5 Smart End-of-the-Year Money Moves You Could Make Right Now

As the year comes to a close, here are 5 things you can do to help keep your financial life on track:

Ask yourself these 5 questions and then take action!

Question #1

What has changed for you in 2016?

Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and the new year begins. Even if this year has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.

Question #2

Do You Practice Tax-Loss Harvesting?

Tax-loss harvesting is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. If you fall into one of the upper tax brackets, you might want to consider this move, which directly lowers your taxable income. Keep in mind this strategy should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust.(1)

Question #3

Do You Itemize Deductions?

If you do itemize deductions, great! Now would be a good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together. Besides a possible mortgage interest deduction, you might be able to take a state sales tax deduction, a student loan interest deduction, a military-related deduction, a deduction for the amount of estate tax paid on inherited IRA assets, an energy-saving deduction. There are so many deductions you can potentially claim, now is the time to meet with your tax professional to strategize to claim as many as you can.

Question #4

Are You Thinking of Gifting?

How about donating to a charity or some other kind of 501(c)(3) non-profit organization before 2016 ends? In most cases, these gifts are partly tax-deductible. Keep in mind, you must itemize deductions using Schedule A to claim a deduction for a charitable gift.(2)

Question #5

What Can You Do Before You Ring in The New Year?

Talk with a financial or tax professional now rather than in February or March. Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.


  3. This material was prepared, in part, by MarketingPro, Inc.

How Trump’s Proposed Tax Changes Could Affect You

Trump has been pretty clear about wanting to simplify our tax code. I sat down with CPA Steven Stern to help explain these proposed changes. So, here are where things currently stand and how they might affect you:
Here’s list of the of the items discussed in the video, but be sure to watch the video for to learn how these changes specifically affect you:


Shift From 7 Income Tax Brackets To 3

Current (Married Filing Jointly):

  1. 10% bracket: $0 to $18,550
  2. 15% bracket: $18,550 to $75,300
  3. 25% bracket: $75,300 to $151,900
  4. 28% bracket: $151,900 to $231,450
  5. 33% bracket: $231,450 to $413,350
  6. 35% bracket: $413,350 to $466,950
  7. 39.6% bracket: $466,950 or more

Proposed (Married Filing Jointly)

  1. 12% bracket: $0 to $75,000
  2. 25% bracket: $75,001 to $224,999
  3. 33% bracket: $225,000 or more


Increasing the Standard Deduction

Trump proposes increasing the standard deduction from $12,600 to $30,000 for joint filers (from $6,300 to $15,000 for singles), and capping itemized deductions at $200,000 (joint) or $100,000 (single) and scrapping AMT.


Eliminate 3.8% Affordable Care Act Tax

The 3.8% Affordable Care Act tax on the lesser of net investment income or the amount by which your AGI exceeds $200,000 would also be eliminated.

Source: Bob Veres

3 Important Financial Tasks To Do in April

#1 Finish Your Taxes

For 2016 the deadline to submit your tax return is April 18th. The reason for this is that typically Washington, D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th, the day President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill ending slavery in Washington, D.C. This year, however, the 16th falls on Saturday, so Emancipation day is being celebrated on April 15th and the tax filing deadline is pushed to April 18th.

Nevertheless, by April you should have your tax return completed. If not, and you can’t make the deadline for filing, April 18th is also the deadline for filing a six month extension Just keep in mind, if you owe money you will still need to pay your taxes by April 18th even if you file for an extension.

#2 Update Your W-4 Withholding

Once you’ve completed your tax return you may need to update your withholding allowance on your W-4. What’s your withholding allowance? According to Investopedia it is “the employee-claimed exemptions on the tax form W-4 that employers use to determine how much of an employee’s pay to subtract from his or her paycheck to remit to the tax authorities 1.” The more allowances you claim, the less income tax will be withheld from your paycheck.

How do you know if you need to update your withholding allowances? Well, are you getting money back? Do you owe any money? Either way if those are large numbers you should consider changing the number of allowances you are claiming on your W-4. Speak to your tax preparer to help you figure out what changes you should make.

#3 Spring Cleaning

It’s great that Spring and Taxes go hand in hand because it gives you the opportunity to purge once you’ve completed your return. You’ll want to shred documents you no longer need and file those you do. Better yet, start using an online filing system like FileThis to help you automatically aggregate all your electronic documents. This way you don’t have to deal with paper at all!

Wondering how long you need to keep your documents? Here’s the basic rule: Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. For more details on how long to keep your documents, read this post on the IRS website.

For more financial planning tips, download my free report: “8 Steps to Organize and Optimize Your Financial Life”. Thanks for reading!

