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  • You imagine a new and improved version of yourself – one who has achieved your goals and reached your definition of success. Check Out This Interview On Team & Personal Success http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • You imagine a new and improved version of yourself – one who has achieved your goals and reached your definition of success. Check Out This Interview On Team & Personal Success http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • You can get a home loan with just about any lender. However, some mortgage lenders are better than others. J.G. Wentworth is one of the best mortgage lenders on the market today, offering VA loans and among a variety of other lending options. However, the best mortgage lender normally depends on your individual needs, so let’s take a deeper look at what J.G. Wentworth has to offer to see if it can meet your home buying needs. About J.G. Wentworth Founded in 1991, J.G. Wentworth is a premier diversified financial services company. It started as a merchant bank, offering personal loans, prepaid credit cards, and a selection of structured settlements. Headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania, the company is a BBB-accredited business with an A+ rating. The high ratings can be attributed to its variety of loan options, exceptional customer service, and years of financial expertise and professionalism. In 2015, the company entered the mortgage market and has been growing that department exponentially. As a home lending service provider, J.G. Wentworth offers mortgage and home refinancing loans with competitive origination fees and exceptional customer support. You can preview J.G. Wentworth’s mortgage rates on their website before applying. The loan options include FHA, HARP, and VA loans . J.G Wentworth Home Loan Options J.G. Wentworth gives you several mortgage options from which to choose. Let’s take a look at the major options: Fixed-rate Mortgage If you want to be sure of monthly payments, a fixed-rate mortgage can work well for you. This is a type of home loan in which your principal and interest payment remain the same throughout the duration of the loan. J.G Wentworth offers 15-year and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. Adjustable-rate Mortgage With an adjustable-rate mortgage, you should expect your interest rate to change once the initial fixed-interest period elapses. You can apply for 3-year, 5-year, or 7-year adjustable-rate mortgage at J.G. Wentworth. Note the numbers denote the period in years that the loan interest will remain constant before adjusting. These mortgage types normally change your interest rate once a year after the initial fixed-rate period expires. One reason many homebuyers choose adjustable-rate mortgages is their affordable initial interest rates. If you intend to sell your home after a few years, this could be an ideal loan for you. You’ll make the most savings on interest payments. Veteran Affairs (VA) Loans VA loans are designed for former or current members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard, and select spouses. If you’re eligible for a VA loan and want to apply of it, J.G. Wentworth can be of great help. The best things about VA loans is that they don’t require down payment or private mortgage insurance. They also offer exceptionally low-interest rates . J.G. Wentworth is on our list of the best VA lenders . Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans If you have an unimpressive credit history, you can benefit from FHA loans. These types of loans target first-time homebuyers whose credit history locks them out of a conventional loan. With FHA loan, you may also choose to pay a 3.5% down payment, instead of the standard 20%. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Loans The USDA designed this loan for individuals with low to medium incomes who wish to buy property in rural areas. These types of loans also don’t require down payments, and they charge lower interests and fees. If you want a USDA loan, J.G Wentworth can help you, provided the property you want to purchase is in an eligible location. Home Refinancing J.G. Wentworth gives you access to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) run by the federal government. The J.G. Wentworth website features a mortgage calculator, which can help you estimate the interest rates and fees you would pay for a given loan. J.G Wentworth Loan Application Process To begin with, you need a FICO credit score of at least 620 to be eligible for a J.G. Wentworth loan. In applying for a home loan, you’ll go through a pretty efficient process. You can apply for the loan online, over the phone, or at one of the 14 J.G. Wentworth’s offices spread across the country. The online application encompasses some steps, which are easy to follow. You’ll need to provide some basic information and support documentation. You can opt to complete the entire application process online or talk to a loan agent through the company’s toll-free number. Here are the basic steps to follow when applying online for a J.G. Wentworth loan: Step 1: Click “Get My Rate” You’ll need to enter some basic information, including: Zip code Type of home The intended purpose of the property Purchase price and expected down payment Credit score estimate Military history, if any On the last page, you’ll be given a list of pre-qualified Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) for fixed-rate loans and adjustable-rate mortgages. Choose the loan that fits your needs. You can then fill in your contact details through which a loan agent will call you. Alternatively, you can click “Apply Online Now” to proceed with the process online. Step 2: Set Up Username and Password You’ll need to provide the following details: Loan profile Personal details Your dependents Current residence Checklist of sources of income A breakdown of financial assets Once you’ve entered all the information, you’ll need to authorize your submission. Step 3: Submit Support Documentation You’ll be given a list of documents that you should submit to J.G. Wentworth. These documents include: Social security number Pay stubs Proof of ID and address Tax forms You can choose to upload the documents online or submit them by mail or fax. Step 4: Get Approved After submitting your application, a J.G. Wentworth loan agent will review it and run a credit check. You should expect to get feedback about your mortgage approval in a couple of weeks. If approved, you’ll receive a breakdown of final rate and closing costs. Step 5: Closing Your Loan If you get approved, you may sign the closing documents electronically. Pros of Using J.G Wentworth Variety: Offers a variety of loan and term options Simplicity: A simple online application process Legitimacy: Offers federally-backed loan programs Cons of Using J.G Wentworth Limited locations: Only has 14 physical offices Limited information: It can be hard to find info on rates and terms directly on the site Limited live support: No live chat support for inquiries loanDepot – The Best Alternative to J.G. Wentworth If you feel that J.G. Wentworth doesn’t deliver exactly what you’re looking for, you can try loanDepot . loanDepot offers homebuyers a platform to compare different mortgage quotes. It allows you to preview basic mortgage information without having to sign up for an account. It also gives you access to a wide range of loan options, including the hard-to-find 10-year and 20-year fixed loans. loanDepot is one of few non-bank lenders that offer home equity loans. You can also get FHA and VA loans, provided you meet eligibility requirements. The company is popular for its exceptionally fast closing times. One area where J.G. Wentworth seems to beat loanDepot is customer service. loanDepot has limited customer support. They’re available on business days from 5 AM to 7 AM (PST) and on Saturdays from 8 AM to 3 PM (PST). Final Thoughts Whether you are purchasing your first home, your second home, rental property, or a vacation home, J.G Wentworth has loan offers that are geared to meet your individual needs. They have low origination fees and their online application process is efficient. J.G. Wentworth has earned a spot on our short list of the best home loan companies, and based on the lending options it offers, their rates, and customer experience, it should be on yours as well.
