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Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M.

Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M.
Hal Zemel, a Tax Principal at Berdon LLP, has more than 20 years in public accounting and advises businesses in the real estate, service, and manufacturing sectors.
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TAX TALK: Self-Employed Retirement Plans

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 30, 2017 9:17:00 AM

If you are self-employed you may be able to set up a retirement plan that allows you to contribute much more than you can contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) or even an employer-sponsored 401(k). There is still time to set up such a plan for 2017, and it generally is easy to do. So whether you are a “full-time” independent contractor or you are employed but earn some self-employment income on the side, consider setting up one of the following types of retirement plans this 2017.

Profit-sharing Plan

This is a defined contribution plan that allows discretionary employer contributions and flexibility in plan design. You can make deductible 2017 contributions as late as the due date of your 2017 tax return, including extensions — provided your plan exists on Dec. 31, 2017.

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Two ACA Taxes that May Impact Your Executive Compensation

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 23, 2017 12:19:09 PM

If you’re an executive or other key employee, you might be rewarded with restricted stock, stock options, or nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC). Tax planning for these forms of executive compensation is generally more complicated than for salaries, bonuses, and traditional employee benefits. And planning gets even more complicated if you could potentially be subject to two taxes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

1) the additional 0.9% Medicare tax, and

2) the net investment income tax (NIIT)

These taxes apply when certain income exceeds the applicable threshold: $250,000 for married filing jointly, $125,000 for married filing separately, and $200,000 for other taxpayers.

Additional Medicare Tax

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Accelerate Your Retirement Savings with a Cash Balance Plan

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 16, 2017 9:18:00 AM

If you are a business owner, you may not be able to set aside as much as you’d like in tax-advantaged retirement plans. Typically, you’re older and more highly compensated than your employees, but restrictions on contributions to 401(k) and profit-sharing plans can hamper retirement-planning efforts. One solution may be a cash balance plan.

Defined Benefit Plan with a Twist

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Consider Bunching Your Medical Expenses for 2017

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 9, 2017 9:19:00 AM

Various limits apply to most tax deductions, and one type of limit is a “floor,” which means expenses are deductible only if they exceed that floor. Typically this is a specific percentage of your income. One example is the medical expense deduction.

Because it can be difficult to exceed the floor, a common strategy is to “bunch” deductible medical expenses into a particular year where possible. If tax reform legislation is signed into law, it might be especially beneficial to bunch deductible medical expenses into 2017.

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Investors - Beware of the Wash Sale Rule

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 2, 2017 9:18:00 AM

A tried-and-true tax-saving strategy for investors is to sell assets at a loss to offset gains that have been realized during the year. If you have cashed in some big gains this year, consider looking for unrealized losses in your portfolio and selling those investments before year end to offset your gains. This can reduce your 2017 tax liability.

But what if you expect an investment that would produce a loss if sold now to not only recover but thrive in the future? Or perhaps you simply want to minimize the impact on your asset allocation. You might think you can simply sell the investment at a loss and then immediately buy it back. Not so fast: You need to beware of the wash sale rule.

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Consider Boosting Your 401(k) Contribution Rate Between Now and Year End

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Sep 25, 2017 9:18:00 AM

One important step to both reducing taxes and saving for retirement is to contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement plan. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, contributing to that is likely your best first step.

If you’re not already contributing the maximum allowed, consider increasing your contribution rate between now and year end. Because of tax-deferred compounding (tax-free in the case of Roth accounts), boosting contributions sooner rather than later can have a significant impact on the size of your nest egg at retirement.

Traditional 401(k)

A traditional 401(k) offers many benefits:

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Key 4th Quarter Tax Deadlines for Businesses and Other Employers

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Sep 18, 2017 10:20:00 AM

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the fourth quarter of 2017. This list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to learn if you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and for more details about the filing requirements.

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Donating Real Estate to Charity can have Tax Pitfalls

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Sep 11, 2017 9:36:55 AM

Charitable giving allows you to help an organization you care about and, in most cases, enjoy a valuable income tax deduction. If you’re considering a large gift, a noncash donation such as appreciated real estate can provide additional benefits. For example, if you’ve held the property for more than one year, you generally will be able to deduct its full fair market value and avoid any capital gains tax you’d owe if you sold the property.

However, there are potential tax pitfalls to watch for:

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: The ABCs of the Tax Deduction for Educator Expenses

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Sep 5, 2017 11:27:48 AM

At back-to-school time, much of the focus is on the students returning to the classroom — and on their parents buying them school supplies, backpacks, clothes, etc., for the new school year. But let’s not forget about the teachers. It’s common for teachers to pay for some classroom supplies out of pocket, and the tax code provides a special break that makes it a little easier for these educators to deduct some of their expenses.

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Undoing a Roth IRA Conversion

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Aug 28, 2017 11:40:00 AM

Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can provide tax-free growth and the ability to withdraw funds tax-free in retirement. However, when you convert to the Roth IRA, all of the deductible contributions and earnings in the traditional IRA are included in taxable income. Therefore, you will have to pay tax on the balance converted. If after you convert a traditional IRA you discover that you would have been better off not converting to a Roth IRA, it’s possible to undo a Roth IRA conversion, using a “recharacterization.”

Reasons to Recharacterize

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Topics: TAX TALK

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