Six Credit Score Myths You Need to Know

If you’re like most people, you know the basics of what a credit score is for and how it works. Your score is a make-or-break determinant of whether you qualify for a loan and there are key things to know, and to avoid, concerning your score. Let’s debunk a few of the myths around credit scoring to put control in your hands, and avoid any potential harm to your score.

CREDIT MYTH #1: There’s only one credit score

There are actually thousands of formulas for calculating credit. Depending on what score your potential lender uses, your score could vary. However, FICO scores are most common, and widely available online.

CREDIT MYTH #2: Checking your credit score can lower your score

Only hard inquiries from lenders can lower your score. When you check your credit score, there is no impact on your credit. Hard inquiries, however, are flags on your account when a lender accesses your credit history, and can lower your score because it indicates you may be increasing the amount of your credit. Do this too often and you can be seen as a risk to financial institutions.

CREDIT MYTH #3: Lowering your debt will immediately raise your score

It depends on the type of debt you pay off, and your credit limits. Paying off debt is important, and often high debt can result in a lower score. Keeping your credit card balances low, for example, can help to keep your score high.

CREDIT MYTH #4: Your job impacts your score

The job you have and how much money you make a month has no direct impact on your credit score. However, the bank or loan company may want to see your proof of employment and a few paystubs to ensure that you have a steady source of income. This can help people who are building their credit score by proving they have the funds available to pay off the loan.

CREDIT MYTH #5: Closing your credit cards will raise your score

Potential lenders are more concerned with how much credit you are using rather than how much you could be using. Closing a credit card could actually lower your score because it decreases the amount of credit you have. Remember, your credit score is all about giving lenders a blueprint for how you manage your money. If you have nothing to show them, they can’t draw up a plan.

As a leading accounting services firm in Cincinnati, Donohoo Accounting Services strives to make our clients feel comfortable discussing their tax situation and finances. Still have questions about your credit score, and how you can improve it? Let’s get you on track! Contact us today or give us a call at 513-528-3982 to schedule a free consultation! For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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Mortgage Refinancing 101

Even before you’re ready to replace your current home loan with a new loan, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I start? Who should I talk to? What documents will I need?” In other words, the mortgage refinancing process may seem a bit overwhelming. The good news is there are steps to refinancing that are simple to follow. Take a look at the five steps below to begin your walk down the path to refinancing your home mortgage.

Set Your Re-fi Goals

Just like any other journey, the route to mortgage refinancing must have a destination. Some common refinancing goals include lowering your monthly payment, paying down the principal, withdrawing the equity in your home to pay off high-interest debt, and shortening the term of the loan. If you’re planning to move in five years or more, you may have other goals like re-investing the equity in smart improvements to increase your home’s resale value.

Know Your Credit Score

Having a great credit score usually translates into securing an excellent interest rate. That’s why knowing your credit score before you refinance is important. Does your credit score need some work? Take the time and effort to improve it. You may save yourself thousands of dollars over the term of your mortgage by earning a lower interest rate. A full credit report including your credit score is usually available free of charge from your bank and from many online resources.

Determine Your Home’s Equity

Before you refinance, call your lender to determine the payoff on your current mortgage. Then, have a trusted real estate agent show you a list of comparable properties (similar in size, age and updates in your neighborhood) that recently sold. Knowing the current market value of your home and subtracting what you owe on your current mortgage will help you determine the equity you have before you refinance.

Research Interest Rates

Knowing in advance the interest rates offered by various lenders will give you an advantage when you decide to refinance. Rates often differ by what seem like small amounts, but those fractions of percentage points add up over time. As well, depending on the type of loans you may qualify for, different home loan programs, such as VA, FHA, USDA and conventional offer different interest rates. Do your homework: research the best mortgage loans with the lowest rates that meet your needs.

Gather Your Money and Documents

Before applying to refinance your home mortgage, collect the necessary documents and data about your debt and assets, including income tax returns, W2s, bank statements, credit reports and personal identification. Also, be ready to pay closing costs by setting aside money in advance (about two to five percent of the appraised market value of your home).

With more than 20 years of experience helping individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations with their finances, Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help you with your tax planning, tax filing and accounting needs. If you would like to set up a free consultation, contact us at 513-528-3982. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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How Tax Filing Will Be Different In 2021

The coronavirus pandemic brought unforeseen challenges to all aspects of business around the world, so it should be no surprise that it will impact this year’s taxes as well. Coronavirus legislation and inflation adjustments changed some of the most influential tax rules. Here is what you can expect to be different when you file your taxes this year.