  • Are you thinking about purchasing a new home? If so, you have no doubt thought about home loans. Buying a home is very exciting, but getting the right home loan tends to take away from the excitement. More often than not, that depends on the type of lender you choose. Military personnel have access to a range of lending options, and determining which one is the right fit takes a little bit of research which can be well worth your time. Choosing the right lender and the right loan program for your dream home can mean saving thousands of dollars and freeing up money that you can use to finance other projects. Conversely, choosing the wrong lender can make the entire process of acquiring a new home a nightmare. You’ll end up spending much more than you expected. For this reason, it’s important to compare mortgage and loan products from different lenders before you choose one that best meets your needs. That can be an overwhelming task, but loanDepot makes it simple and quick. Read on to learn more about loanDepot and how it can help you find the best loans for your specific needs. What Is loanDepot? Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Southern California, loanDepot is a national consumer lender and financial services company. It focuses on matching borrowers and lenders through their online platform. The company’s goal is to help customers find the best mortgage rates and loans quickly and easily. loanDepot is currently available in at least 180 locations across the United States and works with over 1,700 certified professionals. These professionals abide by a “no-steering” policy. That means they aren’t incentivized to sell one loan product at the expense of another. Loan terms normally range from 10 to 40 years, depending on the type of loan you choose. To get a quote, you need to apply on the loanDepot website. This won’t affect your credit score. Since its inception, the company has funded over $100 billion in loans. In 2016, it was ranked the third largest non-bank lender in the United States. loanDepot Loan Options loanDepot gives you access to a wide range of loan options. This includes home purchase loans, home mortgage refinances, home equity loans, and personal loans. Let’s take a deeper look at each of the loan options. Home purchase loans:  loanDepot is a direct mortgage lender, giving you access to competitive rates and faster closing times. There are a wide selection of home purchase loans to choose from, including fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans, and Jumbo loans. Home mortgage refinances: If you wish to refinance your existing home loan, loanDepot has you covered. Besides the home purchase loans, loanDepot also gives you access to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). HARP was initiated by the Federal government with the aim of helping homeowners with inadequate or zero equity to lower their mortgage rate. Moreover, loanDepot offers a cash-out refinance option. If you have sufficient equity in your home, you can refinance your mortgage and take a part of the rest of the equity out as cash. It’s also worth noting that this company has a Lifetime Guarantee program, in which it waives lender fees and refunds appraisal fees for subsequent refinances. Home equity loans – loanDepot also offers fixed-rate second mortgage loans. With these types of loans, you can borrow up to 90 percent of your home’s value. You can borrow between $25,000 and $250, 000 for a term of up to 15 years. Closing is normally done in a couple of days, and you don’t have to refinance your first mortgage. loanDepot personal loans – You can get between a $5,000 and $35,000 worth of unsecured personal loan from loanDepot. The loans come with fixed interest rates, and you can use them for a wide range of purposes. However, you are not allowed to use these loans for investments, education, or any outlawed activity. Once the loan is approved, you should expect to have the funds in your bank account in two to three business days. To be eligible for a loanDepot loan, you must meet the following requirements: Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident Be 18 years or older Have a verifiable bank account Have a verifiable income Have a valid email address Meet the credit criteria requirements It’s worth noting that cosigners aren’t allowed on personal loans. That said, you can apply with one when buying or refinancing a home. loanDepot Application Process The loanDepot application is simple and straightforward. You can do it online or over the phone. You’ll need to provide some basic information, including: Name Birthdate Social security number Address Email Address Employment information Bank details Supporting documentation If you are applying for the loanDepot personal loan, for example, here’s an overview of the steps to follow: Go to the loanDepot website and click “Loans” and click “Personal Loans” Enter your desired loan amount Select the loan purpose If you have an invitation code, type it in Provide your basic contact information to register Share your current home payment Complete the account setup and agree to have your credit score checked. This will not affect your credit score Once you submit the application, you’ll be pre-qualified. Then, you’ll receive personal loan offers that include interest rates and fees. The application process is the same for other types of loans, like home purchase and home equity loans. You only need to select the appropriate option from the first drop-down menu and follow the instructions. However, for other types of loans, you may need to provide more information. loanDepot Mortgage Products We’ve seen that loanDepot offers a wide range of mortgage products including jumbo loans, FHA loans, VA loans, as well as fixed and adjustable-rate loans for home purchases and refinances. Statistics show that this company ranks as the second largest FHA loans lender and fifth-largest VA-guaranteed mortgages lender. It’s worth noting that loanDepot doesn’t offer home equity line of credit (HELOC) loans. A HELOC is a type of loan in which the lender consents to loaning a maximum amount of money within a given period. The borrower’s equity in their house is used as the collateral. Benefits of Using loanDepot loanDepot offers a home equity loan program unlike most other nonbank lenders One of the most active lenders of VA and FHA loans in the U.S. Has 180 affiliated stores across the country for customers who prefer face-to-face service Disadvantages of Using loanDepot HELOCs are not available Allows for a wide spread of possible fees. Origination fees normally range from 1-5%, depending on the loan type Some important aspects could be improved on the online platform Final Thoughts on loanDepot Getting the right home loan lender can make a long-term difference to your finances. As you shop around for a VA loan , you need to pay look closely at what each lender has to offer. loanDepot makes it easy to compare different lenders and choose the best one for your needs. Its wide range of home loans and convenient online application make it an all-inclusive solution if you are not looking for any specific attributes in a home loan provider. However, if you are looking to cut down fees and interest rates, loanDepot may not be helpful. But that’s not the purpose of the platform. Its focus is to connect you with a mortgage lender that best meets your home purchasing needs, not to get you discounts. If youre looking for a VA loan, loanDepot is a strong candidate, offering online and in-person assistance as you begin the home buying or refinancing process.
  • The government spends more than it takes in in tax revenue and keeps borrowing more every year. Check Our Video Blog On Five Observations On The Risk Uncle Sam Poses To U.S. Investors http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • One less known benefit of being a Public or Nonprofit employee is that they can save much more of their income on a tax-advantaged basis than those in private industry.  If through a combination of higher earnings and frugality you can live on far less than you earn, check out these retirement plans.
  • The trauma is officially overIm again seeing articles about real estate with outrageous claims. While prices fluctuate, over the long run real estate values have always gone up, always, and there is no reason to think that is going to change. Says one blog. Yeah, right. Also coming over the transom are claims about passive income. That is money you earn while youre sitting on the couch in your underwear, eating Cheetos. Im officially skeptical! All the hype aside, there are great reasons to buy a real estate. Believing that values of real estate always go up just isnt one of them. There are great reasons to buy rental property. Cheetos, underwear, and couches are not good reasons to buy investment property. Inspired by a seminar Ive been invited to contribute to (more details below), here is my list. Four good reasons to buy real estate: Protects Against Inflation When you buy a principal residence, you lock in your biggest monthly expense. Now, instead of paying rent to a landlord, youre paying mortgage interest. The big plus of owning, though, is at the same time, youre locking in that payment for the life of your mortgage loan. Its like locking in your rent for the next 30 years. That means that no matter what happens with inflation, your biggest expense wont go up. You can be spending more money on everything else, but your biggest expense is fixed. Your biggest expense isnt tied to inflation any more. An investment you can enjoy. You get to live in it. When we put money in a savings account or retirement account, we cant actively enjoy the money. We cant sleep in our mutual funds; we can sleep in a house. We cant decorate our shares in Google; we decorate our house. We cant throw a party in our savings account, we can throw a party in our house. Rental real estate is tangible. You can see it, feel it, and kick it. Thats unique in your net worth. Its something that you can really enjoy. Can lead to meaningful community connections People find their lives more meaningful when they are connected to organizations larger than themselves. Being involved in local communities brings meaning to peoples lives. Getting involved in your local community can help bring more meaning to your life, and it also may increase the value of your investment. For instance, Ive seen in community after community in Chicago, neighborhood groups get together and advocate for better schools in their neighborhood. Their efforts pay off. Pretty soon, other families are attracted to the neighborhood because of the good school. This increases the price of the original investment in houses and improves education of kids. Research backs up what are known as the social benefits of real estate. Heres a recent industry article which is consistent with an earlier article that is not from an industry source. http://economistsoutlook.blogs.realtor.org/2017/10/24/highlights-from-social-benefits-of-homeownership-and-stable-housing/ This is consistent with an earlier paper that isnt as recent that is from a more objective source: http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/hbtl-04.pdf Solid Component of Net Worth Dont buy real estate because you think the value is always going to go up. It doesnt. That being said, if you understand the risks when you buy, you can protect yourself against them. With real estate, you get a mortgage, which means that you are taking advantage of leverage. Lets go over a simplified example to illustrate the concept of leverage. Mary and Jem buy a $200,000 house. They put 20%, or $40,000, down and get a mortgage of $160,000. That means Mary and Jem have spent $40,000 for a $200,000 investment. In year one, the price goes up from $200,000, to $210,000. If they sold, theoretically, they would get that entire $10,000. That means they would get $10,000 on the $40,000 they put into the investment. Mary and Jem are happy. Theyve made 25% on their $40,000 cash outlay in one year. As a lot of people learned in the real estate bust, theres a big downside to leverage, too. If the price of the house goes down to $190,000, theyll get $30,000 back when they go to pay off the mortgage. So, they put in $40,000, and got back $30,000. They lost $10,000. What happened to a lot of people in the 2008 downturn was this: They bought a $200,000 house, but they put 5% down. So, they put in $10,000 and they had a $190,000 mortgage. When they wanted to sell, they could get $170,000 for the house. But they owed the bank $190,000. In other words, theyd have to pay $20,000 to sell their house. To keep things simple, this example doesnt even include closing costs, which make the numbers significantly worse. Thats why you want to protect yourself. Put 20% down and dont buy unless you intend to stay in your house for at least 5 years. The vast majority of the time, this protects you against the risks involved in leverage. What about buying a house outright? Without leverage, you miss out on the inflation protection. Also, real estate prices in general dont go up enough to make it a great investment without leverage. Be aware of the potential downsides. To protect yourself against the downsides of real estate, repeat after me: 20% down, 5 years. Want to hear more? ****************************************** Kyle Harvey is hosting a seminar where well expound on these issues. Lauren Marks, Mortgage specialist, and I are joining her. Come check it out! Heres the invite: Join us the evening of Wednesday February 13, 2019 and get the inside scoop on all things real estate Enjoy drinks and hors doeuvres and learn about: 1. The current real estate market in Chicago for buyers, sellers, and investors, and where its going in 2019 and beyond 2. How real estate can fit into your financial goals 3. Financing options for homes and investment properties 5:30pm at Blue Plate, 1362 W. Fulton Street, Chicago Please RSVP to Kyle Harvey. See you there! CONGRATS in order! Janet Newel, one of our associate financial planners, officially got her CFP(r) designation. Congratulations, Janet!
