Taking out a loan? Answer 3 questions first

Taking out a loan? Answer 3 questions first

For many Americans, debt has become a way of life. A recent LendingTree analysis of the latest Federal Reserve data showed that total U.S. consumer debt is on track to exceed $4 trillion this year. The analysis showed Americans collectively owe more than 26 percent of their monthly income on consumer debt, including car loans, credit card accounts and student…

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Accounting Basics: Passive Activity

Accounting Basics: Passive Activity

A passive activity is a business activity in which a taxpayer does not materially participate. Material participation defined. So just what is material participation? In general, material participation requires you to be involved in the operation of the activity on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis. If you do not meet this threshold, the activity is deemed passive in the…

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Protect Your Medicaid Identity from Scammers

Protect Your Medicaid Identity from Scammers

With more than 40 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits over the past 2 months, states are doing their best to keep up with the avalanche of applications. States are also bracing for an increase in Medicaid enrollment as many Americans get pushed off their employer’s health care plan. If you need to apply for Medicaid, here’s how you can protect…

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Be Smart on the Road and Save Money

Be Smart on the Road and Save Money

Most Americans are doing what they canto cut their budget and save money. One of the biggest expenditures for individuals and families is gas for vehicles. Although gas prices have declined in recent months courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation isn’t dead. In fact, history suggests that over time gas prices will continue their inexorable march upward. That’s why prudent…

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Time to Build Your Case for Loan Forgiveness

Time to Build Your Case for Loan Forgiveness

It’s now time to build you case to ask for loan forgiveness if your business received a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) Payroll Protection Program (PPP). That’s because there is now guidance on filling out the new Loan Forgiveness Application. Background Around three quarters of small businesses in the United States requested relief from the SBA PPP loan…

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The 3 Rules of Cash

The 3 Rules of Cash

To keep your business solvent through the COVID-19 pandemic, stay focused on the 3 rules of cash: 1) Now versus later. Cash now is better than cash later. Decreasing cash flow for many of your customers means you’ll likely have trouble collecting 100% of your accounts receivable in the short term. But don’t overlook clients whose cash flow or revenue…

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5 Things Your Business Needs to Do Now!

5 Things Your Business Needs to Do Now!

With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the news and creating havoc in many sectors of the economy, companies are going to need to be on their “A” game to survive and thrive. Here are five essential tasks to help you do this. 1. Bring financial statements up to date A clear understanding of your company’s current cash flows, revenues, expenses, assets,…

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Ideas to Help Pay Bills During Tough Times

Ideas to Help Pay Bills During Tough Times

You’re not alone in trying to navigate the financial uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic. 10 million+ American workers who lost their paycheck because of COVID-19 need to find creative ways to pay bills. Here are 6 ways to get cash to help pay for your monthly expenses. Apply for state unemployment benefits. Recent federal legislation expands traditional state unemployment payments…

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Alert! Creative COVID-19 Scams

Alert! Creative COVID-19 Scams

Thieves are getting creative with different ways to gain access to your checking account and personal information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the reported schemes: Mandatory online COVID-19 Test Individuals posing as workers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or other federal departments use text messages to instruct you to click on a link…

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Documents Needed for Estate Planning

Documents Needed for Estate Planning

You work hard providing for your loved ones during your life. You can also provide for them when you are gone with a simple estate plan that legally conveys your desires to all your heirs. Here is a short list of some of the basic documents you should consider including in your estate plan. Information memo. Keep a list of…

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Check your credit report – it’s free

Check your credit report – it’s free

You can check your credit rating from all three of the major credit reporting agencies for free to ensure the accuracy of your report. Simply log onto the Internet and go to www.annualcreditreport.com. Alternatively, you can receive your free report if you call 1-877-322-8228. You are allowed to obtain one free report from each agency annually. Why bother to get…

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Key Coronavirus Tax Changes

Key Coronavirus Tax Changes

In addition to filing delays and a one-time stimulus payment, the IRS is implementing many changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the major topics that could affect you and your family. Early distribution penalty waived The 10% early distribution penalty on up to $100,000 of retirement withdrawals for coronavirus-related reasons is waived during 2020. New…

