12/20/2004 - Eight Key Questions to Help You Manage Your Retirement Portfolio
Invest adequately and regularly, diversify your portfolio, and keep tabs on your investments. According to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), these time-tested principles of investing are key to managing a retirement savings portfolio. To help you put these principles into action, the NJSCPA suggests that you address the following eight questions.
12/13/2004 - Online Banking: Should You or Shouldn't You?
Does being able to check the balance in your checking account at 2:00 a.m. have a certain appeal? How about having your mortgage payment made while you're vacationing in Europe? Online banking and bill payment comes with many conveniences, but it's not for everyone, reports the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA).
12/6/2004 - Tax Benefits of Charitable Giving
If giving to your favorite charity is at the top of your list this holiday season, make sure you obtain tax advice as well. While the greatest reward for donating to a charity may be knowing that you've helped to make the world a better place, your generosity also earns you valuable tax deductions. The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) explains how to make tax-savvy donations and qualify for tax-saving deductions.
11/27/2004 - Understanding the Risks of Debit Cards
Debit cards are quickly replacing cash and checks as a convenient way to pay for purchases. While quick and easy, they are not without risk, so be sure to take necessary precautions. Here is what the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) says you need to know to manage your use of debit cards.
11/22/2004 - How Safe Is Your Money: FAQs About FDIC Insurance
The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) was established by the U.S. Congress in 1933 to protect depositors against loss in the event an FDIC-insured bank fails. If that happens, FDIC insurance covers deposit accounts up to the insurance limit. Here, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) answers some frequently asked questions about FDIC insurance.
11/15/2004 - Job Hunting Costs: What You Can and Can't Deduct
Did you know you may be able to deduct certain costs associated with looking for a new job? It's a fact, says the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA). What's more, even if you don't find a job or if you get terrific offers but decide to stay with your current employer, the deduction rules still apply. Of course, you must meet certain eligibility guidelines and itemize your deductions.
11/8/2004 - Making the Most of Severance Pay
Layoffs, downsizing, restructuring - the effects of losing a job can be devastating. To soften the blow, many employers offer severance packages to displaced workers. Severance provides pay, in addition to other benefits, when a worker loses his or her job. The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) explains that it can include wages, continuation of benefits, outplacement services, and other types of compensation and assistance.
11/1/2004 - Tax Breaks Available for Those Who Serve Their Country
With Veterans Day approaching, now is an appropriate time to review the tax benefits available to members of the Armed Forces who serve our country. President George W. Bush signed into law the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 in November of last year. The benefits of the act range from helping military personnel manage the costs of homeownership and dependent care to education costs and travel expenses. Highlights of the act follow, provided by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA).
10/25/2004 - Ten Steps to Safeguard Your Computer
Today, more than ever, small-business success relies on information - from financial data and customer records to marketplace performance indicators and trends. With much of that data being stored electronically, safeguarding your computers is vital to your business success. According to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), the following steps can help to protect your company's information systems from internal and external threats.
10/18/2004 - How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission reports that more than a half-million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. Identity theft occurs when someone, without your permission, uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, to commit fraud.
As the Internet becomes a prime resource for buying products and services and for conducting financial transactions, there is growing concern about how companies collect, share and sell customer information. In particular, consumers want to be sure the information they provide via a website will not be used by unauthorized third parties.
10/4/2004 - Fraud Prevention Steps for Small Businesses
Small businesses are not immune to employee theft and fraud and, in some ways, may be more vulnerable than larger companies. The trusting, familial characteristics that make a small business a pleasant place to work, at times contribute to an environment conducive to fraud. According to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), the best way to prevent fraud is to create and enforce effective controls in all areas of potential exposure. Here are eight steps to get you started.
9/27/2004 - Borrowing Wisely for College
When it comes to saving for a child's education, most parents have the best of intentions. But with the rising cost of tuition and the downward trend in the economy, many parents are coming up short. Borrowing is becoming a reality for many parents. Here is some advice from the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) for borrowing wisely.
9/20/2004 - Get Educated on Section 529 College Savings Plans
College education costs continue to spiral upward. For many families, Section 529 plans are a sensible and tax savvy way to meet future education expenses. According to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), you should be familiar with the two types of Section 529 plans, both of which are sponsored by individual states: prepaid tuition plans and college savings plans.
9/13/2004 - Beginner's Guide to Self-Employment Taxes
Being your own boss may mean saying good-bye to office politics and long commutes, but you will not escape paying taxes. Self-employment taxes, which are similar to the FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes that wage earners pay, provide funds for Social Security benefits (old age, survivors and disability insurance) and Medicare benefits (hospital insurance). The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) offers the following overview of self-employment taxes so you can better understand your tax liability.
