Money can be a sensitive family topic. A recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs found that while more than three in five parents provide an allowance — usually, starting when their children are about 8, and at an average of $65 per month — they’re uncomfortable talking to them about finances. In fact, Mom and Pop are more likely to talk about the importance of courtesy, healthy eating habits and good grades than they are about managing money. Fortunately, parents can take a number of steps to help their kids learn sound money management.

When should you start?

Although it might seem like jumping the gun, even 3- and 4-year-olds can begin grasping concepts such as needs and wants, as well as the idea that most people can’t buy everything they want. So it’s important to start explaining to these tots about the relationship between work and money.

An example: A trip to the grocery store can be a great learning experience. Show your kids how different products cost different amounts, and explain when you feel it’s worth spending more and when a lower-cost version will suffice.

What about grade-schoolers?

Grade school often is the time when parents introduce allowances as a way to help their children live within a budget. Before handing over the cash, however, talk with your child about the purchases you expect the allowance to cover, such as video games. Otherwise, you may get ongoing “requests” to handle expenses your offspring believes shouldn’t come from his or her allowance.

Also introduce “values” to the discussion. Younger children are quite capable of grasping the concept of using their money and other resources to help those who don’t have as much, and to save for longer-term goals.

Moreover, it’s important to think through the relationship between your child’s allowance and the chores he or she is expected to handle. Some parents view an allowance as strictly a money management tool, and that, as members of the family, the kids should have chores that they’re expected to handle without compensation. Of course, this isn’t to say that a child can’t receive extra payment for handling certain chores that go above and beyond day-to-day tasks.

And middle-schoolers?

As your children gain experience handling small amounts of money, ask for their input on their larger financial decisions. Before heading out to buy new school clothes, for example, discuss what items your child needs the most, and whether it makes sense to buy several, less expensive items, or one pricier item.

Given how tuned-in many “tweens” are, discuss with them how advertisements are designed to prompt consumers’ desire for a specific brand or product. As an example, point out that a popular brand of shoes costs significantly more than a store brand, and ask your child if the difference in cost is worth it.

Middle-school years are also a perfect time to open a bank account in your child’s name. Use this opportunity to explain how to record deposits and withdrawals, and provide a simple calculation to demonstrate the compounding effect of interest.

What to expect from teenagers

High schoolers can be expected to take on even greater responsibility for their own expenses, including clothes, entertainment, cell phone use and transportation costs, to name a few.

When practical, bring your teenager into the discussion when you’re researching major purchases, such as a new appliance. He or she can read product reviews and descriptions, and compare prices of different models. Of course, make it clear at the outset that you’ll have the final decision.

If you believe your child is ready to handle a credit card, a safe way to start is with a secured credit card. As its name suggests, this line of credit is secured by cash deposited in the account. Once a teen has proven to be capable of handling the line of credit, consider allowing him or her to open a regular credit card. Of course, make sure you review the rules of responsible credit card use and the speed with which interest expense can add up.

Is it time for a chat with your kids?

Instilling sound money management skills in your children requires discipline, common sense and consistency. The payoff? Kids who can intelligently manage their finances are less likely to expect help from their parents. And that’s a good thing.

Join us in congratulating Trinity Bradley-Anderson and Ann Koenigsman – our new tax partners!

Trinity Bradley-Anderson, CPA, Tax Partner


SKR+Co is pleased to announce that Trinity Bradley-Anderson has been promoted to Tax Partner!

Trinity has been in public accounting since 1996 and with Stockman Kast Ryan and Company for the last 16 years. Trinity’s specialties include real estate, construction, small businesses and their owners. Trinity participates in the Association of General Contractors (AGC) of Colorado, the El Paso County Contractors Association (EPCCA), as well as the Housing and Building Association (HBA) of Colorado Springs.

Trinity leads the annual Christmas Unlimited toy drive for the firm, and in her free time enjoys hiking, fishing, driving her ATV  with her husband, Shaun, and dog, Ashley, as well as visiting family in Belize.

Send Trinity your congratulations here.

Ann Koenigsman, CPA, Tax Partner


SKR+Co is pleased to announce that Ann Koenigsman has also been promoted to Tax Partner!

Ann has been in public accounting since 1986 and with our firm for the last 7 years. She specializes in estate planning, estate and gift tax, and the taxation of trusts and high net worth individuals.

