The beautiful, blessed, and busy Christmas season is now behind us and we move forward through season of Epiphany. People of faith recognize Epiphany as a festival in commemoration of Christ’s birth; others understand “epiphany” to mean a sudden insight – a fresh look into something important to us.
The often mundane task of compiling and organizing our finances from the past year in order to prepare our taxes can give us valuable insight into the health of our personal finances. Like moving to a new parish or new call, this annual financial housekeeping can be an opportunity to shed the things we no longer need, like poor spending habits, and begin a fresh new year of healthy stewardship of our resources. Here are a few tips to get organized.
Filing Status – Have you had a life changing event like marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a spouse? If so, your filing status may be different this year.
Income – Be sure to examine and report all sources of your income, including weddings, funerals, and other sources of income beyond your W-2 or your pension income.
Housing Expenses – Calculate your out-of-pocket expenses for your housing like utilities, household and furniture purchases. Add this to the fair rental value of your church-provided residence or, if you are purchasing your home, your mortgage payments, and see how it compares to the designated parsonage exclusion allowance.
Business Expenses – Did you have an Accountable Reimbursement Plan set up with your church or synagogue? Did you have additional business expenses that were unreimbursed to you?
Personal Expenses – Did you have significant medical expenses last year or long-term care insurance premiums? What about personal property tax? Did you give generously to your church or other charitable organizations?
Saving – Did you make pre-tax contributions to a pension plan, or make a contribution to a Roth or Traditional IRA? The federal limits for pre-tax contributions to retirement savings accounts will increase for 2012 (see “Tax Facts” tab). Plan to save more in 2012!
Our 2011 Clergy Tax Organizer or 2011 Tax Organizer for Individuals (non-clergy) can help you organize all of these areas and more! Email us today at email@example.com to request your copy!