Posted In:General Knowledge Archives - Pligg
As we move to the end of the year, most of us are thinking ahead toward Christmas and the New Year. Maybe you’re planning your weight loss resolutions, hope to quit smoking, or you’re considering a big trip for the family.
But as you’re gearing up to close down 2017 and move into 2018, don’t forget to start preparing for tax season. There are a number of steps you can take now to plan ahead and make life easier when the tax deadline rolls around.
Read on to learn more about the ways to gear up for tax season.
Gather Your Documents
This includes both paper hard-copies, and digital documents. We suggest organizing these documents by tax filing year, since most documents need to be retained for at least several years.
Many of these documents won’t be ready until after the new year, but here’s what you should prepare to have on-hand:
- Last year’s tax data (gather this information now)
- Regular income: W2s and 1099’s
- Other income: real estate income, dividend earnings, investment gains
- Loan information: interest paid on student loans, mortgages, etc.
- Business-related expenses: meals with clients, technology purchases, etc.
- Tax-deductible expenses like moving or medical expenses
- Tax-deductible donations to charities or non-profits
As you gather these documents, you can begin entering the necessary data into your tax returns (whether you’re going the paper route or electronic.) For example, there’s no need to wait for all of your 1099s to come in; enter them as you receive them, which saves time later.
Don’t Forget about Lesser-Known Deductions
It’s important that you deduct every possible penny from your taxable income. Often overlooked tax deductions include:
- Childcare costs (daycare, etc.) or adoption expenses
- Education expenses
- Casualty and theft losses
- Taxes paid (state and local, personal property)
These are just a few of the many possible deductions, but look over the IRS list of deductions and ensure you’re not missing any that apply to you and your family. Again, no need to wait on all of these: if you moved over the summer, you should already know your total moving costs and can enter them into your filing any time.
Get Electronic Filings Ready for Tax Season
We highly suggest filing taxes electronically, using software such as Turbotax. Filing electronically not only reduces input errors (those extra zeros won’t work in your favor!) but tax software saves information year after year, so you won’t need to re-input the same information like social security numbers, etc.
Another benefit to using tax software? You don’t need to memorize tax code or learn about complex changes in tax rules.
The software will ask you key questions like, “Did you buy a house?” or “Did you have a child?” Depending on your answers to these questions, the software will customize the tax filing based on your information.
Get started with the software early – well before your tax documents start rolling in. You can fill out key information for you and your family (like dates of birth, social security numbers, job information, etc.) and you can also familiarize with the software. Read more about electronic tax software here.
Maximize Deductions Before the End of the Year
It’s not too late! You still have time to get in a few more deductions that can benefit your tax position for the year.
Consider donations to charity. Most people feel like giving during the holiday season, and this is a great way to hit “two birds with one stone.” Just make sure that the charity donations are tax deductible, and that the organization can provide a receipt for your tax purposes.
Also, consider any last minute write-offs or business purchases which may lower your taxable income. For example, if your small business experienced record earnings and you’re expecting a big tax hit, you may want to consider loading up on the new computers you’ve been considering, which you can write off during tax season as a business expense.
Let’s face it: we all love the idea of a big tax return come springtime, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out this way. Rather than being surprised and disappointed by a less-than-thrilling tax return, set expectations now.
There are a number of calculators available online that can give you a rough estimate of what you may owe the government, or what you can expect to get back from the IRS. But keep in mind, these often require making a number of estimates and assumptions.
If it’s looking like you’ll be close to breaking even, or if you’re planning to pay out in taxes, then start setting aside the cash now (if you haven’t already.) And if you’re one of the lucky people who’s getting a refund, consider savvy ways to use the money. Spend some, save some (or save it all!)
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Taxes, especially for small business owners, are extremely confusing. We suggest that you begin writing down your questions now, before tax season. There may be some questions that you just can’t get answered online, and it never hurts to talk to a licensed CPA.
When speaking with a tax professional about this year’s taxes, you may also want to ask them what you can do next year to further reduce your tax bill. There may be different investments to consider, or clever ways to structure to your small business. You can also talk to a tax professional if you expect to need a tax filing extension because the sooner you file for an extension, the better.
We Can Help Your Gear Up For Tax Season
Don’t delay with these key tax-filing preparation steps. You’ll be less stressed over the holidays, which means more fun with family.
Besides, who needs added holiday stress? We encourage you to get started with these filing taxes steps so that you’re well prepared by the time the deadline rolls around.
While naysayers might try to dismiss vaping as a passing trend compared to smoking, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Vaping is becoming increasingly popular, especially with former smokers looking to quit. People who vape have a 60% greater chance of quitting smoking if they take up vaping.
