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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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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4 Personal Finance Tips To Start The New Year Right

2020 is quickly coming to a close, and many of us will be glad to see it go. Now is the time to get ahead of the game and get your money in order for 2021. Don’t know where to begin? No worries! Here are some helpful tips.

Get Organized

You can file taxes after the new year, so now’s a good time to get all your ducks in a row. In January and early February, you’ll be receiving important documents in the mail including your W2, mortgage interest statement (1098), or student loan interest statement (1098-E.) Most companies, by law, have until January 31 to mail statements, so keep an eye out.

Designate a single location where you’ll keep these documents so they are easily accessible when you’re ready to file taxes. You can use a folder, drawer, box or other container. Put a large “taxes” label on it and use the container for tax-related documents only, not other mail or bills. But you may want to keep it near where you sort mail, so you can immediately put the documents in their home.

Then start gathering other items you’ll need for filing taxes, including charitable contribution and expense receipts. Qualified expenses depend on your situation, but could include expenses related to childcare, medical, work (mileage, supplies, relocation) and education.

Donohoo Accounting Services can help you navigate the complicated tax structure. In addition to income tax preparation, we handle payroll tax prep, tax levies and liens, back taxes, end tax penalties, estate tax return preparation and more.

Make Year-End Charitable Contributions

Many charities do a final fundraising push at the end of the year, so you’ll probably receive solicitations asking for support. If you want to help non-profit organizations while also possibly reducing your taxable income, make your donations by December 31. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of the year will count in that year – even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until later. You’ll want to make sure the charity is eligible. Many times, the charity will note its “501c3” status, which is IRS speak for tax-exempt. You can also use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search. If you live in the Greater Cincinnati area, check out our blog for four great local non-profit organizations.

Take an Assessment of Where You Stand Financially

Now’s a good time to take a hard look at your income, debt, expenses, retirement funds, college and emergency savings. Are you on track to meet financial goals? If yes – great! If no – why are you falling short? To properly move forward into the next year, you need a realistic picture of where you are now. Put pen to paper and write down all the numbers. It helps to see everything in black and white.

Make a Financial New Year’s Resolution (Or Better Yet – Create A Plan You’ll Stick With All Year)

Once you know where you stand currently, you can create a plan for 2021. Perhaps you want an emergency savings fund. You never know when the furnace is going to go out, someone in your family has a medical issue or there’s a company layoff. Experts say you should have enough emergency savings to cover three to sixth months of expenses. Maybe you have all your financial bases covered but want to take an exotic vacation? Set the goal, create a plan and start saving for that overseas beach trip.

Although it’s a busy holiday season, set aside time to get your money in order for the new year. Once you’re ready to file taxes, turn to Donohoo Accounting Services, locally owned and operated by Cincinnati native, Duane Donohoo. Give us a call at 513-528-3982 to arrange your complimentary consultation to see how we can help find the most deductions possible for your personal taxes. And don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for our latest updates!

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Do You Qualify for a Home Office Deduction?

If you worked from home pre-COVID or have landed a home office job since quarantine, you may be wondering if you qualify for a home office deduction on your taxes. Tax season will be here before we know it, so it’s not too soon to be thinking about these types of deductions.

The answer is maybe. Eligibility rules can be confusing, but here are some boxes you need to check to qualify:

You’re NOT a W-2 employee

Being a W-2 employee means you work for someone else who withholds income, Medicare taxes and Social Security from your paycheck. W-2 employees are NOT eligible for home office deductions.

If you are self-employed, a contract worker/freelancer, or are a 1099 employee, you may qualify for this deduction.

You have a designated workspace

The IRS says home office expenses can be deducted when the home office space is used exclusively for conducting business. A spare bedroom, room, or a nook in your basement would count. It doesn’t have to be a completely separate room and you don’t need to construct permanent partitions, but it does need to be a “separately identifiable space.” Consider arranging furniture to mark your office boundaries, or use a panel room divider, a bookcase or even a curtain.

Your space is used regularly and exclusively for work

In order to qualify, the space must be regularly used for business, and not a shared space for your personal tasks. That rules out your kitchen table. Spaces that are used only occasionally or incidentally for business don’t count either.

It’s your principal place of business

If you meet with patients, clients or customers outside of your home, your home office could still qualify if you use the space exclusively and regularly for invoicing, scheduling and other business-related tasks.

A freestanding structure on your property could also be a deduction if you have a studio, garage or barn that you work out of. If you use part of a large room in your home as your dedicated workspace you could deduct it if you figured out the percentage of your home this space accounts for.

You can calculate your home office deduction using the regular method or the simplified method.

The regular method considers the actual expenses of your home office — such as mortgage interest, insurance, repairs, depreciation, insurance and utilities — as a percentage of your whole house. The simplified option allows the qualified taxpayer to determine actual expenses by multiplying a prescribed rate by the square footage of the office space.

Donohoo Accounting Services knows that determining your eligibility for a home office deduction is confusing. We are here to help you understand the IRS rules, how they apply to you and which calculation method to use. With more than 20 years of experience in the business, we can help you find every deduction possible to reduce your tax burden. Give us a call today at 513-528-3982 for a free consultation.

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