Local Business

On behalf of the DeMotte State Bank Board of Directors, we are pleased to announce the following 2020 DSB Officer Promotions effective Jan. 1 of this year. As our community bank continues to t…

National Business

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MoneyTips

For Valentine's Day, we hope you bought a thoughtful gift for your significant other. It's the thought that counts, of course, but let us give you a tip or two: women like jewelry. And, when it comes to fine jewelry, you should give thought to insurance.

Fortunately, your family's everyday jewelry is probably covered by standard homeowner's or renter's insurance (at current market value less any deductible), assuming you carry such insurance. However, if you have valuable or very sentimental pieces of jewelry, the coverage may be lacking.

How can you tell whether your coverage is adequate? The following steps can help you reach the best decision.

  • Inventory and Appraisal – You cannot figure out if your coverage is sufficient if you do not assess what you have. You need a list of items and their current value for any insurance claim, as well as for a police report in case of theft.

    Create a spreadsheet with each piece l...

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MoneyTips


By Andrea Woroch

Every year, countless people throughout the country dream up personal finance-related New Year's Resolutions. Most of the goals are centered around saving more money, whether it's by earning more or spending less. Some folks have trips they want to take or projects they need to cross off their to-do list, while others just want the security of bolstering their savings accounts. Regardless of the goal, most people fail because they overlook the most critical step in achieving their objective - a well thought out plan. Below are seven detailed adjustments that will actually help you reach your financial target and lead a more financially responsible 2020.

1. Track your spending.

It's easy to blow your budget when you have no idea where your money is going. Tracking how you spend allows you to identify where you need to cut back — hello, Target! — which makes it easier to limit unnecessary purchases. Remember, you can't change what y...

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MoneyTips

It is easy to lump deductions, credits, and exemptions into the same basket of tax-saving mechanisms, but they are distinctly different. One major difference is that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) did away with personal exemptions for the tax years 2018-2025, so you won't be able to use exemptions for a while. Here are the simplified differences:

  • What They Reduce – Deductions and exemptions both reduce your taxable income, and credits reduce your overall tax bill. With reference to Form 1040, deductions – and when they apply, exemptions – all take effect before line 11 (your taxable income), and credits are applied after line 12 (the tax you pay on that taxable income).

    Deductions and exemptions reduce your taxes proportionally to your tax bracket, but credits reduce your taxes dollar-for-dollar regardless of your tax bracket. In other words, if you are in the 10% tax bracket, a $1,000 deduction saves you $100 on your taxes, but...

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MoneyTips

While many deductions were cut or modified with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, most tax credits were retained. Tax credits are more powerful than tax deductions because they directly subtract from your tax bill (deductions only reduce taxable income). Refundable tax credits are even better, since refunds can be greater than your tax bill.

Explains Betterment Head of Tax Eric Bronnenkant, "Credits are, in general, more valuable than deductions, because they reduce your taxes dollar-for-dollar." Do you qualify for any of the following nine tax credits?

1. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – One of the most popular and powerful tax credits available to low-income families, the EITC allows up to $6,557 in refundable credits (for married couples filing jointly) for those who have three or more qualifying children in tax year 2019. ...

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MoneyTips

Valentine's Day may be one of the few times per year that you go out and buy fresh flowers, but that is no excuse for rookie mistakes. The gift of flowers is a reminder that you are thinking of someone and February 14 is an excellent opportunity to send this message. Make that gesture count with these budget-friendly tips for delivering quality flowers that won't disappoint.

Opt out of the Valentine's Day up-sell - Almost all floral retailers will create Valentine's Day-specific offers to catch your eye. Those bouquets come with a hefty price tag, and often lack on the stem count you are looking for. Avoid the holiday-specific bundles.

Get to know your Farmer's Market - Get to know a Farmer's Market in your neighborhood before Valentine's Da...

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MoneyTips

The news seems to be filled with stories about hackers and identity theft these days, and rightly so. According to the 2019 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, there were 14.4 million victims of identity theft in 2018, racking up a total of $15 billion in damages. Let MoneyTips protect your credit and your identity with a free trial.

As a victim of identity theft, you can feel completely helpless and violated — not to mention aggravated at the hassles involved in restoring your identity and challenging fraudulent charges. You were already busy before the identity theft occurred, and it can be almost impossible to keep track of all the...

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Tax Identity Theft

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MoneyTips


Early Birds Should Be Careful

Have you been waiting patiently to file your taxes? If so, you're in luck. This tax season is now underway. January 27th, 2020, was the first day that the IRS would accept tax returns for the 2019 tax year, either electronic or paper copies. (You can mail in paper copies at any time, but they won't be processed until the tax season kickoff date set by the IRS.)

Why file your taxes early? A better question is: Why leave taxes hanging over your head until April and then spend a stressful week trying to complete your return? In addition, filing early can thwart any identity thieves trying to file a false return in your name – and if you have a tax refund coming, why wouldn't you want to get it as soon as possible?

Even so, early filers must take care to avoid mistakes that negate the benefits...

No W-2 Tax Form? What To Do

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MoneyTips

To paraphrase the old adage, there are only three absolutes in life: death, taxes, and the rise of scams during tax season.

A major tax scam since 2013 involves phone calls by fictional IRS agents that demand immediate payment for alleged tax debts, threatening lawsuits or even jail time to those who refused to comply. The more sophisticated version of this includes spoofing a legitimate IRS phone number to fool caller-ID systems. The callers also have Social Security numbers and enough personal information to convince the taxpayer that the call is legitimate.

From October 2013 to September 2018, the Treasury Inspector General's office identified 14,700 confirmed victims, who were swindled out of more than $72 million through this particular scam.

Other scammers use a carrot instead of a stick. Another significant scam claimed that consumers had been awarded a governme...

How To Identify Tax Identity Theft

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Video: How To Catch Identity Theft Before It Hurts You

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MoneyTips

Are you ready to cut your tax bill as much as possible? Consider these thirteen ways to keep your contributions to Uncle Sam as low as possible.

1. Filing Status – Are you filing under the correct status? It's usually best for couples to file jointly, but married couples filing separate returns could keep individual incomes below phase-out levels for certain deductions.

2. Itemize Deductions – There are fewer deductions and some surviving deductions were reduced and restricted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). That doesn't automatically mean you should take the increased standard deduction. Itemizing may still make sense for you.

3. Take Advantage of Tax Credits – Tax credits are even more powerful than deduc...

It's STILL Not Too Late To Lower Your Tax Bill

Only 25% Of Americans Know This Simple Tax-Savings Trick

What are Deductions, Credits, and Exemptions?

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MoneyTips

When your identity is stolen, you have so many potential issues to deal with — changing passwords, closing accounts, dealing with fraudulent charges, and placing fraud alerts with the credit reporting agencies — that you may forget about potential tax fraud. Armed with your personal information, identity thieves can file a fraudulent tax return in your name and receive a refund before you realize your information has been compromised. Sometimes taxpayers are unaware of the breach until they have problems filing their taxes.

What do you do if you fall victim to tax-related identity theft? Start by responding to any IRS notice as instructed. Your first hint that there is an issue could be a notice from the IRS asking you to verify your identity because of a suspicious tax return with your Social Security number.

Remember that almost all legitimate IRS contact will be through a letter in the ...

IRS Reveals The Top Tax Scams Of 2019

Video: How To Catch Identity Theft Before It Hurts You

How To Identify Tax Identity Theft

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