Tag Archives: taxes

4 Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft During Tax Season

Protect Your IdentityTax season isn’t just the money-making season for accountants and tax experts, it’s also when identity thieves cash in. According to MSN Money, the IRS has stopped nearly 15 million tax returns suspected of being fraudulent since 2011. But the government’s efforts to catch tax fraud aren’t foolproof: Over that same time span, Americans have suffered $3.5 billion in losses due to tax fraud. Tax scams are a pretty common means of trying to dupe consumers into handing over their personal information, so much so that the IRS releases an annual “Dirty Dozen” list of the top tax fraud methods. Consumers need to be vigilant of these efforts and protect themselves from common fraud attempts. Here are four tips to keep your personal information secure. Follow these tax time tips from PennySaverUSA.com to keep your identity from being stolen.

File Your Tax Return Early

According to USA Today, tax experts recommend filing your tax return early just as a matter of avoiding increased fraud risks. The earlier taxes are filed, the less prepared or capable scammers will be to take advantage of you. Since many scammers will try to file a fake return ahead of you in order to receive the fraudulent return funds, early returns reduce the likelihood of this happening. The IRS receives your legitimate return first, making fraudulent returns sent in later very easy for the agency to identify. Search listings on PennySaverUSA.com to find a tax center near you.

Prepare and File Taxes Over Secure, Private Wi-Fi

Thanks to online tax preparation tools, many individuals are now able to complete even complex tax returns on their own. This saves them money while putting the quality of their return in their own hands. But how you prepare and file these returns makes a big difference in how exposed you might be to tax fraud. According to USA Today, public Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for scammers to steal your personal financial information. When preparing and filing taxes, make sure you use a secure, private Wi-Fi network that cannot be accessed by strangers.

Use Identity Theft and Credit Monitoring Services

Taking the necessary precautions will drastically reduce your risk of being victimized by tax fraud, but even a careful approach can’t guarantee you won’t be targeted by scammers. In some cases, it could be months before you are made aware of the fraud that has occurred to you. By then, the damage has already been done.

To make sure you are notified of any fraudulent activity attached to your name, it’s wise to invest in a credit monitoring or identity theft monitoring service. Companies like Lifelock specialize in providing comprehensive monitoring services to stop identity theft before it strikes. And if you are victimized, these services will let you know right away, minimizing the damage and helping you respond proactively.

Never Sign a Blank Return

If you choose to have your taxes completed by a tax preparer, one key tip: Never sign a blank return. If you do this, you basically hand over to the tax preparer the ability to do whatever they’d like with your return, including sending it to another address, falsifying documents or other attempts to commit fraud. Wait until the return is completely finished and put your name to paper only when it’s ready to be delivered to the IRS.

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Don’t Blow Your Tax Refund – Do One of These Smarter Things Instead

Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax RefundEverybody loves getting a tax refund. But before you go out and spend the whole thing, stop to consider some other, wiser things you could do with it. The suggestions below from PennySaver USA may not be as exciting as getting the latest tech gadget or some brand new clothes, but they will pay dividends for years to come.

Pay Down Debt

Large balances and high interest rates cost you big bucks and may end up damaging your credit. Use your refund to pay down your debt, especially if you are having problems making payments on time. You could save hundreds to thousands in interest and improve your ability to get good loan rates in the future.

Save It

Deposit your refund in a an income-bearing account, such as a money market account or a certificate of deposit, or buy savings bonds with it. A couple of years of saving your income tax refunds this way will create a solid nest egg. If you’ve nothing saved for retirement, this is the perfect opportunity to open an IRA.

Invest in Home Improvements

A mortgage is the biggest investment many people will make. Use your income tax refund to make improvements that will protect or increase the value of your home. It’s a better alternative than borrowing to make improvements or letting the value of your property slip. Energy-efficient upgrades improve your home’s value and save you money over time by reducing heating and cooling costs. Search the home improvement classified ad listings on PennySaverUSA.com.

Use It for Education

Consider using your refund to finance tuition for a certification or professional conference that will improve your employment skills and career opportunities, which in turn increases your earning potential. Or if you have a child or grandchild, consider depositing it in an education fund. Some states offer taxpayer credit for contributing to a 529 plan that helps someone go to college.

Start a Business

If you’ve always dreamed of opening your own business, now may be the time. Apply your refund to startup costs. If you need additional funds, apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration. Or, if you receive regular income from a structured settlement, sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash now.

Get Insurance

If there is some type of insurance you want or need but haven’t been able to afford, use your income tax refund to get it. Life insurance, flood insurance and renter’s insurance protect your family and property and provide peace of mind. If you spend it on expensive shoes or a down payment on a new car, you’ll get some enjoyment, but insurance will protect you and your assets.

