Phone Scams Still High on the Tax Scam List

While the majority of taxpayers have already filed their 2017 tax return, there are still millions who haven’t quite got around to completing this task. Whether you’ve filed or not, you need to be aware of the possible scams that are still going on this tax season.

Every year the IRS warns taxpayers about these scams but every year thousands of people fall prey to scammers. Although scammers use all kinds of methods to con people out of their money, phone scams continue to be common each year. It’s no different for the 2018 tax-filing season.

In fact phone scams still top the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” list of scams. If you’re not familiar with this scam here’s generally how it works. You receive a phone call from someone who identifies his or herself as an IRS representative.

The caller then claims that you owe the IRS money and they are trying to collect it.  The caller informs the taxpayer that they must pay this tax debt off immediately via

wire transfer or with a pre-loaded debit card. If they refuse to pay the caller threatens them with severe punishment, such as prison time, losing their license or in some cases, deportation.

This is just one variation, but they all have one thing in common. The person demands money for unpaid tax debt.

The IRS will never call and demand money. The agency will always send a letter in the mail to inform taxpayers of any issue. They will never ask for you to make payments over the phone or even ask for debit or credit card numbers.  And they won’t threaten to arrest you or with other punishment.

If you get one of these calls, don’t argue with them. Just hang up.  You can also report the scammer to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) by calling 1.800.366.4484. Or, you can use the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” form on their website.

Is it Still a Good Idea to Switch Your Regular IRA to a Roth IRA?

Let’s talk about IRAs. There are two general kinds of IRAs: Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. First, what’s the difference? In a nutshell, you can deduct traditional IRA contributions from your federal and state income tax returns for the year you make the contribution. When you retire and start making withdrawals the money is taxed at ordinary income tax rates. Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs do not provide a tax break when you make contributions. However, earnings and withdrawals from Roth IRAs are typically tax-free. 

So with that in mind, why would someone want to switch from a traditional to a Roth? Roth IRAs offer another advantage. They are subject to the lifetime minimum distribution rules. Traditional IRAs are. These rules require IRA owners to start taking distributions as soon as they reach age 70. 

The new tax laws have also made things a little different for Roth owners. On the plus side, the income tax rates have gone down. That means you are likely to pay a smaller tax cost when you convert from a Traditional to a Roth. On the other hand, the tax did eliminate the re-characterization rule that used to be available for Roth IRA conversions. 

When all is said and done, converting from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is still a very viable option under the right circumstances. Losing the re-characterization option is a negative. But the overall positive factors of a Roth, combined with the new lower income tax rates, makes conversion a good move for many taxpayers. 

 

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True Entrepreneurs Are Not Failures

How many great entrepreneurs do you know? How many failed entrepreneurs do you know? The Truth is, people on both lists have failures on their resumes. However, failing does not make you a failure. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs have failed many times before they achieve success. The reality is failure is a natural part of entrepreneurship.

Therefore, true entrepreneurs are not failures. They just haven’t found their success story yet. So what does it take to become a successful entrepreneur? First off, don’t try to be an entrepreneur for the sake of being an entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs don’t set out to “be an entrepreneur.” Instead, they set out to do something great, solve a huge problem, disrupt an industry, or change the world.

Good entrepreneurs also know how important it is to surround themselves with the right kind of people. That means you have to hire people that will bring the passion, energy and talent it will take to become successful and achieve your goals.

It takes some guts. In fact, it doesn’t hurt if you’re a little crazy. That’s because being an entrepreneur and starting a company, or a movement, is risky. It takes some real bravado. You can’t be afraid to fail. So if you’re not into risk and the thrills that come with it then entrepreneurship might not be for you.

Lastly, you need to stay hungry and driven till the very end. You also need to stay humble. Never forget where you came from. In other words, hold onto your core values no matter where you are in the process to success.

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How To Hire Emotionally Intelligent Employees

If you’ve ever had to hire an employee you know it can be challenging. There are so many candidates and they all present themselves in the most positive way possible.  However, you can’t always judge a candidate by his or her resume. In fact, sometimes even the interview process still leaves you guessing.

