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Treasury Goes Green, More Transactions Required Electronically

In an effort to reduce paper transactions, the Treasury has implemented a three-pronged approach to move toward electronic systems.   Highlights of this initiative that will have a broad affect include the following:

  • Individuals who receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income,  Veterens, Railroad Retirement and Office of Personnel Management benefits will wil required to receive these payments electronically either through direct deposit or a Treasury’s Direct Express debit card. This requirement will apply to individuals who enrol beginning March 1, 2011. Existing recipients will have to begin electronic payment beginning March 1, 2013.
  • Business who use paper Federal Tax Deposit coupons will have to make those deposits electronically beginning in 2011. There are few exceptions, most notably businesses with $2,500 or less in quarterly tax liability that pay when filing their return.

Taxes are filed – what happens now?

Now that April 15 has come and gone, many people put thoughts of taxes on the back burner. However, questions may still arise and here are some tips regarding record keeping, tracking your return, and correcting your return if you realize you made a mistake.

Waiting on a refund?  If you are expecting a return, you can keep up with its status online or via telephone. If you e-filed your return, you will be able to begin tracking it 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt. If you filed a paper return, it will take 3 to 4 weeks before information is available.   In order to get information, you will need to know your filing status, the first Social Security number shown on the return, and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund. The following options will allow you to check on your refund:

  • Visit the IRS website and click “Where’s My Refund”
  • Call 1-800-829-4477. This is an automated system available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Call 1-800-829–1954 during the hours shown on your tax form instructions.

Good recordkeeping.  Generally, tax records should be kept for 3 years but certain documents should be kept longer, such as records relating to the sale of a home, stock transactions, IRAs etc.   You should keep a copy of your tax return as part of your records.

Correcting errors after the fact.  Errors can delay your return. If you find a mistake, you will need to file an amended return using form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Change of address. If you move while awaiting your return, you should send form 8822 to the IRS in addition to completing a change of address form with the United States Post Office.

Tom Breedlove Elected to BOD for British American Business Group

Tom Breedlove, HLB Gross Collins, P.C. Principal and International Expert, was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the British American Business Group.  Tom actively participates in this organization as well as many other international groups as part of his commitment to maximizing opportunities and connections for his international client base.

Why do Most 401-k Investors Underperform?

Most 401-k investors are passive investors.  One reliable source is quoted as saying that 72% of 401-k participants never change their investment allocation once they sign up.  Then they wonder why their performance is always mediocre.

This is serious business.  This is your money, your retirement, yet many investors do not actively manage their investments.  Most plans do not provide professional management so it is up to you to manage your account.  This is not rocket science but it does require some attention.  There are two things that you should consistently do to reach your retirement goals. 1) You should maintain a consistent practice of contributing to your account each and every month, and 2) you should review your account and determine if you are invested in the best performing funds or options that are provided by your plan.

Many investors have been afraid to be in the market since the crash that occurred in the 4th quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.  Many people still remain in cash and are missing one of the best investment years of the decade.  What are you waiting for?  Since March, 2009, the markets have been on a consistent rise.  The economy is improving and the immediate prospects for the markets continue to look good.  Sure there will be periodic ups and downs to give you heartburn but the general direction is likely to continue to be up.  If you wait until the markets get back to where they were in 2007, you will have missed most of the opportunity to grow your account.

The S&P 500 ended a fabulous quarter being up 5.39% for the quarter.

 

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS.  Investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments involves risk, and may decline in value and are not insured by the FDIC or any other Federal government agency.

Reminders for Last Minute Tax Filers

If you are one of the many Americans who waited until the last minute to file your tax return, you may be in for some long lines at the post office. April 15th is reportedly the single busiest day of the year for the post office.  If you must brave the lines on April 15th, a few local post offices will remain open late. To find out about hours of operation for a post office near you visit the USPS Services locator.  Tax returns must be postmarked by April 15, 2010.

Keep in mind that you can file your return electronically through April 15, 2010.  If you extend the return, you will have up until October 15, 2010 to file the return. However, even if you extend the return you will still need to make any payments due by April 15.  Failure to pay at least 90% of federal taxes due will result in interest and penalties.

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