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Monick Atwell

Dallas, Texas, United States

Member since December 23, 2013


  • 2014 is quickly coming to a close. Before ringing in the New Year, take December to round out some quick and easy tips to lower your tax obligations and even boost your tax refund. And who doesn't want more money?

    So before we put a cork in this year, get your tax to-do list ready -- and let’s check off these 8 items.

    1. Start gathering forms, and receipts. Start gathering receipts for deductible expenses and sources of income for the past year so you don't leave anything out when you sit down and prepare your taxes. Pro tip: Understand which tax forms you will need, and keep a checklist to keep everything straight. This will help keep your sanity when you sit down to file your taxes, trust me.

    2. Donate to charity. Take December to weed through your clothes, furniture, and household goods to give back to a qualified charitable organization. Donating to those in need will leave you with a warm feeling inside, as well as a possible deduction. For non-cash and monetary donations, make sure you keep your receipts from the charitable organizations. Mileage (14 cents of every mile) driven to charitable service is also tax deductible. TurboTax Its Deductible will accurately value and track your yearly-donated goods. Make these donations count on your taxes by donating by December 31st. Pro Tip: If you make a donation by credit card, you do not have to pay it off in 2014 to receive the tax deduction.

    3. Push back your bonus to January. You have put in some hard work t...

  • It’s that time again, as we close out another year, to review some end-of-the-year tax tips that could still be used to save you money. As you likely already know, many of the tax strategies you can employ must be done in the same tax year as they will be claimed. That is exactly why, with some of these strategies, you must act quickly to get your benefit. And remember, you should always consult your tax, legal and financial advisor before making these decisions. But this list gives you a good place to start.

    • Offset gains with losses. Look at your portfolio and see if you have gains and losses. If you have both, you can write off the gains against the losses. If you have more losses than gains, you can also take up to $3,000 of losses against ordinary income. To take a loss for 2014, you must claim the loss by selling the asset or investment that contains the loss this year. You can also take additional losses and "carry them forward" to next year. If you do decide to sell an investment at a loss, and plan on buying it back after you claim the loss, make sure you wait at least 30 days to repurchase it. Otherwise, you will have violated the wash-sale rules, which can penalize you for buying it back too soon.

    • Fund your individual retirement accounts, Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Simplified Employee Pension Plans, etc. Most retirement plans require you fund that investment in the year you take the write-off, but not all. With respect to IRAs and Roth IRAs, you can ...

  • As year-end approaches, many taxpayers consider last minute donations; merging their desire to do good with their desire to lower their tax burden.

    Generally, if you itemize your deductions, making charitable contributions can decrease your tax bill. Here are some important rules to know.

    Charitable contributions of clothing and household items

    Clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition, or better, to be tax-deductible. If the value is greater than $500, you don't need to meet this requirement if you include a qualified appraisal of the property.

    Get a receipt that includes the name of the charity, the date of the contribution, and a reasonably detailed description of the donation for all donations of property. If a donation is left at a charity's unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information. Records should include the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.

    Monetary donations

    Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card or payroll deduction.

    A taxpayer must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity to deduct any donation of money, regardless of amount. The record must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, and ban...

  • Estate Planning: 5 Tips to Stay Ahead

    Community, Communication Design

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    Westward Group for Tax and Estate Planning Advisors Tokyo Tips – MIAMI – If you haven’t changed your approach to estate planning recently, you should.

    “The status quo is stupid,” said John Scroggin of Scroggin & Co. at the recent FPA Retreat here. “Estate planning is a constantly changing environment.”

    Click here to read the full content of this article.

  • 5 Tips Before You Leave Your Kids an Inheritance

    Communication, Communication Design

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    Westward Group for Tax and Estate Planning Advisors Tokyo Tips - If you are a parent who worries about what your wealth will do to your children, you are not alone. Many clients want to leave money to their kids, but they are concerned that their children are ill-equipped to handle sudden wealth. Some worry that by providing too much money that it will rob their children of the ambition and hard work that it took for them to amass the wealth. And it’s not just parents who worry. At least one beneficiary has reservations.

    CNN news-show host Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt — a successful fashion and interior designer and daughter to the Vanderbilt railroad and shipping empire who is believed to be worth $200 million. Is Anderson chomping at the bit for an inheritance? No. Here is what Anderson said recently in an interview with Howard Stern:

    “I don’t believe in inheriting money,” he said. “I think it’s an initiative sucker. I think it’s a curse, ” Cooper went on to say. “Who has inherited a lot of money that has gone on to do things in their own life?” When Stern reminded him that his mother did this Anderson responded, “I think that’s an anomaly.”

    What is your view of inherited money? Is it an “initiative sucker” or can it be used to create a better and more fulfilled life? In my sudden wealth management firm I’ve found that the answer is a resounding YES to both! Yes it can cause some to lose their drive and ambition, but with t...

  • “As the sun sets on Japan’s powerful stock market rally, investors might ask what could rekindle the lost energy,” begins a Lex column in the April 20 Financial Times. What, indeed?

    The Lex team reprise a rather tired “better corporate governance” theme. They report that Japan’s Diet is likely this year to amend the Companies Act to push companies to increase external directors and set up audit committees “more typical of western companies.” More usefully (see below) they note the January launch of “a new JPX-Nikkei 400 share index, comprising Japanese companies that combine higher returns on equity and good corporate governance.”

