Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 23 cents for 2015
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
The business mileage rate decreased 3.5 cents per mile and the medical, and moving expense rates decrease 4 cents per mile from the 2015 rates. The charitable rate is based on statute.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How Do I Compute Payroll Taxes as an Employer

A business that has employees must withhold income taxes on payments to each employee. Each employee must first fill out Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and provide it to the employer. On the form the employee can claim exemptions, such as the personal exemption or an exemption for a spouse or child, and determine the number of withholding allowances for the employee. Based on that information, the employer calculates the employee’s income tax withholding for the year.

The employer next must select a withholding method. The amount of taxes withheld can be determined using the percentage method; the wage bracket method; the alternative formula table method; or any other method that produces substantially the same amount as the wage bracket method. These methods are based upon tables produced by the IRS and available in IRS publication Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide.

Percentage Method

The employer must select one of eight tables, based on the payroll period used by the employer, such as weekly, monthly, annually, etc. If the employer does not use a payroll period, it should use the daily or miscellaneous table. Each table is divided into two parts: one for single people, and one for married people.

After determining the appropriate table, the employer must determine the amount of wages to use as the base calculation. This amount is determined by subtracting the number of withholding allowances from the employee’s total gross wages for the payroll period. The result is net wages subject to withholding. The result is used in the withholding tables to determine the withholding amount.

Wage Bracket Method

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Year-End IRA Reminders

Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, are important vehicles for you to save for retirement. If you have an IRA or plan to start one soon, there are a few key year-end rules that you should know. Here are the top year-end IRA reminders:
  • Know the contribution and deduction limits.  You can contribute up to a maximum of $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or older) to a traditional or Roth IRA. If you file a joint return, you and your spouse can each contribute to an IRA even if only one of you has taxable compensation. You have until April 18, 2016, to make an IRA contribution for 2015. In some cases, you may need to reduce your deduction for your traditional IRA contributions. This rule applies if you or your spouse has a retirement plan at work and your income is above a certain level.
  • Avoid excess contributions. If you contribute more than the IRA limits for 2015, you are subject to a six percent tax on the excess amount. The tax applies each year that the excess amounts remain in your account. You can avoid the tax if you withdraw the excess amounts from your account by the due date of your 2015 tax return (including extensions).
  • Take required distributions.  If you’re at least age 70½, you must take a required minimum distribution, or RMD, from your traditional IRA. You are not required to take a RMD from your Roth IRA. You normally must take your RMD by Dec. 31, 2015. That deadline is April 1, 2016, if you turned 70½ in 2015. If you have more than one traditional IRA, you figure the RMD separately for each IRA. However, you can withdraw the total amount from one or more of them. If you don’t take your RMD on time you face a 50 percent excise tax on the RMD amount you failed to take out.
  • IRA distributions may affect your premium tax credit. If you take a distribution from your IRA at the end of the year and expect to claim the PTC, you should exercise caution regarding the amount of the distribution.  Taxable distributions increase your household income, which can make you ineligible for the PTC.  You will become ineligible if the increase causes your household income for the year to be above 400 percent of the Federal poverty line for your family size. In this circumstance, you must repay the entire amount of any advance payments

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tax Extenders for the 2015 Tax Year

On December 18, 2015, the President signed into law the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act). The new law extends several tax provisions retroactive to the beginning of 2015, and also makes some provisions permanent.

The list that follows identifies tax extender items that have been reinstated retroactive to January 1, 2015, along with a brief description of the provision.

Additional Child Tax Credit. The refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit had an income threshold amount of $10,000, indexed for inflation. The extender legislation permanently sets the threshold at an unindexed $3,000, which will allow for a higher credit for taxpayers who qualify.

Enhanced American Opportunity Tax Credit (Hope Credit). The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is an enhanced version of the Hope Credit, allowing a credit of up to $2,500 for four years of post-secondary education. The new law makes the enhanced AOTC permanent.

Enhanced Earned Income Credit (EIC). As an extender item, the EIC credit amount was temporarily increased for taxpayers with three or more children, and the marriage penalty was reduced by increasing phaseout ranges. The new law makes the enhanced EIC permanent.

