How To Avoid A Charity Donation Scam During The Holidays

After a New Jersey couple recently launched a fundraiser for a homeless man last year, donations poured in as hearts were ripped out about this tear jerking story. We see charitable causes all the time that pull the purse strings of our wallet, especially during the holidays. The story of the homeless man and the $400,000 GoFundMe money unraveled in the past few weeks and we learned about the money that completely disappeared. Everyone behind the GoFundMe campaign were playing America, but inevitably they were outed. As we approach the season to be jolly, here are some tips on how not to get scammed when giving to charity. 1) Start With The IRS- Yes, the IRS. The IRS website has a Tax Exempt Organization Search you can use to see if the charity is in fact a legitimate organization. Remember, you want to be asking two very important questions. One, is the organization you are giving to a tax-exempt organization ...

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Are Those Making $200,000 More Likely For An Audit

Nobody wants to get an audit.   About 1 in 150 of us will experience some type of audit in our lifetime.   The good news is that if you follow these six smart money moves, you may be able reduce your chances of getting flagged in the future. You didn’t disclose all of your income– The IRS gets copies of your w-2’s, 1099’s (reporting of your interest and dividends), and capital gains and losses.  Make sure you collect all of your statements from work, investments, etc. “Measure Twice Cut Once” whether you or your accountant does the math. You have a big mouth– Never brag (especially on social media) that you pulled a fast one on the IRS. The IRS does more trolling today than ever before on social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Whistleblowers can earn some significant rewards (15% to 30% by filing form 211) by turning in cheats.  Be very careful of ex-girlfriends, ex-spouses, etc. The dreaded ...

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What If Someone Stole My Tax Refund?

With the deadline looming for taxpayers, the crunch will be on for people scrambling to get their final documents together and submit their official tax return.   Imagine this scenario.    You submit your tax return only to receive a rejection notice from the IRS several weeks later saying that they have already received a tax return submitted by you already.   How’s that for a situation that is sure to rock your world. Unfortunately, in today’s world all you really need are some social security numbers and the internet to start winning at the tax return identity theft game.  According to the USA Today, a government report in November said the IRS issued $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds over last year to criminals who were using other people’s personal information.  Attorney General Eric Holder said this week that the “scale, scope, and execution of these fraud schemes” has grown substantially in size. What should you do if someone stole your tax ...

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5 Tax Tips Before You File

It’s the beginning of February and your tax documents will be piling up by the day as a new mail from your mortgage companies, banks, and investment companies are sent out to you.   As you begin to stack up your pile of information to bring to the CPA or accountant, did you ever wonder if there are still ways you can save money on your 2013 income taxes before you hit the SEND button to the IRS?   Here are my 5 smart money moves on tax tips before your file away for another year. Contribute To An IRA- Whether this is a Traditional IRA or for small business owners/freelancers a SEP-IRA, these types of IRA contributions could still potentially be tax deductible for the 2013 calendar year even though the contributions and accounts were opened in 2014.   The biggest mistake individuals make is not investigating how these vehicles work or the adjusted gross income limits that would make things like ...

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Five Deals On Tax Day!

It’s Monday and officially tax day. Some of us will be running out as late as 11:59 p.m. tonight to the post office to make sure our taxes are post marked on time. I suppose if you get a refund, tax day feels like a good day, however if you owe money it can feel as if you got pick-pocketed right outside of work. Now, some of you have been done for weeks and will just listen with amusement to the madness as a few of your colleagues scramble to finish everything today, April 15th. But, not all is lost as tax day also brings us some amazing deals. Here are five tax day deals you should look at this morning to see if you can make the most out of your day! FREE Cinnabon Bites– There are quite a few desserts that just seem necessary to indulge in from time to time. Every time I walk into the food court ...

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Are My Withholdings For Taxes Correct?

Since tax season has just passed, you are probably in one of two states of minds.   Either a) you love your CPA because you got a big refund, or b) you hate your CPA because you owed money.   It generally falls into one of those two camps when returns are filed.   Remember, if you get a tax refund that means you essentially gave an interest free loan to the Government.    Some people see this as an effective way to force savings during the year, but you really lose out on the opportunity cost of having these resources in your hands during the course of the year. As of April 27, the Internal Revenue Service had authorized more than 99.1 million refunds for the 2011 tax year—up about 1% a year earlier. It also represents more than three-fourths of all the individual income-tax returns processed by the IRS by that date. The total dollar amount of refunds this year was about ...

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Does Your 401(k) Offer An “In Service” Distribution?

For Generation X clients, the majority of their retirement savings are in the company 401(k).   While you do have a multitude of options of what you can do with your 401(k) if you leave your employer, often people feel like they are stuck if they stay with the same employer for a long period of time.  This is especially true with larger companies as most of those plans offer a limited number of investment choices and several target retirement funds.     I’m amazed that many people I sit down have never heard of whether their company offers an in service withdrawal or an in service distribution which can give them greater investment control of their 401(k) assets.    Since we have had two major market meltdowns over the past 12 years, 401(k)’s offer limited power to help you risk mitigate against a market crash.   This is why you need ask your employer today, do we offer an in service distribution? So, just ...

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Ten Common Mistakes Tax Filers Make

Don’t you hate that thought of getting your taxes done only to realize later that you make a common mistake that could cost you time or money? The tax code seems to be getting more and more complicated every year (500 changes alone in 2008), and we all seem to be strapped for time these days. Here are 10 mistakes we see taxpayers make all the time which could put a few dollars in your pocket this tax season. 1) If you are single and are caring for an elderly parent, you should investigate seeing if you qualify for ‘head of household’ for your filing status. As a general rule of thumb, you should be paying for 50% or more of the elderly parent’s expenses. 2) You should make sure you have kept track of your charitable mileage that you drove during the year. Eligible miles will have a .14 cents on the mile write off on your tax return ...

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