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Seeing Inside the Mind of the IRS

Seeing Inside the Mind of the IRS

While most of us are never audited, when it happens it can feel a lot like a lamb thrown in the room with a lion. The IRS auditor does these audits every day. They know what to look for and can ask leading questions that you may easily answer incorrectly. So what are some good tips when you are in…

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A Tip to Avoid Late Payment Penalties

A Tip to Avoid Late Payment Penalties

Many clients like to keep their Federal Tax Withholdings as low as possible to avoid the IRS having their funds interest-free throughout the year. Other taxpayers, especially those with non-payroll income, must make quarterly payments to the IRS. As long as these quarterly payments are made timely and the amount of the payments is sufficient in the eyes of the…

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The Household Employee Problem

The Household Employee Problem

This often overlooked bookkeeping and payroll tax requirement can cause a tangle of tax problems if not handled correctly. It ended a run for Congress by Caroline Kennedy (JFK’s daughter) and killed a U.S. Attorney General nominee’s chances for appointment. Could you be impacted? This is what you need to know. Nanny Tax Explained In an effort to capture income…

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Watch Out for Apartment Rental Rip-Offs

Watch Out for Apartment Rental Rip-Offs

Planning to move? As you scan apartment listings on Craigslist, you spy a great deal. The rental unit comes with amenities galore and lease payments well below market rates. You’re in a time crunch, so you make an appointment to tour the apartment. Unbeknownst to you, the “landlord” (AKA the guy who’s leading you on a tour of the property)…

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Basic Financial Documents You Must Have

Basic Financial Documents You Must Have

There are some basic financial arrangements that all individuals should consider making, no matter what their age or circumstances. But if you have a family, these basic documents become essential. A Will. As you know, a will lets you, rather than the state, control how your assets will be split among your heirs. More importantly, a will allows you to…

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Retirees and Taxes

Retirees and Taxes

When it comes to taxes, growing older can have its advantages. But older individuals may also have additional tax-related requirements. Here’s a quick overview of the tax and financial breaks available as you reach a certain age. Higher standard deductions. You’re eligible for a higher standard deduction once you reach age 65. Tax credit for the elderly. You may qualify…

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Use Financial Information to Increase Business Profits

Use Financial Information to Increase Business Profits

Most successful business managers use financial statements and other special reports to generate higher profits. If you haven’t been using all the financial tools available to you, here are some ideas to get you started. There is no need to feel intimidated by financial statements. If your company’s record system is properly designed, you should be getting regular financial reports…

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Conduct a Financial Review at Tax Time

Conduct a Financial Review at Tax Time

Tax filing time is an ideal time to review your financial affairs. You have to gather information to prepare your tax return at this time. Why not take one more step and do something positive for your financial well-being? The following suggestions will get you started on your financial review: Discuss with your family. Spouses and children need to share…

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Five Big Tax Mistakes

Five Big Tax Mistakes

Every year taxpayers are hit with tax surprises that could be avoided if they just knew the rules. Here are five big ones that are easy to avoid with some simple planning. Mistake #1. Withholding too little. This results in a tax surprise when filing your income tax. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this happens to you. Social…

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Five Great Banking Tips

Five Great Banking Tips

Banks are a necessary tool to navigate our daily financial lives. Unfortunately, there are aggravating practices at many banks that drive us crazy or cost us money. Here are five tips to get more out of your bank and pay less. Remove cash from the right place. Never use an ATM machine that is not in your bank’s network. In-network…

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Investing Basics: Picking the Right Stocks

Investing Basics: Picking the Right Stocks

We have witnessed such volatile activity in the stock market in recent years that the old stock selection rules are not always applicable. Seasoned investors and new investors alike want a sure-fire way to pick the winners. Well, no one can offer any guarantees, but smart investors do have certain characteristics they associate with a winning stock. A crucial key…

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Before Consolidating Debt, Ask These 4 Questions

