Federal Government Give-Aways

 

Federal Government Give-Aways

There are federal government give-aways to help ease the burden of tax preparation before the deadline arrives.

Getting access to these give-aways is easy.

The tax deadline is rapidly approaching and you are not looking forward to paying exorbitant fees to hire a tax professional. 

Free Personalized advice

Free one-on-one tax help is available to you from an IRS-certified volunteer when you take advantage of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance(VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly(TCE). 

These services are conveniently housed in local community centers, libraries, schools and shopping malls.

Trained volunteers will help you prepare and submit your basic income tax return free of charge. 

Call 800-906-9887 to find a location near you.Or you can go the the website, irs.gov , then click on “get freeTax Preparation help”.

There you will find VITA and TCE locator tools.

The IRS homepage may be updated at times so just play around a bit in case you cannot find the link you are looking for.

Free tax software:

Although the tax filing season officially opens Jan. 29, taxpayers can begin preparing and e-filing their taxes for free with IRS Free File software.

Free File software will automatically submit returns as soon as the filing season begins.

A dozen brand-name Free File partners, acting through the Free File Alliance, offer their software free to eligible taxpayers.

Each partner sets its own criteria, but any taxpayer earning $66,000 or less will find one or more software products available.

Some providers offer both free federal and free state tax preparation, a seamless way to file taxes.

File for free no matter who you are

If you do not quality for free tax guidance, you can still file at no cost  with Free File Fillable Forms offered by the IRS.

The online forms do the math for you to cut down on mistakes. It will allow you to submit them electronically.

Go to irs.gov and click on “Free File”.

 

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Red Flags The IRS Does Not Want You To Know

Red Flags The IRS Does Not Want You To Know

We all want peace of mind.

We all want to stay away from red flags that the IRS does not want us to know and we all have a desire to do what is right to stay out of unnecessary trouble.

The deadline for filing taxes is quickly approaching and you are busy gathering all of the required information.

You are either going to submit your tax return  with your own tax software or you will leave that responsibility for your tax preparer.

We all try to be as honest as possible, as is required by law, in supplying the required information to the IRS but the fear of a tax audit is always hanging in our minds.

The chances of being audited by the IRS are slim but that does not stop us from having a ping of panic when we receive unexpected mail from these these three letters, “IRS”.

To avoid any panic attacks in the first place, look out for the most common audit triggers on your return so that you can breathe easily the nest time you file your taxes:

  • Large deductions on a small budget:

The IRS compares your write-offs to those of people with similar filing status and income.

If your numbers are too big, your tax return will stick out from the rest.

Make sure to keep good records and store them in a safe place. The IRS will not settle for guesses about charitable donations or business travel expenses if you get audited.

  • Bogus business Claims:

The IRS has a field day with Schedule C, the form self-employed people use to write off their business losses and exemptions.

Pay special attention to the following audit triggers:

  • Hobby losses:

You may love collecting and refurbishing antique paintings but you cannot write off losses unless you are trying to earn a profit from your pastime.

Home office deductions:

You must be able to prove that you regularly use this space for business and strictly for business.

Travel expenses:

Mileage deductions are common audit triggers. It’s advisable to keep a mileage log so that you do not overestimate the distance you travel. Note the reason for each trip.

Early payouts from retirement accounts:

This is the most common mistake people make when withdrawing from their retirement accounts early, before age 59 1/2, claiming an exception to the 10 percent penalty when they do not qualify.

Pay close attention to the exceptions listed by the IRS. If you need to make an early withdrawal, expect the IRS to take a close look at your return.

Wrong wages and other typos:

Small mistakes can be a big thing.The IRS has all of your forms. That will mean trouble if the numbers on your form are incorrect.

It’s easy to make make mistakes when you file with pen and paper, which is mostly a thing of the past.

Avoid costly mistakes by filing electronically.

Make sure you input the correct data.

Most online and computer tax programs will automatically check your math for you.

Rounded numbers on write-offs:

Using too many zeros may prompt the IRS to think that you are guessing or pulling deductions out of thin air.

If you are writing off a donation, go ahead and list it as the actual $267 and not $300.

It’s important to keep receipts just in case you get audited.

Note:

Most of the refund that you might get came right out of your paycheck and headed directly to Uncle Sam.

If you allow the government to withdraw too much in taxes, you are allowing the government to earn interest on that money, instead of you.

How fair is that?

Imagine how you could have used that money?

So stop giving the government an interest free loan.

Request a new W-4 form from your employer and claim more allowances on it.

You tax refund may come out closer to zero but your paycheck will get bigger.

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Some Ways to Slash Property Taxes

Some Ways to Slash Property Taxes

If your goal is to slash property taxes, we have some ideas for you to put into practice.

In the old 1700’s days the saying was “in this world nothing is certain, except death and taxes”-Benjamin Franklin.

However, in our day, things and times have changed.Seniors are now eligible for breaks that can slash property taxes almost entirely.

File an appeal to lower your tax bill

If you are not happy with the appraisal that your local tax assessor made on your property, you are entitled to appeal it.That number that he come up with determines the market value of your home and hence your final tax bill.

