How to Get the Most Money Back on Your Tax Return
Written By: David Hessel, Fiduciary Financial Advisor in Brookfield Wisconsin
Between gathering the necessary paperwork and working through complicated scenarios, tax season can be a stressful time. You’ve worked hard throughout the year, and you want to be sure you’re taking the right measures to get the maximum amount back on your return. Achieving this, however, takes diligence and research.
5 Considerations to Make During Tax Season
By taking a look at your whole financial picture, you’ll have a better idea of the actions you can take to minimize your tax obligation and maximize your return. While this can take some time, it’s worth thinking through all of your expenses in order to increase your potential to receive a sizeable tax return. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of five key considerations to make when aiming to maximize your return.
Consideration #1: Claim Your Retirement Tax Deduction
You can make a contribution to your IRA (up to $6,000 if under 50 and $7,000 if 50 and older) up until the filing deadline to receive a tax deduction.1 If you are covered by a plan at work, you’ll be eligible for either a partial or full deduction depending on whether you’re filing separately, jointly or if you’re single or the head of the household. If not covered by work, you can claim a full deduction.2
Consideration #2: Claim All Other Possible Deductions
Many expenses can qualify as a deduction, meaning they can be claimed to help minimize the amount of taxable income. Common qualified expenses include charitable contributions and state and local income, sales and property taxes. However, there are a number of other deductions that all taxpayers should remember. This includes anything related to work education, including tuition, books, supplies, transportation and travel costs.3 If you needed to complete work to maintain a professional certification, for example, anything related to doing so may qualify. Other deductions relating to work include unordinary travel expenses or anything you spent on job-hunting to land the job you are currently in.
Consideration #3: Make Sure to Claim All Dependents
A dependent is not limited to children, as it could be a relative who lives in your home as a member of your household. For example, a relative who is not physically or mentally able to care for themselves. If the individual has an income of less than $4,200 and is not a dependent on another individual’s return, they may qualify as your dependent.4 Additionally, the person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. alien or U.S. national.
As of the Tax Cuts and Job Act changes in 2017, personal exemption deductions were suspended from 2018 until 2025. However, until then, you can still receive tax credits for children and dependents.5 You may receive up to $500 in tax credits for a qualifying dependent who is not a child of yours. However, this credit may be eliminated or reduced if your adjusted gross income exceeds $200,000 when filing alone or $400,000 when filing jointly.5
Consideration #4: Consider Itemizing Deduction if You’re Able
If the sum of your allowable deductions is higher than the standard amount, it’s recommended to itemize your deductions.6 In some cases, you’ll be able to get a bigger refund than taking the standard deduction. If you’re at the cusp of the standard amount, double-checking your receipts and expenses over the year may be an important step in determining whether or not to itemize your deductions. You can itemize deductions on expenses such as medical and dental care, mortgage interest, charitable giving and theft losses.6 However, in certain cases, you’ll be required to opt for one or the other. If you file a joint return with your spouse and you wish to itemize, for example, you and your spouse both must then itemize your deductions.
Consideration #5: Claim Refundable Tax Credits
Unlike a deduction that minimizes what you owe or a nonrefundable tax credit that only refunds up to what you owe, a refundable tax credit is money returned to you – such that even if you owe $0, you’ll be sent the remaining balance from the IRS. Refundable tax credits come in many forms. For example, credits may be given to those with expenses in a foreign country in order to avoid double taxation.7 You can also receive a credit when contributing to retirement savings, paying adoption fees or paying higher education expenses.
If you’re dealing with a complex tax scenario, you can always lean on the assistance of a CPA. Reach out if you’re looking for trusted CPA recommendations. Filing for your taxes can feel like a daunting task, but taking the extra time and effort to make sure you’re taking full advantage of your tax return can pay off.
Looking for more guidance on how to be financially stress-free? Schedule a 30-Minute Phone Call with David Hessel, Fiduciary Financial Advisor in Brookfield Wisconsin, here or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find the original article here.
GVCM is an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm, headquartered at N14W23833 Stone Ridge Drive, Suite 350, Waukesha, WI 53188. PH: 262.650.1030. David Hessel is an Investment Adviser Representative (“Adviser”) with GVCM. Additional information can be found at: https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/IAPD/Global View Capital Insurance, LTD. (GVCI) insurance services offered through ASH Brokerage and PKS Financial. David Hessel is an Insurance Agent of GVCI. Global View Capital Advisors, LTD is an affiliate of Global View Capital Management, LTD (GVCM). This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.