Educator expenses. The new law makes the adjustment to income for qualified expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers permanent. The law also indexes the current expense cap of $250 for inflation beginning in 2016.

State and local general sales taxes. The provision allowing an itemized deduction for state and local general sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes on Schedule A, Form 1040, expired and was extended several times in the past. The new law makes the provision permanent.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays from NFS


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!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2016 Tax Season Opens Jan. 19 for Nation’s Taxpayers

WASHINGTON ― Following a review of the tax extenders legislation signed into law last week, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that the nation’s tax season will begin as scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.

The IRS will begin accepting individual electronic returns that day. The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual returns in 2016, with more than four out of five being prepared using tax return preparation software and e-filed. The IRS will begin processing paper tax returns at the same time. There is no advantage to people filing tax returns on paper in early January instead of waiting for e-file to begin.

“We look forward to opening the 2016 tax season on time,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Our employees have been working hard throughout this year to make this happen. We also appreciate the help from the nation’s tax professionals and the software community, who are critical to helping taxpayers during the filing season.”

As part of the Security Summit initiative, the IRS has been working closely with the tax industry and state revenue departments to provide stronger protections against identity theft for taxpayers during the coming filing season.

The filing deadline to submit 2015 tax returns is Monday, April 18, 2016, rather than the traditional April 15 date. Washington, D.C., will celebrate Emancipation Day on that Friday, which pushes the deadline to the following Monday for most of the nation. (Due to Patriots Day, the deadline will be Tuesday, April 19, in Maine and Massachusetts.)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New MA Gambling Deduction and Withholding Requirements

MA DOR TIR 15-14 explains the new MA gambling deduction as well as gambling tax reporting and withholding requirements.

The new MA gaming deduction is restricted to MA based casino and racing losses to the extent that they can be matched to MA source casino and racing winnings. MA casino winnings are taxed as MA sourced income for residents and non-residents alike. MA defines gaming occasions and record keeping requirements the same as the IRS.

Although much attention is paid to gambling establishments, make note that TIR 15-124 also identifies beano gaming and raffles. Within ten days of an event, information returns must be filed with DOR with names and addresses when winnings exceed the threshold for that activity. A 5% MA withholding rate is required when state lottery winnings exceed $600, bingo $1,200, slots $1,200, keno $1,500, beano $500 and table games $5,000.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thank You Wrentham First Responders


This holiday season, show your appreciation for Wrentham's First Responders with a lawn sign or thank you card! Ask your kids to get involved with drawings or other art projects for Wrentham's Police, Fire and EMTs!
Cards and/or artwork can be dropped off during regular business hours at Cataldo's Hardware in downtown Wrentham, or Northeast Financial Strategies (NFS) at Wampum Corner. A card-only collection box is also available at the Sheldonville Post Office. Cards and artwork should be submitted by Friday, December 18 and will be delivered to the WPD/WFD the week of Christmas.
An order form will be available soon for lawn signs! Please stay tuned!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Medicare Open Enrollment: Five Things You Need to Do

Routines help keep us focused, organized, and even healthy. However, if your health routine doesn’t include preparing for Medicare’s Open Enrollment, now’s the time to kick-start a new healthy habit.

If you have a Medicare health or prescription drug plan, you should review and compare coverage options. The Open Enrollment runs through December 7 and is the time you can make changes to your plan. Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, you might find a better fit for your budget or your health needs. If you miss an Open Enrollment deadline, you’ll most likely have to wait a full year before you can change your plan.

Here are five things every Medicare beneficiary can do to get in the Medicare Open Enrollment routine.

1. Review your plan notice. Be sure to read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.

2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medications? Does another plan offer the same value at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.

3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for your Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums, your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs. Visit Medicare.gov or make an appointment with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor if you need help.

Monday, November 30, 2015

IRS Tax Tips for Deducting Gifts to Charity


The holiday season often prompts people to give money or property to charity. If you plan to give and want to claim a tax deduction, there are a few tips you should know before you give. For instance, you must itemize your deductions. Here are six more tips that you should keep in mind:

1. Give to qualified charities. You can only deduct gifts you give to a qualified charity. Use the IRS Select Check tool to see if the group you give to is qualified. You can deduct gifts to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies. This is true even if Select Check does not list them in its database.

