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Category Archives: Taxes

Getting an Extension on Filing Your Tax Return This Year

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The tax filing deadline this year is just a few days away. If you are on top of your game, you are ready to file. If not, there is no need to panic. You can always file for a much needed extension. In this article, we take a look at how to do just that.

Can you get an extension to file your tax return after April? The simple answer is yes. Even better, the extension is given better. Much like an infomercial, wait…it gets better! The IRS gives you an extension for six months. This means that the return isn’t due until October! Yes, you can enjoy your summer in bliss and then get stressed out in September when you start trying to get your act together.

Okay, so how do you actually file the extension? You need to print out, sign and mail in one of those infamous IRS forms. The form in this case is 4868. Unlike most IRS forms, this one is exceedingly simple to fill out. You need to enter your name and address. Then you need to estimate the taxes you will owe when you finally do file the return. Ideally, you will send in a payment for that amount, but most don’t.

This raises an important issue. The automatic six month extension is only applicable to the filing of your tax return. It is not an extension on the payment of the tax you actually owe Uncle Sam. That money is still due in April. If you don’t pay then, you will have to in October. You will also have to add six months worth of penalties and interest. That can be a lot for some people, but a relatively small amount for others.

The days of begging the IRS for an extension to file taxes are long gone. The automated process makes things really easy. Just make sure you mail in the request well before the April 15th due date.

[ad_2] Source by Richard Chapo

Identity Theft – Nine Threats & Nine Steps To Protection

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The Bad News: Identity theft is escalating at a torrid pace. It has become one of the country’s top problems. The bad guys are finding more ways to steal YOUR identity.

The Good News: You can take control of the situation, become both reactive and proactive guarding yourself against identity theft.

Identity Theft Is Spreading Faster Than The Worst Case Of The Flu!

First, let’s understand just how bad identity theft has become in this country:

· The Federal Trade Commission says that there is an underground market for credit card numbers, social security numbers and ID documents – organized gangs or web mobs use and sell these documents for as little as $10 each. Some of these groups contain thousands of members. The amount of goods and services purchased with fraudulently obtained personal identity exceeded 52-billion dollars in 2004.

· US Department of Justice states identity theft is affecting millions of households in the U.S. each year. The cost is estimated to be six-point-four billion per year. According to the FTC, an estimated 10 million adults become victims of identity theft each year.

· The Department of Justice goes on to say that the most common misuse of identity was through credit cards, accounting for 50 percent of all identity theft. Next in line were banking and other types of accounts at 25 percent, personal information was 15 percent, and a combination of several types of identity theft was at 12 percent. The average loss for each identity theft was $1,290.00. Two-thirds of those surveyed said the theft cost them money despite credit card coverage.

· A recent State of the Net survey by Consumer Reports which covered more than 2000 households with Internet Access projects that American consumers lost more than eight-billion dollars over the last two years to viruses, spyware and various scams. The report also shows consumers face a one-in-three chance of becoming a “cyber victim” about the same as last year. It goes on to say that consumers lost $630 million over the past two years to e-mail scams.

· The average person today suffers through two or more “incidents” with their computer each year – the computer slows to a crawl, crashes altogether, viruses or spyware take over systems and more. It’s getting worse as computers become more complex and as we do more with them.

So, Who Is At Risk For Identity Theft?

According to the Department of Justice there are three groups that are most at risk for identity theft: young adults 18 to 24, adults who earn $75,000 per year or more and households in urban and suburban area. Interesting to note that about five percent of adults who earn $75,000 or more a year are hit with identity theft.

The continued growth of online fraud and identity theft are putting an enormous strain on the existing infrastructure for the Internet as well as our social structure. For example, the banking community has been complacent about security upgrades required by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. They report that every bank in the country has not complied with their guidelines set for now. In an article titled, “U.S. Banks Complacent Toward Identity Theft Solution,” by PR Web, the single largest national security threat is a terrorist attack on our banking system. An attack aimed simultaneously at millions of user names and passwords within banks would shut down our banking system. This would instantly shut down banks worldwide. Credit/debit cards, checks, calls to the bank, would not work for at least a matter of days causing tremendous hardship and a ripple effect from no gas to “I simply have to take this baby food.”

Consider for a moment some of the potential social effects from this identity theft problem. What if citizens developed a lack of confidence in our credit card and monetary system causing economic upheaval similar to what we saw in the “Great Depression?” I know this sounds radical, but what if you couldn’t trust your identity to anyone anymore? What if you feared that your money, your identity was going to be stolen? It’s not unthinkable that you would store your money under your mattress at home or in a safe in the closet rather than possibly losing it to identity theft. If millions of people lost faith in our monetary system and the ability to keep their identity safe and then took all of their money home where they believe it would be safe, what would happen then?

We generally can’t control what happens outside of our personal environment, what happens at a bank, corporation or the government seems so far out of reach. There are, however, steps that we can take that will give us a better chance of protecting our personal information. The first step is identifying the threats and then taking steps to protect ourselves.

Below, I have identified nine identity theft threats and nine steps to protect our identity in today’s society.