If it is your opinion that it is too high, you can appeal it.

Based on statistics, it seems that you may have a good chance of succeeding says the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

The foundation has reported that up to 60% of property is over-assessed.

Unfortunately, less than 5 percent of homeowners challenge the market value.

Apparently each local government has a different approach in dealing with appeals. In the circumstances it’s best to check with your local tax assessor’s office.

In order to win an appeal, you have to prove that the market value of your home is lower than the assessed value.

The experts recommend that you compare your home value to recent sales in your neighborhood.

Cut your taxes with exemptions

Your local government multiplies the value of your home by a predetermined rate to get the taxable value.Each tax jurisdiction has its own assessment rate.

For example, Alpharetta, Georgia takes 40 percent of the market value while Denver multiplies the value by 7.96 percent.

It’s not possible to change the assessment rate but you can attempt to knock down the value of your home. The easiest way to do this is through exemptions.

You have to apply for these deals. It may well be worth the effort because they can  significantly slash your property taxes.

Exemptions are often overlooked. So check with your local assessor’s office to see what they offer.

You may be able to pair senior write-offs with special exemptions for homeowners, surviving spouses, or veterans.

Eliminate property taxes with a small investment of your time

In order to calculate your final tax bill, authorities multiply the taxable value of your home by the tax rate set by your district.

It’s still possible to knock this down further.

All it takes is to roll up your sleeves and invest a little time and effort in a program offered by your local government.

Tax work-off programs generally allow seniors age 60 and older to complete community service for a tax break.

You may put in hours at a senior center, school, library or even at the town hall.

It may be possible to know $1,000 off the tax bill.

If you apply for a senior exemption and complete a work-off program, you may wipe out the balance of your taxes for the year.

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How To Save On The Cost Of A Funeral Today

How To Save On The Cost Of A Funeral Today

How do you save on the cost of a funeral today? Is there any reprieve for the financially oppressed?

The average funeral costs between $7,000 and $9,000.

This includes viewing and burial, basic service fees, transporting remains to a funeral home, a casket, embalming and other preparation.

The average cost of a funeral with cremation is $6,000 to $7,000. These costs do not include a cemetery, monument, marker or other things like flowers.

Funeral costs have been rising steadily since the 1980’s.

Today, it’s not uncommon for the average funeral to cost up to $9,000 or more depending on whether the body is buried or cremated.

Caskets and urns can cost thousands of dollars alone depending on the style and material used.

What can be done to save on funeral costs?

First of all, it’s important to plan ahead.

If you do not, you may end up agreeing with whatever your funeral director says.

This most likely may end up being a very hefty bill because the funeral director will not tell you about bargains like these:

1.Do you know that you can buy a casket online and save over $1,000.00?

The average cost of a casket is over $2k plus and the higher end caskets caskets can cost $10K and more.

You are not obligated to buy the ones offered for sale at the funeral home.

Caskets at Costco and Walmart start at around $950.00

2.Burial is free for veterans at a VA National Cemetery.

This is as a consequence of a law first established by Honest Abe which stipulates that all honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and dependent children can be buried at a Veterans Affairs National Cemetery at no cost.

To reach the regional Veterans Affairs office in your area, you can call 800-827-1000.

3.Going green can save you a lot of money.

You can pay $4,000 to have your loved one laid to rest at sea in an environmentally safe External Reef.

It does not have to be that extreme.

If you want to bury your loved one in a cemetery in a way that is kind to the environment and cost effective to you at the same time, look into having a natural burial.

Green burials cut out the cost of embalming and vaults.

Furthermore, you can forego an expensive casket and choose a biodegradable one or a simple burial shroud.These types of burials are available in 41 states for as little as $2,000.00.

Check to see if this service is available in your state.

4. A Cremation can trim off around $1,000.

The average traditional funeral can cost over $7,000 but a cremation can knock off more than $1,000. It can cost even less if it is your preference of not having a service.

You don’t have to put out a lot of money for the urn, especially if you are planning to scatter the ashes. You can get a simple urn for around $20 to $25.

5.Want to eliminate funeral costs completely?

Then you will have to completely circumvent the traditional method.

Most people give no thought to the benevolent option: that of donating your body to medical research.

On most occasions, the medical school or private organization you work with will pay all costs including transportation and cremation.

To learn more about this option, contact your local medical board.

The Anatomical Board of the state of Florida has a comprehensive list of medical schools by state on its website  at anatbd.acb.med.ufl.edu/usprograms

You can also contact private organizations like:

Science Care:800-417-3742

BioGift:866-670-1799

MedCure:866-560-2525

 

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Simple Estate Planning Ideas

Simple Estate Planning Ideas:

We have outlined some simple estate planning ideas for you to follow.

Probate in court is what we are told will happen to someone after they die and who did not have a will or who did not perform proper estate planning.

The probate procedure in court can be distasteful because you are giving the authority to someone else to distribute the deceased’s assets.

