It happens almost every Spring. There’s something in the rarified air that whispers to me that it’s time to dust off the clubs and head out to a local golf course to test my limited skills in “the game.”
It has been my great pleasure, since my days in high school, to meet the challenges of the links of golf. Few times, if ever, have I achieved even a small degree of excellence in approaching the eighteen holes that comprise the “game.”For no more reason than wanting to beat myself up, I have returned throughout the years to test my clubs against the “shank”, “slice”, “missed putt” and “flubbed drive” ending in the drink even when the water was clearly not in my target area.
The “Game of Golf” to me was, and continues to be, a humbling experience. It has proven, more times than I could possibly count, that even though I might talk a decent game, I could not begin to achieve even a reasonable facsimile to back up the rhetoric. The “game” has shown that I can exaggerate with the best of them when called upon to do so! I always seemed to be at my best playing “customer golf” even when I wasn’t trying.
There was a time, when I was much younger, when less than one hundred strokes for eighteen holes, was achievable. In fact, my early range was relatively comfortable in the nineties. Once, I shot an eighty-six at a country club in Anderson, Indiana. If I had known that was to be the “high mark” in terms of a “low score”, I probably would have bought drinks for everyone in the club house. However, I was too young to realize that my future fame in the game had been achieved and it was going to be down-hill from that juncture on.
There were always the one or two shots on the course that forced me back for another stab at futility. I remember vividly playing in a tournament at the Elks Club in Indianapolis where my foursome started on the fifteenth hole. We turned the clubhouse corner, and I was one over par for four holes. One of the tournament directors took a look at our score card and pulled me aside to question my sizeable handicap. He obviously thought I was sandbagging. Another member of our group laughed and said, “Just wait! He’ll blow it very soon!” He was correct, on the very next hole, I shot a miserable “eight.” For the round, I barely broke a hundred. Even so, for just a few holes, visions of “Snead”, “Palmer” and “Chi Chi” danced through my limited vision.
As I was saying, there always seemed to be a couple of shots that would be memorable enough that they stood out from the miserable clutter to blot out the game as a whole. I still remember those special times with reverence, hope, and longing. Even though, I haven’t touch my clubs for almost four years, I still feel a twinge of excitement when I pass the closet where the “sticks” lie in- waiting collecting dust.
Today, I have come to the realization that my true golf calling is helping to conduct tournaments for charity; keeping score and selling mulligans; minding the “hole-in-one contests” and watching others trying to lower their scores.
This article was written by:
A nationally recognized speaker and writer, Norman Wilkens has traveled to forty-seven of the fifty states speaking on topics of marketing, advertising and public relations.
It’s already starting to feel like summer in many parts of the country. But the forecast for Washington remains unclear as officials continue to discuss various tax-related issues.
No matter what happens in Washington, don’t get stuck in a holding pattern yourself. Give some attention to business and personal tax planning this summer. Here are 10 ideas that combine tax planning with summertime fun.
1. Entertain top business clients.
You may be eligible to write off 50% of the cost of business meals and entertainment if you entertain clients before or after a substantial business discussion. For instance, after you hammer out a business deal, you might treat a client to a round of golf and then dinner and drinks. The 50% limit applies to all the qualified expenses, including the amounts you pay for the client, yourself and your significant others.
2. Throw a company picnic.
You can generally deduct the cost of a picnic, barbecue or similar get-together. Not only will such an event provide your workers an opportunity to relax and socialize, but the 50% limit on meals and entertainment expense deductions also won’t apply. There is one caveat: The benefit must be primarily for your employees, who are not “highly compensated” under tax law. Otherwise, expenses are deductible under the regular business entertainment rules.
3. Donate household items to charity.
Are you planning to clean out the garage, attic or basement this summer? If so, you’ll probably find household goods — such as clothing and furniture — that you don’t want or need anymore. Consider donating these items to charity. Assuming they’re still in good condition, you may take a charitable deduction on your 2017 personal tax return based on the current fair market value of any donated items. Use an online guide or consult your tax professional for valuations.
4. Send the kids to day camp.
Parents who need to work may decide to send young children to summer day camp while school is out. Assuming certain requirements are met, the cost may qualify for a dependent care credit. Generally, the maximum credit is $600 for one child and $1,200 for two or more kids. Note that specialty day camps for athletics or the arts qualify for this break, but overnight camp doesn’t qualify. (Remember, tax credits lower your tax liability dollar for dollar, unlike deductions, which lower the amount of income that’s taxed.)
