The final draft of the updated 2020 Form W-4 is slated to grace HR desks all over the US in November.  Considering the Tax Cuts and Job Acts, it would make sense to have a new form.  I understand that, but why does the IRS have to go and make it so complicated?

The IRS intimates that this is a new, gentler, Form W-4.  According to, the 2020 W-4’s “new design reduces the form’s complexity and increase the transparency and accuracy of the withholding system.”  I see.  In that case, I personally just don’t understand what a “reduction in complexity” means.

For example, merely comparing the first page of the 2019 form to the 2020 form seems to contradict the IRS’ claim.  The 2020 form has been described as “a mini-tax return” by Melanie Lauridsen,  speaking to The Detroit Free Press.  She’s got a point.  Perhaps I’m just used to the old, quarter of a page design, but I don’t think that’s the only thing that’s going to be upsetting taxpayers.

On the first page of the 2020 Form, Step 4(a) invites one to enter the amount of other income.  Again, as Ms. Lauridsen notes, “You wouldn’t want your employer to know [you’ve] got millions in [your] bank account.  I could almost understand if Step 4(a) was sandwiched somewhere between the deductions worksheet and the annual taxable wage and salary table, but nope, it’s not.  Smack dab in the center of the very first page, that’s where you’ll find it.

While it’s very nice that the standard deduction has now gone up to $12,000 and it’s also very nice that the Child Tax Credit has been elevated to $2,000, but did the IRS really need a “mini-tax return” to reflect these changes?  I also wonder what kind of time, energy, money and psychological feng shui this new design consumed.  Surely there was a better use of all of these commodities.

Unfortunately, Bourke Accounting can’t bring back the familiar and understandable 2019 Form W-4.  However, Bourke Accounting can help you make sense of this very interesting new document.  So why not stop by and let Bourke Accounting guide you through the new rules that will affect your financial life?

Come see us any time.  Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at  See you soon!

I am vastly confused by popular culture.

One of my little cousins is strangely obsessed with the Korean boy band, BTS .

They are a fairly innocuous, synthesized, rather non-threatening group of dancing young men.  Naturally, the band consists of the dangerous one, the smart one and the sensitive one.  There are a few others who, I guess, couldn’t come up with identities besides bleached hair and good skin.  To my recollection, the only boy band I ever liked was The Ramones

BTS have been known to sell out 90,000 seat arenas in less than an hour.  Impressive.  And again, odd.

So my little cousin got the chance to see these guys in Chicago recently.  She showed me videos of the packed venue, filled with pre-pubescent and screaming girls.  I don’t think that Dante himself could have envisioned a more horrifying version of hell.

However, I noticed that almost all of the audience members had these weird glowing things in their hands that seemed to pulsate with the music.  It was an epileptic episode in pastel.  The proper and inexplicable name for one of these devices is a “BTS Army Bomb” and, my cousin informed me, could be procured for about $55 (she had save, with great discipline, for months in order to get one).  $55 multiplied by 90,000.  And that’s not even mentioning the insanely expensive ticket prices.


It got me wondering: do these well-dressed, orthodontically-sound young men have proper representation and advisement when it comes to their financial well-being?  I know I’m not the only one here who remembers MC Hammer and his bankruptcy.

You are, most likely, not V, Suga or Rap Monster (no, really, I’m not making these names up), however, there are probably a lot of things that you would like to protect. Bourke Accounting can help you traverse the murky world of taxes and bookkeeping.  So why not stop by and make sure that the IRS stays only a scary story to share on a dark and windy night?

Come see us any time.  Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at  See you soon!

Written by Sue H.

By the time I was six years old, my parents – having been good parents – had drilled it into my skull that I could grow up to be anything I wanted.  They had faith in me and, I imagine, were suffering delusions of med school, the bar exam, perhaps a Mercedes Benz in the garage of a lovely, little summer house on the coast.

Grow up to be anything I wanted?  Well, that sounded just dandy.

I chose to be a panther.

I don’t mean a panther in the sense of any political affiliation.  I honestly believed that, when I was old enough, I could simply change into an Isabella Rossellini-esq Cat Person.  Imagine my heartbreak when it was imparted to me that, no, I had to stay the same species.  The Tooth Fairy Controversy and the Santa Claus Conspiracy had nothing on this; this parental deceit cut me to the bone.

I, eventually, got over it (although, I still watch Animal Planet with a certain petty envy).

As I approached the age of reason, I was warned against drugs, alcohol and casual sex.  I was taught right from wrong and to always protect the little guy.  These are good things.  However, what wasn’t instilled from a young age was the concept of financial planning and the importance of having a sturdy economic foundation.  This is, in no way, an indictment against my parents.  Mama tried, y’all.