9/6/2004 - Do You Have What It Takes to Make the Entrepreneurial Leap?
Many people dream of starting their own business. But working for yourself is not as easy as it seems. Before you take the big leap, it's a good idea to honestly assess whether you have the characteristics and skills it takes to make it on your own. According to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), the following traits are important for those who are thinking of striking out solo.
8/30/2004 - Health Insurance Options for the Self-Employed
Finding and paying for health insurance is one of the most pressing concerns for self-employed workers. Although the cost of medical coverage is climbing, there is some good news. According to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), you can now deduct 100 percent of health insurance premiums that you pay for yourself, your spouse and dependents, up to certain limits. And since it's an above-the-line deduction, you're eligible even if you don't itemize.
8/23/2004 - How Personal Liability Insurance Can Protect You
In today's litigation-rampant society, having sufficient insurance coverage to protect your assets is essential. For some people, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) says this may mean purchasing personal liability insurance.
8/16/2004 - Is Your Homeowner's Insurance Up to Date?
The best advice about homeowners insurance can be summed up in a simple rule: buy the best you can afford and update your coverage every year - or sooner if you've completed a major renovation or upgrade. The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) offers the following specifics for protecting your home and personal possessions from fire, theft, and other casualties.
8/9/2004 - Why You Need Disability Insurance
One can never anticipate when tragedy will strike. Whether it is a car or household accident or a diagnosis of heart disease or a herniated disc, unanticipated misfortunes are the reason it makes sense to have disability insurance. This type of insurance replaces a portion of your income in the event injury or illness renders you unable to work, reports the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA).
8/2/2004 - Assessing Life Insurance Policies
Life insurance can be vital to protecting your family's financial future and can also help you manage some immediate expenses. The most common goal for life insurance is to provide income replacement for a surviving spouse and dependents. However, life insurance can also be earmarked for paying estate tax settlement costs, shifting wealth to the next generation, or benefiting favored charities. Whatever the ultimate purpose, life insurance can be a complex product. To get the best coverage, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) suggests you shop around and compare company quality, coverage and costs.
7/26/2004 - IT Checklist for Small Businesses
Whether your company makes old-fashioned oatmeal cookies or new fangled widgets, technology can automate processes, streamline financial recordkeeping, manage databases, update mailing lists and more. But finding and maintaining the right computer system can be a challenging task. To help small business owners leverage technology effectively, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) offers the following guidance:
7/19/2004 - Disaster Recovery Planning for Small Businesses
It's a matter of survival. All businesses - regardless of size - should have a disaster recovery plan, according to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA.) In the event of a disaster, a recovery plan is critical for getting the business back up and running as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.
7/12/2004 - Financial Planning: Recovering After Disaster Hits
The weeks and months following a disaster can be both confusing and difficult. Whether it is a personal crisis, such as losing your home to fire or flood, or a national tragedy like September 11th, there are many financial issues and personal concerns to address. The following advice from the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) can help you through a crisis.
7/7/2004 - Ten Worst Credit Card Mistakes
Used properly, credit cards offer significant safety and convenience benefits. But mistakes with your credit can cost you dearly - in time and money and in terms of your credit rating. To help you avoid costly credit card errors, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) highlights the most common credit card mistakes and how to avoid them.
6/28/2004 - Planning to Sell Your Business? CPAs Answer Your Questions
Should I sell my business? It's a question almost every successful business owner eventually needs to address. For those who have invested a great deal of time, energy, and resources in their business, the decision to sell may be difficult and the negotiation extremely stressful. To help you with the potential sale, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) answers some common questions.
6/21/2004 - Mid-Year Tax Savings Checklist for Small Business Owners
Many small business owners make the mistake of not thinking about taxes until it's time to file their returns. But tax planning is an ongoing process, and now is an opportune time to take some steps to lower your 2004 tax bill. Here is some advice from the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA).
6/14/2004 - What You Need to Know About Establishing Credit
If you are trying to establish credit for the first time, you're likely to find yourself in a Catch 22 situation - you need credit to establish a credit history, but you can't get credit without a credit history. While this may seem challenging, it's not impossible, says the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA). Here are several ways to demonstrate your creditworthiness.
6/7/2004 - College Graduate: How to Get Debt Under Control
Diplomas in hand, many college graduates begin their journey in the real world strapped down by debt. For many students, the accessibility of college credit cards combined with impulsive purchasing habits result in substantial debt by graduation. If you are in this situation, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) advises that you develop a plan to quickly repay debt and offers some guidance on how to get started.
5/31/2004 - Pros and Cons of Borrowing Against Your Home
Obtaining a home equity loan or line of credit provides access to cash and a boost to your tax deductions, but if not used wisely, it may put your financial well being at risk. The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) outlines the pros and cons of tapping your home equity.