  • Eight out of 10 Americans owe some form of debt. So there is a good chance a listener or someone you know has debt and would like to get out of it. Check Out This Interview On Improving Your Credit http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Eight out of 10 Americans owe some form of debt. So there is a good chance a listener or someone you know has debt and would like to get out of it. Check Out This Interview On Improving Your Credit http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Eight out of 10 Americans owe some form of debt. So there is a good chance a listener or someone you know has debt and would like to get out of it. Check Out This Interview On Improving Your Credit http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • On social media Im hearing people complain about their refunds being lower and blaming Trumps tax reform. Theres some confusion going on. You actually probably DID get a tax cut. Just in a ham-handed ineffective way. The issue is that the withholding tables are broken. To be honest, theyve been broken for a long time, which [] The post Is your refund lower than you like (or do you owe) after the Trump Tax Act? Heres how to fix it. appeared first on Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP® .
  • Save taxes on medical expenses and use the standard deduction Thanks to the tax law changes, many taxpayers must now take the Standard Deduction on their federal income tax returns.   Additionally, the threshold for medical expenses jumped from 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income to 10% in 2019.  There are strategies that can help save [Continue] The post Money and More© February 9, 2019 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • The gift tax short version: You can give up to $15,000 per year of cash or property (in 2019) to as many people as you wish without filing a gift tax return. The gift is not taxable to the recipient. Now the gift tax long version: 1. Gift tax, if due, is generally paid by the DONOR, not the recipient. 2. There is an annual gift exclusion in 2019 of $15,000. You can give $15,000/year to as many people as you want without having to file a gift tax return. This amount is adjusted each year for inflation 3. Under current law you can give away $11,400,000 during life and at death without owing any gift or estate taxes. Yes, that is over 11 million dollars Think of this as an >$11 million dollar giveaway coupon If you are married the total is >$22 million 4. The purpose of the gift tax return is to track how much you are giving away during life. For example, if you give someone $50,000 then you file a gift tax return and the $50,000 is subtracted from your $11+ million dollar lifetime giveaway coupon No tax due! If at some point your lifetime gifts exceed $11 million only then would there be gift tax due Of course the law could change in the future 5. A married couple can give $15,000/year each to as many people as they wish. But may need to file a gift tax return to declare they are splitting the gift. 6. If you give someone more than $15,000 in a year (or $30,000 for a married couple), then you need to file a gift tax return. 7. Payments made directly to an educational or medical institution for someone else are exempt from gift taxes; no gift tax return is required. However, making direct payments to a college may affect the students financial aid 8. Gifts to a spouse are exempt from gift taxes as long as the spouse is a US citizen. 9. Gifts to a political organization are exempt from gift taxes.
  • This table shows the survivability of five different hypothetical retirement portfolios over the 20 year period ended December 31st 2018. Check Our Video Blog On Retirement Portfolio Survival Guide http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • This table shows the survivability of five different hypothetical retirement portfolios over the 20 year period ended December 31st 2018. Check Our Video Blog On Retirement Portfolio Survival Guide http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • This table shows the survivability of five different hypothetical retirement portfolios over the 20 year period ended December 31st 2018. Check Our Video Blog On Retirement Portfolio Survival Guide http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Approximately 35 percent of African Americans had no measurable assets in 2009, and 24 percent of these same households had only a motor vehicle. Check Out This Interview On Black Entrepreneurs and Wealth http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Approximately 35 percent of African Americans had no measurable assets in 2009, and 24 percent of these same households had only a motor vehicle. Check Out This Interview On Black Entrepreneurs and Wealth http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Approximately 35 percent of African Americans had no measurable assets in 2009, and 24 percent of these same households had only a motor vehicle. Check Out This Interview On Black Entrepreneurs and Wealth http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Approximately 35 percent of African Americans had no measurable assets in 2009, and 24 percent of these same households had only a motor vehicle. Check Out This Interview On Black Entrepreneurs and Wealth http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Preparing and filing your own taxes can be challenging to someone who is not a tax professional. Military taxes, in particular, can be quite complex. There are additional complications to deal with when filing taxes if you are in the military, such as multiple pay types like combat pay that is tax-exempt, residency in more than one state within one tax year, and more In recent years, tax software has seen numerous developments to the extent that many people and businesses solely rely on these products instead of needing to hire a CPA or other tax professional. H&R Block is one of the most popular tax software platforms available, and their services have many benefits for people in the military and their spouses. How It Works H&R Block’s platform uses a semi-guided approach to navigate you through the process of filing your state or federal taxes. The interface will ask you questions and, as you answer these questions and upload the relevant forms, the system will prepare your tax return for you. Getting Started: When you open the platform, you will have to start by entering all your personal and tax information. The platform will take you step-by-step through the process of adding info about your residency, dependence, and so forth. Review: After completing a session, you will be given an opportunity to review the information you added to ensure that there are no mistakes and that you left nothing out. Filing status: Upon completion of this segment, the platform will assign you a filing status, for example, “head of household.” Tax info: Then, the software will guide you through the process of entering all information about your income, deductions, and credits. It will also ask you about situations that may apply to you and affect the tax return you receive. Documentation: After entering all the information, the software will ask you to upload any miscellaneous documents that you haven’t uploaded yet. Then the software will generate your tax return. If you are a paying customer, you may be able to store the return for future reference before submitting it. Try filing for free with H&R Block>> Features User-Friendliness Most people are not clued-in when it comes to preparing and filing their taxes. With H&R Block, you don’t need any prior experience with filing taxes, and you don’t need any form of training to do your returns with this software. If you have any problems, you can contact H&R Block for free technical support, even if you are using the Free version. Form Upload Entering all personal and tax information manually can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. The good news is that, with the form import tool, you can upload your return from the previous year, your W-2 form, and all 1099 forms from your internal storage or competitor software to auto-populate all the information fields. You can also take a picture of a physical document and upload it to the platform. The benefit of this feature is that it saves a lot of time and mitigates the risk of typing errors or omissions. Help and Information Together with a comprehensive informational blog, H&R Block also provides users with tax tips and W-4, tax, and ACA calculators to ensure that they enter their information correctly. Tax Audit Services If you receive notification that you will be audited as the result of a return that you file with this software, H&R Block will provide you with a free and in-depth audit consultation to help you understand the audit process so that you can prepare. Some of the paid products also offer additional audit services. Guarantees H&R Block offers the following guarantees: 100% accuracy Customer satisfaction Maximum tax refund Versions Free This version is the most basic product that H&R Block has to offer, and it allows for 1040A and 1040EZ filing as well as Form 1099, 1098, and 1095. Both federal and state tax return filing are free with this version. If you are looking for a free state return filing solution, this plan may be the most viable. With this free version, you will also receive direction on more than 350 credits and deductions, as well as a Refund Reveal that shows how your financial information changes your refund as you input it. Deluxe The Deluxe version offers everything the free version does and allows users to file more forms to claim more deductions. This version also provides support for Schedule A filing as well as deduction itemization. Repeat customers can store forms and use Deduction Pro, a tool that makes it possible to track charitable contributions. Premium If you receive an income on the side as a freelancer or contractor, or if you are an investor or rental property owner, you need the Premium version, which allows filing for: Schedule C-EZ for freelancers and contractors with basic income and expenses Schedule D for capital gains and losses, stocks, and bonds Schedule E for recording both rental property income and tax deductions Schedule K-1 to report income from S corporations, personal partnerships, trusts, or estates Self-Employed This version is the most extensive and offers all the features and forms that the other versions do. The feature that sets this plan apart from the others is that it allows for Schedule C filing, making it possible to report small business income, asset depreciation, and business tax deductions. If you receive an income from self-employed activities, this should be the H&R Block product you choose. There are, however, more affordable tax software plans available from other companies that you can use for Schedule C filing. Cost H&R Block’s fee structure is subject to change, and to find out what the costs of each version are, you should visit H&R Block’s website. Currently, there is a flat rate for state filing of $36.99 when you choose the Deluxe, Premium, or Self-Employed plan. State filing is free with the free program. The cost of federal filing is: $0 with the free plan $29.99 with the Deluxe plan $49.99 with the Premium plan $79.99 for the Self-Employed plan Military Discounts If you are a military associate, you may be eligible to receive 20% off any paid tax software product. However, the military discounts that H&R Block offers are subject to change. Visit H&R Block’s website to find the latest discount offers for military associates and their partners and to find the promo codes that you can use. File your taxes with H&R Blocks military discount>> Benefits Simplicity: Simple, step-by-step guided navigation to help you complete your tax filing Usability: Intuitive interface that is easily understandable Guarantee: Accuracy, customer service, and maximum refunds Importing: Previous tax returns, W-2 forms, and 1099 forms Support: Readily available and effective audit, tax, and technical support Free Option: Comprehensive free version that offers free state filing Military Assistance: Suitable for use by military associates and their partners Complexity: One of the best tax software products for investors, traders, and rental property owners Drawbacks Cost comparison: Paid versions offer fewer features than similarly-priced competitor products Limited free support: Free version offers technical support only Self-employment limits: Not the best tax software for self-employed people Conclusion H&R Block is a name you can trust, but unless you go with the Free version, be prepared to pay a little extra for that name recognition. However, the comprehensive features of the Free version and the accompanying ability to file a state return for free are unbeatable. Its one of our top picks for filing your taxes for free. H&R Block is also an excellent option for military filers due to their discounts and capacity for complex tax filing. Check out free filing with H&R Block here>>
