Tax Identity Theft, Student Loan Debt, and Estate Planning

We have collected some helpful tips for you that might help you avoid becoming a victim of tax identity theft, to help you make decisions regarding student loan debt, and about complicated estate planning issues.

Stop Tax Identity Theft in Its Tracks

Imagine after sending in your annual tax return, you receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service saying that another return has already been filed using your name and Social Security number—and claiming a refund.

Sound impossible? It can happen if you become one of a growing number of victims of tax return identity theft.

According to one estimate, tax-related identity theft cases have soared more than 650% since 2008. At the least, this crime can lead to a delay in your refund, but the consequences may be much more serious. In addition, you may face a larger problem with identity theft if the scammer is also running up credit card debt or taking out loans in your name.

To avoid becoming a victim, we recommend steps such as safeguarding your Social Security number and other financial information, keeping an eye on changes to your credit ratings and taking precautions with electronic transfers of confidential information. Our website has links to some additional recommendations from the IRS about identity theft and security awareness for taxpayers. Be sure to contact us if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or would like advice on the best ways to secure your financial information.

Student Loan Debt: We Can Provide the Decision-Making Details You Need

Did you know that the average student that graduated in 2015 had a student loan balance of $25,000? Student debt is taking a heavy toll on borrowers, according to an American Institute of CPAs survey, which found that 75% of respondents or their children had made personal or financial sacrifices because of monthly student loan payments. Sacrifices included putting off saving for retirement (41%), delaying car purchases (40%), postponing a home purchase (29%) and even waiting on marriage (15%).

Among the most troubling findings were that only 39% fully understood the burden that student loan debt would place on their future and 60% had at least some regrets about their decisions on financing their education. That’s why it’s always critical to understand the full potential impact of all your financial choices.

The good news is that your CPA can help. Contact us with all your financial questions and we’ll provide the knowledge and insights you need to make the best decisions for you.In addition, the Journal of Accountancy has a great article about tips for paying off your student loan debts.

What Do You Need to Know about Estate Planning?

The good news: Since last year, those who are the beneficiaries of substantial estates will have to pay a little less in taxes if they inherit. That’s because the Internal Revenue Service raised the federal estate tax exemption in 2015, allowing very large estates to shelter $90,000 more from taxes than they did the year before.

But there is also bad news. This is just one of the laws governing the taxation of estate and compliance can be extremely complicated. There are higher tax rates for the income that estates and trusts earn, for example, but simplified regulations when a surviving spouse asks for more time to take advantage of beneficial tax rules. We strongly advise all of our clients—no matter what your income level—to consider estate planning concerns. And we can help you cut through the related tax law complexity. Contact our office today with all of your questions on estate planning or any other financial issue.

What’s So Great about CPAs?

You may not have asked yourself that question in so many words, but you may have wondered what sets CPAs apart from other financial professionals. The answer in short: A lot.

We typically begin our careers with years of college and graduate education. To become licensed, we must take the demanding Uniform CPA Examination, which tests our knowledge on a wide range of business topics over a total period of 14 hours. In addition, we have to meet an experience requirement and then be licensed by a State Board of Accountancy to practice.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once we become CPAs, we also must meet continuing education requirements to update our knowledge of new business developments as well as commit to a strict code of ethical standards. Armed with this rigorous training, we’re on the job year round, ready to help individuals and businesses address their own unique challenges.

If you want more information about our firm and how we can help you resolve all your financial issues, don’t hesitate to contact us.