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MOROCCO — A partnership between the Town of Morocco and the Newton County Economic Development Commission (NCEDC) could result in new businesses downtown as well as a new residential developme…

ATLANTA — Late last week (Jan. 3, 2020) Coca-Cola Company announced via a press release that it has acquired the remaining stake in fairlife LLC from its joint venture partner Select Milk Producers.

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MoneyTips

Thanks to large-scale hacks such as the Equifax and Yahoo breaches, identity thieves have no shortage of information to use in their criminal pursuits. Is your information among them?

"Identity theft can trash your credit score because there's the risk that somebody takes your name, your Social Security number, and your solid credit rating, goes out, applies for a bunch of credit, and then doesn't repay any of it," cautions Bankrate.com Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride. "That can really just destroy what otherwise had been years of hard work on your part to build a solid credit rating."

You may not be able to stop all identity theft methods, but you can take common-sense steps to protect your information and limit the likelihood of damage. In honor of Data Privacy Day (January 28), we present 15 preventative actions that you should take.

1. Check Your Accounts Regularly – Frequently review all credit and de...

Identity Theft Victims Lose More Than Cash

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Protecting Yourself Against Fraud And Theft Beyond Credit Freezes

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One of the most controversial provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was the limit it placed on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. The TCJA capped the deduction on combined payments for state and local property, sales, and income taxes at $10,000 beginning in the 2018 tax year.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the SALT deduction cost the government $100.9 billion in potential 2017 tax revenue. The estimated SALT deduction costs for 2018 dropped to $43.1 billion. It's a large part of the tax revenue increase that paid for the corresponding tax cuts.

Many taxpayers won't be affected by the SALT changes. However, people in states with high taxes and high property values can easily reach $10,000 from either property taxes or state taxes alone.

How do you know if you'll be affected? Check Schedule A on last year's tax return. If you entered more than $10,000 on line 5d and your tax status hasn't significantly changed, you'll pro...

How the Tax Cut Bill Is Raising Your State Taxes

Best And Worst States For The New Tax Law

Top 10 States For Low Or No Income Tax

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Do the words "tax return" send shivers down your spine because you always end up with a gigantic headache and little or no tax refund at the end? Maybe the problem is in preparation and planning – or lack of it. Tax law is complicated, and it takes a coordinated, sustained effort to optimize your refund. Let these nine tips help you acquire the best refund possible.

1. Don't Delay – The IRS doesn't start processing forms for the 2019 tax year until January 27, 2020, but that doesn't mean you have to wait until right before this year's deadline of April 15. If you need motivation, think of what you can do with a tax refund windfall. The sooner you file, the sooner you can put your refund to use. Two other reasons to avoid procrastination: the earlier you begin, the more time you'll have to locate any missing documents and data; and the sooner you file, the harder it is for a tax identity thief to target you.

2. Contribute to Retirement Pla...

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What are Deductions, Credits, and Exemptions?

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MoneyTips

Your home isn't just your castle; it is also a source of tax deductions. Yet, every year, Americans let these potential tax deductions pass by, not realizing how to take advantage of them. Complicating matters, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made major changes to the tax breaks that every homeowner should know.

IRS Publication 530, titled "Tax Information for Homeowners", can fill you in on the deductions that are available to you for the 2019 tax year. Several of the most important tax benefits are listed below.

  • Mortgage Interest – This should be the largest home-related tax deduction that is available to you. If you bought your home before December 15, 2017, you can deduct interest payments on either primary or secondary homes, up to the limit of $1 million in collective mortgage debt if married and filing jointly, or $50...

Understanding The Tax Benefits Of A Mortgage

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MoneyTips

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a program designed to provide tax relief for American workers with low-paying jobs. Could you qualify for this tax credit? If you have a relatively low income, take some time to find out.

Earned Income Tax Credit Qualification

Some eligible taxpayers miss out on EITC savings because they have no taxes withheld and think that they cannot possibly qualify. However, EITC is a refundable tax credit, meaning that even if you owe no taxes you may be eligible to get money back — as long as you file a tax return. You cannot qualify if you do not file. But if you do file, and owe no taxes, you may get a check from Uncle Sam anyway!

To claim this credit, you must meet certain requirements. First, you must have earned income. Generally, this refers to wages, salaries, tips or self-employment income. Other...

Get Ready For Tax Season!

Many Do Not Claim Their Tax Refunds Each Year

Is Your State A Net Payer Or A Net Taker?