3 Mistakes That Leave You Vulnerable to Identity Theft & Tax Scams

Despite all the media attention, tax scams along with Identity theft continue to plague the american public, especially during tax time. In fact, according to MarketWatch  the IRS  has seen a “400% increase in phishing and malware this tax season” compared to last season. So, what mistakes are you making that could potentially cause you to fall victim?

Mistake #1: Emailing Sensitive Information

The one is a HUGE problem, and the one I am most passionate about. Since email is so ubiquitous and simple to use most of us don’t think twice about sending our personal information to our accountants, financial planners, bankers, attorneys, etc. The problem is that most email is not encrypted and therefore not secure. Even services like dropbox are questionable when it comes to sharing documents containing your social security number, account information, etc, particularly if you are not using two-step verification. Don’t get me wrong, having free email and using a file sharing service like dropbox is great, just don’t use email for sending any information someone could potentially use to access your accounts or credit cards, open accounts in your name, or file a return to claim your refund! Also, be sure to add the extra layer of protection with dropbox if you plan to use it. If you need to send sensitive documents or information regularly, you should upgrade from free email and document sharing to a more robust, secure and encrypted solution. However, if you only occasionally need to send this type of information electronically, the person requesting the information should have their own solution in place for you to collaborate with them. For example, at Weiss Financial Group we use the Secure Client Website by eMoney and our affiliate company Weiss, Orro, & Stern uses SmartVault. Make use of these tools, because the more precautions you take the less chance you have of becoming the next victim of ID theft or fraud.

Mistake #2: Responding to a Phone Call From the IRS Saying You Owe Them Money

First off, the IRS will NEVER call your house if you aren’t already working with an agent. So, if you come home and you have a threatening message on your answering machine (do people still have those?) DO NOT call them back. If by some lapse of judgement you do call them back, DO NOT give them your Social Security number or other personal info, and NEVER give them money. It is a scam! Surprisingly, this scam keeps popping up every year, and every year people fall for it. My wife and I actually came home to one of these messages on our answering machine last year (ok, I admit, I still have an answering machine!). Obviously we did not call them back, however the message sounded authentic and was quite threatening. Want to hear a sample of one of these phony messages? Click here to watch a video I found on YouTube of an actual message left on someone’s cell phone. To see what the IRS says about all this, click here for a short video from the IRS regarding these scams along with some helpful scam prevention advice.

Mistake #3: Clicking on an email from the IRS or a Bank Requesting Personal Information

Clicking on emails from unknown sources exposes you to all sorts of bad things including a potential computer virus. So, as tempting as it is, train yourself not to open them! As I said before, the IRS will not call you at home, likewise they will not email you asking for sensitive information. Unfortunately, emails are quite easy to forge and fool you into thinking they are authentic. Just remember that the IRS will not send you a threatening email, so if you receive one don’t open it, and definitely do not hit reply.

I hope this gives you the ammo you need to protect yourself from making any of these mistakes. Be alert and be smart. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out.


  1. This material was prepared, in part, by MarketingPro, Inc.


Top Money Posts: Week of February 15, 2016

College and Taxes seem to be on everyone’s mind this time of year so I figured I’d share a few articles on both topics worth checking out:

From Around the Web:

I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to post a comment in the “Leave a Reply” box below if you have thoughts or questions about any of the articles I’ve shared, or simply click the “Like” button.

You can also let me know if you are enjoying the content I am sharing and if there is anything in particular you’d like to read about or have me write about. My goal is to send you these round ups once a month and write at least one original piece of content per month. Thanks for reading!


Top Money Posts: Week of January 18, 2016

Here are some articles I recommend checking out. I’ve also mixed in a few good one’s I shared previously in case you missed them.

From around the web:

  • With Powerball having reached record territory last week, I was asked by several friends (and my wife) what to do if they won all that money. For most of the people I work with, I’d give the same advice found in this NY Times piece that taking the annuity option is the best choice. However, this Money Magazine post makes a good counter argument for taking the lump sum. Wired magazine took an entirely different (and more fun) approach to answering this question with “How to Spend Your Powerball Winnings Like a Baller.” Regardless, even though it would have been great to be the winner, I agree with the Notorious B.I.G: “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”
  • The other big news has been the recent volatility in the stock market. Paul R. La Monica at says investors are overreacting. Nevertheless, it can be gut wrenching to watch the drops. Unfortunately, short term losses are the price we pay for the potential of long-term gains. If you need your money soon (12 months or less), you should avoid investing in the stock market.
  • As tax season approaches, tax scams will inevitably increase. Here are 7 Ways to Keep Your Tax Refund Safe From Thieves.
  • Microsoft has ended support for older versions of Explorer. Make sure you update your browser to help minimize the potential for viruses.
  • With high school seniors receiving acceptance letters over the past few weeks, many will need to take out student loans to pay for their dream college. But, how much is too much when it comes to taking out student loan debt?