Author Archives: Susan Moussi

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About Susan Moussi

Susan Moussi is a Tax & Divorce Planning Financial Consultant at SMD Tax & Divorce in Columbus, OH.
EMAIL: susan@smdtaxanddivorce.com
BIO: About Susan
PHONE: 631-754-0800

Organizing Tax Documents? Remember—Statements, Not Screenshots
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
Organizing Tax Documents? Remember—Statements, Not Screenshots | Susan Moussi

{1:37 minutes to read} Information seems to be available at the touch of a screen or click of a mouse. If one wants to know the balance in an account, in a brief moment, one can quickly pull up the summary on their desktop or smartphone. When several of your accounts are with the same institution, all the accounts can be summarized on a single page. This should make getting information gathered for a divorce matter quick and easy. That is until questions start to dig deep.

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Substantial Changes to the Tax Law: How Do They Affect Your 2017 Returns?
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
Substantial Changes to the Tax Law: How Do They Affect Your 2017 Returns? | Susan Moussi

{2:13 minutes to read} As we head into the second half of 2017, it is important to be reminded of the substantial changes to the tax law that will affect this year’s returns. Social Security The amount of time it will take for people to max out on how much of their income is subjected to Social Security has increased. Unlike the previous few years (when the maximum was $118,500), people will no longer pay into Social Security once their income exceeds $127,200—it will just take longer (and cost more) to pay it at the same 6.2% rate.

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Act Now & Save on Your 2016 Tax Return
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
Act Now & Save on Your 2016 Tax Return | Susan Moussi

Tax filing season provides an opportunity to make decisions that can affect the previous year’s tax bill. There is still time to act on the beneficial options outlined below. Fund Your Retirement  Now is the perfect time to examine your retirement contributions. According to an article on CNBC.com, “To be financially ready to retire by age 67, you should aim to have 10 times your final salary in savings.” Before April 15th, you may still have the option to:

  • Fund a Traditional IRA (which may lower taxes for the previous year);
  • Fund a Roth IRA (which would not lower last year’s taxes but provides a tax shelter for the future); or
  • Fund a self-employed pension plan (SEP) if you are self-employed. Note: Funding an SEP may lower taxes for the previous year and, by filing an extension on the federal income tax return, you can extend the investment deadline to October 15th. 

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The Tax Impact of Crowdfunding
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
The Tax Impact of Crowdfunding | Susan Moussi

{3:00 minutes to read} Crowdfunding is simply any method by which money is raised, for any reason, from a crowd. Back in the pre-computer days, the terminology would have been “fundraiser.” It’s only the means by which the funds are raised that has changed, not necessarily that it hasn’t existed before. The tax treatment of a transaction often depends on the intent of the donor. Most online crowdfunding campaigns are donation based. Funds are raised to help some charitable cause. It is also the most misunderstood.

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End-of-Life Discussions & Decisions
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Authored by , re: Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .
End-of-Life Discussions & Decisions | Susan Moussi

{3:30 minutes to read} The subject of this article comes from my personal experience this past fall with the death of my husband, Cliff. Cliff was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2014. Life took on a new normal, and we had nearly two years after his diagnosis to take care of planning, completing paperwork, and discussing his wishes. Not everyone gets an advance notice like this. Accidents do happen, so I urge you to make a New Year’s resolution to take the following steps, no matter your situation:

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Take Control: Use these Techniques to Keep Divorce Costs Down
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Take Control: Use these Techniques to Keep Divorce Costs Down | Susan Moussi

The process of divorce is expensive. According to Lawyers.com, a survey indicated that the average cost of divorce in Ohio is $12,500—including $9,000 in attorneys fees alone. The remainder of the costs generally covers administrative, filing, and expert fees. The cost of divorce can increase further depending on the circumstances. For example, divorces that have CC or complex finances incur more expenses.

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Are You Aware of 2016’s Tax Law Changes?
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
Are You Aware of 2016’s Tax Law Changes? | Susan Moussi

{2:47 minutes to read} As we get close to the end of the year, it’s important to remember and be aware of some tax law changes that came into effect in 2016. Child Tax Credit This is the $1,000 credit for which parents of children under the age of 17 are eligible. Nothing changes about the way the credit is calculated or who is entitled to it. What changes is that you now have to have in place a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for that child by the due date of the return.

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For as Long as We Live or Money Do Us Part
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
For as Long as We Live or Money Do Us Part | Susan Moussi

{3:19 minutes to read} Before you say, “I Do,” make sure you discuss important financial matters with your betrothed.

