Category: Finance

3 Steps To Simplify Tax Prep So You Can File On Time

Spring is noted for the sense of rejuvenation it inspires when temperatures warm up and flowers begin to bloom. But in the United States, the onset of spring is followed shortly thereafter by tax season, which typically generates entirely different feelings than the first sight of spring blooms.

The deadline to file tax returns in the U.S. in 2023 is Tuesday, April 18. With that deadline looming, now is a good time to consider these three basic tax preparation tips, courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.

1. Access your IRS account. Individuals can access or create their IRS account at That ensures taxpayers have the latest information about their federal tax account and enables them to see information about their most recently filed return. A visit to also allows individuals to make payments and apply for payment plans, among other options.

2. Organize your tax records. The IRS urges taxpayers to wait to file their returns until they have all of their records, including:

– Forms W-2 from employer(s)

– Forms 1099 from banks, issuing agencies and others payers, including unemployment compensation, dividends, pension, annuity or retirement plan distributions

– Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, W-2, or other income statement if you worked in the gig economy

– For 1099-INT if you were paid interest

– Other income documents and records of digital asset transactions, including convertible virtual currency and cryptocurrency, stablecoins and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

– Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, to reconcile advance payments or claim Premium Tax Credits for 2022 Marketplace coverage

– IRS or other agency letters

– CP01A Notice with your new Identity Protection PIN

3. Check your Individual Tax Identification Number. The IRS notes that an ITIN only requires renewal if it has expired and is needed on a federal tax return. An expired ITIN can delay the processing of a return, which in turn can delay tax credits and refunds.

Taxpayers filing with the help of a licensed tax professional are urged to contact that individual to inquire about any additional information they may need to file a return on time. Make such an inquiry well in advance of the deadline to file so you have sufficient time to gather all of the necessary documentation.

More information about filing taxes is available at

Tips To Pick The Right Time To Retire

Professionals work hard to achieve both short- and long-term goals. Retirement certainly qualifies as a long-term goal, and many people spend decades building and investing in a nest egg that they hope will help them enjoy their golden years to the fullest extent.

The decision regarding when to retire is affected by a host of variables, so what’s a good time for one individual may not be ideal for another. However, professionals on the cusp of retirement can consider these tips as they try to pick the right time to retire.

Consider Age-Related Benefits

Both the United States and Canada feature government-sponsored retirement income programs and it behooves individuals to familiarize themselves with the rules of those programs so they can maximize their benefits. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) allows individuals to begin receiving full CPP benefits at age 65, but they also can get a permanently reduced amount the moment they turn 60. The CPP also allows people to receive a permanent increase if they wait until turning 70 to receive payment. Similar age-related rules govern the Social Security benefits program in the United States, where individuals can begin claiming benefits at age 62, though those benefits will be reduced by 25 percent. If individuals wait until they’re 66 or, in some cases, 67, to claim Social Security benefits, they will receive their full benefits. The Social Security Administration notes that those who can wait until age 70 to claim benefits will receive as much as 132 percent of the monthly benefit they would have received at full retirement age.

These distinctions are significant, especially for people who will be looking to government-sponsored programs to provide significant financial support in retirement. Individuals who won’t rely as heavily on such programs may be able to retire earlier.

Pay Off Your Debts

Carrying debt into retirement can be risky. In general, it’s ideal to pay off all debts, including a mortgage and car payment, before retiring. Doing so can provide more financial flexibility and make it easier to manage unforeseen expenses, such as those incurred due to health problems.

Consider Your Retirement Living Expenses

It goes without saying that a sizable nest egg will be a necessity for anyone hoping to live comfortably in retirement. But the tricky part is figuring just how big a nest egg might need to be. In such instances, individuals can speak with a financial advisor and discuss what their retirement living expenses will be. Conventional wisdom based on the Consumer Price Index suggests individuals will need to replace between 70 and 80 percent of their pre-retirement income after calling it a career. But even that figure is not set in stone, as rising inflation, such as the rapid spike experienced in 2022, can quickly put retirees in financial jeopardy. By estimating the expenses they might have in retirement, individuals can begin to see just how close or far away from retirement they may be. Budget for inflation so any spike in living expenses can be easier to manage.

Many individuals recognize that there’s no perfect time to retire. But a few simple strategies can help professionals make the best decision possible.

How to Be a Smart Credit Consumer

Financial planning encompasses a host of strategies designed to help people enjoy the fruits of their labors. Financial planning is often associated with saving for retirement. However, smart credit management is an integral component of financial planning that can begin paying dividends long before adults are ready to retire.

Capital One notes that the benefits of a good credit score include lower credit card and mortgage interest rates, which can save individuals tens of thousands of dollars over the life of their home loans. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission reports that the better an individual’s credit history, the easier it is for that person to establish utility services, including electricity and internet service.

With so much to gain, individuals should do everything they can to be smart credit consumers. These strategies can help consumers use credit to their advantage as they look to gain from this vital component of financial planning.

Recognize the factors that affect your score. A credit score is generated using a formula that takes various factors into consideration. These factors include payment history, credit utilization rate, length of credit history, and credit inquiries, among others. Each variable is important, but paying balances in full and on time each month is a great way to build a strong financial reputation in the eyes of creditors. In addition, avoid overutilization of credit, especially if you can’t pay balances in full each month.

Check credit before looking for a job. One easily overlooked benefit of being a smart credit consumer is its impact on individuals’ ability to find a good job. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau urges individuals to check their credit reports before they begin looking for a job so they can correct any mistakes that may be on their reports. That’s because some employers look at applicants’ credit reports as part of their background checks. Smart credit consumers recognize that monitoring their credit is just as important as utilizing it wisely. Consumers can access reports from each of the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) for free once every 12 months.

Don’t wing it. Much like successful retirement planning is often the culmination of decades of hard work, strategizing and saving, becoming a smart credit consumer involves commitment to a well-developed plan to utilize credit. Impulsive use of credit can quickly compromise individuals’ credit histories and financial reputations, so develop a plan to use credit wisely and stick to that plan. A successful credit utilization strategy should be rooted in paying bills on time, and ideally in full, each month to avoid potentially costly interest charges. Identify any bad credit utilization habits and do your best to eliminate them. If necessary, work with a financial planner to develop your credit utilization strategy.

Various strategies can help individuals become smart credit consumers and reap the rewards that a strong financial reputation has to offer.