So what can you do to hire emotionally intelligent employees? After all, you don’t need someone that will simply get the job done. You need someone that will fit in.  You need to find people you want to work with every day. The next time you’re looking to add someone to your company give these strategies a try to help you hire the right person.

Look for and identify EQ behaviors–during the interview process look for some key indicators that the candidates are emotionally intelligent. For example, if they show self awareness or good relationship management skills then they likely have a higher EQ.

Focus on body language–during the interview, some candidates will say more with their body language than they do with their words.  In fact, you can probably learn more about the candidate and how he or she will fit in by watching them physically react to questions, than you can from paying attention to what they say.

Ask the deep questions–of course, you have to cover all your bases and go over the key points of the job and the candidate’s experience. However, it’s important to probe much deeper than these surface questions if you want an accurate reading into his or her true character. These deeper, probing questions will give great insight as to what type of employee the candidate will be if hired.
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What Habits Make People Mentally Strong?

Everyone has trials. No matter who you are, you will face challenges in both work and in life in general. However, some people are able to deal with those challenges better than others. So what enables people to look past their challenges, overcome their struggles, and persevere until they reach their goals? It all comes down to mental strength.

So what makes some people more mentally strong than others?  It turns out they share a few traits that enable them to keep pushing forward even in the face of adversity.  Here are just a few.

They fight even when they’re down–mentally strong people don’t give up. When we’re faced with adversity we can either quit or push through it. When we quit, it just becomes easier to quit every time something gets hard. Mentally strong people push themselves further and grow because of it.

Patience–mentally strong individuals understand the importance of patience. They realize that success and the rewards that come with it don’t always come right away.  But they are ok with delayed gratification, because they know it will be worth it in the end.

Mistakes are OK–everyone makes mistakes. Mentally strong people don’t let their
mistakes stop them. They don’t use them as excuses, either. They are not afraid to fail. They simply learn from their mistakes and try again.

Accountability–mentally strong people hold themselves accountable for their actions, always. They don’t blame others for their mistakes. They own up to what they did wrong and they correct it. This shows they are more concerned about the results than with what they look like along the way.

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Wealthy California Residents Won’t See Tax Break Next Year

We all know the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed late last year was supposed to be a huge tax break for almost everyone. While it’s true that most people will see a boost in their paychecks, not everyone will be so lucky. There are some individuals and families that will actually owe more.

In fact, according to a recent report, approximately one million California residents will owe $12 billion more in taxes collectively next year. So what makes these earners so unlucky? Well, it has to do with the change in the state and local tax deduction rates.

Previously, these taxpayers were able to deduct the full amount of their state and local taxes from their federal return. However, the TCJA put a cap on how much individuals can earn and still claim this deduction. Therefore, individuals with incomes of $1 million a year or more will pay nearly $9 billion extra.

Additionally, about 750,000 families in California that make less than $250,000 annually will also owe more taxes. Combined, they these individuals will pay close to another $1.1 billion more in taxes.

Most taxpayers in the state will see a tax cut, but for high net income taxpayers, the Tax Cut and Job Acts is anything but a tax cut.
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Leaders Should Avoid Implementing These Office Rules

Every business has rules, including rules for office settings. Some rules are very important, while otherw seem quite ridiculous. There will always be rules and in many cases rules play a key role in a company’s success. However, some rules do just the opposite, and leaders should avoid implementing these types of rules. 

The problem is many rules are made because of one person, or because of one big mistake. However, that philosophy punishes everyone because of one person’s failure. The best thing to do is handle a situation like this individually, instead of holding everyone accountable. 

Here are some rules leaders should avoid at all cost. 

  • Requiring salaried employees to adhere to strict attendance rules, including clocking in at a set time, and monitoring their time off too stringently. Many employees stay late with no extra pay. Punishing them for arriving a few minutes late will only alienate them. 
  • Creating and adhering to a set performance scale. Making every employee follow a performance curve or rank will not improve performance. Instead they will work out of fear they will be fired. Everyone performs differently and success should be measured in different ways. 
  • Banning mobile phones or restricting Internet use. When leaders try to control their employees’ every move, they turn work into a dictatorship. Reasonable use of the Internet and mobile phones should be allowed. If employees are scared to do either they will not feel comfortable at work. 
  • Implementing strict dress codes to stifle creativity and self-expression. Sure, there are certain dress standards that should be kept in an office environment, but not allowing people to express themselves makes work a dull and unpleasant environment. This leads to employee dissatisfaction and less productivity. 