  • According to bridalguide.com, the most popular months to get married are June, September and October.
  • An article in The Atlantic has identified the average age for first marriages in the US as 27 for women and 29 for men.
  • According to a Pew Research Center online report dated November 14, 2014, remarriage is on the rise for people aged 55 and over.

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For as Long as We Live or Money Do Us Part
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
For as Long as We Live or Money Do Us Part | Susan Moussi

{3:19 minutes to read} Before you say, “I Do,” make sure you discuss important financial matters with your betrothed.

  • According to bridalguide.com, the most popular months to get married are June, September and October.
  • An article in The Atlantic has identified the average age for first marriages in the US as 27 for women and 29 for men.
  • According to a Pew Research Center online report dated November 14, 2014, remarriage is on the rise for people aged 55 and over.

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Tax Rules Regarding Legal and Professional Fees
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Tax Rules Regarding Legal and Professional Fees | Susan Moussi

{3:35 minutes to read} Tax rules regarding legal and professional fees can be complex and sometimes disappointing. Complex since there are certain legal and professional fees for which you can get an immediate tax write-off. In other cases, you can add these expenses to the cost of the relevant item and write it off over a longer period of time. Disappointing because some aren’t deductible at all, and oftentimes they are only beneficial as a deduction when they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. Here’s what you should know:

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6 Ways to Save Money Next Tax Season
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
6 Ways to Save Money Next Tax Season | Susan Moussi

{4:30 minutes to read} Having just completed the 2015 tax filing season, I have been reflecting on some of the situations that caused me and my team to spend more time on preparing tax returns this year. The cost of tax preparation is based on the amount of time needed to prepare the return, so identifying places where changes can be made throughout the year can help save my clients money next year. 1. Numerous small, non-cash donations For non-cash donations over $500, the IRS requires form 8283 for all contributed property for the year.

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The Alimony Recapture Rule: What It Is & How to Avoid It
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
The Alimony Recapture Rule: What It Is & How to Avoid It | Susan Moussi

{2:10 minutes to read} The alimony recapture rule is a potential tax consequence when alimony is paid for a period of fewer than three years and when there are dramatic drop-offs in the amount paid from year to year.  There are times when alimony may be paid by one spouse to another for a very short period of time. When this happens, the payor of alimony risks the possibility of having to report so-called phantom income.

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Using a Budget to Shape Your Financial Future
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
Using a Budget to Shape Your Financial Future | Susan Moussi

{2:55 minutes to read} Most people find the task of putting together a budget daunting and frustrating. They might hope to get through a divorce, or even life, without ever actually preparing a budget. However, I strongly encourage people to give careful thought and consideration to the task of preparing a budget and to give it their best effort. No one’s future can be predicted or guaranteed. However, with information and planning, we can create the future we want.

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Divorce and Social Security: What You Need to Know!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Divorce and Social Security: What You Need to Know! | Susan Moussi

{4:00 minutes to read} Social Security benefits are in a constant state of flux; eligibilities and rules are always changing, and the rules are complex. Fortunately, there are professionals who specialize in Social Security benefits exclusively and maintain knowledge of the changes and eligibility requirements. I provide my clients with information through this ever-shifting landscape, but if their situation is out of the ordinary I will refer my clients to a specialist. In this article, I will share with you some of the information I routinely share with my clients.

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A New Year’s Resolution for Every Age
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
A New Year’s Resolution for Every Age | Susan Moussi

{2:00 minutes to read} At this time of year, many of us are thinking about what our resolutions will be in the new year. We usually resolve to do things we think will enrich our lives at the time. But sometimes, with the benefit of hindsight, we see later that we could have made wiser resolutions and priorities. I have more than 30 years of working experience and 55 years of living experience, and would like to share my own work and life suggestions for five age ranges:

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Living Longer Makes Saving for Retirement, Even More, Important
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, on .
Living Longer Makes Saving for Retirement, Even More, Important | Susan Moussi

{2:50 minutes to read} These days, we hear increasingly about centenarians—people living to 100 years or more. The added longevity makes saving for post-working years, even more, important. There are three vehicles to consider when planning for these years:

  1. Retirement Savings via Deductible or Nontaxable Contributions
Traditional retirement accounts allow a taxpayer to make deductible contributions from current taxable earnings at current tax rates. Traditional retirement plans also allow employers to contribute to the plans (instead of directly to the employee as additional wages),

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Paying or Receiving Spousal Support? Here’s What You Need to Know!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Paying or Receiving Spousal Support? Here’s What You Need to Know! | Susan Moussi

{4:00 minutes to read} Alimony is also known as spousal support. In Ohio, the laws that refer to spousal support are defined as payments made from one spouse to a former or current spouse. It is important to note that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses the term alimony instead. The rest of this article will use the term spousal support. To ensure deductibility, a written agreement must exist prior to a payment. This does not need to be a court order;

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Divorcing Later in Life? Be Financially Prepared
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
Divorcing Later in Life? Be Financially Prepared | Susan Moussi

{2:00 minutes to read} Uncertainty. Unknowns. Regardless of age, divorce creates questions and concerns about the future. Depending on the age of the couple, the focus of these concerns varies. Younger couples are generally more concerned with how they can maintain the lifestyle that their children have grown accustomed to now that there are two separate households. Children, rather than retirement, for example, becomes the focus.

