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5 Questions to Ask Your CPA During Tax Season PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 21 March 2014 12:42
Simple Strategy Changes May Boost Your
Retirement Dollars, Says Financial Advisor

Many people talk to their accountant just once a year – right about now, says financial consultant Larry D. Roby.

“This is a good time to ask a few questions that may not have occurred to either you or your accountant simply because at tax time, you’re both focused on the task at hand and not the bigger picture, ” says Roby, founder and president of Senior Financial Advisors, Inc., www.sfabridge.com.

“But, if you don’t have a financial advisor, asking your accountant a few questions may help you spot places where you’re unnecessarily leaking retirement funds. Many of those leaks can be plugged with some simple changes.”

Roby tells the story of a woman he worked with at the financial counseling ministry where he volunteers. She was a widow on Social Security who also received an annual disbursement of $35,000 from her retirement plan. She didn’t need the whole $35,000, so she put a large chunk of it in CDs each year.

“She was getting hit with what I call ‘the tax torpedo,’ ” Roby says. “That $35,000 from her fund caused the portion of her Social Security income being taxed to jump from zero to 85 percent. And she’s also getting taxed on the whole $35,000! Putting the extra money into CDs earning only about 1 percent interest, meant she was actually losing money.”

The fix, he says, was easy.

The woman could pay no taxes on her Social Security benefits if  the combined total of 1 – her adjusted gross income, 2 – nontaxable interest income and 3 – half the benefits, was less than $25,000. If the amount was $25,000 to $34,000, she would likely be taxed on 50 percent of her benefits.

“By lowering her retirement fund disbursement to the amount she actually needs, she saw a substantial tax savings,” Roby says.

Such oversights are surprisingly common and can be corrected when you have the right information.  If you’re planning for retirement or already retired, here are the questions Roby suggests you ask your accountant:

1.  Do I have to pay taxes on my Social Security benefits?

2.  Is there a way to reduce or eliminate those taxes?

3.  Why am I paying taxes on money I’m not spending?

4.  How long will my retirement funds last based on my current withdrawals?

5.  Based on my tax records, will my spouse have sufficient income after my death?

If your retirement picture is far more complicated, with a variety of taxable and non-taxable income streams, Roby says seeking the services of a financial advisor with a diversified perspective may be a worthwhile investment.

“I always recommend people to talk to an advisor who doesn’t specialize in just one area, like annuities,” Roby says. “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Someone equipped with lots of tools can put help you put together the best strategies for you.”

About Larry D. Roby

Larry D. Roby is the founder and president of Senior Financial Advisors, Inc. (www.sfabridge.com). He’s a Registered Financial Consultant, a professional designation awarded by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants; a licensed insurance agent; a Master Certified Estate Planner; and licensed to serve as an investment advisor representative. He’s currently finishing a two-year Certified Advisor for Senior Living course. Roby is a firm believe in educating clients and the public alike so that they can make the most of the money they’ve earned, saved and invested. He and his firm volunteer time and resources to the Branches Recovery Center, a counseling ministry.

 
Iowa Finance Authority and Landlords of Davenport, Muscatine and Clinton Partner on a Rental Housing Resource for Home Hunting Season PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Emily Toribio   
Friday, 21 March 2014 12:21

DAVENPORT - On Tuesday, March 25 the Iowa Finance Authority and members of the Landlords of Davenport, Muscatine and Clinton will meet to discuss the local impact of a new resource that will assist in locating rental housing for area residents. The site, IowaHousingSearch.org is the first of its kind in Iowa and is available for the public to search thousands of rental listings.

The web site provides real-time rental unit vacancy information, call center accessibility, advanced search components and disaster recovery infrastructure not available on other sites.

TUESDAY, MARCH 25

TIME: 6:30 PM

LOCATION:
Davenport Moose Club
2333 Rockingham Road
Davenport

 
Lt. Gov. Reynolds urges eligible Iowans to use state’s Free File tax system PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Friday, 21 March 2014 08:54

Free File program helps eligible Iowa residents file their federal and state taxes easily online at no cost

(DES MOINES) – Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, accompanied by Iowa Department of Revenue director Courtney Kay-Decker, urged eligible Iowa residents to use the Iowa Free File program to save money at tax time. This program allows taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income of $58,000 or less to use name-brand tax preparation software to prepare and file their federal and state returns online for free.

Iowa is one of 21 states, plus the District of Columbia, that sponsors a State Free File program, allowing eligible residents to easily and accurately complete both their federal and state taxes with trusted name-brand tax preparation software of their choice. Free File empowers taxpayers to claim every single deduction and credit they are entitled to, including the often missed Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“The Iowa Free File program helps Iowans save money during tax season and assists in obtaining maximum tax deductions,” said Reynolds. “It takes the stress out of tax season and puts hard-earned money back in taxpayers’ pockets. The Free File program is an excellent example of how the government and private sector can work together to help our community.”

“Free File not only helps save taxpayers’ time and money, but also saves Iowa’s government money by encouraging electronic filing and reducing errors,” said Courtney Kay-Decker, director of the Iowa Department of Revenue. “E-filing is the fastest, safest and easiest way to file your taxes, and the Iowa Free File program makes it even easier.”

By helping more people file electronically, Free File helps save the state money, reduces errors and speeds up the time it takes to issue a refund. According to the Iowa Department of Revenue:

  • The cost of processing a paper return is $1.76 while processing an electronic return is $.18 – a savings of $1.58 per return.
  • The error rate for paper returns is 33 percent while it is only 8 percent for electronic returns.
  • The Iowa Department of Revenue issues 96 percent of individual income tax refunds to those who filed electronically within 2 weeks of filing.

