President Declares Emergency For Massachusetts

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal aid has been made available to Commonwealth of Massachusetts to supplement the commonwealth and local response efforts in the area due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irene beginning on August 26, 2011, and continuing.

Seven Tax Tips for Recently Married Taxpayers


With the summer wedding season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service advises the soon-to-be married and the just married to review their changing tax status. If you recently got married or are planning a wedding, the last thing on your mind is taxes. However, there are some important steps you need to take to avoid stress at tax time. Here are seven tips for newlyweds.
  1. Notify the Social Security Administration Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so your name and Social Security number will match when you file your next tax return. File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, at your local SSA office. The form is available on SSA’s website at www.ssa.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices.
  2. Notify the IRS if you move If you have a new address you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address. You may download Form 8822 from www.IRS.gov or order it by calling 800–TAX–FORM (800–829–3676).
  3. Notify the U.S. Postal Service You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so it can forward any IRS correspondence or refunds.
  4. Notify your employer Report any name and address changes to your employer(s) to make sure you receive your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, after the end of the year.
  5. Check your withholding If both you and your spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator available on www.irs.gov to assist you in determining the correct amount of withholding needed for your new filing status. The IRS Withholding Calculator will give you the information you need to complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. You can fill it out and print it online and then give the form to your employer(s) so they withhold the correct amount from your pay.
  6. Select the right tax form Choosing the right individual income tax form can help save money. Newly married taxpayers may find that they now have enough deductions to itemize on their tax returns. Itemized deductions must be claimed on a Form 1040, not a 1040A or 1040EZ.
  7. Choose the best filing status A person’s marital status on Dec. 31 determines whether the person is considered married for that year. Generally, the tax law allows married couples to choose to file their federal income tax return either jointly or separately in any given year. Figuring the tax both ways can determine which filing status will result in the lowest tax, but usually filing jointly is more beneficial.
For more information about changing your name, address and income tax withholding visit www.irs.gov



IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-20

Credit Reports: What You Should Know

How do lenders determine who is approved for a credit card, mortgage, or car loan? Why are some individuals flooded with credit card offers while others get turned down routinely?

Because creditors keep their evaluation standards secret, it is difficult to know just how to improve your credit rating. It is important, however, to understand the factors and to review your credit report periodically for any irregularities, omissions, or errors. Reviewing your credit report annually can help you protect your credit rating from fraud and ensure its accuracy.

Credit Evaluation Factors

Many factors determine your credit. Here are some of the major factors considered:

Age
Residence
“Authorized user” payment history
Checking and savings accounts
Bankruptcy
Charge-offs (Forgiven debt)
Child support
Closed accounts and inactive accounts
Jobs
Payment history
Recent loans
Collection accounts and charge-offs
Cosigning an account
Credit limits
Credit reports
Debt/income ratios
Department store accounts
Payment history/late payments
Finance company credit cards
Income/income per dependent
Mortgages
Revolving credit
Name/alias
Number of credit accounts
Fraud
Inquiries

These factors may be used, and weighted, in determining credit decisions. Credit reports contain much of this information.

Obtaining Your Credit Reports

Credit reports are records of consumers’ bill-paying habits. Credit reports are also called credit records, credit files, and credit histories and are collected, stored, and sold by three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Recent changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) require that each of the three credit bureaus provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, every 12 months.

If you have been denied credit or believe you’ve been denied employment or insurance because of your credit report, you can request that the credit bureau involved provide you with a free copy of your credit report – but you must request it within 60 days of receiving the notification.

Disputing Errors in Your Credit File

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumers in the case of inaccurate or incomplete information in credit files. The FCRA requires credit bureaus to investigate and correct any errors in your file.

Tip: If you find any incorrect or incomplete information in your file, write to the credit bureau and ask them to investigate the information. Under the FCRA, they have about thirty days to contact the creditor and find out whether the information is correct. If not, it will be deleted.

Be aware that credit bureaus are not obligated to include all of your credit accounts in your report. If, for example, the credit union that holds your credit card account is not a paying subscriber of the credit bureau, the bureau is not obligated to add that reference to your file. Some may do so, however, for a small fee.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

This federal law was passed in 1970 to give consumers easier access to, and more information about, their credit files. The FCRA gives you the right to find out the information in your credit file, to dispute information you believe inaccurate or incomplete, and to find out who has seen your credit report in the past six months.

Understanding Your Credit Report

Credit reports contain symbols and codes that are abstract to the average consumer. Every credit bureau report also includes a key that explains each code. Some of these keys decipher the information, but others just cause more confusion.

Read your report carefully, making a note of anything you do not understand. The credit bureau is required by law to provide trained personnel to explain it to you. If accounts are identified by code number, or if there is a creditor listed on the report that you do not recognize, ask the credit bureau to supply you with the name and location of the creditor so you can ascertain if you do indeed hold an account with that creditor.

If the report includes accounts that you do not believe are yours, it is extremely important to find out why they are listed on your report. It is possible they are the accounts of a relative or someone with a name similar to yours. Less likely, but more importantly, someone may have used your credit information to apply for credit in your name. This type of fraud can cause a great deal of damage to your credit report, so investigate the unknown account as thoroughly as possible.

We recommend an annual review of your credit report. It is vital that you understand every piece of information on your credit report so that you can identify possible errors or omissions.

If you need help obtaining your credit reports or need assistance in understanding what your credit report means, give us a call.