February 12 is the opening date, and April 15 is the deadline

The first day to file in 2021 is February 12. We were all given a tax filing extension last year, but we’re back to April 15 for 2021. That doesn’t mean you can’t get an extension; but remember that being granted an extension only gives you more time to file your taxes, not more time to pay what you owe.

Charitable Deduction

The CARES Act allowed taxpayers to deduct up to $300 in monetary deductions in 2020 even if they chose to take the standard deduction. This was the IRS’s way to encourage Americans to contribute more money to charity during the pandemic.

Higher HSA Limits

Contributions limits for HSA-eligible workers who elected to participate in high deductible health insurance policies increased by $50 for self-only coverage (from $3,500 to $3,550) and by $100 for family coverage (from $7,000 to $7,100).

Higher Retirement Account Contribution Limits

Some workplace retirement accounts have higher contribution limits in 2020, so be sure to check yours. To illustrate, 401(k) plans had a base contribution limit of $19,000 in 2019, but that increased by $500 to $19,500 in 2020. For those who are age 50 and older, the catch-up contribution limit increased by $500 also, from $6,000 in 2019 to $6,500 in 2020. This means that if you are age 50 or older, you could potentially contribute a total of $26,000 ($19,500 + $6,500) to a 401(k) plan in 2020.

Higher Standard Deductions

Each year the IRS adjusts the standard deductions for inflation. This reduces the amount of income that is subject to federal taxes. In 2020, the IRS raised the standard deduction by anywhere between $200 and $400. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Married filing jointly: (+400 from 2019) – $24,800
  • Married individuals filing separately: (+$200) – $12,400
  • Head of household: (+$300) – $18,650
  • Single: (+$200) $12,400

Donohoo Accounting Services realizes these changing tax rules are hard to understand and stay on top of. When it comes time to file your 2020 taxes, you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help you realize and take advantage of every tax deduction you are entitled to. We have been filing tax returns for individuals and small businesses for more than 20 years, so we are well versed in tax laws and rules and can help save you money, time and headaches.

If the thought of filing taxes fills you with dread or stress, please call Donohoo Accounting Services at 513-528-3982. We can handle the details and ensure you are receiving the tax credits, deductions and refunds you deserve. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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6 Tips For Homeowners To Maximize Their Tax Deductions

Owning a home is one of the biggest investments most people make in their lifetime. Being aware of tax deductions and other credits available will give this big purchase every opportunity to pay you back a little come tax time. Here are six tips for homeowners to maximize your tax deduction:

Tip #1: Be Organized

Keep detailed records of your home-related expenses, financial documents and receipts. Most federal income tax deductions and credits require a paper trail, so the more organized your records are, the easier the process will be and the more likely it is that nothing will be missed or forgotten.

Tip #2: Deduct Your Mortgage Interest

If your mortgage is less than $750,000, you can deduct the interest you pay on the loan for no more than two residences. This could be your primary residence, summer home, or even a boat if it has plumbing or a bathroom. You can also include interest you may have paid when you closed on your home.

If you own more than two properties, be sure to use the deductions from the property that will give you the largest tax deduction — it may not necessarily be the property with the biggest mortgage payment.

Tip #3: Deduct Your Home Office Space

If you work from home in a dedicated space, you can deduct that space on your taxes. The current tax law allows you to deduct $5 for each square foot of office space, up to 300 square feet. This law has been taken advantage of by some, which is why it has earned a reputation of being an audit trigger. Make sure the space you deduct is exclusively used for your business or side hustle.

Tip #4: Deduct Your Property Taxes

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, deducting your property taxes is still possible but not as flexible as it once was. You can now deduct up to $10,000, and that includes a combination of state and local tax deductions and state and local property tax deductions.

Tip #5: Consider Energy Efficient Upgrades

Tax incentives have changed for these types of upgrades, but some are worth looking into. Purchases for electric and water heating equipment, solar panels, rain barrels and drought tolerant landscaping may apply. Make sure to do your due diligence and triple check the specific requirements and deadlines for these green projects.

Tip #6: Age-In-Place Deductions

If you plan to live in your residence as you get older, you may be able to deduct expenditures for home improvement projects that will assist you as you age. Upgrades such as wheelchair ramps, lowering cabinets and electrical fixtures, and installing bathtub grab bars may qualify.

Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help you understand the IRS rules and determine the types of tax deductions you may be eligible for. With more than 20 years of experience in the business, we can help you reduce your tax burden by finding every deduction possible. If you would like to set up a free consultation, contact us at 513-528-3982. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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