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Who Is the Beneficiary of Your IRA?
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
Who Is the Beneficiary of Your IRA? | Susan Moussi

{3:40 minutes to read} What is a beneficiary designation? When someone designates a beneficiary of their Individual Retirement Account (IRA), they are authorizing a transfer of their assets which will occur at the time of their death. Assets that have a named beneficiary will not have to go through probate court. Some of the assets that typically have beneficiary designations are:

  • Bank accounts;
  • Investment accounts;
  • Retirement accounts; and
  • Life insurance policies.

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5 Things Divorced Parents Need to Know Before the Next Tax Season
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .

{4:20 minutes to read}  As spouses finalize their divorces, agreements are usually reached as to how the parents will account for their child on their separate individual income tax returns. Here are five things you need to know about child-related deductions and tax credits: 1. It doesn’t matter which parent provides the greater amount of financial support. In recent years, the support test has been replaced by what is called the “place-of-abode” test.

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Don’t Be a Victim of Tax-Related Identity Theft
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
Don’t Be a Victim of Tax-Related Identity Theft | Susan Moussi

{2:55 minutes to read} During the last tax season, I had several clients – even in my very small tax practice – experience a new twist in tax-related identity theft. Clients received notices from the IRS thanking them for filing their 2014 tax return, although we had not yet even filed one. Someone else used their stolen Social Security number to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. The thieves used stolen Social Security numbers and even stolen Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) from a business to create false W2 forms to support the false claims.

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How a Neutral Financial Professional is Beneficial to the Collaborative Process
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
How a Neutral Financial Professional is Beneficial to the Collaborative Process | Susan Moussi

{4:20 minutes to read} Collaborative law is one of the many options for dissolving a marriage. It is a relatively new method of resolving divorce issues without the customary court proceedings. When couples work together, along with professionals, they are usually able to craft agreements that are better suited to the needs of their family. In most cases, these couples arrive at a win-win outcome as opposed to a win-lose outcome that may otherwise occur in a courtroom.

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3 Reasons Why You Need a Divorce Financial Professional
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
3 Reasons Why You Need a Divorce Financial Professional | Susan Moussi

{4:20 minutes to read} If you are facing a divorce — or the possibility of a divorce — have you considered an experienced financial professional? Here are 3 important reasons you should contact a financial professional:

  • We will assist you in gathering financial data. One of the first questions your attorney will ask is: What assets do you own? What about your debts and obligations? A divorce financial professional knows exactly what information you will need.

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TIPA: 4 Tax Deductions That Were Reinstated for 2014
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Authored by , re: Accounting & Bookkeeping, Business Development, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
TIPA 4 Tax Deductions That Were Reinstated for 2014 | Susan Moussi

{2:09 minutes to read} The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA), which Congress passed on December 16, 2014, restores certain deductions and credits that were not going to be available in 2014. Here are four of the most common deductions: 1. The Qualified Tuition Deduction

  • If you paid education expenses last year, you have the option of getting a credit or a deduction for expenses incurred to pay tuition and fees.
  • You may be able to write off as much as $4,000.

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Don’t Wait Until April! 8 Reasons to File Taxes Early
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Authored by , re: Accounting & Bookkeeping, Business Development, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
Don’t Wait Until April! 8 Reasons to File Taxes Early | Susan Moussi

{3:05 minutes to read} Do you file your taxes as soon as your documents arrive in the mail, or sometime in April? It’s open season right now. Here are eight reasons why, when it comes to filing taxes, sooner is better than later. 1. FAFSA Forms This time of year, if you’re a parent of a college student, you may be filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).

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Business Filing Deadlines for the 2014 Tax Year
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Business Filing Deadlines for the 2014 Tax Year | Susan Moussi

{3:30 minutes to read} At the beginning of every year, most businesses find themselves in a rush to complete all of the necessary tax documents within the allotted time set forth by the government(s). They are busy reconciling all of their accounts in order to provide their tax preparer with the information that is necessary in order to file their income tax returns – which may be due as early as March 15th in some circumstances.

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