2. Keep a record of all cash gifts.  Gifts of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. You must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity to deduct any gift of money on your tax return. This is true regardless of the amount of the gift. The statement must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, or bank, credit union and credit card statements. If you give by payroll deductions, you should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document from your employer. It must show the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

3. Household goods must be in good condition.  Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. These items must be in at least good-used condition to claim on your taxes. A deduction claimed of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if you include a qualified appraisal of the item with your tax return.

4. Additional records required.  You must get an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. Additional rules apply to the statement for gifts of that amount. This statement is in addition to the records required for deducting cash gifts. However, one statement with all of the required information may meet both requirements.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from NFS


From All of us here at

Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc.

WE GIVE THANKS...

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

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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.

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 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.

Alimony

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans Day From NFS




Ask About Our HERO'S DISCOUNT
$30 Off Income Tax Preparation Year-Round


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

Monday, November 2, 2015

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 we 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

Letting clients name minor children outright as primary or contingent beneficiaries of life insurance or retirement plans. When minor children inherit, a court must appoint a guardian who must be bonded and must file a laborious annual accounting with the local court.

5. Wrong choice of executors and trustees

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Safety Tips from NFS

Halloween Safety Tips to Have a safe and fun Halloween!

KNOW THE RULES

1. Instruct your older children to TAKE FRIENDS when “Trick or Treating.”

2. Make sure a TRUSTED ADULT, an older child, or you accompany your younger children when “Trick or Treating.” A trusted adult is a person parents/guardians have come to rely on and with whom they and their children feel comfortable. Discuss with your child who will accompany him or her and make sure you are both comfortable with the choice.

3. Accompany, or make sure a trusted adult accompanies, your younger children to the door of every home they approach. Become familiar with each home your child visits and the people who are providing Halloween treats to your children.

4. Teach your children to only enter homes with your prior permission and only approach homes that are well-lit both inside and outside.

5. Teach your children to NEVER approach a vehicle unless they are accompanied by you, even if it appears no one is inside the vehicle.

6. Make sure your children wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight or glow stick when traveling during the evening hours.

7. Make sure your children are able to see and breathe properly and easily when using facial masks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NFS Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary in Wrentham




Although our roots date back to 1976, NFS - Northeast Financial Strategies Inc. re-located offices to Wrentham on October 28th, 2010 - 5 Years Ago today! For the 15 years prior, our offices were located in Norwood and we couldn't have made a better decision to move to Wrentham. We are pleased to call Wampum Corner our home and THANK the entire Wrentham and KP community for supporting our business in everything we do. We THANK you for voting us "Best Place To Do Taxes in Wrentham & Foxboro" as well as voting us honorable mentions for "Best Insurance Agency in Wrentham" numerous times. If there is anything we can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact our office.




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Monday, October 26, 2015

Hold On to Your Tax Returns

You should always keep a copy of your tax return for your records. You may need copies of your filed tax returns for many reasons. For example, they can help you prepare future tax returns. You'll also need them if you have to amend a prior year tax return. You often need them when you apply for a loan to buy a home or to start a business. You may need them if you apply for student financial aid.

If you can't find your copies, the IRS can provide a transcript of the tax information you need or a copy of your tax return. Here's more information, including how to get your federal tax return information from the IRS:

  • Transcripts are free and you can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes the tax information you need.
  • A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return that you filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules that you filed. It doesn't reflect any changes you or the IRS may have made after you filed your original return.
  • A tax account transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income. It does include any changes that you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it.
  • You can order your free transcripts online, by phone, by mail or fax at this time.
  • The IRS has temporarily stopped the online functionality of the Get Transcript application process on the IRS.gov website that delivered your transcript immediately. The IRS is making modifications and further strengthening security for the online service. While you can still use the Get Transcript tool to order your transcript, the IRS will send it to you via mail to the last address we have on file for you.
  • To order your transcript online and have it delivered by mail, go to IRS.gov and use the Get Transcript tool.
  • To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts.
  • To request an individual tax return transcript by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.
  • You should receive your transcript within five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives your request. Please note that ordering your transcript online or over the phone are the quickest options.
  • Keep in mind that the method you used to file your return and whether you have a refund or balance due affects your current year transcript availability.
  • If you need a copy of your filed and processed tax return, it will cost $50 for each tax year. You should complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. Mail the request form to the IRS address listed on the form for your area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. Allow 75 days for delivery.

