Monday, December 29, 2014

Tax Season Opens As Planned Following Extenders Legislation

Following the passage of the extenders legislation, the Internal Revenue Service announced today it anticipates opening the 2015 filing season as scheduled in January.

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns electronically on Jan. 20. Paper tax returns will begin processing at the same time.

The decision follows Congress renewing a number of "extender" provisions of the tax law that expired at the end of 2013. These provisions were renewed by Congress through the end of 2014. The final legislation was signed into law Dec 19, 2014.

"We have reviewed the late tax law changes and determined there was nothing preventing us from continuing our updating and testing of our systems," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "Our employees will continue an aggressive schedule of testing and preparation of our systems during the next month to complete the final stages needed for the 2015 tax season."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Seasons Greetings From NFS





Seasons Greetings! 

Your friends at Northeast Financial Strategies want you to know how much your loyalty and friendship are appreciated this year and in all years past. At the holiday season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our success possible. It is in this spirit we say ... thank you and best wishes for the holidays and a happy new year. 

From all of us here at NFS, THANKS!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Year-End Tax Planning for Individuals

Once again, tax planning for the year ahead presents more challenges than usual, this time due to the numerous tax extenders that expired at the end of 2013.

These tax extenders, which include nonbusiness energy credits and the sales tax deduction that allows taxpayers to deduct state and local general sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes, may or may not be reauthorized by Congress and made retroactive to the beginning of the year.

More significant however, is taxable income in relation to threshold amounts that might bump a taxpayer into a higher or lower tax bracket, thus, subjecting taxpayers to additional taxes such as the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) or an additional Medicare tax.

In the meantime, let's take a look at some of the tax strategies that you can use right now, given the current tax situation.

Tax planning strategies for individuals this year include postponing income and accelerating deductions, as well as careful consideration of timing related investments, charitable gifts, and retirement planning. General tax planning strategies that taxpayers might consider include the following:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from NFS




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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

8 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Estate planning can be complicated, and it’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes with their plans. But financial advisors make errors, too, so here are the most common mistakes I have encountered from other financial and estate planners.

1. Improper beneficiary designations

I frequently see advisors improperly completing beneficiary designations. Examples: not changing the beneficiary due to divorce or a death, or listing a special needs child or grandchild directly as a beneficiary, rather than a trust FBO (for benefit of), thereby affecting their eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

2. Not changing asset titles to trusts

Incorporating revocable living trusts into a client’s estate plan but forgetting to update all the account titling to the name of the trust. Not changing titles creates problems that include having to pay additional probate costs, losing the private nature of settling the estate, etc.

3. Incorrectly assuming clients’ goals

Many advisors assume a client’s main goal is to save estate taxes, for example. However, when really connecting with a client, we might find that taxes are only a small aspect of their objectives. Sometimes, in listening to the client, we realize that their fears are more about their heirs’ ability to manage the inheritance as well as decisions such as trustees, etc.

4. Naming minor children as account beneficiaries

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Income Tax Extension Deadline – October 15


If you filed for a federal tax extension in April, your tax forms need to be filed by TODAY, October 15th.

Taxes are normally due on April 15th every year, but taxpayers are eligible to file for an automatic extension if they need more time to prepare their tax return.

Please contact our office if you are having trouble completing your returns today and need help getting them done by midnight tonight.





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Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Columbus Day




Happy Columbus Day from NFS!

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Last Day of Life Insurance Awareness Month


As we have presented this September, life insurance can do some pretty amazing things for people. It can buy loved ones time to grieve. It can pay off debts and loans, providing surviving family members with the chance to move on with a clean slate. It can keep families in their homes and pre-fund a child’s college education. It can keep a family business in the family. It can provide a stream of income for a family to live on for a period of time. Life insurance can do all of these wonderful things for your family…there’s just one small catch. You need to own life insurance.

There’s a growing crisis of too many Americans not having adequate life insurance protection. According to the industry research group LIMRA, 30 percent of US households have no life insurance whatsoever. Today there are 11 million fewer American households covered by life insurance compared with six years ago. Here’s the bottom line: A majority of families either have no life insurance or not enough, leaving them one accident or terminal illness away from a financial catastrophe for their loved ones.

