March 29, 2020

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.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

March 26, 2020

Small Business Owners: Does Your Tax Planning Include Retirement Plan Contributions? It Should!

Tax Planning
Retirement Plans
Retirement Plan 
Contributions


If you are a Small Business Owner, does your tax planning include retirement plan contributions?  It should!
Why?  Glad you asked!

When Small Business Owners make contributions into retirement plans, they get much more than just a retirement plan contribution.  In fact, these contribution can pay for themselves many times over.
  1. First off, the retirement plan need not be complex to establish or maintain.  SEP-IRA retirement plans are simple to establish and maintain, with no need for expensive annual administration.
  2. Retirement plan contributions into plans such as a SEP-IRA are not just a tax deduction for a small business owner, but a complete write off against income.  Now THAT is a handy tax planning tool!
  3. Retirement plan contributions into plans such as a SEP-IRA grow tax deferred until withdrawn by the plan participant.  This year after year tax deferred growth can really ... REALLY ... add up big time over time.
So, if you are a Small Business Owner and do not currently have a retirement plan, make time to set one up this year.  You'll thank me later!

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.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

March 23, 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: Gift Certificates Will Be Worthless If Restaurants and Stores Do Not Reopen. Don't Lose Your Hard Earned Money.

Coronavirus COVID-19:  Restaurant Closings and Gift Certificates


Many restaurants and eateries throughout the United States - including where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area - have been ordered to cease in-restaurant service, and only provide service through take out and delivery orders.

In the Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek area where I live, I've noticed that some restaurants/eateries are continuing to provide service via take out and delivery orders.  Others have closed entirely for the current 3-week mandatory order that affects much of the San Francisco Bay Area.

But, as a consumer, there is one thing about these closures to watch out for:  Your Wallet.  I noticed one restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek that was going to offer take out and delivery, then did an about face on their social media page and said they were shutting down completely for the 3-week timeframe.  We ate there once, a terrible experience with both service and food.  Not to mention a psycho owner who reviews security tapes  and trolls customers who leave negative restaurant reviews.

Then the restaurant went on to say they would sell the "groceries" they had on hand to anyone who would purchase them, and provided contact information.  They also put all ... all ... of their wine inventory up for sale by the bottle, for anyone who wanted to purchase it.

Then the restaurant went on to say that if people wanted to support the restaurant, to please purchase gift certificates from the restaurant for future dining, to help hold the restaurant over for the next 3 weeks.

Ok, stop right there.

Even if you like the restaurant, it is closing.  And selling off their wine inventory - plus no longer accepting credit cards as payment; cash or payment via the very unsecure Venmo application only - are big red flags that the restaurant will likely not reopen.  And if the restaurant doesn't reopen, and you have an outstanding gift certificate, you're screwed.  It's worthless.

So, if you truly want to support restaurants and eateries that are currently closed, wait to do so when they reopen.  Same goes for retail stores and salons closed for this current 3-week period.  Because if they don't reopen, your gift certificates will be worthless. 

Just because you may be big hearted, don't let your generosity make you become a victim of a worthless gift certificate.

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

March 20, 2020

Fouts Financial Group is OPEN FOR BUSINESS During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus COVID-19:  Fouts Financial Group is OPEN FOR BUSINESS during the Coronavirus Pandemic.


Government orders and guidance related to the Coronavirus Pandemic are rapidly evolving.  Mary already  provides professional services Monday through Thursday working remotely from her Home Office in Pleasant Hill, CA, so Fouts Financial Group's professional services are generally unaffected, with these adjustments:  Mary will adjust all business engagements that would normally involve airline travel, public transportation, or in-person meetings.  Mary will no longer travel via airline or public transportation.   In consideration of social distancing requirements, any engagement that would normally involve in-person appearances or meetings will instead be conducted via telephone or video conference.

Mary provides client consultations via telephone conference, and shares documents and client data via encrypted and secure Sharefile links, accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.  Documents and information sent via email, USPS, and UPS is, of course, also available, as well as local drop off.  Visit the Fouts Financial Group website for more information about Fouts Financial Group's Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Business Practices.

Upcoming Tax Filing and Tax Payment Due Dates:  Many Taxing Authorities are extending upcoming Tax Payment Due Dates and Tax Form Filing Due Dates for individual and business taxpayers.  This guidance is rapidly evolving, and varies from one taxing authority to another, making it impossible to accurately include on this blog or the Fouts Financial Group website.  Please check the appropriate Taxing Authority Website for the most up-to-date and accurate information on this important topic. 