Nine Threats To Your Identity

Here are nine of the most popular ways for thieves to steal your identity. Some of these are personally preventable and others are out of our control:

1. Stolen Company Data. Your personal information is stored on computers at stores where you shop, at your insurance company, your accountant, and more. It almost seems like a common occurrence where a company is hacked into and their customer’s information is stolen. This happens so often now that the crimes are rarely reported and don’t make the front page anymore.

2. Social Engineering. Identity Thieves are very clever. They will invent any way possible to fool you into giving your identity out. It’s called social engineering because the thief uses common social situations to get the information they want. Like a seemingly innocent phone call supposedly from your credit card company asking for your personal information.

3. Dumpster Diving. Identity thieves get a lot of their victims’ information out of garbage cans and recycle bins from old credit card statements and other personal documents thrown out carelessly.

4. Mail Theft. Your mail can contain valuable information: bills, banking information, credit cards, investments and more. Personal mail can often be stolen right from a mailbox.

5. Financial Account Hijacking. Once a thief has your personal information they can take over your personal accounts. You might not know about their activity for months.

6. Credit Card Magnetic Strip Theft. These clever crooks have tools to steal information off the magnetic strips on your credit card.

7. Discarded Computers. Your old computer really can tell stories. Even though you erased your hard drive crooks have tools to reclaim your personal information and use it against you.

8. Spyware and Viruses on Computers. You may not be familiar with the term ‘malware.’ It’s a term that covers all of the hacker tools that can cause harm on your computer. These tools include spyware, keylogger tools, Trojan horses and more.

9. E-mail and Internet Scams. Cyber thieves are getting more and more creative using scams like Phishing, Pharming and fancy come-ons to entice you to give them your personal information.

There Are Four Ways You Can Approach Protecting Your Identity…

One way is to do nothing and hope that identity thieves don’t harm you.

Second, you can be reactive. Reactive simply means that you are responding to all the material that comes your way. You are checking your credit card and bank statements to make sure nothing peculiar is on them. And if you do find something strange you contact your bank or credit card company immediately. Reactive also means that you are checking your credit report when you apply for credit or a loan.

Third, you can be proactive. A proactive approach is a more aggressive way of protecting yourself against the bad guys. You are constantly looking ahead and evaluating before giving out valuable information.

And fourth, combine reactive and proactive approaches. This is the best way to ensure you identity protection.

Nine Critical Steps To Proactively Protecting Your Identity…

Here are your ‘Nine Proactive Steps To Identity Protection:”

1. Begin to operate on an “I have to know everything” approach when you give out your personal information. Only give out your personal information to people you know and trust.

2. Protect your Social Security Number, credit card and other financial information. Do not give this information out over the phone unless you initiated the call or as we stated above are talking to a trusted individual from a trusted company.

3. Cancel all of your unused accounts including banking, credit card, licenses and permits.

4. At least once a year, if not more often, update and check your credit report and Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement to make sure everything appears as it should.

5. Protect your mail. Make sure you have a secure locked mailbox to receive all of your mail. Always mail your payments and checks from a secure Post Office Box or from the Post Office. And, if you have a Post Office Box at the Post Office never discard your mail in a garbage can. Always bring your entire mail home.

6. Always crosscut shred all bank statements, credit card applications or information and important documents before discarding to recycle or the garbage. It is best to stir up the shredded documents to make it even harder for identity thieves to steal your information.

7. Purchase identity theft insurance. This will cover any losses incurred while recovering your lost identity once a crook has stolen it.

8. Invest in professional grade protection for your computer. The best protection available today comes from Managed Internet Security Service providers. The best security services include best-of-breed corporate grade security software for your computer, as well as unlimited service and support from trained security pros. Make sure it is the same kind of service that is used by major corporations around the world. Frankly, the over-the-counter and free security software programs available don’t keep up with today’s professional cyber thief. If those popular programs worked, why do we see the cyber-crime problem growing at a progressively faster pace?

A managed professional Internet security program should have the following technologies installed: A bi-directional or dual Firewall that prevents information from coming in or going out of your computer without your permission, anti-virus protection that is updated daily, and malware protection that is updated daily. Malware consists of spyware, adware, Trojan horses, keyloggers and more. It constantly changes so you will need a technology that keeps up with the professional hackers who want your identity. Your best bet is to find a professional security service that affordably manages all this for you.

9. Beware of e-mail scams like Phishing and Pharming. Phishing is an e-mail that looks like it came from a bank or business claiming you need to take care of a problem or your account will be closed down. It takes you to a page to fill out your personal information. Meanwhile, Pharming is redirecting your computer from a legitimate to a fake web site. For example, you may think that you are going to your banking site, but instead are redirected to a site that looks like your banks web site, but is hosted by an identity thief.

Identity theft continues to grow at a torrid pace. Millions of people in the United States will lose their identity to thieves in the coming year. Many of them will suffer for years trying to clean up the mess that was left behind.

The bad news is we can’t control all of the identity threats we face each day. The good news is there are reactive and proactive steps we can take to protect ourselves against personal tragedy.

