What You Need To Know About Tax Audits

Nothing is more daunting to a taxpayer than the possibility of having their tax returns audited by federal or state tax authorities. Depending on the outcome, an audit could mean penalties, a huge tax debt that you may not even be aware of, and for some, it could also mean jail time. But do we fully understand what a tax audit really means and how one gets selected for an audit? More importantly, do you know what to do once you find yourself in this rather stressful situation?

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What Is A Tax Audit?

A tax audit is conducted to review an individual or a business’s accounts, tax returns, and financial information to verify if the reported information and the disclosed amount of tax are correct. Being subjected to an audit doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a problem. Once it has been substantiated that there is nothing amiss in your returns, then the audit will be concluded. Otherwise, you may have to provide more proof to the tax authorities for further examination and review.

The Tax Audit Selection Process

The IRS has a slew of procedures to do statistical analysis and thorough evaluation to verify whether all the information you declared on your tax returns is correct.

First, tax returns are scored using the following computer programs:

1. The Discriminant Function System (DIF).

Tax returns are checked for red flags thru a computer program called the Discriminant Function System (DIF). This system rates the accuracy of all returns submitted to the IRS. The more red flags found on your tax return, the higher DIF score will be, which means that there’s a great likelihood that your tax return will be audited.

2. The Unreported Income Discriminant Function (UIDIF)

As its name states, this system’s main function is to rate a tax return’s likelihood of having unreported income. It analyzes a taxpayer’s income and expenses ratio and sees if it’s within the norm. Any discrepancies on this aspect will be flagged by the system.

3. The Information Returns Master File (IRMF)

This system serves as a huge repository of data submitted by employers and other third-party institutions required to report taxpayer’s income. The IRMF is used to ensure that all necessary information is provided to validate the reported income on your tax return.

Comparison of tax accounting and audit accounting

Aside from these computer programs, The IRS also reviews other supporting documents just to check any disparity that may lead to an audit. Once selected, the IRS will send you a notification via mail. Keep in mind that the IRS will never initiate an audit by phone.

The odds of you getting audited is fairly low. During the 2017 Fiscal Year, only 0.6% of the total individual returns filed were audited. One contributing factor that may lead to an audit is the numbers you provide on your tax returns, regardless of your income. Undeclared income, large deductions, and credits relative to your earnings may cause tax authorities to further scrutinize your returns.

“What am I going to do?”

Once you receive that dreaded letter from the IRS, you will be given 30 days to respond whether you agree with their findings or not.

While it is imperative for you to act quickly to resolve this predicament, the biggest mistake that you will ever commit is to take matters into your own hands. Remember, you were selected for an audit due to the fact that there are discrepancies found in your tax returns. Depending on the issues found in your returns, tax authorities may utilize various audit techniques, request for more documents, and ask you further questions regarding your finances. At this point, you cannot afford to make a mistake as it could lead to hefty fines imposed against you.

On the other hand, if you ignore the matter thinking it would go away, you may find yourself in deeper trouble. Unlike other financial institutions, the IRS has the authority to take legal action against those who owe the agency a tax debt. They have the power to garnish your wages, levy assets, or even file a tax lien and eventually seize your property just to have your tax debt paid off.

Image result for tax problem

When you have been selected for a tax audit, it is best that you hire professionals from a reputable tax debt relief company who are in full legal compliance with federal and state tax authorities to handle your case and guarantee that you get the best possible legal solution for your tax debt. These tax professionals understand your rights as a taxpayer. They can assess your situation and propose which among the tax relief programs available can best fix the difficult situation you are in.

Tax audits are a serious matter. But while it is a disconcerting situation to be in, know that you don’t have to deal with it alone. This is one situation where you would definitely need all the help you can get, especially from tax professionals who are highly experienced in handling the most complex tax debt cases. The sooner you get the help that you need, the sooner you will be able to find a resolution to your problem.

Sources:

http://www.curadebt.com/tax-debt-relief/
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/irs-audits
https://lifehacker.com/5462257/know-how-likely-you-are-to-get-audited
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/13/these-red-flags-on-your-tax-return-could-spark-an-audit.html

Understanding How Credit Card Works

The use of credit cards has been a part of our daily lives for nearly two decades now. It is a rare sight these days to see people making a purchase and paying in cash upfront. Credit cards give anyone who wields it an easy access to a line of credit, and if you maintain a good credit score, it is easier to apply for another one, with a higher line of credit.

Woman Holding Card While Operating Silver Laptop

There are many advantages to using credit cards. But why is it causing so much financial problem to millions of cardholders these days? Do cardholders really understand how these plastic thingamajigs work? Today, we’ll have a closer look at how credit cards really work and see what exactly is causing the problem.