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.  Office Hours Monday through Thursday.  And remember:  Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

March 18, 2020

Optimism: It Actually May Be Good For Your Health and Life Longevity!

Optimism.


I recently wrote that it has been kinda tough to remain optimistic some of these days, particularly with the current hysteria about the Corona Virus COVID-19.  Which, by the way, was reported in a San Francisco Chronicle article on Monday, March 9 that (1) the virus is abating in Asia, (2) most cases are mild, and (3) most people who have contracted the virus worldwide have already recovered. 


But noooo, the press and our governmental organizations aren't relaying that message.  Instead we have different advice and information thrown at us ... some of it conflicting ... from various governmental organizations and medical experts.  If you are paying attention to all of this, it's enough to drive anyone to the Loonie Farm!

And, all of this negativity and hysteria - stock market losses included - is enough to make even the most optimistic person fall into a glass of pessimism.  But don't fret!  There are simple steps you can take to remain optimistic in even the most trying times, including simply stepping back and putting matters and events into perspective.

Here's a New York Times article on the topic:  How to Be More Optimistic.

But wait, there's more.

Do you know studies have shown that being optimistic can not only improve your health but also lead to a longer, more fulfilling life? 

Here's a New York Times article on the topic:  Looking on the Bright Side May Be Good for Your Health.

And in the meantime ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

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

March 15, 2020

Taxes ... Did Your Paid Tax Preparer Sign Your Return? It's Required by Law.

Paid Income Tax Preparer Responsibilities


If you pay a Tax Preparer to prepare your tax returns, here are a few things you may not know about requirements for a Tax Preparer's signature.

(1)  A paid Tax Preparer is required by law to sign your tax return.  An exception to this requirement is that a paid employee who prepared his or her employer's tax return is not required to sign the return.

(2)  Here's one requirement most people don't know ... If you hire a Tax Preparer to review a not-yet-filed  tax return that you (or someone else) has prepared, and you pay the Tax Preparer for reviewing the return, the Tax Preparer is required by law to sign the tax return.  And he or she must sign the return, even if someone else has previously signed the return.  The signature is placed over any existing signature, and other identifying preparer information, such as the tax preparer's PTIN and contact information, must be provided.  

Also, by signing the return, the Tax Preparer accepts professional responsibility  ... and therefore, professional liability ... or all positions taken on the return.  That is why I do not provide "review" services for tax returns prepared by someone else.  Given the liability I would assume, I would need to re-prepare the return to be certain of the tax return's accuracy.

(3)  If a Tax Preparer prepares your tax return for free - in other words, receives no compensation - the Tax Preparer is not required to sign the return.  Same holds true if a Tax Preparer reviews a not-yet-filed tax return prepared by someone else, yet charges no fee for the review service.  In these instances, the uncompensated Tax Preparer assumes no professional responsibility nor liability for the tax return.

Tax Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, annuity consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  She brings 32 years of professional experience to her clients, who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

March 12, 2020

Sourdough Multigrain Sandwich Loaf Bread! Always a Joy to Make, and Tastes Oh So Good!


Sourdough Multigrain Sandwich Loaf Bread


I call this Sourdough Multigrain Sandwich Loaf Bread our "Everyday Bread".  I always bake 4 loaves at a time ... Large loaves baked in 10" x 5" bread loaf pans.  Every bake is a little bit different, but equally delicious.

This bread is so important to me, that the absolute requirements upon purchasing a new 30" range is that (1) it must have a gas convection oven, and (2) the oven must ... MUST ... be large enough to bake 4 loaves of my Everyday Bread, in my extra large loaf pans, at a time.

My recipe is my own, a high hydration dough that makes a more-or-less uniform loaf on the top (no large dome) for consistently sized slices.  The ends are a tiny bit shorter in height, but not by much.

This loaf was made with my Organic Pumpernickel Starter, followed by Unbleached All Purpose Flour, Whole Grain Flour Blend, and pine nuts.  All flours from King Arthur Flour.  Recipe also includes melted butter, honey, spring water, eggs, and kosher salt.  Each loaf of this bake weighed about 1375 grams.  That made for one large pile o' dough to work with.

