Tax Tips 2018 - The News Reporter | Tax Tips
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The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 2 Getting ready for tax season A new year not only brings a host of while increasing the chances you new opportunities, but it also brings earn all of the credits and deductions a host of familiar obligations. One you deserve. such obligation is paying taxes, which • Examine past returns. Many doesn’t have to be done until mid- people have questions when filling out April. But waiting until the last min- their tax returns, but those who wait ute with respect to taxes can make the until the waning days of tax season process even more difficult, and put- to prepare their returns ignore those ting it off certainly won’t help those questions in an effort to make the fil- people who vowed to stop procrasti- ing deadline. When you start prepar- nating in the new year. ing for tax season early, examine past Getting a headstart on tax season returns and see if there are any ques- can be beneficial in numerous ways, tions you wanted to ask in the past that not the least of which is avoiding the you didn’t have time for. Write these last-minute rush to file your return questions down as you comb through come the filing deadline. Even if you your past returns and bring the ques- have yet to receive your W-2 (which tions to your tax preparer when the you should have in hand by January time comes. If you don’t plan on hir- 31), there are steps you can take to get ing a professional to prepare your ready for the coming tax season. taxes, you can contact the IRS with • Gather your documents. Your your questions, and the earlier you do W-2 is likely not the only document so, the more quickly you are likely to you will need to prepare your tax re- have your questions answered. turn. Statements regarding your in- • Take your time. When you decide when working on your return and early so that person has more time to vestments, student loan payments, to get an early start on your taxes, you don’t succumb to any potential stress- devote to your return. If you wait too mortgage and a host of other docu- allow yourself to take your time pre- ors. long, chances are the tax preparer will ments might be necessary for you to paring your return. This reduces the • Consider hiring a professional. be buried with many other customers’ fill out your return. You should start likelihood of getting stressed when fil- Starting early also gives you an op- returns and won’t be able to devote as receiving these documents in Janu- ing your return. Many people get a bit portunity to determine if preparing much time to preparing your return ary, so gather them as they come in nervous when filing a tax return, but your own return is too tall a task. If as you would like. and keep them in a convenient place. that stress can be even greater if you that’s the case, consider hiring a pro- More information about getting This will ensure you don’t get frus- leave everything until the last minute. fessional to prepare your return. If ready for tax season is available at trated when filling out your return If you’re starting early, take your time you decide to hire a professional, do so www.irs.gov. Large enough S. Preston Douglas to meet all your needs, & Associates, LLP small enough to know your name. LUMBERTON 907 N. Walnut Street 910-739-7523 John L. Grissom, Jr., CPA ELIZABETHTOWN 1103 W. Broad Street 910-862-3768 Phil W. Byrd, CPA WHITEVILLE Jerry W. Brown, CPA Julia Kinlaw, CPA Jerry G. Savage, CPA 122 Memory Plaza Phil W. Byrd, CPA Culbert M. (Buddy) Matthew S. McLean, CPA 910-642-6692 Deborah S. Grissom, CPA McLean, Jr., CPA Stephen Parker, CPA Matthew S. McLean, CPA John L. Grissom, Jr., CPA John D. Masters, CPA Austin Eubanks, CPA J. Lee Grissom, CPA, CFE www.spdouglas.com Member: American Institute of CPA’s, NC Association of CPA’s Working with our clients to achieve their financial goals since 1941
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 3 IRS statement on 2018 Tax returns due April filing season start date 17 The Internal Revenue those returns when The filing deadline to submit 2017 Service announced received, it cannot is- tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, sthat the nation’s tax sue related refunds rather than the traditional April 15 season will begin Mon- before mid-February. date. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sun- day, Jan. 29, 2018 and The IRS expects the day, and this would usually move the reminded taxpayers earliest EITC/ACTC filing deadline to the following Mon- claiming certain tax related refunds to be day — April 16. However, Emancipa- credits that refunds available in taxpayer tion Day — a legal holiday in the Dis- won’t be available be- bank accounts or on trict of Columbia — will be observed fore late February. debit cards starting on that Monday, which pushes the na- The IRS will begin on Feb. 27, 2018, if they tion’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April accepting tax returns chose direct deposit 17, 2018. Under the tax law, legal holi- on Jan. 29, with nearly and there are no other days in the District of Columbia affect 155 million individual issues with the tax re- the filing deadline across the nation. tax returns expected to turn. The IRS also re- “The opening of filing season re- be filed in 2018. The na- minds taxpayers that flects months and months of work by tion’s tax deadline will they should keep cop- IRS employees,” Koskinen said. “This be April 17 this year – ies of their prior-year year, we had a number of important so taxpayers will have tax returns for at least legislative changes to program into two additional days to three years. our systems, including the EITC re- file beyond April 15. Taxpayers who are fund date, as well as dealing with Many software com- using a tax software resource limitations. Our systems panies and tax profes- product for the first require extensive programming and sionals will be accept- time will need their testing beforehand to ensure we’re ing tax returns before adjusted gross income ready to accept and process more than Jan. 29 and then will from their 2016 tax re- 155 million returns.” submit the returns turn to file electroni- The IRS also has been working when IRS systems open. Although the of key tax processing systems in ad- cally. with the tax industry and state rev- IRS will begin accepting both electron- vance of the opening and to assess the Taxpayers who are using the same enue departments as part of the Se- ic and paper tax returns Jan. 29, paper potential impact of tax legislation on tax software they used last year will curity Summit initiative to continue returns will begin processing later in 2017 tax returns. not need to enter prior-year informa- strengthening processing systems to mid-February as system updates con- The IRS reminds taxpayers that, tion to electronically sign their 2017 protect taxpayers from identity theft tinue. The IRS strongly encourages by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds tax return. Using an electronic filing and refund fraud. The IRS and Sum- people to file their tax returns elec- claiming the Earned Income Tax PIN is no longer an option. Taxpayers mit partners continued to improve tronically for faster refunds. Credit (EITC) and the Additional can visit IRS.gov/GetReady for more these safeguards to further protect The IRS set the Jan. 29 opening date Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid- tips on preparing to file their 2017 tax taxpayers filing in 2018. to ensure the security and readiness February. While the IRS will process return. Refunds in 2018 Choosing e-file and direct depos- and ACTC. weekends or holidays, which can it for refunds remains the fastest The IRS expects the earliest affect