Do You Qualify for the Child Care Credit?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

Raising children can lead to unexpected expenses that seem to come out of nowhere. As a parent, you may be wondering what tax benefits are available when you file your tax return. You may just find you qualify for the Child Tax Credit.  This tax credit was put into place not just to help taxpayers get the most out of their tax refund, but to also supply some relief for amongst all the expenses that pile up from having children. 

Since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), parents can now take advantage of the perks that come with the TCJA for child care expenses – this also includes adult kids that are still living under your household. 

If you’re not expecting a refund this year, the Child Tax Credit can help reduce a possible tax liability that you may owe, with a savings of up to $2,000 per child.  Even if you’re expecting a refund, you could still receive up to $1,400 back on your return. The Child Tax Credit is considered one of the most valuable credits to apply when filing your taxes. 

Some of the criteria you would need to meet in order to qualify for the Child Care Credit is:

  • Your child needs to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Children must be 16 years or younger 
  • The taxpayer’s child must be claimed on their tax return.
  • The child should have lived with you for more than half the year

Make sure that you take advantage of the Child Tax Credit this tax season in order to get the most out of your refund or help reduce your tax bill. Remember that there are a few qualifying factors to consider before utilizing the Child Tax Credit: age, relationship, support, dependent status, citizenship, length of residency as well as family income. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

By |IRS Collections, My Money, Tax, Tax Planning, Tax Returns|Comments Off on Do You Qualify for the Child Care Credit?

Should Taxpayers Consider Using Direct Deposit for Tax Refunds?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • If you’re looking to receive a tax refund this season and want it expedited, consider direct deposit.
  • It’s completely free to request direct deposit on your tax return
  • You’ll receive your refund through your bank instead of via check
  • It costs the IRS more to cut a check compared to transferring the money directly to your bank account. 

It’s tax time and everyone is scrambling to get their last-minute tax appointments scheduled before the deadline. If you’re expecting a refund this year, choosing the direct deposit option may be the more viable choice. Let’s explore the benefits:

It doesn’t cost you anything 

Whether you have a tax preparer file for you or you’re filing your tax return yourself, adding your bank information is free to include on your tax return. 

Get your refund faster

When you e-file with your direct debit information on your tax return, you’ll receive your refund much quicker compared to mailing off the return and having the IRS process it.

It’s secure

Using direct deposit information prevents the risk of having a paper check lost or stolen since the funds will be transferred directly to your bank.

You don’t have to e-file

If you prefer to mail out your tax return instead of e-filing, don’t worry, you’re still able to include your direct deposit information and receive your refund through your requested bank of choice.

It will save you money

It costs the IRS more than $1 for every paper refund check issued, but only a dime for each direct deposit made.

Tax season is a busy enough time to get through without having to worry about how you’re going to receive your refund or when it’s going to come. Having your refund deposited directly into your bank account is the ideal way to receive your money because it’s secure, quick, free, and saves taxpayers money. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

By |My Money, Tax, Tax Planning, Tax Returns|Comments Off on Should Taxpayers Consider Using Direct Deposit for Tax Refunds?

Top 3 Apps that will Help You Stay on the Right Financial Path for 2020

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • There are apps that will help support your financial goals and monitor both your spending and savings.
  • Mint is a budgeting tool that monitors and categorizes and updates any transactions that you may make.
  • Pocket Guard is another budgeting app that allows the user to connect to their bank accounts, which enables the app to track recurring expenses as well as everyday expenses.
  • YNAB teaches you how to manage your money and shows you where you are spending your money. 

For those that made the New Year’s resolution to create a financial goal and maintain it throughout the year, you may be starting to get to the point where it’s challenging to keep it up – especially if you find yourself falling back into old patterns.   You may start to be tempted to spend your money on frivolous items or to go out and splurge on drinks and restaurants. There is still time to correct these habits and get back on track. Luckily, there are apps that will help support your financial goals and monitor both your spending and savings.

Mint is a budgeting tool that monitors, categorizes and updates all your transactions. It also provides you information on how you’re spending your money. Users are able to create and set budgets and will be notified if they go over their budget. The app also provides free credit score updates and monitoring.

Pocket Guard is also a budgeting app. It allows the user to connect their bank accounts, which enables the app to track recurring expenses as well as everyday expenses. This app also tracks any deposits that are made into your account. Pocket Guard will analyze your recurring expenses and see if there is a better deal out there for you which could allow you to save money with each purchase.

YNAB teaches you how to manage your money and shows you how you spend your money. This app provides detailed reports that reflect your spending habits on a month-to-month basis, as well as how to correct the areas in which you’re spending too much. 

