July 15, 1995 New York Slashes Individual Income Taxes The personal income tax is reduced from top rate of 7.875% in 1994 to 7.59375% in 1995 to 7.125% in 1996 and 6.85% in 1997. The standard deduction rises to $10,800 for married couples filing jointly and $6,600 for singles in 1995 to $12,350 for married couples filing jointly and $7,400 for singles in 1996 and to $13,000 for married couples filing jointly and $7,500 for singles in 1997. Attaboy, George!! Check Fraud Rising Check fraud is the fastest growing white collar crime facing business today. The fact is that the increased use of desktop publishing software and laser printers has made it easier to duplicate checks and falsify records. It`s easy to stop check fraud once you take the following steps: Monitor your own bank statements. Double up responsibilities, make sure at least two people are responsible for accounts payable and ensure mailroom personnel and procedures are sound. Secure your checks and change your keys or entry codes. Know your employees. Conduct surprise audits Watch those account numbers-do not give your account numbers to strangers, destroy unused deposit tickets and do not leave ATM receipts or cancelled checks lying around. Do not buy checks from unknown sources Steer clear of Refund Accounts- Refund accounts, like rebates for subscriptions are a favorite of check fraud artists because the checks are easy to obtain and may be used for counterfeits. Report suspected fraud immediately to your bank. IRS Interest Rates Drop Interest rates for the calendar quarter beginning July 1, 1995 will drop 1% to 8% for overpayments, 9% for underpayments, 11% for large corporate underpayments and corporate overpayments exceeding $10,000 will drop to 6.5%. New York Reduces Estate Taxes Quietly, effective July 7, 1995, Governor Pataki gave a break to all New Yorkers who own a home, a new exemption from estate taxes of up to $250,000 of a home`s value. This change coupled with last year`s increase in the basic inheritance tax exemption on all other assets to $115,000 from $108,000 means that a deceased person can shield up to a total of $365,000 from the taxman. It`s not up to the $600,000 that the federal government allows, and it does discriminate in favor of one asset versus another but it is a movement in the right direction. Attaboy, George !! Fund Retirement Contributions Early Make contributions to tax favored retirement plans as early in the year as possible to get the most benefit from tax-deferred compound interest returns earned in the plan account. Those who make contributions at the last minute forfeit some of the benefit of this tax break. New Series EE Bonds Rule Interest on savings bonds used to be credited to your account monthly. Now interest is credited twice a year, on November 1 and May 1. Investors who redeem just before a six month period has run will forfeit that period`s interest. Investors who do not plan to hold the bonds to maturity should make sure to redeem bonds just after interest has been credited in November and May. If you have any questions about these tax notes or any other matters, please call us.