Weekly Digest – December 23 2021 – Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season

Even if you’re fully vaccinated and have your COVID-19 boosters up to date, there is a possibility you’ll still get a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Vox has a list of things you can do now to prepare:

  1. get a booster and a flu shot
  2. figure out how you can most easily get tested, including possibly purchasing an at-home test kit
  3. continue wearing your mask, and consider upgrading to a more protective one
  4. have a plan for isolation if you do test positive.

This article in the Huffington Post lists the most common symptoms of the Omicron variant.

If you do test positive, this article from the Wall Street Journal explains the next steps:

  1. plan on quarantining for the next 10 days
  2. inform your close contacts
  3. contact your doctor if you have a persistent high fever, difficulty breathing or chest pain, or an inability to drink or eat.

Reading about the highly contagious Omicron variant and hearing personal stories about sickness and loss is so upsetting especially as we are counting down the days to Christmas and New Year’s and longing to see friends and family.  I have plans to gather in very small groups with close friends who have been vaccinated and bolstered and diligent in their contact with others; I hope you have similar plans and wish you all a safe and happy times ahead.   NYC has just released a new

Each year someone on our block puts up a Christmas tree on our beach, it was so nice to see that the tradition remains as the weather allowed once again…

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There was another beautiful sunrise that morning as well…

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We wish you, your family, friends and associates a continued happy holiday season and health and prosperity for 2022.

Aparness Company (1)

 New York City Mandatory Vaccination Requirements for Private Sector Employees

Mayor de Blasio has just announced a vaccine mandate for private sector workers, and major expansions to nation-leading “Key to NYC” program.

On December 6, 2021, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a vaccine mandate which requires that all private-sector employees who work in a workplace in the presence of another worker, or who interact with a member of the public, be vaccinated by December 27, 2021.  The mandate applies to approximately 184,000 businesses in the City.  It extends a vaccine mandate to those employees who were not previously covered by the “Key to NYC” vaccination requirements.  Accordingly, private sector employees who report to work in person or interact with the public will need to be vaccinated by December 27.  For more information click through to this National Law Review article with links to details and a “Q&A” section.

BUILD BACK BETTER BILL

Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

A recent announcement by Senator Joe Manchin that he would not support the Build Back Better Bill in its current form means the infrastructure and social safety net legislation will not pass until 2022. This makes it unlikely that advance child tax credit payments will continue without a break into the new year.

As a reminder, the IRS will be sending out letters in January with the total amount of advance child tax credit payments received. The information on this letter will be needed to file your 2021 tax return, where you’ll reconcile the total amount of payments received in 2021 with the amount you can claim on your tax return. For more information on the expanded child tax credits see the IRS FAQs.

TAX MATTERS

IRS Disaster Relief from Recent Tornadoes

Taxpayers impacted by the tornadoes that struck parts of Kentucky counties will have until May 16, 2022 to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. The IRS announced that the following are now due May 16, 2022:

  • Individual and business tax returns due between December 10, 2021 and May 16, 2022
  • Individual and business estimated tax payments due January 18 and April 18
  • Quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due January 31 and May 2

For more information, check the IRS Disaster Relief page.

Extended IRS Disaster Relief from Hurricane Ida

The IRS has just released IR-2021-254, extending the filing time for victims of Hurricane Ida in six states until February 15 2022.

“Victims of Hurricane Ida in six states now have until Feb. 15, 2022, extended from Jan. 3, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.  The updated relief, extended from Jan. 3, covers the entire states of Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until February. 15, 2022, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This means individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2020 return that ran out on October 15, 2021, will now have until February 15, 2022, to file. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2020 returns were due on May 17, 2021, those payments are not eligible for this relief.”

I think this was a smart move by the IRS, this will allow those taxpayers to “timely” file via the efile portal once it reopens in late January, early February.  The IRS is still working through the backlog of 2019 and 2020 paper filings.  For more details click through to this article in AccountingToday.

Tax Minimization Planning Tips

With 2022 is just around the corner, CNN has this list of 9 smart year-end money moves to take care of before 2021 ends.  We have listed most of these in our weekly newsletter, check out this concise list:

  • Charitable contribution deduction for those who file with the standard deduction:  taxpayers can deduct up to $300 ($600 for joint filers) in cash charitable donations made in 2021 even if you don’t itemize
  • Capital loss harvesting:  reduce capital gains tax by selling investments that have lost value to offset capital gains on appreciated stocks sold during 2021.
  • Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) are required for 2021: make sure to take any outstanding RMD’s for 2021 if you have not yet done so
  • Consider contributing to a favorite charity directly from your Required Minimum Distributions (RMD).  This will reduce your taxable income even if you don’t itemize deductions
  • Flexible Spending Account money must be spent by December 31, unless your employer has allowed for flexibility in carrying over unused amounts.
  • Consider converting convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA as tax rates might just be historic low rates.
  • Consider making some changes to your retirement accounts. If you haven’t maxed out your 401(k) contribution, consider making extra salary deferrals by year end to reach the maximum $19,500 or $26,000 for those over 50.
  • Have your business make a state Pass Through Entity tax payment (PTE) by December 31st.  This will reduce your federal income tax liability and provide a tax credit for your personal income tax liability.
  • If like many of us, you have procrastinated about seeing your physician, and have already met your annual deductible, consider scheduling a visit before the end of the year.

