Posts Tagged "Bank"

5 tips for smarter banking

Posted on Nov 22, 2017

Banks are a necessary tool to navigate our daily financial lives. Unfortunately, there are aggravating practices at many banks that drive us crazy or cost us money. Here are five tips to get more out of your bank and pay less. Tip #1: Remove cash from the right place. Never use an ATM machine that is not in your bank’s network. In-network cash withdrawals cost nothing at most banks, but withdrawals from someone else’s machine may come with a $3 to $5 fee. Action: Turn over your ATM or debit card and note the networks on the back of the card; or ask your bank about their network coverage. Only use ATMs within the network. Test a transaction to ensure no fee is included on your statement. Tip #2: Notify your credit card issuer when traveling. Most credit card-issuing banks now automatically freeze your cards when a suspicious transaction occurs out of state. This freeze often includes foreign website transactions. Action: Call your credit card issuer when you are going to be traveling. Also notify them if you wish to order an item from a foreign website. This can alleviate numerous headaches. While some banks may not block out-of-state transactions, you do not want to have a transaction rejected while purchasing something on a trip. Tip #3: Know your bank’s overdraft rules. Non-sufficient funds (NSF) checks are not only embarrassing, they are expensive. Banks make millions on their overdraft fees and automatic loan features when you overdraw your account. Understand your bank’s fees and how they apply to your accounts. Action: Look for a bank that will allow you to link another account to your checking account without charging a fee. For instance, as a courtesy many credit unions allow you to link a savings account to your core checking account. This link comes into play should you inadvertently overdraw your checking account. Tip #4: Always negotiate fees. If you are a long-standing customer with your bank or credit card company, call them to reduce or waive fees. Good examples of this are over-the-limit credit card fees or late payment fees. If you have multiple checking overdraft fees, negotiate to eliminate as many as possible. Action: If you are late in paying your credit card or have an overdraft, fix the problem as soon as possible. Only after fixing the problem should you call to negotiate the fees. The bank customer service representative will see your quick action and will be more likely to help reduce the fees. Tip #5: Be willing to shop. Banks understand the power of inertia. They know it’s a pain to change banks. But if you are willing to do so, you might be surprised to find better alternatives for less. Action: Even interest on savings accounts varies widely from bank to bank. Use the internet to quickly see who is paying what in interest. Do the same for any loans, especially car loans, which vary widely. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Stay away from structuring

Posted on Sep 29, 2017

If people manipulate cash transactions to avoid required bank reporting to the Treasury Department, they are using the technique of structuring their transactions. In an effort to identify questionable illegal transactions, financial institutions are required to report any monetary amounts over $10,000 to the Treasury Department. If someone knowingly structures transactions to avoid this reporting, the Bank Secrecy Act allows the IRS to legally seize these assets. The old rules provide fairly broad discretion in this area. Many innocent taxpayers not only had assets frozen, but found it virtually impossible to get their funds returned to them. Here are the most important aspects about structuring that will help you stay out of trouble: Be aware of the rule. As more small businesses try to avoid the high charges associated with credit cards, they must also be aware of the Bank Secrecy Act rules. Establish a good relationship with your banker and have them understand your business to help create a potential ally if needed. Do not knowingly try to avoid the $10,000 reporting rule. Be consistent with your numbers. Create a regular routine of sales deposits. Do not save up deposits and then deposit similar amounts. This could raise red flags. Understand the rules are changing. In a recent change, the IRS will still pursue structuring violations, but will try to more closely align action taken with knowledge of criminal activity. The government must show that the taxpayer knows of the rules and knowingly structures his or her transactions to avoid the reporting. Some people know structuring is illegal but do it anyway. Money laundering is a big problem. Whether for drug money, terrorist fundraising, bootlegging or other illegal activity, excess cash deposits will raise suspicions. So while the IRS uses its tools to catch people acting illegally, it is making an attempt to keep innocent taxpayers out of its net. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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FBAR deadline is June 30

Posted on Jun 10, 2014

If you hold foreign bank or financial accounts and the total value of your account exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, you may be required to file a Treasury Department report known as the FBAR. It’s easy to overlook this requirement because it’s separate from your federal income tax filing, with a different deadline and strict rules. FBAR refers to “Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts.” That form is new this year, replacing the prior Form 90-22.1. Your 2013 Form 114 must be filed electronically with the Treasury Department no later than June 30, 2014. No filing extension is available. Contact us if you need details or filing assistance. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in the McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates specializes known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws, we help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+ <https://plus.google.com/108764776146415485651/posts> , LinkedIn <http://www.linkedin.com/in/gillilandcpa> , Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/gillilandcpa> , and Twitter...

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Watch out for bogus e-mails

Posted on Jun 15, 2012

The e-mail from your bank gets your attention right away. It says you need to log into your account in the next 48 hours to continue your online privileges. Something about a system upgrade. You wonder, is it legitimate? How can you know for sure? Bogus e-mails designed to steal your identity, also known as phishing, are becoming a bigger problem these days. While they can take many different forms, most scams are designed to trick you into revealing personal information such as your social security number or online account password. Through clever use of logos and familiar-looking web addresses, these e-mails often appear to be an urgent message from your bank, mortgage lender, or e-mail provider. You may not realize it, but thieves are especially eager to gain access to your web e-mail account. Why? Once a scammer has access to your e-mails, he or she can often figure out where you bank and detect clues to passwords you might use. So what can you do to protect yourself? Take a moment and think before you click. Never respond to an e-mail asking for your social security number or birth date. You can almost bet that it is a scam. If an e-mail contains a website link that you are not familiar with, do not click on it. Instead, either go directly to the company’s trusted website, or contact them by phone. Also remember that e-mail scams become more prevalent following a significant public event, such as a natural disaster or sudden stock market drop. Thieves will prey on your sympathies or fears during these times, so be extra careful when responding to appeals for charity or notices to update your financial records. Also, be leery of e-mails with demanding language or incorrect grammar — both are potential signs of a counterfeit e-mail. For preventive measures, try to use a different password for every online account, and change your passwords regularly. Make your passwords stronger by using combinations of letters, symbols, and numbers. Also, keep your computer anti-virus software up to date. Finally, do your part to thwart these crimes by reporting any suspected scam e-mails to reportphishing@antiphishing.org. If you receive a bogus tax-related e-mail, forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. And of course, feel free to contact our firm if you need a second set of eyes on any suspicious-looking...

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