Mortgage Applicants. If you are applying for a mortgage, most mortgage companies only require a

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lending Money? Make it a Tax-Smart Loan

Lending money to a cash-strapped friend or family member is a noble and generous offer that just might make a difference. But before you hand over the cash, you need to plan ahead to avoid tax complications down the road.

Let's say you decide to loan $5,000 to your daughter who's been out of work for over a year and is having difficulty keeping up with the mortgage payments on her condo. While you may be tempted to charge an interest rate of zero percent, you should resist the temptation. Here's why.

When you make an interest-free loan to someone, you will be subject to "below-market interest rules." IRS rules state that you need to calculate imaginary interest payments from the borrower. These imaginary interest payments are then payable to you and you will need to pay taxes on these interest payments when you file a tax return. Further, if the imaginary interest payments exceed $14,000 for the year, there may be adverse gift and estate tax consequences.

Exception: The IRS lets you ignore the rules for small loans ($10,000 or less), as long as the aggregate loan amounts to a single borrower are less than $10,000 and the borrower doesn't use the loan proceeds to buy or carry income-producing assets.

In addition, if you don't charge any interest, or charge interest that is below market rate (more on this below), then the IRS might consider your loan a gift, especially if there is no formal documentation (i.e. written agreement with payment schedule) and you go to make a nonbusiness bad debt deduction if the borrower defaults on the loan--or the IRS decides to audit you and decides your loan is really a gift.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When A Loved One Dies...

In order to relieve loved ones of additional stress, anxiety and expense at the time of a death in the
family, consider recording as much information as possible in advance and providing copies to family members. Using our When a Loved One Dies Life Guide, you'll be able to record and share the following information:


  • Names and contact information of your professional advisors.
  • Your vital statistics.
  • Your specific funeral instructions.
  • Historical information for your obituary.
  • People and organizations to be notified about a death.
  • Locations of vital documents.
  • Important banking and insurance information.
  • Your wishes for the disposition of personal property.
  • Any special requests and/or instructions.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Is Canceled Debt Taxable?

Generally, debt that is forgiven or canceled by a lender is considered taxable income by the IRS and must be included as income on your tax return. Examples include a debt for which you are personally liable such as mortgage debt, credit card debt, and in some instances, student loan debt.

When that debt is forgiven, negotiated down (when you pay less than you owe), or canceled you will receive Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your financial institution or credit union. Form 1099-C shows the amount of canceled or forgiven debt that was reported to the IRS. If you and another person were jointly and severally liable for a canceled debt, each of you may get a Form 1099-C showing the entire amount of the canceled debt. Give the office a call if you have any questions regarding joint liability of canceled debt.

Creditors who forgive $600 or more of debt are required to issue this form. If you receive a Form 1099-C and the information is incorrect, contact the lender to make corrections.

If you receive a Form 1099-C, don't ignore it. You may not have to report that entire amount shown on Form 1099-C as income. The amount, if any, you must report depends on all the facts and circumstances. Generally, however, unless you meet one of the exceptions or exclusions discussed below, you must report any taxable canceled debt reported on Form 1099-C as ordinary income on:

  • Form 1040 or Form 1040NR, if the debt is a nonbusiness debt;
  • Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), if the debt is related to a nonfarm sole proprietorship;
  • Schedule E (Form 1040), if the debt is related to non-farm rental of real property;
  • Form 4835, if the debt is related to a farm rental activity for which you use Form 4835 to report farm rental income based on crops or livestock produced by a tenant; or
  • Schedule F (Form 1040), if the debt is farm debt and you are a farmer.