  • Are your military tax returns fairly straightforward? Then this ezTaxReturn review is just for you. The ezTaxReturn software offers a quick and simple way to file your federal and state tax returns. It’s very easy to use, and it will have you ready for your refund in no time. In addition to marketing itself to filers with simple tax situations, ezTaxReturn also offers some tools to help when your taxes are a little more complicated. Why File with ezTaxReturn ezTaxReturn Promises to Make Filing Your Returns a Breeze There are plenty of companies offering return-filing software out there, and most of them promise that you’ll find it easy to work through. While it’s true that these programs do offer assistance, most try to cater to too wide a market. They want to be able to help those who have deductions, extra income, and so on. That’s all good and well, but what if your tax situation is a lot simpler? Then all those extra questions end up becoming tedious because they don’t apply to you, and you end up overpaying for features you don’t need. ezTaxReturn has overcome this problem by simplifying their offering. Their software is perfect for beginners because it only deals with straightforward returns. If you have a more complicated situation, like self-employment, this software is not for you. ezTaxReturn Lets You File Your Returns with Full Confidence With ezTaxReturn, you set up an account, answer some questions, and then let the software guide you through the process. The difference this time is that you don’t need to know the first thing about tax law. The questions are designed to weed out tax issues that it cannot deal with. If your situation is better dealt with by a tax consultant, you’ll find this out early on. For those with simpler returns, you’ll whizz through the questions and be confident that your return is 100% correct. It’s Simple in the Extreme This software does not have a bunch of extra features that will weigh you down. It’s simple – you answer the questions, and the software makes recommendations. When you’re all done, you review the answers and file. No muss, no fuss. The company promises that you’ll get an IRS confirmation of acceptance within 24 hours. Check out ezTaxReturns simplified software>> What If My Situation is More Complicated? If that’s the case – for example, if you have rental income or need to file in multiple states – this is not the program for you to use. ezTaxReturn is built for those with a straightforward return, not to handle more complex situations. It can help guide you in terms of credits and deductions that you might qualify for, but the company has kept it simple for good reason. Worried about an Audit? You can pay an additional $39.95 to receive audit support in the event that the IRS wants to audit you. This support includes consultations with a certified tax expert so that you know exactly how to handle being audited. The consultant will help prepare your response and deal with the IRS on your behalf so that you receive the best possible outcome. How Much Does ezTaxReturn Cost? There are three basic options here, which we’ll cover in more detail in a moment. Federal: $29.95 State: $19.95 per state State and Federal: $39.95 There are other costs to consider as well. Audit support: This optional extra will cost you $39.95. Your support will continue until the audit is complete. Online access: Free access to returns filed through the company lasts three years. You can download them or access them at no charge during this period. If you would like to download a return that is older than three years, you’ll be charged $9.95. Copies: You can opt to have a copy of your return mailed to you. You’ll have to pay for this, regardless of how much time has passed. The fee is $19.95 for standard mail and $34.95 if you choose to have it shipped overnight. Insurance: You can choose to take out Amended Return Insurance. This costs $9.95 per return. Without this in place, you’ll have to pay a fee of $19.95 in order to file an amendment. The charges are only due once you actually file your return . This means that you can take the software for a spin first to see if it is going to work for you. ezTaxReturn Versions There are just the three basic versions to choose from. This is part of the charm of this program – you don’t have to struggle to find out which version of a particular software package is right for you. With some of the programs out there, you’ll go through most of the motions to find that it’s not the right option. Here, your options are simple: State This version will help you complete and file any state return that you may need to. Should you have moved to a new state or states during the tax year in question, you’ll have to complete one for each state. Federal This option covers your returns directly with the IRS. State and Federal This is not a version so much as it is a special offer. If you need help completing both returns, this option will save you time and money. Where Is It Available? There is something else that you need to be aware of here – this software is not able to file returns in every single state. If you live in any of the following states, you can use this software: Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Georgia Illinois Louisiana Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Missouri New Jersey New York North Carolina Ohio Pennsylvania Virginia Wisconsin If you live in one of the other states, then you’ll have to look for different software. Note these were the only states it was available in at the time of writing (January 2019). However, you might want to check with the company again, as they might extend their reach at a later stage. Potential Drawbacks The company says that it will get you the best refund possible and that the calculations are guaranteed to be accurate. What’s unavailable on the site, though, is anything that says what happens if that is proven incorrect. Many other companies offer to pay for any penalties imposed as a result of an error on the part of their software. However, any specific promise to this effect is not forthcoming on the company’s site. If you think you’ll need to speak to someone to complete your returns, another product that offers live support may be better for you. While the website offers a detailed FAQ page and seven-days-a-week email support, it lists phone-based support as “currently unavailable.” Wrapping Things Up Overall, ezTaxReturn may be on to something here. They’ve decided to focus on one area when it comes to tax returns. That’s laudable because it allows them to hone their software perfectly instead of trying to do too much. On the other hand, it only offers pretty simple functionality. If you have any kind of knowledge of how a tax return works, you’d probably be able to do the same thing for yourself. Does it make the process easier? Sure. Is it necessary? Most people could just as easily do their own simple returns and save the money. Start filing with ezTaxReturn>>
  • TaxAct Review

    Does tax season give you sleepless nights? Don’t feel alone; most people have some idea of how to fill in their tax returns, but they worry about the details. There always seem to be sneaking suspicions that something is not quite right. Did I make a mistake on the form? Did I submit what I was supposed to? Did I claim all the deductions I was entitled to claim for? It’s enough to drive anyone nuts. It’s also completely unnecessary if the people at TaxAct are to be believed. Some of those concerns are amplified when you serve in the military, with issues like combat pay exclusions and deductions for uniforms, travel, and frequent moves factoring into the equation. TaxAct can help you keep tax prep simple, no matter how complex your tax filing situation is. My TaxAct Review: File Your Returns, Simply No muss, no fuss – this program gives you simple advice and an indication of which documents to complete. Choosing the right service level with TaxAct is easy. If you need to complete a form not available with the current package, the system prompts you to upgrade. TaxAct Gives You Piece of Mind It’s not so much that the forms are difficult to complete. What is difficult is ensuring that you have all the right addenda and supporting documents. Depending on the complexity of your personal tax situation, you may require your W-2, 1099-INT, 1095, and so on. Leave anything out, and your refund may be delayed. This is why the interview system used by TaxAct is such a great idea. They’ll ask you questions that you might never have thought of to ensure that you get the right information. The system will then: Populate the information onto the relevant forms, Advise you on what credits or deductions you may qualify for, Tell you what documents to attach to the app, And then help you file with the relevant tax authority. What’s more, the company is so confident in the accuracy of their product that they offer the following guarantee: should there be a penalty charged as a result of an error made by the software, TaxAct will pay it, as well as any interest accrued. Tools for a Quick and Accurate Process With TaxAct, you don’t have to start from scratch every time you file your taxes . If you’re on one of the paid plans, you have the option of importing a prior tax return. It must be in PDF format for this to work. You can also open previous returns created and filed on the TaxAct system, but you’ll have to pay $13.99 for each one. You’re guaranteed to get the right documents simply by completing the interview as accurately as possible. What’s more, if you need assistance with any aspect – from completing the documents to a query about deductions – the company has a comprehensive support feature. It does take a little time to get used to how the information is ordered, but you’ll find all the information that you might need in the support section. Should you need further assistance, you can contact the company’s