5. Buy an RV or boat.
If you take out a loan to purchase a recreational vehicle (RV) or boat for personal use this summer, the vehicle or vessel may qualify as a second home for federal income tax purposes. In other words, you may be eligible to write off the interest on the loan as mortgage interest on your personal tax return.
The IRS says that any dwelling place qualifies as a second home if it has sleeping space, a kitchen and toilet facilities. Therefore, the interest paid to buy an RV or boat that meets these requirements is tax-deductible under the mortgage interest rules. This deduction is available for interest paid on a combined total of up to $1 million of mortgage debt used to acquire, build or improve a principal residence and a second residence. Interest on additional home equity debt of up to $100,000 may also be deductible.
6. Minimize vacation home use.
Federal tax law allows you to deduct expenses related to renting out a vacation home to offset the rental income you receive. With summer already underway, you’ve probably worked out a rental schedule for your vacation home, but remember that you can’t deduct a loss if your personal use of the home exceeds the greater of 14 days or 10% of the time the home is rented out. If you expect to experience a loss, watch your personal use to ensure you remain below the 14-day or 10% limit. Other rules, however, might still limit your loss deduction.
7. Rent out your primary residence.
Do you live in an area where a summertime event — such as a major golf tournament, arts festival or marathon — will be held? If you rent out your home for no more than two weeks during the year, you don’t have to comply with the usual tax rules. In other words, you don’t have to report the rental income — it’s completely tax-free — but you can’t deduct rental-based expenses either.
8. Take advantage of business travel.
Suppose you’re required to go on a business trip this summer. You can write off much of your travel expenses as long as the trip’s primary purpose is business-related — even if you indulge in some vacationing. For instance, if you spend the business week in meetings and the weekend sightseeing, the entire cost of your airfare plus business-related meals, lodging and local transportation is deductible within the usual tax law limits. Just don’t deduct any personal expenses you incur.
9. Support a recent graduate.
If your child just graduated from college, this is probably the last year you can claim a dependency exemption for him or her. However, you must provide more than half of the child’s annual support to qualify for the $4,050 exemption.
To clear the half-support threshold, consider giving the graduate a generous graduation gift, such as a car to be used on the first job. Doing so will provide your child with a practical gift, as well as possibly helping you clear the support threshold required to claim a dependency exemption. Unfortunately, dependency exemptions may be reduced for high-income taxpayers. Consult a tax professional about this tax issue before purchasing a major graduation gift. It could impact the amount you’re willing to spend.
10. “Go fishing” for deductions.
The IRS won’t allow you to claim deductions for an “entertainment facility,” such as a boat or hunting lodge. But you can still write off qualified out-of-pocket entertainment expenses, subject to the 50% limit. For example, if you take a client out on your boat, no depreciation deduction is allowed — but you may be eligible to write off the 50% of the costs of boat fuel, food and drinks, and even the fish bait, if you qualify under the usual business entertainment rules.
More Tips Available
These tips show that tax planning doesn’t have to be tedious. Whether you decide to ship the kids off to day camp or take the plunge of buying a boat, summer tax planning can actually be fun — and your tax advisor may have other creative ideas. With the proper planning, you can bask in the sun and tax-saving opportunities all summer long.
The TMA Small Business Accounting, P.C.
Their staff has been delivering professional services to small businesses in Central Indiana for over 20 years. Having worked with hundreds of small business clients, we have significant expertise with a wide variety of service businesses in Indiana. We have especially strong experience and expertise in working with businesses in the healthcare (medical, dental, etc.) and foodservice (restaurants, caterers, etc.)
Almost two years ago last month, Americans for Annuity Protection gave this speech at the United Nations Global Economic Summit. We were thrilled and awed by a dozen other speakers with their messages. They are as relevant today, if not more. Here was ours…
Longevity is rapidly changing our nation and the world. We are at the midst of the global longevity revolution. A revolution that will have a bigger impact on society and culture than the industrial revolution and the technology revolution. It is something that has never occurred in human history. What is the impact on our nation and the world as the global birthrate drops and the life expectancies continue to extend? The remarkable 20th century breakthrough in medical sciences has given us a society that is living longer than ever before but now we don’t know how to finance longer life spans?
Today in America, someone is retiring every nine seconds. That means, every nine seconds someone is applying for entitlement benefits. Can we afford it? Can we afford longevity?