Exceptions and Exclusions

Friday, October 16, 2015

Social Security Amounts for 2016

The Social Security Administration has announced the new amounts for 2016.  Due to the CPI index factors for this past year, the gross Social Security benefits do not have an increase for 2016.  Even though benefits do not change for 2016, some of the other limits do change.  Here is the information for 2016:

The amount of earnings subject to Social Security taxes remains at $118,500.

The amount of earnings required to be subjected to Social Security taxes in order to receive a quarter of coverage increases to $1,260 (up from $1,220 for 2015).

Earnings limitations for taxpayers who have not reached full retirement age (before having to repay Social Security benefits) remains at $15,720 ($1,310/month).

Earnings limitations for taxpayers who reach full retirement age in the current year (before having to repay Social Security benefits) remains at $41,880 ($3,490/month). (“Full retirement age” is age 66 for those born in 1943-1954.)

The amount of the SSI Federal Payment Standard remains at $733/month.  For a married couple this remains at $1,100/month.  The SSI Student Exclusion Limits remains at $1,780/month with the annual limit remaining at $7,180.

The Substantial Gainful Activity earnings increase to $1,130/month for non-blind disabled recipients while the blind disabled recipient amount remains at $1,820/month.  The Trial Work Period earnings increase to $810/month.

The full Fact Sheet can be found on Social Security’s web site www.socialsecurity.gov.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fall Financial Tidbits

Summer has come to an end. Now that the hottest days, family vacations and back-to-school rush are behind us, it’s a great time to give some attention to your personal finances. Prepare for the coming months – and the holidays on the horizon – with these fall tips:

  • Pay quarterly estimated taxes. If you’re self-employed or you have extra income you haven’t reported on your W-2, now’s the time to make sure you’re paying both state and federal quarterly estimated income taxes so you don’t get stuck with a big bill from Uncle Sam in April. September 17th was the deadline to pay your third quarter estimates, but don’t let that stop you from sending something in anyway.
  • Prepare for the cooler months. Although you may still have summer on your mind, staying warm gets expensive when winter hits. Many utility companies offer “budget billing” plans that allow you to spread your heating costs over the year while avoiding a surprisingly large bill for a particularly cold month. Also, winterizing your home this fall conserves energy and saves money.
  • Start saving for the holidays. It may sound excessive to start thinking about the holidays in October, but Christmas is a less than 90 days away. Now is a great time to create a holiday spending plan. For instance, if you plan to spend $300 on gifts, you should start saving $3-4 per day to get there. Stashing away cash in advance allows you to buy gifts for everyone on your list without taking on debt. Resolve to start a “Christmas Club” savings account in the New Year to jump-start your savings habit.
  • Teach children to save. When kids return to school, they often have a renewed sense of focus and determination. Schools across the country are incorporating financial literacy into the classroom. Take this opportunity to talk to your children about money and the importance of saving. Your efforts will be rewarded as your child develops an understanding of financial principles and positive financial habits. We have a great FREE guide entitled "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees...Teaching Kids About Money". Please feel free to request one by clicking here.
  • De-clutter and donate. As summer winds down and you start spending more time inside, take a hard look at all the stuff you’ve been stockpiling. Sorting through clothes you no longer wear along with electronics and unused household items can free-up space and even make you a little cash. Sell items at a local consignment shop or donate them (by making a tax-deductible contribution).
  • Conquering the Clutter in your Financial Closet. You need only to keep credit card receipts, ATM transactions, and deposit and debit card receipts until you verify the transaction on your monthly statements and then you can shred them. Always remember that any financial transaction, receipt or account statement should be shredded. NEVER throw them in the trash.

PERMANENT items you may want to keep:

  • Educational records
  • Employment records
  • Health records
  • Retirement and Pension Plan information
  • Contents of your safe deposit box


CURRENT items, which need to be reviewed every 3-6 years, before deciding whether to continue keeping or shredding them include:

  • Cancelled checks
  • Bank statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Home purchase, repair and improvement records
  • Warranties
  • Income tax records

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Life Insurance Awareness Month Comes to an End



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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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Are You Ready to be a First Time Home Buyer?