Ann serves as an officer of the Estate Planning Council of Colorado Springs, a member of the Probate Section of the El Paso County Bar Association, a planning committee member of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation Symposium on Philanthropy, and a planning committee member of Gingerbread and Jazz  for Early Connections Learning Centers. She has assisted with numerous non-profits, including Hospice, United Way, the Boy Scouts of America and her church.

In her free time, Ann enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, Dan, and children, Ryan and Amy, traveling, reading, hiking Colorado trails and connecting with friends.

Send Ann your congratulations here.




Charitable Deductions

Summertime means cleaning out those often neglected spaces such as the garage, basement, and attic for many of us. Whether clothing, furniture, bikes, or gardening tools, you can write off the cost of items in good condition donated to a qualified charity. The deduction is based on the property's fair market value. Guides to help you determine this amount are available from many nonprofit charitable organizations.

Charitable Travel

Do you plan to travel while doing charity work this summer? Some travel expenses may help lower your taxes if you itemize deductions when you file next year:

  1. You must volunteer to work for a qualified organization. Ask the charity about its tax-exempt status.
  2. You may be able to deduct unreimbursed travel expenses you pay while serving as a volunteer. You can’t deduct the value of your time or services.
  3. The deduction qualifies only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation in the travel. However, the deduction will qualify even if you enjoy the trip.
  4. You can deduct your travel expenses if your work is real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.
  5. Deductible travel expenses may include:
    • Air, rail and bus transportation
    • Car expenses
    • Lodging costs
    • The cost of meals
    • Taxi fares or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel

Renting Your Vacation Home

A vacation home can be a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home or boat. If you rent out a vacation home, you can generally use expenses to offset taxable income from the rental. However, you can't claim a loss from the activity if your personal use of the home exceeds the greater of fourteen days or 10% of the time the home is rented out. Watch out for this limit if taking an end-of summer vacation at your vacation home.


Buying New Equipment

Two key tax incentives for acquiring qualified business property have either expired for property placed in service in 2014 or have been greatly reduced. The additional first year “bonus” depreciation provision for qualified property expired at the end of 2013 and is not currently available for business equipment purchased in 2014.

The election to expense the cost of qualifying property under Section 179 is still available for property placed in service in 2014, but the deduction is limited to $25,000 of qualifying property, as long as the qualifying property placed in service by the business during the year is $200,000 or less. The deduction is reduced dollar for dollar as the amount of qualifying property placed in service in 2014 exceeds $200,000 and is completely phased out if the amount of qualifying property placed in service during the year exceeds $225,000.

The Section 179 election to deduct the cost of equipment placed in service during a year has been one of the most useful tax deductions available for small business. The Senate Finance Committee approved the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency Act of 2014 on April 3, 2014, which extends the $500,000 Section 179 limit of recent years for tax years 2014 and 2015. It also allows businesses to use Section 179 to deduct the cost of off-the-shelf software and the costs of improvements to certain leased business properties. At this time, it is unclear whether this bill will be passed by Congress and signed by the President before December 31, 2014.

Traveling for Business

When you travel away from home, you may deduct your travel expenses – including airfare, train, bus, taxi, meals (generally limited to 50%), lodging – as long as the primary purpose of the trip is business-related. You might have some downtiem relaxing, but spending more time on business activities is critical. Note that the cost of personal pursuits is not deductible.

Entertaining Clients

If you treat a client to a round of golf at the local club or course, you may deduct qualified expenses – such as green fees, club rentals, and 50% of your meals and drinks at the nineteenth hole – as long as you hold a "substantial business meeting" with the client before or after the golf outing. The discussion could take place a day before or after the entertainment if the client is from out of state. For information on what does and does not qualify,please contact us.

Using Your Home Office

Home office expenses are generally deductible if part of a business owner's personal residence is used regularly and exclusively as either the principal place of business or as a place to meet with patients, customers or clients. The IRS recently provided an optional safe-harbor method that makes it easier to determine the amount of deductible home office expenses. Starting in 2013, the new rules allow you to deduct $5 per square foot of home office space (up to 300 square feet). In addition, deductions such as interest and property taxes allocable to the home office are still permitted as an itemized deduction for taxpayers using the safe harbor.

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