Face The Fear Podcast – Chad Tallman, Financial Advisor
In this episode, we chat with Chad Tallman, Financial Advisor*, about everything from investing, to budgeting, to retirement planning – all from a Millennial point-of-view. Chad debunks some common myths about financial advisors and provides tips for finding the right advisor who will best meet your needs.
Here are a few of the questions uncover in this episode:
- How does someone start investing?
- What does “risk tolerance” mean?
- Why is it important for Millennials to have a financial advisor and to develop a financial plan?
- What does a holistic financial plan look like for a Millennial?
- What questions should someone ask a financial advisor to make sure they are the right fit for them?
- What is one thing you wish you know about finances when you were in your early 20s?
Chad’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chadtallman/
Contact Us: email@example.com
Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO
*(Securities offered through Sigma Financial Corporation, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Sigma Planning Corporation, A Registered Investment Advisor. CLN Financial is independent of Sigma Financial Corporation and Sigma Planning)
The Bills and The Fees: How to Talk to Your Parents About Money (Without Making It Awkward)
If the thought of talking to your parents about money makes you cringe, you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of Americans would rather talk about “the birds and the bees” than “the bills and the fees” of finances with their own family. When given the choice, we would prefer to talk about our own DEATH than asking our parents about their will or estate. (Now, that is just ridiculous). There’s no question that money is a taboo topic that makes you want to run 100 mph in the other direction anytime you hear the words “budget” or “debt.”
But, why is it so uncomfortable to talk about cash money with our family? And does it even really matter? After all, you’ve made it this far without diving into the depths of financial awkwardness with your parents. What’s the worst that could happen?
Well, here’s a few stats for ya:
- 52% of people turning 65 will need some form of Long-Term Care
- 64% of people with Long-Term Care needs rely exclusively on friends and family for care
- 25% of all caregivers are Millennials
- Average annual cost of caregiving ranges from $18,000 (Adult Day Care) to $91,00 (Private Room in Nursing Home)
- 55% of Americans have no will or plan to transfer assets at death
- Only 35% of Baby Boomers are confident that they are financially prepared for retirement
To summarize these lovely statistics: the odds that your parents may eventually require some form of Long-Term Care (assisted living, nursing home, etc.) during their lifetime is 1 in 2 (a coin flip). The chances that you will need to help pay for some of these costs are also quite high, especially if your parents don’t have any kind of long-term care insurance coverage or other savings in place. AND, if your parents are in the minority of those who have already established a will, congratulations! But, even if they do have a will, are you sure it’s up-to-date? You’d hate for your mother’s ex-husband’s cousin’s half-brother to end up inheriting money that was meant for you, right? Yikes! Talk about awkward.
With that said, yes. Having a conversation about finances with your parents is obviously very important. So, what are you waiting for?? Go ahead and throw those taboos to the wind and dive right in! OK, easier said than done, right? Let’s look at three simple conversation starters that will make the money talk a little less awko-taco.
- You’ve taken good care of me, so I want to take good care of you.
When I was visiting my parents over the holidays, I asked them if we could set aside some time to talk about money. Specifically, I wanted my parents to know that, if anything should ever happen to them, I would be adequately prepared take care of them and their finances. Just as my parents have spent years caring for me and preparing me for my future, I want to be able to return the love by taking care of them when the need arises. We discussed what kinds of insurance policies, investments, and savings they have in place, where they keep financial records, and who they use as a trusted financial advisor. I didn’t ask to see any financial statements or specific policy information (because that’s usually where the awko-meter starts to rise) — only where this information is kept, so I know where to look if I need to access it at some point in the future. By emphasizing that my purpose behind the conversation was love and care for my parent’s wellbeing, we were able to talk open and honestly — without any hurt feelings or awkward outcomes.
2. I’m interested in visiting a financial advisor, but I’m not sure where to start. Would you mind introducing me to yours?
This is a win-win conversation starter. Not only does it provide you an opportunity to visit a financial advisor for the first time (without spending lots of money), but it also provides an ideal environment to discuss difficult financial topics with your parents. Their advisor can guide the conversation and act as a third-party mediator if needed. While meeting with the advisor, you may want to discuss your parent’s current retirement plan, including protection against long-term care events, and to review any beneficiaries on your parent’s insurance policies to ensure they are up-to-date. (You’d be shocked how often an ex-wife, ex-husband, or estranged family member ends up receiving a death benefit, simply because policy information was not current). AND, while you’re in the office, you might as well glean some insight from the advisor on your own financial plan. Most likely, the advisor will be more than willing to assist you, as they see you as a potential future client. (If the advisor doesn’t see your value, you may want to look for another advisor).