5/17/2004 - Insuring Your Home-Based Business
Whether you're a writer, a masseuse, or a computer consultant, if your business is based in your home, it is important to consider its insurance needs. Don't make the common mistake of thinking that your homeowner's policy covers it, advises the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA). Most homeowner's policies cover only $2,500 worth of business equipment on your premises and offer no business-related liability protection.
5/10/2004 - Tax Implications of Selling Your Home
Careful planning is the key to keeping most of the profit from the sale of your residence. Under current law, a married couple filing a joint return can exclude from income up to $500,000 of the gain made on the sale of their principal residence. For a single person, the amount of tax-free gain can be up to $250,000. The magnitude of this tax break makes it critical that you plan to ensure that you qualify, advises the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA).
5/3/2004 - Must-Ask Mortgage Questions
Finding the right mortgage is just as important as finding your dream home. If you're in the market for a mortgage, you probably have a lot of questions. To help you on the road to homeownership, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) answers the most common questions regarding home mortgages.
4/26/2004 - The Tax Challenges of Hiring Household Employees
If you hire someone to care for a child or an elderly relative or to perform household duties, you could be taking on a new role - that of an employer. As an employer, you may be required to withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and possibly Federal and state unemployment insurance, according to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA). The answers to the following questions can help you determine your responsibility and avoid penalties.
4/19/2004 - Independent Contractor or Employee? How To Tell the Difference
Classifying workers appropriately is an important risk management activity for any business. The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) points out that employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors may find themselves liable for back payments of employment taxes in addition to stiff penalties and interest payments. In some cases, an employer could be required to provide retroactive benefits, such as vacation pay and retirement plan contributions, to a misclassified worker.
4/12/2004 - Get More from Your Job with These Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits
The cost of commuting to and from your regular place of work is never a deductible expense. However, employees who work for companies that provide qualified transportation benefits can reduce their commuting costs, reports the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA). This benefit, which is available under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, permits employees to set aside pre-tax income to pay for qualified transportation expenses.
3/29/2004 - Tax Deductions for Those Who Don't Itemize
The New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA) has some good news for taxpayers who don't itemize: You may still qualify for above-the-line deductions that can reduce your tax bill. Above-the-line tax deductions get their name because they are taken above the line for your adjusted gross income (AGI) on the first page of your tax return.
3/22/2004 - Answers To Taxpayers' Questions About E-Filing
Are you ready to join the more than 50 million Americans who are expected to file their taxes electronically this year? According to the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA), IRS e-file is an accurate, fast and safe alternative to filing a paper tax return. The NJSCPA provides these answers to some common questions about e-file.
3/15/2004 - Deducting Business Car Expenses
Operating a car for business can be expensive, so it's important to take advantage of the available tax breaks. Here's what the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA) says about deducting costs related to the business use of your car.
3/8/2004 - Business Meals and Entertainment Expenses: What You Can and Can't Deduct
Taking current and prospective clients and customers out to dinner, the theater, or a baseball game can make good business sense - and provide you with a valuable tax deduction. According to the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA), there are two separate tests you must meet to deduct 50 percent of the cost of business meals and entertainment expenses.
3/1/2004 - How To Make the Most Of the IRS Website
Need a tax form in a hurry? Have a question about itemized deductions? Want to know where your tax refund is? Now you can get easy access to tax information on www.irs.gov, one of the most frequently visited websites in the world. According to the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website offers individuals and small businesses a range of tax resources and online assistance. The site also includes information in Spanish.
1/26/2004 - Get Educated On Education Tax Credits And The Tuition Deduction
When it comes to reducing your tax liability, the more questions you ask, the more you can learn and save. The following frequently asked questions and the responses provided by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) will give you an understanding of how the college tuition deduction and education tax credits work so you can determine your eligibility for claiming them on your 2003 return.
1/19/2004 - A CPA's Guide To Smart Recordkeeping
In the event of a personal or financial emergency, having organized records will save time, money and frustration. According to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), the key is knowing what to keep, where to keep it, and for how long. Here's some guidance to help you get and stay organized in 2004.
1/12/2004 - Rev Up Your Retirement Savings In 2004
With the stock market under performing in recent years and interest rates at historic lows, many investors have seen their retirement nest eggs dwindle. But according to the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), making retirement savings a priority can help you rebuild your nest egg. The increased annual contribution limits for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k) plans and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans available under the 2001 tax law changes make this even easier.
1/5/2004 - Resolutions To Take Charge Of Your Financial Life
Taking a fresh look at your finances in January gives you the opportunity to implement savings strategies all year. The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) offers the following checklist to help you assess and take charge of your financial future.
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