What if you were suddenly gone and your family had to manage on their own? When was the last time you did the math to make sure your loved ones would be OK financially? Have you checked with your employer to find out what kind of life insurance benefit you have through work and whether you have the option to increase your coverage? When was the last time you had your life insurance needs reviewed by an insurance professional? Northeast Financial Strategies is here to help!



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Friday, September 19, 2014

3 Life Changing Events That May Change Your Insurance Needs

Your life insurance coverage should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure you have adequate coverage, but a major life change is a particularly important time to assess your life insurance needs. Here are three life events when you should review your life insurance policy:

1) A change in family situation: Did you get married, divorced, have a baby, adopt children, or change jobs? Any of these life events are likely to change the amount of life insurance coverage you need.

2) An upward change in your income: A big promotion or a raise may be a good reason to review your coverage. Life insurance is often purchased to replace the income of the breadwinner in a family. If your income increases, you may need to review the face value (the amount paid to beneficiaries at the policyholder's death) of your life insurance policy.

3) Retirement: If retirement is just around the corner, it may be time to assess your life insurance policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), life insurance can keep surviving spouses from receiving reduced Social Security benefits. For example, those who begin collecting Social Security survivors benefits at age 60, rather than at the full-benefit age of 66 or 67, receive a permanently reduced Social 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Small Business Spotlight - Senator Ross Visits NFS


Senator Richard J. Ross stopped by NFS - Northeast Financial Strategies Inc this week to visit with us. Check out his official website for the article.

Life Happens


No one knows what the future holds. Hopefully, only good things are in store for you.

But realistically, bad things will happen too.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a cautious person, you take little steps every day to improve the odds that good things will happen and guard against the possibility of bad things happening.

You wear seat belts.

You lock your doors when you leave home.

You try to eat well and exercise.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life Insurance: Why Do I Need It? What Does It Do?


So, why do you need life insurance?

What often comes to mind when thinking about life insurance is that you can use it to pay final expenses. You've seen the commercials: Funeral expenses, burial costs and medical bills can add up to a hefty amount. The last thing you want is for your loved ones to shoulder this extra burden. Life insurance can be used to plan for these final expenses. Permanent life insurance is available in various amounts, so you can pick a death benefit that meets your needs.

But there are other considerations to keep in mind. You can use life insurance …

As mortgage protection. Whether you live by yourself, with a spouse or significant other, you may want to buy life insurance as mortgage protection. Think about it: You don’t want the person you live with to be homeless if you die unexpectedly, do you? Term life insurance can be used to pay off an outstanding mortgage balance. Just select a term that matches the length of your mortgage payment period. Some companies even offer decreasing term insurance, which means the death benefit decreases along with your mortgage balance.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NFS Remembers 9/11/01


September 11th, 2001 changed the lives of many. Never forget that terrible day when we lost over 3000 of our family and friends in the tragic events.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why People Buy Life Insurance

If you are asking yourself why you should buy life insurance, here are some reasons why some of our other
clients have bought life insurance....

For the Death Benefit:

  • To replace earning power at death
  • To pay for cash needs that arise at death

As a Disciplined Savings Program*:

  • To help pay for educational costs
  • To supplement retirement income
  • To take advantage of business opportunities
  • For Financial Emergencies

Because of the Risk of Waiting:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wrentham Day Winners!!

Wrentham Day 2014 was a HOT, HOT, HOT day and Northeast Financial Strategies Inc was excited to take part!

In addition to meeting lots of new people and seeing our old friends, we gave out nearly 400 Wrentham T-Shirts, put temporary tattoos on kids of all ages and had a FREE Raffle for some great prizes from lots of local businesses! We thank them all for their support and generosity!!