help desk. What If My Situation is Unique? If you have rental income or are self-employed, for example, that is something that you’ll want to make clear in the interview. It will mean that the free plan is not going to work for you, so be prepared to fork over the cash for a slightly more expensive one. In this case, you are probably looking at the: Plus Self-Employed, or Premium The Premium plan is the most expensive, but it offers all the features that you might need. (More on this in a moment.) TaxAct Has You Covered in the Event of an Audit If it’s just advice that you need, the Audit Support database can help. It will tell you, among other things: What documents are required How to answer audit questions How long to keep your documents If you’re looking for more hands-on assistance, Audit Defense is the service you want. The Premium plan includes Audit Defense free of charge. For all other plans, it will cost $49.95, which you must pay when the return is filed. You do, however, have the option to cancel it within thirty days of buying it. You can cancel if you don’t receive an audit request. Audit Defense is a valuable service for those with more complex situations that the IRS is likely to audit. It puts you in touch with experts that can assist in negotiating with the IRS on your behalf and defending you during an audit. Check out TaxActs audit assistance>> Useful Free Apps The company makes the following apps available for free to everyone, clients or not: Tax Return Status App: Check whether or not your return has been accepted, and get an idea of when your refund will be due. DocVault: Take a picture of any documents that you might need to support your tax return. You have up to 3 GB of storage space to store all your receipts and invoices. Lock in Your Price Another nice feature is that you lock in your price when you sign up to do your return. Even if it takes you six months to complete it, you’ll only ever pay the same as it cost when you signed up. Its a small benefit, but a very nice one. How Much Does TaxAct Cost? That depends on which package you choose. Free: zero cost for federal or state returns Basic: A federal return is $9.95; a state return is $19.95 Deluxe: $29.95 to file a federal return; $39.95 to file a state return Premier: A federal return is $34.95; a state return is $39.95 SelfEmployed: $49.95 for a federal return; $39.95 for a state return Available Versions of TaxAct Software Tax Act offers five versions of its tax software, each catering to tax situations of varying complexities. Free If your return is simple, with no need to list dependents or deductions, this is the plan to use. You do get access to the company’s comprehensive knowledge database. Features here, however, are very limited. For example, you won’t be able to import previous year’s tax returns or list deductions. Basic The Basic plan is a good budget option if you need to be able to claim dependents and need a bit more functionality than the free version offers. You will be able to import previous tax returns as long as they are in PDF format. Importing the return is going to cost $5. This plan allows for a more complex return. Deluxe This package is pricier but it can handle a lot more calculations. If you are a homeowner and expect to deal with deductions, credits, and adjustments, this is the right plan for you. It does also have the InfoArmor product included in it free of charge to detect attempts at identity theft during the tax process. Premier Those with investments and rental properties are best served by the Premier package. At this tier, your help queries, whether by phone or chat, are prioritized over those from users at lower levels. As of this year, you also have the option to import your stock data. Self-Employed If you work for yourself, your returns are going to be more complicated by nature. This product will help you deal with those situations and provide an accuracy guarantee worth up to $100,000. Wrapping It Up TaxAct’s free option isn’t the best, as you’ll have to upgrade to claim any deductions or credits at all. Unless you have only a W-2 job and no dependents, there are better free products for you. However, you start getting phone support at a lower-priced tier than you do with comparable services. If you’ve been using TaxAct year after year and the ability to import past returns will save you a ton of time, there’s no need to change horses midstream. Otherwise, their online tax prep service – while a solid product – doesn’t do a great deal to distinguish itself from its competitors. File your taxes with TaxAct>>
  • Filing federal and state tax returns can be challenging, especially if your tax situation is unique. Hiring the services of a professional can be costly, and you may not want to prepare and file your tax returns completely on your own for fear of wasting time and making mistakes. FreeTaxUSA’s tax preparation and filing services are geared towards helping military personnel and veterans with their federal and state tax return filing. FreeTaxUSA offers two plans to choose from, as well as several high-value features to make tax return filing easier. In this review, well take a look at FreeTaxUSAs features, cost, and benefits to help you decide whether you should file your taxes with the software this year. Factors that Impact Your Taxes in the Military As a service member, you need tax software that accommodates your unique situation and that assists you in getting the biggest refund possible when you file your taxes . You need tax software that accommodates filing for: Combat pay exclusion Job search expenses EITC for non-taxable combat pay Uniform deduction Reservist travel deductions Deductions for moving expenses FreeTaxUSA is one service which can help with your unique tax considerations. Lets look at how it works. How FreeTaxUSA Works FreeTaxUSA has an interface that prepares your tax return by asking you questions. As you enter information, the software completes your return and calculates your tax refund or liability. Since it provides a step-by-step process, preparing your return is easy, and you only have to give the information that the system asks from you. The interface is straightforward and intuitive. The interface also displays a real-time tracker of your tax refund, and you will be able to see how the information you enter affects your tax refund or liability. After you have provided all your information to the platform, you will be able to review and print your return on paper or PDF before instructing the system to submit your tax return to the IRS via e-file or mail. Learn more about FreeTaxUSA>> Features FreeTaxUSA offers several benefits to their Free and Deluxe clients which help to streamline your taxes. Itemized Deductions FreeTaxUSA’s software supports claims of more than 350 itemized deductions and credits on your federal income tax returns to decrease your taxable income. Import Information for the Previous Year One feature that is available for free is the carryover of the tax and personal information that you entered the previous year. If you are using FreeTaxUSA for the first time, you can import your information in PDF format from a competitor or third-party platforms to save time and to ensure that there are no transcription errors. Online Return Backup Upon completion of your federal or state tax return, the system will back up your return online so you can come back later to review or print your return. You may also amend your return for a nominal fee. Filing History FreeTaxUSA’s filing history feature allows you to compare your tax situation, refund, or liability with the figures of the previous year to gauge your financial performance. Report Complex Income Both the Free and Deluxe versions support Schedules C, E, and D, allowing you to report income from self-employment, property rentals, capital gains transactions, and several types of income related to K-1. Audit Assist Audit Assist is one of the most prominent features that FreeTaxUSA has to offer. Audit Assist is only available to clients who bought the Deluxe plan and includes access to tax professionals who can answer your audit-related questions and help you prepare for an IRS audit. It also provides clients with access to FreeTaxUSA’s Audit Center, which is a library of information on the audit process and specifics. Note that this program doesn’t include audit assistance with state returns or audit representation. FreeTaxUSA will, however, help you to respond to the IRS’s correspondence and advise you on the steps you have to take and the records to prepare for the audit. Accuracy Guarantee If you submit incorrect tax calculations, you may have to pay interest or a penalty to the IRS. FreeTaxUSA guarantees the accuracy of their tax calculations, and if there are any mistakes on the system’s end, they will pay any consequential fines. Free Support Clients that use FreeTaxUSA’s Free plan can head over to the Customer Support page to find solutions for issues in the support topics. Free plan users can also email customer support. Deluxe version clients can get help from the support team via live chat or visit the Q&A database to find answers to their questions. Versions When signing up for FreeTaxUSA’s services, you can choose from two versions: Free and Deluxe. In terms of accommodating tax situations, these plans are very similar. Both programs offer free federal filing, and both the Free and Deluxe plans charges a fee of $12.95 per state tax return filed. Both plans are also suitable for major tax situations including home ownership , joint filing, self-employed income, and income from investments and rental property. There is, however, a difference between the two plans regarding customer and audit support. Free Version The free plan features a number of complementary services, including federal return filing, account information carry-over from the previous year, completed tax return online backup, federal tax extensions, advanced tax filing, and tax return printing. You also get access to add-on services at a one-time fee. These services include return printing and binding, priority customer support, and tax return amendments. Audit Assist is not available to Free plan users as an included or add-on service. If you receive an audit notification from the IRS, you will have to upgrade to the Deluxe plan to receive assistance. Deluxe Version The Deluxe plan features all the included and add-on services of the Free plan, as well as Audit Assist. With Deluxe, you also receive free federal filing, but state filing has the same cost for Deluxe as it has for the Free plan. Costs The Free plan is entirely free unless you opt for one of the add-on services. The Deluxe plan’s base price is $6.99. Considering that this plan includes filing for complex returns as well as Audit Assist, it is one of the most affordable programs available. As mentioned above, there is a flat rate for state tax filing of $12.95. If you have a basic tax situation but have to file for state taxes, you may be able to find a free solution elsewhere. FreeTaxUSA offers several military discounts for taxes , including 10% off sitewide or 10% off at checkout. If you use the Free version, as a service member, you can prepare, print, and e-file your taxes at no additional costs. However, costs and discounts are always subject to change. To view the FreeTaxUSA’s latest fee structure, visit their website. Check out FreeTaxUSAs military discounts>> Pros Affordability: FreeTaxUSA is one of the most affordable tax software options on the market. Free version: The software offers free federal tax filing. Support: Tax support from the support team comes as a relatively low cost. Complexity: Both the Free and Deluxe versions support complex tax return filing for self-employed and property rental income as well as capital gains and losses. Audit assistance: Comprehensive Audit Assistance with access to FreeTaxUSA’s Audit Center. Access: Customer support via chat and email. Import options: Online tax return back up and information carryover from year to year. Cons State filing: There are no plans available for free state tax filing. Customer support: Customer support doesn’t have the same quality as competitors The interface doesn’t have an attractive design Bottom Line Don’t let your taxes get you down – take advantage of a program that will do the heavy lifting for you. FreeTaxUSA offers some of the most affordable services out there, but customer support is limited and the forms on offer aren’t completely comprehensive. Give some thought to how much help you’re going to need before committing, and if the pros outweigh the cons in your situation, consider filing with FreeTaxUSA. File your taxes with FreeTaxUSA>>
