Family Tax Issues, General Information, Retirement Income, Self Employed

12 Things you need to know about your parent.


While I am focused on helping small businesses grow by reducing their taxes, and organizing their books, I firmly believe that health of body and mind leads to wealth. To help you be better prepared in the event of an emergency involving your parents/loved ones, below (in order of importance) is a list of 12 things you need to know about your aging parents’ health.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us!

WHAT ARE THE NAMES OF THEIR DOCTOR’S & SPECIALIST? If you don’t know anything else, this is probably the most important piece of information. Why? Chances are good that your parents’ doctors can provide much of the rest of the information needed as well as more details about your parents’ specific health histories.

Do they have any major medical problems? This includes such conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

What Medications are they on? Have a list of medications and supplements. It’s especially important that a doctor know if your parent uses blood thinners. It’s also important for your doctor to know if your parents take any vitamin or herbal supplements (as these might interact with medications given in an emergency situation.

What is their previous medical history? Have they had any surgeries and major medical procedures? List past medical procedures including implanted medical devices such as pacemakers.

What is their insurance information? Know the name of your parents’ health insurance provider and their policy numbers.

What Are their End-of-Life Wishes? For instance: Would you want a ventilator and feeding tube used to keep you alive even in an irreversible coma? Do you want CPR initiated if your heart stops, even if you are terminally ill? Make sure the health care proxy is aware of your parent’s decisions.

Do they have any ADVANCE DIRECTIVES? An advance directive (living will, Do Not Resuscitate aka DNR, etc) is a legal document that outlines a person’s decisions about his or her health care, such as whether or not resuscitation efforts should be made and the use of life-support machines.

Have they named a durable power of attorney to manage their finances, or healthcare?
The first step is to find out if they have named a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). Without a POA in place, you’ll have to go to court to get guardianship of your parent in order to access accounts on their behalf.

Where do they keep their financial records and important documents?
Whether they keep their money and documents in a bank, a safe, or under the mattress, you need to know where to find records when you need them. What is the location of keys or codes to lock boxes or safes?

What are their bank account numbers and names of their financial institutions?
In addition to knowing where they keep their money, you need specifics on all account numbers. What banks do they use? Who is their mortgage company? Do they have an investment firm?

What are your parent’s monthly expenses?
Gather information on their mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, electric bill and other expenses.

How do they pay their bills currently, ESPECIALLY THEIR LIFE INSURANCE!!
If there are automatic deductions being taken out of a checking account, you need to know about it. Do they use online banking, or are they mailing in paper checks? DO NOT ASSUME!

This list was provided to us by our partner nonprofit agency  Senior Resource Group Inc. The mission of Senior Resource Group Inc.

is to remove access barriers to service, empower seniors through education, lower prescription drug cost, consolidate resources, and mobilize assistance.

Senior Resource Group Inc. services range from locating no cost insulin for diabetics; applying clients for prescription drug grants; locating local/state/federal and private assistance programs; explaining Medicare; and identifying the lowest cost Medicare supplements, health plans, & insurance solutions. Each of our clients are given an extensive individual interview so that our advocates can uncover every transportation, tax, food, and medical discounts he/she may qualify for.

BUSINESS CREDIT, business taxes, Family Tax Issues, General Information, Retirement Income, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed


group of women sitting in front of table

Author Trudy M Howard. 

In our South Loop Chicago Tax Office, we not only help clients with tax planning to reduce their taxes, but we also draft personalized financial wellness plans.  If you want to eliminate debt, be prepared for an emergency, and retire with confidence, you must learn how to budget your finances. Not only do you want to set a budget, but you need to STICK TO YOUR BUDGET in order to be successful. Keep reading to find out the 7 KEYS TO SETTING & STICKING TO A BUDGET.

1.) Set realistic amounts: If you know that you like to shop, or that you don’t like to cook, don’t set a budget of $25 a month for shopping and dining out.

2.) Use cash instead of a debit/credit card. Retailers know that consumers spend more when they use their card instead of spending cash. Every Sunday withdraw enough for your gas, lunch, groceries, and incidentals.

3.) Watch your funds: Balance your checkbook! Don’t rely on the online banking system to give you current balances, as some purchases may not show for 24-48 hours later. Balancing your checkbook also helps you avoid overdraft fees, and less overdraft fees equal more savings!

4.) Stick to your entertainment budget: Use a prepaid debit card for your entertainment cost. Once the card is empty, you’ll know that you’ve reached your entertainment budget for the week. Be prepared to say NO to invitations from friends, and don’t feel as if you need to provide a detailed explanation about your financial situation.

5.) Expect unexpected expenses. No matter how disciplined you are in sticking to your budget, just as sure as the sun rises in the East, and sets in the West, I can GUARANTEE YOU that some unplanned expense is going to come up. Whether it be an increase in fuel cost, an increase in your utilities, or an unexpected dental emergency, expect to spend an extra $100-$150 a month.

6.) Track every purchase for the next 30 days. In order to get a clear look at your spending habits, you need to track all of your purchases. From the gum that you purchased, to the car note that you paid, Record. Every. Single. Purchase. Although you can use your bank statements to track your spending, writing down the figures can help you identify and remember areas of your concern.

7.) Pay bills on time to avoid late fees and bad credit. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can destroy a budget faster than a late payment fee! If you don’t like having your bills set to auto pay, try using google calendar to set a reminder the day before a bill is due. Not only does paying your bills on time increase your credit score, but it also creates more wealth building opportunities.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, or need business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office at 855-743-5765. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.