when refunds reach taxpay- and safest way to file an accurate EITC/ACTC related refunds to ers. For EITC and ACTC filers, income tax return and receive be available in taxpayer bank ac- the three-day holiday weekend a refund. The IRS expects more counts or on debit cards starting involving Presidents’ Day may af- than four out of five tax returns on Feb. 27, 2018, if those taxpay- fect their refund timing. will be prepared electronically us- ers chose direct deposit and there The Where’s My Refund? tool ing tax software. are no other issues with the tax on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone The IRS still anticipates issuing return. This additional period is app will be updated with project- more than nine out of 10 refunds due to several factors, including ed deposit dates for early EITC in less than 21 days, but there are banking and financial systems and ACTC refund filers in late some important factors to keep in needing time to process deposits. February. Taxpayers will not see mind for taxpayers. After refunds leave the IRS, it a refund date on Where’s My Re- By law, the IRS cannot issue re- takes additional time for them fund? or through their software funds on tax returns claiming the to be processed and for financial packages until then. The IRS, tax Earned Income Tax Credit or the institutions to accept and depos- preparers and tax software will Additional Child Tax Credit be- it the refunds to bank accounts not have additional information fore mid-February. This applies to and products. The IRS reminds on refund dates, so Where’s My the entire refund — even the por- taxpayers many financial institu- Refund? remains the best way to tion not associated with the EITC tions do not process payments on check the status of a refund.
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 4 Scams targeting taxpayers Help for taxpayers Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal infor- The IRS reminds taxpayers they have offer free tax help to people who qual- mation to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set a variety of options to get help filing ify. Go to IRS.gov and enter “free tax up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals. and preparing their tax return on IRS. prep” in the search box to learn more The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize can find answers to their tax questions or download the IRS2Go smartphone the telltale signs of a scam. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or and resolve tax issues online. The Let app to find a free tax prep provider. If knocking on your door. Us Help You page helps answer most eligible, taxpayers can also locate help IRS-Impersonation telephone scams tax ques- A sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immi- tions, and grants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to the IRS Ser- be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge num- vices Guide bers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller links to ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. these and Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly other IRS through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, services. deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the Taxpay- caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund ers can go due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t to IRS.gov/ answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request. account to Consumer Alert: Scammers change tactics, once again securely Some thieves have used video relay services (VRS) to try to scam deaf and access in- hard of hearing individuals. Taxpayers are urged not trust calls just because for mation they are made through VRS, as interpreters don’t screen calls for validity. For about their details see the IRS video: Tax Scams via Video Relay Service. federal tax Limited English Proficiency victims are often approached in their native account. language, threatened with deportation, police arrest and license revocation, They can among other things. IRS urges all taxpayers caution before paying unexpected view the amount they owe, pay online from a community volunteer. Go to tax bills. Please see: IRS Alerts Taxpayers with Limited English Proficiency of or set up an online payment agree- IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab for Ongoing Phone Scams. Note that the IRS doesn’t: ment; access their tax records online; more information. Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such review the past 18 months of payment The IRS also reminds taxpayers that as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first history; and view key tax return infor- a trusted tax professional can provide mail you a bill if you owe any taxes. mation for the current year as filed. helpful information and advice. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review Tips for choosing a return preparer you arrested for not paying. the required identity authentication and details about national tax profes- Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal process. sional groups are available on IRS.gov. the amount they say you owe. In addition, Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Scams targeting tax professionals Increasingly, tax professionals are being targeted by identity thieves. These 70 percent of the nation’s Under New Management taxpayers are criminals – many of them sophisticated, organized syndicates - are redoubling eligible for IRS their efforts to gather personal data to file fraudulent federal and state income Free File. Com- tax returns. The Security Summit has a campaign aimed at tax professionals: mercial part- Protect your clients; Protect yourself. ners of the IRS Recent scams targeting the tax professional community include: offer free brand- • Tax professionals warned of e-Services scam. name software • Tax professionals warned of new scam to “Unlock” tax software accounts. to about 100 mil- Looking for a new • A phishing scheme mimicking software providers targets tax professionals. lion individuals Criminals target tax professionals to steal data such as PTINs, EFINs or and families Accountant? e-Service passwords. with incomes of • Bogus email asks tax professionals to update their IRS e-services portal $66,000 or less. information and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). IRS warns tax preparers to watch out for new Phishing Scam; Don’t click on strange emails or links seeking updated information The fillable online forms Look no further! provide elec- Tax professionals should review Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, A guide for your business, which provides a checklist to help safeguard tronic versions of IRS paper We offer Accounting, Payroll information and enhance security. See also: Identity theft information for tax professionals. forms to all tax- and Tax Return Preparation payers regard- Soliciting form W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals less of income at competitive prices. that can be The IRS has established a process that will allow businesses and payroll ser- vice providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam cur- prepared and If what you’re looking for is HONESTY, RELIABILITY filed by people rently making the rounds. If notified in time, the IRS can take steps to prevent comfortable and ACCURACY with over 40 years of combined employees from being victimized by identity thieves filing fraudulent returns in their names. There also is information about how to report receiving the with complet- experience from a company that’s been in Columbus ing their own scam email. returns. County since 1990, give us a call! Report these schemes: • Email email@example.com to notify the IRS of a W-2 data loss and provide Vo l u n t e e r Income Tax As- 910-642-8084 contact information. In the subject line, type “W2 Data Loss” so that the email can be routed properly. Do not attach any employee personally identifiable in- sistance (VITA) 2764 Old Pine Log Road, Whiteville and Tax Coun- formation. Continued on page 12 seling for the Elderly (TCE) Mention this ad and get 10% Off
