TSD Memphis



Taxes: Making the most of refunds

TaxRefunds 600With W-2s and 1099s in hand, most folks expecting a refund are lining up to file those returns. The doors are open to the many tax preparers who have waited patiently for the season to arrive. Once the money arrives there are many things that can be done with those much-anticipated dollars. Plan to get the most out of the money and improve your financial position. So, let's discuss a few of the many options of spending the refund checks.

Checking, savings or money market account

One option is to save your refund check for a rainy day or emergency. Experts advise that savings should equal between three and six months of expenses for cushion in the event of layoffs or cutbacks. This rainy day or emergency fund is separate from other accounts to make sure that it is not spent or mingled with the rest of the funds. It is to be used for the mortgage, rent, car repairs and such in times of need.

Instead of spending every cent received, try placing some in a checking, savings or money market account. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through direct deposit will place your money electronically into your account as instructed. The IRS will even divide your refund over multiple accounts with the completion of Form 8888, which is the Allocation of Refund Form.


Taxes: What is my filing status?

taxes 600To adequately – and legally – decrease our tax liability we must understand various components of our tax return. Let's begin with filing status.

What is a filing status?

A taxpayer's filing status impacts which tax rate is used and which standard deductions apply when calculating federal income tax for the year. For the most part, five different statuses are considered. They are: single, head of household, married filing separately, married filing jointly and qualifying widow/widower with dependents.

Keep in mind that there may be exceptions to the rules that may be more beneficial to you. So, speaking with a tax professional is recommended. Let's review the categories to determine which status applies to your situation.


Overcoming retirement challenges

CharlesSimsJr-160In a 2013 survey of people aged 50 to 70 with $100,000 or more in investable assets, 90 percent reported that they had experienced at least one setback in saving for retirement. In fact, the average respondent had experienced four setbacks with an average loss or missed opportunity of $117,000.

The future is always uncertain, and as the saying goes, "Life happens." It would be wise to prepare for the unexpected and react logically rather than emotionally when faced with retirement challenges. Here are some obstacles you might need to overcome.

Surviving market downturns. More than half of those surveyed said their assets had been reduced by market losses during the Great Recession. Yet another survey suggested that about 50 percent of workers who were 32 to 51 when the recession started actually showed gains in their retirement accounts during the 2007 to 2009 period. This group may have had lower balances when the recession began, and it's likely that they continued saving throughout the downturn, which might have helped them benefit when the market started to improve. Remember that all investments are subject to market fluctuation and the potential for loss.


Tax season means it’s time to focus

taxes 600As employees receive W-2s and independent contractors receive 1099s, many will be anticipating a refund and others may owe money. The connecting bottom line is that taxes must be filed in a timely manner.

Those expecting a refund usually will rush to file as soon as possible. While those expecting to owe the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will frequently wait until the April 15th deadline.

Many years ago, there were only a few major tax preparation firms, along with accountants, that prepared taxes. Now, small businesses dedicated solely to tax preparation have sprung up all over the Mid-South. These businesses are thriving and experiencing tremendous growth with a business model based on operating only a few months of the year.


Borrowers beware: payday loan tax filing is legit

irs 600On the surface, it looked like a clear-cut case of identity theft and tax fraud. A Memphis woman uses a popular income tax filing software system to file her taxes, but she is blocked from completing the process because the system shows that her taxes have already been filed. Immediately, she believes that tax fraud villains have stolen her identity and refund.

Later, a painful possibility comes to light: She, herself, authorized a tax preparer and short-term lending office to electronically file her taxes.

"I am a tax-preparer myself," said Marcia Bonds of Memphis. "So why would I go and pay someone else to file my taxes? I work for a tax office."


Spotlight Productions & the business of videography

FabianMatthews 600Even as businesses grow and expand, there is a never-ending need to connect with customers. One way to assist in that outreach is the strategic use of commercials.

When I first started a business in Memphis I used the services of Spotlight Productions to create my website and my very first commercial. The result was incredible for a new business. Over the years, Spotlight Productions – co-founded by Fabian Matthews – has become a major player in the video, commercial and web arena. This week Matthews shares his journey.

