Avoiding Tax Return Mistakes That Could Cost You

By Patrick Redo

Did you know the average person spends approximately 12 hours preparing their income tax return? Have you started gathering all your information to prepare your 2018 return? Remember, if you spend all that time preparing your return, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake because you are in a rush. Mistakes, no matter how simple, can delay your refund. Below are some common mistakes that are made on tax returns and what you can do to avoid them.

Get Organized: If you don't already have your tax information together you better start now. Missing information can have the potential of costing you unnecessary funds.

Improper Social Security # or incorrect ID: The SS# must match with what's on your Social Security card because the IRS compares all returns with the Social Security Administration's database. Also, it is easy to get to focused on the numbers that you forget to sign your return or even enter other necessary information. Even having the incorrect name can be a problem. These problems often happen after marriage or divorce, especially if you haven't informed Social Security.

Filing Status Mistakes: There are five filing status options (Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualifying Widow w/ dependent) that are used to determine your filing requirements (standard deduction, eligibility for credits, deductions and your correct tax. Choosing the best filing status for you is one of the initial steps in filing your return.

Math Errors and Miscalculations: With all those numbers you can enter on your tax forms, it is easy to make simple math mistakes. If the IRS finds those errors they may recalculate them for you but not to your advantage. So, it would be to your benefit to check your math before you send in your forms. In addition to possible math errors, there can be miscalculations linked to taxable income, withholdings, estimated tax payments, and misc. tax credits.

Incorrect Bank Account Numbers for Direct Deposit: It's important to double check your bank's routing number and your account number to ensure you receive your refund in a timely manner. Just as important is paying your tax on time to avoid possible penalties and interest.

Underreported Income: Don't forget to add income from anything other than your place of employment. This includes interest income, savings dividends, rental income or funds from a second job. Make sure you total all your income statements (W-2s, 1099s, K-1s and 1098s). Remember, the IRS gets copies of all those forms as well.

Filing Late or even not at all: Many of us can get overcome with details and put off filing our returns on time or not at all. Sooner or later the IRS will discover your tardiness and you will get a bill for the interest and penalties for not following the rules. If you are unable to make the April 15th deadline, you can request a six-month extension and avoid these penalties if you pay any taxes due by the filing deadline.

Start Saving: Whether you owe the IRS or are expecting a refund it's always good to be saving. Sometimes refunds get delayed so you can't delay your bills waiting for your refund. Make sure you set aside a portion of your income now so you will be prepared to pay any unexpected payments.

Use your return sensibly: If you are expecting a return this year, make sure you use it wisely. Before you spend it, make sure you prioritize your financial needs and put the refund toward that.

My Tip To You: Make sure you prepare your tax return when you have fewer diversions. If you are interrupted or have annoying distractions, stop what you are doing and finish your return at a later time. A little extra time spent on your tax return will go along way to sending in an accurate return. By following these simple tips, you can safeguard you won't get a letter from Uncle Sam letting you know you owe extra money.

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Smart Tips For Filing Your Tax Return

By Patrick Redo 

The tax deadline is fast approaching and many people who have never done their own taxes before are nervous when they file their first return. According to the IRS, 25% of all taxpayers wait until the last two weeks before the deadline to prepare their tax returns. If you fit into this category, check out these helpful tips to help you get the job done right.

Get Organized

-Use a tax preparation checklist to make sure you have everything you need for filing.

-Have your forms, receipts and other documents close by for easy access

-Be aware of your filing deadlines

-If you've filed before, have last year's return ready for reference

Remember, knowledge is power

The tax process can be intimidating for anyone, especially the first time preparer. Did you know that the average American scores only about 50% on personal finance questions relating to income tax returns? It will be important for you to research your tax options, school yourself and understand what items are deductible and could bring you a higher return. Don't short-change yourself by rushing through your due diligence. There are programs available that can help. For example, The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), offers free tax assistance to those individuals making $54,000 or less that need help preparing their own returns.

Choose the correct IRS forms

The simplest form is 1040EZ. Individuals whose income is below $100,000 use this form.