With this in mind, it seems to me that there are three basic monetary lessons that should be conveyed to young people, often and loudly:

Tip 1: Credit cards are not the same as Monopoly money: my brother was $50,000 in credit card debt by the time he was 24.  This was mainly because he spent a whole lot of cash on Vivienne Westwood shoes and didn’t think the credit card company was serious about getting their money.

Tip 2: You really do need credit: I was shocked, also at 24, when I couldn’t rent a car because I didn’t have a credit card.  I thought I was being smart by not having credit card debt.  The problem with having no credit card debt is that you also have no credit.

Tip 3: Don’t spend more than you earn/have: I know, this seems pretty obvious, but it’s surprising how many people back themselves into this sad, little corner.  If you’re making $2,000 a month, why are you attempting to live in a $3,000 apartment?

Bourke Accounting is not a daycare center, nor does it aspire to be.  However, every child deserves knowledge.  It might not be a bad idea to bring your (well-behaved) child to your next appointment with Bourke Accounting.  We have candy!

Come see us any time.  Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at  See you soon!

Written By Sue H

It is beginning to be that time of year when Bourke Accounting has a lot of  social functions (parties, seminars, conferences) and everyone likes to hug….or seems to at at least. And there have been some really awkward hugs…like the kiss that never worked out well. I remember once I dated this girl (in high school) and when I went to kiss her at the door (in those we days we walked our dates to the door) she pulled head back and almost broke the glass panes. Yikes, Maybe it was my breath or maybe she had never been kissed because it certainly couldn’t have been me!

But there is a way to Hug properly:

Mixed Company:

In a group with men and women, base your hugging on familiarity, not gender. If you know someone well and a hug is natural, go for it but if you’re unsure take the handshake… Also, if your indication is to hug women but give men a handshake, this kind of distinction is really noticeable.

The Upgrade:

You might find that over the course of an evening, an introductory handshake is upgraded to a hug when everyone departs, but this only happens when you’ve gotten to know each other a bit. If you’re unsure where you’re at, follow the lead of other people…or go for a handshake initially and let them upgrade you to a hug by giving you that open-arms signal.

The Art of the Bear Hug:

Finally, if you know someone wants a big ‘ol bear hug, just throw your arms around someone and give them a good squeeze. As for hugging actual bears…you really give a bear a hug, however the bear wants to be hugged. Which, when you think about it holds true for people too..

SO, next time you are at Bourke Accounting let us know which kind of hug you may want but a hand shake is great too! Come see us any time our number is 502-451-8773 and don”t forget to visit our website at See you soon!


This past summer our office air conditioner has been on the fritz and the majority of our (individual) offices have large windows so you can imagine how hot our offices get. I have noticed some of the bookkeepers are crankier than normal. Luckily our conference room is in the back of our office suite and is the coolest of all rooms.

The fact of the matter is HEAT sucks, fact: Studies have linked it to increased stress, irritability and paranoia, as well as violent crimes up to and including murder. Due to the discomfort from heat, people tend to perceive minor infractions as major ones, over reacting as a result.

For Example: Say your spouse helpfully points out an upcoming STOP sign. Due to heat aggravation, you may perceive this as them telling you that you suck at driving, rather than them just trying to help. Worse still, since they’re also crazy from the heat, they’ll overreact to your overreaction, further triggering you, until you get into a full scale screaming match.

Why is this though? After all, cold is pretty uncomfortable too, but it doesn’t seem to send us into the same mad rage. The fact is the cold doesn’t affect us quite the same way because it is, in the broadest sense, more dangerous than the heat. From an evolutionary perspective, it was probably more important to escape cold temperatures than hot temperatures. It’s likely that when one is uncomfortably cold, the dominant motivation is to first deal with being cold.

In other words, we immediately act to remedy the situation of being too cold, thus we don’t waste time arguing over stupid things. Escaping heat isn’t so demanding, allowing the heat-irritability-aggression sequence to play out.

So there you have it: Because heat is less deadly than cold, it’s actually more annoying. Almost annoying as someone telling you how to drive…

Like I said earlier, our conference room is the coolest area of our offices so when you come visit Bourke Accounting, ask to be ushered into the office ASAP…we look forward to seeing you cranky or not; call us at 502-451-8773 or stop by for a visit. See you soon!




The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store in the 15 items or less line and it was moving very slowly. I assumed it was just my impatience (as I am from New York, and we New Yorkers have “that” reputation) until the lady in front of me said “geeeeez, he’s writing a check!” I looked ahead and sure enough this guy was writing a check for what seemed like, maybe 6 items. My first thought was who writes a check anymore at a grocery store and more to the point who even has checks? (I do everything online) But as I discovered in my research on checking accounts, the era of free checking accounts may be over and that guy at the grocery store may have to use his debit card next time….