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  • As a service member, your tax situation may be unique, especially since you may have residencies in multiple states, and different forms of payment that may be tax-exempt, for example, combat or special duty pay. You may also receive income from rental properties or investments. E-file one of the most affordable tax software solutions available to military personnel, veterans, and the spouses of service members. This product offers a wide range of features that are on par with some of the top-performing solutions on the market. E-file is an authorized tax return preparation and filing service provider and derives its name from the IRS’s e-file service for filing taxes online. E-file and IRS e-filing are not to be confused with each other. E-file also has a competitor called efile.com. How it Works E-file features a tax filing interface that is more streamlined than those of its competitors. Although this simplified platform is user-friendly, it is not as easy to use as the platforms from, say, TurboTax and H&R Block. Since E-file’s prices are much lower, many taxpayers prefer E-file, despite the clinical appearance and feel of the interface. When you use this software to prepare and file your taxes, you will see that the entire process is divided into sections, for example, “income.” Each of these sections is, in turn, divided into subsections like “Investments.” Before starting with a section, the software will ask you a few questions to determine your unique tax situation. Based on the answers you provided, the software will present you with the correct tax schedules and forms that you should complete. If you are an experienced tax filer, you can skip these questions to save time. If you chose one of the paid plans and the software detects that you are eligible for, say, Form 1040EZ filing, it will automatically downgrade your account, and you will not have to pay. File your taxes with E-file here>> Features Prior Year Return Importing If you filed with E-file during the previous year, you would be able to import the information from your last return directly to the tax return you are currently working on. This feature doesn’t only save time but helps you to enter your personal and financial information without making mistakes. A drawback of this feature is that you will not be able to import your return from third-party fo competitor platforms. Audit Assistance If you file your tax returns with E-file, you can opt for Audit Assistance. If the IRS decides to audit you, E-file’s team of tax professionals will respond to the IRS on your behalf and keep you up to date on the audit process. Help Sidebar E-file’s help sidebar is a valuable feature, especially if you are an inexperienced tax filer. The help sidebar shows you where you are in the tax preparation and filing process and provides you with topic information about fields that you are busy completing. Pay with Your Refund Apart from conventional payment methods like credit and debit cards, you can also pay for E-file’s tax return preparation and filing services with the tax refund you receive from the IRS. This feature is helpful as you won’t have to provide your credit card information up front. Keep in mind, however, that using this feature currently costs $19. Filing Your Return for Previous Years If you didn’t file your returns during previous years, you can do so now with E-file at no additional costs. You can only claim refunds for the last three years. If you, for example, didn’t file your return four years ago, you will not be able to claim that year’s tax refund today. Accuracy Guarantee If E-file’s software glitched and caused a calculation error, E-file accepts responsibility for any penalties or interest imposed by the IRS. Most other tax software products offer this guarantee, and now E-file does, too. Versions With E-file, you can choose from three versions, namely Free Basic, Deluxe, and Premium. You can file federal and state taxes with all three versions. When deciding on a plan, you have to take the complexity of your tax situation into account and the level of tax, technical, and audit support that you want to receive. If you choose the Free Basic or Deluxe plan, and the software determines that, based on the answers you provided, you require a program that is one tier up, it will recommend that you upgrade your plan. E-file will not pressure you into upgrading your account if it isn’t necessary, however. Free Basic The Free Basic plan is the most straightforward plan that E-file has to offer. This plan is suitable for all taxpayers who are eligible for Form 1040EZ filing. If you are a single or joint filer with no dependents, and if you have no additional schedules to file, this is the E-file edition for you. This plan is only free for federal filing, however. If you want to file for state taxes, you will have to pay the prescribed flat rate. Deluxe The Deluxe plan offers the same features as the Free Basic plan and is ideal for people who are eligible for Form 1040A filing. If you are a single or joint filer with dependents, the Free Basic version will not allow you to file for deductions, and you will have to upgrade to the Deluxe plan. You can file both federal and state taxes with this plan, and the cost of state filing is the same as the Free Plan. Premium The Premium plan was developed for people who have complex tax situations.  If, in addition to your military income, you earn income from investments, rental property, or a small business, the software will recommend that you upgrade to the Premium plan.  Choose an E-file version to file your taxes>> Costs If you have to file returns in multiple states, E-file may be your most affordable solution. The cost for state filing is $19.99 regardless of whether you are subscribed to the Free Basic, Deluxe or Premium plan. This fee remains the same, irrespective of how many state returns you submit, an excellent benefit for military families. The cost for federal filing differs from plan to plan. Federal filing is entirely free with the Free Basic program. With the Deluxe edition, you have to pay $24.99 per return, and with the Premium edition, you will have to pay $45.99 per return. To reduce the costs of federal filing with the Deluxe and Premium plans to $18.99 and $34.95 respectively, you can enter the coupon code “SAVE24” at checkout. The prices listed above may fluctuate. Visit E-file’s website to find the current pricing structure. Pros User friendly: The software features a straightforward and intuitive interface. Affordable: E-file’s versions for complex tax situations are affordable in comparison with comparable products. Accurate: With E-file, you have access to a 100% accuracy guarantee. Free audit support: Users can opt for free audit assistance. Flexible payments: In addition to debit and credit cards, you can also pay E-file with your tax refund. Secure: E-file’s software is entirely secure, and your privacy and information are sufficiently protected. Cons Limited customer support: You can only access customer support via email or completing and submitting a support ticket. State filing fees: None of E-file’s plans allow for free state filing. Imports: Users can’t import W-2 forms or tax returns from competitor platforms. Bottom Line Filing your taxes in a military home can present its own unique set of challenges. In some cases, E-file could be the right tax software to meet those needs. E-file is affordable, flexible, and straightforward, making it a viable option. You can also find a number of free military offers for tax filing software . Then, do your research and find the best fit for your needs. Get started with E-file>>
  • Liberty Tax Review

    Benjamin Franklin once remarked that only two things were inevitable in life: death and taxes. For many people, preparing one’s own taxes can be a challenging, confusing, or expensive endeavor. Those challenges increase when youre in the military as you introduce multiple types of pay and frequent relocations to the equation. Fortunately, due to advances in technology, it is now possible to use tax software to help you with this process. There are a number of benefits to using software to prepare and file your taxes. It is affordable and time-saving, and it lowers the risk for mistakes significantly. There are many tax software products to choose from. In this article, well be taking a look at Liberty Tax, one of the most reputable and popular products available. How it Works Liberty Tax offers preparation and filing services to both private individuals and businesses. To help you prepare your tax return, Liberty Tax’s interface uses a step-by-step interview approach. You will have to answer questions about property that you own, your dependents, your residency throughout the year, and so forth. Liberty Tax will then use your answers to determine your filing status as well as the schedules and forms you have to import to complete your return. The platform will also determine which software version is most applicable to your tax situation to make a recommendation. After you have selected your plan, you have to choose the schedules and forms to fill out. If you are unsure of which form to pick, you can use the “Learn More” buttons to provide you with more information on each option. As you work on your return preparation, you can go to different sections with tabs to make changes and complete information fields. The interface is relatively simple, and even if you have no prior experience with taxes, you will be able to prepare and file your taxes without experiencing any issues. If you have experience with eSmart tax’s platform, you will notice a lot of similarities and find the process quite easy. Features Audit Support When you receive an audit notification from the IRS, Liberty Online will review all correspondence you receive from the IRS and provide you with assistance in responding to them. This service is free if you submit your tax return via Liberty’s platform, but it doesn’t include representation during the audit process. Enhanced Audit Assistance Enhanced audit assistance is an add-on package that you can purchase which includes pre-audit aid with regards to the documents that the IRS may request from you, assistance