January 27, 2020

IRS Audit? Most likely, your audit results will be shared with your State Taxing Authority. Here's what to do.

IRS Audit


Have you been audited by the IRS, and the audit resulted in changes to your tax return(s) and tax due?

Don't forget to promptly amend any associated state tax and local tax returns to comply with the IRS audit results, and pay any state and local tax due.

Why?

Because if you don't, the state taxing authority will almost certainly send you a notice of tax due based on the IRS audit results, or may even open up an audit on your state tax return(s).  It's all due to the State Information Sharing Program between the Internal Revenue Service and most states.  In fact, the agreement is in place with 48 states and the territories of Guam, and American Samoa.  The only 2 states that do not currently participate are Nevada and Texas.

IRS Audit 

State Information Sharing Program


What tax information is shared?
  • Audit results;
  • Individual income tax return information;
  • Business tax return information; and
  • Employment tax information.
And it's not just one way sharing.  The IRS shares information with state and local taxing authorities, and the state and local taxing authorities likewise share information with the IRS.  So if you've undergone a tax audit on the state or local level that resulted in changes to your state or local tax return(s) and tax due, don't forget to promptly amend your associated federal tax returns and pay any tax due.  Waiting for the state or local taxing authorities to notify you will only result in greater penalties and interest, and may also result in another tax audit.  Yuck.

Questions about Tax Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA is an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury.  This license  allows Mary to provide tax preparation, planning, and audit representation to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.  She brings 32 years of professional experience to her clients.  For more information visit Fouts Financial Group.

January 24, 2020

Answer! Quiz Time! Can You Name This Singer?

Quiz Time!

Earlier this month I posted This Quiz Question, which was actually a crossword clue in a crossword I recently finished.

Quiz Question:  Can you name the singer who held all Top 10 Billboard Hits at the same time?

Hint:  The correct answer has 5 letters.

You can see the responses I got by looking at the comments in the original post here.

And the Correct Answer is ...

First of, no one got the answer correct!  And that is rather ironic, as the correct answer is:

NO ONE.  Or in the crossword puzzle:  NOONE.

Yep, no singer has ever held all Top 10 Billboard Hits simultaneously.  No one.

I hope you enjoyed this quiz!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 21, 2020

Forms 1099-MISC and W-2: 2019 Due Dates Coming Soon!

Form W-2 and Form 1099-MISC Due Dates


If you are a business entity that issues Form W-2 or Form 1099-MISC to workers, your 2018 IRS filing due dates are soon approaching.
Beginning with the 2016 tax filing season, the IRS moved up some due dates for filing Forms W-2 and Forms 1099-MISC, from February 28 to January 31.  Supposedly the change was done to help prevent tax fraud by permitting the IRS to more quickly verify filed tax return entries with corresponding W-2 and 1099-MISC information.

To verify your 2019 1099-MISC and W-2 filing due dates, visit the IRS Employment Tax Due Date page.  

Tax Concerns?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax planning, preparation, and representation services for taxpayers with complex or technical tax issues.  As an Enrolled Agent licensed by the United States Department of the Treasury, Mary is allowed to provide tax services in all 50 states and U.S. territories.  For more information about Mary's Tax, Insurance Consulting, Annuity Consulting, and Expert Witness Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 18, 2020

Chinese Century Eggs ... Uh, HELL No!

Chinese Century Eggs

Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year is coming up later this month on January 25 ... It's the Year of the Rat, by the way!  It's a big deal in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, which includes significant Chinese populations in both San Francisco and Oakland.  Anyhoo, I've been seeing articles about the upcoming Chinese Holiday, and also lots of sales adds for gifts to purchase for the event.  Is there ANYTHING that is not commercialized anymore?!

Oh, and I came across on Chinese things that can only be described as Horribly Gross ... Chinese Century Eggs.

Beyond Yuck.