Book Your Vacation

Use your refund to book your summer vacation. Buy airline tickets and make hotel reservations now, and then bank the rest for spending money. If you already have a vacation fund, add your refund to it, so you can spend time on a tropical beach without going into debt. Start your search now and browse through vacation rentals on PennySaverUSA.com!

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Free Friday: Tax Day Freebies!

Taxes can be very… well, taxing! That’s why we made sure to round up the best Tax Day freebies we could find. If you’re finished filing your taxes, de-stress with these Free Friday freebies brought to you by PennySaverUSA.com.

Food/Drinks

Get two free cinnabon bites on tax day!FREE Cinnabon Bites Sweeten your tax refund with two free Cinnabon bites from your local participating Cinnabon location. No coupon necessary, but check to make sure your local Cinnabon location is participating in this promotion.

FREE Curly Fries or Potato Cakes at Arby’s: Visit Arby’s for their 3rd Annual Tax Day Curly Fry Giveaway! Tax relief is on the way with free curly fries or potato cakes on tax day, April 15th.

Panda Express has free Samurai Surf and Turf!FREE Samurai Surf & Turf at Panda Express: On Wednesday, April 17 only, print or show this coupon on your mobile device for a free single serving of Samurai Surf & Turf at Panda Express. No purchase necessary.

FREE pinkberrygreek at Pinkberry: Every Wednesday in April, from 11am-2pm, you can get free pinkberrygreek yogurt at your local Pinkberry location. Pinkberrygreek is the latest addition to the light refreshing lineup at Pinkberry.

FREE Small Popcorn at AMC Theatres: If you need to take some stress off after filing your taxes, why not go see a movie this weekend? Make it even better with this coupon from AMC Theatres, for a free small popcorn. Celebrate the close of tax season with a crunch!

FREE 6″ Sandwich at Subway: Daily til 9am, April only, you can get a free 6″ sandwich when you buy any sandwich at Subway. Free sandwich is of equal or less value. Prices and participation may vary, so check and see if your local Subway is participating.

FREE Bacon at Denny’s: The answer to all of your problems is bacon. So obviously, there’s no better freebie than a coupon for free bacon. Denny’s is celebrating their bacon obsession during ‘Baconalia’ by giving you free bacon. Sign up now and get your coupon for free bacon.

FREE Medium Slurpee at 7-Eleven: If you want a free 7-Eleven Slurpee, text Slurp7 to 711711. No purchase necessary. This offer expires 4/30.

Fragrance

FREE Live Color Fully Fragrance Sample from Kate Spade: Try the newest fragrance from Kate Spade when you sign up for this free sample. ‘Like’ the Kate Spade Facebook page, and fill out the form to receive your free sample of the new Kate Spade fragrance, Live Color Fully.

FREE Sample of HUGO RED Fragrance Here’s a fragrance freebie for the guys! Fill out this form to receive a free sample of the HUGO BOSS RED Fragrance. If you have previously signed up for this sample, you may not be able to again.

Hair Care

FREE John Freida Hair Care Sample: Fill out this short survey to receive your free John Freida sample. I’m not sure if it makes a difference, but I recommend choosing “Strongly Agree” as the answer for all of the survey questions, to ensure you get chosen to receive a free sample. If you are chosen, you will get a confirmation page, and can expect to receive your sample in 6-8 weeks.

FREE Sample of Clear Men Scalp Therapy: ‘Like’ the Clear Men Scalp Therapy Facebook Page, and fill out the required info to sign up for your free sample. Allow 8-10 weeks for delivery.

FREE L’Oréal Paris Advanced HairCare: Visit, and ‘Like’ the L’Oréal Facebook Page to see the freebie signup app. Click on ‘Sign up for a Free Sample’, and fill out the requested information. Make sure to choose what your biggest hair concern/problem is, so they can send you the right haircare sample for you. CLick Submit, and your free L’Oréal Haircare Sample should arrive in 8-12 weeks.

Skin Care & Makeup

FREE Eucerin Lotion Sample: When you pledge to put your skin first, Eucerin will send you a free sample of lotion, based on how dry your skin is. Fill out the information required to receive your <a href=”http://www.eucerinus.com/skin-solution-center/pledge.html?free Eucerin lotion sample.

Pets

FREE Can of Friskies Can of Food: Treat your pet to some freebies! Use this Petco coupon to get a free 5.5 oz. can of Friskies Cat Food. Valid only on in-stock items, and expires 5/31/13.

Kids

FREE Event at Pottery Barn Kids: Stop by your local Pottery Barn Kids this Saturday, for a special National Geographic Little Explorers event! This free event starts at 10am on Saturday, April 13, and kids will have the chance to learn all about oceans, sharks, and other ocean creatures through hands-on activities, songs, quizzes and more.

FREE Kids Clinic at Lowe’s: On Saturday, April 13 at 10am, you can take the kids over to Lowe’s, where they’ll have the chance to build a free Planter, and decorate it with their favorite creatures and characters from the movie, The Croods.

