Saturday, August 31, 2013

Selling Your Home

Find out what you need to know tax-wise if you sell your home. For more information, read Publication 523 on

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Invest in Gold. Still a Smart Move for Your Portfolio

Wow, another reminder to invest in gold! is reporting that India will use gold to buy oil from Iran. India spends around $12 billion dollars a year to buy oil from Iran. China is expected to use gold as the unit of currency to buy oil from Iran as well.

So what does that mean? India and China have completely lost faith in the dollar and the euro. India and China are growing faster than the U.S. and are the engines of this new global economy. They have way more influence in the global economy than they did just a few years ago.

As Bob Dylan would say, "the times they are a changing." You may want to invest in gold for your investment portfolio and if you already own gold, you may want to discuss this with your financial advisor. Most financial advisors recommend an allocation between 5-15% of gold. An easy way to invest in gold is to buy it through an exchanged traded fund. Go here for more details.

What are the reasons to invest in gold? (or buy more)

* You think the dollar will continue to devalue.
* You are concerned about the U.S. printing money to get out of recession/slow growth.
* You are concerned that inflation is going to come back big time.
* You are worried that Greece will default or that things in Europe will get worse.
* You think there is a chance that the euro will devalue more or just go away.You are also concerned that the Europeans will print money to get out of their own recession.

As I write this, gold is at $1,665 an ounce. It has been up 10 years in a row. So, you need to ask yourself how much of this negative news in the world is already factored into gold stocks? That means you may be buying gold at a high. If you think there is more negative news to follow, then you need to invest in gold.

Oh, and one more thing about whether to invest in gold. Historically, gold has not been correlated to stocks. In other words, whatever has happened to stocks has had little impact on the price of gold. Keep in mind that this is general advice. You need to understand your tolerance for risk. Gold should not be the only investment in your portfolio. Gold can go down and you can lose money. Use it as a hedge against your other investments.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Florida prisoners lead the nation in IRS payment scam

The Treasury Department says Florida prisoners led the nation's inmate population in scamming payments from the IRS.

Monday, August 19, 2013

7 Best Reasons to Outsource Your Bookkeeping

If you are like the typical business owner you probably already consider the accounting function as a necessary evil. Yes you want the reports that accounting can provide but you probably consider the data entry, accounting rules, tax planning and all the rest a frustrating time waster. When it comes to your company's accounting you really have only three choices. You can hire an accountant on your staff and accept the cost and liability of brining on an employee, you can do it yourself which almost always ends in disastrous results, or you can outsource the function to a professional bookkeeper service. Of the three options, outsourcing probably makes the most sense for most organizations.
1. Peace of mind at tax time
Actually tax time is an all year long event and the tax planning strategies that a bookkeeper can provide and implement will assure you that there are no nasty surprises when you actually file.
2. Higher profits through better analysis
While counting beans is at the heart of bookkeeping, it is the information gathered from that process that the bookkeeper can use to develop management controls and detailed analysis of financial performance. You may discover that new customer who has been buying like crazy isn't really that great a deal because he's 90 days in arrears. Or you may discover that certain product lines or services are far more profitable and decide to shift your marketing focus.
3. Create added value for clients
It's generally accepted that a business should focus resources on those activities that add value to a client relationship. Most clients don't care how you do your accounting so long as their invoices are correct. Not having to spend hours on the bookkeeping function means you have more time to do what you do best....focusing on the client.
4. Instant access to financial data
Thanks to the technology known as application server provider (ASP) you can have a secure connection to all of your reports anytime anywhere. Bookkeeper services almost universally use this technology that allows clients to view their reports anytime they wish just the same as they would if they had an accountant in house doing the work.
5. Real cost savings
Generally Bookkeeper services bill by the hour or market specific packages. On average, their services will run 10% to 20% less than the base wage of an in house accountant. That may not sound like a huge savings but when you toss in the savings on benefits and payroll taxes that number can move from 10% to 50%.
6. No employer employee issues
When you outsource this service you also absolve yourself from any employer liability as well. Also gone are the management worries about training, discipline, salary negotiations, firing, hiring and other time consuming activities that are non-income producing. Your bookkeeping service assumes all of those headaches.
7. No loss of control
Some business owners worry about losing control over their finances if they let an outside firm take charge. The fact is you can custom design a program where the service only does the high volume grunt work and you retain the responsibility for preparing reports from the data. With online banking added, the business owner can be the only person who approves payment to anyone. The service can be as comprehensive or as bare bones as you desire.
With these benefits and more, it's not surprising that nearly 30% of all large businesses outsource to bookkeeper services. Smaller organizations can take a lead from the bigger guys and operate more effectively and competitively by doing the same.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Tax Strategies: Top 10 Tax Tips for Self-Employed