Now, more than ever, is a great time to be a first time home buyer. Housing costs are low, interest rates are at a record low, and you don’t own a home that you have to worry about selling and most likely lose a profit. However, just because it is an ideal time to make that next step, you need to ensure that buying a home is the right choice for you and your current situation.

Buying a home can be fun, exciting, liberating, and a great investment, but it comes with great responsibility, is labor intensive, and a large financial commitment. Once a purchase is made, you are responsible for anything that goes wrong in the house. A new roof, plumbing, new appliances, cutting the lawn, and snow removal now lay in your hands, not a landlord’s.

A few steps to take to figure out if you are ready to be a first time home buyer include:

  • Check selling prices in the area you want to live. This will give you some good insight as to how much you will have to pay for the size house that you will need to accommodate you and your lifestyle. Zillow is a great site to see for how much homes in the area have recently sold.
  • See how much you can afford. A great tool to use is a mortgage calculator. This allows you to enter the price of the home, the interest rate, the loan term, as well as the property taxes. This will give you a good idea as to how much your monthly housing expenses will be and if it is something you can or cannot afford.
  • Get an idea as to how much you will pay in closing costs. This area gets confusing for most. You will see a lot of banks advertise: “No points, no closing costs.” If this is the case, you are paying a slightly higher rate, so that the loan officer gets paid more, so that he or she can use that extra money to pay your closing costs. If you don’t want to pay a chunk of money out of pocket, this may be a good option for you. Otherwise, you can choose to receive the lowest interest rate possible and pay the closing costs out of pocket. The fees that are included in closing costs are: Origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowner’s insurance or homeowner’s association fees.
  • Look at your budget. Fannie Mae recommends that buyers spend no more than 28% of their income on housing costs.
  • Pick up the phone. Make some calls to your local banks and see who is offering the lowest interest rate. Most will be in the same range, but a few points can make a big difference. Ask questions.
  • Make sure your credit is in good standing. One of the largest factors of getting a good interest rate is having good credit. The better the credit score, the lower the rate. The worse your credit score is the higher rate you will receive. In some cases if your credit is so bad, you won’t qualify for a loan at all.
  • Inquire about different loan programs. There are several programs out there now that help you to qualify for a home loan. A few include: Mass Housing, FHA, and Veteran’s loans. These are all great programs if you qualify and may more affordable than a conventional loan.

If you follow these basic guidelines then you should successfully be on your way to being a first time home buyer. Here at Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc., we have seamlessly guided thousands of home owners and business people through the buying and selling process. We work with a great local network of realtors, mortgage advisors, closing attorneys and home inspectors. Check out our Events Page to register for our next First Time Home Buyer Seminar happening tomorrow Wednesday 09/30/2015. If you have any questions regarding the purchase of your first home or would like us to guide you through, please feel free to contact us at: 800-560-4637.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Changing Jobs? Don't Forget your 401(k)

One of the most important questions you face when changing job is what to do with the money in your 401(k). Making the wrong move could cost you thousands of dollars or more in taxes and lower returns.

Let's say you put in five years at your current job. For most of those years, you've had the company take a set percentage of your pre-tax salary and put it into your 401(k) plan.

Now that you're leaving, what should you do? The first rule of thumb is to leave it alone because you have 60 days to decide whether to roll it over or leave it in the account.

Resist the temptation to cash out. The worst thing an employee can do when leaving a job is to withdraw the money from their 401(k) plans and put it in his or her bank account. Here's why:

If you decide to have your distribution paid to you, the plan administrator will withhold 20 percent of your total for federal income taxes, so if you had $100,000 in your account and you wanted to cash it out, you're already down to $80,000.

Furthermore, if you're younger than 59 1/2, you'll face a 10 percent penalty for early withdrawal come tax time. Now you're down another 10 percent from the original amount of $100,000 to $70,000.