Before Consolidating Debt, Ask These 4 Questions

You’re starting to feel overwhelmed with debt and you’re not sure how to make even the minimum payments on all those accounts. That’s when you realize that credit card companies are eager to come to your aid. They offer balance transfers to help you consolidate high interest accounts. They provide “one low monthly payment” to simplify your finances. With their…

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Tax Surprises for Newly Retired

Tax Surprises for Newly Retired

You’ve got it all planned out. Your retirement savings plans are full, you have started receiving Social Security benefits, and your Pension is ready to go. Everything is planned, what could go wrong? If you plan to retire in 2020, here are five surprises that can turn your plan on a dime: 1. Health emergency and long-term care. When a…

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14 year-end tax tips

14 year-end tax tips

The earlier the better when it comes to adopting a strategy to reduce your taxes. But even if time gets away from you, there are some year-end actions you can take to cut your taxes. Here are some last-minute tax cutters you might consider: 1. Review income and deductions. It’s all in the timing. The most fundamental year-end tax moveis…

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Should you Incorporate your Business?

Should you Incorporate your Business?

If you’re a sole proprietor, you have probably wondered at some point whether you’d be better off if you incorporated your business. Here are some facts for you to consider. The single biggest benefit of incorporating a business is limiting an owner’s liability. In theory, a stockholder in a corporation risks only his or her investment in the corporation stock.…

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How to Have a Comfortable Retirement

How to Have a Comfortable Retirement

If you’re age 35 or more and haven’t made a serious effort to plan for retirement, your dreams of a comfortable and active retirement could turn into the nightmare of being old and poor. Scare tactics, you say? Consider this: most experts say you need at least 66% of pre-retirement income to live comfortably when you retire. But an active…

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Understanding Tax Terms: Structuring

Understanding Tax Terms: Structuring

If someone manipulates cash transactions to avoid required bank reporting to the Treasury Department, they are using the technique of structuring their transactions. Knowing what is reported and the power given to the IRS to seize related assets can be important. Background To identify questionable illegal transactions, financial institutions are required to report any monetary amounts over $10,000 to the…

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Lost Pet? Don’t Become a Fraud Target

Lost Pet? Don’t Become a Fraud Target

When a pet disappears, owners can become distraught, calling animal shelters, advertising in local papers, posting photos on every telephone pole and fence post all in the hope of hearing news of their lost animal. At such times, pet owners are also more vulnerable to fraud. Consider the following scenarios: The truck passerby: You get a call from a truck…

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Conquer Student Loan Debt

Conquer Student Loan Debt

Obtaining a legitimate college degree is an expensive proposition. Many will be paying off student loans —month after month, year after year —for decades. With smart financial management, graduates can liquidate their college debt in a reasonable time, freeing up cash for other priorities. Here are four tips for paying off loans quickly and efficiently: Build a budget. Get a…

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2020 Health Savings Account Limits

2020 Health Savings Account Limits

The savings limits for the ever-popular health savings accounts (HSA) are now set for 2020. The new limits are outlined here with current year amounts noted for comparison. What is an HSA? An HSA is a tax-advantaged savings account whose funds can be used to pay qualified health care costs for you, your spouse and your dependents. The account is…

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Investing Basics: Mutual Funds

Investing Basics: Mutual Funds

When you buy shares of a mutual fund, your money is pooled with other shareholders’ money and invested in a portfolio of securities (stocks, bonds, etc.) An investment in a mutual fund offers you diversification and management by professionals. Mutual funds have no guarantee of good returns or safety of your investment; they go up and down just like the…

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How to Defend Your Deductions

How to Defend Your Deductions

When faced with questions on your tax return deductions, it is getting all too common for tax authorities to deny everything and then make you prove that your deductions are valid. Do not let this happen to you. Here are some suggestions. The one-two punch To prove your deduction most auditors are looking for two key documents. Miss one of…

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The Nine Basic Rules of Investing

