You've made the runs to the grocery store for the bottles of water, bread, and PB&J. But when it comes to natural disasters, you need to consider your financial preparedness as well.
It's not new news that hurricane season is here. The weather channel, our weather apps, and friends up North have made sure we don't forget. But hurricane season isn't just about being prepared by storing up on non-perishable foods, batteries, bottles of water, and having an evacuation plan. You financially need to be prepared and ready for a hurricane, especially here in the Lowcountry. Now that we have had a taste of our first hurricane of 2019, we need to remember that one could be on its heels. Hurricane season isn't over until November. So, you still have time to get prepared.
It goes without saying that yes, you need to make sure that your home and family are safe and prepared for anything. Make sure your home is stocked with what you'll need to get through a storm if you're going to stay. Follow all of the safety precautions laid out by local officials and police, and make sure you make informed and safe decisions. Your safety and the safety of your loved ones and pets are the first things that need your attention.
But these precautions need to be taken care of even before the hint of the first hurricane appears. Taking care of your financial needs ahead of time will help eliminate stress, worry, and truly help you when a storm does arrive. Here in the Lowcountry, it's not a question of if, it's when.
Last but very not least, keep cash handy! ATMs might be down or unavailable after a storm. You might not be able to get cashback at a store or even get to the inside of your bank. Make sure to have a safe stash with you or ready to go when you evacuate. Most plan for at least 72 hours worth of lodging, food, and travel expense. So start with that amount, and go from there.
We hope this information is helpful for this year's storms and for many storms to come. Now that we've had the taste of our first one you have time to get prepared for the next hurricane. But as you do so, don't panic. If do just a few of these main points, you will be ahead of the game. Please stay smart, safe, and prepared this hurricane season!
The Holidays will be here before you know it. Don't wait until they're here to be financially prepared for them!
We know, we know. It's only September. But the holidays WILL be here before we know it. The holidays are a famous time to spend outrageous amounts of money, max out those credit cards, use up any extra savings, and break the bank. It's easy! You want to give back, prepare tons of delicious meals, travel to see friends and family, and spoil your friends, family, and yourself. These are all lovely and wonderful ways to celebrate. But getting an early start on your holiday spending plan and budgeting can allow you to do what you want to enjoy the holiday season and not destroy your bank account and credit while doing so. Here are some tips on how to save your money and your sanity.
Has this been a financially difficult year for you and your family? Here are five unique ways to help your family save some money to make those difficult times a little easier.
Home and family expenses are something that will always be there. No matter where you are in your life, something usually always pops up that becomes an unexpected cost or something you just weren't financially prepared for. It's okay, it happens! Commonly, you are always looking for the next best way to save a few dollars every month or every week as you budget for your family or your life. Here are five different and unique ways to save a little extra money to help your family stay a little more financially comfortable no matter what happens.
2. Work From Home
Who wouldn't love the opportunity to go to work in your PJs, in a beautiful and comfortable space that you've created, with your favorite four-legged pet as your coworker? A lot of perks will come out of this choice faster than you could think. Right away, you'll be saving money on your commute. You might be walking a few feet to get to work, but you will no longer be driving miles to get to the office and back home again. This will cut down on gas cost and maintenance to your vehicle. This could also be a huge time saver for you. You can have the option to sleep in a little longer before you have to clock in. You can use this extra time to drop your kids off at school or pick them up. You can save money on babysitters, too! You'll be home if anything happens, you won't need a pickup service, and you no longer need to rely on anyone to be there when they get home.
You also won't need to go out for breakfast, lunch, snacks, or coffee. You can walk right into your kitchen for anything you might need. This could also turn into another monetary gain from your employer. It ultimately saves them money in operational cost if you're working from home using your own power, internet, and phone lines. So, they just might be willing to give you a raise for making this move home since you will be helping them save more money in the long run too.