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Family Tax Issues, General Information, Retirement Income, TAXES

Tax Consequences of Paying Your Retired Parents To Watch Your Children

adult affection baby child

Author: Trudy M. Howard

QUESTION: Can I claim the money I pay my mom to watch my children after school? She is on S.S. and I would not want to impact her benefits as she is retired. I pay her $260 a week.

ANSWER: With the IRS most answers usually begin with “it depends” and this is one of those answers; it depends. There are several moving parts to this scenario that will determine the tax benefit/liability to you, and the tax benefit/liability to your mom. Tax liability is determined by figuring what location the child care is taking place in, your marital status, the age of the child, and your mom’s total income. It is unclear to me if you have a business, and you are wanting to “claim the money” as in deduct the total amounts paid from your taxable income as a business expense (which you cannot do), or if you want to “claim the money” for the dependent care credit. I’ll get into the dependent care credit later in the article, but for now, let’s start with is your mom an employee, or an independent contractor.

If your mom is doing the babysitting in your home, you may be considered a household employer, and you will NEED TO PAY EMPLOYER TAXES on the money that you paid to your mom. Employer taxes are Federal Unemployment taxes of 6% of the first $,7000 in wages, 6.2% for Social Security, and 1.45% for Medicare. However, as with everything concerning the IRS there is an exception to this rule. You do not have to count the wages paid for social security and Medicare taxes if:

  1. The child is under 18 years of age, or has physical or mental condition that requires the personal care of an adult for at least 4 continuous weeks,  AND
  1. You’re divorced and haven’t remarried.
  2. You’re a widow or widower.
  3. You’re living with a spouse whose physical or mental condition prevents him or her from caring for your child for at least 4 continuous weeks in the calendar quarter services were performed.

If your mom is watching your child outside of your home, (say you are dropping your child off to your mom), then your mom would be considered a “self-employed person” which means that she will need to pay self-employment taxes on her income. The reason she will need to pay report and pay self-employment taxes is because she would have earned over $400 in self-employment income.


Because your mom is self-employed, she would have to pay SELF EMPLOYMENT TAXES in the amount of $1,591.20 (calculated using the 20% qualified business income deduction only, not with any business expense deductions), and if she has over $25,000 in income (social security income plus self-employment income), she may also have to pay INCOME TAXES on the earnings.


By paying your mom to watch your child, you may be eligible to claim the nonrefundable child and dependent care tax credit. The Child and dependent care tax credit ranges from 20%-35% of either $3,000 or $6,000 depending on your adjusted gross income. A qualifying individual for the child and dependent care credit is:

  1. Your dependent qualifying child who is under age 13 when the care is provided.
  2. Your spouse who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care and lived with you for more than half of the year.
  3. An individual who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care, lived with you for more than half of the year, and either: (i) is your dependent; or (ii) could have been your dependent except that he or she has gross income that equals or exceeds the exemption amount, or files a joint return, or you (or your spouse, if filing jointly) could have been claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s 2018 return.

Once your AGI (adjusted gross income) is over $43,000 the max tax credit you will receive is $600 for 1 child, and $1,200 for 2 children. Each child must be under the age of 13. This credit is nonrefundable, so if you have a $0 tax liability & you receive the $600 credit, you would not receive a tax refund check for the $600.


Per IRS PUBLICATION 926 The deduction that can be taken on Schedules C and F (Form 1040) for wages and employment taxes applies only to wages and taxes paid for business and farm employees. You can’t deduct the wages and employment taxes paid for your household employees on your Schedule C or F.


There are several types of retirement income. Pension, 401k, IRA, Annuities, Social Security, SSI, Social Security Disability, Disability Payments from a Privately Owned Insurance Plan, etc.  For purposes of this article I will be focusing on government sponsored retirement plans.

SOCIAL SECURITY RETIREMENT INCOME: –If your mom’s is unmarried, and her base income (including social security and all other income) is $25,000 or less, she will not have to pay any INCOME tax (remember income tax and self-employment taxes are two different taxes).

Per the benefits planner retirement section on the social security website, if your mom is at full retirement age she can earn as much as she wants, and have unlimited resources and still receive her benefits. However, if your mom is younger than full retirement age and makes more than the yearly earnings limit, her earnings may reduce her benefit amount.

“(Full retirement age is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954. Beginning with 1955, two months are added for every birth year until the full retirement age reaches 67 for people born in 1960 or later.) If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2018, that limit is $17,040.”
To find out whether any of your benefits shown on Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099 may be taxable, compare the base amount (explained later) for your filing status with

the total of:

  1. One-half of your benefits, plus
  2. All your other income, including tax-exempt interest

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY: –This benefit is based on an inability to work, and work history. Per the disability section on the social security website: “Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.” While there are limits on what a person can earn while on disability, they can receive help from outside sources and retain their benefits.
SSI–SOCIAL SECURITY SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME--The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have financial need, and limited income/resources. This benefit pays a small amount to those that are disabled, but don’t qualify for regular social security disability. The basic monthly SSI payment for 2019 is the same nationwide. It is:

—$771 for one person; or

—$1,157 for a couple.

Not everyone gets the same amount. You may get more if you live in a state that adds money to the federal SSI payment. You may receive less if you or your family has other income. Where and with whom you live also makes a difference in the amount of your SSI payment. SSI eligibility is based on a person’s access to money & assistance, (aka means, aka support, income, total household income), and per the SSA “Income is any item an individual receives in cash or in-kind that can be used to meet his or her need for food or shelter.  Income also includes (for the purposes of SSI), the receipt of any item which can be applied, either directly or by sale or conversion, to meet basic needs of food or shelter.” Resources are limited to $2,000 for single people.
Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, or need business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office at 855-743-5765. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.


Never miss another tip again! Join our newsletter, to receive tax reduction/wealth building tips delivered right to your inbox!