The Nine Basic Rules of Investing

There is no magic to making money by investing. It requires discipline, determination, perseverance, and hard work. In deciding what investments are suitable for you, you must first understand the nine basic rules of investing. 1. Risk versus return. The greater the risk that you will lose not only the return on your investment but your original investment as well,…

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Investing Basics: Know When to Sell a Stock

Investing Basics: Know When to Sell a Stock

Selling a stock is an important decision – almost as important as the decision to buy. Unfortunately, while the world is full of buy recommendations, there is very little advice on when to sell. Many investors make the mistake of holding onto losing stocks too long. Sometimes they compound this error by selling their winners too soon. The results? A…

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Avoid the 10% Early Withdrawal Penalty

Avoid the 10% Early Withdrawal Penalty

It is one thing to be taxed on retirement contributions and their related earnings when you withdraw funds from your Traditional IRA, it is quite another when you pay the tax PLUS a 10% penalty for early withdrawal. Need funds prior to retirement and want to avoid the early withdrawal penalty? There are cases when this can be done: Medical…

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Sharing Economy Now in IRS Spotlight

Sharing Economy Now in IRS Spotlight

Did you know… 40% of the workers in the Sharing Economy are unaware of their tax responsibilities and over 60% of the service provider companies are not training their new workers on their tax responsibilities. Source: Written statement of Nina E. Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate given at the Hearing on “The Sharing Economy” to the Committee on Small Business, U.S.…

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How to Protect Your Business from Employee Theft

How to Protect Your Business from Employee Theft

Employee theft happens frequently enough for it to be a concern of every business. It makes no difference whether your business is a one-employee medical office or a forty-employee retail outlet. Absentee business owners should be even more alert to the problem of employee theft. Busy managers find it easy to turn the record keeping over to a qualified employee.…

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Save Those Receipts and Documentation!

Save Those Receipts and Documentation!

When it comes to taking qualified deductions on your Federal Tax return three things must happen. First, you must recognize that an expense might be deductible on your tax return. Second, you must keep a record of the expense in an organized fashion. Third, you must have the proper (and timely) documentation to support your deduction. While this may seem…

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Lifestyle Audits. A thing of the past?

Lifestyle Audits. A thing of the past?

The word “audit” is enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure. If the IRS agent then tells you they want to see bank accounts and personal records you may need a heart monitor. Should this happen to you, you could be in a process known as a lifestyle audit. Background The lifestyle audit was a tool used by auditor’s to ascertain…

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Tax Tips to Aid in Retiring Early

Tax Tips to Aid in Retiring Early

Wouldn’t it be nice to check out of the workforce early and not have to worry about having enough for retirement? While good financial planning can help you get there, leveraging the tax code as part of your retirement plan is also a good idea. Here are some tax tips that could help you reach your early retirement goal. Maximize…

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Income the IRS Can’t Touch

Income the IRS Can’t Touch

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a source of nontaxable income? You may be more fortunate than you realize. Listed here are a number of income items that the IRS does not tax. Tax-Free Interest. Municipal bond interest is federal tax-free. This includes bonds issued by a state or municipality. The tax-free benefit increases the higher your income, but caution…

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Financial Basics: Buy the Right Insurance

Financial Basics: Buy the Right Insurance

To keep your insurance costs down, don’t buy insurance to pay for every small medical bill, auto repair, or financial loss. Build a savings account to handle life’s small financial inconveniences. Think of insurance as protection against catastrophes. You can lower your insurance premiums significantly by taking larger deductibles. Also, look for comprehensive insurance, not coverage for one specific event.…

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Ideas to Improve Profit

Ideas to Improve Profit

Consider the following ideas for saving time and money and making your business more profitable. 1. Develop tight controls over billing and collections. To speed up cash flow, reduce the time between shipping your product and sending an invoice. Consider semimonthly instead of monthly billing, and send second notices more quickly. 2. Collect past-due receivables. Almost every business has past-due…

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Recordkeeping Requirements for Business

Recordkeeping Requirements for Business

What records should your business keep, and how long should you keep them? There are several categories of records that are important to a business, some for internal purposes and some for tax returns and other government requirements. Let’s take a look at these by category. Tax records. First, consider the records you need to substantiate your annual income tax…