Whether you’re looking to create a budget or save more money in the long run, each of these apps will help you do so as well as maintain your new year’s goal. There are plenty of financial apps out there to help get you back on track and testing a few out would help you find what works best for you. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

By |Credit Reports, My Money, Retirement, Savings|Comments Off on Top 3 Apps that will Help You Stay on the Right Financial Path for 2020

10 Travel Hacks when You’re on a Budget

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • There are ways to travel and go on vacation without having to go broke. 
  • If you’re looking to travel but don’t want to spend the high prices, consider planning around off-peak travel times. 
  • Find a hotel that has additional amenities, saving you more money in the long run.
  • Staying at a hostel is probably one of the most cost-effective ways to travel. 
  • Try doing some sightseeing and look for iconic landscapes that you can’t find back home. 

As the season gets warmer, and with summer looming just around the corner, it’s time to start planning on where you want to go on vacation – and, inevitably, spend more money than usual. Typically, flight costs go up as the temperature does and hotels start to upcharge a bit more than they usually do. So what do you do if you’re on a budget but still want to vacation? Believe it or not, there are ways to travel and go on vacation without having to go broke. 

1. Plan Around Travel Time

Certain times of the year can cause flight and hotel prices to go up because of the surge in tourists that are visiting their location. If you’re looking to travel but don’t want to spend the high prices, consider planning around off-peak travel times. 

If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, start looking at countries that fit into your budget based on the price of their merchandise and how affordable the country is overall.

2. Check to see if your hotel offers free breakfast

Traveling can become expensive very quickly.  If you’re looking to take a more economical route, consider looking for a hotel that serves their guests’ breakfast. Some hotels provide a few morning snacks while others have a full continental breakfast served to guests every morning. In the end, it might benefit you to find a hotel that has additional amenities, saving you more money in the long run.

3. Hostels may be the cheaper option

Staying at a hostel is probably one of the most cost-effective ways to travel. Not only are you getting the lowest price compared to hotels or rentals, but you’ll also be able to have the opportunity to connect with many other travelers from all around the world. No matter where you travel to, there is usually a hostel that can accommodate you.

4. Explore the town

Believe it or not, the best experiences are typically free. Try doing some sightseeing, like looking for iconic landscapes that you can’t find back home. You could also try looking for hiking trails that may lead to hidden treasures or views you never dreamed of. 

If you’re planning to travel, try to get the most out of your experience without having to hurt your wallet. Always make sure that you compare prices against other hotels and prepare an itinerary ahead of time to project what possible costs you may have to incur. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can still have an enjoyable trip without breaking the bank.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

By |My Money, Savings|Comments Off on 10 Travel Hacks when You’re on a Budget

Optima Honors The Nine

To honor the nine lives that were lost on January 26, 2020, Optima staff in both California and Arizona wore purple and gold as a show of support to the loved affected by the tragedy. As part of the Optima Cares initiative, a donation was also made to the MambaonThree.org fund.

By |Culture|Comments Off on Optima Honors The Nine

What to Do If You Work Abroad and Owe the IRS

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Working abroad doesn’t excuse citizens from paying their taxes, in fact, they are still held to the same standard as those working within the U.S. too.
  • For those working abroad, tax filing will begin on January 27th and are provided a two month extension-until June 15th-to file their tax return.
  • U.S. citizens have the choice to either mail their tax return or e-file as long as it is before the tax deadline. 

Working abroad can be an exciting adventure.  For starters, you get to experience different cultures, meet new people, and eat foods you’ve never even heard of before. It can be easy to immerse yourself in a new country and forget all the responsibilities that you had back at home. While this can be a welcome development for many, one responsibility you should try not to skirt is your taxes.  Even when you’re working abroad, you are still bound to the same tax laws, and you will need to report your income and file your tax return when you’re living in another country. If you’re an American citizen that is working abroad or are even just considering doing so, it is important to know when you should file, where you can file, and if you are able to file online.

When you should file

If you’re a U.S. citizen, resident alien, or you are in the military on duty outside of the U.S. that is working abroad, you are still obligated to file your tax return by April 15th. The only difference between someone working abroad versus someone that resides in the U.S. is that the person working abroad is provided an automatic two-month extension. This means those working outside of the U.S. are given until June 15th to prepare and file their tax return. It should also be noted that taxpayers are still required to pay any tax balance they have by April 15th or they will be charged interest.

Where to file

Working abroad can cause some confusion about how and where you are able to file your tax return. If you’re a U.S. citizen or resident alien; this includes a green card holder, you can mail your U.S. tax return to:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service Center

Austin, TX 73301-0215 USA

Can you e-file?

Taxpayers that have their adjusted gross income of $69,000 or less have the ability to electronically file their tax returns for free. If taxpayers have a greater adjusted gross income greater than the specified threshold, they can use the Free File Fillable Forms, the e-file by purchasing commercial software, or the Authorized IRS e-file Provider Locator Service.