And it’s not just replacing one vice with another. Vaping does not carry the same negative effects that smoking does. From overall health to taste to style, we’ll show you why vaping is leaving cigarette smoking in the dust — or should we say cloud?
Vaping is Safer
The health benefits are the most important reason that people leave behind cigarettes for vaping.
More and more studies are showing that vaping is not nearly as bad for you as smoking cigarettes is.
With vaping, you still get the same nicotine hit and throat feel — without the extra negatives that come with smoking cigarettes. Namely, they don’t contain tar, carbon monoxide, and many other cancer-causing chemicals present in cigarettes.
And while nicotine still isn’t good for you, it is much safer to inhale without the extra toxins.
Plus, it is more effective at helping people quit smoking than nicotine patches or going cold turkey. This is because it also feels like smoking.
It is more satisfying than a nicotine patch because you still get the feeling without the health dangers. Quitting smoking is hard enough, and having a vape can make it much easier.
Vaping Tastes Better
While health may be the most important reason people switch from cigarettes to vaping, it’s not the only one!
Vaping just plain tastes better. There are way more flavor options than you can get with traditional cigarettes. Plus, unlike flavored tobaccos, they actually taste good!
So you can get the satisfaction of smoking with candy-like flavor with a fruity e juice.
If fruity flavors aren’t your style, there are e juices for everything from minty to savory. There’s even tobacco-flavored e juice. That’s a perfect substitute if you find yourself missing the cigarette flavor.
Vaping is Cheaper
On top of being safer and better-tasting, switching to vaping saves you money.
Consistent smokers can save 40% of their annual spending on cigarettes by taking up vaping. You get the greatest savings by investing in a good reusable vape and buying juices.
The juices tend to be much cheaper than a pack of cigarettes with the same amount of nicotine.
If someone spends $1000 a year on cigarettes, for example, they would save $400 per year by switching to vaping. Year after year, that adds up to a lot of dough!
There’s a reason cigarette sales are going up in smoke!
Vaping has many benefits that make switching a no-brainer.
The fact that it is better for your health and reduces your exposure to cancer-causing chemicals should be enough of a reason to switch. The many delicious flavor options and the savings are the cherry on top.
If you’re ready to take control of your health and wallet, trade in your cigarettes for a vape today!
Hopefully, you will never need an injury attorney. But in the event of an accident, you’ll be glad to have a good attorney on your side.
So how can you determine a good injury attorney from one that’s just well-marketed?
It starts by asking your injury attorney questions that demonstrate their ability to win your case. Before you sign a contract, make sure you’re satisfied with how he or she answers these six questions:
6 Injury Attorney Questions You Need Answered Before You Hand Over Your Case
#1 – How much is the contingency fee?
It can prove reassuring when you won’t have to pay legal fees unless you gain something from the lawsuit. But you still need to know how much that will be. Most contingency fees range from 25%-40% of your winnings, but you should try to negotiate.
#2 – What’s your experience in similar cases?
Never assume a lawyer has handled a case like yours before, even if their career is well established. For instance, lawyers who specialize in L&I claims might have zero experience in automobile accidents.
It’s okay to ask what their success rate is and how many cases similar to yours they’ve personally experienced. Remember, you hold the upper hand when it comes to hiring, so never feel intimidated by a lawyer who isn’t willing to be open with you.
#3 – Do you have enough time to devote to my case?
This is a question that most people are too reluctant to ask, perhaps because they assume the answer is yes. Lawyers who are hungry for the business will accept your case, then sit it on it for months before filing or working to resolve it.
Put another way, you could ask how many cases they are currently working on, or when they would file your case.
#4 – How often will I hear from you regarding my case, and how?
It could take weeks before your lawyer has any real news to report on your case. But if you’re the type of person who likes to know there’s no news, make sure your lawyer is willing to communicate that.
Some lawyers will send letters in the mail without notice or won’t respond to your emails for days. It’s important you understand how they communicate (and how frequently) to make sure it fits your requirements and expectations.
#5 – Will you be the one handling my case?
Firms with multiple lawyers may have several people working on your case. Others may assign you to one specific lawyer. Either way, you should speak to whoever will represent you in court to build trust and rapport with that person.
#6 – Do you have any references I could check?
Hiring a lawyer is much like hiring for any job. You need to ask questions, talk to multiple candidates, and check references. Most likely, their law firm will have Google reviews you can read online. But you should try to reach out to real clients to gauge their honest opinions.
If you don’t feel certain after interviewing a lawyer, move on to another one. It’s worth the extra time to find the right lawyer the first time.
Identity theft is a crisis that can throw your entire life off balance — and it’s no longer okay to fool ourselves into thinking it won’t happen to us, or that it’s just about account protection and not credit protection.
