Reasons to Check Your Child’s Credit Report

Child identity theft is a growing problem, but taking proper steps to combat it can go a long way toward keeping your child safer.

One in 40 households with children under age 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised by identity fraud, according to the 2012 Child Identity Fraud Survey, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research and sponsored by ITAC.

While some victims discover that credit accounts have been opened in their names, even though they were young children at the time, time is of the essence when a child’s identity has been compromised. The sooner the theft is discovered, the sooner the problem can be rectified and in turn, further damage can be prevented.

The FTC recommends checking to find out whether your child has a credit report around his or her 16th birthday, as this allows time to correct it prior to their applying for a job, a loan for tuition, a car or an apartment.

What are some reasons to be concerned?

  • Debt collectors contact the child attempting to collect a debt.
  • A child who starts driving is denied a license because one has already been issued in his or her name.
  • A parent tries to open a bank account for their child, but is told they can’t due to a negative history with bureaus that report checking and savings account information.
  • Numerous pre-approved credit offers arrive in the child’s name. (Don’t sweat occasional offers; that probably just means they are on a mailing list.)
  • Bills for utilities or credit cards arrive with the child’s name on them.

Though some young people may have credit histories before they reach the age of 18, as they are listed as either authorized users or joint account holders on an adult’s account, if a minor sees accounts they do not recognize on a credit report, it’s a big red flag.

To read the entire article, please visit www.foxbusiness.com.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.

What Advice Should Small Business Owners Ignore?

The most important piece of counsel for an entrepreneur or small business owner is how to recognize when to ignore the advice you are being given. Though often well meaning, others can tell you exactly what you don’t need to hear.

Here are the top five pieces of business advice you should ignore:

1. It is not worth the headache – you should sell
Things will get tough when you are a small business owner. You will be stressed, hate your job, and be at the end of your rope only to hear these words from others, sometimes even from friends and family.

2. Get a business plan
What’s important is to understand how you document your vision – for some, it takes putting pen to paper and creating a hard-copy, living document to keep them on track.

3. Keep 100% ownership
“Would you rather own 100% of a grape or 40% of a watermelon?” Never be afraid to ask for help – if it’s the right partnership for you, then it will actually take you to the next level.

4. You need to set a rigid budget
This is somewhat true. Of course, you should have a budget of some sort, but keep in mind that a budget should be tailored specifically to you and your business.

5. You need to market and grow
It’s important to think about growth from multiple perspectives. Growth, when considered in the conventional sense, should be fairly flexible.

Ultimately, trusting your instincts is the best advice you can follow. Only you and your trusted partners truly know the goals, means and situations of your small business.

To read the entire article, please visit www.huffingtonpost.com.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.

 

 

 

 

Four Phases of Wealth: Are Boomers Prepared to Retire?

With 8,000 people turning 65 every day in America, Baby Boomers are prepping for retirement. The question is whether or not they are financially prepared to do so.

An understanding of the four phases of wealth will aid in preparing them to utilize their hard earned savings to the best of its potential. They are accumulation, pre-retirement (aka retirement danger zone), retirement and legacy.

Beginning from approximately age 25, the accumulation phase encompasses socking money away in various retirement vehicles, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs. The up side of this era is being able to more easily recover from losses by taking reasonable risks on more aggressive funds, stocks and bonds. Generally, this phase will last until 10 years before your desired retirement age.

During the pre-retirement (aka retirement danger zone) phase, reassessment of risk tolerance begins and you realize that losses during this time may more dramatically affect your ability to retire when planned. The shift toward more stable, low risk assets begins.

When retirement arrives, risk and loss are your most dangerous enemy. The tide turns toward seeking out low or no risk alternatives to mutual funds. Retirement is about being able to reap the rewards of various resources that you have built over time, brick by brick, including Social Security, 401(k)s, IRAs, free and clear real estate, certificates of deposit and standard savings, to name a few. During this time, you should also plan a long-term care or home health care strategy.

The legacy phase is all about what you will leave behind for your loved ones. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish after you are gone, then set up a legacy plan with an estate attorney to make sure that all goes according to plan.

Thoughtful planning and attention to detail during all four phases will ensure that you and those close to you are well cared for in your retirement and beyond.

To read the entire article, please visit www.dailyfinance.com.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.

Digital Device Data Storage Could Equal a Security Breach

A document management company, Cintas Corp., and the Ponemon Institute, a company that conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, recently teamed up to identify a few commonly overlooked areas of risk for data security.

With the cost of data breaches estimated at an average of $5.4 million per incident, businesses need to be diligent in securely destroying data stored on digital devices, such as fax machines and routers.

Here are a few of the most commonly overlooked digital devices that could create the risk of a security breach:

1. Old hard drives. Many discarded or unaccounted for hard drives contain confidential and recoverable information.
2. Copy machines. The latest generation of digital copiers has a hard disk that can often include sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and account numbers.
3. Fax machines. They contain hard drives that store data from each document they transmit.
4. Routers. Pirates using your Internet connection can not only slow down your connection, they can also gain access to confidential information.
5. Mobile devices. Businesses must put “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD and mobile device policies in place to protect against the potential risk of a stolen or missing mobile device.

Awareness is the first step in thwarting a data breach; the next is enacting policies that help protect your business and your employees.

To read the entire article, please visit http://www.accountingtoday.com

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.

The 2014 Tax Deadline is Fast Approaching: Be Thankful it’s Not 1914

The verdict is in: some tax years really are worse than others. 100 years ago this week, Americans struggled to meet the nation’s first tax filing deadline and the process was fraught with confusion.

In 1913, lawmakers established March 1, 1914 as the filing deadline (Congress later changed the date to March 15 and then to April 15).  This gap gave the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) just five months to prepare.

It was not nearly enough time. As the filing deadline drew near, BIR offices were flooded with inquiries from anxious filers.  Taxpayers found the laws confusing and the outcome was that many taxpayers were running late.

Returns piled up quickly in New York, LA and Chicago.  The Los Angeles Times estimated that a mere half of returns had been filed by the deadline.  “The impression prevails that there will be a big delinquent list for someone to handle after the flag drops on the slow ones tomorrow,” the paper reported.

Wealthy taxpayers seemed particularly guilty of slow filing, but there were larger problems brewing farther from home, where expatriate Americans were wondering where they could even get their hands on a form.

Officials at the US Embassy and US consulate didn’t have any forms to distribute and as it turned out, official forms did not arrive in Paris until mid-February, leaving precious little time for meeting the March deadline.

The problems in Paris were symptomatic of larger issues plaguing that first filing season.  Both the country and the BIR (now known as the Internal Revenue Service) weren’t ready for that first deadline.  We can all be thankful that we now have a century of experience with the process as we approach our own tax deadline this year.

To read the entire article, please visit www.forbes.com

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.

 

Penalty for Healthcare Non-Enrollment May Run Higher

According to the Tax Policy Center, the oft quoted $95 price tag for not having health insurance under the Affordable Care Act most likely will end up costing many households more than that, as this figure only applies to relatively low-income households.

The Center recently rolled out the ACA Tax Penalty Calculator, which assists people in figuring out what their tax penalty will equal if they do not meet the March 31coverage deadline.  Depending on income, marital and familial status, the cost could range from a few hundred dollars to almost $1,000 or higher.

As time goes on, the penalty is set to go up, rising to 2% of taxable income, with a minimum of $325 in 2015 and 2.5% of income, but at least $695, in 2016.

To read the entire article, please visit www.online.wsj.com.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.

Retirement Saving Tax Strategies

When looking at retirement savings it is important that you have all the necessary facts regarding the different tax strategies associated with various plans.  Not all retirement plans have the same tax rules and some may be more beneficial than others.  There are three “tax buckets” that should be reviewed when considering a retirement savings plan.

First is the tax deferred bucket, which makes up the majority of retirement savings through the workplace.  These accounts defer tax payments until the individual takes the money out of the account.  Although these accounts can lower your current taxable income, you must not forget the tax hit this money will receive when accessed.

Next is the savings plan that taps into money after taxes have already been paid.  Plans such as a Roth IRA and a Roth 401 (k) take contributions after taxes have been paid and do not require the individual to pay taxes on the money when it is withdrawn.  This particular plan is helpful for those individuals who have time to save.

Finally there is the retirement plan that collects after tax money through vehicles including money markets, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, stocks and bonds.  As the money grows the interest and dividends must be paid annually.

There are no right and wrong savings plans, and all can be beneficial.  It is important to be aware of the taxation involved with each in order to make the right decision for you.

To read the entire article, please visit HuffingtonPost.com.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.