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Most Common Areas for Tax Beaks

Most Common Areas for Tax Beaks

Tax law changes so frequently that you must be concerned with tax planning year-round, or you’ll miss opportunities to lower your tax bill. Here are some common areas that can mean big money savings with proper planning. 1. Familiarize yourself with the income levels at which various tax breaks phase out. While it doesn’t make sense to make less income…

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Six Questions Every Family Business Should Answer

Six Questions Every Family Business Should Answer

Tax and business planning is important for the success of any organization, but especially for the family-owned enterprise. Here are some important questions that owners of family businesses need to address. 1. Do you have a plan? Without a plan, your business has no direction and possibly no future. You can be sure your strong competitors have written plans. Write…

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Nine Basic Rules of Building a Nest Egg

Nine Basic Rules of Building a Nest Egg

Building a nest egg to give you a secure financial future doesn’t require a degree in economics, just a degree of common sense. The rules are easy and time-tested, and the smart players always abide by them. 1. It’s never too late or too early to start. Think back five or ten years and say to yourself, “Where would I…

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Do You Qualify for a Home Office Deduction?

Do You Qualify for a Home Office Deduction?

Your home. Your office. Are they one and the same? If so, you may be able to take a home-office deduction that can save income and self-employment taxes. The deduction gives you the opportunity to claim expenses related to the business use of your home, such as utilities, repairs, and insurance. Meet the requirements, and you’re eligible whether you rent…

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Cut Taxes With Lifetime Giving

Cut Taxes With Lifetime Giving

If you want certain individuals to receive property from your estate, there may be advantages to making those gifts while you are still alive. Consider these facts about making lifetime gifts: Gifts to spouses. The tax law permits a married individual to make gifts of any amount to a spouse without incurring any gift tax. The value of these gifts is…

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The Alternative Minimum Tax: Will it affect you?

The Alternative Minimum Tax: Will it affect you?

In your tax planning, don’t overlook how your tax-saving strategies might be impacted by the alternative minimum tax. What is the alternative minimum tax? Enacted back in 1969, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a separate income tax calculation that was designed to make sure that high-income taxpayers pay a minimum amount of taxes, even if they have sufficient deductions…

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Parents, Children and Taxes

Parents, Children and Taxes

Being a parent brings tremendous rewards, but also the challenge and responsibility of supporting and educating your child. Fortunately, the tax code has many ways to help ease a parent’s financial burden. Here’s an overview of the many ways that taxes can affect your decisions as a parent. Exemptions and credits Most parents can claim a child tax credit for…

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Amended Returns: What You Should Know

Amended Returns: What You Should Know

Out of sight, out of mind. When it comes to old tax returns,that’s an approach many people like to follow. But before you completely forget about your old tax forms, you may wish to consider filing an amended return. Why file an amended return? If you made a mistake on a prior-year tax return, an amended return is the way…

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Where to get money for a growing business

Where to get money for a growing business

The following sequence of events is common to many new and expanding businesses. The Short-Term Squeeze You start your business with a limited amount of capital and an abundance of good ideas and ambition. The sales activity has been adequate to produce a net profit. Your inventory is about twice as large as you intended. Your accounts payable are past…

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Use financial information to increase your business profits

Use financial information to increase your business profits

Most successful business managers use financial statements and other special reports to generate higher profits. If you haven’t been using all the financial tools available to you, here are some ideas to get you started. There is no need to feel intimidated by financial statements. If your company’s record system is properly designed, you should be getting regular financial reports…

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Tax strategies for homeowners

Tax strategies for homeowners

Be aware that important tax consequences are often associated with some fairly common events involving your home. Here are some handy things to know. Home purchase. When purchasing a home, you may pay a portion of the mortgage interest in advance. This loan origination fee, or “points,” is a percentage of the total amount borrowed. If points are paid for…

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Don’t Overlook Valuable Tax Credits