3. Weekends and Vacations
How often do you take advantage of your town or city? How often have you treated yourself to a staycation? You don't have to spend tons of money or any money at all to create the best weekends, trips, or memories. Take advantage of the free parks and natural wonders around you. Take a packed lunch to the beach, a local pond, or park. Take advantage of free concerts, free admission days to art galleries and museums. Pay close attention to your town's local paper and read up on all the free activities offered throughout the year. Volunteer for local charities, go fishing, check out our local library, and go stargazing! The possibilities are endless!
Have you heard of a staycation? It is exactly what it sounds like. Get ready to spend the most relaxing weekend (or week!) in your favorite PJs, cooking your favorite meals, and finally renting or checking out that movie or book you've been dying to get your hands on. If you're taking a full week of vacation - enjoy the wonders of your city. You don't need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to travel somewhere. Stay in a local hotel and pretend you're a tourist. See the sights, finally try out that new restaurant, and find a new (to you) watering hole! Enjoy your whole vacation with the comfort of your own home or hometown in the background!
4. Programmable Thermostats and Solar Panels
It's easy when the depths of winter and the height of summer comes along that your electric bill skyrockets into some very scary high numbers. But think about it - you're keeping your home cozy or cool for a lot of time that you're not even home to enjoy it. And, it can be cumbersome to remember to change those thermostats before you walk out the door every day. Why not invest a little to gain back a lot? Programmable thermostats have become very affordable and most, if not all of them, can be controlled by your smart devices. So even if you forget to set them before you leave for the day, you can change your thermostats from anywhere!
On top of that, save even more money by taking advantage of the sun here in the Lowcountry! If it has to be so hot, why not take advantage of it? Installations of solar panels can be extremely affordable if you work out the proper contract and don't buy them. Once they're installed and up and running if you're not using all the power you're generating, a lot of the time this power can be carried over into the next month. And sometimes, your local power companies will buy this extra power from you - giving you a little more money in the bank or credit towards the months when the sun isn't out as much. And don't worry about those cloudy days or cooler weather. Solar panels store energy for days and months that are known for not soaking up the sun. This way your money-saving options can continue throughout the year!
5. Save Money when the Windfall Comes
Have you recently stumbled upon a very profitable time in your life? Have you recently inherited or won a good sum of money? Have you recently received a wonderful raise or bonus? Congratulations! The first thing a lot of us will do is throw this exciting chunk of change at a new car, a shopping spree, or a lavish vacation. There is nothing wrong with celebrating and enjoying these profitable times, but these windfalls won't always come around. Instead of spending all of this exciting capital on the fun stuff, put some of it in savings. Invest it for tougher and tighter times. Save it now for an even bigger and better dream or the opportunity to retire sooner. It might not be the most fun you could have at that moment, but you will appreciate it later down the line. Maybe when you least expect it!
Hard financial times happen for all of us. But if you think about money-saving tips in new and unique ways, these hard times may become fewer and farther between. Start now by implementing these 5 tips into your everyday life to make the rest of 2019, and into the beginning of 2020, a little easier for you and your bank account!
Our most recent blog was dedicated to all the known and unknown items you can look forward to writing off your personal taxes this year. But with new tax cuts and the Job Act of 2017 are you aware of everything you can no longer write off on your personal taxes this year?
It was a delight to share in our last blog all of the wonderful known, and possibly unknown items, that you can write off of your personal taxes come April 15th. These write-offs can be such a relief to any family and a surprise to your bank account when Uncle Sam comes knocking. But it's just as important to know what you cannot write off your family's taxes, so there are no unpleasant surprises. This year could be one of the most difficult years of write-offs thanks to Tax Cuts and the Job Act of 2017. Tax code has changed dramatically, and once you have filed your 1040 (your personal federal income return) this tax season - these write-offs will no longer be available to you.
Understandably, you may not know about these new laws. Tax law for your personal taxes are hard to keep up with or hard to follow - the documents are all available for research, but they can be difficult volumes to understand and interpenetrate. But these new changes are credited to be the largest tax overhaul in over 30 years. A lot of people won't even know about these changes until they go to file. Beat this statistic and read up now - this way you can prepare your finances to pay for items this tax season that you've never had to pay for before.
Businesses and Corporations aren't the only ones who can have write-offs and deductibles. As a tax-paying citizen, you can too! Do you know all of the common and most important write-offs for you and your family? Don't worry - this will explain them all!
