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10 Basic Tax To-Dos for the Rest of 2014

Here are 10 things to consider as you weigh potential tax moves between now and the end of the year.

1. Make time to plan

Effective planning requires that you have a good understanding of your current tax situation, as well as a reasonable estimate of how your circumstances might change next year. There's a real opportunity for tax savings when you can assess whether you'll be paying taxes at a lower rate in one year than in the other. So, carve out some time.

2. Defer income

Consider any opportunities you have to defer income to 2015, particularly if you think you may be in a lower tax bracket then. For example, you may be able to defer a year-end bonus or delay the collection of business debts, rents, and payments for services. Doing so may enable you to postpone payment of tax on the income until next year.

3. Accelerate deductions

CBP Announces New Mobile Passport Control App

CBP Announces New Mobile Passport Control App

 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently announced the launch of the first authorized app to expedite a traveler’s entry process into the U.S. The app, Mobile Passport Control, or MPC, will allow eligible travelers to submit their passport information and customs declaration form via a Smartphone or tablet prior to CBP inspection. 

The app was developed by Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) in partnership with CBP as part of a pilot program at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The app became available to eligible travelers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International on Aug. 13. MPC is expected to expand to more airports later this year. 

Quiz: How Much Do You Know about Social Security?

You're probably covered under Social Security--according to the Social Security Administration, an estimated 165 million workers are*--but how much do you know about this program? Test your knowledge by answering the following questions.

Questions

1. If you decide to collect your retirement benefit starting at age 62, your benefit will be how much less than if you wait until your full retirement age?

a. 5% to 10% less

b. 15% to 20% less

c. 25% to 30% less

d. 35% to 40% less

2. Your spouse and children may be eligible for benefits if something happens to you.

a. True

b. False

3. The Social Security taxes that are collected from your paycheck are called:

a. FUTA taxes

b. FETA taxes

c. FICA taxes

Heed Immigration Rules When Hiring Foreign Employees

Heed Immigration Rules When Hiring Foreign Employees

 

A recent influx of jobs into the Western New York marketplace has left Buffalo area businesses in an interesting position — trying to find enough qualified employees to fill those openings. As a result, a number of companies, especially those needing to fill high-tech positions, may expand their search beyond U.S. borders.

That, however, can create unanticipated problems for companies not familiar with the process for filling positions with foreign nationals. In a nutshell, the process can be both complicated and expensive.

Choosing a Beneficiary for Your IRA or 401(k)

Selecting beneficiaries for retirement benefits is different from choosing beneficiaries for other assets such as life insurance. With retirement benefits, you need to know the impact of income tax and estate tax laws in order to select the right beneficiaries. Although taxes shouldn't be the sole determining factor in naming your beneficiaries, ignoring the impact of taxes could lead you to make an incorrect choice.

In addition, if you're married, beneficiary designations may affect the size of minimum required distributions to you from your IRAs and retirement plans while you're alive.

Paying income tax on most retirement distributions

Most inherited assets such as bank accounts, stocks, and real estate pass to your beneficiaries without income tax being due. However, that's not usually the case with 401(k) plans and IRAs.

Sudden Wealth

Sudden Wealth

What would you do with an extra $10,000? Maybe you'd pay off some debt, get rid of some college loans, or take a much-needed vacation. What if you suddenly had an extra million or 10 million or more? Whether you picked the right six numbers in your state's lottery or your dear Aunt Sally left you her condo in Boca Raton, you have some issues to deal with. You'll need to evaluate your new financial position and consider how your sudden wealth will affect your financial goals.

Evaluate your new financial position

Vacation Home Rentals

 

If you rent a home to others, you usually must report the rental income on your tax return. But you may not have to report the income if the rental period is short and you also use the property as your home. In most cases, you can deduct the costs of renting your property. However, your deduction may be limited if you also use the property as your home. Here is some basic tax information that you should know if you rent out a vacation home: