American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The latest stimulus was a $1.9 trillion (yes, trillion) emergency package, called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law on March 11, 2021. This includes payments to individuals and funding for federal programs, vaccines and testing, state and local governments, and schools. It is intended to help people and businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and … [Read more...]

Financial Literacy Zooms – Pro Bono

Financial Help via Webinars We are continuing our series of online free webinars for anyone who needs help during this pandemic and beyond. The next one is March 25 at 5:30pm, and all you need to do is send in a question in advance. We’ll then send the link to the Zoom webinar. We heard that some people are shy or simply embarrassed to ask financial questions publicly on Zoom. So to include … [Read more...]

Time to File the Taxes

Tax Time, Tax Time It's the season. Nobody likes it, but we can help you get organized. Let us know if you need help with your CPA’s questionnaire. 2020 was a tough year for many, with different challenges in getting ready to file your taxes. Your custodian has mailed out your tax documents, and we also put them in the Vault of your online Dashboard. There are still a few updates, or corrected … [Read more...]

A Note on RMD Changes

A Note on RMD Changes Remember that there are no mandatory RMDs  - “Required Minimum Distributions” -- for the 2020 tax year, which is a Covid19-related reprieve. This applies to all IRAs, including Beneficiary IRAs. In another change, the 2019 tax year is the last one for which the age 70½ is the magic age for starting RMDs - the age has been increased to 72. Also the that the government … [Read more...]

IRA Limits and Deadlines

IRA limits and deadlines – for 2019 and 2020 The deadline is approaching! July 15 is the new April 15 for the 2019 tax year, because of COVID19. The maximum amount you can contribute to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA for 2019 and for 2020 is $6,000 (or 100% of your earned income, if less). The maximum catch-up contribution for those age 50 or older is $1,000 for both years, for a total of … [Read more...]

The New SECURE Act

What's up with that new SECURE Act? We’ve had several questions from clients about the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act), which was signed into law in late December 2019 as part of a larger federal spending package. This legislation has some positives and some negatives among its new requirements. It gives incentives for employers to provide retirement … [Read more...]

2020 Retirement Plan Numbers

Thresholds and maximums for retirement contributions and deductions The government left some retirement numbers unchanged and increased some for 2020. The maximum you can contribute to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA in 2020 is $6,000 if under 50 and $7,000 if 50 or older (or up to 100% of your earned income, if that is less), the same as last year. You can split your contribution between a … [Read more...]

Increased Estate Tax Exemptions

Changes to lifetime tax-exemption totals The lifetime exemption for federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax has increased for 2020, to $11.58 million per person. When you’re doing advanced estate planning — when you're making transfers above the $15,000 annual exclusion for gifts — that is your lifetime gift/estate tax exemption. And it’s a good time to do it soon before … [Read more...]

Tax Update Post-TCJA

Tax Update The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made fundamental changes to the U.S. tax code, and the 2018 returns were the first time most taxpayers felt the impact of these sometimes painful changes. Most still don’t understand it. In an April 2019 Gallup poll, 43% of Americans said they were unsure how the new tax law affected them personally. Despite a stated effort to simplify the federal … [Read more...]

2019: Key Retirement and Tax Numbers

Every year, the IRS makes cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans and set thresholds for tax deductions, exclusions, and exemptions. Here are the key adjustments for 2019: Employer retirement plans Employees in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans can defer up to $19,000 of their compensation in 2019 (up from $18,500 in 2018). Those age 50 and older can … [Read more...]

College Savings After Tax Reform

Students and their parents dodged a bullet with the final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Initial drafts of the bill had included the elimination of the Lifetime Learning Credit, the student loan interest deduction, along with the taxation of tuition waivers (used mainly graduate students and college employees). In the end, none of these provisions made it into the final legislation. But a few … [Read more...]

Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

Realities of Taxes for the Self-Employed If you are self-employed, as many of our clients are, you know there are many advantages beyond just being your own boss. There are also unique challenges involved, especially how to handle taxes. Whether you’re running your own business or thinking about starting one, there are specific tax rules and opportunities that apply to you. Here is a look at the … [Read more...]

IRS Limits SALT Tax Workarounds

IRS Shuts Door on SALT Creative Workarounds The IRS said no to some of the creative workarounds for the new $10,000 limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). Its new guidance appears to close the door on a strategy offered by the state of New York and some other states to circumvent the deduction limit by attempting to turn the taxes paid into charitable contributions not … [Read more...]

Why We Watch Your RMDs

What Are Required Minimum Distributions? Some clients are surprised when they learn that the IRS forces them to take “required minimum distributions” – known as RMDs – after they turn age 70½. When they don’t need the money to spend, they question why the government makes them take money out of their IRAs. The answer is that the government wants to finally get some tax revenue, after allowing … [Read more...]

Gift and Estate Taxes After Reform

Gifting Maximums Increased Many of our clients had been gifting (or receiving) the maximum $14,000 annual tax-free amount for years. For the first time in more than a decade, that maximum has increased and now stands at $15,000. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2017, also nearly doubled the federal gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount to $11.18 million in 2018. Gift … [Read more...]

Blue Spark Capital Advisors

We're a fee-only Registered Investment Advisory and financial planning firm based in New York City and the Berkshires.

We specialize in working with women after divorce, death of a spouse, or other life transitions such as retirement or job change. We provide financial planning and investment management services.

We believe in a holistic approach. Movement in each piece of your financial plan impacts the others, so we consider your entire picture.


Contact Us

31 Hudson Yards (11th Floor)
New York, N.Y. 10001
(212) 537-3899

Berkshire Block
321 Main St, Suite 205
Great Barrington, Mass. 01230
(413) 551-7000

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"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful."
– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)