Here is the listing of the raffle winners:

FREE Income Tax Preparation from NFS
Kim Buckman of Wrentham

$50 Gift Certificate to Cafe Assisi
Tracy Sylven of Wrentham

$50 Gift Certificate to Commonwealth BBQ
Dennis Monty of Wrentham

30 Minute Massage, Cranialsacral or Reiki at Be Well Therapeutics
Bonnie Manning of Wrentham

$10 Gift Certificate to Town Pizza Wrentham
Lauren Torrey of Wrentham

$50 Gift Certificate to Village Ski & Snowboard
Steve LeBlanc of Wrentham

Free Oil Change at Bill's Automotive
Jeannie Riedel of Wrentham
Daniel Dow of Plainville
Jolene Beauregard of Wrentham

$25 Gift Certificate to Dance & Beyond
Rachael Anderson of Wrentham

$10 Gift Certificate to Looking Glass Cafe
Melissa Booth of Wrentham
Patricia Meador of Wrentham
Mike Kehrmeyer of Wrentham
Liz Pruell of Wrentham

$25 Gift Certificate to The Music Box
Josh Person of Wrentham

$25 Gift Certificate James' Breakfast & More
Tanya Vishnevsky of Wrentham
Cyndi Mulvey of Franklin


If you see your name on this list, please come into the office and claim your prize. You should also receive a message from us.

Callie & Jimbo

Callie loves Wrentham Day

Team Wrentham T-Shirt

Our Booth

2014 Raffle Prize Board

A Player from Team NFS in Wrentham Youth Soccer stopped by
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Wrentham Day 2014!!!

Come Join NFS - Northeast Financial Strategies Inc. at Wrentham Day 2014 on Saturday September 6th!!




We will be setting up at Wrentham Day and have lots of fun for everyone...

FREE Wrentham T-Shirts while they last
FREE Temporary Tattoos for the kids
FREE Raffle including items like FREE Restaurant Gift Certificates, FREE Oil Changes, FREE Dance Classes, even FREE Income Tax Preparation!!

Everything at our booth is FREE and after you stop by to visit us, checkout the rest of Wrentham Day on the Town Common!

Here is a listing of all the FREE Prizes in our Raffle this year....










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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Life Insurance - Why Now?

This is the award winning video created by Jeffrey Schweitzer of NFS-Northeast Financial Strategies for Life Insurance Awareness Month back in September 2011.








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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why Now Is The Best Time To Buy Life Insurance



The sluggish economy continues to put financial strain on many of us. So it just makes sense to examine our budgets and look for ways to trim the fat from our monthly expenses and put more into savings, if possible.

That’s a great way to help stabilize your finances, but it’s also important that you have a financial safety net in place in case something were to happen to you. Life insurance is one of the few guarantees your family could rely on to maintain their quality of life if you were no longer there to provide for them.

There are 95 million adult Americans without life insurance, according to LIMRA, an insurance industry research group. The fact is, the vast majority of Americans need life insurance and, sadly, most people either have none or not enough. If someone depends on you financially, you need life insurance. It’s that simple.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Retirement Plan Options for Small Businesses

Employer-sponsored retirement plans have become a key component for retirement savings. They are also an increasingly important tool for attracting and retaining the high-quality employees you need to compete in today's competitive environment.

Besides helping employees save for the future, however, instituting a retirement plan can provide you, as the employer, with benefits that enable you to make the most of your business's assets. Such benefits include:

  • Tax-deferred growth on earnings within the plan
  • Current tax savings on individual contributions to the plan
  • Immediate tax deductions for employer contributions
  • Easy to establish and maintain
  • Low-cost benefit with a highly-perceived value by your employees
Here's an overview of four retirement plans options that can help you and your employees save:

SIMPLE: Savings Incentive Match Plan

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Hampshire Distracted Driving Law to Ban Handheld Devices While Driving

Effective July 1, 2015, the use of all hand-held electronic devices while driving will be illegal in New Hampshire. Although the bulk of the law will not take effect until July 1, a provision requiring that the public be educated is currently in effect, so New Hampshire drivers can expect to see electronic highway signs warning them about the dangers of distracted driving.

On July 25, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the bill into law, which will make hand-held cell phone use punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses within a 24-month period. According to the Insurance Journal, the law will apply while drivers are temporarily stopped, such as at a red light, but not if they have pulled over, off the roadway. It will still allow hands-free cellphone use, but will ban emailing, texting, and programming GPS systems while driving.