Chinese Century Eggs are a Chinese traditional food.   According to this Instructables Cooking post,
"Traditionally century eggs were made by preserving chicken or duck eggs in a mixture of salt, lime and ash, then wrapping in rice husks for several weeks. During this time the pH of the egg raises transforming the egg, the chemical process breaks down some of the proteins and fats into smaller, more complex flavours. After curing the yolk of the egg turns a dark green and has a creamy consistency, while the white turns amber and is gelatinous. "

The author of the post then goes onto say, "I chose a more modern method to achieve the same results: a salt and lye pickling solution, and encasing in modelling clay. After about a month my eggs were ready, and I'm happy to say they turned out perfectly!"

Yep, pickled eggs that have been ... literally ... laying around for an entire month or so, encased in modeling clay.  And then eaten.  Would you eat one?



I've read various descriptions of the taste and smells, including comparisons to Roquefort Cheese with a whiff of Ammonia.  Yummy!  </sarcasm off>  One recipe post using Century Eggs in a salad even included a comment in the recipe that the Century Eggs are "probably" ok to eat.  Now that's mighty encouraging, isn't it?:!

While I enjoyed Asian-inspired cooking ... my cast iron wok is a workhorse in my kitchen ... No Way Jose would I ever eat a Century Egg.

Now pass the Soy Sauce and enjoy your dinner!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 15, 2020

Quiz Time! Can You Name This Singer?

Quiz Time!

This Quiz Question was actually a crossword clue in a crossword I recently finished.  But, it also makes a great Trivia/Quiz Question, so here goes ...

Quiz Question:  Can you name the singer who held all Top 10 Billboard Hits at the same time?

Hint:  The correct answer has 5 letters.

And no cheatin' now!

If you want to take a shot at this, post your answer in the comments section of this post.  I actually got the answer correct right away, even before I looked at the puzzle to see how many letters were in the answer!

I'll post the correct answer in the near future.  Thanks for stopping by!


Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 12, 2020

Stolen Packages: Increased Online Shopping Means Ripe Pickings for Scumbag Thieves

Stolen Packages


Regretfully, today's robust online shopping environment has created opportunities for scumbag thieves:  Stealing Packages.

The New York Times published this fascinating - yet very troubling - article on the topic last month.  In New York City, an estimated 90,000 packages are stolen - or otherwise go missing - each day.  That's a 20% increase in only 4 years!

And it's not just an NYC problem.  It's everywhere.  Nationwide, an estimated 1.7 million packages area stolen - or otherwise go missing - each day.  That's an astonishing 620,050,000 - six hundred twenty million, fifty thousand packages - that are stolen or go missing across the United States each year.  And that's assuming the theft rate does not increase.  Which, regretfully, it likely will.

Photo Credit:  nytimes.com

There are many measures consumers can take when shopping online, including renting a private mailbox at your local UPS store for receiving mail and packages (I've had one since moving to California in 1994), and using Amazon lockers for delivery.  Regretfully, scumbags are everywhere, looking for easy crimes of opportunity.

Stay safe, everyone.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 9, 2020

Healthier Eating and Living: Add Some Dark Leafy Greens to Your Pizza!

Healthier Eating and Living

Dark Leafy Greens

Sourdough Pizza


I love to cook and bake, and enjoy incorporating fresh produce and herbs into my meals.

Dark leafy greens are delicious, very low in calories, and are true Super Powers when it comes to the vitamins and minerals they add to your diets.  One way to add more dark leafy greens to your diet is to use them as a pizza topping.

Baby Arugula

And, by the way, I completely disagree with anyone who says pizza is Junk Food.  Pizza can be very nutritious and delicious.  It's what you put on top that counts.  Here is a recent homemade Sourdough Pizza I made, which included coarsely chopped baby arugula.  It also had pizza sauce, pepperoni, pineapple, red bell pepper, and shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Homemade Sourdough Pizza

So enjoy your pizza, and the added bonus of dark leafy greens to boot!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 6, 2020

Disability Insurance Litigation: Are You Looking For a Disability Insurance Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Disability Insurance Litigation.
Disability Insurance Expert Witness.


Are you looking for a Disability Insurance Expert Witness to address Disability Insurance Litigation or Arbitration Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of experience addressing insurance concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Disability Insurance Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Disability Insurance Litigation and Arbitration Matters. 