Self-employment offers a multitude of tax benefits. Opportunities to maximize your income while increasing your income may actually mean you are paying more tax, but at a lower percentage of your income. As Americans it is our duty to pay our fair share of tax to support our government, however, IRS and legislature have provided many opportunities to maximize personal benefits while minimizing personal tax debt.
The following tips are commonly known, although many do not use them well.
1. Keep good records. While a good accountant may be beneficial to your business, and services of a quality accounting service are fully deductible, this is often not a financial option for smaller businesses. However, good record keeping is always an option. Most computer programs have minor accounting programs that will handle basic record keeping for a small business.
2. Office space is deductible. Maintaining an office in your home or business site, both require space and there are allowances for a home office. Specifically the square footage that is dedicated office space for your business, any and all equipment purchased to operate your home office, and improvements made for the purpose of efficiency.
3. Business expenses are important. Along with keeping good records, it's extremely important that you keep records of all business expenses. A daily diary where you log any expenses for business costs is an excellent way of managing your petty cash. A checking account to pay all larger costs is imperative. If credit cards are used, you must keep detailed expense records, in order to deduct interest on cards. (Mentioning these in your daily diary is an excellent method to keep track of them.)
4. Childcare is deductible. Even when your business is home based, childcare is a deductible personal expense. Often household help is overlooked as a deduction, when in fact it is often a necessary expense, and the reality is you are creating income for another person. Lawn care and household help are both business related expenses.
5. Set up a Retirement Plan. A retirement plan not only benefits you later in life. It is a method of reducing your current tax liability, and often reducing taxable payment on a set amount of money during any point in time. Your taxable income at retirement will most likely be a lower bracket than your working income.
6. Employ family members legitimately. If you have family members who can do various aspects of your business, it makes sense to employ them and offer benefits related to health care and retirement/college funding. (Although these benefits must be paid for all employees, your tax savings may benefit this payment.)
7. Defer billing/income. If you work on a cash basis and realize payment of a specific job is going to shoot you into a higher tax bracket for a specific year, it is acceptable to defer billing/income to the next year, decreasing your tax bracket. This method isn't recommended for many uses, but if your next year income will increase you to a higher level in the next bracket, this method may be recommended.
8. Use cost analysis and investment savings. By using depreciation wisely, your costs in any given year, and your investment savings in equipment purchases can be beneficial to your tax plan.
9. Year-end investment purchases. A continuation of the depreciation benefits, year-end purchases of necessary equipment for your purchases can increase the value of your business while decreasing your tax liability. Planning for new purchases when the year has been particularly profitable, makes sense for several reasons. Your business will be more profitable with newer equipment, resulting in increased income.
10. Get the right help. Often a small business denies themselves quality advice because of the cost, without realizing those costs are deductible, and pay off in the long run. A quality accountant, or a tax consultant who knows the law well enough to advise about purchases, investments, and appropriate deductions can save your business money, by offering excellent advice.
Valuable Tax Advice can improve the longevity and financial structure of your business. Scrimping on quality tax advice is like scrimping on safety concerns. Ultimately, it may cost you more.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Welcome To ATS Tax & Financial

Another year has gone by. And as usual there have been many tax law changes. Remember, we are available year-round to help you find tax and financial solutions to your everyday needs. We are more than number crunchers. We are people who care about you and your desire to improve your tax and financial picture. Our goal is to grow ATS by maintaining a mutually satisfying and long-lasting relationship with you.  We thank you for your continued business. We appreciate and invite new clients through your referrals to friends, family and business associates.  We will continue to reward you for your efforts. We encourage you to promote our services. We, “The Tax Angels”, are here to watch over you and guide you through the vast tax abyss.
For your convenience our website provides helpful information. You can learn about the services we offer the beginnings of ATS, the Tax Angel staff professional affiliates and key partners. You can also print client information documents necessary for your tax appointment as well as the checklist to help you prepare for your appointment. Under helpful hints you will find items such as guidelines for valuing noncash donations, current mileage rates, recordkeeping requirements and more. Our goal is to keep you informed with up-to-date tax changes via our newsletter or postings on our blog. We welcome your ideas and suggestions to improve this tool. Remember the website is designed for you!
ATS Tax and Financial Solutions now have 9 Angels on its staff: 3 Tax Professionals, 2 Business Accountants, and 4 Office Support Angels. We also have a working relationship with: Estate Trust Attorney, Bankruptcy Attorney, Mortgage Broker, Financial Advisor, Payroll Service Provider and more.
We invite you to communicate via email with Deborah, our Client Relations Specialist, whom everyone adores. You can ask questions, make an appointment or just say hi to brighten her day.  Any Tax questions will be forwarded to the appropriate Tax Angel for a response.
With sincere gratitude and appreciation,
Sylvia Barata, CEO and President
And all the Tax Angels at ATS

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Where should I invest my money"?