Currently, state law only bans texting while driving, which is not always effective, as it can be difficult to discern whether a driver is typing a text message, dialing, or inputting an address into his/her GPS, for instance. This will no longer be an issue under the new law, as it will prohibit all of these activities, the Insurance Journal reports. The law will also ban all cellphone use by minors while driving, with the exception of emergency calls.

According to the Insurance Journal, the new law will be most heavily promoted in the weeks before it takes effect. For additional information, click here to read the full article on the Insurance Journal.







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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Leaving a Business: Which Exit Plan Is Right For You?

Selecting your business successor is a fundamental objective of planning an exit strategy and requires a careful assessment of what you want from the sale of your business and who can best give it to you.

There are only four ways to leave your business: transfer ownership to family members, Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP), sale to a third party, and liquidation. The more you understand about each one, the better the chance is that you will leave your business on your terms and under the conditions you want. With that in mind, here's what you need to know about each one.

1. Transfer Ownership to Your Children

Transferring a business within the family fulfills many people's personal goals of keeping their business and family together, but while most business owners want to transfer their business to their children, few end up doing so for various reasons. As such, it's necessary to develop a contingency plan to convey your business to another type of buyer.

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Save for College Tax-Free

According to a 2014 study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, researchers found that over a lifetime, the average U.S. college graduate will earn at least $800,000 more than the average high school graduate--even after taking into consideration the cost of college tuition and the four years of lost wages it entails. So even though tuition and fees are always on the rise, most people still feel that a college education is well worth the investment. That said however, the need to set money aside for their child's education often weighs heavily on parents.

Fortunately, there are two savings plans available to help parents save money that also provide certain tax benefits. Let's take a closer look.

The two most popular college savings programs are the Qualified Tuition Programs (QTPs) or Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). Whichever one you choose, try to start when your child is young. The sooner you begin saving, the less money you will have to put away each year.

Example: Suppose you have one child, age six months, and you estimate that you'll need $120,000 to finance his college education 18 years from now. If you start putting away money immediately, you'll need to save $3,500 per year for 18 years (assuming an after-tax return of 7 percent). On the other hand, if you put off saving until your son is six years old, you'll have to save almost double that amount every year for 12

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five Basic Tax Tips about Hobbies

Millions of people enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. Some examples include stamp and coin collecting, craft making, and horsemanship.

You must report on your tax return the income you earn from a hobby. The rules for how you report the income and expenses depend on whether the activity is a hobby or a business. There are special rules and limits for deductions you can claim for a hobby. Here are five tax tips you should know about hobbies:

1. Is it a Business or a Hobby?  A key feature of a business is that you do it to make a profit. You often engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit. You should consider nine factors when you determine whether your activity is a hobby. Make sure to base your determination on all the facts and circumstances of your situation. For more about ‘not-for-profit’ rules see Publication 535, Business Expenses.

2. Allowable Hobby Deductions.  Within certain limits, you can usually deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted for the activity. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the activity.

3. Limits on Hobby Expenses.  Generally, you can only deduct your hobby expenses up to the amount of hobby income. If your hobby expenses are more than your hobby income, you have a loss from the activity. You can’t deduct the loss from your other income.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

IRS Updates Phone Scams Warning

The IRS is again warning the public about phone scams that continue to claim victims all across the country. In these scams, thieves make unsolicited phone calls to their intended victims. Callers fraudulently claim to be from the IRS and demand immediate payment of taxes by a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The callers are often hostile and abusive.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received 90,000 complaints about these scams. TIGTA estimates that thieves have stolen an estimated $5 million from about 1,100 victims. To avoid becoming a victim of these scams, you should know:

  • The IRS will first contact you by mail if you owe taxes, not by phone.
  • The IRS never asks for credit, debit or prepaid card information over the phone.
  • The IRS never insists that you use a specific payment method to pay your tax.
  • The IRS never requests immediate payment over the telephone.
  • The IRS will always treat you professionally and courteously. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Trying To Calculate Your Vacation Home Rental Income?