According to the IRS, 40 million taxpayers across the country have prepared their federal returns through Free File since the program began more than a decade ago.

For more information on the Iowa Free File program, visit the Iowa Department of Revenue website: www.iowa.gov/tax and click on the “e-file electronically” logo and see this informative chart.

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COMMENTARY -- Salute Watchdogs During Sunshine Week PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 20 March 2014 08:11

From the earliest days of the republic, America’s Founders fought tooth and nail to strike the proper balance between an effective federal government, the sovereignty of the states and the natural rights of individuals.

The timeless principle of self-governance embodied by the Constitution preserves the blessings of liberty and prosperity in America more than two centuries later.  Thanks in large measure to the leadership of James Madison, widely acknowledged as the Father of the Constitution, Americans today live in a free society, protected by freedoms of religion, speech and the press and rights of assembly, privacy and property.

The influential Federalist essays, co-authored with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, served as a catalyst in the 18th century for ratification of the Constitution and flesh out the brilliance of our system of checks and balances today in the 21st century.  As a member of Congress, Madison also spearheaded adoption of the Bill of Rights.  His legacy for promoting and protecting the free flow of information and the public’s right to know is observed as National Sunshine Week throughout the week of Madison’s birthday, which was March 16, 1751.

Among my highest priorities in the U.S. Senate are holding the federal government accountable to the taxpaying public, making its policymaking transparent to the people and demanding scrupulous stewardship of public programs and resources.  The federal bureaucracy too often circles the wagons and erects a stone wall to bypass transparency and accountability.

Even the federal judiciary has resisted my bipartisan-led efforts to let in the sunshine.  I’ve championed legislation that would allow cameras into federal courtrooms and the Supreme Court.  An informed and engaged citizenry has a right to see and a duty to digest why the courts rule one way or another on issues that shape our society and impact how federal laws apply to daily life in America.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote in 1913 that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”  I couldn’t agree more.  That’s why I work to throw open the shutters of the federal bureaucracy.  My most recent oversight work has found ongoing fiscal mismanagement at the Pentagon; squandered tax dollars for federal housing assistance; mismanagement of foreign visa programs; and, negligent stewardship of Medicaid dollars financing substandard dental care for low-income children.

Fortunately, the good works of good government watchdogs breathe down the necks of wrongdoers and obfuscators to spread sunshine into the public’s business.  America needs these truth seekers to infiltrate closed doors of corruption, negligence and injustice that infect the works of good government.  Mold and mildew won’t disappear if left in the dark.  And once exposed, these areas require thorough scrubbing to remove the damage and constant vigilance to prevent reoccurrence.

From investigative reporting by the media, to internal Inspectors General who audit federal agencies and courageous whistleblowers who step forward to expose waste, fraud or abuse they witness on the job, we need all hands on deck inside and outside of government to hold the public’s business to account.  Unfortunately, this administration has not helped to dispel cynicism and restore the public’s trust despite pledges that this White House would practice “unprecedented” openness and transparency.

From the IRS to the FDA, FEC, NSA and the FCC, examples of stonewalling, secrecy and snooping underscore why it’s so important for watchdogs and private citizens not to let down their guard.  I applaud the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld federal law extending whistleblower protection to contractors and subcontractors of publicly traded companies.  And the D.C. Court of Appeals also delivered good news leading up to National Sunshine Week.  It unanimously stood up for the Freedom of Information Act to protect the free flow of information and government transparency.

Using legislative and oversight tools bestowed by the Constitution, I will continue fighting tooth and nail in the United States Senate to protect the public’s right to know and make government more accessible.  That includes strengthening federal whistleblower and freedom of information laws that protect the rights of private citizens and foster better stewardship of public services.

History shows that transparency and accountability bring stability to institutions of government.  Americans owe a debt of gratitude to those who carry on James Madison’s legacy of a free society.  National Sunshine Week offers a good reminder to government watchdogs to keep a tight-fisted grip on freedom’s torch that helps burnish America’s commitment to openness and transparency for generations to come.

Friday, March 14, 2014

 
Gov. Branstad signs eleven bills into law PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 08:50
into law

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad today signed the following bills into law:

House File 2067: an Act relating to the use of youth spring wild turkey hunting licenses, and including effective date provisions. 

House File 2297: an Act relating to the regulation of pharmacy benefits managers.

Senate File 2305: an Act relating to emergency management assistance in a disaster emergency concerning mutual aid arrangements and agreements.

Senate File 2230: an Act relating to education by providing technical corrections to revise references and to adjust language to reflect current state school finance practices, revising references to an accrediting agency, reestablishing a rulemaking provision relating to the beginning teacher mentoring and induction program, and providing for disposition and sale of certain school district property.

Senate File 2206: an Act concerning the Iowa Finance Authority in regard to the title guaranty program and private activity bonds.

Senate File 2205: an Act relating to matters under the purview of the credit union division of the Department of Commerce, and including effective date provisions.

Senate File 2197: an Act relating to certain conditional permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources relating to air and water quality.

Senate File 2193: an Act relating to the admission or retention of participants in an adult day services program.

Senate File 2133: an Act relating to federal home loan bank rights regarding collateral pledged by insurer-members.

Senate File 2105: an Act relating to various matters involving insurance and the insurance division of the Department of Commerce and including applicability provisions.

Senate File 2083: an Act concerning licensure requirements for dietetics as established or approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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