October 2022 — Bergen Bar Tax Bulletin, Vol. 38, No. 10

Written by: Theodore M. David

Current Items:                                                                                    

1) Hurricane Scammers   

2) Adjust Withholding?

3) Annual Turkey Tribute

1). September 28, 2022, was a nasty day for South Florida. What has become known as the largest and strongest hurricane ever to hit Florida made landfall over some really beautiful places like Captiva and Sanibel islands? In Naples, seawater, rainwater and sewer discharge made for an ugly glop they say may take years to remove before things can get back to normal. The losses are in the billions. If you have seen the pictures of a place like Fort Myers Beach, you know the extent of the damage that a nasty hurricane can do. Relief centers were set up almost immediately and neighbors trying to help neighbors were out amidst the devastation. Now I don’t know about your feelings about scammers, but I can guess you feel as I do. The IRS declared October 17-21 to be charity fraud alert week. It seems these lowlifes have been contacting people and fraudulently requesting money donations to help in the Florida relief. Organized charities lose about 5% of their annual donations every year to scammers. This is an international problem and IRS continues to work with global agencies on the issue. IRS says cybercrime is on the rise including attacks on charities, their supporters and beneficiaries. If you are thinking of making a donation to any charity, IRS encourages donors to verify a charity’s tax-exempt status at IRS.gov/TEOS before donating goods, services or money. Fake charities are part of the IRS’s dirty dozen tax scams for 2022. If apprehended, I would suggest taking these fine folks to some of the places that have been hardest hit by the hurricane and allowing neighbors who have lost everything to have a chat with them.

2). The Internal Revenue Service has suggested that taxpayers take a look at their withholding to make sure there will be no surprises during tax filing season in 2023. Changes in withholding will be treated as made during the entire tax year and should avoid any underestimation penalties. The IRS provides a tool at its website called the “tax withholding estimator,” which can help taxpayers determine if they have too much income tax withheld and how to make an adjustment to increase the cash in their own pocket. It will also guide taxpayers to increase withholding or make an estimated tax payment if necessary. According to IRS, about 70% of taxpayers withhold too much every year. This results in a refund which averages about $3000. For some people, this may be a forced savings plan, but it amounts to an interest-free loan to your favorite tax agency.

With regard to 2022 tax returns to be filed in 2023:

  • The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly for tax year 2022 is $25,900. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately $12,950, and for heads of households, $19,400
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2022 remains at 0, as it was for 2021
  • Marginal Rates: For tax year 2022, the top tax rate is 37% for individual single taxpayers with incomes greater than $539,900 ($647,850 for married couples filing jointly). The other six brackets are 35%, 32%, 24%, 22%, 12%, and the lowest rate is 10%.

There are new inflation-adjusted amounts that will apply to tax year 2023. The standard deduction for married couples will be $27,700. For single individuals and those filing married, filing separately $13,850 and for heads of household, $20,800. There will continue to be the seven tax brackets but there are increases for inflation at the breakpoints. View them in detail at IRS.gov.

 Thank God You’re Not a Turkey

Wouldn’t it be pleasant

To perhaps be a pheasant?

Or maybe a goose

Out on the loose.

But when leaves turn red,

You’d be filled with dread

If you were a turkey.

Why, if you were a turkey,

You’d be on the phone all day,

Talking with your lawyers,

Having bills to pay

To settle up the life jams,

Waiting for the roast yams.

So when it’s time to dine and sip,

Include this prayer upon your lip:

“Be grateful for all you see

And that a turkey, you will never be.

Thank God for birds* who don’t mind the loss,

When plucked and stuffed

And cooked in sauce.

*It may be time for a soybean alternative. Just ask any turkey what they think.

Be Thankful and Do Some Good

Questions or Comments should be sent to:

Theodore M. David, e-mail: Tdavidlawyer@gmail.com.