Even if your parents don’t already have a trusted financial advisor, this is the perfect time to find a reputable professional together. It will be an opportunity to bond as a family, while also tackling your finances in an efficient and holistic manner.
3. Do you have a legacy plan? AKA: If you die tomorrow, what kind of legacy to do you want to leave and how do you want it accomplished?
Most people don’t like to think about dying until a death actually occurs. Can’t blame you. Death isn’t the first topic that comes to my mind when I think of “fun conversation starters.” BUT, the problem we create when we avoid talking about death is that we miss out on the opportunity to plan for a legacy — until it’s already too late. While your parents may want to leave their house behind to the family, donate their art collection to a local museum, and divide the rest of their assets equally among you and your siblings– if they don’t have these wishes expressly written in a will, they’re not likely to happen. When someone dies without a will (called intestate in legalese), your state will then determine how your assets should be dispersed. This could be okay, except that your state has no idea that you don’t even really like your spouse, you’re estranged from your son, and your daughter is a compulsive shopper who blows every penny she has on lottery tickets. But, the state doesn’t really care about your family issues. It will still divide up your assets among each of these individuals anyway. (Sorry ‘bout your luck).
Contrary to popular belief, establishing a will (and keeping it current) is not as much of a headache as many people think. For a simple estate (think: relatively small and not paying estate taxes), it may only cost around $100-$150 for an attorney to draft a will. (If you’re looking for a lawyer, start here). Or, you can also write your own will by using a reputable online software program or following a template. HOWEVER, if you complete your will on your own, you are doing so at your own risk, as each state has different regulations surrounding what is required to validate a will and, if done incorrectly, it may not hold up in court.
I’ve only scratched the surface on the importance of writing a will (both you and your parents). And I haven’t even started to explain all of the incredible information that can be contained in a will, such as designating power of attorney or establishing a living trust. But, I realize I’ve already bored you to tears, so I’ll save these enthralling topics for a different time. (Psst: stay tuned for an upcoming Face The Fear Podcast episode on Estate Planning 101, coming soon!)
In summary, you know you should probably strike up a conversation with your parents about money. It’s on your to-do list, right below “Clip grandma’s toenails” and “Watch paint dry.” At least now you’ve got a few conversation starters in your back pocket to break the ice. I promise, it won’t be as bad as you think. (Or, maybe it will be. In that case, I don’t know you). Either way, challenge yourself to start a conversation with your family about finances this week. Even simply cracking the door open today could provide fruitful opportunities for future discussions and prevent a flood of heartache, confusion, and financial strain later in life. Friend, it’s time to #FaceTheFear!
Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien
Contact Us: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Year, New You: 5 (MORE) Ways You Can Take Control of Your Finances in 2019
Earlier this week, we talked about 5 simple ways to get your financial sh*t together in 2019. If you’re looking for that article, here it is! If you have been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting eagerly for the 5 MORE ideas to tackle your finances in the new year…well, my friend, you need to get a life. (Just kidding! You’re my favorite). Wait no longer. Here are 5 MORE ideas to show your finances who’s boss in 2019:
- Start that Side Hustle
Everybody’s got a knack for something. Whether it’s photography, writing, event planning, car-fixing, baking, nannying, or playing music, your “knack” can be turned into a side-hustle money maker. The New Year is an excellent time to begin monetizing your skill set.
Think you don’t have any valuable skills that can translate into a profitable business? Think again. Can you drive a car? (Think: Uber and Lyft). Can you put together a piece of IKEA furniture faster than your mom can say, “Honey, make sure you read the instructions”? (Think: TaskRabbit) Can you speak English? (I hope so if you’re reading this article. Think: Teaching English online through VIPKID). Can you take a BuzzFeed survey to find out what your spirit animal is? (Think: SwagBucks). Can you walk someone else’s dog? (Woof! Think: Rover).
I prove my point. It’s easier than you may think to pick up a few extra dollars here and there. You just need to dedicate a little time and energy to get it started. Ultimately, those extra bucks could jumpstart your emergency fund or pay down a credit card faster. Score!
2. Find a Financial Mentor
If you’re interested in seeing a financial advisor, but aren’t sure where to start looking or don’t feel like it’s the right time yet, finding a financial mentor may be the perfect first step.
