Rise of the Robo Advisors

By now most people have at least heard of the term “Robo Advisors”. They’re not really robots, but are in fact software programs, designed by humans, that use highly effective algorithms to manage investors’ portfolios.

These automated investment services offer a lower initial investment and are significantly cheaper in terms of management costs. Your portfolio is automatically customized using your personal data and investment goals.

Currently, robo advisors handle over $70 billion in investments. This may sound like a large number, but with over $32 trillion in investable assets in the United States, the percentage is actually quite small.

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Plan now to Use Health Flexible Spending Arrangements in 2018; Contribute up to $2,650; $500 Carryover Option Available to Many

The following article was published by the IRS.

bandageThe Internal Revenue Service today reminded eligible employees that now is the time to begin planning to take full advantage of their employer’s health flexible spending arrangement (FSA) during 2018.

FSAs provide employees a way to use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by other health plans. Because eligible employees need to decide how much to contribute through payroll deductions before the plan year begins, many employers this fall are offering their employees the option to participate during the 2018 plan year. Continue reading

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How To Instantly Increase Your Productivity

While the length of a day hasn’t changed, the amount most of us try to cram into one has. Responsibilities are ever increasing, as are the distractions to get things done. It goes without saying that it’s impossible to increase the number of hours in a day, but finding ways to make the most of these hours is not just possible, it’s a must.

Here are several tips to help increase your daily productivity: Continue reading

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Get Ready for Taxes: Plan Ahead for 2018 Filing Season to Avoid Refund Delays

The following article was published by the IRS.

calendar 2018The Internal Revenue Service today advised taxpayers about steps they can take now to ensure smooth processing of their 2017 tax return and avoid a delay in getting their refund next year. This is the first in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. Additionally, the IRS has a special page on its website with steps to take now for the 2018 tax filing season. Continue reading

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Using Credit Responsibly

Having credit cards certainly increases your spending power, but they don’t necessarily increase your financial discipline. In fact, often times having more credit than you need or can handle is a recipe for disaster. Here are 8 tips which govern responsible credit card users. Continue reading

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Four Things to Know about Taxes and Starting a Business

The following article was published by the IRS.

deskNew business owners have tax-related things to do before launching their companies. IRS.gov has resources to help. Here are some items to consider before scheduling a ribbon-cutting event.

Choose a business structure

When starting a business, an owner must decide what type of entity it will be. This type determines which tax forms a business needs to file. Owners can learn about business structures at IRS.gov. The most common forms of businesses are:

  • Sole Proprietorships
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations
  • S Corporations
  • Limited Liability Company

Determine business tax responsibilities

The type of business someone operates determines what taxes they need to pay and how to pay them. There are the five general types of business taxes.

  • Income tax – All businesses except partnerships must file an annual income tax return. They must pay income tax as they earn or receive income during the year.
  • Estimated taxes – If the amount of income tax withheld from a taxpayer’s salary or pension is not enough, or if the taxpayer receives income such as interest, dividends, alimony, self-employment income, capital gains, prizes and awards, they may have to make estimated tax payments.
  • Self-employment tax – This is a Social Security and Medicare tax. It applies primarily to individuals who work for themselves.
  • Employment taxes – These are taxes an employer pays or sends to the IRS for its employees. These include unemployment tax, income tax withholding, Social Security, and Medicare taxes.
  • Excise tax – These taxes apply to businesses that:
    Manufacture or sell certain products
    Operate certain kinds of businesses
    Use various kinds of equipment, facilities, or products
    Receive payment for services

Choose a tax year accounting period

Businesses typically figure their taxable income based on a tax year of 12 consecutive months. A tax year is an annual accounting period for keeping records and reporting income and expenses. The options are:

Calendar year: Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

Fiscal year:12 consecutive months ending on the last day of any month except December.

Set up record keeping processes

Being organized helps businesses owners be prepared for other tasks. Good record keeping helps a business monitor progress. It also helps prepare financial statements and tax returns. See IRS.gov for record keeping tips.

For information on state requirements for starting and operating a business, refer to a state’s website.

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How Close Are We to a Cashless Society?

The debate has been going on for years, and the statistics clearly show that cash payments are losing ground to digital transactions more and more every year. What was once a novelty led to a convenience, which has now become a virtual necessity for many.

The new debate now is whether or not we should transition to a completely cashless society. There is no doubt that most people enjoy the benefits of a digital economy, but would people want a society where cash no longer existed? Would that even be possible?

In late 2016, India attempted to remove 86% of the cash from circulation in the form of high-value notes, sending shock-waves throughout its cash-dependent economy. Clearly there were unintended consequences to such a drastic move. Continue reading

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