One in every 16 adult Americans suffered some form of identity theft in 2016. A large number of those incidents were due to data breaches by companies, which released the information of over a billion consumers in 2014.
Credit Protection Fights Identity Theft
Worse still is the effect it can have on your credit, not just your bank account.
Identity thieves have gotten very good at opening multiple charge card accounts and not paying them… which leads to a reduction of your credit score that you may not even find out about until it’s too late.
This also applies to medical identity theft, tax fraud and credit fraud such as chargebacks (chargebacks.ie has a good description of this practice).
It’s best to be prepared, and here are five tips to stay that way.
Protect Your Social
Your Social Security Number is the main tool in an identity thief’s arsenal, and it’s imperative that you keep it under wraps.
if anyone asks you for your social security number, don’t be afraid to ask them why they need it. Don’t bring your any ID with your SSN number on it on the road.
Don’t keep your number out where anyone can see it… a full third of identity theft cases have been traced to someone the victim knows.
Don’t enter it online anywhere; you shouldn’t have to. Never give it to someone over the phone when another form of ID will suffice.
It sounds extreme, but mailboxes and trash cans are prime targets for identity thieves.
Get a shredder and destroy old bills and receipts as well as medical info.
Check bills religiously and scrutinize them completely. Make sure there’s not a single purchase, debit, or fee on there that you didn’t authorize.
Secure Your (e)mail(s)
Because your mailbox is a prime target, you should check it every day, especially if you’re still getting paper bills or credit card offers. Don’t mail bills from home.
You may also want to use a secure email server. Don’t respond to anyone you don’t know.
Get a Credit Report
Make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises in your credit score by getting a credit report.
Just go to Annual Credit Report or call them at 1-877-322-8228. You can get one free report a year from all three of the major credit agencies.
Beware of Scams
The big scam threats these days come through unsolicited phone calls and on social media.
You can get a free app that will block out all unwanted cell phone calls, but also be careful never to answer the phone when it’s a number you don’t know.
Beware of social media “charity” scams and also the occasional email that looks like it came from a government agency or a company you do business with.
Credit Protection Begins With Identity Protection
Now that computers are in control of all of our information, we can no longer trust companies or even the government to protect it.
It’s up to you to do the due diligence in making sure that your identity remains yours alone.
Start taking steps to protect it right away… your future credit absolutely depends on it!
Many people don’t plan on going to jail, nor do they expect those closest to them to end up behind bars. However, sometimes bad things happen to good people.
And when stuff happens, people should know how to deal with it.
Especially since, just some 25 years, ago, about 9.8 million Americans were admitted to jail each year. Even if those numbers somehow haven’t increased, that’s still a lot of people.
Because anyone could up in the slammer, let’s take a closer look at how this process works. Keep reading to get the 411 on bail bonds.
When someone lands in jail, he or she is often up for bail. Because most people get rich quick enough to bail themselves or their acquaintances out of jail, some people reach out to bail agents.
Bail agents work for bail agencies, and they work with people to get their loved ones out on bail. Before they get anyone out on bail, though, they must be provided with some basic information. This information includes the whereabouts of the jailed person, the person’s name and booking number, and how much the bail is.
Where the agency is located is somewhat important. If you live, for example, in Michigan, you might have to rely on Bovo Bonding whereas those who live in North Carolina might choose Amistad Bail Bonds instead. All agencies are different, so both agencies’ clients are going to get different service.
After the agent has found out how much the bail is, he or she can then determine how much it will cost to post the bond. This means that some amount of the bail will still be paid out of pocket, but the amount paid might be a drop in the bucket compared to how much bail actually is.
Bail agencies are also responsible for making sure that the defendants they’ve bailed out show up in court. If those defendants don’t make their court dates, these agencies reserve the right to hunt them down and see to it that they have their day in court.
Some people might think that they can get their money back if it turns out that the defendant was not guilty in the end. Perhaps some people also think that they’re entitled to refunds if the defendant ends up back in jail shortly after bail is posted.
Sadly, however, neither or those circumstances calls for a refund. Technically speaking, the bail agency’s job is done once the defendant gets out of jail on bond. If the defendant goes back for any reason, the agency has still done its one-time job of getting the defendant out of jail.
Needless to say, if there is some breach of contract on an agent’s end, those who put money towards the bail bond might be owed some money.
Look To Trust Businesses For Bail Bonds
Bail bonds are such an important part of the legal system. Unfortunately, some bondsmen are not as trustworthy as clients expect them to be.
Having said this, there is no reason to distrust a bond agency which has a nice reputation. There are several trusted agencies that provide low rates for those who need to get their loved ones out of jail.
So before anyone goes selling or refinancing any property he or she worked so hard to vet and maintain, how about working to find an agency which will provide professional and affordable services?
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