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 5 Seven smart uses for your tax refund You finished your tax returns and start on your child’s education. discovered you’ll be receiving a nice 5. Make an investment. Consider refund. You’re not alone. The IRS putting your refund money to work reports that the average American for you. Talk to your State Farm® received a refund of nearly $3,000 in agent about your options. 2016. But before you start dreaming 6. Improve your efficiency. Invest- of a tropical vacation or a shopping ing in home improvements can pay spree, consider how that money could off in reduced energy bills. For exam- help you shore up your financial situ- ple, replacing an old refrigerator with ation. Here are seven suggestions to a new ENERGY STAR®-rated unit can consider. save you $200 to $1,100 over the life- 1. Pay off credit card debt. Main- time of the appliance. taining any balance—but especially 7. Bolster your life insurance. If the maximum—on a high-interest it’s been awhile since you reviewed credit card costs you money every your insurance coverage, this may be month. Pay off or cut down your bal- a prime opportunity. As life progress- ance and, depending on your account es and your situation changes, you balance, you could save hundreds of may find you’re underinsured. An in- dollars in interest fees this year. surance agent can help you determine 2. Boost your emergency fund. the level of coverage that’s right for Experts recommend stashing the you. Agents cannot provide tax, legal, equivalent of three to six months’ or investment advice. Consult your worth of income in an emergency tax, legal, or investment advisor re- fund. If your account is low, has been garding your specific circumstances. depleted or doesn’t exist yet, use your refund to help cover your expenses in an emergency. 3. Ramp up retirement savings. According to a poll by the Pew Re- this may be the place to put your tax 4. Start or add to a college fund. search Center, approximately 38 per- refund. Depending on your situation, Even if your kids are young, those cent of U.S. adults are not confident age and income level, contributing to college tuition bills will be arriving they’ll have the money to retire. If a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA is an before you know it! Seek out an edu- you’ve gotten behind in your savings, option worth looking at. cational savings plan and get a head Matt Walker Agent 642-8206 Jordan Carter Agent 654-1100
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 6 Don’t forget finances when making resolutions When the time comes to make New from every angle and determine if it’s financial needs, such a practice needs est rates on existing loans or credit Year’s resolutions, the conventional time to make some changes. to change. No matter how much you cards. If you have exercised financial wisdom is to focus on weight. Such • Resolve to be more liquid. A poll trust this person, don’t fall into a trap responsibility over the last 12 months, wisdom is understandable, as many from the where paying down debts and paying all people spend the holiday season in- National one per- bills on time, this is the perfect time dulging in big meals and all the treats Founda- son acts to negotiate lower rates and reap the synonymous with having fun. tion for as your rewards of your good behavior. While it’s acceptable to make Credit financial • Don’t invest in anything you healthy resolutions, a slimmer waist C o u n - svengali. don’t understand. Too often inves- and a healthier diet should not be the seling Such an tors get caught up in so-called expert only goals for the year ahead. In light f o u n d arrange- forecasts and act impulsively based of the last several years, it’s important that 64 m e n t on the advice of some talking head for men and women to make financial percent proved they see on television or hear on the resolutions for the year ahead, too. No of Amer- v e r y radio. Unfortunately, such “experts” one can say with certainty when, or if, i c a n s costly aren’t always certified financial pro- the economy will rebound, and men would to those fessionals, and some might even have and women should look at the New need to men and ulterior motives for pushing certain Year as a suitable time to make some utilize a women investments and shunning others. financial resolutions for the future. source w h o What’s more, few people know the • Reassess your investment plan. o t h e r trusted track record of these “experts,” so Since 2010, the market has been up t h a n the likes their advice should not be taken at and down like a roller coaster. Those their savings account to pay for a of Bernie Madoff, a once-prominent face value. A simple rule for the year who have weathered the storm have $1,000 unplanned expense. That per- financier who turned out to be noth- ahead should be to never invest in no doubt witnessed big gains and centage illustrates that most adults ing more than a criminal mastermind anything you don’t understand. If an significant losses over the last few just don’t have enough cash on hand. orchestrating history’s largest Ponzi investment opportunity seems worth- years, and the turn of the calendar is This year, resolve to be more liquid. scheme. This year, if you haven’t done while, do all of your homework to gain a great time to reassess investments Being more liquid enables you to more so already, make sure your financial a solid understanding of the opportu- and possibly make some changes. Are effectively handle emergencies, and it advisor, money manager, custodian, nity before investing any money. you taking on more risk than you’re also helps you avoid being forced to and trustee are all different people. Healthy resolutions go beyond a comfortable with? Is your portfolio sell investments at the wrong time. • Negotiate lower rates. Use the slimmer waist and a healthier diet. too conservative? How well are you di- • Shake things up. If you rely on onset of the New Year as a chance This year, resolve to get healthier fi- versifying? Look at your investments one individual to handle all of your to negotiate newer and lower inter- nancially as well. PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTING Robin Harrelson, & TAX SERVICE Accountant 2919 Pinelog Rd. • Whiteville, NC 28472 (910) 642-3358 Mon-Fri 9AM-8PM; Sat 9AM-5PM COMPUTERIZED ACCOUNTING, TAX RETURN PREPARATION,INDIVIDUAL, SMALL BUSINESS, FARMERS, FEDERAL & STATE ELECTRONIC FILING & FAST REFUNDS *Attention Clients, Taxpayers* Let us prepare your 2017 Income Tax Returns and be entered to win 3 $500 Visa gift Receive a check in our office upon approval from cards, plus we will be giving away at random, during tax season, several mystery gifts, to the IRS, with all fees withheld. be announced at the time of your preparation process at our office. It’s our way of saying thank you for your loyalty and trust in our experience preparing returns for over 25 years. ***Attention*** Let a professional prepare your tax return with complete error checking and validation on If you have all your income each and every return for 100% accuracy. forms (W2, 1099, etc.) and all your deductions you can $50 off come in to pre-process your Opening Day for information and have your Electronic Filing return ready to e-file on is January 29th. opening day. Tax Preparation Very Reasonable Rates with FREE NC Electronic Filing. It Pays To Seek A Tax Professional!
