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Choose Your Tax Preparer Wisely

Posted on February 4, 2016 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

It's that time of the year when we pull out all those receipts we've been hoarding during the previous year to either do our own taxes, or drop on a professional tax preparer.  Doing them yourself is so much easier with the few computer programs out on the market, but if the idea of devoting several weekends to working through that program's myriad of questions is not your idea of finding your best return, hiring a professional may be the next item on your To Do list.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to remind us to be particular about who we hire to do our taxes (or the taxes of our loved ones).  There are unscrupulous folks out there who just want to steal your identity, or file for deductions you might not be eligible to, just to get you a better return, and thus get them a higher fee.  The IRS has some suggestions for how to search for a tax preparer:

 

  • Ask if they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).  Preparers are required to register with the IRS, and get one of these numbers.
  • Ask if they have a professional degree (certified public accountant [CPA], enrolled agent, lawyer), attends continuing education classes, or belong to a professional association.  They are not required to have a professional credential, but most do because they are interested in giving you the most up-to-date and best service.
  • The IRS has a tool on their website to help you find a certified preparer in your area: http://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf
  • Ask the Better Business Bureau if there have been any complaints filed for this preparer.  Check on the website for the professional association this preparer says they belong to for any issues with their membership.  For CPA's check the State Board for Accountancy.  For attorney's, check the State Bar Association.  
  • Preparers are not allowed to base their fee on the amount of your refund, so ask them how they will base your fee?
  • Ask them to e-file through the IRS.  It is the safest and fastest way to get your return.  Preparers who have more than 10 clients must e-file.
  • Make sure your preparer will be available for questions you may have after your return is filed.  Fly-by-night preparers will often not be easy to find again.
  • Understand if they can represent you in front of the IRS if an audit is necessary.  Certified perparers can.  Others are limited in what they can do.
  • Never sign a blank return!
  • Before you sign a completed return, review it, ask all questions until you feel satisfied and comfortable.
  • Report any tax preparer misconduct to the IRS
To learn more about choosing a tax preparer, or filing a complaint, please visit https://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Choosing-a-Tax-Professional

Identity Theft

Posted on January 19, 2016 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Tax season is here, and since we are stopping our lives to take care of business, so-to-speak, we can also stop to make sure we have some practices in place for the New Year.  This isn't about eating right, or getting in more walks per week, but about getting into the habit of checking our personal information and passwords out there in the digital realm.  

Let this serve as a reminder to some that their information is out there in a digital world.  It is not written on a billboard that our neighbors can see whenever they get on the freeway, but it might as well be to those who want to find it.  We want to make sure that our information is found by those who are supposed to, and that have our permission to use our information.  If our personal data ends up in the wrong hands, it could leave us completely devistated.

If you're already in the habit of paying your own bills, then you have everything you need to check-in with your personal cyber information regularly.  Remember that annoying carbon monoxide alarm?  The one that runs on batteries, and needs to be checked each year?  It's completely inconvenient to add it to an already long list of things which need our attention, however, if we put it into perspective, once per year is hardly something to get stressed over.  A friend of mine once told me she checks hers during the Fall Daylight Savings Time date.  It makes it so easy, one doesn't even need to write it down to remember!  That could be the date we devote a portion of our day to checking smoke detectors, emergency food items and supplies, and ordering our free, annual credit reports.

Just like April 15th is a day devoted to our tax responsibility, one day per year could knock out three other life-saving tasks.  Then we are left to live a life spent more focused on the very best parts of being alive.  Check out this Youtube video from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about even more ways to insure your cyber security (2 minutes long):

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Lots of VA Resources

Posted on December 29, 2015 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a nice link for the Top Ten Resources for veterans:

http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/December/Top-Ten-VA-Services-List-for-Veterans-in-2016.asp

My HealtheVet is one of the services offered.  This is a website and mobile application to access your medical information, and contact medical professionals.  Along with stop smoking and binge eating help, they also provide resources for any crisis through text, phone, or online chat.  

Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Posted on November 9, 2015 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.  In honor of this, we are posting a few facts about this disease you may or may not have known:


This disease can damage the brain a decade before problems appear.


Late-onset Alzheimer's is likely caused by a mix of lifestyle, genetic, and environmental factors.


Early-onset Alzheimer's is likely caused by a genetic mutation.  Fewer than 1 in 20 cases are early-onset.  It can affect ages 30-60 years old.


It is possible to have a mix of Alzheimer's and another type of dementia at the same time.



At least 70,000 volunteers are needed now, for more than 150 clinical trials and Alzheimer's studies.  To find one, you can link to this:

https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/volunteer?utm_source=20151105_trials&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ealert&utm_content=intro


To learn more about Alzheimer's, visit:

https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet?utm_source=20151103_factsheet&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=ealert



Home Modification Can Aid "Aging In Place"

Posted on October 29, 2015 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Great suggestions for modifying a home. These can be made to enable a senior to age in place, or to keep a disabled individual from having to move to an alternative living environment.

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Sleep Disorder Trials

Posted on October 29, 2015 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

This article not only gives suggestions for aiding sleep disorders, but links for participating in free clinical trials.   By taking part in a clinical trial, you may gain access to new treatments before they're widely available. 

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd


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