3 Things 1-24

1/24/2022 Although MAS is a financial services company, not everything published herein will be about numbers or investing. But no matter the topic, we hope for three things: 1) That you find the time you spend engaged worthwhile. 2) That you’ll reach out to us for help in any of our areas of expertise if something we discuss creates an urging in you to do so. 3) That you’ll share this with somebody new each time you read it. Thing One The Home Office Deduction With so many people working from home these days and tax filing season officially opened, we thought it might be helpful to share the latest on the rules about taking a home office deduction. Here are the qualifying basics:

  1. The taxpayer must be self-employed or a partner

  2. The home office must be used exclusively for business

  3. The home must be the principal place of business

Note: Employees of businesses who are working from home can’t take this deduction. The 2017 tax law suspended their right to do so until at least 2025. Assuming you meet the qualifications for taking the deduction, the mechanics for calculating it are ratio-based. Here is an example:

  • If your home office is 1/10th of your home by square footage

  • And your mortgage is $20,000 for the year

  • You can deduct $2,000 for the tax year

  • And you can also deduct 10% of the taxes, repairs, insurance, and maintenance that were paid for the home during the tax year

Or you can follow a more simplified formula that lets you deduct $5 per square foot for a maximum of $1,500. Either way, if you work from home and you are not an employee, make sure you’re not missing out on this one. And if you need help sorting it all out, let us know, we’d love to lend a hand.

Thing Two The Thing About The News (And Reporters) Here’s a notion I had strongly reinforced for me last week while casually following the voting rights story: Newspapers have agendas. First some facts:

  • Lincoln County, Georgia is considering a measure to consolidate polling sites (closing 7 of 8)

  • Donald Trump won the county in a rout in 2020.

  • The Director of Elections in Lincoln county, the one who proposed the consolidation and will be responsible for executing it if it passes, is a black woman named Lilvender Bolton.

Now for the news. The Wall Street Journal, in addition to reporting the facts cited above, quoted Ms. Bolton as saying: “We have advance voting, we have absentee ballots, and we will also have transportation. If you call, we’ll make arrangements to get you picked up.” Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, reporting on the same story, said the following about the supposed hardship the proposed change would cause: “There’s no public transportation available in Lincoln County, nor are there taxis, Uber or Lyft. Anyone who wants to vote would have to drive or walk to a polling place, or return an absentee ballot.” Now it’s not clear whether the AJC reporter knew that what he was reporting was at odds with what Ms. Bolton said about transportation availability but it is clear that the newspapers and their reporters have agendas. Some are in the informing business and others are in the persuading business. Both are fine, especially since you should have an agenda too. If that agenda is to be informed on topics like the one above, you should probably read sources like the two cited above plus many others and then do your best to sift out the facts. But if your agenda is just to be entertained by it all (a good choice), be sure not to get too exercised by any of it. Let your friends, neighbors, and co-workers rail on about the seriousness of it all if they so choose without feeling the need to engage too deeply because, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be hyper-engaged and immersed in politics to have a good life. You just have to put having a good life on your agenda. And if you do that we stand ready to help you work on some of the line items we specialize in that will inevitably make the list.

Thing Three Just A Thought "Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant." - Epictetus