Thursday, March 31, 2022



Here are s few things to double-check before submitting your tax returns (electronic or paper) to avoid delays and errors –


1) There has been a new question on Page 1 of the federal Form 1040 (and Form 1040-SR) the past few years.  It is under the name and address and before the Standard Deduction, Age and Blindness questions and list of Dependents.  It reads - “At any time during 2021, did you receive, sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any financial interest in any virtual currency?”  Be sure to check this box.  I expect for most taxpayers the answer is “no”.


2) Obviously double-check all math on the return – and all the carryforward of numbers to other lines, schedules and forms.  Beware of transpositions.


3) Double-check all the name and Social Security number entries on all pages.  The name and Social Security number must match exactly the records of the Social Security Administration – the name must appear as it does on your current Social Security card.

4) Double-check the bank routing and account numbers you enter when requesting direct deposit (and, considering how FU-ed the IRS is, you should request direct deposit). 

5) Don’t forget to attach COPY B of all W-2s and all 1099s that indicate tax withheld.

6) And, if filing a paper return be sure to sign it – both spouses if a joint return.


Monday, March 14, 2022


Here is some important advice for parents, grandparents or others who give their children, grandchildren or others gifts of stock shares – advice that will save the recipient of the gift, or more likely their tax professional, agita and aggravation when they sell the stock 10, 20, 30 years down the road – tell the recipient, in writing, when you purchased the shares and what you paid for them.

You should also tell the recipient, in writing, the “fair market value” of the shares at the time of the gift. 

When reporting the cost basis of an investment you sell that was received as a gift you need to know the cost basis of the person who made the gift, the fair market value of the investments on the day the gift was given, and when the person making the gift purchased the investments.  Generally, the “holding period” for determining long or short term begins on the date the person making the gift purchased the investment.

You should give the recipient of the stock, or his or her parents if a minor child, a copy of the “confirm” or a highlighted entry in a brokerage account statement, that shows the date of purchase and purchase price and a note that indicates the date of the gift and the stock’s value on that date – easily acquired via an online price quote.

In some cases, the gifted stock is purchased currently and given to the recipient.  Grandpa buys 75 shares of stock for his grandson on Monday and gives the stock to him on Wednesday.  But this is not always true.  The father of one of my clients had invested in PSEG regularly over the years, and participated in the company’s dividend reinvestment program.  Years after his initial investment he gifted 75 shares of his PSEG stock to his adult son.  And the son sold some of the shares 26 years later.

If you made a gift of stock in the past you should gather the information and give it to the recipient now.  You can use Big Charts to get a historical price quote for the fair market value on the date of the gift.   


Monday, March 7, 2022



When a spouse passes away there are many things of a financial nature that the surviving partner needs to address.  One important thing that the survivor needs to do is review and revise their income tax withholding.

The death of a spouse is one of the life-changing events when you need to contact your tax professional

The tax and withholding tables for a Single filer are different than those for married taxpayers filing a joint return.  And, most important, the Standard Deduction, which most taxpayers now claim, for a Single filer is half the amount allowed for a joint filer. 

While income may go down the first year a surviving spouse files as a Single taxpayer, if he or she claims the Standard Deduction, and also claimed it when filing jointly, using 2021 as an example, deductions will be reduced by at least $12,550.  

One possible mitigation to the reduced deductions does exist.  For most of my clients reaching the $10,000 SALT limit was not a problem whether filing as Single or married.  So, if mortgage interest and excessive medical expenses or contributions are a factor, the now Single filer may be able to itemize.

You need to do, or have your tax professional do, a projection of income and deductions for the first year as a Single filer and compare the resulting tax liability to current withholding.  You will probably need to file new Form W-4s (or, if applicable, W-4Vs) with your employer, pension provider or the Social Security Administration.  Or you may need to begin making quarterly estimated tax payments.

This applies to both your federal and state withholding.