If you’re a U.S. citizen looking to work abroad, it is important to know your tax duties and obligations you will still have, regardless of whether you’re working and residing elsewhere. Make sure to mark your calendar for tax filing season every year so you remember to file your tax return. It is also critical to know what your options are when it comes to filing your tax returns and what software you are able to utilize. 

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

By |IRS Collections, My Money, Tax, Tax Planning, Tax Returns|Comments Off on What to Do If You Work Abroad and Owe the IRS

Don’t Break the Bank this Valentine’s Day

  • With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it can become expensive to plan out activities for the holiday.
  • If you’re looking to save money, consider making dinner at home using fresh and/or seasonal ingredients.
  • Making a homemade gift is another alternative to purchasing roses or jewelry. Writing a love letter or creating something unique for your loved one might just be the extra effort to show that you care.
  • Preparing in advance for Valentine’s Day will allow you to splurge more without having to put a dent in your wallet. Make plans ahead of time to know how much you will need to save.

If you haven’t planned anything for Valentine’s Day yet and you’re on a budget, don’t start to panic just yet, as there are alternative options to make this Valentine’s Day memorable without having to break the bank. Most people associate this romantic holiday with dining out or giving extravagant presents as a declaration of one’s love, but don’t worry: there are still ways to show your love for your significant other while still staying on a budget. 

Romantic Dinner at home

If it slipped your mind and you forgot to make a reservation, or if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to spend additional cash for a fancy restaurant, don’t worry!  You can still have a delicious and romantic dinner without having to be concerned about how much the bill is coming out to. Making a home-cooked meal can be just as extravagant as a dinner at a fancy restaurant without having to shell out the same amount of cash. You can also check your local grocery stores to see what type of promotions or deals they’re having on their produce; more often than not, there’s a sale on some fresh, fancy foods. You can also stick to purchasing in-season vegetables and fruit as they are typically much cheaper than foods that are out of season. 

Homemade gifts

The cost of buying a Valentine’s gift can add up very quickly, especially if you’re buying multiple gifts. The price only goes up if you’re considering buying chocolates or flowers to go with it!  Although everyone loves to receive pricey gifts every once in a while, it isn’t necessary to actually spend the money on something that is already overpriced. Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones that you put the most thought and care into. Writing a letter or creating something by hand shows that you’ve taken the time to create something special and unique, and often can mean more to your significant other than something much more expensive.

Saving ahead of time

If you’re looking to splurge this upcoming holiday, start planning in advance how much you want to spend and what fits into your budget. Once you have an idea, you can start saving ahead of time to ensure that you won’t be caught off guard with any additional expenses. Just make sure that you have enough time to plan ahead and save extra cash, as restaurants typically start getting booked up the week before Valentine’s Day.

Whether you’re looking to save money this upcoming holiday or have a budget, it’s always a good idea to see what you can do to make the most out of Valentine’s day for you and your special someone. Valentine’s Day is about showing someone how much you care about them, there are many ways that you can do this without having to splurge. 

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

By |My Money, Savings|Comments Off on Don’t Break the Bank this Valentine’s Day

Optima Tax Relief Creates College Scholarship to Provide Students with Financial Relief

  • Optima Tax Relief announces the release of their Derik Ordinario Scholarship for college students.
  • The scholarship was created to provide students with financial relief.
  • Company employees can refer family members, as well as people they know within the community-at-large.
  • Students can submit their applications now through February 27th.

Our team at Optima Tax Relief is excited to announce the release of our Derik Ordinario Scholarship fund. The scholarship was created to assist students that are seeking financial assistance for college. Our team has focused on providing relief for 1000s of our clients, employees, and community charity partners over the last year, and it gives us great pleasure to now have the opportunity to provide relief for students. 

“Derick lived a life committed to providing love, support, and opportunities for others,” said David King, CEO of Optima Tax Relief. “In establishing this scholarship, we aim to help carry his positive impact forward.”

Company employees can refer their family members, as well as people they know within the community-at-large, to the program. Two recipients will be chosen and awarded with a scholarship this June. Interested students can submit their applications now through February 27th. To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or above, fully complete the application and upload an unofficial transcript in addition to writing a 400- word requirement for the “essay topic.” 

The applicant’s essays will be evaluated by the Scholarship Committee and will be graded on their personal viewpoints, relevance to the themes, readability, and clarity, and spelling grammar. 

At Optima, we value education above all else. What this scholarship signifies to us the chance to change the recipient’s life and the ability to afford school. We will continue to make great strides when it comes to uplifting the surrounding community and assisting those that are in a hardship. 

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free
consultation
.

By |Press Releases|Comments Off on Optima Tax Relief Creates College Scholarship to Provide Students with Financial Relief

Will Interest rates remain the same for the first quarter of 2020?