If you rent a home to others, you usually must report the rental income on your tax return. But you may not have to report the income if the rental period is short and you also use the property as your home. In most cases, you can deduct the costs of renting your property. However, your deduction may be limited if you also use the property as your home. Here is some basic tax information that you should know if you rent out a vacation home:



  • Vacation Home.  A vacation home can be a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property.
  • Schedule E.  You usually report rental income and rental expenses on Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss. Your rental income may also be subject to Net Investment Income Tax.
  • Used as a Home.  If the property is “used as a home,” your rental expense deduction is limited. This means your deduction for rental expenses can’t be more than the rent you received. For more about these rules, see Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes).
  • Divide Expenses.  If you personally use your property and also rent it to others, special rules apply. You must divide your expenses between the rental use and the personal use. To figure how to divide your costs, you must compare the number of days for each type of use with the total days of use.
  • Personal Use.  Personal use may include use by your family. It may also include use by any other

Friday, August 15, 2014

Can You Write Off Your Job Hunting Expenses?

Many people change their job in the summer. If you look for a new job in the same line of work, you may be able to deduct some of your job hunting costs.

Here are some key tax facts you should know about if you search for a new job:

  • Same Occupation.  Your expenses must be for a job search in your current line of work. You can’t deduct expenses for a job search in a new occupation.
  • Résumé Costs.  You can deduct the cost of preparing and mailing your résumé.
  • Travel Expenses.  If you travel to look for a new job, you may be able to deduct the cost of the trip. To deduct the cost of the travel to and from the area, the trip must be mainly to look for a new job. You may still be able to deduct some costs if looking for a job is not the main purpose of the trip.
  • Placement Agency. You can deduct some job placement agency fees you pay to look for a job.
  • First Job.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if you’re looking for a job for the first time.
  • Work-Search Break.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if there was a long break between the end of your last job and the time you began looking for a new one.
  • Reimbursed Costs.  Reimbursed expenses are not deductible.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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.

Dependents

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Should You Be Paying Estimated Tax or Having More Withheld Instead?

Some individuals must pay estimated taxes or face a penalty in the form of interest on the amount underpaid. Self-employed persons, retirees, and nonworking individuals most often must pay estimated taxes to avoid the penalty. But an employee may need to pay them if the amount of tax withheld from wages is insufficient to cover the tax owed on other income. The potential tax owed on investment income also may increase the need for paying estimated tax, even among wage earners.

The trick with estimated taxes is to pay a sufficient amount of estimated tax to avoid a penalty but not to overpay. The IRS will refund the overpayment when you file your return, but it will not pay interest on it. In other words, by overpaying tax to the IRS, you are in essence choosing to give the government an interest-free loan rather than invest your money somewhere else and make a profit.

When do I make estimated tax payments?

Individual estimated tax payments are generally made in four installments accompanying a completed Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals. For the typical individual who uses a calendar tax year, payments generally are due on April 15, June 15, and September 15 of the tax year, and January 15 of the following

Friday, August 8, 2014

Avoid Summertime Tax Scams

Ah, summertime! Warm days, rest and recreation and…tax scams. Thieves don’t stop victimizing unsuspecting taxpayers with their scams after April 15. Identity theft, phone and phishing scams happen year-round. Those three top the IRS’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of tax scams this year. Here’s some important information you should know about these common tax scams:

1. Identity Theft.  Identity thieves steal personal and financial information to commit fraud or other crimes. This can include your Social Security number or bank information. An identity thief may file a phony tax return to claim a fraudulent refund.

 The IRS has a special identity protection page on IRS.gov. It has many resources you can use to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. The page can also tell you what steps to take if you are a victim of identity theft and need help. This includes how and when you should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit.

2. Phone Scams.  In these scams, thieves pose as the IRS and call would-be victims with one goal in mind:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Home-Based Business: Basics to Consider

More than 52 percent of businesses today are home-based. Every day, people are striking out and achieving economic and creative independence by turning their skills into dollars. Garages, basements and attics are being transformed into the corporate headquarters of the newest entrepreneurs--home-based businesspeople.