[ad_2] Source by Warren Franklin

Deluxe Business Forms

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Deluxe business forms have been popular for a long time now. In fact, Deluxe has been the supplier businesses have trusted for over eight decades now. Deluxe business forms along with deluxe checks, tax forms, and personalized products are widely in use. Deluxe Business Checks and Solutions is a business unit of Deluxe Small Business Sales Inc. If you are thinking of starting a new venture, Deluxe business forms are the apt choice. Deluxe’s product line includes a wide variety of professional quality checks and forms for small and growing businesses. Deluxe business forms are compatible with today’s accounting software packages.

Deluxe offers its customers a promise to maintain service with a personal touch. Deluxe’s growth is based on a commitment to customer service. Deluxe has a dedicated online resource catering to the needs of the small businesses with faster and more efficient access to deluxe forms. Deluxe forms could be adjudged the dynamic resource of ideas for growing businesses.

Deluxe’s commitment to quality can be gauged from their seal of guarantee on their web site. You can visit your nearest Deluxe outlet in your neighborhood for your business forms. Alternately, you can get Deluxe business forms directly from their online resource. The entire procedure for getting a deluxe business form is quite simple. All you need to do is to go the relevant page, click, and the list of forms will be displayed. You just have to order the one which you want and it will be shipped to you. Thanks to the convenience of the Internet, you can now get your form without moving a muscle. One can get extensive information on deluxe business forms by taking a tour of their online resource. Their online resource is exhaustive, but at the same time, one can easily navigate through the various links provided in the web site.

[ad_2] Source by Josh Riverside

Home Based Business Tax Deductions

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Running a home based business reaps many wonderful tax deductions that other businesses some times may not claim. Unfortunately to many small business owners end up paying the government taxes every year because they are unaware or several small business deductions that are available.

Most of the time any expenses that are related to your business can be added as a deduction on your taxes. If you do not pay taxes through out the year, deductions can help you from paying a large amount of taxes each year and can also adjust earned income. Try to avoid paying large amounts of taxes or owning any money by keeping track of simple things!

Each business is a bit different so be sure to mention these ideas to your tax adviser or accountant to see if your business can qualify for these deductions.

1- If you join any business or purchase into any franchise, the expenses such as kits, or franchise fees may be claimed as a deductions. Receipts for these business start-up costs should be saved.

2- Business Supplies. Be sure to save all receipts for any supplies you purchase for your business use. Computer paper, business cards, pens, catalogs, brochures or any items you purchase and use for your business.

3- Advertising- Most advertising can be claimed on your taxes. Keep all receipts for any newspaper ad’s you may run, banner advertising, or any advertising you do online. Advertising is a business expense and in most cases can be written off.

4- Items Given Away- Keep a list of any items you may give away, and the costs of these items. Most freebies may also be written off.

5- Phone Bills and Internet Access- If you have a phone line for business use or have the internet in your home or office for business use, save all receipts for each bill paid. These items are business expenses and may also be written off.

A cell phone that is used for business is also a deduction.

6- An In Home Office- If you have an office in your home, make sure to let your tax adviser know. Using a room in your home as an office can also be added on taxes.

7- Long Distance Calls- If you make any long distance calls that are related to your business, make sure you keep all phone bills showing the calls and the amounts charged. If these calls are related to your work, the cost of the calls may also be written off in most cases.

8- Returned Checks and Bank Fees. If you incur any bounced checks from customers and can not collect on them, those amounts may be deducted, along with any fees you were charged from your bank. Be sure to keep the returned check, the letter from your bank and your bank statement to show the fee you were charged.

9- Postage- All postage costs paid by you or shipping fees may be claimed. Keep receipts for all shipping supplies, and postage.

10- Computers & Software- If you purchase a new computer for business use, the cost of the computer may be claimed. Software that you may use for business may also be claimed.

You may also claim depreciation for 3 years after the computer was purchased.

[ad_2] Source by Danni Vickers

Is Lost Rental Income Tax Deductible?

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This is an interesting tax question and one that small business owners frequently ask when they have commercial space available to rent to another party. Unfortunately, you cannot claim a tax deduction for the potential lost rental income or what can best be characterized as an opportunity cost. Similarly, the IRS states in the Internal Revenue Code that lost rental income while a property is vacant is not tax deductible. Rather, it is an opportunity cost in economic terms but that is about it. You cannot deduct an opportunity cost for tax purposes as little as or great as that benefit may be to reducing your tax liability.

Commonly Used Business Tax Deductions If you are wondering what you can deduct, the following are some common tax deductible business expenses: real estate taxes, qualified mortgage insurance premiums, deductible mortgage interest, casualty loss, utilities, insurance, depreciation, security system, and repairs.

Keeping Records of Invoices & Receipts Also keep in mind that it is very really important to maintain supporting documentation such as the invoices & receipts for all expenses you claim on your tax return. The supporting documentation should be stored in a safe and readily accessible place. Even if your general ledgers are not in order now, you will at the very least want to have access to supporting documentation to fix any mistakes that become known. It is not completely uncommon for the IRS to request supporting documentation related to a large tax deduction reported on your income tax return. Start searching for all of those receipts now before you need to scramble.

[ad_2] Source by Ryan S Himmel