Also, because distributions are taxed as ordinary income, at the end of the year, you'll have to pay the difference between your tax bracket and the 20 percent already taken out. For example, if you're in the 33 percent tax bracket, you'll still owe 13 percent, or $13,000. This lowers the amount of your cash distribution to $57,000.

But that's not all. You might also have to pay state and local taxes. Between taxes and penalties, you could end up with little over half of what you had saved up, short-changing your retirement savings significantly.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Financial Priorities: Are They Out of Sync?

Here are some interesting info tidbits on the perceived cost of insurance:


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Think Life Insurance


Do you want your family to have enough funds to survive without you? Contact our office today to make sure you have enough coverage.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

IRS 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 IRS 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. We can help you to choose the right entity for your situation.

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 the fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account. We can set up all of these tax payment systems for you.

Monday, September 21, 2015

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 the 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?

Before you dive head first into a home-based business, it's essential that you know why you are doing it and how you will do it. To succeed, your business must be based on something greater than a desire to be your own boss, and involves an honest assessment of your own personality, an understanding of what's involved, and a lot of hard work. You have to be willing to plan ahead and make improvements and adjustments along the way.

Friday, September 18, 2015

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Think Life Insurance


Life Insurance isn't as expensive as you think - contact us today to find out how much coverage is for you.


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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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.

In other words, you may not be able to control the future, but you can stand up to it. You don’t have to get wet when it rains. You can carry an umbrella.

True, it’s easy to take these little steps. The bigger steps, though, can require contemplating some pretty unpleasant things.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Business Tax Filing Deadline for 09/15

If you run a corporation or partnership and took an extension to file income tax returns, you have until today, September 15, to file. The due date applies to any business the fiscal year of which is also the calendar year.

The IRS said it continues to see strong growth in corporations and partnerships shifting from paper returns to e-filing. As of August 30, more than 6 million corporations and partnerships e-filed returns this year, almost an 8 percent overall increase from the prior year. The IRS had received 78,762 e-filed returns from large partnerships, an 11 percent jump over the same time in 2014.

Most large corporations and partnerships already e-file: Corporations with $10 million or more in total assets are generally required to e-file Forms 1120 and 1120S. Partnerships with more than 100 partners are also generally required to e-file their returns.

E-filing has also shown strong growth this year among businesses not required to use it, the IRS said, adding that it expects to receive millions more e-filed returns by the deadline.

Please contact our office you need to get your corporation filed today.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

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.

For income replacement. You and your significant other may have planned for a future based on two incomes, but what if one of you passes away unexpectedly? Life insurance can be used to replace the lost income so the survivor can maintain the same standard of living.

Friday, September 11, 2015

NFS Remembers 09/11/01



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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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Key Tax Tips on the Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

Income tax may be the last thing on your mind after a divorce or separation. However, these events can have a big impact on your taxes. Alimony and a name change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind if you get divorced or separated.

  • Child Support.  If you pay child support, you can’t deduct it on your tax return. If you receive child support, the amount you receive is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  If you make payments under a divorce or separate maintenance decree or written separation agreement you may be able to deduct them as alimony. This applies only if the payments qualify as alimony for federal tax purposes. If the decree or agreement does not require the payments, they do not qualify as alimony.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse's traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, notify the Social Security Administration of the change. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can delay your refund. 

Health Care Law Considerations

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Think Life Insurance


Do you have enough coverage? Contact us today for your FREE analysis and find out!


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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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:

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

For the Tax Advantages:

  • Death proceeds are received free of income tax
  • Cash value accumulations are tax deferred
  • Cash value loans or withdrawals* are free of tax, as long as the policy stays in force
  • Accelerated death benefits are received free of income tax

In Recognition of Personal Responsibility to:

  • Family
  • Banker
  • Mortgage company

For the Flexibility:

  • Benefits may be available regardless of whether the policyowner lives, quits, dies or becomes disabled
  • Life insurance is portable; benefits are not lost due to job changes


* Withdrawals and loans will reduce the policy’s death benefit and cash value available for use.

Please contact us here at Northeast Financial Strategies for an appointment if we can assist in evaluating your life insurance needs. Remember, September is LIFE INSURANCE AWARENESS MONTH!



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