Are we prepared for an aging nation, and an aging world? How do we live longer lives that are better lives considering the rising healthcare costs, low interest rates, less from Social Security and increased taxation? Between this year and through 2030, the 65 plus population will grow by more than 70% while payroll taxes will grow by less than 10%. Where is the money going to come from?
Between 1991 and 2007, bankruptcy filings have increased 125% for people between 65 and 74 and 400% for people over 75. The bottom-line is, millions won’t have enough money for the comfortable retirement our parents and Grandparents enjoyed.
We are simply facing a national retirement crisis in America. Millions will find that they are too old to return to work and have too little in savings. Half of today’s private sector workers don’t have any employer sponsored retirement plan and over 2.5 Million Boomers have less than $1000 in their net lifetime of assets saved.
The Great Recession saw a decline from pensions and savings of over five trillion. Today most have recovered but could we survive another economic catastrophe? Especially if millions are relying on a monthly income that’s got to last until their last breath.
Americans need a lifetime income, free from the unpredictability of the turbulent storms of Wall Street. I’m an advocate for a solution, that I’ve made it my life’s work and is my passion to educate Americans about it. It’s the truth and remarkable magical use of Fixed Annuities.
You see, based on the issues I’ve just discussed, Annuities make sure you don’t run out of money as long as you live no matter how long you live, AND they also make sure you don’t lose any money when the markets do.
Annuities provided solid retirement confidence in an uncertain world and Annuities can make sure extra expenses like education, long term care and medical expenses are paid. You can even provide for an educational or additional income for your Children or Grandchildren.
In a recent landmark article, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review called, “The Crisis in Retirement Planning”, by the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. The author is a distinguished Professor of Finance at MIT. Dr. Robert Merton eloquently stated, “Our approach to saving is all wrong: We need to think about monthly income, not net worth”.
He further states, “Investments cannot deliver security in terms of income”.
If we don’t sound the alarm and educate consumers, the crisis will become a tragedy on a massive scale.
Unfortunatly one would think the Government would boldly embrace Fixed Annuities but instead the Department of Labor is attempting to damage the consumer’s ability to secure private commercial solution. The effect will be, increased costs, Government red tape, not consumer protection as it is disguised.
This has led me and my colleagues to form a National Advocacy non-profit called, “Americans for Annuity Protection”. It’s a 501(c) based on the fact that Americans are in danger of losing a vital part of their financial heritage and liberty because of a lopsided campaign against Annuities and their market place, which have thrived and served the public nobly for centuries.
The Longevity Revolution is in progress. The natural essential companion is the only vehicle that provides certainty, security, guarantees and a solid predictable income for life with market protection...the Fixed Annuity. Let’s not fail society when the solution is and has been successfully managing longevity risk for the last hundred years.
Today annuity advisors strive to always put customers first. Addressing longevity risk is just one of the many risks they address and work to minimize or eliminate. Annuities provide an incontrovertible and unprecedented protection from longevity risk that no other financial product can achieve… guaranteed income that will last as long as you do. Americans for Annuity Protection is dedicated to securing AMERICANS prosperity through guaranteed insurance solutions using annuities. Ask a Safe Money Advisor for more information today!
This article was written by:
Kim O’Brien, MBA
Kim O’Brien is the Vice Chairman and CEO of Americans for Annuity Protection and the Founder of AssessBEST. She has 35 years of experience in the insurance industry, beginning in 1981 as office manager for an insurance agency. Kim received her BA from Ripon College, her MFA from the University of Northern Colorado, and an MBA with a double emphasis in Economics and English from Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin.
I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of things in my financial services career. I’ve been involved in buying insurance companies both here and in Europe. I’ve had the opportunity of serving as president of the US insurers, and had marketing responsibilities for the Luxembourg and Bermuda companies. And, I was able to be involved in the excitement of taking the holding company public on Wall Street. Boy, what can beat that? Simple... being a life insurance agent (Boy could that statement clear out a room or empty a party). But, that’s the truth. Yes, I’ve had a financial planning firm and sold a lot of securities but nothing can do what a life insurance policy can do. A life insurance policy is guaranteed “Dream Completion.” Let’s explore…
The life insurance policy assures that people can complete their dreams, regardless of premature death, hurricanes, stock market crashes or acts of terrorism. A piece of paper, a drop of ink, and a premium builds an estate and nest egg that we all want to accumulate. Think about it this way: if people are dependent upon us, shouldn’t we guarantee their security... even if we are not around? I am sure that you would agree with a resounding yes. But, maybe I am talking to the wrong crowd. Let’s see.
