4 Steps to Setting Your Own Debt Ceiling

Use Your Tax Return for 2011 To Pay Down Your Debt

Debt is on everyone’s mind these days. The national debt has been covered by every major and minor news outlet for months. They finally reached a resolution to raise the debt ceiling. How nice. If only it were so easy for individual Americans to do the same. Unfortunately it is not, and many Americans find themselves in the same situation as their country. They are living beyond their means and are facing an impending crisis. So how do average American’s deal with their own debt crisis and pay the money owed to their creditors and on their tax return 2011?

1)Refinance

Interest rates have bottomed out and are at record lows. It is a good idea to look into transferring any debt held on high interest credit cards to a those with a lower rate. Pay close attention to transfer fees. You might also take out a home equity loan and go ahead and pay those cars off an cut them up.

2)Cut back

Austerity measures are something that has been advocated for the nation and it can work for you to. Find places where you can sacrifice some creature comforts for long term financial viability.

3)Pay more

By paying down your outstanding debt you reduce the amount of interest owed on outstanding balances. No one ever got out of debt paying only the minimum. Apply your 2011 tax return to this end.

4)Balance your budget

Set up a budget and stick to it. It sounds simple, but it is much harder to establish a budget and stick to it. However, once it is established it becomes habit.

Your Tax Return

Your tax return 2011 will need to be filed before April 15, 2012, for those not keeping track.  It’s important to be aware of the deductions you’re planning to take right now.  Keep track of your expenses and have them readily available for your tax professional to refer to when needed.

Preparing for your 2011 tax filing can be relatively pain free if you set up a system which organizes tax deductions, exemptions and tax credits. Start by having a clear understanding of your earnings.  Next keep a record of all your deductions.  Keep them organized by category.

Medical costs should be labeled and separated from other expenses.  Most people rarely accumulate 7.5% of their income in medical expenses, but many people do, so keep track of premiums for health insurance, taxi rides to doctor’s offices, co-pays costs, deductibles paid and medicines purchased.

Also keep track of taxes paid to the state and local jurisdictions, real estate taxes and interest paid for real estate. Keep a good record of church tithing and other gift giving. Watch your record keeping, don’t repeat things and don’t leave things out.  Allow your tax professional to throw out what cannot be used.

Preparing your 2011 tax does not have to be an ordeal, if you plan and prepare for their preparation.  Organize your records and keep the information up to date and properly labeled so both you and your tax preparer can identify them.  Be honest with your taxes because you don’t want to be audited and you want to keep a clean record with the IRS.  Always plan ahead and keep track of all your rightful deductions.

The Tax Rate For US Corporations And Microsoft

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The US 2011 tax revenue should be higher than ever, if you look at the surging profits of corporations like Microsoft and others, but you may want to look at their quarterly results for some clues as to what’s happening to US corporate taxes.

Things were looking pretty good for Microsoft at the end of 2010, with a 30 percent increase in profit and a gain of roughly 35 percent per share. At the same time, the IRS and other countries didn’t see numbers anywhere near that.  In the United States Microsoft paid just under $500 million in taxes, and in other countries, they were paying as low as 7% rates on their multiple billions of dollars in profits.

Considering how important the deficit is in the political world today, along with the condemnation of companies who use overseas accounting work to get out of a good amount of their taxes, it’s interesting to see how Microsoft’s accounting wizards were able to work their number down to such a low amount.

Part of this, in fairness, was from an overpayment in the past, as well as Microsoft themselves generally overestimating the taxes they owe in a given year.  And they may be doing more business with individuals purchasing their products in other countries as well, but it’s hard to guess at what effect that may be making.

But it’s clear that Microsoft is able to channel buyers through the countries of Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Ireland, countries with extremely low tax rates.  By working through these countries, they are able to get around much of the amount they should be paying.

The standard tax rate on a United States corporation is 35%.  When Microsoft pays less than half that, you can see that revisiting the US corporate tax law may be necessary.

Checking a Status On Your Taxes

After filing taxes, people want a way to check on the status of their refund.  They want to know exactly when they will be getting their money back so they can put it to good use. There is an easy way to check on the status of the refund.

  1. To check on the status of your refund, you should first visit the website www.IRS.gov that is provided by the IRS.  This site is very helpful in this means and for answering any questions there may be. This site is available all day every day during tax time.

  2. For those who E-file their taxes, they can start checking on their status 72 hours after the filing is done.  For those who do paper filing, they can do it three to four weeks after the filing has been sent in.

  3. To check on a refund status, you need to provide three things for the website to identify who you are and what refund is yours.  These three things are your SSN, your filing status, and the amount you will get back.