One of the questions I hear every single day is "Where should I invest my money"? When you are just beginning your investment journey this is a very important question as it is vital that you get off to a good start. Too many people have one bad experience with investing and then turn their back on it for the rest of their lives. When you are learning where to invest your money the most common problem is that you have too many options.
I like to call this problem 'Option Anxiety"
The definition of option anxiety is when you have so many options to choose from that you start getting anxious about which one you are going to choose. Pretty soon you are incredibly stressed about which option you are going to take. All of the options start to look pretty good but you just can't make up your mind. In the end you decide that all these options are simple too stressful and its much easier to do nothing. Does this sound familiar? It really is quite a bizarre thing but I'm sure everybody has experienced it at some stage.
When I first began my investing career I used to always get option anxiety when deciding where to invest my money. Should I invest my money in the stock market, should I invest my money in real estate, should invest my money in the bank - quite simply WHERE should I invest my money.
If you too suffer from option anxiety then don't worry, it is an easy problem to solve. There are two main reasons why most people get anxious when they are investing their money for the first time.
1. The most obvious reason is because they have worked extremely hard for their money and they don't want to loose it. This is a very natural emotion as nobody likes losing money. If you come from a family that didn't encourage investing then deciding that you want to invest can be an incredibly big accomplishment in itself.
2. When we are doing things that we don't really understand we get scared. This is totally normal and in fact a very sensible thing to feel. If humans didn't get a little bit scared when we were doing foreign things then we might get ourselves into a lot of trouble very quickly. In saying this it is very important that we don't let this natural fear hold us back form doing anything.
So how did I overcome these problems and decide where to invest my money. I picked an investment strategy that I was comfortable with and then I built up my knowledge and got some expert advice. Pretty soon after that I was addicted to investing. So you are probably asking "how can I learn where to invest my money".
Well the first thing to do is to decide which kind of investment you think you are most suited to. The obvious two choices are Property & Shares. As a general rule you will need more money to get into the property market (although this is not always the case) so it is often a good idea to start with the stock market. Once you have decided what option you would like to take I recommend that you start building your knowledge in that area and then once you have a general idea of what you want to achieve you can start looking for an expert to help you even further.
Don't feel like you need to do everything on your own. Deciding where to invest your money is a very big choice so there is no harm in asking other people for help. If you wanted to become a dentist I don't think you would assume that you could learn how to do it without getting an education from somewhere, would you? So what are you waiting for? There are thousands of free investment resources on the internet all you need to do is to find them, use them and then in turn you will begin to break down your fear of investing. Remember to become successful you need to grow and develop and the best way to do this is to increase your knowledge.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tax Service Considerations for Your Business Needs

Who needs tax service and how exactly does this business work? Are you somehow involved in mortgage and lending and other business transactions? You might want to read on if you want to know more.
Agencies engaged in the business of providing tax services should have expertise on the local taxing authorities such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and their tax collection procedures. This would then simplify the tax processing and reporting towards their clients and gives them the capability to process payments in areas which they have never before serviced loans.
Accounting firms and agencies engage in this business and are known to handle and ascertain that their client's property tolls are paid right on time. This business is also known to reduce the client's costs for processing and monitoring the payment of property tolls and other settlements to be made.
A tax service business offers its clients convenience since they will be able to help them save a great deal of time, effort and money. They licensed accountants encountered are equipped with the right kind of mastery and information the client may not have been aware of and they also offer the much-needed analysis and results in a matter of time.
One of the major roles of this business is to be attentive for delinquent property tolls and be attentive enough to alert the mortgage company of possible liens against their mortgagor's properties and prevent it from happening. You surely would not want the bank to end up becoming the owner of these properties.
These agencies handle tasks that most clients find hassling and that are when the season comes for filing the returns. Most do not have the patience to line up and fill the forms and other processes that need to be done, so they hire people who will take it from their hands and complete the process for them.
Clients invested in this business do not have to hire additional staff to keep track of taxing authority, information or schedules, request or identify toll bills, or other concerns regarding toll matters.
A reputable agency engaged in this business should be able to report regarding the client's information on his/her matters accurately and on time. You don't want to risk paying penalty and interest charges due to a second's delay. You should certainly invest in an agency that has credible reputation wherein you can put you confidence and trust that they'll handle your business matters well.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Charitable Contributions

If you've made any donations to charity this year, you'll want to learn some important rules about deducting charitable contributions on your tax return.