With tax season creeping upon us, some people may start to panic because they haven’t yet filed their tax return; some may even wait until the very last second before filing.  One of the reasons many Americans put off filing their taxes is because they know that they’re going to owe a tax liability and simply don’t want to deal with it. For those that have a balance with the IRS, they may have questions about whether or not they will accrue interest, how much interest they could accrue, how to avoid owing a balance, or how to prepare for next tax season. If you know that you’re going to owe the IRS at the end of the year, keep reading to find out how you’ll be affected and what you can do to prepare for the next tax season.

Interest rates

According to the IRS, if you end up owing a balance this tax season, interest rates will remain the same as last year for the first calendar quarter beginning January 1, 2020. Here are the interest rates that taxpayers can expect:

  • 5% for overpayments (4% in the case of a corporation).
  • 2.5% for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.
  • 5% for underpayments.
  • 7% for large corporate underpayments. 

The Internal Revenue Codes determine their interest rates on a quarterly rate. These rates that have been announced this year are computed using the federal short-term rate and will be based on daily compounding.

How to avoid interest

If you have a tax liability, you can count on the IRS to notify
you of your balance due and what tax solutions they may have for you. In addition to what you owe, the IRS will tack on interest until your balance is paid in full. Some of the main reasons taxpayers
end up owing the IRS are:

  • Incorrect withholding amounts.
  • Failure to make estimated tax payments.
  • Underreporting income on their tax return.

So how can you avoid making the same mistakes listed above? The IRS provides tax relief help and encourages taxpayers that are W2 employees to do a paycheck checkup at least one time throughout the year to ensure they are withholding the correct amount to avoid any surprises like owing money come tax time. The IRS provides a withholding calculator for taxpayers to utilize when checking to ensure they’re on the right track. 

If you are a 1099 earner or even a W2 earner and you typically owe during tax time, it may be in your best interest to start making estimated tax payments quarterly. This will make it more likely that
when it’s time to file your taxes you won’t owe a liability, and will help you avoid any interest that would have been tacked onto your balance. IRS tax help for making your estimated tax payment can be found on their website

Another way to stop interest rates is by ensuring that you include all income on your tax return. Attempting to leave any income off your return could potentially lead to an audit, and if it’s found that income has been excluded, it could possibly lead to you owing a balance in addition to interest and penalties.

You can count on the IRS to continue adding interest to any tax balance that you owe. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility to ensure they don’t owe at the end of the year in order to avoid accruing any interest; this means making regular checks that your withholdings are accurate, making estimated tax payments if you know you will owe a balance when you file, and ensuring that you are reporting all income to the IRS to avoid having both penalties and interest. 

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

By |IRS Collections, My Money, Tax, Tax Planning, Tax Relief Solutions, Tax Returns|Comments Off on Will Interest rates remain the same for the first quarter of 2020?

Your Financial Diet for the New Year

With each new year inevitably comes the new year resolutions. For most, this is the time of the year we aspire to make big changes in our lives and create new goals to reach by year’s end. One of the most common resolutions that people make is about money: spend less and save more. Giving your finances a fresh start and taking a break from frivolous spending can be very beneficial to you – and give some breathing room to your bank account. This article details how to make your money a priority by starting towards new goals, making a budget and cutting out impractical spending that could affect the way that you save money.

Set goals

One of the first things you should do is to create goals for yourself for the new year. A good way to start is by writing down goals that are realistic and attainable for the year. Make sure that your goals are measurable so that you’re able to track your progress every month to ensure you’re staying on track to meet your objectives.  

Create a budget

Once you have decided what financial goals you want to focus on, it’s time to create a budget.  This will help to give yourself a visual representation of how you’re spending your money. You should start by figuring out how much income you make on a month-to-month basis. If you aren’t salaried or if you receive a commission as part of your compensation, and therefore don’t see a flat rate of pay each month, a good approach is to average out your income from the months prior to seeing what you earn on average. 

The next step is to determine what your spending habits are.  Some expenses are the same every month, such as your mortgage/rent or car payment, while other expenses vary month to month such as your utilities or groceries; you can take the average from your prior months to determine how much you can expect to spend. 

Get rid of the excess spending

After you’ve created a budget, it’s time to take a look at what you’re spending every month – and figuring out what expenses you can do without. A great way to look at where your money is going is by checking your bank statements. It may surprise you, but once you review your expenses, you’ll begin to realize how many times you’ve gone out to eat, went shopping for clothes or splurged a little extra at your favorite coffee shop. Once you are able to identify your impractical expenses, you can be more mindful of them so you can focus on putting more money in your savings. 

The new year allows you to press the restart button on any bad habits that you had previously and this includes how you are spending your money. If you’re looking to refresh your finances, make sure to make attainable money goals, make a budget to ensure that you stay on track and review your expenses regularly to avoid overspending. 

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

By |My Money, Savings, Tax Returns|Comments Off on Your Financial Diet for the New Year