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 7 Reasons to choose direct deposit for tax refund As taxpayers prepare for the Janu- IRS Free File to prepare and e-file fed- easy. With e-file, just follow the instruc- parers. ary 29 start of filing season, they eral returns for free. Taxpayers who tions in the tax software. For paper re- Taxpayers should deposit refunds should consider a direct deposit of any file a paper return can also use direct turns, the tax form instructions serve into accounts in their own name, their refunds due. It’s easy, safe, fast — and deposit. as a guide. Make sure to enter the cor- spouse’s name or both. Avoid making the best way to get a refund. That’s why • Is Secure. Since refunds go right rect bank account and routing number. a deposit into accounts owned by oth- 80 percent of taxpayers choose it every into a bank account, there’s no risk • Has Options. Taxpayers can split a ers. Some banks require both spouses’ year. of having a paper check stolen or lost. refund into several financial accounts. names on the account to deposit a tax IRS Direct Deposit: This is the same electronic transfer These include checking, savings, refund from a joint return. Taxpayers • Is Fast. The quickest way for tax- system that deposits nearly 98 percent health, education and certain retire- should check with their bank for direct payers to get their refund is to elec- of all Social Security and Veterans Af- ment accounts. Use IRS Form 8888, Al- deposit rules. tronically file their federal tax return fairs benefits into millions of accounts. location of Refund (including Savings There is a limit of three electronic and use direct deposit. They can use • Is Easy. Choosing direct deposit is Bond Purchases), to deposit a refund in direct deposit refunds made into a sin- up to three accounts. gle financial account or pre-paid debit Do not use this form card. The IRS will send a notice and a to designate part of a refund check in the mail to taxpayers refund to pay tax pre- who exceed the limit. Tax Matters Bookkeeping Payroll Tax We prepare returns for Individual, Small Business, S Corporation, C Corporation, All States Sales Tax Preparation & Filing No extra charge for electronic filing and direct deposit Hours 10 am - 6 pm Mon thru Fri Additional times by appointment Please feel free to call for an appointment or to discuss your situation 711 N. Madison St., Whiteville near the Courthouse Owner - Bonnie M. Etheridge Accountant 910-640-0946 McDaniel & Lennon, LLP Tax, Tax Planning, Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll Services 6139 Haynes Lennon Highway (by appointment only) Evergreen, NC 928 S. Madison Street Whiteville, NC Telephone: 910-654-5506 Fax: 888-655-7376 Telephone: 910-642-0000 C. Jan Lennon, CPA, Partner Mary S. McDaniel, Partner Professional service with a personal touch.
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 8 REFUND & DONE TAX SEASON SALE YOUR KEY TO A NEW HOME Oldest and most trusted Home Dealer Over 90 years combined experience helping home buyers! Singlewides, Doublewides and Modulars in stock From left: Tammie Frick General Manager, Blair Page, Jenny Wright and Brad Walker 601 South Brown Street Chadbourn, NC 28431 910-654-4128 oakwoodhomeschadbourn.com Hours: Monday - Friday 9-6 Saturday 9-5 Personal Professional Services for Complex Issues • Advanced tax preparation services including multi-state requirements • Sophisticated planning for income, estate and gift taxes Terray F. Suggs, CPA • Estate and trust accounting and administration • Assistance with sales of business including tax planning issues Stan Bullock, CPA • Retirement planning including distributions from IRAs and qualified plans • Planning for dispositions of real estate including like-kind exchanges Hugh Harrell, CPA • Advanced planning for charitable contributions including establishment and operation of private foundations Lauren Suggs Worley, CPA • Assistance with professional corporations, personal holding companies, family partnerships, real estate investment partnerships, etc. • Financial statement preparation and attestation services • Business consulting services 609 S. Franklin St., Whiteville, NC 2005 Eastwood Road, Suite 100 910-641-0105 Wilmington, NC 28403 • 910-256-4885
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 9 W GREENE PLLC Certified Public Accountants and Consultants M. Wade Greene, CPA, CFE Lorna O. Greene, CPA, Sean P. Eames, CPA Daniel D. Cataldi, Accountant, Maria L. Hyatt, Office Manager 251 Washington Street, Whiteville, NC 28472 P: 910.207.6564 • F: 910.207.6519 Tax Planning & Preparation Services • Accounting and Payroll Services Audit and Assurance Services • Estate and Trust Planning Litigation Support and Forensic Accounting Also Office in Carolina Beach, NC www.greenecocpa.com uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu Asset MAnAgeMent Personal Investment Services M. Wade Greene, CPA Traditional and ROTH IRA Investment Advisor Rollovers/ROTH Conversions College 529 Plans Sean P. Eames, CPA Tax Reduction Strategies Investment Advisor 251 Washington Street Business Investment Services SEP/SIMPLE Retirement Accounts Whiteville, NC 28472 Company 401(k) Plans P: 910.207.6564 Profit-Sharing Programs Securities offered through HD Vest Investment Services, Member SIPC Advisory Services offered through HD Vest Advisory Services 6333 N. State Highway 161, Fourth Floor, Irving, TX 75038 (972)870-6000 W. Greene & Company, PLLC and Sovereign Asset Management are not registered broker/dealers or independent investment advisory firms. Investment & Insurance Products: Are not insured by the FDIC or any federal government agency. Are not deposits of or guaranteed by the bank or any bank affiliate. May lose value.