  4. Once you track your refund, the website can tell you that it has been processed already, is still being processed, or that something needs to be changed so that it can be processed.

  5. All the customization and personalization makes the answers and the information personal to the individual.  This is very helpful because it helps people with anything they need help with.

  6. For people that are visually impaired, there is software on this website that helps them to use it, too.  There is something for recognition and even Braille sometimes where compatible.

  7. When a person does not have internet access, they can call the toll-free number 800-829-1954 to get the same information that the website offers.

  8. Another great thing that the IRS offers is the smartphone application called IRS2GO, which is also helpful.

Tips On Finding A Small Business Accountant

Choosing an accountant to handle your business finances is a careful task, because you are going to entrust everything that you have worked for that person. You must know the right techniques to find a very reliable accountant to ensure your business’ financial security. Here are some tips that you can apply, so that you will be able to find yourself an accountant that you can trust.

First, you will need to ask yourself to know your specific accountant needs. To accomplish that you will need to figure out where your business stands, and what do you need to do to make your business grow. Then, put yourself in an accountant shoes. Imagine what strategies that you will need to apply to manage this company’s finances. Once you have done this, write a list of expectations that you would want for your accountant to do.

Once you have organized your expectations, the next thing that you will need to do is start your search. To start your search, you must ask people that you that you trust like your family and friends if they know a good accountant.These people might know good accountants, and they will be happy to recommend someone that can help you with your finances. This is a good way to start your search, because you are confident that these people that you trust will actually recommend a competent accountant.

Before asking your friends or relatives for a recommendations, you must ask the right probing questions so that you can filter out the most reliable accountant. Once you have done that then it is time to ask for a recommendation for that accountant of your choosing. Interview at least three accountants so that you can have a better option.

While interviewing your top three accountants, you must ask again good interview questions to assess their capabilities. These questions should be related to your company, and how will they apply their expertise in improving your business growth. After interviewing these people, organize the advantages and disadvantages of hiring this person. Obviously, the accountant that has more advantages will be the one who will get the job. For the other two people who did not make it, then you must do a polite gesture so that you avoid conflicts in the future.

Best Use of the Tax Refund

Tax time starts creeping up as soon as the calendar turns to the New Year. No matter how you feel about the experience, it is one that has to be done. What you do after filing your taxes may be the key to setting the tone for your financial future. Finding the best use for the tax refund starts with careful planning and then continues with consistent follow through.

Making Plans for the Tax Refund

1.      Make a list of all the places you would like to use the tax refund.

2.      Put them in order of most important to least important.

3.      Estimate cost of each of the items.

4.      See how far the tax refund would go if you were to spend it on each of the items on the list.

5.      Repeat the process several times over the next few weeks to see if your needs, wants or desires begin to shift.

6.      Only begin to make your purchases AFTER the tax refund has been deposited.

Possibilities for the Tax Refund

  • Look at the big expenses. The last year was a tough one for many people trying to meet the expense of a mortgage. A portion of the tax refund could be used to set up an account that would cover three to six months worth of mortgage expenses if necessary. It would provide some security for the upcoming year.
  • Consider the unexpected. The cost of insurance deductibles, surprise auto repairs or even medical expenses can hurt a budget that is already on tight ropes. One of the best uses of the tax refund can be in setting up an emergency account that would only be used to cover any of those unexpected costs.
  • Pay off a debt. The release that comes from paying off a debt can be a great motivator for tackling the next debt. Review any rotating credit balances or other outstanding debts. Consider using a portion of the tax refund to pay off that balance in full.
  • Invest in the future. Now may be the best opportunity to attend that seminar or take that class that will help you move up the ladder in your career. Measure the amount of increase you will receive with the amount of investment (including time, energy and finances) that it will cost and then thing about taking that leap.
  • Give it away. Put a portion of your tax refund to work for others. Setting aside as little as 10% can go a long ways towards helping your favorite charity meet its budget demands.
  • Invest in a little fun. The tax refund represents a full year of work. Splurge a little on something fun or exciting for the family. Set aside a portion of the tax refund for a great vacation or for a toy the whole family could enjoy (like that outdoor pool table you have been talking about).

There is never one way to spend the tax refund, but there can be one best way. It all starts with preparation. Thinking about the money and how it should be spent will start the process moving in the right direction. Evaluating the options several times begins to focus in on the best choices. Waiting until the check has been deposited will help to complete the package.

No matter when you plan to face down the tax man, start planning on the refund right now. The more time you invest in planning how to best use the tax refund then the more likely you are to make choices that will push you towards a solid financial future.

Nicole has been in the finance industry for 3 years, currently she blogs about the different ways for people to maximize their savings through the use of a brokerage account.