You might think it crazy that some people look forward to doing their taxes every year. But really, they're letting you in on a really important secret. Taxes DON'T have to be as painful as they have been played off to be. What have taxes done to you? I mean - besides taking your hard earned money every April 15th. But maybe think about it from another angle - what can doing your taxes give back to you? Just two magic words: itemized deductions. That is the golden ticket. But are you keeping track of all of your expenses and are you writing off everything that you can? It's so easy to overlook some of the most common and lucrative tax deductions. So we are here to shine a light on all of them - so maybe next tax season, you can save a couple extra of those hard earned dollars.
Tax season is still nine months away, but we always recommend staying on top of your expenses, keeping track of all your important paperwork, and staying organized. There are TONS of amazing apps and programs that can help you do that. You just need to find the right one that works for you. It's so easy now to go paperless too - if you aren't totally paperless yet, maybe look into that. It'll cut down on the number of pieces of paper you have to keep your eyes on. And might open up a drawer or two in your desk. Always make the most out of any available tax deductions and exemptions. Each one that you claim gets subtracted from your gross income so your actual taxable income is automatically lowered.
First, I want to address those who work from home. This does span between the world of business tax and personal tax and can sometimes be a grey area. But be just as dedicated in keeping track of all of your work records and receipts as you would your own personal papers. You can write off your home workspace, no matter the size. Even if it's just a small corner of the kitchen or your den. But this dedicated space can ONLY ever be used for work purposes. The tip on knowing how much to write off is this: measure the workspace and divide it by the square footage of your home. The percentage you come up with is the amount of housing payment and utility that you can deduct every year. You can also write off other business expenses such as paper, pens, computers, and other commonly used goods and services. But again, similarly to your workspace, you can only use these dedicated items for your business. This also includes your phone lines. You can only write off the percentage of your cellphone bill of how much time you're using it for business. If you still have a landline (kudos to you!) you cannot write it off unless you have two landlines. The IRS doesn't recognize your first landline as a deductible, but it will recognize your second landline as a deductible. That way they know your first line is used for anything but business, while the other is used only for business.
If you don't own your own business and work from home - don't worry. There are still plenty of other write-offs for you and your family. Of course, tax law and tax code do change every year. So if you personally do your taxes yourself and use a program like Quickbooks or have your accountant do your taxes every year - always make sure you're up to date on any changes to any tax law. Most big changes will quickly be made into very public knowledge - what else do we love to talk about more than changes that will affect our income? But always double-check! Your next step is to decide how you're going to file. There are four common deduction categories, but there are more. Make sure you look into all of them before you file. But if you're filing as a single person the total number of deductions is $12,000. If you married and filing jointly or you're a qualified widow(er) with a dependent child the standard deduction is $24,000. If you're filing as the Head of Household, the standard deduction is $18,000.
To receive your deductions, itemizing all of them might help you save some more money. But you still might have to do a little extra math. So keep your calculator close. If your itemized deductions add up to more than your standard deduction - you will end up saving money on your taxes by taking the extra steps to itemize your deductions!
COMMON ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS! (Don't overlook these gems!)
It is always a good time to begin thinking about the deductions you may be qualified for come tax season. This is especially so when it comes to having a family. Today, we wanted to go over deductions you may qualify for if you have a family.
If you have a dependent, you may qualify for dependency exemptions on your taxes. This may include food, clothes, and other basic necessities. If your child has just recently been born, they are still qualified for this exemption.
If you have recently adopted a child into your family, there is such a thing called an adoption credit. Everyone knows how expensive adoption is, so this credit is really helpful when it comes to the expenses of the process.
Ensure when you file your taxes, you file with the correct status. Whether it be married joint, married separate, widow, or single, it is important to appropriately represent yourself to the IRS.
Education and Taxes
There is such a thing as the American Opportunity Credit and can be used by families who are sending their children to school. If you qualify, you may be eligible for 25% cash back on a sum of money spent on education. This includes tuition, books, etc. If you do not qualify for the American Opportunity Credit, there are more options available.