Choose your software or tax preparer

Tax preparation software is popular with the do-it-yourselfers. You can find a multitude of cloud or computer based preparation options. If you need the help of a professional tax preparer, it is important to find a reputable choice. Talk to friends, colleagues or someone you know who has experience with tax preparation. Make sure you ask about their fees and most importantly get their preparer tax identification number.

Decide how you will file your return

There are two options available related to sending your completed tax returns. The first is to file electronically through an authorized IRS E-file provider. The other is to download the required forms, fill them out, sign and send them in by mail. If you are expecting a refund, the E-file will definitely assure you get your money faster.

Take security measures

Be cautious when filing your taxes. Make sure you are working on a secured network. Be sure to steer away from using public Wi-Fi and remember to have a unique, strong password for any tax related accounts.

Make a plan for your tax refund before you receive it

If you are one of the lucky taxpayers that will be expecting a refund, you need to have a plan for your money. Before you go out and spend your refund, remember that the IRS isn't sending you a gratuity check. It's money that should have been yours all along. So make sure you give your pending refund a special purpose.

An excess of 50% of Americans have no savings to speak of. So, the best time to start saving is your tax refund. This could help you make a big financial step in the right direction. How about putting your refund toward bill consolidation or other savings goals. You could also consider investing your money in CDs, bonds or in real estate. Whatever you decide, make the most of the money you will be receiving.

Ready, Set, File!

Now that you have all your documents gathered and the IRS forms completed, it's time to take a deep breath and file your taxes.

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Accounting and Tax Preparation Services for Certified Minority Owned Businesses

By Daryl Joyce

Minimizing the gap between funds and opportunities imparted to minority owned businesses as compared to others is quite crucial. Besides this, a lot of programs have been launched to let minority owned companies grow. The certificate bearing minority owned businesses get an access over special government programs. These programs include government contracts which will give a push to an otherwise deprived business..

What are the requirements to get qualified as a Certified Minority Owned Business?

The small-sized firms who seek to acquire minority Business Certificate are required to get in touch with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). NMSDC is an organization that is focused towards enhancing the prospects of business for certified minority businesses and connects them to the members of the corporate industry. For Certification, an application can be submitted online and the requirements are:

Business should be at least 51 percent minority-owned i.e. it should involve the one who is 25 percent- African-American, American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Native American.

This is confirmed through - screening tests and interviews along with the physical visit.

The Minority owner member or members must be performing management and daily operations of the firm.

It should be a profit making organization which is situated in U.S. or its trust territories.

What are the benefits of being a Certified Minority Owned Business?

Access to Corporate and Government Contracts:

As per the law, many government organizations are mandated to perform business with the Minority Owned Businesses. Thus, purchasing a minimum specified percentage of the goods from them is mandatory. Contrary to this, a significant number of organizations are themselves eager to initiate business with them even if these firms are not mandated to do so. These firms are well acknowledged about the advantages of buying the goods and services from the certified Minority Owned Businesses. This certificate imparts a way of differentiating a specific firm from other suppliers in competition. Besides this, these firms are also provided with the information of the businesses and government organizations who want to buy the supply needs from the certified businesses. This list thus initiates their focused approach towards the interested customers.

Funding Imparted:

As per the research if the access to debt and equity capital is measured between the Minority Owned Businesses and otherwise, Minority is the one deprived. A lot of programs are thus launched to minimize this gap in funding. To get the advantage of these programs requires one to hold the certification. If not required by the programs, this certificate elevates and legitimates the status of a business.

An exclusive pool of Equity Financing provided can structure the equity investment of a business. The firms are mandated to obtain certification to get the advantage of the same. Many equity investors are nowadays keeping a percentage of capital for investing in Certified Businesses considering the benefits to do so.

A high amount of Debt Financing is also enabled to these firms. To access these loans the firm is required to hold certification like Equity Financing. These loans thus offer the terms of lower interest rates as compared to the general interest rate imposed and more relaxed guarantee requirements. Many organizations also impart grants to provide support towards these businesses.

Training and Network Opportunities Fostered:

Through the Certification, a Minority Business is empowered via training and networking programs. These programs will prove useful for them while expanding their reach to new customers and while imparting best practices required for a successful endeavor. Along with the online courses, many conferences and events are organized which impart enhancement to the business processes and profits earned.