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 10 Taxpayer guide to identity theft BIG We know identity theft is a frustrat- IRS records indicate you received rently affected by identity theft, but LENDERS ing process for victims. We take this wages from an employer unknown to you believe you may be at risk due issue very seriously and continue to you. to a lost/stolen purse or wallet, ques- expand on our robust screening pro- What to do if your tax records tionable credit card activity or credit cess in order to stop fraudulent re- were affected by identity theft? report, etc., contact the IRS Identity CAN turns. If you receive a notice from IRS, Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800- What is identity theft? respond immediately. If you believe 908-4490. Identity theft occurs when someone someone may have used your SSN How can you minimize the chance uses your personal information such fraudulently, please notify IRS im- of becoming a victim? MAKE as your name, Social Security num- mediately by responding to the name Don’t carry your Social Security ber (SSN) or other identifying infor- and number printed on the notice or card or any document(s) with your mation, without your permission, to letter. You will need to fill out the IRS SSN on it. commit fraud or other crimes. Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. Don’t give a business your SSN just YOU How do you know if your tax For victims of identity theft who because they ask. Give it only when records have been affected? have previously been in contact with required. Usually, an identity thief uses a le- the IRS and have not achieved a reso- Protect your financial information. gitimate taxpayer’s identity to Check your credit report ev- fraudulently file a tax return ery 12 months. FEEL and claim a refund. Generally, Secure personal information the identity thief will use a in your home. stolen SSN to file a forged tax Protect your personal com- return and attempt to get a puters by using firewalls, anti- fraudulent refund early in the spam/virus software, update filing season. You may be unaware that security patches, and change passwords for Internet ac- PRETTY SMALL! this has happened until you counts. file your return later in the fil- Don’t give personal informa- ing season and discover that tion over the phone, through two returns have been filed the mail or on the Internet un- using the same SSN. less you have initiated the con- Be alert to possible identity tact or you are sure you know theft if you receive an IRS no- who you are dealing with. tice or letter that states that: The IRS does not initiate More than one tax return for you lution, please contact the IRS Identity contact with taxpayers by email to was filed, Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free, request personal or financial infor- You have a balance due, refund off- at 1-800-908-4490. mation. This includes any type of set or have had collection actions tak- How can you protect your tax electronic communication, such as en against you for a year you did not records? text messages and social media chan- file a tax return, or If your tax records are not cur- nels. ID theft top 10 precautions 9. Take three free. Review your Taking these 10 steps will greatly re- 6. Tweet responsibly. Use social duce your risk of identity theft: networks responsibly. Don’t announce credit report annually; the report is 1. Protect the trash. Shred any location information, don’t friend free. documents with personal identifiable strangers, learn the privacy controls 10. Eagle eye. Review every finan- information, even junk mail! Don’t of each application and use them. cial, medical, and benefits statement leave these documents where others 7. Lock it up. Paper or electronic, you receive. Create a habit of review- (e.g., roommates, service people) can make it difficult to obtain your docu- ing employment or other life-impor- view them. Permanently erase data ments. Lock your computer, phone, fil- tant statements on a regular basis. from old computers before you recycle ing cabinet. Meanwhile, make it as difficult as you can for data thieves by using them. 8. Don’t be obvious. Use non-obvi- strong passwords. If they do crack If you need money 2. Spot phish. Never click on links ous passwords. Your mother’s maiden you receive in unsolicited emails, name or the last four digits of your your defenses, give them nothing to for taxes or any pur- steal by following the rule of “Find it. even if you are familiar with the orga- Social Security number are TOO obvi- Delete it. Protect it.” pose, we can help. nization advertised. Instead, call them ous. or type in the URL in your browser. And we won’t give 3. Defend the mailbox. Use secure you the run around post office drops for sending impor- tant and sensitive documents. Opt out or make you feel like of free credit offers and junk mail. a nobody. 4. Protect the number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wal- let or write your Social Security num- CARDINAL ber on a check. 5. Mum’s the word. Don’t give out FINANCE personal information on the phone, South Madison St. through the mail, or over the Internet Whiteville unless you are sure with whom you are dealing. 642-5174
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 11 Where’s my refund? Short on Cash? Get Your Money Fast! 1. When to Refund Advance starts at $500, $1000, $1500, $2500 check... Subject to Tax Software Completion -72 Hours after you e-file -4 Weeks after you mail your paper Ten clients can Early Birds don’t return forget W-2s, and win $100 each and insurance form 1095 other free gifts. 2. What you $50 to every new client that e-files with us and expects a check need... Referrals: $40 each -Social security number -Filing status IRS filing begins Jan. 29, 2018. We are open from -Exact refund amount 9 am - 8pm. IRS said that we are ready set to go, we will be set to go when the refund checks arrive! Let’s tax it up and get that money! 3. How... S eBONY TAX -Get your refund status at Https://sa2.Www4.Irs.Gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.Jsp If you e-file, you can generally expect your refund in less than 21 days. There is no need to call our toll-free number unless “where’s my refund?” Specifically indicates that you Meredith Jeffries should. Manager ERO 819 S. Madison St., Whiteville Information courtesy of irs.gov 910-642-5639 • Fax 910-642-0450 Year-End Tax Tips To Help Boost Your Return By Mary B. Williamson, State Farm® Agent Take advantage of smart year-end financial moves that 3. Sell losing stock accounts, the money can be withdrawn tax-free. The stipula- can help reduce your income tax liability when you file next Sell losing stock before year’s end to deduct the capital losses tion: The cash must cover educational expenses. spring. Bernard Kiely, CFP, CPA, dean of the National Associa- against any capital gains you realized, and reduce your taxes These are just five ways to help reduce your tax liability— tion of Professional Financial Advisors (NAPFA) University on the money you earned from successful stock. Once you’ve visit a financial planner for many more. School of Taxation, offers these tips: offset your capital gains, you, as an individual, can generally State Farm® agents do not provide tax, legal or investment 1. Donate to qualified charities and organizations use any excess losses to reduce ordinary income up to an advice. Please consult a tax, legal or investment advisor in You can generally deduct contributions of up to 50 percent annual limit of $3,000. regards to your personal situation. of your adjusted gross income to qualified charities and orga- Learn 10 facts about capital gains and losses. nizations if they’re made before December 31. Consider: 4. Focus on long-term capital gains Before investing, consider the funds’ investment objectives, Donating stock. You can generally deduct the fair market “A short-term capital gain is a stock or mutual fund you’ve risks, charges and expenses. Contact State Farm VP Manage- value of donated stock. bought and sold in less than one year,” says Kiely. Long-term ment Corp (1-800-447-4930) for a prospectus or summary Using a community foundation. You direct the money, and capital gains have are taxed at fixed interest rates. Short-term prospectus containing this and other information. Read it the foundation pays it out over a period of years. You can gen- capital gains are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. Use carefully. AP2011/10/1024 erally deduct the donation the year you paid the foundation. the time now to evaluate your financial portfolio and shift Investing involves risk, including potential for loss. Check out eight tips for deducting donations. more funds to investments that offer longer-term tax savings. Securities and insurance products are not FDIC insured, 2. Contribute to your 401(k) 5. Fund an education savings account are not guaranteed by State Farm Bank® and are subject to Add pre-tax money to your 401(k) before the end of the year Many states allow residents to deduct contributions made investment risk, including possible loss of principal. to reduce your taxable income. to an education savings account. And with some types of A 10 percent tax penalty may apply for withdrawals from tax- qualified products before age 59½. Call Us For All Your Insurance Needs! 1011 N. J.K. Powell Blvd., Whiteville 642-3753 No One Takes Care of You Like A State Farm Agent. Mary Bullard Williamson
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 12 Scams professionals. Surge in Email, Phishing and Malware schemes the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction “you are to up- date your IRS e-file immediately.” Fraudsters posing as Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Some taxpayers receive emails that Continued from page 4 Phishing (as in “fishing for infor- These emails are not from the IRS. appear to be from the Taxpayer Advo- mation”) is a scam where fraudsters The sites may ask for information cacy Panel (TAP) about a tax refund. • Email the Federation of Tax Ad- send e-mail messages to trick unsus- used to file false tax returns or they These emails are a phishing scam, ministrators at StateAlert@taxad- pecting victims into revealing per- may carry malware, which can infect trying to trick victims into providing min.org to learn how to report victim sonal and financial information that computers and allow criminals to personal and financial information. information to the states. can be used to steal the victims’ iden- access your files or track your key- Do not respond or click any link. • Businesses/payroll service pro- tity. strokes to gain information. If you receive this scam, forward it viders should file a complaint with The IRS has issued several alerts For more details, see: to firstname.lastname@example.org and note that it the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint about the fraudulent use of the IRS • Consumer Alert: IRS warns tax- seems to be a scam phishing for your Center (IC3.gov). Businesses/payroll name or logo by scammers trying to payers, tax pros of new email scam information. service providers may be asked to file gain access to consumers’ financial targeting hotmail users TAP is a volunteer board that advis- a report with their local law enforce- information to steal their identity • IRS warns seniors to beware of es the IRS on systemic issues affect- ment. and assets. calls by criminals impersonating the ing taxpayers. • Notify employees so they may take Scam emails are designed to trick IRS It never requests, and does not have steps to protect themselves from iden- taxpayers into thinking these are of- • Phishing remains on the IRS access to, any taxpayer’s personal and tity theft. The FTC’s www.identity- ficial communications from the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for financial information. theft.gov provides general guidance. • Forward the scam email to phish- or others in the tax industry, includ- the 2017 filing email@example.com. ing tax software companies. These season • See more details at Form W2/SSN phishing schemes may seek informa- Unsolicited Data Theft: Information for business- tion related to refunds, filing status, email claiming es and payroll service providers. confirming personal information, or- to be from the Employers are urged to put proto- dering transcripts and verifying PIN IRS, or from a cols in place for the sharing of sen- information. related compo- sitive employee information such as Be alert to bogus emails that appear nent such as Forms W-2. The W-2 scam is just one to come from your tax professional, EFTPS, should of several new variations that focus requesting information for an IRS be reported on the large-scale thefts of sensitive form. IRS doesn’t require Life Insur- to the IRS at tax information from tax preparers, ance and Annuity updates from tax- phishing@irs. businesses and payroll companies. payers or a tax professional. Beware gov. Tax professionals who experience of this scam. For more a data breach also should quickly re- Variations can be seen via text infor mation, port the incident to the IRS. See de- messages. The IRS is aware of email visit the IRS’s tails at Data Theft Information for tax phishing scams that include links to Report Phish- bogus web sites intended to mirror ing web page. Copy of your tax return: How to get one You Get More For Your Tax Refund At If you need a copy of a pre- viously filed and processed tax return and all attach- ments (including Form W-2), it was originally filed. Tran- scripts are generally avail- able for the current and past three years and are provided Murf’s Pawn complete Form 4506 (PDF), free of charge. The period in Request for Copy of Tax Re- turn, and mail it to