Credit Card Balance and Credit Limit

Your credit card balance is the amount you have charged to your credit card on the purchases you have made but have yet to repay. Every time you use your credit card to make a purchase, the amount is added to your balance.

Each credit card has a certain limit, also known as the credit limit. This is the maximum amount of credit extended to cardholders by the issuers. Once the cardholder uses up all the credit in his or her plastic, that credit card is considered “maxed out” and cannot be used until a portion of that balance is paid off.

Finance Charges and Annual Percentage Rate

A finance charge is a fee that you pay to have a credit. This is set by your credit card’s annual percentage rate or APR, which is the annual rate charged for borrowing and is quoted as a percentage.

Minimum Payment

The minimum payment is the least amount cardholders need to pay on a monthly basis to keep their credit cards in good standing. Minimum payments are recalculated, depending on your card’s issuer. Some credit card issuers calculate the minimum payment amount as two or three percent of the outstanding credit card balance. There some issuers that calculate the minimum amount by taking a percentage of the outstanding balance at the end of the billing cycle and adding the monthly finance charges. If you keep using your credit card and continue paying the minimum monthly payment, you may find yourself in a situation Other fees may be added on top of your minimum payment depending on the transactions you make on your credit card other than a simple purchase.

Credit Card Fees

Aside from using your credit cards to make purchases, you can do other transactions using your plastic such as balance transfers and cash advances. Keep in mind that you will be charged a fee for these transactions. If you use your credit card overseas, then you will be charged with a foreign transaction fee. Late fees are charged when you pay past your monthly due date.

When Credit Card Debt Becomes Too Much

When you don’t fully understand how credit cards work, it’s easy to fall into its trap and amass thousands in credit card balances. Soon you’ll realize that making minimum payments don’t work as a huge portion of these minimum payments go towards the interest.

Master Card Visa Credit Card Gold

Fortunately, credit card debt is a type of an unsecured debt that can be resolved through debt relief. Debt relief programs such as debt settlement, debt negotiation, and debt consolidation are some of the options you can choose from. To better understand how each program work, it is best to get the counsel of a debt counselor. Not only you will know more how to best resolve your debt, you will learn if you actually qualify for the program.

An Important Note

Before signing up for a credit card, it is best to read the agreement and have each point explained to you, like how the monthly minimums are calculated and make sure that all fees are outlined in the agreement. Do this even if you already have 5 credit cards under your name. Not all credit cards are created equal so it is best to get a better understanding of you are signing up for to avoid getting caught in those financial disasters simply because you failed to understand something that is in fine print in that credit card agreement that you signed.

References:

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-do-credit-cards-work/

https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-credit-card-960233

http://www.curadebt.com/debt-settlement-program/

 

The Best Way To Deal With Debt

There is nothing more stressful and more frustrating than finding yourself struggling to deal with all the debts that you have. Financial problems that stemmed from too much debt impacts every aspect of our lives. Because of this, people who are trapped in this situation often resort to extreme measures such as filing for bankruptcy just to make their debt problems go away.

When Debt Becomes a Problem

In good hands, borrowed money can go a long way and be of great benefit to the debtor. Irresponsible money habits, however, can lead anyone in financial ruin. Debt piles up too easily. Here’s a good example: if you’re using your credit card as a source of emergency funds or augment your monthly budget, then you may find yourself dealing with a debt problem soon because your spending habits have gone out of hand and you are relying on credit just to get by.

Man in Black Shirt and Gray Denim Pants Sitting on Gray Padded Bench

Imagine your ballooning credit card debt on top of your other financial obligations such as your mortgage, student loan, car loan and monthly household expenses. This where debt starts to become an overwhelming problem. When you’ve reached this point, you must quickly act and find ways to mitigate the problem before it’s too late.

How to deal with debt, let us count the ways

There are many ways on how you can deal with your financial problem that stemmed from debt. Let’s take a look at the ways on how one can get rid of their debt problem.

Minimum monthly payments

For most people who have unsecured debt, this is the way to go. You’re not incurring late fees and you are not being reported for delinquencies in credit bureaus hence, it is good for you and your credit score.

Or is it?

banking, buy, computer

If you’re stuck in paying minimum monthly payments for quite some time now, you’ll soon realize that it is not going to help your situation at all. Here’s an example: if you have a $10,000 worth of credit card debt at 18.9% interest rate and you’re paying a minimum of $400 per month, it will take you 13 years and 9 months to pay off the entire balance balance, and a whopping $6,356.70 dollar will go towards the interest payment, assuming that you don’t add anything to your outstanding balance as you pay off your debt. That’s a long time and a lot of money that could be put into savings or emergency fund!

Minimum payments may seem like a good idea but it will have repercussions over time and can significantly affect your credit score especially if you’re carrying a considerable amount of debt.

D.I.Y repayment plan

The world wide web has a slew of finance blogs on personal finance management filled with budgeting tips, money hacks to save money, and how to be debt-free. While most offer sound advice, you will find that it’s not a “one size, fits all” thing, especially when it comes to debt. What works for one person may not work for another. This is because of our unique personal situation.

Photo of Person Holding Pen

Coming up with your own debt repayment plan sounds like an excellent idea but you have to make a lot of considerations like your source of income, your household budget, the unexpected expenses that may come your way, and most importantly the size of your debt. If your debt is relatively small and you have a steady cash flow, then you may come up with your own repayment plan. But dealing with a huge amount of debt is a different story altogether. Say you have a $15,000 of unsecured debt in total. This amount can grow exponentially due to the interest and can be difficult to manage on your own in the long run.

Debt relief programs

Debt relief is defined as the reorganization of debt to give an indebted person partial or full relief from debt. There are various debt relief programs. Debt consolidation, debt management, debt negotiation, and debt settlement. Each works differently but the ultimate goal is to lift the weight debt off your back.

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If you have $10,000 or more of unsecured debts and you are already 60 days behind your payments, then signing up for a debt relief program may be your best course of action. Most debt relief companies offer a free consultation that you can take advantage of so you can have a better idea how each program is structured, what are the benefits, and how your creditors will be paid.

Once your debt is paid under a debt relief program, it will reflect on your credit file as such for seven years. But unlike bankruptcy, Debt relief makes it easier for you to rebuild your credit thru the responsible use of credit cards and other loans.

File bankruptcy

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Often seen as the last resort to wipe out debt and stop any collection proceedings taken against you by your creditors, bankruptcy will not only have a negative impact on your credit file for up to 10 years, it will affect your life as well. Bankruptcy will make it nearly impossible for you to take out any kind of loan, therefore making it hard for you to rebuild your credit as well. Not only that, if you apply for a job, your employers will also see that you have filed for bankruptcy.

The bottom line

Debt problems begin with irresponsible borrowing and mismanaging your finances. How much you actually owe will dictate how to best deal with the matter at hand. The smaller the amount, the easier it will be for you to pay it off on your own. But if the amount is too high, it will be best that you consult a debt counselor to get sound financial advice and have a solid action plan on how to solve your debt problem.

Image result for debt free

Once you get out of debt, stay out of it. Be wise and be responsible with your finances, particularly in managing your credit. Most of all, learn from the lessons your debt problem has taught you.

References:

https://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/when-do-you-have-a-debt-problem-1.aspx
https://www.thebalance.com/how-will-debt-settlement-affect-my-credit-score-960540
http://www.curadebt.com/debt-relief-programs/

How To Prepare For The Next Tax Season

Just because tax season is over, doesn’t mean taxpayers can now take it easy. Some may have their tax returns rejected while others may be subjected to a federal or state tax audit. Errors on one’s tax return can be as simple as a typo error in one’s name or transposed digits in your birth date or SSN. Mistakes can also be as grave as failing to report your income properly. All these can lead to a bigger problem with tax authorities. The good news is, these inaccuracies can be avoided and it all starts with you.

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The time is NOW!

Preparedness takes away much of the stress during tax season. The thing is, most taxpayers don’t prep up until tax season is already upon us.

Problems stem from one’s tendency to procrastinate. Whether you are filing as an individual or a small business, keep in mind that the accuracy and correctness of your tax return rely heavily on all the information that you have gathered throughout the year such as income and expense-related documents, receipts, financial statements, and personal information details.

Do not wait until the next tax season before you start gathering and organizing your records. Whether you are following the fiscal year or the calendar year, be diligent in keeping your records organized in a neat file the whole year round. When you have all your records organized, it lowers your chances of missing out on necessary income and expenses information that you need to declare in your returns.

Update your personal records

Aside from diligently putting your financial records in order, you must also keep your personal records up to date. Any change in your status must be declared accordingly, whether you are newly married or just got divorced. This is especially important for couples who are filing taxes jointly as both husband and wife are fully responsible for the accuracy and completeness of their tax return.

It would also help you a great deal to list down your personal information as well as that of your dependents. You may know your Social Security number by heart and can recite all your dependents’ birth dates in your sleep, but when it comes to filing your tax returns, you are just one digit away from committing an error. It’s so easy to transpose numbers and this often happens when one is already in haste to finish filling out the forms.

