How To Cut Your Tax Bill

For many people, volunteerism is about more than simply doing something nice – it’s about enriching peoples’ lives and making the communities where we live and work a better place. But, did you know your stewardship and goodwill may also help you reduce your taxes? Gifts given to charity and other expenses related to volunteering may be tax deductible. For the avid volunteer, the savings could be worth the effort to track expenses related to your charity work.

Transportation expenses

While you cannot deduct the time you spend on the road driving to and from volunteer events, you may be able to write-off related expenses, such as parking, tolls and gas directly used in your charity work. It’s important to note that you cannot claim costs for car repairs, routine maintenance, registration fees, insurance or depreciation.

If your charity work requires you to travel, you may be able to write-off the amount you spent on public transportation, i.e., bus and subway tickets or taxi fare, airfare, meals and accommodations.

Generally for all travel and driving expenses, the primary purpose of the trip must be to perform services for the charitable organization. A deduction may not be allowed if the trip also includes a significant amount of personal, recreation or vacation activities.

If you’d like to include volunteerism as part of your tax strategy, keep reliable written records of your expenses, including the total amount incurred. With regard to driving expenses, keep track of the reason you drove and the date you used your car for the charitable activity.

Additional out-of-pocket expenses

If you need to make a purchase to perform your volunteer work, you may be able to claim the purchase as a tax deduction. For example, a committee member might deduct the cost of supplies needed to host an auction. Other expenses could be deductible depending on your situation. As a best practice, keep good records and review them with your tax advisor.

As you tabulate your costs, be aware that the amounts must be:

· Unreimbursed. (If the organization has repaid you for an item, you may not claim it on your tax return.);

· Directly connected with the volunteer services;

· Expenses incurred only because of the volunteer services you gave; and

· Unrelated to personal, living or family expenses (For example, childcare is not an eligible expense you can deduct.)

Financial contributions

Generally speaking, cash donations you make to a qualified charitable organization are deductible if you keep proper records and itemize deductions. Property you donate may be written off as well based on the fair market value of the asset at the time of the donation. Note: Special rules may apply to certain contributions.

If you receive something of value from a charity, such as a benefit dinner or an auction item, you need to subtract the value of the item from the total donation to determine the deductible amount.

As you prepare for tax season, there are a few important things to keep in mind. For you to write-off volunteer expenses or donations to charity, you must itemize deductions on your tax return and keep reliable written records of anything you intend to claim. Also note that you cannot claim a deduction on your tax return for the value of donated time or services. If you’re considering deducting volunteer-related expenses or donations on your tax return, meet with a tax advisor to get his or her perspective on your financial situation. You may also refer to IRS publication 526 for guidance on charitable deductions.

Ways for Planning for the Future

Whether your “Only Hillary” or “Only Trump” – or for that matter “Never Hillary” or “Never Trump” – one thing is undeniable. There is no person on earth that will correct the host of issues that are facing this country in a four-year or even eight-year term. It is simply impossible to course correct that quickly. There is a convergence of issues facing our economy – some have been caused by man and some are just the by-products of issues that no one ever considered such as people living as long as they are today.

Think of four or five major highways all coming to a point where they meet. This is a good way of visualizing what we are facing. The challenge is that no one knows if they will all meet at the same time and when that will be. These “highways” could be named “entitlements”, “money supply”, “world unrest”, “debt”, “jobs”, just to name a few biggies.

On the “entitlement” front our government (with possibly the best intentions) have created an atmosphere over the last 50 years where many citizens take the approach that the government is responsible (to what degree is debatable) for their well-being when in fact government was never intended to take this role. These social programs have caused a major drain on our productivity and correcting them (or eliminating them) is political suicide. On the “money supply” front the decision of President Nixon to remove us from the Gold Standard (where each dollar in circulation was backed by gold held in reserves) is turning out to be a tragic decision. The ability to print endless amounts of dollars is leading to the world reconsidering our dollar as the “gold standard” in trade. This is leading to a host of issues facing this country. This is not a republican or democratic caused problem. Think of it like this – if you had a printer in your basement that pushed out an endless supply of $100 dollar bills – how often would you use it?