I am confident that you have been very fortunate in your careers. Some of you reading this are retired and some still out there kicking butt. But, should you die tomorrow and the person dependent upon you lives for many more years, will your financial holdings be enough to guarantee that person the security that you wish for them? If the answer is no, then you should be happy to purchase an additional policy, pay the premium and guarantee that the dreams will be completed. Yes, it is magic.
No other, I repeat, no other financial instrument will do what a life insurance policy will do. So, why is it that some people say that they don’t like life insurance? What they really mean is that they don’t like paying for life insurance, but they like what life insurance does. So, in closing, I would challenge you to have a life insurance review with a member of The Safe Money Places Agent Network and see if you feel comfortable with the amount that you own.
We all still have dreams... regardless of our age. Don’t you want to ensure that they are completed? It’s real simple and you have the power to do it. Be a “dream dealer” today and complete those dreams with life insurance.
This article was written by:
Raymond J. Ohlson , CLU, CRC, LACP
President and CEO of SMP International LLC
Summertime is nigh, so pack your bags for some safe travels to some great American spots.
Such as Duluth. Yes, it’s slightly off the beaten path. But they have some wonderful parks, pleasant weather and maritime museums (it remains an active port). They have a passenger train that will haul you along the shoreline of Lake Superior. If you’re in the mood to walk, instead, you can hike to your heart’s content 310 miles from just south of town to the Canadian border along the Superior Hiking Trail. Be mindful of bears, even in town – last fall one spent an entire day climbing trees next to the downtown Radisson hotel.
Staying with the Great Lakes theme, you can spend an entire summer alongside Lake Michigan in Milwaukee celebrating the many immigrant groups that have come to make up this city. Lakeside parks host fests for Poles, Mexicans, Germans, Scots, Italians, African Americans, etc. Conveniently filling in weekends when there is no migrant festival are a slew of beer fests in a city that is, after all, all about beer.
Tired of lakeside beer and brats? Head into the lake itself, for fishing charters to chase down brown trout and salmon. License will be included with your charter fee.
If you want to look down on water rather than splash about in it, try St. Louis and the St. Louis Gateway Arch, overlooking the Mississippi River from an observation deck open to one and all if you don’t mind riding 630 feet into the air in a tiny elevator.
A westward glance from the Arch will show you the stadium for the storied Cardinals baseball team, always a fun way to spend an afternoon. Beyond that are two great, world-class attractions – a zoo that rivals San Diego and the Missouri Botanical Garden, which has been showing off flora and fauna since 1859. And there is some great food to be had in St. Louis – try “The Hill” neighborhood for down-home Italian fare.
Busting out of the Midwest, check out Portland, Ore. Here, you can soak in vistas of the Cascade Mountains and Willamette and Columbia rivers astride a bicycle as the city is honeycombed with biking paths (ranging from blocks in length to 51 miles). There is a strong farm-to-table movement here, so you can easily indulge your locavore habits. At the end of the day – or earlier, why wait? - you can sip wine at one of the hundreds of wineries that dot the Willamette Valley, starting on the southern outskirts of town. Some of the country’s top pinot noir and pino gris come from here.
You also can taste some decent local wines in Amarillo, Texas. Honest. They come from an area called the Llano Estacado, and could make for a perfect pairing to giant Texas T-bones they like to charbroil around here. Before dinner, check out the quirky Cadillac Ranch on the western edge of Amarillo – the one that showcases all those old huge-finned Cadillacs buried nose first into west Texas dirt.
The Cadillac Ranch sits alongside the historic U.S. 66. In the city itself lies the U.S. Route 66-Sixth Street Historic District, now featuring no end of shops and old time filling stations to remind you of the early days of motoring.
Speaking of motoring, drive south of town a bit to the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. There is a scenic highway that winds mile after mile through the second-largest canyon in the United States. Though not nearly as famed as Arizona’s Grand Canyon, here you can actually drive though it and in spots look upward 800 feet in spots.
Over your own glass of wine, or beer or coffee, pull out an atlas and map out directions to one of these safe trips. Or let your fingers do the walking on the map and search out your own summertime destination.
This article was written by:
Mr. Dinnen served as Sr. Business Reporter for the Des Moines Register, Business News Editor for the Indianapolis Star and served as Editor (freelance) for the Christian Science Monitor of its weekly personal finance column
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