January is always a big letdown after the holidays. As much as we try, it is difficult getting back to “normal” after overeating and taking time off from work. January is also the beginning of a new tax year for most businesses and professionals. So in keeping with our blah month theme, we will begin the year by looking at some IRS information.
2017 First Quarter Tax Calendar
1/17 Final installment date for payment of 2016 estimated taxes.
1/31 Copies of Forms W-2 to employees due.
2/15 New Form W-4 due to employers if exemption from income tax withholding is claimed.
3/15 Partnership returns (including limited liability companies not disregarded entities) due.
3/15 S corporation federal income tax returns due.
3/15 Last day to make a new S corporation election for calendar year 2017.
A Few New Federal Income Tax Provisions for 2017
• Social Security tax is payable on the first $127,200 of employee wages (up from $118,500).
• For 2016 and 2017 an employee can exclude up to $255 a month of employer-provided qualified parking benefits (and transit passes).
• The maximum employee contribution to a health FSA is raised to $2,600.
• The 2017 standard mileage rate for business travel is 53.5¢ (down from 54¢ per mile for 2016).
• Charitable donors may deduct a contribution in full if any benefit received is considered “inconsequential.” The inconsequential test is met if:
1) The fair market value of all benefits received in connection with the donation isn’t more than 2% of the payment, or $106 for 2016 and $107 for 2017, if less; or
2) The payment is at least $53 for 2016 or $53.50 for 2017, and the donor receives only token benefits such as mugs, t-shirts, posters, etc., costing no more than $10.60 for 2016 and $10.70 for 2017; or
3) The charity mails or otherwise distributes free, unordered items to its donors.
• The basic standard deduction for joint filers (and surviving spouses) is increased to $12,700, and for single individuals to $6,350 for 2017.
• The provision allowing up to $100,000 in distributions from IRAs paid to a charity to be non-taxable is made permanent.
• Taxpayers may pay taxes due the IRS in cash at participating 7-Eleven Stores.
Since January is such a blah month, I thought it appropriate to take a look at a couple of wines which are the Rodney Dangerfield of wines – they get no respect (but are actually marvelous wines and exceptionally good values). A white and a red.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling. Forget everything you know about Riesling, as this wine doesn’t taste like any Riesling you have ever tasted. The best way to describe it is it tastes like a cross between Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. This is a 100% stainless steel fermented wine which has never seen oak, with less than 1% residual sugar. Therefore, it is very bright and lively because of its high acidity, but actually very well balanced. Ste. Michelle bottles almost 100,000 cases every year, and therefore it is available everywhere. This wine sells for $10 at the winery, but I have rarely paid more than $7. This wine pairs particularly well with fish, shellfish, vegetarian dishes and chicken picata. It also makes a great aperitif. This wine gets no respect - because of its high volume and low price many dismiss it as an inferior “supermarket wine.” I find if you hide the label when you first serve it, your guests will love the taste. Make sure it is the Dry Riesling you purchase and not one of the many other varieties of Riesling which Chateau St. Michelle produces.
Kiona Lemberger. It is obvious why this wine gets no respect. Upon hearing the name, almost everyone equates the wine with stinky Limburger cheese. So this is another wine you have to hide the label. This medium body red is produced from Lemberger grapes which originated in Austria and Germany. Kiona is a small Washington winery which has been producing this wine from grapes grown in the Red Mountain AVA for over 30 years and is hands down the best producer in the U.S. There is one winery in California which produces Lemberger, and it also sources its grapes from the Red Mountain. This fruit forward wine is marvelous with pizza and pastas of all types. The wine sells for $15 at the winery, but is usually available for around $12.