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Resources: Tax Tips

September 2017

It's hard enough to watch your child leave for college. Now you also have to say goodbye to the tuition and fees tax deduction. Congress decided not to extend this $4,000 deduction for 2017, leaving many parents worried that college will now be more expensive.

But it isn't as bad as it sounds. That's because Congress left in place two popular education credits that may offer a more valuable tax break:

  • The AOTC. The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is a credit of up to $2,500 per student per year for qualified undergraduate tuition, fees and course materials. The... Click here to read more

When it comes to annual planning, businesses often spend too much time on the planning process or too little because they are busy with day-to-day operations. There's a simple method called the "Hourglass Approach" that can help you efficiently focus on your goals and create a plan to achieve them.

Top of the glass

In the first stage, review the internal and external business environment. Force yourself to carefully consider the variables affecting your business:

There are nearly 1,000 different tax forms used by the IRS to report tax obligations. It's no wonder the IRS faces thousands of tax returns with errors each year. Here are some of the most common:

  • Wrong names and Social Security numbers. Taxpayers regularly make mistakes by entering incorrect information for their spouses and dependents. If you recently married or divorced but haven't yet changed your name with the Social Security Administration, you'll need to file under your old name.
  • Errors in age and birthdate. Much of the tax code... Click here to read more

Knowing the difference is important

Is a worker an independent contractor or an employee? This seemingly simple question is often the contentious subject of numerous IRS audits. As an employer, getting this wrong could cost you plenty in the way of Social Security, Medicare and other employment-related taxes. Here is what you need to know.

As the worker: If you are a contractor and not considered an employee you must:

  • Pay self-employment taxes (Social Security and Medicare-related taxes)
  • Make estimated federal and state tax payments.
  • Handle your... Click here to read more

At some point you may be on the receiving end of a debt collection phone call. It could happen any time you are behind on paying your bills or when there is an error in billing. In the U.S. there are strict rules in place that forbid any kind of harassment. If you know your rights, you can deal with debt collection with minimum hassle. Here are some suggestions.

Ask for non-threatening transparency. When a debt collector calls, they must be transparent about who they are. The magic words they must utter are: "This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information... Click here to read more

July 2017

Renting an apartment, condo or house; leasing a piece of equipment; renting business property; leasing a car: all involve the common practice of renting something that is owned by someone else. To make sure you always have a good experience, here are some hints to becoming a smarter renter.

  • Read all agreements. Read the lease agreement thoroughly prior to signing. Ask for clarification of anything you do not understand. Look for clauses in the agreement that might suggest the property owner has problems with its current tenants. If the agreement seems... Click here to read more

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a great way to pay for medical expenses, and since unused funds roll over from year to year, the account can also provide a source of retirement funds in addition to other plans like 401(k)s or IRAs. But be aware that HSAs have significant disadvantages when compared to other retirement investment tools.

The Good

  • HSAs work best when they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Neither your original contributions to an HSA nor your investment earnings are taxed when used this way.
  • ... Click here to read more

Imagine your college-aged daughter has an accident while away at school and ends up in the emergency room. When you call the hospital, you are denied information about her care because you do not have the proper forms signed.

HIPAA not so hip

Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you no longer have legal access to your child's health information after they reach age 18. This is the case even if they are still your dependent and their health insurance coverage is in your name. You would not have access to your child's billing records nor would... Click here to read more

Google, Facebook and Southwest Airlines are among the top five companies on job search site Indeed's "Best Places to Work for 2017" list. You may not have the resources of these large companies, but you can incorporate some of their ideas into your company's culture.

  • Respect. The best companies cultivate a culture of respect, according to a poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. Leaders listen to staff and vice versa. Employees feel valued by their leaders and their coworkers regardless of their background, ethnicity, religion, sexual... Click here to read more

June 2017

Yes, that's correct, there are some forms of income you receive that may be tax-free. Here is a list of ten common sources of tax-free income.

  • Gifts. Gifts you receive are not taxable income to you. In fact, they are not subject to gift tax to the person giving the gift as long as the gifts received in one year from one person do not exceed $14,000.
  • Rental income. If you rent your home or vacation cottage for up to 14 days, that rental income does not need to be reported.
  • Childís income. Up to the standard... Click here to read more

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