You don’t have to carry your list around you all the time but having an updated list of your and your dependent’s personal information when you are filing your returns will ensure that you get this part correctly and lower your chances of committing an error that may cause for your return to be rejected.

Know the impacts of the GOP Tax Bill

It would be beneficial on your part to know about the tax laws. As we all know, the GOP Tax Bill brought in a lot of amendments. These changes affect you depending on your personal circumstance: how much you earn, how many children you have, how much you pay state or local taxes, how much you pay in mortgage interest, and more. You don’t have to master the new tax laws. Arm yourself with basic knowledge so you can start planning for the next tax season.

Meet with your tax preparer.

Not all tax professionals can be a tax preparer. They have to meet the qualifications and proficiency requirements set by the IRS. If you don’t have a tax preparer yet, the best place to search for one is the IRS’s Online Directory of Tax Return Preparers. Choose a reputable tax relief company that employs experienced enrolled agents, tax attorneys, and CPAs to do the job for you. Once you have selected a tax professional who will prepare your income tax returns on your behalf, you start the process and discuss the details such as your eligibility for certain deductibles and other tax-related matters that you may have in the past.

 

Final word

As we all know, errors in one’s tax return, whether committed deliberately or unintentionally may lead to hefty fines being slapped at you by federal and state tax authorities. But the tax season need not be a stressful experience for individuals and small business owners alike, nor does it have to end with your returns being rejected and finding yourself with a huge tax debt. Being diligent in organizing with your receipts and other financial documents all year round and having a tax preparer that you can count on can take that heavy burden off your back and make this dreaded season such a pleasant one.

 

Sources:

Why People Need Tax Debt Relief And How We Can Help

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/tax_prep.asp

 

Good Debt Gone Bad

The word debt itself makes a lot of people shudder. Why? Because there are millions out there who are currently caught in a debt trap that doesn’t seem to have a way out.

Debt in itself is not a bad thing. It is, after all, money borrowed to serve a purpose. Each debtor has their reasons why they take out a loan. Perhaps it is to fund a new start-up business or simply to make ends meet. But even if one has all the intentions to use that borrowed money for a good cause, a good debt can still go bad and derail one’s finances if mishandled.

 

Student Loans

Student loans are considered as a good debt because it is used to fund the first big investment anyone can have: education. Every single penny spent on education is money well-spent, and a “return on investment” is expected once the student graduates from college and lands a lucrative job in his or her chosen field.

Student loans must only be used to cover school-related expenses. The sad fact is that there are many college students out there who take out more student loans than what they actually need so they end up with a debt of astronomical proportions by the time they finish college.

 

Business Loans

As its name already indicates, business loans are specifically intended for business purposes. Whether it is just a startup or an already thriving business that needs more funding for whatever reason the business owner has, say, a planned expansion. But in order for a business owner to pay for that loan, the business must first generate income. Every business has its risk so it is best for any business owner to conduct a study first before taking out a loan to see whether or not it will do them any good.

 

Credit Cards

Credit cards debt is one of the top reasons why millions of Americans are deep in debt right now. Often considered as a bad debt because a cardholder cannot expect any return on investment on his or her purchases through a credit card, these plastics are actually a friend and a very useful tool when used prudently. But if a cardholder gets himself or herself trapped in that vicious minimum payment cycle thinking only of maintaining a good credit standing by meeting the required monthly minimum religiously, then it sure is a clear recipe for financial disaster.

 

Payday Loans

This type of loan is a short-term loan that comes with a high interest. Payday loans are supposed to bridge the gap to your next payday and are only good for those “emergency cases” where the borrower is left with no other financial options. Payday loans are especially attractive to those who already have bad credit and in need of money because it doesn’t require the traditional credit check. It is important, however, to pay off these loans at the end of its term, otherwise, the borrower may be charged with additional fees, and the high-interest rate can bury an already financially struggling person deeper in debt.

 

The Bottomline

 

It is essential to exercise wisdom and caution when taking out a loan. Mishandled funds can lead anyone to a potential financial ruin. So it is best to spend that borrowed money wisely and take loans only when it is needed. Also, do not hesitate to learn more about what you are signing up for. Ask questions to your creditor and make sure to read through the agreement to guarantee that everything is understood and no fine prints are left unread.

For debts that have already gone bad, debt relief programs are available for those who are in need to have their financial burdens taken care off. Enlist the help of a trusted debt relief company to know what options you can take to best resolve a financial liability without having the need to file for bankruptcy. These nuggets of knowledge, along with the wise handling of finances will help avert any financial disaster imaginable.

 

For more information about debt relief, visit:

Debt Settlement From A Debt Settlement Company

http://www.advisoryhq.com/articles/curadebt-reviews/