in responding to the IRS’s correspondence, and post-audit advice on your options. This add-on package doesn’t include representation during the audit process. Maximum Refund Guarantee Liberty Tax provides their clients with a maximum refund guarantee. If you submit the same return to the IRS with competitor software and receive a higher refund or lower federal tax liability, Liberty Tax will refund the money you paid for their tax preparation services. Help Sidebar A valuable feature that Liberty Tax offers is a help sidebar that you can use to: Locate and contact the nearest Liberty Tax office Access the platform’s FAQ section to troubleshoot issues Start a live chat session one of the support team members Get tax help if this is included in your plan Real-Time Refund Display In the upper right corner of the screen is your tax refund. This amount changes in real-time as you enter information and make changes. Tax Estimator Liberty Tax’s tax estimator is a mini tax return that you can use to estimate the size of your refund or tax liability before you file. File your taxes with Liberty Tax here>> Versions Start for Free Unfortunately, Liberty Tax doesn’t offer a completely free plan to file even the simplest of returns. What it does offer is the ability to start filling out your tax forms for free without needing to pay until you actually file them. This allows you to take advantage of their maximum refund guarantee if you find a higher refund or lower liability with a different program. Simple (EZ) This version doesn’t support schedules for investments or small business income, and it isn’t suitable for deduction itemizers either. It does, however, include several high-value features that are listed below. Access top prior year tax returns W-2 import directly from your employer Import from competitor software Professional tax support at an additional fee Schedule EIC support that will enable you to claim for earned income tax credit Ability to amend an existing tax return to rectify issues Free chat, email, and phone support Basic If you have a moderately complex tax situation that includes itemized deductions and a health savings account, you will be able to prepare and file your tax return with this version. If you are the owner of a sole proprietorship or receive income from investments, this plan will not be suitable as it doesn’t support the relevant forms, for example, Schedule C. Features of this plan include the following: Schedule A support: Allows for itemized deductions. Schedule B support: If you made over $1500 in interest and dividend income throughout the year Form support: For the necessary forms for health savings accounts as an alternative to an insurance plan Deluxe The Deluxe plan offers all the features of the previous versions as well as support for Schedule C filing, which allows you to claim income from self-employment business activities, which could be ideal for military spouses with freelance income. This plan does not accommodate complex tax situations like income from property, and it is not suitable for filing capital gains or losses. If you select this plan, Liberty Tax will provide you with Pro Tax Support without requiring you to pay the prescribed fee that other clients pay. Premium The Premium version is geared toward allowing people with complex tax situations to prepare and file their tax returns. This plan supports filing for capital gains and losses from small business activities and property sales, as well as income from rental property and farming. This version also supports Schedule K-1 which allows you to report business income as a shareholder in an S-corporation or private partnership. Cost In comparison with its competitors, Liberty Tax offers low-cost tax preparation and filing services. This does not mean that their services are limited, however. State filing for all versions costs $39.95. Federal filing costs are as follows: Simple (EZ): $19.95 Basic: $29.95 Deluxe: $49.95 Premium: $74.95 Should You File with Liberty Tax? Lets walk through some of the pros and cons of filing your taxes with Liberty Tax . Pros Usability: Software features a straightforward interface Locations: Access to over 4,000 brick-and-mortar Liberty Tax branches Mobility: Complete mobility through Liberty Online return with the help of tabs Refund amount: Features real-time refund reveal Form imports: Ability to import W-2 and other forms from employer and competitor platforms Audit aid: High-quality audit assistance Advanced options: Higher-tier versions allow for Schedule C filing and small business income reporting Cons No free filing: Liberty Tax offers no free filing option. Cost: Liberty Tax plans cost around 50% more than those of similar platforms. Limitations: Low-priced versions are not suitable for complex tax filing. Logout time: The platform automatically logs out after a short time. Support Hours: If you do your taxes after hours, you may have difficulty reaching the support team. Bottom Line Unlike most of its competitors, Liberty Tax doesn’t offer a free option. However, its four paid tiers offer fairly comprehensive support for a variety of financial situations. And for some people, the appeal of driving to a physical location and speaking to a real tax expert (albeit for an additional cost) cannot be overestimated. Whether youre serving abroad or at home, you have a variety of options at your disposal with Liberty Tax. You should also know that there are a number of free tax filing options available to military members . File with Liberty Tax today>>
  • This column is another in a series on good financial habits within your control, as opposed to annual stock market returns, which are not. Last time we got to work on your estate plan, while today we’ll uncover in under an hour how much you spent and saved last year.
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Retirement Financial planners like myself often encounter clients wanting to know how to financially retire.   While retirement is about much more than just money, that is why folks frequently seek out financial planning.   These people just want to know How much do I need to retire to avoid living under a bridge?  This can become [Continue] The post Money and More© January 19, 2019 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Looking for a way to save money on travel ? Flying space-available (Space-A) on a military flight is a great way to stretch your income. You can fly to and from U.S. military bases all over the world while spending next to nothing on airfare. Of course, it’s not as simple as calling a military passenger terminal and “booking” a flight. Flying Space-A on military aircraft is very different from commercial air travel. But it’s well worth learning how Space-A travel works so that you can take advantage of this incredible privilege available to eligible members of the military community. What Are Space-A Flights (AKA, Military Hops)? When military missions have extra seats after accommodating all space-required passengers and cargo, they often allow eligible passengers to “hop” the flights on a space-available basis. This is the origin of the term military hop. In these circumstances, the military mission is always the priority, and the Space-A passengers are along for the ride. When flying Space-A, you might be in a cargo plane, a fuel tanker, or a commercial charter plane. But the process works the same way for all missions. Space-A Flight Eligibility Space-A travelers are divided into priority groups known as Categories or “Cats” based on their duty status and the reason for travel. Lower numbered categories have higher priority for seats. Here is a summary of the Space-A travel categories: Cat 1: Emergency leave unfunded travel Cat 2: Accompanied environmental and morale leave (EML) Cat 3: Ordinary leave, relatives, house hunting permissive TDY, Medal of Honor holders, foreign military, unaccompanied dependents of service members deployed more than 365 consecutive days Cat 4: Unaccompanied EML and dependents of service members deployed between 30 and 364 consecutive days Cat 5: Permissive TDY (non-house hunting), students, unaccompanied dependents of service members stationed outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS), post-deployment/mobilization respite absence Cat 6: Retirees and their dependents, reserve, ROTC, 100% Disabled Veterans It is important to know your category when planning your Space-A travel because your category determines when you can sign up, what paperwork you need, and where you are eligible to fly. Table 3 in Section 4.11 of DOD Instruction 4515.13 has more detail on eligibility by category and approved geographical travel segments. How Does Space-A Travel Work? Flying Space-A is a process, and the better you understand it, the greater your chances of having a successful trip. 1. Identify your destination and possible routes The first step is figuring out which bases have regular flights to your destination. You can start by looking at this list of worldwide locations that may have Space-A opportunities. Profiles of some terminals include information about typical flight destinations.  As discussed in the next step, you will learn more about where the various air terminals fly most frequently when you begin following their Space-A flight schedules. In some cases, there are many possible routes you can take to your destination. For example, if you are on the East Coast and want to travel to Spain, you can fly from one of several bases that have regular missions to Naval Station Rota . If you’re coming from another part of the U.S., you will likely have to take multiple hops to get to Spain (e.g. JB Lewis-McChord to JB Charleston, and then JB Charleston to Rota). The Space-A Travelers Facebook group is a great resource if you’re having trouble piecing together a flight plan to your destination. Use the group to ask questions and search for information about flying to and from specific locations. Keep in mind that you may need to combine Space-A travel with other transportation. If you don’t live near a base with regular Space-A flights, you will have to drive or fly commercial to one of the active Space-A hubs. Similarly, you might hop a flight to a base overseas, and then take a train or local airline to your final destination. 2. Follow the Space-A flight schedules of the passenger terminals you may use Most military passenger terminals maintain a Facebook page on which they publish their flight schedules for the upcoming 72 hours. The schedules list the destinations, anticipated number of Space-A seats, and the “Roll Call” time, which is the time at which passenger terminal staff announce the names of passengers who have been selected for the flight. Terminals that maintain a Facebook page also publish information about recently-departed flights, including the number of Space-A seats released and the number of Space-A passengers who were competing for the flight. Click here for more detail on how to read the Space-A schedules on Facebook Use all of this information to monitor flights out of your target passenger terminals. Over the course of several weeks or months, you will see patterns in where and how often they have missions. Note: The Air Mobility Command (AMC) website has links to all terminals’ social media pages . If a terminal does not have a Facebook page, you can obtain Space-A flight information by calling the terminal directly. 