Don’t Overlook Valuable Tax Credits

Tax credits are one of the most powerful ways to lower your income taxes. A tax credit reduces your tax bill dollar for dollar. A tax deduction, on the other hand, only reduces your taxable income, so your benefit is determined by your tax bracket. For example, a tax deduction of $1,000 will lower your tax bill by $320 if…

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High medical bills? Consider these 3 tips to save…

High medical bills? Consider these 3 tips to save…

With increasingly high costs of medications, doctor visits and hospital stays, remaining healthy has become an expensive proposition. In addition, it seems as though health insurers are passing along more and more costs in the form of higher deductibles, increased premiums and larger co-payments. Out-of-pocket costs for even one hospital stay could break a household budget. Fortunately, you can control…

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Your 2019 Social Security benefits recap

Your 2019 Social Security benefits recap

The Social Security Administration (SSA) made a 2.8 percent increase to monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for 2019. Take a look at some of the most significant changes as you create and update your financial plan for 2019: 2019 Social Security benefit highlights Up to $132,900 in wages will be subject to Social Security taxes (up…

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5 ways to get smart when giving

5 ways to get smart when giving

You probably participated in many charity events and fundraisers during the holiday season. If you plan to give again during 2019, here are a handful of charitable donation strategies to consider if you want to boost your deductions: Audit-proof your claims. The IRS imposes strict substantiation rules for charitable donations. In fact, you’re required to keep records for all monetary…

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Seasonal spender or credit card addict?

Seasonal spender or credit card addict?

It’s not a big surprise if you found yourself reaching for your credit card more often around the holidays. The National Retail Federation projected that consumers would spend an average of $1,007 on gifts, decorations,and candy this season. However, if you’ve noticed your plastic habits don’t fluctuate throughout the year, it could mean you’re living beyond your means … and…

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Small businesses: How to compete against the big guys

Small businesses: How to compete against the big guys

When big-box stores come to town, how can a small business successfully compete? That’s a tough question. While one answer doesn’t fit all cases, certain strategies have proven effective for many businesses. Consider these ideas: Compete on your own terms. As a small business, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to compete with larger competitors on the basis of price alone.…

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Outsmart Email Scams in 3 Simple Steps

Outsmart Email Scams in 3 Simple Steps

There’s no doubt you’ve seen an email touting a too-good-to-be-true offer in your inbox every now and then. Random pleas from mysterious people who need your help recovering inheritances they promise to share with you probably makes you shake your head and hit delete.But what do you do when an email says it’s from the IRS and claims you’re about…

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Take Advantage of Being Self-Employed

Take Advantage of Being Self-Employed

When it comes to taxes, being self-employed has some advantages. Whether you work for yourself on a full-time basis or just do a little moonlighting on the side, the government has provided you with a variety of tax breaks: Build up your retirement funds. When you’re self-employed, you’re allowed to set up a retirement plan for your business. Remember, contributing…

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2018 Executive of the Year

2018 Executive of the Year

We are delighted to announce that our own L. Scott Elwell has been recognized as a “2018 Executive of the Year” by South Jersey Biz. Scott has been ranked one of twenty-two leaders who excel in shaping the future of business in South Jersey. This achievement is such an honor and our team couldn’t be more proud! Congratulations, Scott! Below…

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Want to Minimize Rent and Storage Costs? Consider This

Want to Minimize Rent and Storage Costs? Consider This

For many small businesses, office rent and inventory storage costs are perceived as fixed. But are such expenses truly inflexible? Oftentimes, no. Because rent and storage costs often constitute a significant portion of a business’s total expense budget, creative owners who find ways to minimize those costs may reap substantial rewards. Consider the following questions when trying to shave some…

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Protect Your Privacy in 5 Simple Steps

Protect Your Privacy in 5 Simple Steps

Do you use a smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer to connect with friends and make purchases, as well as share health concerns with your doctor? If so, your privacy may be at risk. Companies called “data brokers” routinely compile information about your habits and preferences, including your favorite brands, recreational pursuits, and credit habits. Data brokers use this information…

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