One of the best gifts a parent or family member can give a child is the gift of education. Having a wealth mindset is asking your family to forgo the toys and wrap up a contribution to your child’s 529 Plan. It’s also a tax deduction so everyone wins! You have until December 31st to open an account if you haven’t already.
You have the passion, you have the vision but you still worry. Will I ever stop living paycheck to paycheck? How do I manage the finances in my business? I’ve started my business now what do I do? Let me help you activate the wealth within you. If you have 60 minutes, I have the solution! Schedule a financial coaching session with me today⤵️
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.
Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.
Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:
Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
Listen to the podcast of my interview with C Thomas Gambrell II of Birth A New Business where I share my secret to sustaining a home based business as a single parent! Click below to hear it. I’d love your comments and feedback. Did you hear something that was useful to you as an entrepreneur? ⤵️
I will be the first to admit it. I used my bank as an expensive line of credit. I would walk into a store knowing that I probably didn’t have enough in my bank account to purchase the item I wanted, but I purchased it anyway. I felt ashamed yet I knew that my bank would pay the retailer and I would get charged a fee later for insufficient funds. I told myself that the item was worth the additional fee I would pay. Then there were other times when I really thought I had enough money in my bank account and was shocked when I received a notice of insufficient funds in the mail from my bank and was charged the NSF fee for the three or four days I wasn’t aware of my actual cash balance.
I learned the hard way that knowledge is power and that if I took at least 30 minutes each month (or 10-15 minutes a week) to reconcile my checkbook to the bank statement or online banking detail, I could have saved over $500 in bank fees! In addition to bank fees I’ve sometimes found bank errors where the bank either didn’t credit me for the correct amount of my deposit or a merchant charged me twice through a debit purchase. I would not have recovered the money from these erroneous charges to my account if I hadn’t taken the time to reconcile my checkbook.
Now I make it a point to never walk into a store until I’ve reconciled my bank account and am confident I know how much money I have available to spend. If it’s something I want and don’t necessarily need, I will take a picture of it or write it down and add it to my “rewards” list. If it’s something I need, I will research on the internet to find a way to get it at a discount or a price I can afford. I may also consider checking with my bank to see if I can obtain a personal line of credit. I use my “rewards list” when I have the funds, as a way of rewarding myself for managing my money wisely or reaching another important professional or personal goal.
Stop guessing and stressing about the money in your bank account and invest time in yourself and your peace of mind and take these six simple steps to reconciling your checkbook. The Foundation for Financial Literacy has provided a valuable step by step illustration and worksheet that can be used for yourself as well as your teenager or college student.
Take a few minutes to move towards personal financial freedom. You may find a fortune in savings!
Welcome to Financial Freedom Press! It’s tax season and we will be sharing valuable information directly from the IRS website that will help you in filing your federal tax return. As always, MT Austin and Associates would be honored to provide your individual or small business, non-profit tax preparation services. We offer competitive pricing and personal attention. You can schedule a 15 minute consultation at your convenience by accessing our calendar HERE —> CALENDAR
Know these Facts Before Deducting a Charitable Donation
If taxpayers gave money or goods to a charity in 2016, they may be able to claim a deduction on their federal tax return. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool, Can I Deduct my Charitable Contributions?, to help determine if their charitable contributions are deductible.
Here are some important facts about charitable donations:
Qualified Charities. Taxpayers must donate to a qualified charity. Gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates are not deductible. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool.
Itemize Deductions. To deduct charitable contributions, taxpayers must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with a federal tax return.
Benefit in Return. If taxpayers get something in return for their donation, they may have to reduce their deduction. Taxpayers can only deduct the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to events or other goods and services.
Type of Donation. If taxpayers give property instead of cash, their deduction amount is normally limited to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price they would get if the property sold on the open market. If they donate used clothing and household items, those items generally must be in good condition or better. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.
Non-cash Charitable Contributions. File Form 8283, Non-cash Charitable Contributions, for all non-cash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year. Complete section-A for non-cash property contributions worth $5,000 or less. Complete section-B for non-cash property contributions more than $5,000 and include a qualified appraisal to the return. Taxpayers may be able to prepare and e-file their tax return for free using IRS Free File. The type of records they must keep depends on the amount and type of their donation. To learn more about what records to keep, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
Donations of $250 or More. If taxpayers donated cash or goods of $250 or more, they must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether they received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.
Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.
On behalf of M.T. Austin and Associates, we would like to wish you a joyful holiday season and a new year full of abundance!
The Restoration Station will be closed effective Tuesday, December 20th for regular maintenance and will re-open on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. We will be working hard to bring you valuable webinars and live broadcasts that will help place you on the right track to financial freedom. We will offer online broadcasts and classes on three main tracks:
Track One: Household Finance and Recovery
Track Two: Self-Employed/Entrepreneur
Track Three: You can have it all: the self employed single parent
If you would like to learn about a specific financial or accounting or tax issue, please submit your request below. We look forward to serving you at the “Station” in the new year. Don’t stand in line, get on board!