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Consumer Education Toolkits

 

Cost-Cutting

This toolkit is designed to help you analyze your expenses and target specific areas where you can free up some money to put toward your goals. Launch the toolkit>>

 
Credit Report and Score

Your credit standing doesn't have to be a riddle. When you understand how your credit information is organized and evaluated, you can make informed choices. Launch the toolkit>>


Identity Theft

Instead of worrying about identity theft, focus on learning how it happens, how to prevent it, and how to recover from it when you've become a victim. Launch the toolkit>>


Natural Disaster

Few things can wreak havoc on your finances like a natural disaster - rest assured, financial stability is within reach. Prepare for or recover from the financial impact of a catasrophe with these resources. Launch the toolkit>>


Unemployment

Losing your job can have a significant impact on your financial quality of life. Use these tools to keep your life on track and regain your balance during this time of transition. Launch the toolkit>>

 

Tax Time: Preparing to Prepare

Compiling everything you need in order to prepare your federal income taxes is often a bigger challenge than actually doing them. Though the process of locating forms and documents may feel overwhelming, it really just requires knowing what you need, and an organized approach to hunting and gathering.

Obtain the Right Tax Form
Make sure you get the right tax form for your individual situation. Many people will use the same one they used for the previous year, but if your circumstances have changed, you may need to use a different form. The options for most employed individuals are the 1040EZ, the 1040A, and the 1040. To know which is right for you, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

Gather Personal Identification Information
Of course you will need to know your own Social Security Number, but you may need to know a few others as well. These may include those of your spouse, children, childcare provider, and anyone to whom you pay alimony.

Gather Income Information 
Your next task is to collect all of your income information. Depending on where you derived your income, you will need documents for:

  • Wages and Salaries
  • Interest Received
  • Dividends
  • Business Income
  • Capital Gains and Losses
  • Pensions and Annuities
  • Retirement Plans
  • Rental Income and Expenses
  • Farming and Fishing Income
  • Earnings for Clergy
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Gambling Income and Losses
  • Bartering Income
  • Scholarships, Fellowship Grants and Other Grants
  • Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits
  • Passive Activities – Losses and Credits
  • Stock Options
  • Traders in Securities
  • Receipt of Stock in a Demutualization
  • Canceled Debt
  • Form 1099-A (Acquisition or Abandonment of Secured Property) and Form 1099-C (Cancellation of Debt)

Collect Deduction/Adjustment Information 
If you plan to itemize your deductions or adjust your gross income, make sure you account for everything. Depending on what you are able to deduct/adjust, you’ll need to have records for such outgoing expenditures as:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • Rent
  • IRA or other retirement plan contributions
  • Miscellaneous investment related expenses (such as safe deposit box fees if used to store investment documents and computer depreciation if used to track assets)
  • Early investment withdrawal penalties
  • Medical/dental bills
  • Moving costs
  • Charitable donations and volunteer expenses
  • Auto loans and leases for vehicles used for business
  • Student loan interest
  • Alimony
  • Unreimbursed job-related expenses (travel, uniforms, union dues, education)
  • Job-hunting expenses
  • Child care expenses
  • Adoption expenses
  • Tax return preparation expenses

If you have to scavenge for each necessary item, make a commitment to keep good records from this point forward. It will make this time next year a much less demanding experience.

Questions? Ask McClever.

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