Team Member Spotlight: Elizabeth Gilmore

Elizabeth Gilmore is an accountant with over two years’ experience with tax preparation and a passion for business and accounting. She is currently working on her Enrolled Agent certification. Elizabeth is a valuable part of our team and we’re proud of the opportunity to introduce her to our clients. Read on to learn more about her!

Why did you decide to become an accountant?

I decided to become an accountant because I enjoy working with certainty of numbers, the evolving atmosphere of law, and in areas where I can help others.

When were you hired for TL;DR?

January 2018!

What made you decide to want to work for TL;DR?

Toni Cameron is someone I greatly respect and who trained me when we worked together at another firm. Knowing she was looking for someone to work with her made me immediately want to work with her.

What do you enjoy most about TL;DR?

I enjoy the ease of communication, the clear goals, and the great environment.

What is a typical work day like for you?

A typical workday includes checking emails, filing important documents or notes, and working on any projects that have been given to me. Because I help in most of the areas of the business, a day could include anything from filing tax forms to reconciling bank accounts.

What is your favorite tip for small business owners?

Always have a budget and, when forming one, make your predictions as accurate as possible! The extra work can save you a great deal of effort and agony further down the road.

How do you stay informed about developments and changes in the accounting world?

I check news sources as well as the websites of accountancy boards and federal regulators.

What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

My biggest achievement would be graduating college with an English Degree and an Accounting Degree. It was a lot of work, and I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that day.

What do you do outside of work?

I help run some Live Action Role-Playing games in the Northwest! My duties span making props and coordinating with other teams to developing Wikis.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

Furiosa. Mostly for the legendary status, the explosions, and the feminism.

Do you have any advice for those interested in entering the accounting field?

The most important thing about being a good accountant is enjoying what you do. This field is made for passionate people who can geek out about numbers and changes of rules and the meanings of words — it’s for people to enjoy working in. Embrace it!

Team Member Spotlight: Toni Cameron

Toni Cameron is the owner of TL;DR: Accounting and a CPA. She’s happy to spotlight her experiences and welcomes the opportunity of her clients getting to know her better. Read on to learn more about her!

Why did you decide to become an accountant?
My dad started a small business that was an auto repair and body shop. Accounting and taxes was something that they were always behind in and it caused a ton of stress. Basically, it was a problem I could solve. After I took my first accounting course, I was hooked and decided to major in it. From there things just fell into place — it was something I understood and I was good at it. After I received my BS in Accounting, I went on to grad school and got my MS in Accounting, eventually earned my license, and I still enjoy what I do each day.

When did you decide to start your own accounting firm?
I started TL;DR: Accounting in the summer of 2016. My goal was to provide a well-rounded service offering to the small business community while providing a living wage for myself and any employees.

What do you enjoy most about TL;DR?
Being able to help clients. Some small business clients are not numbers people, which is fantastic because I can be that resource for them. I like finding ways to solve their problems, and then replicate it to other clients I have that are in similar situations.

What is a typical work day like for you?
I tend to start work around 9am, and I start taking meetings around 10am. My schedule is pretty flexible depending on when clients need to meet. If I don’t have a meeting with a client I have a to-do list of reviewing tax returns, looking over bookkeeping, or spending time on tax projections. I spend way more time than I would like on email so I have started limiting looking at email twice per day. Lately, I have been spending time trialing some new software for tax projection that would make it easier to collaborate with clients during meetings. My day usually has a break in it for the gym instead of lunch, and my end time can be anywhere from 4pm to 7pm.

What is your favorite tip for small business owners?
Keeping track of your expenses is hard, but worth it. Also, if you have a question ask it in a timely manner — we can solve problems when we know about them and after-the-fact is sometimes much more difficult.

How do you stay informed about developments and changes in the accounting world?
I take continuing education courses, and I tend to read a briefing every morning. With the new tax law in effect, I spend time researching the new rules and drafting blog posts so I can let our clients know.

What is your biggest achievement to date — personal or professional?
I would say starting TL;DR: Accounting. Starting a new business is hard work, especially when you start hiring employees. I am enjoying working with clients, helping my employees grow, and developing better ways to get things done. While it has been so much hard work, it has been worth it.

What do you do outside of work?
I am an avid geek — I love D&D and prefer 5th edition. I play in a few games a week within some ongoing campaigns. I also DM a few one-shots. I am a speed reader so I tend to read a book or two a week to keep myself sharp. I love board games like Darkest Night, and Dragonfire or even Splender. When I have time, I try to bake at least one goodie every few weeks, such as cinnamon rolls, homemade oreos and chocolate cake. I also bake a fantastic strawberry biscuit. I just realized that I might have way too many hobbies…

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?
Now this is a hard one, I have so many to choose from…Ia from the ‘Theirs Not To Reason Why’
series by Jean Johnson. It is a military Science Fiction novel. She is such a strong character and does what it takes to win, even though winning might not be what’s best for her, but best for the universe. One of her quotes is, “You may struggle to turn your Fate into your Destiny, but the Future is inescapable; it will drag you forward kicking and screaming.”