And, with technological advances in smartphones, tablets, and iPads as well as a rising demand for "service-oriented" businesses, the opportunities seem to be endless.

Is a Home-Based Business Right for You?

Choosing a home business is like choosing a spouse or partner: Think carefully before starting the business. Instead of plunging right in, take time to learn as much about the market for any product or service as you can. Before you invest any time, effort, or money take a few moments to answer the following questions:

  • Can you describe in detail the business you plan on establishing?
  • What will be your product or service?
  • Is there a demand for your product or service?
  • Can you identify the target market for your product or service?
  • Do you have the talent and expertise needed to compete successfully?


Monday, August 4, 2014

IRS Tip Sheet on Gambling Income and Losses

Whether you like to play the ponies, roll the dice or pull the slots, your gambling winnings are taxable. You must report all your gambling income on your tax return. If you’re a casual gambler, odds are good that these basic tax tips can help you at tax time next year:

1. Gambling income.  Gambling income includes winnings from lotteries, horse racing and casinos. It also includes cash prizes and the fair market value of prizes like cars and trips.

2. Payer tax form.  If you win, you may get a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings, from the payer. The IRS also gets a copy of the W-2G. The payer issues the form depending on the type of game you played, the amount of your winnings and other factors. You’ll also get the form if the payer withholds taxes from what you won.

3. How to report winnings.  You must report all your gambling winnings as income. This is true even if you don’t receive a Form W-2G. You normally report your winnings for the year on your tax return as ‘other income.’

4. How to deduct losses.  You can deduct your gambling losses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. The amount you can deduct is limited to the amount of the gambling income you report on your return.

5. Keep gambling receipts.  You should keep track of your wins and losses. This includes keeping items such as a gambling log or diary, receipts, statements or tickets.

If you need additional help calculating gambling winnings and losses for your return, please let us know.






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Friday, August 1, 2014

Paying off Debt the Smart Way

Between mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and student loans, most people are in debt. While being debt-free is a worthwhile goal, most people need to focus on managing their debt first since it's likely to be there for most of their life.

Handled wisely, that debt won't be an albatross around your neck. You don't need to shell out your hard-earned money because of exorbitant interest rates or always feel like you're on the verge of bankruptcy. You can pay off debt the smart way, while at the same time saving money to pay it off even faster.

Assess the Situation

First, assess the depth of your debt. Write it down using pencil and paper or use a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel. You can also use a bookkeeping program such as Quicken. Include every instance you can think of where a company has given you something in advance of payment, including your mortgage, car payment(s), credit cards, tax liens, student loans, and payments on electronics or other household items through a store.

Record the day the debt began and when it will end (if possible), the interest rate you're paying, and what your payments typically are. Next, add it all up--as painful as that might be. Try not to be discouraged! Remember, you're going to break this down into manageable chunks while finding extra money to help pay it down.

Identify High-Cost Debt

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tips on Travel While Giving to Charity

Do you plan to donate your services to charity this summer? Will you travel as part of the service? If so,
some travel expenses may help lower your taxes when you file your tax return next year. Here are five tax tips you should know if you travel while giving your services to charity.

1. You can’t deduct the value of your services that you give to charity. But you may be able to deduct some out-of-pocket costs you pay to give your services. This can include the cost of travel. All out-of pocket costs must be:

  • unreimbursed,
  • directly connected with the services,
  • expenses you had only because of the services you gave, and
  • not personal, living or family expenses.

2. Your volunteer work must be for a qualified charity. Most groups other than churches and governments must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Ask the group about its IRS status before you donate. You can also use the Select Check tool on IRS.gov to check the group’s status.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Top Ten Tax Facts if You Sell Your Home

Do you know that if you sell your home and make a profit, the gain may not be taxable? That’s just one key tax rule that you should know. Here are ten facts to keep in mind if you sell your home this year.

1. If you have a capital gain on the sale of your home, you may be able to exclude your gain from tax. This rule may apply if you owned and used it as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.

2. There are exceptions to the ownership and use rules. Some exceptions apply to persons with a disability. Some apply to certain members of the military and certain government and Peace Corps workers.

