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5 Steps to Prepare for Tax Day

Originally posted on the Christian Post on April 7

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

Once again, tax day is almost here, and even though it’s a little later than usual, on Tuesday, April 18, I’m still not ready. Any tips for me to avoid mistakes and make this as painless as possible?

Tense about Taxes

Dear Tense,

With three extra days to file beyond the traditional April 15th deadline this year, let’s be sure we don’t make careless mistakes. Beyond the 5 steps I’ll explain below, my wife and I use these 8 tips to keep our filing is simple and stress-free every year. They can help you get ready, even if you’re running behind schedule.

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Creative Ideas to Use Your Tax Refund

Have you spent your tax refund yet? If not, you need to hear this story!

Fox5 Atlanta recently reported that Christina Knaack, a single mother of two little girls, received a large tax refund and prepaid her rent for the year. A photo of the receipt from her landlord has gone viral on Facebook.

She has been clean from drug addiction for 3 years, and shared her post hoping that a recovering addict would see it and believe that life off the streets is possible. WOW!

Although many landlords will not allow prepayments, it is worth exploring. If you have established a good reputation, your landlord may even grant a discount for paying in advance. It is a great way to secure a roof over your head and give some flexibility in the budget.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Filing Taxes

The good news about filing taxes is that this year they’re not due until April 18th. You get 3 extra days!

If you want to avoid paying unnecessary taxes you’ll have to do some planning.

1. Keep track of qualified tax credit options - they boost refunds better than deductions. For each credit dollar, your taxes go down a dollar! Yet, 20% of eligible Americans don't even claim the earned income tax credit.

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3 Things to Keep for Your Tax Deductions

Are you a tax-filing procrastinator? This year you’ve got 3 extra days!

With tax season upon us, here are some more tips for filing honestly and accurately, while getting the most out of your deductions. 

Itemizing may take more time, but it saves you money. Turbo Tax offers the following helpful tips for maximizing possible deductions for travel, moving, and charitable donations.

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4 Tips for Filing Your Taxes

According to J. Paul Getty, “If you get up early, work late, and pay your taxes, you will get ahead — if you strike oil.”

Few of us will strike oil, but most of us file tax returns. To make your tax experience less painful, more productive and hopefully rewarding, I’ve assembled a few tips for you.

1. Be Honest. NEVER give false information or numbers you cannot support with documentation. Honesty allows you to file without fear and sleep well at night.

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Tips on When to Take Social Security Benefits

The consequences of the onset of Social Security benefits are enormous. Recent reports by Sandra Block, at Kiplinger.com and Viewpoints at Fidelity.com confirm this.

You are eligible for benefits if you’ve worked a minimum of 10 years in positions covered by Social Security. Benefits are based on two main variables: earning in the 35 highest-paid years of your career and the age in which you begin receiving your benefits.

Those 35 years do not have to be consecutive, and if you work past age 65, those earning years, even part-time, will be included if part of your highest 35 years.

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5 Lessons On Gift Taxes from Oprah and Tom Brady

Originally posted on the Christian Post on March 10

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

After the amazing Super Bowl victory of the New England Patriots and their quarterback Tom Brady, he said that he was going to give the truck he was going to get as MVP to James White for catching all those passes Brady sent his way in the nail-bitter of a game. He gave a previous truck for a Super Bowl win to Malcolm Butler, another teammate who played a great game. How easy is it to give a gift like that? Does the IRS get involved? (And where can I find a friend like that?!)

Just Curious

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Today, some tips to avoid ID theft combined with some good news

The number of people who reported being victims of identity theft in affidavits to the IRS has “fallen dramatically” this year, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

“Through the first nine months of this year, that number is down by more than 50 percent,” he said in a press call, adding that there are about 275,000 fewer identity theft victims than there were a year ago.

Fighting ID theft has been one of the IRS’s top priorities in recent years.

In the first nine months of 2016, the IRS’s systems stopped more than $4 billion in fraudulent refunds from identity thieves. Almost 500,000 fewer tax returns were stopped this year than in the same period last year, and the commissioner said this is because it has become more difficult for criminals to file fraudulent tax returns as a result of efforts by the software industry.

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We need to be very concerned about the ever-increasing tax burden on fewer and fewer people in the US.

The Tax Foundation, in its annual report on when the nation as a whole has earned enough to pay its taxes, announced the date as April 24. Let me help you understand what that means. TaxArticlePromo.jpg

First, according to the Tax Policy Center, 45.3% of Americans did not pay any federal income tax in 2015. That means approximately 55% of those of us who pay federal income taxes, must work until April 24 to pay the US government. We do not start earning income that is “ours” or eligible to keep without being taxed until April 25.  

To put this in perspective, their findings showed that:

  • Collectively, Americans will spend more on taxes in 2016 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
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Tax Refunds: To Shop or Not To Shop – That is the Question

Chuck Bentley on 4/15/16 9:00 AM

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Originally posted at Christian Post April 15, 2016.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

Procrastinators Unite! This weekend, my husband and I will be crashing on our tax returns, due Monday, April 18th, and we’re hoping to receive a return. What do you suggest we do with the money?  

Procrastinator

Dear Procrastinator,

It is never best to wait until the last minute to do your income tax return but it is better than not filing or filing late! 

Since the majority of filers will receive a refund, this is a great question; especially when the average tax return in 2015 was $3,120.  Usually, I wouldn’t turn to a poll to offer advice, but I’m going to make an exception today after reading about a new one out from Bankrate.com. Despite assertions that the economy is doing well and unemployment is down, most people are experiencing stagnant wages with little job growth.

Better than Shopping. Bankrate found our present economy is impacting how people intend to use their money with “84 percent of Americans receiving refunds intend to pay down debt, save or invest their windfall or use it for everyday necessities.” In fact, only 7 percent said they intended to spend the money or take a vacation with the cash.  

I thoroughly applaud the more than 8 out of 10 Americans intending to hold on to that cash. At Crown, we advise that a good budget begins with $1,000 in an emergency fund followed by a plan to get debt free and stick with a plan. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 80 percent of Americans are in debt, though that does include people with a mortgage. Still, about 4 in 10 people have expensive consumer debt like credit card debt, student loans or car loans.

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