Rules are important, but make sure you don’t overdue it. Happy employees are productive employees.  

 

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Could the New Child Tax Credit Help You Pay for College?

The Child Tax Credit has been helping lower and middle class families since 1997. It has been a great benefit for these families to help offset the cost of raising children. However, for upper middle class and upper class families this benefit hasn’t been available. But the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 is changing that. Here’s why. 

Under the new law, the Child Tax Credit – which is worth $2000 per child – is now available to single filers with a modified adjusted gross incomes (MAGI) of up to $200,000. Married taxpayers qualify for it with an MAGI of up to $400,000. That means many more taxpayers are now eligible to receive this beneficial credit. 

So what about paying for college? As with any extra income, taxpayers have a choice. Just like you can go blow your tax refund each year, you could blow this extra money, as well. However, if you decide to hold onto this extra cash and store it away, it can help pay for college down the road. 

When you put this money into a 529 College Savings Plan you are actually building up your child’s college savings account tax-free. In addition, when it’s time to withdraw the funds and use them, they also come out tax-free, as long as you use them for qualified education expenses. Therefore, this extra $2,000 from the child tax credit each year is a great way to start saving for your child’s long-term education plan. 

 

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These Habits Will Make You More Likeable

How do others look at you? Are you likeable? Do people want to be around you and follow you? If you’re a leader it’s important to be liked. Of course, you have to have a certain level of authority and your subordinates won’t like every thing you do. But it’s still important to be likeable if you want to be successful in your leadership role. 

So what makes some people more likeable than others? There are many reasons, but most likeable people share some common habits that draw people to them and make them easier to like. Here are just a few: 

  • They Focus on Others First – When people take the time and genuine interest in other people they are more likeable. They don’t spend their time worrying about themselves, or about things. They put people first. 
  • Passionate and Positive – Irresistible people are very positive. They look for the good in people and situations. They look for reasons to be happy and help others be happy. They still have problems like everyone else, but they look for the positive. 
  • They Don’t Fake it – Likeable people are very authentic. They don’t have to fake energy or happiness. They are who they are and they live up to that expectation instead of trying to create a false persona. 
  • They Have Integrity and Respect – Likeable people treat others with respect, no matter who they are. From the janitor to the CEO, they treat ALL people the right way and never act like they are better than anyone else. They also have integrity and they do what they say they will do. Their actions always match their words. 

Likeable people understand the importance of these traits and habits and they live them. If you want to be more likeable then try putting these habits into practice. 

 

 

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Are You Still Missing This Important Leadership Skill?

It takes many skills to be a great leader. While most of these skills are obviously important, some are more valuable than others. So which skills do good leaders need the most? Great leaders all seem to have the ability to motivate and inspire others. That is arguably the most important skill a leader can have. So what comes next? 

What about solving problems? Not just any problems, like fixing the copy machine or dealing with an employee that’s always late. This is about complex problems. It turns out that solving complex problems is also right near the top of the list when it comes to important leadership skills to possess.

According to reports, the 2016 OECD Survey of Adult Skills showed that the ability to solve complex problems is crucial for fast-growing, highly skilled managerial occupations. However, even though this skill is critical and highly sought after, it is difficult to find people who already have this skill. 

According to organizations and companies, college graduates are not learning this important skill in our universities and business schools. However, this is exactly the kind of training they need, because solving complex problems doesn’t come naturally. 

One answer to this problem is already out there and in full force. Many companies have already turned to management consulting firms in order to educate and train their leaders how to solve complex problems. And these firms take problem-solving skills very seriously. 

So, if you want to become a great leader you should start learning the skill of complex problem-solving as soon as possible. 

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