These are only but a few deductions possible for families. If you wanna learn more or have questions, please feel free to contact us at Hoods Tax and Accounting. We would love to hear from you and see if we can get you qualified for tax deductions.
For some workers, taking taxes into your own hands is important and necessary. Those who work within the independent or freelance category of employment should consider paying their taxes in quarterly installments instead of waiting until the traditional April deadline.
As we have stated before in our content, staying organized is crucial to keeping up with your taxes and payments. When choosing to pay quarterly, there will be four payment periods throughout the year. Maintaining documentation of receipts, payments, profits, and losses are important to keeping an organized tax file.
When going to pay, you will need to estimate the taxes you will owe the government. Once you have an estimated amount, paying is easy and can be done online through the IRS website!
If you need help with bookkeeping, estimating, or paying your quarterly taxes, our professionals are here to assist you! Call and schedule an appointment today!
As the years pass and the laws change, so do the frequently asked questions regarding taxes. Most individuals want to ensure they are filing competently and efficiently, our team at Hoods Tax & Accounting wants to ensure you do so too!
How do I notify the IRS of my change of address?
You can do so in multiple ways including;
Choose the method that best fits your daily life and worry no more!
Is there an age limit for claiming my child as a dependent?
Yes, there is an age limit to claiming your child as a dependent. However, there are other aspects to consider as well. If a child is disabled, they may be qualified to continue as a dependent under you. There are qualifying tests to determine other forms of disability, which can be found on the IRS website. Apart from a child who is disabled, in order to claim a child as a dependent, they must be younger than 19 or a student 24 or younger.
What is a split refund?
This is the ability to divide your refund in any desired proportion and direct deposit it into any three accounts within the United States. Fill out Form 8888 (Allocation of Refund) if you want to split your tax refund.
We hope that these answer the questions you have been asking! If you want more information on tax-related content, read more of our blogs, or contact us today!
Taxes tend to be stressful for most people, and worry about getting them paid on time starts to arise. But what happens if you don't pay your taxes on time? Continue reading to find out.
Almost immediately, interest and penalties on your unpaid taxes begin. This can be anywhere between 0.5% and 25% interest on your unpaid taxes. As time goes on and you still haven't paid your taxes, you will receive notices in the mail informing you of the balance you have due.
If these two forms of contact have been unsuccessful, legal claims on properties and assets will begin to arrive. These are statements that the government has the rights to land and assets you own. These liens can also prevent you from receiving loans and get a job. The IRS could also send your account to a collection agency.
If it has been longer than three months, and you still haven't paid your taxes, your belongings can be rightfully sold at auction, and your passport could be restricted or revoked.
In order to keep these events from happening, it is important to pay your taxes and pay them on time. Our wonderful and knowledgeable team members at Hoods Tax & Accounting can assist you in understanding your taxes and ensuring they are paid on time.
We are out of tax season! That is unless you have filed for an extension or have corrections to make. If you have completed your taxes completely, what is left to do? Organize.
So you have gotten through another year of taxes, but it was difficult because you did not keep your documents as organized as you should have. Today, we are going to give you some ideas on how to organize your tax documents to fight against worry come tax season next year!
First, grab up all your documents and lay them all on the floor. A table sometimes isn't enough room for the number of papers one has.
Second, have folders that are easy to write on. When you are making your organized system, be concise and thorough. The categories we suggest labeling are listed below.
This includes all of your pay stubs, 1099s, W-2s, interest and dividend statements. As well as any other documentation of pay you have received over the year.
This is where receipts come in handy for business owners, and non business owners. Be sure to hold on to documentation and proof of purchase for items you needed to buy for your team and to keep your business running.
Student Loan Payments:
If you attended college and have student loan payments, organize those well and make a section for them.
Keep all the receipts you receive from doctors, hospitals, and labs.
While these are just a few on the list, make sure these are well organized within the folders you make as well. Don't forget to keep all these separate folders together within a filing system.
While it is up to you to keep your files organized, our professionals at Hoods Tax and Accounting are here for you in and outside of tax season.
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