On the “world unrest” front – the financial stage is so integrated internationally that splashes abroad can cause waves of concern here on our shores. China’s actions are of major concerns to the US and they are positioning their currency to someday be the “gold standard” around the globe. The amount of gold reserves that they are stockpiling – from what can be gathered – is staggering. They are of the opinion that the US is vulnerable.

On the “debt” front – with our National Debt now approaching $20 trillion – the interest payments facing our country are growing to a point where they may stifle (or strangle) our productivity. Interest payments on debt will soon be the fourth largest budget item for our country. Keeping interest rates artificially low (in actuality in real negative territory) helps keep the interest payments lower – but hampers our citizens from earning a reasonable return on their hard earned savings.

On the “jobs” front – statistically American’s are earning less now than they did in the 1970’s – even taking into account that most households are two-income. This data is compiled taking into account inflation – what it costs today versus what it costed back in the 1970’s. At the heart of this issue is the value of the dollar (see paragraph above) and entitlements which have caused governments (from DC to Main Street) to continually raise taxes to support programs. This in turn has eroded “discretionary income” for most American’s. Work harder – make less.

My clients today predominately comes in two forms. First – are those that are 12 – 30 years my senior. Most are retired (or soon to be) and have amassed what they could and are now implementing income and protection strategies to see them through their retirement. The second are my institutional clients – associations, religious, credit unions, corporate, etc. that are utilizing the products that I offer as a way to protect and create sustainable interest to enhance their income. Many of these institutions once flocked to traditional banking products but the low interest rates have caused them to seek other safe money strategies for their funds. I am 50 years old this year and will soon be a 30-year veteran of the financial services industry. I am more convinced today than at any point prior that the way that my contemporaries should plan for retirement come down to three simple courses of action (I use the word “simple” for levity purposes). And they are:

– No Debt – no mortgage debt, no car loans, no Parent-Plus loans, no credit card, no debt!!

– Guaranteed Income Sources – Social Security, Pensions (if one is so lucky to have), Annuity Payments, Cash Value Life Insurance, Income Producing Real Estate Holdings,

– Dividend Paying Quality Stocks

– Crisis Plan – cash on hand equal to at least 60 days of household expenses, some gold/silver in hand, food reserves for at least 30 days, some protection and ammunition on hand.

On the first goal – “no debt” – that may mean to own only one house instead of two like many of my contemporaries do. It may mean to downsize earlier than normal to provide time to pay off mortgage debt while still working. It may mean to drive cars that are good – not great. It may mean to place more of the burden of college tuition on the shoulders of our children then to take it onto our own balance sheets. It certainly means to practice “delayed gratification” which is a major issue for our generation.

On the second goal – “guaranteed income sources” – my thought is that with no debt folks can tailor their standard of living to the income that they have coming in each month – as long as that income is secure. As I have said to some of my buddies – that may mean drinking “Coors Light” instead of “Craft Beers” all the time. I may need to fish in the Pocono’s more than take trips north.

On the third goal – “crisis plan” – this is just common sense. If things in this country really went to hell – I would hope that order would be established in a short amount of time by our government. But in the meantime – while we are waiting for the “cavalry” to arrive – I want to be able to eat, drink, protect my loved ones, and if needed trade for supplies.

In closing – as the saying goes “no one has a crystal ball” and all we can do is look at the picture before us – not turn a blind eye or put our heads in the sand – and plan accordingly. This is the plan that I have begun to implement for my own family. My hopes are that in the next 10 years I will achieve these goals – God willing. I have told my wife Janis many times that my plans will never make us rich but should almost guarantee that we will never be poor.


Things You Should Do Before Transferring Money Online

Online money transfers have become more convenient in all kinds of transactions. There are so many online platforms, offering the services today and to get the best rates you must at least compare. There is also an importance of using platforms that keep you safe and secure considering how risky some of the transactions can be, especially with the increasing cases of identity theft and cyber crimes. Below are a few checks that you should make to have a pleasant and most cost effective online transfer of your money.