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By Andrea Woroch

As a new decade begins, many have their sights set on change. After what feels like a lifetime of working, though, it can be difficult to transition to a cold-turkey retirement. To stay busy and supplement income many people are "semi-retiring" instead.

Folks are leaving their traditional jobs, cutting costs and looking for more flexible, fun work. And, these days, you don't have to look far. With the emergence of the "gig economy", it's easy to earn a little side cash, without having to commit to a 9 to 5 job – or even leave the house.

If your goal is to achieve a semi-retired lifestyle in 2020, follow these steps and start living out the rest of your life in freedom.

1. Downsize.

Your housing expenses are likely the biggest line item in your budget. Whether you rent or own, look at options for reducing this expense. Not only does finding a smaller house or moving into an apartment help lower your actual...

Semi-Retirement Is the New Retirement (Infographic)

Most Americans Think They Won't Need $1 Million To Retire

Video: Retirement Doesn't Mean The End Of Work

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MoneyTips

Is it tax time already? You may not want to admit it, but tax time starts well before the filing deadline. Your important tax forms start arriving in the mail in January. If you simply let them accumulate in a pile, it will be April before you realize it, and you will be scrambling around, attempting to do your taxes at the last moment. Woe unto you if you realize at the last minute that one of your important tax forms is nowhere to be found.

How many forms should you expect? That depends on your situation, but anything that contributes to your income or makes adjustments to your taxable income will require documentation. Primary forms include:

  • W-2s – Everyone that you have worked for as a direct employee owes you a W-2 form to show all monies paid to you and taxes withheld.

  • 1099s – 1099s cover all income from sources...

5 Reasons To File Your Tax Return Now

Is Your W-2 Tax Form Less Than Your Salary?

No W-2 Tax Form? What To Do

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Tax preparers such as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Enrolled Agents are incredibly busy during tax season. Their time is precious, even more so in recent years with many of the changes introduced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act currently in effect. That makes it even more important for you to prepare for your allotted tax preparation time.

Your tax professional needs the following four categories of information to prepare your taxes properly. Make sure to bring all the necessary forms and receipts and organize them so that they may be found quickly.

  • Identification and Basic Information – For any new relationships, you will need to supply identification for you, your spouse, and all dependents claimed. Social Security cards are preferred, but other government-issued ID is usually acceptable. Check with your preparer before you visit.

    Other basic information includes your address, your previous year's tax form, and any info...

Get Ready For Tax Season!

Should Tax Preparers Be Licensed?

Tax Preparers Make Big Mistakes

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Did you have a happy New Year? We certainly hope so. Now it's time to get back to regular routines and take care of January chores, including gathering your tax information.

The 2020 Tax Season Begins on January 27

The IRS has announced that the 2020 tax season will begin on January 27th. The beginning of tax season marks the first day that the IRS will accept individual electronic returns and start processing traditional paper returns.

Soon, you and more than 150 million of your fellow Americans will be sifting through tax information and preparing returns — or have them prepared for you. In 2018, tax preparers filed nearly 79.5 million electronic returns. In 2019, the industry employed 314,413 tax practitioners in 134,475 businesses and created $11 billion in revenue. Expect tax preparers to be even busier in 2020 due to the ...

6 Tax Filing Myths Debunked

IRS2Go 101

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MoneyTips


Holiday Debt On the Increase

Are your credit cards still smoking from holiday overuse? Based on a recent MagnifyMoney survey, it wouldn't be surprising.

Consumers who financed their holiday spending averaged $1,325 in holiday spending debt – a sharp increase from 2018's $1,230, 2017's $1,054 average and 2016's $1,003 average. Increases in wages and consumer confidence are at least partly to blame. Did a personal increase in wages and confidence lead you into a mountain of holiday debt?

We've given previous tips on dealing with excessive holiday debt. You've got more debt – so we've got five more tips, for a total of 10.

6. Slice Your Budget Further

To pay off holiday debt, you can't sett...

10 Tips For Dealing With Holiday Debt, Part 1

Now Is When People Fall Behind On Bills

7 Things To Do Now To Avoid New Debt This Holiday Season

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From its humble beginnings in a basement in East Peoria, to becoming a multi-million dollar company with plants in numerous states and countries, Jordan Manufacturing has seen its share of cha…

The Pulaski/White Rural Telephone Cooperative (PWRTC), dba LightStream, Board of Directors are excited to announce it has named Brent Gillum to serve as CEO. Gillum will be responsible for lea…

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Some businesses get started in the basement, while others might start in the garage. Wrede and Sons of Monticello got their start on a farm located on Diamond Point Road, two miles east of Mon…