3. The most gain you can exclude is $250,000. This limit is $500,000 for joint returns. The Net Investment Income Tax will not apply to the excluded gain.

4. If the gain is not taxable, you may not need to report the sale to the IRS on your tax return.

5. You must report the sale on your tax return if you can’t exclude all or part of the gain. And you must report the sale if you choose not to claim the exclusion. That’s also true if you get Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions. If you report the sale you should review the Questions and Answers on the Net Investment Income Tax on IRS.gov.

6. Generally, you can exclude the gain from the sale of your main home only once every two years.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Five Basic Tax Tips for New Businesses

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


  1. Business Structure.  As you start out, you’ll need to choose the structure of your business. Some common types include sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation. You may also choose to be an S corporation or Limited Liability Company. You’ll report your business activity using the IRS forms which are right for your business type.
  2. Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. The type of taxes your business pays usually depends on which type of business you choose to set up. You may need to pay your taxes by making estimated tax payments.
  3. Employer Identification Number.  You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “do you need an EIN” on IRS.gov to find out if you need this number. If you do need one, you can apply for it online.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Weddings Mean Tax Changes

Taxes may not be high on your summer wedding plan checklist. But you should be aware of the tax issues that come along with marriage. Here are some basic tips that can help keep those issues to a minimum:

Name change. The names and Social Security numbers on your tax return must match your Social Security Administration records. If you change your name, report it to the SSA. To do that, file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or from your local SSA office.

Change tax withholding.  A change in your marital status means you must give your employer a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. If you and your spouse both work, your combined incomes may move you into a higher tax bracket. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov to help you complete a new Form W-4. See Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for more information.

Changes in circumstances.  If you receive advance payment of the premium tax credit in 2014, it is

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July from NFS

We remain the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.

As we celebrate Independence Day, take a moment to remember those who
fought for our freedoms and gave their all for you and me.

We truly appreciate your business.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

What to do if You Get a Notice from the IRS

Each year the IRS mails millions of notices. Here’s what you should do if you receive a notice from the IRS:


  1. Don’t ignore it. You can respond to most IRS notices quickly and easily. And it’s important that you reply promptly. 
  2. IRS notices usually deal with a specific issue about your tax return or tax account. For example, it may say the IRS has corrected an error on your tax return. Or it may ask you for more information.
  3. Read it carefully and follow the instructions about what you need to do.
  4. If it says that the IRS corrected your tax return, review the information in the notice and compare it to your tax return. If you agree, you don’t need to reply unless a payment is due. If you don’t agree, it’s important that you respond to the IRS. Write a letter that explains why you don’t agree. Make sure to include information and any documents you want the IRS to consider. Include the bottom tear-off

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Protecting Your Financial Records From Disaster

Among other worthy causes, July is Bioterrorism/Disaster Education and Awareness Month. With all of the unexpected happenings in the world, it is important that we are prepared for an emergency disaster. Take this time to educate yourself and your whole family on what to do in any type of disaster. Get a plan ready and have needed supplies handy if you ever need them.

Identification. If you suddenly find yourself standing in a pile of rubble that was once your home and your worldly possessions, establishing your identity will be of paramount importance. Access to personal identification documents such as your Social Security card, driver's license, marriage license, birth certificate, passport and any citizenship papers will help you quickly establish your identity and speed up the co-ordination of your efforts with insurance companies, construction contractors, bankers and other entities involved in rebuilding and recovery.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Many Retirees Face April 1 Deadline To Take Required Retirement Plan Distributions

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2013 that in most cases they must start receiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

The April 1 deadline applies to owners of traditional IRAs but not Roth IRAs. Normally, it also applies to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans.

The April 1 deadline only applies to the required distribution for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2013 and receives the first required payment on April 1, 2014 must still receive the second RMD by Dec. 31, 2014.

Affected taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2013 must figure the RMD for the first year using their life expectancy on Dec. 31, 2013 and their account balance on Dec. 31, 2012. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. Worksheets and life expectancy tables for making this computation can be found in the Appendices to Publication 590.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Find NFS on Thumbtack!

Ever use Thumbtack to find services in your area? Well, now you can find us!

Check it out here