Remember what it took to find and organize the information you needed to file your last federal tax return? Well, if you’ve stashed it on a thumb drive, in a desk drawer or file box, you may be overlooking a great opportunity to make that information work for you.

“Tax returns contain a treasure trove of data,” says Bob Cohen, “that individuals can use to put their financial houses in order and plan for the future.”

“If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”  – Maya Angelou 

A quick review of your tax return can prompt some important adjustments to your current financial practices.

  • If you owed more or your refund was more generous than you expected, perhaps it’s time to update your withholding.
  • If you are nearing retirement, are you taking full advantage of your employer’s match or maximizing the size of your nest egg through contributions to your IRA or 401(k)?
  • If your medical deductions are significant, should you review your health insurance policy?
  • If your state and local taxes make you cringe, can you consider moving to a lower tax area either now or in the future?
  • If you are getting a mortgage interest deduction, does your mortgage need to be analyzed or reviewed?
  • If you are not reporting enough qualified dividends, maybe your investment portfolio needs to be re-balanced or analyzed further.
  • If you have disallowed passive loss carryovers, are there any other business or real estate assets that can be sold at little or no tax costs and improve your cash flow?

In short, any item reported on your tax return can prompt questions and/or adjustments to your financial situation.

Planning Your Financial Future 

If you don’t yet have a financial plan, you are not alone. According to a Harris Poll conducted for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), nearly a quarter of American taxpayers don’t. If you are in that group, it’s time—past time, really—for you to reap the emotional and financial rewards of a financial plan.

In a financial plan, you articulate your short- and long-term goals, quantify what it will take to reach them and consistently track your progress. Your plan will help you manage and project your cash flow by tracking income, savings, and expenses.

Individuals without financial plans report lying awake at night wondering how they’ll pay off a mortgage, send a child to college, enjoy retirement, or handle an emergency. With a financial plan, you experience the peace of mind and clarity that comes from knowing how much you’ll need for the projects that are important to you. Our partners at Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions build customized financial plans that equip individuals to realize their dreams, live life to its fullest, care for their families and sleep soundly at night. You can schedule a complimentary conversation with one of Obsidian’s professionals, or we’d be happy to put you in touch.

To Mask or Not to Mask? That is The Question—For Everyone. 

Here’s a quick guide to some of the important changes regarding face coverings in the DMV.

May 13, 2021: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations for fully vaccinated people. 

 May 14: Governors Larry Hogan (MD) and Ralph Northam (VA) lifted some mask requirements—both indoors and outdoors—for the fully vaccinated. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser did the same unless businesses request otherwise. The Smithsonian Institution (including the National Zoo) and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum require visitors with free timed-entry passes to indoor galleries to wear masks.

May 28: Virginia lifts its restrictions on graduation ceremonies, athletic events and fine art performances.

June 11: Bars, nightclubs and large venues open to full capacity.

School Year 2021-2022 

DC Public Schools are expected to reopen for in-person learning. Maryland’s State Board of Education has resolved that its schools will also return to in-person learning, and Virginia’s Governor Northam’s Executive Order 72 eased COVID-related restrictions on schools.

September 13: The TSA has extended mask requirement for transportation networks, including airports, commercial aircraft, over-the-road buses and commuter bus and rail systems (e.g., Metrobus and Metrorail). The list includes airport shuttles and public transit at Dulles InternationalRonald Reagan Washington National and BWI Marshall Airports. Exemptions from the TSA policy include travelers under the age of 2 and those with certain disabilities.

Check Before You Go. 

You can read Virginia’s 18-page Executive Order, Maryland’s  seven-page Executive Order and/or DC Mayor’s Order 2021-066 or, check with your destination before you go, and keep a face covering handy, just in case. All dates and restrictions are subject to change.