Do you have any advice for those interested in entering the accounting field?
Always be learning and find a good mentor. Developing a good work-life balance is important, but in the first couple of years it can be hard depending on the type of firm that you go to work for. If you begin to think accounting is not for you, it might be the boss or manager, not accounting.

Planning for 2018 Taxes: What You Need to Know

Late last year, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, also called “tax reform.” The TCJA implemented a number of changes and reforms to our tax code and will have a direct impact on your 2018 filings (to be filed next year). Planning for 2018 is important, so it’s important to understand major changes made to the tax code by the TCJA.

Here’s what you need to know about how those changes will affect your tax situation through this year (and beyond).

Tax Brackets Have Changed

The tax brackets for all taxpayers have changed. Click through the link for the full list of changes, but for the two types of clients we work with most, the changes are:

Single Taxpayers

Income Tax Rate
$0 – $9,525 10%
$9,525 – $38,700 12%
$38,700 – $82,500 22%
$82,500 – $157,500 24%
$157,500 – $200,000 32%
$200,000 – $500,000 35%
$500,000+ 37%

Married Filing Jointly

Income Tax Rate
$0 – $19,050 10%
$19,050 – 77,400 12%
$77,400 – $165,000 22%
$165,000 – $315,000 24%
$315,000 – $400,000 32%
$400,000 – $600,000 35%
$600,000+ 37%

The Standard Deduction Has Increased

The standard deduction is the amount that reduces your taxable income if you choose not to itemize.

In 2018, the standard deduction has increased to:

  • $12,000 for single filers
  • $18,000 for heads of household
  • $24,000 for married couples filing jointly

The increased standard deduction may result in fewer people choosing to itemize. Of course, choosing the standard deduction or going down the path of itemizing is entirely dependent on your specific situation and finances.

In fact, let’s look at some of the changes made to itemized deductions.

Itemized Deductions

Itemizing makes sense when your deductions add up to an amount higher than the standard deduction for your filing status. The TCJA made changes to many itemized deductions:

  • The mortgage interest deduction was lowered to $750,000 for mortgages taken out after December 15, 2017.
  • The home-equity loan interest deduction was eliminated until 2025.
  • The deduction for state and local income and property taxes (SALT) has been limited to $10,000.
  • Casualty loss deductions have been limited to only presidentially-declared disasters.
  • The medical expense deduction has been changed as well. You may now deduct any unreimbursed medical expenses over 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
  • The deduction for charitable donations has risen from 50 percent to 60 percent of your total AGI.
  • Many other miscellaneous deductions have been repealed or left unchanged. A qualified CPA or accountant can help you make the most of applicable deductions.

Child Tax Credit Increase

The child tax credit has been increased to $2,000 per child under 17 years old. Additionally, a $500 credit is available for dependents who don’t qualify for the child tax credit.

Changes to Section 529 Plans

Prior to the TCJA’s passing, funds in section 529 college savings accounts could only be used for higher education purposes. Withdrawing funds for any other reason would treat the earnings portion of a withdrawal as taxable income, with an additional 10 percent tax.

The TCJA changed how college savings accounts are treated. Funds can now be applied toward tuition at elementary, secondary, public, private, and religious schools, up to an annual $10,000 limit.

Changes to Retirement Savings

The contribution limit has increased to $18,500 for the following retirement plans:

  • 401(k)
  • 403(b)
  • Most 457 plans
  • And thrift savings plans

Perform a Paycheck Checkup

With the passage of tax reform, the IRS recommends performing a “paycheck checkup.” You should also reconsider how much tax is withheld per paycheck.

The IRS claims that the average tax refund is $2,800. With that in mind, you may wish to withhold less tax per paycheck so your take-home pay is increased. If not, it may be wise to protect against having too little tax withheld or else risk being on the hook for a tax bill at tax time next year.

The IRS recommends that the following groups check their tax withholding:

  • Two-income families
  • People working two or more jobs or who only work for part of the year
  • People with children who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit
  • People with older dependents, including children age 17 or older
  • People who itemized deductions in 2017
  • People with high incomes and more complex tax returns
  • People with large tax refunds or large tax bills for 2017

The IRS has provided a handy withholding calculator to help you determine which option is best for you by taking into account your family income and situation.

Plan for Tax Time

TL;DR: Accounting is happy to chat with you to help you decide your best course of action and plan for tax time.

TL;DR: Check your withholding, it probably is not enough. Or give us a call to let us run the numbers.