IRS Form 6475: 2021 Stimulus Payment

The IRS has created form 6475 which will provide you with your 2021 stimulus payment.  We will be asked to reconcile your eligible amount with the advance payments you may have received during mid-2021.  This is a similar process with what we were asked to do when submitting our 2020 tax returns.

IRS On-Line Services

The IRS will be requiring anyone who wants to access online services such as the Child Tax Credit Update Portal or their online IRS account to log in using an ID.me account by the summer of 2022. Taxpayers with existing non-ID.me log in credentials can continue to use the old system, but will have to create a new ID.me log in to access IRS services after the change. This change is being made to ensure that access to taxpayer information is only available to the correct person.

THE GREAT REASSESSMENT

Instead of an exit interview to find out what went wrong, a better tactic to keep employees from leaving during the Great Resignation may be to conduct regular stay interviews. These are one-on-one conversations that help pinpoint issues that may cause employees to leave. Stay interviews don’t focus on employee performance, but on intangibles such as morale and company culture. Direct questions, such as “If you were to leave in six months, what would make you leave?” can introduce transparency. Take notes on the issues team members bring up rather than keeping it all in your head, and be sure to take action on what needs improvement.

Just because a valued team member quit a year or two ago does not mean they will never come back. An increasing number of workers are returning as “boomerang employees” to their old employers, and sometimes, to their old bosses. For employees, this can be an opportunity to get a promotion and a higher salary. For employers, the return of a proven employee eases the onboarding process, and brings back previously lost proprietary knowledge and skills.

With attention focused on the number of employees leaving their jobs, few have noticed that firings and layoffs have ground to a halt, dropping nearly 30% from the average. With job openings outnumbering job seekers, many employers are hanging on to people that otherwise would have been let go. Hiring a replacement can be difficult and expensive, so employers are putting in place “performance improvement plans” for problematic team members. In contrast to the past, when a performance improvement plan was often a preliminary step to dismissal, today these plans aim to help employers do more with fewer employees.

REMOTE AND HYBRID WORK OPTIONS

What will work look like in 2022? Here are some predictions from industry leaders, as told to Wired. Hybrid working will be the norm, but it will take work. People will begin to value self-care over career at all costs. Companies will take measures to address proximity bias, where input from in-office team members is prioritized over that from remote workers. Virtual meetings will become shorter and better. Companies will need to improve benefits to retain people.

Companies that have repeatedly delayed their return to the office date are now pushing that date off indefinitely, thanks to the Omicron variant. Instead of firm dates in January or February, companies are telling their employees that they will reassess as time passes. An advantage of an indefinite date is that employees can focus on their work rather than worrying about how to prepare for a return to the office. On the other hand, a firm date gives employees a bit of stability after months of uncertainty.

LEADERSHIP

Growing a company doesn’t always mean adhering to the adage that “the customer is always right.” Sometimes growth comes from sending difficult customers to the competition. Difficult customers can suck up several hours per week, time that may be better spent on productive activities, as the founders of Replify found. Another strategy the founders used was perusing online reviews of their competitors’ software, and proactively solving customer pain points in their own product.

Should all great employees be promoted to manager? For many, this is an obvious career path, but for others, being steamrolled into management can be a disaster. Few companies provide leadership training as part of a promotion, and not everyone wants to move into management. New managers who don’t receive support or training may be set up to fail and may leave the organization completely. Instead, companies may want to consider alternative career pathways that focus on an employee’s particular strengths and allow team members to continue doing what they love, while also receiving the executive-level pay and recognition they deserve.

ECONOMY

Increasing prices and staffing shortages are forcing many restaurants to reduce their menu offerings. According to a recent survey, 60% of restaurants reported reducing their menu size. Some are using less costly ingredients, while others are preparing some components ahead of time. A few places are emphasizing upscale items at premium prices.

Despite signs that supply chain problems are beginning to ease, the latest surge in COVID-19 infection rates, inflationary pressures and labor shortages are slowing economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe. The surge of the Omicron variant in the U.K. may offer some clues for the U.S., as it is still too early to determine how widely the variant will spread and how sick people become.

The holiday season is a key period for the U.S. economy, and while supply chain issues are easing, businesses are struggling to fill orders. Some are missing key components such as glass jars for sauces, while others are taking creative steps such as circumventing the usual transportation by renting U-Haul trucks to move products to alternative shippers or building smartphone apps to replace manual timers.

GENERAL RESOURCES

We sincerely hope that you and your family are well and remain well. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are all in this together!

If you need help with your accounting, want to create a tax minimization plan, want to discuss your business growth plan or your finances, are concerned about retirement goals or need to be held accountable for your 90 day action plan, contact us for a complimentary discovery session or an appointment to just get started.

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