the ad- dress listed in the instruc- which you will receive the transcript varies from within five to ten business days from Tax Refund Sale tions, along with a fee for the time the IRS receives your each tax return requested. request for the tax return or • Jewelry The check or money order tax account transcript. for the fee should be made payable to the “United States You can obtain a free tran- script on the IRS.gov website • Guns Treasury,” also enter your by going to the Order a Tran- SSN or EIN and “Form 4506 request” on your check or script page. Transcripts may also be ordered by calling • Electronics money order. Copies are gen- 800-908-9946 and following the erally available for returns prompts in the recorded mes- • Musical Instruments filed in the current and past sage, or by completing and six years. Allow 60 calendar days to receive your copies. mailing a request for a tran- script to the address listed in • Tools and more! Most needs for tax return the instructions. information can be met with If you are a taxpayer im- Savings up to 60% off Retail a computer printout of your pacted by a federally declared return information called a “transcript.” A transcript disaster, the IRS waives the usual fees and expedites re- We loan money on most anything of value Murf’s Pawn may be an acceptable sub- quests for copies of tax re- stitute for an exact copy of a turns for people who need return by the U.S. Citizenship them to apply for benefits or and Immigration Services to file amended returns claim- and lending agencies for stu- ing disaster-related losses. dent loans and mortgages. For additional information, A “tax return transcript” refer to Topic 107, or call the Mon. - Fri. 9 am - 7 pm • Sat. 9 am - 6 pm will show most line items IRS Disaster Assistance Hot- 1134 S. Madison St., Whiteville • 640-3344 contained on the return as line at 866-562-5227.
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 13 How to manage personal debt As if anyone needs their memory is more prudent than declaring for car loan was small jogged, debt is a substantial problem bankruptcy, which will negatively or nonexistent for men and women living in fully impact an individual’s credit score are likely saddled developed countries. Estimates vary, for years to come. Companies are of- with a high-in- but numerous surveys have indicated ten willing to work with card holders terest loan), work the average American household has about repayment plans that make it to pay down that more than $10,000 in credit card debt, easier to pay down debt. But once an balance as much a figure that doesn’t include debt such agreement is made, card holders must as possible. Some- as mortgages, car loans or student make meeting the terms of that agree- thing as simple as loans. ment their top priority. paying an extra What these figures illustrate is that • Stop accruing bad debt. Using $25 per month on a even the most financially savvy debtor a card wisely is the key to avoiding $200 per month car may be in a precarious position, one unnecessary debt. When using credit payment can re- that, should an unforeseen layoff or cards, do not use them for everyday duce the length of medical emergency occur, could turn purchases like groceries or movie time it takes to pay disastrous in a relatively short period tickets. This type of credit card usage off that loan con- of time. As a result, an individual’s is habit forming, and it’s very easy for siderably. Once a ability to manage personal debt is of card holders to quickly amass a large high-interest debt paramount importance, and the fol- balance on their accounts for items is paid off, move lowing tips can help men and women they could just as easily could have on to the debt with walking a financial tightrope address paid for with cash. Keep in mind in- the next highest interest rate. terest card is one thing, but borrow- their debt in a way that might help terest will be charged on all balances • Stop paying the bare minimum. ing against property or a retirement them get back on their financial feet. not paid in full each month, so don’t Paying just the minimum will barely savings account is playing with fire. Applying your tax refund to these make that cup of coffee or that pair of cover the interest. That means the With regards to borrowing against a strategies may ease your personal movie tickets cost even more by add- principal will hardly disappear, and 401(k), the penalty to do so, not to men- stresses. ing interest to the overall cost. the debt will be a seemingly impos- tion the extra income tax such a with- • Eliminate bad debt. Not all debt • Pay down high-interest debts sible obstacle to overcome. Pay more drawal will accrue, before retirement is bad, but credit card debt is rarely first. Always work to pay down high- than the bare minimum each month, is substantial. In addition, the value good. Card holders with substantial interest debt first while paying a little even if it means making sacrifices of those retirement savings will suffer credit card debt should contact their more than the minimum on low-in- elsewhere. considerably as the interest earned companies as soon as possible to see terest debt. If a car loan came with • Avoid borrowing from Peter will be on that much less money until if the company is willing to work an especially high interest rate (hint: to pay Paul. Transferring balances the full amount is paid back to the ac- with them on a repayment plan. This borrowers whose down payment on a from a high-interest card to a low-in- count. The News Reporter Your trusted local news source Subscriptions available ~ Discounts for Seniors (65 and over) and Veterans Advertising opportunities available
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 14 Renewal reminder for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINS) Taxpayers who use an Individual with middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80 will renew their ITIN if they will have a renew their ITIN. Taxpayer Identification Number also expire at the end of the filing requirement. Other taxpayers • Make an appointment at an IRS should check to see if their number year. These taxpayers with ITINs do not need to take any Taxpayer Assistance Center. expires this year. If it does, and they should renew their action. Taxpayers with an ITIN that has need to file a return in 2018, they ITIN if they To renew an ITIN, a taxpayer must the middle digits 70, 71, 72, 78, 79, or should submit an application now will have complete a Form W-7 and submit re- 80 do have the option to renew ITINs to renew their ITIN. Doing this a filing quired documentation. There are for their entire family at the same helps avoid tax refund and require- three ways to submit this informa- time. They can renew together even processing delays next ment tion. Taxpayers can: if family members have an ITIN with year. The IRS issues i n • Mail the package to the IRS ad- other middle digits. Family members ITINs to people who are 2018. dress listed on the Form W-7 instruc- include the tax filer, spouse and any not eligible for a Social Ad- tions. The IRS will review the docu- dependents claimed on the tax re- Security number, but who di- ments and return them within 60 turn. need to file a tax return. days. Taxpayers who have not tionally, • Work used their ITIN to file a federal return at least once in the last three years will see their num- taxpayers whose ITINs have middle digits 78 or 79 with a Certi- fied tance Accep- Agent Jimmy O. mauldin, CPa ber expire Dec. 31, 2017. ITINs that have expired should to help them Experienced, Professional TAX PREPARATION We Can Help... Bring in last year’s tax returns for a FREE, no obligation review. (910) 642-1868 928 S. Madison St., Whiteville Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co., P.A. P.O. Box 398, 1626 S. Madison Street, Suite 100, Whiteville, NC p 910.642.2109 fax 910.642.5958 301 West King Street, Elizabethtown, NC 4024 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, NC 1543 S Lee Hwy, Cleveland, TN 37311 Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co., P.A. provides a full range of accounting, audit, tax and consulting services designed to grow your business. If your company is looking to improve business operations, contact one of our CPA professionals to find out what we can do for you. Alan W. Thompson, CPA Gregory Adams, CPA R. Bryon Scott, CPA www.tpsacpas.com The CPA. Never Underestimate The Value.SM Member: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Certified Public Accountants North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 15 Last minute tax tips for late filers Preparing your tax return doesn’t need to filed an extension and are estimating what be hard or stressful. It just needs to be thor- they owe should not lowball the IRS. If the ough and accurate. Give yourself plenty IRS finds you owe more than you’ve already of time to work through the tax forms, and paid, you will be subject to fines and penal- you’ll have confidence in filing your taxes. ties. A good rule of thumb when estimating is Your 2017 tax return is due by Tuesday, April to examine last year’s return. If you did not 17, 2018. change jobs, purchase a home or earn sub- You can also request an automatic 6-month stantially more or less money this year, you extension of time to file, making your dead- can base this year’s tax estimate on last year’s line Oct. 15, 2018. bill. In addition to taking full advantage of the • Choose the standard deduction if pos- added time, late-filing taxpayers should con- sible. Many non-homeowners can simply sider the following last minute tax tips as choose the standard deduction as opposed to well. itemized deductions. Doing so can make it • File online. Filing online is quicker and, much quicker to file a tax return. In general, for those who file through the Internal Rev- if finances are simple and not complicated, enue Service Web site, it can even be free. a standard deduction is the easiest and best Men and women who are anticipating a tax route to take. refund should strongly consider filing online, Everyone would like to spend less on taxes. as e-filing generally gets people their refunds Fortunately, the tax laws make it easy. You much more quickly than filing through the can reduce your taxable income through var- mail. In addition, filing online can alert tax- ious deductions, or reduce your tax liability payers to any mistakes they might have made through various credits. on their returns. Vi s i t • Don’t mistake a tax extension with an the IRS extension to pay your taxes. Men and wom- Web site en who file for a tax extension should know at www. that an extension still requires taxpayers to irs.gov estimate what they owe and send the IRS a to learn check by April 17. A tax extension is only an the stan- extension to finish the paperwork, not an ex- tension request must be filed by April 17. d a r d tension to pay. It’s important to know an ex- • Make an accurate estimate. Individuals who have deduc- Why is Tax Day April 17? tions. The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, rather than the tra- ditional April 15 date. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday — April 16. However, Emancipation Day — a legal holiday in HARPER’S the District of Columbia — will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17, 2018. When can I file my previous year or late Federal tax return? There is no IRS deadline for overdue previ- you will need to paper file your 2017 return). TAX SERVICE ous year tax returns, but in order to claim a tax refund for a certain year, you must file a tax return for that year within 3 years of the If you owe taxes and you file or efile late without getting a tax extension, the IRS will generally charge penalties based on the REFUND TRANSFERS original due date. If you wait longer than 3 years, any tax refund is forfeit. amount you owe. There are also penalties for paying your taxes late, even if you got an ex- & E-FILE On the other hand, past due taxes do not tension. However, the late filing penalties are Easy Advance Loans-No Charge disappear. If you owe taxes for a previous tax more severe, so you should try to file on time within 24 hours pending approval year, the IRS may charge you late filing and even if you owe taxes and can’t pay. late payment penalties plus interest on taxes If you owe taxes and are already late, you $1000-$1500-$2500 owed. should file a tax return immediately and ex- based on tax payers net refund After April 17, 2018, you can still prepare plore your options to pay tax. and efile a 2017 tax return on efile.com until If you expect a tax refund and you file late, We have netSpend cards October 15, 2018 (after that date, the IRS will no there is no real penalty other than the effective Stella and Chrystal Harper - OWNERS longer accept 2017 returns electronically, and delay of your refund. 102 S. Lewis St., PO Box 762, Tabor City, NC When should I file my amended 910-653-3007 Office & Fax tax return (tax amendment)? 910-653-2816 Home Hours: M-F 9am until, Sat 9am-2pm If an amended return results in you owing tax, there is no deadline for the tax amendment. firstname.lastname@example.org However, if you’re expecting a refund, you must file your return within 3 years of the original tax return deadline in order to claim your refund. Tax Tip: Submit your 2017 Tax Return by Serving Your Tax Needs Since 1992 April 17, 2018 to avoid penalties and interest!
The News Reporter | Tax Tips | 16 New Tax Laws Need An Accountant ? We’re Here To Help 25 Years of Experience Largest Refund Guaranteed Lowest Haley Barnes Steed Prices SoutheastatTax & Insurance Pawn South Whiteville Chadbourn Elizabethtown 914-0055 654-3318 862-7296
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