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Concerned About Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 2, 2020

Food Safety: Here is What NOT to do When Keeping Your Food Safe.

Food Safety.
Safe Food Handling.


I love to cook and bake.  And as my husband will tell you, I am a stickler .... a BIG stickler ... about food safety and safe food handling.  After all, who wants to fall victim to food poisoning due to improper food handling?

Last month I posted about food safety and safe food handling, you can read the post here.   Well, upon doing a bit of research for a follow-up post, I came across a prime example of what NOT to do if you want to keep your food safe and free from spoilage and food poisoning.  Take a look at this ...

I came across information about a so-called Soup Swap put on by a San Francisco Bay Area gym.   On the Soup Swap day, members brought in 5 containers of soup they had made at home.  Anyone who brought in 5 containers of soup could choose 5 other containers of soup, contributed by other gym members, to take home.

And you probably know where I'm going with this, right?

The handling of this Soup Swap is a textbook example of what NOT to do if you want to keep food safe from spoilage and food poisoning.  First off, we don't know how the soup was handled in the guy members' kitchens in which it was prepared.  But the major issue is how the Soup Swap was handled at the gym, based on the photo I found:



Refrigeration for the soup?  None.  As you can see from the photo, the soup was left on a table at room temperature, and perhaps for all day while the gym was open.  As I mention below, The USDA recommends that food requiring heat or refrigeration (all of this soup would require refrigeration unless it was properly canned and sealed in a canner) be discarded if it sits in the "Danger Zone" - above 40*F and below 140*F - for longer than 2 hours.   And while some of the soup is in mason jar containers, as someone who cans, I can tell you that at least some of these soups appear to be not properly canned and sealed in a canner.  Rather, the mason jars appear to be simply used as a transportation container.

I have no way of knowing if anyone got sick from eating this soup.  But clearly there was zero consideration given to proper and safe storing temps for the soup at this gym.

Recap:  Proper Food Handling and Storage Temperatures


And as far as proper food handling and storing temps?  The USDA recommends that all foods requiring refrigeration be maintained at 40*F or less, and that foods that must be maintained hot be held at a temperature of 140*F or higher.  The in between area - above 40*F and below 140*F - is known as the "Danger Zone" for foods that require either refrigeration or a hot temperature for safety.  In the Danger Zone, the amount of food bacteria - including food bacteria that can lead to food poisoning - can double in a mere 20 minutes!

So don't leave leftovers on the kitchen counter for hours at time.  The USDA recommends that food requiring heat or refrigeration be discarded if it sits in the Danger Zone for longer than 2 hours.  Reduce that to 1 hour if food is sitting in an area that is 90*F or warmer.  And make sure your refrigerator consistently maintains a cold enough temperature.  Studies estimate more than half of home refrigerators are maintained at an unsafe, too high temperature.

For more information, refer to this handy Basics for Handling Food Safety fact sheet from the USDA.

Happy ... and safe! ... baking and cooking everyone!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 30, 2019

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year 2020!



 Best wishes for a Very Happy New Year and a rewarding 2020.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 27, 2019

IRS Impersonation Scams: Don't Become a Victim.

IRS Scams.


IRS Impersonation Scams are ongoing, with new scams popping up on an ongoing basis.  Here are a few tips from the IRS Tax Tip 2019-87 to help prevent you from becoming the victim of an IRS Scam.


Tips to Help Taxpayers Recognize Tax Scams


New versions of well-known tax-related scams appear every year…and 2020 will be no different.  No matter what time of year, taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams.  Here are some things taxpayers should remember to help them spot scams and avoid becoming a victim.


Telltale Signs of an IRS Impersonator Scam


Taxpayers should remember that the IRS generally first mails a bill to a taxpayer who owes taxes.  The IRS and its  authorized private collection agencies will never:
  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.  The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
  • Ask for checks to third parties.  The IRS has specific instructions on how to pay taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
If a taxpayer receives a phone call, but doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, they should:
If a taxpayer owes tax or thinks they do, they should:

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!  

May Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
be filled with peace, happiness, and joy.

Mary Rae Fouts