FREE Kids Bodysuit from Gymboree: Fill out this form with the required info, and you’ll receive a coupon for a free kids bodysuit with any purchase of $10 or more.

FREE Jelly Kids Vitamin Sample: Give your kids vitamins they’ll want to take. Get this free sample of Jelly-Kids Vitamins for your children, by filling out the easy 3 step form on the Jelly Kids website.

Events

FREE Jazzercise Class: This is the last weekend to attend a free Jazzercise class! So what are you waiting for? Find a class near you, and be ready to dance!

FREE Sampling Events at Walmart: Walmart hosts variety of free sampling events every weekend. Enter your zip code to see what events are happening near you.

Miscellaneous

FREE HydroMassage Experience: Bring this coupon into a participating HydroMassage business to receive a free HydroMassage experience. This offer is only valid April 15-19, 2013. not valid at all locations, so please check with your nearest location. Call ahead to schedule your free HydroMassage, to avoid any wait.

FREE $25 Target Gift Card Enter Target’s ‘Ready, Set, Win!’ Sweepstakes every day for your chance to win a $25 Target Gift Card. There are 25 winners each day, so remember to enter daily!

2 FREE Padres Tickets: Complete a free online Mercury Auto Insurance Quote, and they’ll send you a voucher redeemable for two (2) free tickets to a San Diego Padres 2013 home game. When completing your free insurance quote, enter Promotion Code PADRES. Select dates only. This is a limited time offer, and that means the tickets are limited too!

2 FREE Dodgers Tickets: Complete a free online Mercury Auto Insurance Quote, and they’ll send you a voucher redeemable for two (2) free tickets to a Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 home game. When completing your free insurance quote, enter Promotion code DODGERS.Select dates only. This is a limited time offer, and that means the tickets are limited too!

FREE Folding Cup Sample: This freebies is perfect for travel and people on the go. Never be without a cup again. Get your free folding cup sample now. Just fill out the required info, and you’ll receive your sample by mail in 2-3 weeks.

FREE Honk Suppressor form 76: Join the cause to stop “Honkaholism”. Not sure what that is? Check out StopHonkaholism.com for more info. If you or someone you know needs help, then order a free 76 Honk Suppressor, while supplies last.

FREE Business Card Sample from MOO: If you’re looking to market yourself or your business then you need great business cards. Don’t want to commit to an order of 250 and be unsatisfied? No problem. With the MOO Business Card Sampler, you go through the same process as a normal order, but you’ll be sampling just 10 cards. It’s quick, easy and FREE. They’re the same professional quality as a paid order, the only difference is that a small MOO logo is included on the cards.

Enjoy all of the freebies we’ve found for this installment of Free Friday.

Get your FREEBIES now!


PennySaverUSA.com’s Free Friday is a collection of third party promotions, offers and freebies that we’ve assembled from the web and elsewhere (the “Promotions”). The merchants and the products/services identified in the Promotions are not affiliated with PennySaverUSA.com, Harte-Hanks Shoppers, Inc., or any of its affiliates (“PennySaverUSA.com”). The inclusion of a Promotion in Free Friday should not be construed as an endorsement of PennySaverUSA.com or its products/services by such merchants. Free Friday and the Promotions are provided “As Is.” PennySaverUSA.com makes no representations or warranties whatsoever regarding the Promotions or the products/services included therein, including but not limited to whether the Promotions will be honored, have expired, are accurate or error free and disclaims all implied warranties to the extent applicable.

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Tax Tips: Deciding how many exemptions to take

This is Part III of PennySaverUSA’s tax tips series

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The tax process begins when you decide how many exemptions to take.

The final step of the tax process is actually filing your taxes. The process begins when you are first hired at your job and decide how many exemptions you would like to claim.

There are two types of exemptions you can take:

  1. Personal Exemptions
  2. Dependency Exemptions

A personal exemption is the amount you can deduct from your taxable income.

The exemption for a single person is $3,700. If you are married, you can claim your spouse as a second exemption also worth $3,700 for a total of $7,400.

A dependency exemption is the amount you can deduct from your taxable income for each dependent you have. According to the IRS web site, the term dependent means a qualifying child (defined here) or a qualifying relative (defined here).

The complete rules for claiming a dependent can be found here on the IRS web site.

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Tracy Academia from Academia Tax Service did a great job of explaining exemptions to PennySaverUSA.com in a phone interview.

“When you claim 0 exemptions, the government is going to take a higher amount of taxes from your paycheck. If you take more exemptions, they’ll take out less from your paycheck,” said Academia. “So if you need a little extra money each paycheck, you should claim your exemption(s), but if you are doing fine and are comfortable (financially), you (could) put 0 exemptions and you get more at the end of the year.”

For more information about tax exemptions, please contact Tracy at (951) 485-5536 or scan PennySaverUSA.com to find local tax services in your area.

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