To everyone who hangs up on unwanted calls, learns about the latest scams, and checks with friends about suspicious offers: good news! People who did all those things were less likely to lose money to a scam than people who didn’t, according to Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-Victims?, a report from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, and the Stanford Center on Longevity. The groups surveyed more than 1,400 people who had reported a scam and found several differences between people who did and didn’t lose money. The people who avoided scams.
October is here and I've got to say that although it's still early, the month so far is disappointing. Here in Central Texas, by now we're usually enjoying daytime temperatures in the 80s, with overnight lows dropping into the 60s. That typically means our windows are open 24/7 to get full enjoyment of autumn weather. Not in 2019. We're at least 10 degrees higher both days and nights. One thing, however, that is certain every October is the mid-month tax deadline. Oct. 15 is, of course, the day when procrastinators must finally send in their prior year's tax return. It's also the due date for some other important, though less wide-ranging, tax-related moves. Here's a look at four tax tasks to take care of on or before Oct. 15.
The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners have made major strides in recent years in fighting tax-related identity theft. Much of the effort has been in educating taxpayers and businesses about ways to recognize and avoid scams and other tax ID schemes. The IRS also has improved the way it works with taxpayers who do fall victim to identity thieves.
Now Uncle Sam is expanding a way that taxpayers can be more proactive in fighting identity theft. The IRS' opt-in Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) now is available for the 2020 tax-filing season to taxpayers in an additional 10 states. That brings to 20 the number of jurisdictions.
Tired of being a wage slave? Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), some disgruntled salaried employees are looking into becoming independent contractors. But before you take the leap into a new way of working, you need to take tax and other matters into account. This tax law change effectively provides a lower income tax rate on a sole proprietor's income than for an employee with similar income.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an alert about scammers, pretending to be from the Social Security Administration, who cold call folks and pretend to be from the Social Security number (SSN). These fake SSA agents tell the potential scam victims that their Social Security numbers have been suspended because of suspicious activity or being involved in a crime.
Or, the second scam now making the rounds involves the mailing of a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy. The lien or levy is based on bogus delinquent taxes owed to the non-existent Bureau of Tax Enforcement. There is no such agency, notes the IRS. So, what to do.
How much do you need to retire? It depends heavily on where you live. A comfortable retirement doesn’t come cheap. While you may hear stories of people retiring on as little as $2,000 a month, the reality for most of us is likely to be much different. Indeed, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average over-65 household will spend nearly $50,000 a year. The biggest chunk of that is on housing at more than $16,000 a year, but health care is high on the list too (about $6,600), as is transportation ($7,500) and groceries ($3,815). Where's the best place for me to retire?
The lifetime learning credit (LLC) is for qualified tuition and related expenses paid for eligible students enrolled in an eligible educational institution. This credit can help pay for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses — including courses to acquire or improve job skills. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim the credit. It is worth up to $2,000 per tax return. That amount is based on 20 percent of the first $10,000 of qualifying educational expenses. The good thing about the Lifetime Learning Credit is that students who go beyond four years of studies and even workers taking career-improving classes can claim it. Who can claim the LLC?
Tax season is over for another year. Now all that's left cleaning up after the filing crunch. I know many of y'all are tempted to simply toss everything in the trash. Don't.
You don't have to the tax version of television's Hoarders, but there are some tax-related documents you need to hang onto, at least for a while. These 7 frequently asked questions and answers can help you get a better handle on your tax record keeping.
The benefit of contributing to pre-tax retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k) plans is the opportunity to receive an upfront tax deduction, and enjoy the growth that remains tax-deferred as long as the investments remain in the retirement account.
For those who don’t actually need to use their retirement accounts – yet, or at all – the mandatory withdrawals of the RMD obligation presents a substantial tax challenge, as the forced distributions not only trigger taxes on the RMD amount itself, but also risks driving the retiree up into a higher tax bracket when stacked on top of all of his/her other retirement income as well. Fortunately, though, the reality is that there are numerous strategies that can be leveraged to manage and minimize required minimum distributions. The potential exists to at least partially manage and minimize RMDs, and mitigate some of their tax bite!
A state’s ability to tax trust income was before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 16 when it heard oral arguments in the case of North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kimberly Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows a state to tax those who have minimum contacts with the state. At issue in Kaestner is whose minimum contacts count for due process purposes. North Carolina takes the position that a trust is for the sole benefit of its beneficiaries, thus it’s the minimum contacts of the beneficiaries that are most important for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment. Twenty states filed with the Court to urge that the North Carolina position be adopted because to do otherwise would not only rob many states of revenue – 27 states tax trust income based on a settlor’s or beneficiary’s residence, not the trustee’s residence – but also would create what amounts to a uniform standard for trust taxation that would infringe on state sovereignty. Taxpayer’s Position. Not so fast says the taxpayer. If a beneficiary has no right to the undistributed income of the trust, then it can’t be the beneficiary’s minimum contacts that are important because the beneficiary has minimal, or no, possession or control over the income. Instead, says the taxpayer, it’s the trustee who’s in charge of the trust, and it’s the trustee’s minimum contacts that matter for trust taxation. The taxpayer’s position is supported by a multitude of tax organizations and trust and bank associations.
Just 1 in about 160 individual tax returns were audited in 2017. The biggest drop in audits was of those aimed at high-income household filings, although those returns still were examined (that's the word the IRS likes to use instead of audited) at a higher rate than filers in other income levels. So if there are fewer audits examinations, should we non-wealthy quit worrying whether we'll hear from the IRS after we file? If you're there with me in stressing at least a little over whether you'll get audited, here some tax issues we should avoid, if all possible
Despite a steep drop in tax-related identity theft in recent years, the Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers that the scam remains serious enough to earn a spot on the agency’s 2019 “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. “Taxpayers should continue to protect their sensitive tax and financial data to help protect against identity thieves,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “The IRS and the Security Summit partners in the states and the private sector have joined forces to improve our defenses against tax-related identity theft, sharply reducing the number of victims. But we encourage taxpayers to continue to be on the lookout for identity theft schemes, including email phishing attempts and other tax scams.”
The IRS’ "Dirty Dozen" is compiled annually and outlines a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year.
While written for investment advisors, the article correctly identifies advisors as small business owners and the tips may apply broadly.
Quite often, small business owners overlook some great tax reduction opportunities. We all have to pay taxes, but there's no reason to overpay. Employ legal tax reduction strategies, send less to Uncle Sam, and you'll automatically keep more revenue for yourself. Here are eight things you can do this year—some fairly obvious, others not so much—to potentially improve your tax situation.
What are some tips for creating a home inventory?
Imagine having to remember and describe every item in your home, especially after you've been the victim of a fire, theft, or natural disaster. Rather than relying on your memory, you may want to prepare a home inventory — a detailed record of all your personal property. This record can help substantiate an insurance claim, support a police report when items are stolen, or prove a loss to the IRS. Here are some tips to get started.