The FAFSA Deadline Approacheth

Those headed to college in the fall should get ready to start the application process for financial aid.

The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA is now available online.  Click here to start filling out the form.

Filing the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st increases applicants’ chances of getting the best financial aid packages for which they are eligible. Those who file the form from January through March receive, on average, twice the amount of grant money as those who file later, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the financial aid website Edvisors.com.

Keeping this in mind, you can choose to either wait until your tax return is complete and filed for the year or complete your FAFSA using estimates derived from the previous year’s tax returns and other documentation. (Note: If you do this, you will need to return later and correct any discrepancies between the estimated values and the current year’s tax returns.)

Connecticut has a February 15th deadline for certain aid programs. Some state grant programs distribute awards on a first-come, first-served basis, which means waiting could cost students to miss out on aid even if they qualify.

MJW EA & Company LLC offers FAFSA preparation services with negotiable fee options.

Also, please take some time and check out our “College and Beyond” section on our website for information and resources regarding all things education oriented.

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Oh, My Goodness!

Oh my goodness! It is the day after Christmas, there are 6 days left in 2014, and Congress just passed (and the President signed) the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (Wow…what a title!). IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has been upfront when declaring this tax filing season as the most challenging ever. Not only is the Affordable Care Act in place, but expiring laws and last minute Congressional actions take effect. There are new forms and now obsolete forms. And on and on…

We have reminded you throughout the year of many of these challenges, tax law changes and various strategies. Time is RUNNING OUT for 2014!!!

Take some time over the next few days to take a look at your finances; don’t miss out on minimizing your taxes!!!!

Some of the tax breaks from the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 may be crucial to your year-end tax planning.

  1. People over 70.5 years old can distribute funds out of their traditional IRA, and donate directly to charity. The beauty of this is the distribution doesn’t show up as income on the tax return.
  2. Tuition deduction is back; the educator deduction is back.
  3. This one is of crucial importance…anyone that went through a foreclosure this year can exclude from income the canceled mortgage debt.
  4. Small business expensing limitation is in effect for 2014. This is incredibly valuable and important for many of our small business clients. This is what is known as the Section 179 election and has been increased to $500,000 for capital expenditures.
  5. Extension of credit for nonbusiness energy property. This provision allows a credit of 10% of the amount paid for qualified energy improvements, up to $500.00.

Let’s look at a few projects for you for the next few days:

  1. Take a look at charities given. Did you forget NPR, your local land trust or community foundation, Columbus House, Conquer Cancer or one of your other favorite non-profit organizations? This is a great time to donate. Sit by the fire and have kind thoughts… Action on these thoughts will provide you with a 2014 tax deduction (don’t forget to save your records).
  2. Harvest your investment gains and losses. If you want more info on this check out http://moneyover55.about.com/od/taxtips/a/capitallosstax.htm?nl=1 for a good explanation.
  3. Take a look at paying certain January payments for increased 2014 tax deductions: state income estimated tax and real estate taxes (not so easy if your real estate taxes are escrowed).
  4. If you are self-employed, take a look at this article for year-end strategies http://taxes.about.com/od/planforthefuture/qt/Year-End-Tax-Planning-Tips-For-Freelancers-And-Self-Employed-Persons.htm?nl=1
  5. Review your retirement plan and the contributions. You still have a few days to set up a 401k plan if you are self-employed or the owner of an S Corp or LLC…don’t miss out on this!
  6. Make your Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) payment on or before December 31, 2014 to qualify for a 2014 CT Income Tax deduction. https://www.aboutchet.com/benefits/index.shtml

You will be receiving our Tax Organizer Envelope shortly. Start using this as your important tax information comes in. It will save you time, energy and ease you towards a painless 2014 tax year filing!

And a few things to keep in mind:

  1. With all of the identify theft issues going on: the IRS never calls to demand immediate payment or emails and they will certainly never threaten to bring in local police to have you arrested for not paying.
  2. Most retirees need to take Required Minimum Distributions by December 31, 2014.

We at MJW EA & Company LLC are deeply thankful for the opportunity to provide you with the kind of services that you have come to expect. It’s in this spirit we say simply, but sincerely, “Thank you and Best Wishes for the New Year!”

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MaryJoWalker.com

Holiday Office Closing

We will be closed Wednesday, December 24th and Thursday, December 25th in observance of the Christmas holiday.  We will also be closed Thursday, January 1st in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday.

Have a safe and happy holiday season from all of us at MJW EA & Company LLC!

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What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?

While no one ever wants to hear that their child has been injured or struck by a serious illness while away at college, worse still is being unable to get any information about your child’s situation. Due to privacy laws (and the fact that your child is – technically – an adult), the only way you’ll be able to gain access to your child’s medical information is to have a signed Advance Healthcare Directive in place.

An Advance Healthcare Directive executed by the college student can give the parents authority in an emergency situation. It also includes a medical power of attorney that allows the student to appoint another person to access his or her health care records and make medical decisions on his or her behalf. Completing an Advance Health Care Directive will provide parents and students with the assurance that if an emergency occurs, the parents will be allowed to do what they do best–act on their child’s behalf and in his or her best interest.

For more information, please contact MJW EA & Company LLC.

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You’ve Seen Him in Person, Now Hear What He Has to Say

Beary-Smart-Says-Art-MJW-EA “When it comes to value for your money, consider this:  other firms charge per tax form.  MJW EA & Company LLC charges by the hour.  The difference is our quality not their quantity.”

 

Look for more of what’s on Beary’s mind and tips he comes across in his travels through tax season.

~ Don’t let taxes be a bear – contact us for your tax and financial needs.