Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from NFS

From All of us here at

Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc.


... For Our Families
... For Our Friends
... Four Our Clients
... For Our Communitiy
... For You


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Seven Tips to Protect Your Computer Online

We at NFS urge you to be safe online and remind you to take important steps to help protect yourself against identity theft. Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

Scammers, hackers and identity thieves are looking to steal your personal information – and your money. But there are simple steps you can take to help protect yourself, like keeping your computer software up-to-date and giving out your personal information only when you have a good reason.

We all have a role to play to protect your tax account. There are just a few easy and practical steps you can take to protect yourself as you conduct your personal business online.

Here are some best practices you can follow to protect your tax and financial information:

1. Understand and Use Security Software.  Security software helps protect your computer against the digital threats which are prevalent online. Generally, your operating system will include security software or you can access free security software from well-known companies or Internet providers. Other options may have an annual licensing fee and offer more features. Essential tools include a firewall, virus/malware protection and file encryption if you keep sensitive financial/tax documents on your computer. Security suites often come with firewall, anti-virus and anti-spam, parental controls and privacy protection. File encryption to protect your saved documents may have to be purchased separately. Do not buy security software offered as an unexpected pop-up ad on your computer or email! It’s likely from a scammer.

2. Allow Security Software to Update Automatically.  Set your security software to update automatically. Malware – malicious software – evolves constantly and your security software suite is updated routinely to keep pace.

3. Look for the “S” for encrypted “https” websites.  When shopping or banking online, always look to see that the site uses encryption to protect your information. Look for https at the beginning of the web address. The “s” is for secure. Unencrypted sites begin with an http address. Additionally, make sure the https carries through on all pages, not just the sign-on page.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tax Aspects of Divorce and Separation

When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


One of the most argued points between separating couples regarding taxes is who gets to claim the children as dependents on their tax return, since joint filing is no longer an option. The reason this part of tax law is so important to divorcing parents is that the federal and state exemptions allowed for dependents offer a significant savings to the custodial parent, and there are also substantial child and educational credits that can be taken. The right to claim a child as a dependent from birth through college can be worth over $30,000 in tax savings.

The law states that one parent must be chosen as the head of the household, and that parent may legally claim the dependents on his or her return.

Example: If a couple was divorced or legally separated by December 31 of the last tax year, the law allows the tax exemptions to go to the parent who had physical custody of the children for the greater part of the year (the custodial parent), and that parent would be considered the head of the household. However, if the separation occurs in the last six months of the year and there hasn't yet been a legal divorce or separation by the year's end, the exemptions will go to the parent that has been providing the most financial support to the children, regardless of which parent had custody.

A non-custodial parent can only claim the dependents if the custodial parent releases the right to the exemptions and credits. This needs to be done legally by signing tax Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption. However, even if the non-custodial parent is not claiming the children, he or she still has the right to deduct things like medical expenses.

Child support payments are not deductible or taxable. Merely labeling payments as child support is not enough -- various requirements must be met.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

IRS Promises More Identity Theft Protections in 2016 Filing Season

After acknowledging earlier this year that hackers breached one of its popular online apps, the IRS has promised more identity theft protections in the 2016 filing season. The IRS, along with partners in the tax preparation community, has identified and tested more than 20 new data elements on returns to help detect and prevent identity-theft related filings. The agency is also working to prevent criminals from accessing tax-time financial products.

Identity Theft

Combating identity theft is on ongoing process as criminals continue to create new ways of stealing personal information and using it for their gain. Tax-related identity theft typically peaks early in the filing season. Criminals file bogus returns early so taxpayers remain unaware you have been victimized until they try to file a return and learn one already has been filed. Between 2011 and 2015, the IRS identified 19 million suspicious returns and prevented the issuance of some $60 billion in fraudulent refunds. During the 2015 filing season, the IRS detected and stopped more than 3.8 million suspicious returns.

However, criminals continue to probe for weaknesses. In May, the IRS discovered that criminals had breached its Get Transcript app. Return information of as many as 300,000 taxpayers may have been compromised, the IRS reported.

New Protections

In March, the IRS began working with the return preparation community and the tax software

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tax Tips for Starting a Business

When you start a business, a key to your success is to know your tax obligations. You may not only need to know about income tax rules but also about payroll tax rules. Here are five tax tips that can help you get your business off to a good start.

1. Business Structure. An early choice you need to make is to decide on the type of structure for your business. The most common types are sole proprietor, partnership and corporation. The type of business you choose will determine which tax forms you will file.

2. Business Taxes. There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. In most cases, the types of tax your business pays depends on the type of business structure you set up. You may need to make estimated tax payments. If you do, use IRS Direct Pay to pay them. It's a fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account. Don't hesitate to call if you need assistance or have any questions about IRS Direct Pay.

3. Employer Identification Number. You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Call the office to find out if you need this number. If you do, help is available to make sure this process goes smoothly.

4. Accounting Method. An accounting method is a set of rules that you use to determine when to report income and expenses. You must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash and accrual methods. Under the cash method, you normally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you receive or pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you earn or incur them. This is true even if you get the income or pay the expense in a later year.

5. Employee Health Care. The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tax Day Is Not April 15th, Not in 2016 Anyway

Procrastinators, listen up.

You get three extra days to gather your paperwork and file your federal tax return in 2016. The tax deadline is April 18, 2016.

You can thank Washington, D.C., for the gift. Washington will celebrate Emancipation Day on April 15. The day is treated as a federal holiday, so federal offices – read IRS – will be closed.

Emancipation Day typically is celebrated on April 16. It’s the day President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill ending slavery in Washington, D.C. April 16 falls on a Saturday in 2016, so Emancipation Day will be celebrated on April 15.

So.... Tax Day will be pushed back to April 18, 2016.

That doesn’t mean you have to wait until April 18 to visit our office, though.

In Massachusetts & Maine, Patriots' Day is observed on April 18, 2016. Patriots' Day is a civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. It is observed on the third Monday in April in Massachusetts and Maine, and is a public school observance day in Wisconsin.

Since 1969, the holiday has been observed on the third Monday in April, providing a three-day long

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Five Ways to Improve Your Financial Situation

If you are having trouble paying your debts, it is important to take action sooner rather than later.

Doing nothing leads to much larger problems in the future, whether it's a bad credit record or bankruptcy resulting in the loss of assets and even your home. If you're in financial trouble, then here are some steps to take to avoid financial ruin in the future.

If you've accumulated a large amount of debt and are having difficulty paying your bills each month, now is the time to take action--before the bill collectors start calling.

1. Review each debt. Make sure that the debt creditors claim you owe is really what you owe and that the amount is correct. If you dispute a debt, first contact the creditor directly to resolve your questions. If you still have questions about the debt, contact your state or local consumer protection office or, in cases of serious creditor abuse, your state Attorney General.

2. Contact your creditors. Let your creditors know you are having difficulty making your payments. Tell them why you are having trouble-perhaps it is because you recently lost your job or have unexpected medical bills. Try to work out an acceptable payment schedule with your creditors. Most are willing to work with you and will appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.

Tip: Most automobile financing agreements permit your creditor to repossess your car any time you are in default, with no advance notice. If your car is repossessed you may have to pay the full balance due on the loan, as well as towing and storage costs, to get it back. Do not wait until you are in default. Try to solve the problem with your creditor when you realize you will not be able to meet your payments. It may be better to sell the car yourself and pay off your debt than to incur the added costs of repossession.

3. Budget your expenses. Create a spending plan that allows you to reduce your debts. Itemize your