Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ten Things the IRS Wants YOU to Know About Identity Theft

Criminals use many methods to steal personal information from taxpayers. They can use your information to steal your identity and file a tax return in order to receive a refund. Here are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about identity theft so you can avoid becoming the victim of a scam artist.

1. Identity thieves get your personal information by many different means, including stealing a wallet or purse or accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site. They even look for personal information in your trash. They also pose as someone who needs information through a phone call or e-mail.
2. The IRS does not initiate contact with a taxpayer by e-mail.
3. If you receive an e-mail scam, forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
4. If you receive a letter from the IRS leading you to believe your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address or phone number on the IRS notice.
5. Your identity may be stolen if a letter from the IRS indicates more than one tax return was filed for you or the letter states you received wages from an employer you don’t know.
6. If your Social Security number is stolen, it may be used by another individual to get a job. That person’s employer would report income earned to the IRS using your Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.
7. If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost wallet, questionable credit card activity, or credit report, you need to provide the IRS with proof of your identity. You should submit a copy of your valid government-issued identification – such as a Social Security card, driver's license, or passport – along with a copy of a police report and/or a completed Form 14039, IRS Identity Theft Affidavit.
8. Show your Social Security card to your employer when you start a job or to your financial institution for tax reporting purposes. Do not routinely carry your card or other documents that display your SSN.
9. If you have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution, please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490.

For more information about identity theft – including information about how to report identity theft, phishing and related fraudulent activity – visit the IRS Identity Theft Resource Page, which you can find by typing “Identity Theft” in the search box on the IRS.gov home page.


• Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft
• Identity Theft and Your Tax Records
• Department of the Treasury's identity theft resource page
• Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) consumer Web site
• FTC's OnGuardOnLine Web site
• Firstgov

Friday, April 23, 2010

Seven Things you Should Know When Selling Your Home

People who sell their home may be able to exclude the gain from their income. Here are seven things every homeowner should know if they sold, or plan to sell their house.

1. Amount of exclusion. When you have gain from the sale of your home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income. For most taxpayers filing a joint return, the exclusion amount is $500,000.
2. Ownership test. To claim the exclusion you must have owned the home for at least two years during the five year period ending on the date of the sale.
3.Use test. You also must have lived in the house and used it as your main home for at least two years during the five year period ending on the date of the sale.
4. When not to report. If you are able to exclude all of the gain from the sale of your home, you do not need to report the sale on your federal income tax return.
5. Reporting taxable gain. If you have gain which cannot be excluded, it is taxable and must be reported on your tax return using Schedule D.
6. Deducting a loss. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your home.
7. Rules for multiple homes. If you have more than one home, you may only exclude gain from the sale of your main home and must pay tax on the gain resulting from the sale of any other home. Your main home is generally the one you live in most of the time.

For more information see IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home, available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Gardening Tips

1. Mulch your flower beds and trees with 3” of organic material - it conserves water, adds humus and nutrients, and discourages weeds.
2. Aphids? Spray infested stems, leaves, and buds with a very dilute soapy water, then clear water. It works even on the heaviest infestation.
3. Landscaping your yard is the only home improvement that can return up to 200% of your original investment.
4. Shade gardens are low maintenance – they require less watering, slower growth and fewer weeds to fight.
5. Eighty five percent of a plant’s roots are found in the top 6” of soil.
6. Weeds? Spot-spray with common full-strength vinegar, on a sunny day. It’s an organic weed killer that’s safe for you and the environment.
7. Some flowers, including sweet peas, iris, foxglove, amaryllis, lantana, lupines, clematis, dature, poinsettia, and oleander, are poisonous.
8. During the spring, if you don’t have a soaking rain every 10-14 days, begin deep watering your trees and shrubs.
9. For fastest results, turn your compost pile every two weeks.
10. To reduce the risk of powdery mildew in your herb or flower beds, avoid overhead watering, using a soaker hose or drip irrigation instead.

Friday, April 2, 2010

RECIPE - Bake Ahead Mashed Potatoes

If you get frustrated mashing potatoes while cooking holiday dinner for the a big family. I know I do... but mashed potatoes are a staple for most family holiday dinners. So with Easter in just two days I thought I'd share a great idea with Bake Ahead Mash Potatoes. They are creamy and very good and best of all you can bake them, Yes I say bake them along side your turkey or ham. OR if you have a small oven while your turkey or ham is cooking whip they up and set aside until your meat dish is finished then pop them in the oven for 30 minutes just to warm them up.

10lbs of potatoes - peeled and cooked until soft.
1 package of Philly cream cheese - you can use Fat Free or Low Fat to save a few calories and fat content.
3/4 cup of Sour Cream - again you can use Fat Free or Low Fat.
1 stick of Butter or 1/2 cup or your favorite margarine.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Add all ingredients while potatoes are hot. Using electric mixer set on whip, whip until potatoes are creamy in texture. If needed add a little milk or cream to get them to the consistency just a little creamer then regular mashed potatoes, they will set up/thicken while baking.
If you make the too thick to start you will end up with dry potatoes.
Now here the best part, you can do this early in the morning or the night before your dinner.
Just put them in the frig until you are ready to bake. Set your oven at 375 and cook cold potatoes for 45 -60 minutes. If your potatoes were made while cooking your meat dish and not refrigerated and are at room temp or even warm they will only take about 30 minutes to bake. Either way they are GREAT! Now you can make the gravy!
I hope this helps you and gives you more time to spend with the family. I know they are a hit and there is never any leftovers....

Happy Easter!