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Money Management International Improving Lives Through Financial Education
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Preparing for tax time

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

Have you thought about your taxes yet? If you’re like many Americans, you will procrastinate as long as you can—especially if you suspect that you might owe the IRS. But calculating your taxes before the deadline doesn’t mean you have to file early. What it does mean is that you’ll have more time to prepare for the results.

The first step is to estimate your taxes by visiting IRS.gov. If you are expecting a refund of more than $100, you might want to reduce your withholding amount so you don’t repeat the mistake. Getting a tax refund is never a good thing because what you’re doing is extending an interest-free loan to the federal government. On the other hand, if it looks like you will end up owing taxes, you can start saving. By brown bagging your lunch or reducing other daily expenses, you may be able to save as much as $100 a week.

You should also carefully research tax law changes at IRS.gov. There are many tax credits being offered this year and you want to be sure that you take advantage of any credits available to you.

Next, organize records of any itemized deductions. On average, one out of three of taxpayers itemize their deductions. Don’t forget that costs for things like medical expenses and child care may be deductible. And most charitable gifts are tax-deductible if made to a qualified organization. Just be sure any organization you support meets IRS guidelines as there may be different tax breaks when you donate certain types of assets to charity.

This is also a great time to plan for retirement savings. Fortunately, you have until April to reduce your taxable income by contributing to an Individual Retirement Plan.

And no matter what you do, it pays to file on time and, if necessary, pay on time. Don’t be tempted to pay your taxes with a credit card; the last thing you want to do is roll your tax bill into a revolving credit card balance. There are many institutions – including the government – who will loan you the money for a price. To request a payment plan, complete an Installment Agreement Request and attach it to the front of your income tax return.

To make filing your taxes quick and easy, consider using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). The EFTPS enables tax preparers, businesses and individuals to pay federal taxes electronically using a variety of payment methods. For more information about the free service, visit EFTPS.gov.

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Celebrate Financial Literacy Month this April

 

Too many Americans are insufficiently educated about their personal finances. Today, a majority of consumers are experiencing some sort of financial difficulty causing a significant impact on their everyday lives. When money gets tight, a strong financial foundation is important.

This April, choose to learn more about your finances and how to improve your financial situation by celebrating Financial Literacy Month. Money Management International, creators of FinancialLiteracyMonth.com, offers the following tips to help you get started on the path to financial wellness:

Commit to change - The first and most important step in developing and following a financial plan is to examine your attitudes about money. Commit to making a change and take the pledge to improve your financial wellness.

Assess your financial situation – Ask yourself if you do things like follow a budget, comparison shop, pay your bills on time, plan ahead for large expenses and save at least 10% of your net income. If you answer “no” to most of these questions, it may be time to give your financial habits an overhaul.

Clear out financial clutter- Getting your financial house organized is a great way to begin on your path toward financial wellness. Items like grocery receipts, paycheck stubs and utility bill stubs can be destroyed after they have been recorded for budget purposes. Tax return documents should be kept for seven years and receipts from major purchases should be kept for as long as you have the item.

Set yourself up for success - Appoint a family “CFO” to keep everyone on track, and decide how your family will handle financial decisions. The appointed individual should be organized and a good communicator. They should be given uninterrupted time to do their tasks effectively.

Get copies of your credit reports - Your credit reports can provide a snapshot of your overall financial situation. Reviewing your reports for accuracy can also help you identify errors or fraudulent activity. An inaccurate credit report can result in higher interest rates and keep you from qualifying for loans, job searches and more.

For additional tips and tools for getting on track towards a better financial future, visit FinancialLiteracyMonth.com. The site offers an easy 30-step path to financial wellness. Tips for each day of the month provide detailed, interactive steps that will increase financial know-how, and improve your finances today and in the future.


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If you would like more information about signing up for a Debt Management Plan through Money Management International, visit MoneyManagement.org.


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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit MoneyManagement.org.


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