Like most mentors, a financial mentor is someone who has walked the path before you, achieved success with managing their own finances, and can help illuminate your way. This person could be a parent, coworker, friend, teacher, pastor — really anyone who you admire for their practical, disciplined, and knowledgeable approach to money. The purpose of this mentorship is simply to establish a relationship with someone who can provide constructive advice, hold you accountable to your financial goals, and even recommend a financial advisor who’s a good fit for you. Ideally, your financial mentor will be someone who you know, trust, and feel comfortable discussing finances with — and who isn’t afraid to call you out on your BS and give you some tough love when needed.
BUT, remember: a financial mentor is not a replacement for a financial advisor. While it may be tempting to imitate every financial decision your mentor has ever made in hopes of achieving the same success, your mentor’s approach may not be suitable for your unique circumstances. Take all advice given as a mere suggestion and make sure to run it past a financial professional first. Your mentor cannot be held liable for a poor investment suggestion or financial strategy that went sideways. (Sorry ’bout your luck).
3. Face the Fear of Money Talk
Asking a coworker how much money they make? GASP! I would never. Pestering my parents to purchase life insurance, long-term care, or write a will? No way. Too uncomfortable. Touching the topic of student loan debt on a first date? WOAH. Now that is just too far!
As a society, we have become afraid of talking about money, and all of this secrecy is ultimately hurting our finances. Why?
Consider this. You just received a job offer in a brand new city. YASSSS! After your initial excitement settles, you realize that #1, you have no idea what a reasonable job offer may be for this position and #2, you have no idea what a reasonable apartment costs in this new city. Thankfully, you have tools like Glass Door and Apartments.com to assist with these decisions. However, can you imagine how much more straightforward it would be to simply ask someone in that position what they are being paid or ask someone in the city how much they are paying for their apartment? For whatever reason, money has become a taboo topic that most Americans feel uncomfortable discussing. It’s time to change that — for everyone’s benefit.
Here’s a New Year’s challenge to spark up these conversations at least once in 2019. (But remember, these are still sensitive conversation topics for some, so please use tact. And if you’re going to ask the question, be willing to answer it yourself):
- Ask a coworker how much they’re making. (Just in case you asked yourself, “But, is that even legal??” Yes, it is.)
- Ask your boss if there are opportunities for promotion and set up a plan to get you there.
- Ask a friend how much they are paying for their apartment.
- Ask your parents if they have life insurance, long-term care, and have written a will. (P.S. These are hugely important topics that no one ever talks about until it’s too late. Don’t be that person).
- Ask your significant other how much personal debt they have (credit cards, student loans, car loan, etc).
- Ask your kids if they have any questions about money, (such as how much you make, how much it costs to buy a car or a house, how much a college education costs, etc). Talking openly and honestly with your kids about money could be the single most influential way to improve the financial habits of the next generation.
- For the ULTIMATE challenge-seekers: Ask a stranger if they feel financially stable. Their response could be eye-opening, and it may spark a life-changing conversation unlike any you’ve experienced before. (Or they may just say, “Nope!” and walk away. Who knows).
4. Make Your Money Do The Work For You
Investing. You’ve heard about it. You know you should probably do it. And you’ve watched The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, so you’re basically an expert.
OK, pump the breaks. You may not be an expert, but you definitely don’t need to be one to start putting your money to work for you.
If you have a retirement account such as a 401(k), 403(b), or IRA, you’re probably participating in the stock market already through the mutual funds inside these accounts. In other words, you’re halfway to being the next Warren Buffett. (Just kidding. But dream big, kids).
So, how do you start investing when you’ve only got a few dollars to spare and your current investment knowledge is limited to binge-watching Shark Tank?
The most old-school, yet time-tested method is to begin working with a financial advisor who is a Registered Representative with FINRA. (How do you know if an individual is registered with FINRA? Check here). This professional can evaluate your current financial situation, assess your risk tolerance, and pair you with suitable investments that both align with your goals and your personal values. Fortunately, we will be speaking with one of these fantastic professionals on our February Face the Fear Podcast episode! Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it.
An alternative is investing through robo-advisors and investment apps. While you’re missing out on the face-to-face interaction and personal relationship built with a financial advisor, these online tools can be a beneficial and inexpensive option for beginners who don’t have billions of dollars to invest (yet).
As per usual, here’s a quick disclaimer. Investing is one method of wealth accumulation that should be accessible to everyone, regardless of net worth or investment experience. However, investing does involve risks along with it’s rewards. So, make sure you are fully aware of these risks and have received all required informational materials (such as a prospectus) PRIOR to chucking all of your pretty pennies into an investment. Also, here is a Beginner’s Guide to Investing published by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission — an independent federal agency established to protect investors). You’re welcome.
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Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)
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