Carlee McCullough: Tell us about yourself.
Fabian Matthews: I'm a graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. I'm married, with 2 kids, Darion and Mia. I've won 3 Emmy Awards and 8 Telly Awards. My First job in TV was at KAIT in Jonesboro and then WMC-TV in Memphis. I started Spotlight Productions in 1999 with Isaac Singleton and Craten Armmer.


Should you wait to claim Social Security?

CharlesSimsJr-160Many people file for Social Security as soon as they stop working and/or become eligible for benefits. Full retirement age is 66 for most baby boomers and 67 for those born in 1960 or later, but Americans can claim early worker benefits starting at age 62.

The monthly benefit increases with claiming age by up to 8 percent a year, so filing early could cause you to lose out on thousands of dollars in benefits, especially if you enjoy a long life.
Consider this hypothetical example:

Paul could receive an annual benefit of about $15,400 if he files at age 62, $20,500 if he files at age 66 (full retirement age), or $27,100 if he waits until age 70.


Hiking the minimum wage – we must do our part

hester 600American humorist and social commentator Will Rogers once observed that we in America have the best government money can buy. I think he was right, and so did the Supreme Court.

Reporter and author William Grieder makes much the same argument when he points out in "Who Will Tell the People" that the distinctions between politicians of differing stripes are not nearly as pronounced as we might think. According to Grieder, they all have two things in common: constituencies and customers.

Constituencies elect them and customers finance them. Both theorists (Rogers and Grieder) would also probably agree with Abraham Lincoln that you can fool some of the people all the time; and you can fool all of the people some of the time; but (thank God) you can't fool all of the people all of the time.


ON OUR WAY TO WEALTHY: The business of romance

lovebusiness 600Romance should not be placed on the shelf until Valentine's Day. At times, relationships need spice and many are lost on where to begin the process. HiHeelz Concierge Service provides ideas and direction for those in need. Customers need only to bring their sweetheart and have the confidence to pull off the evening.

Part 2 of our look at the Business of Romance continues with the completion of our conversation with Dennette Smith-Ross, the founder and owner of HiHeelz Concierge Service.

Carlee McCullough: What is the greatest reward in running your own business?
Dennette Smith-Ross: I control my own destiny and work/life balance. I am doing what I am passionate about. I feel pride in building something of my own, but most of all I connect with my clients.


Top 10 companies looking to hire blacks and minorities in 2014 for internships and jobs

jobtopten 600(BlackNews.com) – As the economy rebounds, many companies across the country are hiring new employees. In fact, the unemployment rate continues to drop, and even for minorities the numbers are getting better. Hundreds of companies even have aggressive diversity recruiting programs for jobs and internships. This means that they are specifically looking to hire African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and women.

FindInternships.com, an online directory of jobs and internships, has compiled a list of the top 10 companies looking to hire minorities in 2014. Here they are:


The business of romance – a ‘HiHeelz’ approach Part 1

CarleeMcCullough-160There are many excuses for why the sizzle has dwindled in a relationship, such as:

"I'm too busy working and I'm tired!"

"We have kids now!"

"I have gained too much weight to be sexy!"

"We have been married for 20 years, they know how I feel!"

"I gave them some money to go shopping!"

No matter the excuse, the solution is Dennette Smith-Ross of HiHeelz Concierge Service.


Top 10 black and minority business grants

blackminoritygrant 600(BlackNews.com) – Contrary to popular belief, real business grants do exist. In fact, hundreds of black and minority-owned businesses each year receive such grant funding from various government agencies and non-profit organizations. Such funds do not have to be repaid, but must be used to either start a new business or enhance an existing one. Others can be used for innovation research.

Here are the top small and minority business grant programs available:

#1 - The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a nationwide competition that will award $50,000 in total to six deserving U.S-based entrepreneurs and business owners. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/fedex_small_business_grant_contest.html


Cash for Cars

cashforcars 600What do you do with a car or van that is old, paid for and does not work? One option is to call the self-proclaimed No. 1 junkman in the South, Patrick Boone. A fireman, Boone has carved out his own slice of the cash-for-cars niche. In this economy the business model could not have been more timely and he has it down to a science. Ready to jump into action with the receipt of a phone call, Boone has groomed a talented team that is responsive and eager to trade cash for vehicles.