    To the question where the Japan market’s mojo has gone, an analysis by Maeda Masataka, a member Nihon Keizai Shimbun’s editorial board, published on April 23, is edifying, if not particularly reassuring. Maeda observes that one year and five months the launch of “Abenomics,” the Japanese stock market seems to have settled into a low trading volume funk, with no perceptible rallying factor on the horizon.

    More troubling and surprising, perhaps, Maeda notes that when exchange rate changes are considered, even during the past 1.5 years returns from French and German stocks exceeded those from Japanese equities, and on the April 22–the day before President Obama touched down for a “state visit” in Tokyo–U.S. equity market returns also pulled ahead of those of Japan.

    In short, Prime Minister Abe’s message to the i...

  • The world economy is a stimulus addict. This year it’s going cold turkey.

    In China, keeping growth on track for the past five years has required ever larger injections of credit. The ratio of private-sector debt to GDP pushed over 200 percent in the first quarter of 2014, up from about 125 percent at the end of 2008.

    That presents China President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang with an unpalatable choice. China’s new leaders could cap loans and face a sharp slowdown in growth, or they could continue on the credit binge and risk a finance crisis. So far the choice has been option No. 1.

    STORY: China Pledges Major Stimulus Projects, Invites Private and Foreign Investors

    That’s the right decision, but the consequences are still painful. New lending is flatlining. Investment is fading. At 5.7 percent, annualized first quarter GDP growth was well short of Premier Li’s 7.5 percent target for the year. With a key gauge of factory activity pointing to contraction in April, the signs heading into the second quarter are little better.

    In Japan, the bursting of the credit bubble in 1989 left corporations saddled with debt and unwilling to spend. To prevent a lost decade turning into a permanent coma, the government was forced to rack up enormous debts. In 2013, an Abenomics spending splurge to kick-start the economy added to the debt load.

    With public debt at 237 percent of GDP, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced a choice no more palatable than that facing China’s l...

  • I would like to summarize a basic point for several times from this time about taxes which are charged to purchasing real estate in Japan mainly for people overseas. There are various types of purchasing real estate by foreigners in Japan. For example, foreigners who have permanent residence in Japan, they purchase real estates as their residencies. Also, improvement of the Japanese economy is recently seen due to a depreciation of the yen and rising of stock prices. And, the Tokyo Olympics will be held in 2020. These cases cause land values to be raised in urban areas, and some foreigners consider purchasing real estate such as condominiums or apartment houses for purposes as their investments.

    However, on the other hand, there is a characteristic of having many taxes being related to real estate in Japan and said as “real estate is the mass of tax”. Therefore, it is important to understand about tax management in order to purchase and manage real estate without worries.

    So, basic information about real estate and the taxes in Japan will be summarized several times. I am happy for foreigners to understand about real estate taxes in Japan in this series starting at this time.

    Of course, as this is basic information about real estate taxes in Japan, it is useful to read this for Japanese people who are interested in real estate taxes also. At first, a tax which is occurred at the time of a real estate purchase is described.

    3 types of necessary taxes of a real estate p...

  • Steps for Purchasing Property in Japan

    1.Finance

    Speak to your bank about finance. Housing Japan is able to help with introductions to expatriate friendly lenders.

    1. Search

    Get to know the market. Spend time searching the web-site and talking to your agent about properties. Look at the recent sales and understand the values and relative prices of properties in your target range.

    1. Inspections

    The more you see the better you will understand the market and the easier it will be to make the decision to buy when you find the right property.

    1. Application

    When you find the right property submit an “application to purchase”. This is a non-binding written expression of your interest to purchase the property at certain price. An application shows the seller you are serious and will start the negotiation process.

    1. Explanation of Important Matters

    Once the price is agreed your agent will start the contract process. The agent is required to investigate the details of the property and provide you with an “Explanation of Important Matters”. This document defines all the important terms of the contract. You should read and fully understand this document before executing the contract.

    6.* Executing the Contract*

    The contract execution usually takes place at the agent’s offices and takes about 2 hours to complete. It is typical to pay the owner a deposit of 10% or JPY 10 million at the time of the contract.

    1. Loan Application

    While you may have pre-approval fr...

  • Property Tax

    Property tax (Kotei shisan zei) is raised at a municipal and prefectural level. Owners of land, housing and other types of tangible and depreciable business assets must pay a fixed asset property tax. Each prefecture decides the amount of municipal tax to be paid - this is usually calculated on the assessed value of the land or building. The rate for fixed asset property tax is 1.4 percent with a further municipal city planning tax of 0.3 percent due on some properties.

    Where the land is used for residential purposes, one third of the assessed value is excluded from tax. Plots of land of less than 200 square metres are taxed at a lower rate than larger land plots. If the assessed value of the land is less than 300,000 yen, or 200,000 yen in the case of a house, no fixed asset tax is due.

    Property tax is levied on 1 January each year, and bills are sent out between April and June. Payment can be made at a bank, post office or convenience store.

    Property Acquisition Tax

    This is a one-off tax payable on the purchase of a property. It is levied at prefectural government level. The rate is four percent of the value of the property and should be paid at the local tax office.

    Inheritance and Gift Tax

    Inheritance tax is payable on any property received as a bequest and should be declared within ten months of the inheritance. Gift tax must be paid on any property received as a gift. It should be declared between 1 February and 15 March of the following year.

    Stamp...

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design