Theron Wall Sr. Mortgage Consultant 3767 Karicio Lane, Ste B Prescott, AZ 86303 Office: 928.445.8730 Fax: 928.445.1065 Cell: 928.533.7473 my website
6 ways to lower your odds for a tax audit –PLUS 6 tips to boost your smartphone's security
Tax season will soon be upon us. As people begin organizing their financial info, they often worry their returns might get audited. The percentage of people audited is small, yet that number has risen since 2008. The most common audit is a "correspondence audit," a notice from the IRS requesting more information about certain details. Deeper audits are fairly rare. Here's how to reduce your odds for any kind of audit:
1. Report all income. Beyond wages, be sure to report items such as bank interest, investment income, and jury duty pay. Tips, sales on eBay, and alimony also count.
2. Be careful with deductions. Deduct what you're entitled to, but an audit can be triggered by big deductions, such as charitable contributions totaling 30% of your income. If you gave that much, have receipts. Also, don't claim a hobby as a money-losing business. And don't claim a home office deduction if the tax savings are minimal, as it boosts your chance of an audit.
3. Explain yourself where appropriate. When you're reporting something that could seem unusual to the IRS, add an explanation. You may not avoid an audit, but experts say it usually doesn't hurt.
4. Know your tax preparer. Check their qualifications. If a tax preparer is suspected of fraud, the IRS could audit everyone using them. Find out the tax preparer's qualifications and check with the Better Business Bureau.
5. Review your return closely.When scanning returns, the first thing IRS computers look for are math errors and factual mistakes, like incorrect Social Security Numbers.
6. E-file. The IRS says filing returns electronically can "dramatically reduce errors," lowering your odds of an audit. The error rate for paper returns is 21%, but just 0.5% for e-filed ones.
If you're questioned by the IRS, don't assume they're right. Collect your records, involve a tax professional, and make your case. The IRS office of Taxpayer Advocate Services can often help.
As always, please consult your tax advisor.
GUARD YOUR SMARTPHONE!
We're using smartphones more in both business and everyday lives. This growing popularity makes them a big target for security threats like viruses, malware, and hackers intent on stealing passwords, deleting photos, and worse. Here's how to improve your smartphone security:
1. Activate screen lock. If your smartphone is misplaced or stolen, don't make it easy for a stranger to see its contents. Set it up to require a PIN code or password for access.
2. Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location services. Disable these whenever you're not using them. They all give hackers easy access to your device.
3. Install anti-virus and security software. An Internet search will find anti-virus software and useful security tools, such as apps that encrypt messages, locate a missing phone, warn you if you're connecting to an unsecured hotspot, and remotely lock your phone. 4. Back up data and update system software. Regularly back up data and always download system software updates for the latest security and performance upgrades.
5. Watch what you click on. Texts and emails with links or attachments could redirect you to a spoof or phishing site that will try to get passwords and other information. Don't click on links from sources you don't recognize.
6. Be aware of family and friends' security. Your security is only as good as the people you connect to. If they don't have perfect security, there's still a risk. Also, be careful with accounts your family shares, such as iTunes.
To improve financial security, why not look into better ways to finance a new home, refinance your existing one, or fund home improvements. Please call or email us–we're always here to help.... Have a great day!
P.S. Experts feel the housing market has stabilized and is turning around in many areas. Prices are extremely affordable and mortgage rates are at historic lows. It's smart to get the financing process started early. So if you're thinking about buying or refinancing, please call or email us to talk about the attractive options now available.
This was sent to you because of your relationship with Theron Wall. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment and/or mortgage advice or a commitment to lend. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, there is no guarantee of its accuracy. The material contained in this message is the property of Wallick & Volk Mortgage and cannot be reproduced for any use without prior written consent. Wallick & Volk Mortgage is an Equal Housing Lender. BK 0018295 NMLS #256412