If you struggle financially and have to write or cash checks , life may get a bit rougher. Bank of America stopped offering its last free checking account that does not require a minimum balance, prompting a loud chorus of “boos and hisses” from customers. People who had the free accounts have now been shifted to ones that charge $12 a month, unless the customer has a minimum balance of $1500 or a monthly direct deposit of $250 or more. The timing of the bank’s decision, right on the heels of a massive Republican-backed corporate tax cut was one reason for the outrage (especially since this change will predominately affect poorer Americans).

Roughly 7 percent of the country doesn’t have a banking account, while one-fifth doesn’t have access to banking tools such as debit or credit cards. Raising fees on basic services will only push such people toward predatory lenders and even riskier financial institutions that exacerbate poverty.

Free checking is basically a thing of the past, and one major reason: The increased federal scrutiny of overdraft fees. Americans pay roughly $14 billion in overdraft fees annually, and federal regulators have in recent years begun to crack down on banks’ shadier practices, such as transaction reordering, which sorts withdrawals from highest to lowest in order to increase the likelihood of one or more overdrafts on a low-balance account. Fees generated by those overdraft policies were a big part of the free checking model. So as the revenue stream has dried up, it’s become more likely that customers have to pay for their accounts. This shift should be a vivid reminder that we shouldn’t expect banks to serve anyone but their shareholders.

Banks exist to generate profit, and households that struggle to maintain a minimum balance in their checking account are usually not very profitable customers, unless they are paying through the nose for overdrawing on their accounts.

Free checking accounts do still exist, if you look hard enough. Most major banks will waive their monthly fees if you have a regular paycheck deposited directly. If that’s not possible for you, internet-only banks are your best option. The venture -funded online bank Aspiration, for instance, has a no-fee checking account with no minimum balance, no direct deposit requirements, and no ATM fees; the trade off is that there are no brick-and-mortar branches if you want face-to-face banking assistance. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if this online option takes off. In the meantime consumers still have some choices, although they may seem limited.

So when I got to the cashier I pulled out my wallet and gave the gal a $20.00 bill and I swear I heard someone behind me say “what is that?” At Bourke Accounting we hear lots of unusual stories, maybe because we have been around a while and seen the change in the economy and the overall structure of life. Whatever your financial issues are, we are hear to help. Give us a call at 502-451-8773 or stop by for a visit. See you soon!

For years, tax prepares have reported payments that meet the requirements (under 71(b)(2)) as deductible alimony by the payer, along with the recipient’s Social Security number, to ensure the recipient reports the matching amount as income. The taxpayers must have a written divorce or separation agreement, and the agreement must meet several tests to be considered alimony. These requirements are still applicable despite the changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

These requirements are:

  • The payment must be in cash or cash equivalents.
  • The payment is made to or on behalf of a spouse or former spouse.
  • The payer’s obligation to pay must end upon the recipient’s death.
  • The payer and the payee do not file a joint return with each other,
  • Payments are made after the divorce or legal separation is final (they are no longer married for tax purposes), and the payer and payee cannot be members of the same household at the time the payments are made.
  • The divorce or separation agreements does not date the payment is not alimony for income tax purpose.
  • The payment cannot be disguised as child support.

Under the new law, there is no longer a deduction for the alimony by the payer, which eliminates the inclusion in income by the recipient. This treatment only applies to divorces and legal separations that are executed under court order after 2018. This rule, however, does not apply to divorces and separation agreements that were in effect before December 22, 2017, and executed after December 31, 2018.

Special provisions state that if taxpayers have an existing (pre-2019) divorce or separation agreement, and that agreement is legally modified after December 31, 2018, the new rules will apply to the modified section of the divorce or separation agreement only.

This modification provision could be a beneficial change to taxpayers, especially in cases where the alimony received causes the taxpayer to be in a significantly higher tax bracket.

At Bourke Accounting we often wonder why certain tax law changes happen and we’ve come up with a few “conspiracy theories” simple because some just don’t make sense (although we are versed and ready to help you with them). Give us a call today at 502-451-8773, or come by for a visit as we’d love to hear any of your conspiracy theories. See you soon!


I have bragged about the size of my wallet for years. While many of my friends have back problems because of  what I call “butt pain” from these several inch thick wallets they carry in their back pockets I literally have the thinnest wallet I have ever seen (thus no pain). I carry my driver’s license, health insurance card, business credit card, personal credit card and a few business cards. What I don’t carry is cash. I can’t even remember the last time I carried any cash….though in my car there is loose change from, again, not sure where. LOL

But for those of you who carry cash and before you fork it over to the IRS, let me tell you what is going on, on your greenback (and front).

  1. The Federal Reserve Seal and the Federal Reserve District Number: Here, the bill says which Federal Reserve bank the bill was printed in. For Example, “B” on the elft and “2” on the right means New York.
  2. The United States Treasury Seal: The green stamp on the front is the U.S. Treasury Seal. The scales symbolize justice, the key means an office of authority, and the 13 stars are for the original 13 colonies.
  3. Serial Numbers: Appearing twice on the face of the bill, the serial number’s first letter will match the district number. The series of numbers following that are not unique to each bill; in fact, they will appear on a total of 832 bills. That’s because there are 32 bills printed from each plate, and each plate is printed 26 times, once for each letter of the alphabet. Which print it was is noted as the last letter of the serial number, e.g. if the last letter is “C,” that was the third print.
  4. Series Date: This one’s easy-it tells you the year it was printed.
  5. Plate Series Number: This tells you which engraving plate was used to print the front of the bill.
  6. Note Number Position: This tells you where on the engraving plate the bill was printed from. For example, “A1” would be in the top left and “H4” would be the bottom right of each plate.
  7. The Great Seal of the United States (front): The two symbols on the back of the dollar bill represent the two sides of the same Great Seal of the United States. On the back right, the obverse of the seal shows a bald eagle holding an olive branch on one claw and 13 arrows (referring to the original states) in the other. This symbolizes that the United States has a desire for peace, but will always be ready for war. In the front of the eagle is the national shield, which sports 13 stripes to signify – you guessed it – the 13 original states, joined under one force. The Latin motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” written on the ribbon hanging from the eagle’s beak, translates to, “Out of Many, One.”
  8. The Great Seal of the United States (back): The reverse of the Great Seal is a pyramid underneath the Eye of Providence, which is the symbol for permanence, strength and God watching over mankind. The year of our founding, 1776, is written in Roman numerals at the base of the pyramid. The Latin motto above the pyramid, “Annuit Coeptis,” translates to “He (God) has favored our undertakings.” Novous Ordo Seclorum,” which is written out below the pyramid, means “A new order of the ages,” referring to the founding of America.

I was amazed to learn all this about the dollar bill and felt that if I had any of those greenbacks in my wallet it would just explode from the weight….. At Bourke Accounting we love to learn new things and always try and pass them on to our clients, especially pertaining to tax and accounting. Call us at 502-451-8773 or stop by for a visit. We look forward to seeing you!


The Internal Revenue Service has advised taxpayers that in many cases they can continue to deduct interest paid on home equity loans.

Responding to many questions received from taxpayers and tax professionals (yep, that is us), the IRS said despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELCO) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labelled. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted Dec 22 suspends from 2018 until 2026 the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit, unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.

Under the new law, for example, interest on a home equity loan used to build an addition to an existing home is typically deductible, while interest on the same loan used to pay personal living expenses, such as credit car debt , is not. As under prior law, the loan must be secured by the taxpayer’s main home or second home (know as qualified residence), not exceed the cost of the home and meet other requirements.

For anyone considering taking out a mortgage, the new law imposes a lower dollar limit on mortgages qualifying for the home mortgage interest deduction. Beginning in 2018, taxpayers may only deduct interest on $750,000 of qualified residence loans. The limit is $375,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return. These are down from the prior limits of $1 million, or $500,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return. The limits apply to the combined amount of loans used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s main home and second home.

At Bourke Accounting we receive updates as the law changes (or evolves as we like to say) and we pass them on to you by many means. If you have any questions or concerns on your financial wellness, come see us. Stop by today or give us a call at 502-451-8773. See you soon!

The Internal Revenue Service is expected to refund disabled veterans an estimated $78 million that was wrongly withheld from their disability severance pay.

More than 133,000 may qualify for the tax refunds, according to the National Veterans Legal Services Program. In 2016, President Obama signed into law the Combat-Injured Veterans Fairness Act, which directed the Department of Defense to identify any severance payments to veterans with combat-related injuries paid after Jan 7, 991, from which the DOD withheld amount for tax purposes, and the individuals to whom the severance payments were made.

The DOD is supposed to provide each veteran with a notice of the amount of improperly withheld severance payments, along with instructions for filing amended tax returns to recover the amounts. The law extended the amount of time for filing a claim with the IRS for a credit or refund beyond the standard three-year limitation. Instead, Veterans will have up to one year after the DOD provides them with the information about the tax refunds to which they’re entitled. The DOD is also supposed to ensure under the 2016 law that the amounts aren’t withheld for tax purposes form DOD severance payments when the payments aren’t considered gross income.

The refunds will apply to veterans who received disability severance pay dating back to Jan 7, 1991, with taxes withheld and who also qualified for disability from the Veterans Affairs Department. The law aims to ensure that veterans who suffer  service-ending combat-related injuries aren’t taxed on the severance they received from the DOD.

If you are a Veteran and need help come on in as we can help you with your tax filings. Bourke Accounting is a full service tax & accounting firm. Call us at 502-451-8773 or come in for a visit today. See you soon!