Deduct Your Student Loans!

MoneyTips

Chances are that if you have student loans, you need every bit of extra cash that you can get. Did you realize that your student loans might be able to generate some cash for you?

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to save on your tax bill by deducting the interest that you pay on your student loan. The total deduction from your taxable income could be as much as $2,500. As a final bonus, you do not have to itemize to claim this deduction.

To be eligible for the deduction, your loan must meet certain qualifications. It must have been made to cover qualified education expenses as defined in IRS Publication 970, including tuition, fees, and most room and board charges. The loan cannot have come from a relative or via a qualified employer plan, and the e…

How To Get Tax Liens Off Your Credit Report

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Tax liens are claims made on your property by a government entity for failure to pay your taxes. A lien doesn’t mean your property will be seized – it just means that the agency applying the lien has the first right to your property compared to other creditors.

A tax lien on your credit report can drop your credit score and raise red flags with potential creditors. Tax agencies don’t report unpaid tax bills to credit reporting agencies, but tax liens are public records – and until recently, they were part of the public records that could be scanned by credit reporting agencies and included on your credit report as negative items (along with bankruptcies and civil judgments).

Worse, tax liens can appear on your credit report for up to ten years after the lien has been fully paid and released – complete with an officially issued document verifying that the taxing agency no longer has a claim on your property.

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bur…

IdentityTheft.gov 101

MoneyTips

The news seems to be filled with stories about hackers and identity theft these days, and rightly so. According to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, there were 16.7 million victims of identity theft in 2017, racking up a total of $17 billion in damages. Identity fraudsters successfully netted 1.3 million more victims as compared to the previous year. So, why haven’t you joined MoneyTips to protect yourself yet?

As a victim of identity theft, you can feel completely helpless and violated — not to mention aggravated at the hassles involved in restoring your identity and challenging fraudulent charges. You were already busy before the…

How To Avoid Being A Tax-Scam Victim

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To paraphrase the old adage, there are only three absolutes in life: death, taxes, and the rise of scams during tax season.

A major tax scam since 2013 involves phone calls by fictional IRS agents that demand immediate payment for alleged tax debts, threatening lawsuits or even jail time to those who refused to comply. The more sophisticated version of this includes spoofing a legitimate IRS phone number to fool caller-ID systems. The callers also have Social Security numbers and enough personal information to convince the taxpayer that the call is legitimate.

From October 2013 to March 2018, the Treasury Inspector General’s office identified 12,716 confirmed victims, who were swindled out of $63 million through this particular scam.

Other scammers use a carrot instead of a stick. Another significant scam claimed that consumers had been awarded a government grant for h…

Prevent Identity Theft From Affecting Your Taxes

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When your identity is stolen, you have so many potential issues to deal with — changing passwords, closing accounts, dealing with fraudulent charges, and placing fraud alerts with the credit reporting agencies — that you may forget about potential tax fraud. Armed with your personal information, identity thieves can file a fraudulent tax return in your name and receive a refund before you realize your information has been compromised. Sometimes taxpayers are unaware of the breach until they have problems filing their taxes.

What do you do if you fall victim to tax-related identity theft? Start by responding to any IRS notice as instructed. Your first hint that there is an issue could be a notice from the IRS asking you to verify your identity because of a suspicious tax return with your Social Security number.

Remember that almost all legitimate IRS contact will be through a letter in the …

Tax Identity Theft

MoneyTips

Computers and the Internet have become mainstays in virtually every area of 21st-century American life. There are tremendous benefits and conveniences to this, of course, but there are also some downsides — such as the increased risk of identity theft that arises as we share more of our personal information online.

In fact, identity theft has been called “the crime of the 21st century,” consistently ranking at the top of the Federal Trade Commission’s list of complaints every year. While there are many ways for identity thieves to strike offline, the Internet has made it that much easier for them to steal sensitive personal information from unsuspecting and careless individuals online.

A New Kind of Identity Theft

With tax-filing season now upon us, there’s another kind of identity theft you should be watching out for: tax identity theft. In this…

Tax Identity Theft Lower But Still A Problem

MoneyTips

Identity thieves have many ways to steal your money – including fraudulent tax returns. They file a return in your name as early as possible to beat your legitimate return, with fake financial data designed to claim a large refund. You won’t realize this until your tax return is denied because there’s already been a return filed with your Social Security number. As Bankrate.com Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride points out, “Tax ID fraud is one of those things where somebody can have your Social Security number and they could have been sitting on it for a while, and you would have no idea until they go and file a bogus tax return under your Social Security number. You only find out at the point where your legitimate return gets rejected.”

It’s a lucrative but simple scheme – and, with more stolen identities available via large data breaches over the past few years, tax identity theft attempts have…

5 Steps To Be Your Own Mogul – Part 2

MoneyTips

Our prior article, 5 Steps To Be Your Own Mogul – Part 1, covers the first three steps to manage your finances like a business. Below we present the final two steps.

4. Forecasting

If you have performed the budget exercise and broken your expenses out into categories, you can start to highlight areas where you can improve. The idea here is to shift the negative spending into a comfortable routine that focuses more on building savings and trimming expenses for the long haul. You can do it quite easily without weekly envelopes of rationed money or other personal finance gimmicks that rarely work in the long term.Here are some suggestions for improving your financial forecast in painless and satisfying ways:

  • Calculate…

5 Steps To Be Your Own Mogul – Part 1

MoneyTips

Why not take some financial pointers from the business world and apply them to your personal finances? Whether you are a party of one or a family of four, it pays to be fiscally agile. Some of the longest financial plays in the business world today are small businesses that perennially stay afloat and drive their successes through careful planning and conservative financial forecasting. Why can’t these principles be applied to your personal financial life too?

1. Determine who your trusted advisors are

Major corporations rely on the skills and experience of a board of directors and you may be asking yourself, “Well, where am I going to round up 10 people to form my own personal board of directors”? Don’t worry – you don’t have to. It doesn’t matter if you are managing the budget of one or a much larger family unit. The real value in making an appraisal like the services rendered by a corporate board of directors is to shed light on where you …