3. Sign up to travel from all locations you could originate travel When you have a destination in mind, sign up to fly from any and all terminals from which you might travel. Signing up is free and takes only a few minutes. In the example in Step 1 above, if you were traveling to Spain, you would sign up at every passenger terminal that has regular missions to Rota. The AMC website has instructions for signup, including a list of all information required. You can submit your signup through their website, via e-mail, in person at the terminal, or using the TakeAHop app (the app costs $6.99). E-mail and the TakeAHop app are the easiest ways to sign up with multiple terminals at once. Sign up as far in advance of your travel date as possible, in accordance with your category. When competing for seats, priority within a category is determined by signup date and time, so the longer you’ve been on the list, the better. At most terminals, a signup is good for up to 60 days. Active duty cannot sign up for Space-A travel until they are on leave. However, being in Cat 3 means that you have priority over travelers in categories 4, 5 and 6, no matter how far in advance those passengers signed up. 4. Mark yourself present within 24 hours of the flight Within 24 hours of your target flight, go to the terminal in person and notify the staff that you are competing for the flight. Bring your military ID, passport (if traveling to/from a foreign country), and any required travel authorizations, such as your leave form if you are active duty, EML orders, or the memo from your sponsor’s command if you are an unaccompanied dependent . You should also bring a copy of your signup e-mail in case the terminal does not have a record of your signup. Most terminals will accept your e-mail as proof of your signup date and time. You must mark yourself present before Roll Call starts, but you can do so anytime within 24 hours. One or two hours in advance is generally enough, but be sure that you are continually monitoring the passenger terminal’s Facebook slides in case they unexpectedly change the Roll Call time. It’s also a good idea to call the terminal directly to confirm that Roll Call has not changed; sometimes the terminal staff is too busy to update their Facebook page promptly. 5. Listen for your name during Roll Call When Roll Call begins, terminal staff announce how many Space-A seats are available for the flight and read the names of the passengers selected. They start with the passengers in the lowest-numbered (highest priority) category and work their way down the list. If they call your name, go to the desk and confirm that you and any dependents traveling with you are present. Bring your required paperwork along with your and your dependents’ military IDs. ID cards are required for all passengers over the age of 10. When traveling with children younger than 10 who do not have an ID card, bring their passport or a MilConnect printout that shows their DOD ID number. If they don’t call your name during Roll Call, you should stay in the terminal, at least until the flight boards. Sometimes, additional Space-A seats are released at the very last minute. 6. Check your luggage and obtain your boarding pass Luggage check may begin immediately after Roll Call or several hours later. When it’s time to check bags, all travelers in your family and all of your luggage must be present. On most flights, each passenger can check two bags of up to 70 lbs each. You can also check car seats, which do not count towards your baggage allowance. Some smaller aircraft limit baggage to as little as 30 lbs per person. If you or any of your dependents cannot meet those requirements on the weight-restricted aircraft, you are not eligible for the flight. The AMC website has detailed information on baggage allowances . Some locations offer box lunches for a nominal cost ($10 or less), which usually include a sandwich, chips, cookie, and drink. You can request and pay for those meals when checking your luggage. Once you’ve checked your bags and have your boarding passes, you are “manifested” on the flight. The terminal staff will tell you the estimated boarding time. However, boarding times often change without notice, so stay in the terminal. 7. Board the aircraft and pick your seat When the passenger terminal announces boarding, all manifested passengers go through security. Military passenger terminals follow Transportation Security Administration regulations, so you have the same restrictions for carry-on items as on civilian planes. You sit in a secure area of the terminal until it’s time to board the plane. At most locations, a bus takes you to the aircraft, and you board the plane from the tarmac. If you are flying Space-A on a Patriot Express flight , your boarding pass will list your assigned seat.  On other Space-A aircraft, you select your own seats on a first-come, first-served basis. What to Expect on a Space-A Flight With the exception of the Patriot Express, flights on military aircraft are no-frills. The crew provides earplugs, a water cooler, and sometimes chips or cookies, but any refreshments are self-service. Depending on the type of aircraft, there may be regular seats or web seating along the sides of the plane. If it’s the latter and there is space on the floor, the crew may allow you to lie down on a blanket or air mattress (if you brought one) after the aircraft reaches cruising altitude. Military aircraft are often very cold and loud, so dress in warm layers, and bring extra ear protection if you don’t want to wear the foam earplugs provided. Pros and Cons of Flying Space-A As you might expect, there are advantages and disadvantages to flying military hops. The Pros: What are the advantages of flying Space-A? The most obvious benefit of flying Space-A is that it can be free or very low-cost. Patriot Express flights have a small per-passenger tax ranging from about $4 to about $35, and some terminals offer meals for purchase, but those are the only direct costs associated with the flight. You can save thousands of dollars on airfare if you have multiple family members traveling, especially to/from OCONUS destinations. Another benefit of flying Space-A is access to base resources as soon as you land. You can stay overnight in base lodging, stock up on snacks at the commissary, or get discount tickets to local attractions through the Information, Tickets & Travel office. When traveling abroad, landing at a U.S. military base also gives you time to get your bearings before venturing out to explore a new country. While you may get conflicting views on this point, flying Space-A can be much more pleasant than flying commercial. Having the option to stretch out on the floor of a C-17 is a nice alternative to sitting in the cramped Economy section of a commercial carrier. In addition, if you’re traveling with small children, you will likely get more help and support from fellow passengers than you would on a civilian flight. Finally, Space-A is a fun adventure, especially for anyone who has never flown on a military aircraft. The Cons: What are the disadvantages of Space-A? The #1 disadvantage is the uncertainty. In most cases, you won’t know until a maximum of 3 days in advance where a terminal’s missions are headed, and you can’t be sure you have a seat until the last minute. When flying Space-A, you must have patience and flexibility. Another disadvantage is that the most difficult times to get a seat may be the exact times you want to travel. Summer PCS season, the winter holidays, and, to a lesser degree, Spring Break, are extra competitive, particularly when flying to/from OCONUS locations. There may be indirect costs associated with flying Space-A, including lodging, transportation, and meals while waiting for a flight. If you have to wait for several days, those costs can add up quickly. Finally, some passengers find military aircraft uncomfortable. Cargo planes are cold and loud, and if you are unable to lie on the floor in an aircraft that has webbed seating, an overseas flight will feel pretty long. Of course, those are all issues that you can remedy with proper planning, but they are a consideration when deciding if you want to fly Space-A. When Should You Use Space-A? Keeping those pros and cons in mind, Space-A is a great option if you have time and flexibility to wait for a flight, particularly during the “off seasons” of fall, late winter, and early spring. Also, the more passengers traveling with you, the greater the cost savings compared to flying commercial. Space-A is never a good option when you have to be somewhere by a particular time, whether it’s for a wedding, a graduation, or a cruise departure. You should also avoid flying Space-A – particularly to OCONUS destinations – during the busiest times noted above. Final Advice from a Seasoned Space-A Traveler There are two very important rules to remember when flying Space-A: Always have a have a backup plan, including enough money to pay for commercial airfare in case Space-A doesn’t work out. Don’t wait for the perfect flight. Hop any flight that moves you closer to your destination, especially when traveling between OCONUS and CONUS. Each time you fly Space-A, you will learn something new, whether from your own experience or through conversations with fellow travelers. In the meantime, keep learning as much as you can about how the process works. When you have a destination in mind, do your research so you know about the Space-A terminal’s lodging, transportation, and immigration procedures before you land. Finally, remember that Space-A is a privilege we share as members of the military community, and the mission takes priority 100% of the time. With that in mind, be sure to bring plenty of patience, a positive attitude, and a sense of adventure. KC-10 Extender Photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman, US Air Force .
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  • By investing in an area designated by Uncle Sam as an Opportunity Zone, you can defer the tax on a large capital gain and possibly eliminate it altogether. Check Our Video Blog On Uncle Sam Wants You Investing In Poor Areas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • By investing in an area designated by Uncle Sam as an Opportunity Zone, you can defer the tax on a large capital gain and possibly eliminate it altogether. Check Our Video Blog On Uncle Sam Wants You Investing In Poor Areas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • By investing in an area designated by Uncle Sam as an Opportunity Zone, you can defer the tax on a large capital gain and possibly eliminate it altogether. Check Our Video Blog On Uncle Sam Wants You Investing In Poor Areas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • By investing in an area designated by Uncle Sam as an Opportunity Zone, you can defer the tax on a large capital gain and possibly eliminate it altogether. Check Our Video Blog On Uncle Sam Wants You Investing In Poor Areas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • By investing in an area designated by Uncle Sam as an Opportunity Zone, you can defer the tax on a large capital gain and possibly eliminate it altogether. Check Our Video Blog On Uncle Sam Wants You Investing In Poor Areas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • By investing in an area designated by Uncle Sam as an Opportunity Zone, you can defer the tax on a large capital gain and possibly eliminate it altogether. Check Our Video Blog On Uncle Sam Wants You Investing In Poor Areas http://masteringyourmoney.com/