Tips

Taking Steps for the Best Decision With Your Tax Refund

From Forbes.com

You received a tax refund from the Feds and maybe one from the state in which you live. Good for you, right?

Sure, of course… who wouldn’t like a check that adds to the balance in your bank account?

The amount of your tax refund could enable you to pay off or pay down lingering debt, add to or create an emergency fund, or maybe take a vacation. With this money, you now have choices abound and a buffet of options available. It’s like a kid locked in the candy store overnight.

If your brain is titillated by the idea of turning the check into a shopping spree, you’re not alone.

The pleasure center in our brain is programmed to get all warm and fuzzy at the prospect of fun, rewards and “stuff.” The pleasure center also feels denied and sad if the prospect of doing something with the found dollars isn’t as satisfying as expected.

We are pushed and pulled by the battle between what we want and what we need, and sometimes the lines become blurred. Sometimes we make the wrong decisions and after consideration, we live in deep regret that a good opportunity was squandered.

Here are eight steps to consider when that tax refund is waiting for your decision.

  1. Write down your options.

  2. Make a note of the benefits of each possibility.

  3. Eliminate the options that don’t provide enough positives.

  4. Consider whether you can split the refund between several choices.

  5. Wait 24-48 hours before making a decision.

  6. Recheck your choices.

  7. Apply your refund check according to your best decision.

  8. Don’t look back!

Continue Reading Here

Two Overlooked Tax Strategies That Provide Tax Benefits For Your Investments

From Forbes.com

[...] First at bat is a HSA or Health Savings Account, which provides a triple-tax benefit: pre-tax contributions, tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals. A HSA allows you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis and even earn interest tax-fee to pay for medical expenses. Although not available for everyone, it should be considered as one looks for health insurance annually. To be eligible, you must have a qualified health insurance plan that has a $1,350 deductible for an individual or $2,750 for a family.

In 2018, you can contribute up to $3,450 as an individual or $6,900 for a family and for HSA holders over 55 you can contribute an additional $1,000 to your account. The added benefit is that if you don’t need the money for medical reasons, but desire more retirement income, you can transfer it to your retirement accounts in the future, tax-free. I am confident that everyone will have some medical costs in retirement, so why not pay for them with pre-tax, tax-free money.

If you can’t hit a triple with a HSA, everyone can get a double with a “backdoor” Roth IRA strategy. Roth IRA’s have after-tax contributions and tax-free earnings as well as no required minimum distributions after age 70½. But, if your income is above $135,000 as an individual or $199,000 for a married couple you are phased out and can’t contribute anymore. However, there is no contribution cap for an after-tax contribution to a traditional IRA or for one to convert that money to a Roth IRA.

So if you have money to contribute to a Roth IRA, but the rules are getting in your way, you can contribute the maximum to a non-deductible IRA and then convert it to a Roth IRA. Two steps, but well worth the double tax benefits in the long-run. Continue Reading Here

Five Things To Know About Identity Theft (Forbes)

With tax season in full swing, identity-theft-related tax fraud has become a hot topic. While taking steps to protect yourself from identity theft is always smart, it's important that you don't get too caught up in the hype. I've received a number of emails from panicked taxpayers who, after watching various news spots on the dangers of identity-theft-related tax fraud, are feeling confused and pressured. Unfortunately, some of the advice making the rounds - while certainly sensational - isn't very practical. Here are five things you need to know about identity theft and tax returns:

  1. Not all data breaches or computer hacks result in identity-theft-related tax fraud.

  2. Filing early doesn't prevent identity theft.

  3. Rushing to file an incomplete return isn't a good strategy.

  4. Not every taxpayer needs an IP PIN.

  5. An IP PIN isn't a one-time fix.

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Resources on IRS.gov Help Taxpayers Get Ready to File Taxes

Get Ready for 2018's Tax Season!

With the tax filing season right around the corner, the IRS encourages taxpayers to visit IRS.gov for tax tools and resources. Taxpayers can resolve nearly every tax issue on the IRS website.

IRS.gov provides many self-service tools and features, including these six:

Taken from https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/resources-on-irsgov-help-taxpayers-get-ready-to-file-taxes