My kitchen area smelled so good while the bread was baking, my husband Jim actually asked me what was being baked that smelled so good?  That is one nice compliment, for sure.



Baking bread is addictive, and such a relaxing and fulfilling experience.  And sourdough baking is truly fun, interesting, and rewarding.  Give it a try!

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

March 9, 2020

Optimism: Yes, you can teach yourself to be more optimistic! Here's how.

Optimism.


Kinda tough to remain optimistic some of these days, particularly with the current hysteria about the Corona Virus COVID-19.  Which, by the way, was reported in a San Francisco Chronicle article on Monday, March 9 that (1) the virus is abating in Asia, (2) most cases are mild, and (3) most people who have contracted the virus worldwide have already recovered. 


But noooo, the press and our governmental organizations aren't relaying that message.  Instead we have different advice and information thrown at us ... some of it conflicting ... from various governmental organizations and medical experts.  If you are paying attention to all of this, it's enough to drive anyone to the Loonie Farm!

And, all of this negativity and hysteria - stock market losses included - is enough to make even the most optimistic person fall into a glass of pessimism.  But don't fret!  There are simple steps you can take to remain optimistic in even the most trying times, including simply stepping back and putting matters and events into perspective.

Here's a New York Times article on the topic:  How to Be More Optimistic.

And in the meantime ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

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

March 6, 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19 Price Gougers: There's A Special Place In Hell For Them!

Coronavirus COVID-19 Price Gouging


Some businesses and people are gleefully wallowing in the world of price gouging during the current Coronavirus COVID-19 emergency.  So much that EBay has outright banned the sale of both face masks and hand sanitizers on their online sales site.

Take this unethical online business, Stock My Closet.  As of right now (Friday, March 6 at 11:00 AM Pacific Time), Stock My Closet is selling a 4 oz travel size of Purell Hand Sanitizer.

A tiny 4 ounces.  For $51.31 plus $4.49 tax and $12.84 shipping.

That's $68.64 for one tiny 4 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.

That's flat out wrong.  And it should be criminally wrong.

Online business Stock My Closet Charging $68.64 for one 4 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.  People who price gouge during emergencies should be thrown in jail.  Period! 

EDIT:  In California where I reside, CA Penal Code 396 - California's Anti Price Gouging Law - prohibits raising the price of many goods and services - including face masks an hand sanitizers - by more than 10% after a State of Emergency has been declared, which has now been declared in many counties and also on a statewide basis.  However, I am unable to find a definite answer if California's Anti Price Gouging Law also applies to online merchants and brick and mortar stores located out of California who sell to California residents.  I'll edit this post if I later find out this information.

And another thing is for certain:  There is a Special Place in Hell for people and businesses who price gouge during times of emergency, including during the current Coronavirus COVID-19 situation.  Wouldn't want to be ya!

Hello there, I'm Satan.
And I look forward to hosting all of you Coronavirus COVAD-19
Price Gougers in the future!

Pathetic these individuals and businesses.  Absolutely pathetic.

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

March 3, 2020

Representative Jimmy Gomez: Get Your Hand Out of Your Mouth, and Quit Chewing on Your Fingers, for Heaven's Sake!

Coronavirus:  Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face!


So many of our elected politicians set the worst examples.  Take Representative (Congressman) Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles. 

Just what did he recently do?  Glad you asked!

You see, Representative Gomez's panties are apparently all in a wad about how safety procedures were ... or weren't ... followed for cruise passengers who were recently quarantined for the Coronavirus at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, CA.  But you see, Representative Gomez doesn't practice what he preaches.

Sounds familiar with our elected politicians, doesn't it?

Representative Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles
Going to Town Chewing Away on His Fingers.  Yummy!
A Baby Pacifier
Something that Representative
Jimmy Gomez just might need. 

For Representative Gomez, he can't even follow the simple been around forever health safety tenant:  Keep your hands away from your face!  And for Jimmy, it's worse than that.  Not only does Representative Jimmy Gomez not keep his hands away from his face, he actually has his fingers in his mouth, chewing on his knuckles.  Yep, chewing on his fingers.  Gross!

What's next?  Picking his nose?

Just how many germs did Representative Gomez leave around on items he touched following his finger chewing episode?  Gross!

Representative Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles:  Get your fingers out of your mouth, and keep your hands away from your face!  If you can't so that, then at least buy a baby pacifier to suck on. 

Geesh!  Another example of Politics at its Finest.

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