Taxes

IRS Impersonation Scams on the Rise

IRS impersonation scamsAs the new year begins, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers to protect their personal and financial information. Be aware there are many IRS impersonation scams that try to trick people out of their hard-earned money via text, email, and phone. This tax season, the IRS also warns people to watch out for signs of potential unemployment fraud.

Text Message Scams

Last year, there was an uptick in scam text messages that impersonated the IRS and referenced COVID-19 and/or stimulus payments. These messages often contain bogus links claiming to be IRS websites or other online tools.

Other than IRS Secure Access, the IRS does not use text messages to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. The IRS also will not send taxpayers messages via social media platforms.

Unemployment Fraud

Many states have experienced a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities. Criminals are using these stolen identities to fraudulently collect benefits. You may be a victim of unemployment identity theft if you’ve received:

  • mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment for which you did not file. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards, and they could be from any state;
  • an IRS Form 1099-G reflecting unemployment benefits you were not expecting or did not receive. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits you did not receive or an amount that exceeds benefits you did receive. The form itself could also be from a state in which you did not file for benefits; or
  • a notice from your employer indicating the employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim.

 

For more on keeping your financial data safe, click here to read our article on cyber security.

By |2022-02-11T15:32:34-07:00February 28th, 2022|Current Affairs, Cyber Security, Taxes|

2021 Tax Planning Update

2021 Tax Planning Update In December 2020, the $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 became law and several provisions from the earlier Tax Cuts and Jobs Act were extended. Income tax brackets, eligibility for certain deductions and credits, and the standard deduction for income-tax payers all saw increases in 2021 as a result. Following is another important 2021 tax planning update.

Inflation Calculation Changes

Another significant change within the law relates to how the U.S. tax code calculates inflation. Traditionally, tax law has tied inflation calculation to the Consumer Price Index (CPI); this index measures the average change in prices paid by urban consumers on goods and services over time. Now, with recent tax reform, inflation is measured by Chained CPI.

According to TurboTax, the Chained CPI figure “measures inflation in a different, often slower way that accounts for consumers’ tendency to shy away from items that undergo a large price increase.” That means some taxpayers may get pushed into a higher marginal bracket than before, due to cost-of-living pay increases or other raises in income that outpace Chained CPI.

Q3 2021 Tax Planning Update

The third quarter is the time to assess your total estimated income, deductions, and credits for 2021. That way adjustments can be made before year-end to help reduce your overall tax bill. If you have questions or concerns, your Perspective advisor is available to help.

By |2021-10-12T10:57:04-07:00October 25th, 2021|Current Affairs, Taxes|

Win the Retirement Race

Eng-WEBA 401k account through your employer is one of the best tools to use for retirement savings. It’s an investment account that allows your money to grow tax-deferred or, in the case of a Roth 401k, tax-free. It can help you win the retirement race.

These retirement savings accounts make it very simple to put your saving and investing on auto pilot. It even gives you options to rebalance your investment portfolio on a regular basis.

If you’re just starting out and have less than $50,000 in your 401k, a target date retirement fund is a simple option. These funds “target” your retirement year based on your age and invest accordingly; the investment vehicle provides a diversified portfolio all-in-one fund using a variety of stocks and bonds. They’re professionally managed and therefore require very little monitoring.

As your account balance grows, you may consider adding more funds to the mix.

How many years before retirement?

Your time horizon calculates how long you will be investing and when you want to retire and begin withdrawing money from your account. It’s a key factor in how and where you invest. In general, the longer amount of time you have, the more aggressive you can afford to be and the more stock market volatility you can withstand.

Many young people believe they need to be “safe and conservative” with their retirement accounts. Really, the opposite is true. Investors in their 20s and 30s can afford to take some risk with an account they will not use for 30 or 40 years.

How comfortable are you with risk and stock market volatility?

Even if you’re young and have a long time-horizon, you may find watching your retirement account bounce up and down to be unnerving. In that case, a more conservative strategy makes sense. You can add bonds to your investment mix to help bring income and stability to your portfolio.

Either way, staying invested in the market – rather than jumping in and out, and trying to time the markets – is a key to long-term success. Think of investing is a marathon, not a sprint, if you want to win the retirement race. Even after you retire, keeping investments in the stock market will help your money continue to grow and outpace inflation.

Win the Retirement Race

 

By |2021-10-12T10:39:00-07:00October 12th, 2021|Retirement, Taxes|

Tax Term ABCs

Lupe CamargoIt’s fall and back-to-school time. As young adults enter their final years of school and begin to make more independent financial decisions, having a firm grasp of the basics will help them stay on a solid path. Several clients have recently asked for my help in educating their college-age kids about essential money matters like tax terminology. Here are some tax term ABCs to share with your kids (or to use as a personal refresher if you’re a little rusty).

Tax Term ABCs

Adjusted Gross Income vs. Taxable Income

Adjusted gross income (AGI) is your total income before any standard or itemized deductions or credits. Taxable income is what is taxed. It’s an important distinction, since many IRS provisions are based on AGI, not taxable income. Your AGI affects the size of your deductions and your eligibility for some types of retirement plan contributions.

Before-Tax vs. After-Tax

After-tax money is taxable now; before-tax (also called pre-tax) money is taxable later. It’s an important difference to understand as you save for retirement. To reduce your lifetime tax burden and make the most of your earnings, you want to shift taxes to your lower income earning years if possible. This can help you determine whether to fund a Roth (which is done with after-tax funds) or a Traditional IRA (funded with pre-tax funds).

Capital Gains vs. Ordinary Income

Capital gains tax-rates are lower than ordinary income rates; they range from zero to 20 percent. A capital gain occurs when a capital asset is sold, such as stocks, mutual funds or a house. Ordinary income comes from your job, business or retirement fund distributions. If you’re in the 32 percent income tax bracket, your ordinary income would be taxed at 32 percent, whereas a capital gain would be taxed at 15 percent.

Tax-Free vs. Tax-Deferred

Tax-free money is simply that; you never have to pay taxes on this money. Distributions from a Roth (both your contributions and earnings) are one example. Tax-deferred means you don’t have to pay taxes on that income right now, but you will in the future.

You can always reach out to your advisor for additional resources and to learn more about money matters. For now, class is dismissed!

By |2021-09-21T11:05:47-07:00September 21st, 2021|Taxes|