You can avoid those horrors by following a few simple steps.

Omitting a lawyer when it comes to a question of Estate Planning may initially lower costs.

It’s true that legal advice can cost $250 per hour or more but as with everything else in life, you always get what you pay for.

Many experts recommend the thrifty online services like Nolo and LegalZoom for simple wills.

However, many lawyers warn that cheap wills will give you exactly what you pay for.

Depending on the complexity of your estate, it may be advisable to hire a lawyer who is specialized in trusts and estates.

The reasoning is that it will cost your loved ones whom you are leaving behind much more to unscramble a will later than it will if it was done correctly the first time.

Legal Aid/Local Bar Association

Call legal aid or your local bar association and tell them that you need help with a will and cannot afford to pay the going rate.

There is a distinct possibility that they should have a list of lawyers who have agreed to take estate planning cases and charge less than the going rate for the services you require.

University Law Students

Make some inquiries.

There may be a university sponsored clinic in your county where university third tear law students, supervised by a licensed attorney, can help you with estate planning.

They will help you with estate planning documents of all types, including trusts, wills, probate, power of attorney forms and living wills.

Those with modest means may be welcome to call any law school that has such a clinic and inquire if his/her documents can be handled for free by a competent law student.

By all means, do not feel guilty by using such services.

You are being used as an instrument whereby these law students can gain some practical experience before being dispatched to the “jungle”.

Free Resources:

Go to Eldercare.gov or call 1800-677-1116. You will be advised about resources and local assistance for older adults and caregivers.

Go to legalhotlines.org to search for legal assistance programs by location.

Access lawhelp.org for information about free legal aid programs and forms for your state.

The website at findlegalhelp.org is the American Bar Association which provides a list of low-cost and pro bono programs in your area.

You can obtain access to free legal resources online at americanbar.org, nolo.com and seniorlaw.com.

Here you will find articles on topics such as how to avoid probate, creating wills,  the importance of a power of attorney and the purpose of living will.

This will all be at no cost.

Five simple documents can save you up to $5k

If you can no longer make financial and medical decisions for yourself, the consequences can be disastrous. 

Your family can amass $2,500 to $5,000 in court fees simply to appoint someone to make the call in your place.

Avoid the fees and enjoy peace of mind with having five important documents that are absolutely free:

  • Financial power of attorney.The last thing to worry about is unpaid bills. This legal document allows someone to manage your bank accounts and investments.

  • Medical power of attorney. This document allows you to appoint someone else to make medical decisions for you if it is not possible for you to do so yourself.

  • Do not Resuscitate (DNR) order. This form tells health care providers not to perform CPR in a medical emergency.

  • Health information release.Doctors always adhere to patient privacy. This form authorizes a certain person to discuss medical matters with a doctor.

  • Living will.This document explains your desire for medical care treatment.                                                                                                          Some states combine both the Medical Power of Attorney  and the Living Will into one document called  an “Advance Health Care Directive”.                                                                                     

  • You can go to caringinfo.org and download your state specific form.

Four beneficiary errors you want to avoid:

Probate:

The easiest way to avoid a long drawn-out probate is to name the beneficiaries on your accounts.This can save you thousands.

However, if you choose this route, watch out for these common mistakes:

1.Do not name the estate as your beneficiary.Be careful not to leave assets to your estate.

Do not allow the authorities to decide where they go especially with respect to retirement plans.

2.Don’t forget to update the forms.Your beneficiary wishes change with time depending on life’s circumstances so keep these forms updated.

3.Make sure you name a runner up. You may have bought an insurance policy many years ago and named prime beneficiary.

But what if this person dies before you?If you do not , in this case it will go to probate.

4.You must never use your will to change your beneficiaries.Let’s say you have a falling out with your brother.

You can’t exclude his place as your IRA beneficiary  by writing it in your will. A will has no power over assets with a named beneficiary.

Do not try to give away these six things in a will:

Retirement plans, life insurance policies, payable on death accounts, investment bonds, joint ownership property and living trust assets.

Your digital world:

You may have digital assets.It’s important to keep track of your online accounts and passwords including important computer documents.

Choose someone to handle your digital estate.Leave clear instructions concerning passwords, accounts and photos where applicable.

The simplest way to record this information is on a spreadsheet or word document.

Attend a free Webinar to learn how to succeed with High Ticket Sales on Lindedin at will:

Linkedin is a Social Media Platform that is earmarked for professionals.

It has over 500 million members and is used by over 313 million people on an international scale.

It’s a great platform from which to generate high ticket sales by using Linkedin and emails to secure more appointments and increase sales which is the lifeblood of any business.

This can even be achieved without spending a dime on ads.The LEAD Blueprint Workshop will teach you everything you need to know about High Ticket Sales Appointments at will.

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How to reduce Home Insurance Rates

How to reduce Home Insurance Rates

Seven Secrets To Lowering Your Insurance Rates:

Home insurance is one of those things that you purchase but hope you never need. Make paying for it less costly and save yourself hundreds each year:

Continue reading How to reduce Home Insurance Rates