for a tax credit based on its employee matching or profit-sharing contributions. This credit, which caps at $1,000 per employee, phases down gradually over five (5) years and is subject to further reductions for employers with 51 to 100 employees.

Taking advantage: Once this tax credit expires after the plans first five years of existence, employer contributions to 401(k), SEP, and SIMPLE plans are still tax deductible up to certain limits. This means that both the employer and employee can continue to reap tax savings for the entire life of the retirement plan.
And remember that employees can still contribute to their own individual IRA. So let your employees know that in addition to having either a 401(k), SEP, or SIMPLE account through your company, they may also qualify to contribute to their own traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
Its never been easier or more affordable to start a retirement plan for your business, so if you have not already done so, look into the alternatives that best fit your business.

#RetirementPlans #TaxBreaks #EmployerContributions

Important Moves to Consider When Interest Rates Change

A domino effect occurs each time the Federal Reserve changes interest rates. An increase leads to higher rates for consumers when they borrow, while paving the way to better returns for savings accounts. A decrease results in paying less interest when borrowing money, but also causes a drop in how much your savings can earn.
While waiting to see what the Fed does in 2024, consider having a plan in place for both these scenarios — a hike in interest rates as well as a cut. Here are some ideas for formulating your own financial plan for each scenario.
When Interest Rates Increase
• Shop around for new savings accounts. Rate increases are good for long-term savers and families who are stashing away money for short-term goals like buying a home. When interest rates are on an uptick like they are right now, it’s a great time to shop around for a high-yield savings account or to lock in a great rate for a portion of your savings with a certificate of deposit.
• Focus on paying down high interest debt. Rate increases can create disastrous results for people who have debt with variable interest rates. For example, data from the Fed shows the average credit card interest rate increased from 14.22% in 2018 to 21.19% in the second half of 2023. If high-interest debt is dragging you down financially, rate increases give you more incentive to pay it off.
• Avoid borrowing when possible. Surging interest rates make borrowing money more expensive, so try and avoid borrowing for personal and business reasons. If you must borrow, attempt to exhaust every other source of cash before taking on new debt.
When Interest Rates Drop
• Refinance existing debts. Look into consolidating or refinancing all your existing debts, including your mortgage, personal loans, and credit cards. Lower rates can help you save money on interest, secure a lower monthly payment, and help you pay off a debt's balance more quickly.
• Look for ways to put additional funds to good use. Lower interest rates make it less appealing to stash money away in savings account products, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. Instead of savings accounts that feature little or no interest, look for ways to invest for the future or put your money to use for things you need.
• Apply for funding. Rate drops also make borrowing money more attractive. Consider applying for a personal or small business loan, but only if you have a plan for it.

#InterestRates #Increase #AvoidBorrowing
... See MoreSee Less

Important Moves to Consider When Interest Rates Change

A domino effect occurs each time the Federal Reserve changes interest rates. An increase leads to higher rates for consumers when they borrow, while paving the way to better returns for savings accounts. A decrease results in paying less interest when borrowing money, but also causes a drop in how much your savings can earn.
While waiting to see what the Fed does in 2024, consider having a plan in place for both these scenarios — a hike in interest rates as well as a cut. Here are some ideas for formulating your own financial plan for each scenario.
When Interest Rates Increase
• Shop around for new savings accounts. Rate increases are good for long-term savers and families who are stashing away money for short-term goals like buying a home. When interest rates are on an uptick like they are right now, it’s a great time to shop around for a high-yield savings account or to lock in a great rate for a portion of your savings with a certificate of deposit.
• Focus on paying down high interest debt. Rate increases can create disastrous results for people who have debt with variable interest rates. For example, data from the Fed shows the average credit card interest rate increased from 14.22% in 2018 to 21.19% in the second half of 2023. If high-interest debt is dragging you down financially, rate increases give you more incentive to pay it off.
• Avoid borrowing when possible. Surging interest rates make borrowing money more expensive, so try and avoid borrowing for personal and business reasons. If you must borrow, attempt to exhaust every other source of cash before taking on new debt.
When Interest Rates Drop
• Refinance existing debts. Look into consolidating or refinancing all your existing debts, including your mortgage, personal loans, and credit cards. Lower rates can help you save money on interest, secure a lower monthly payment, and help you pay off a debts balance more quickly.
• Look for ways to put additional funds to good use. Lower interest rates make it less appealing to stash money away in savings account products, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. Instead of savings accounts that feature little or no interest, look for ways to invest for the future or put your money to use for things you need.
• Apply for funding. Rate drops also make borrowing money more attractive. Consider applying for a personal or small business loan, but only if you have a plan for it.

#InterestRates #Increase #AvoidBorrowing

newsletterStay Informed & Up-To-Date

Each month, we will give you tips and useful information to help you protect your finances, begin planning on ways to save for your future, or how to begin preparing your taxes. Our goal is to help you get the information you need for a financially savvy today and tomorrow. So sign up for our monthly client newsletter today to stay up-to-date with news from our office and to receive special offers from our team.

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