Exchange rates

The currency exchange rate is one of the most important checks you should make before transferring your money. Currency rates are ever changing and you can time your transaction so that you are able to take advantage of the best possible exchange rates. Remember that not all financial institutions offer the same rate and you should therefore compare offers by the unions or banks that you intend to use so you do not end up being ripped off. It helps to also be up to date with global currency markets so you are aware of what rates are reasonable and what rates are simply ambiguous.

Transfer amount

The amount of money you wish to transfer online can have an effect on the service that you get. If for instance you are transferring large amounts for business purposes, then a money transfer operator specializing in business operations can be a better option in getting you better service terms. For smaller amounts, make sure that the terms of transfer that you get are reasonable enough or consider sending a higher amount to enjoy better terms of transfer if need be.

Transfer fees

They also differ from one money transfer operator to another. The target country for the transfer can also determine the fees that you have to pay for the services and so will the amount of money that you want to transfer. Important to note is that whereas some institutions may offer very low transfer fees, they may end up charging you unreasonable exchange rates to benefit. Ensure that you are aware of all transfer charges, including those that might be applicable to the recipient so you can choose the best transfer channel and send the right amounts as necessary. It is especially very important that you find out about any hidden fees like processing fees and out of currency fees among others. Reading the fine prints on terms and conditions of service can go a long way in saving you from unnecessary charges.

Transfer window

One of the best ways of saving costs when transferring money online is by allowing yourself a transfer window that is long enough for you to make all considerations before making a decision. Scheduling your money transfer will save you from last minute rush that leaves you settling for any service even though the terms maybe ridiculous. When you have enough time to send the money, you will manage to do a thorough research on everything that matters so you send conveniently and cost effectively too.

Currency exchange rate is one of the most important elements when you want to transfer money online. It is beneficial that you compare the rates before settling for a service provider.


Tips To Take Income Easily

Creating passive income is the dream of everyone. Why not? Aside from requiring you not to spend lots of money, time and effort, you can also double or even triple the income you earn. The idea of building your own website, providing a service or product and sitting back to watch the flow of cash is really tempting. There are other ways in which you can earn money in an instant way. Here’s how to get started.

· Create money for the tasks you are doing

Yes, you can certainly create some money when doing some things you are used to. There are other platforms such as In-box-Dollars that allows people to generate passive income through searching the web, playing games, shopping online and more. You can take advantage of their services to make some extra income.

· Invest in real property

When you have a fully rented and established property, it is mostly a matter of managing your property and making sure it performs well. If you are busy with your work or have other important matters, professional property managers can handle the task. They can manage your property while making the investment more passive.

· Purchase and rent expensive tools, equipment, etc. repeatedly

You can consider photo booth, camera, treadmills, etc. This may not very passive, but this is another type of rental income you can capitalize on. Start with one, and you can buy second one or more if you see it is in-demand among consumers.

· Be a silent business partner

Maybe you have heard different horrible stories with regard to investing in a bar, pub or whatever. But, this is not always the case. As long as you do your due diligence, you can be a business investor or silent partner just like property investors. Sounds interesting, right? However, bear in mind to invest ONLY in a business where you are sure to get a cash flow constantly or yearly.

· Designs stuffs (e.g. mugs, t-shirts) and sell them through an online store

If you have talent in designing stuffs, this can be your cool passive income idea. Different sites make it very easy for people to submit designs. Therefore, you can create lots of designs and leave them up waiting for consumers. The main idea here is to make and design stuff for the niches you know.

· Design, manufacture and trade your own item, product, etc.

This type of passive income has been tried and proven by numerous people across the world, helping them achieve better living. Start by creating a product or item, manufacture and sell it through an online site. If not, you can build your own online store and start spreading your unique work through guest posts by an affiliate program or online networking.

There you have it! These are only some of the passive income tips you can use to start your own business and earn impressive passive income after some time. They are only simple to do, yet the amount of profit you can expect to produce is incalculable.