News is now reporting that Equifax had an additional hack, a potential related precursor to the hack in May, 2 months prior – this one in March. At the time this original hack happened, Apache Software issued a software patch to be immediately implemented – Equifax did not do it, causing the 2nd more extensive breach.
Credit experts are advising individuals to immediately go out and FREEZE YOUR CREDIT on ALL 3 Sites – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you need to purchase a home/auto/other, unfreeze your for that purchase then re-freeze it!
Original Post: 09/14/2017
By now you’ve most likely heard that Equifax, one of the 3 credit reporting entities, had a data breach back in May of this year. It is estimated that nearly 50% or 143 Million Americans may have been affected by this incident. And Yes.. you heard me right… MAY and we just now found out about this. The SEC is looking into why it took Equifax so long to notify the public of the breach. In the meantime, major stockholders sold off their shares of stock before the public was made aware. I say this only because this could very well be determined to be an act of insider trading and the SEC is also looking into this as well.
Regardless of all of that, Equifax does have a link online where you can check to see if your personal information was breached. Equifax is also offering – FREE TO ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS, their Trusted ID Premier package for 1 year. This is credit monitoring service that will provide upto $1.0Million of ID Theft Insurance – for FREE for 1 YEAR! All you need to do is go to their site (Provided below) and enter your Name and partial Social Security number to see if you were affected. BTW, Equifax removed the disclaimer where, last week, you waived your rights (Thank you NY AG). I just checked mine this morning and well.. I don’t know if I was or not. Upon entering my info, the screen that popped up said “Based on the information you provided, it does not appear that your information was breached” so I clicked the Enroll button to enroll myself in the credit monitoring service… then the next popup said “Based on the information you provided, you may have been compromised”. Soooo… maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t..sigh.
Even if I’m not compromised, it doesn’t hurt to cover myself, or Yourself, for a year. The online instructions are simple, the information has been nicely laid out for you on their site.
Here is the link: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/enroll/
If meals or entertainment are provided for the benefit of your employees, you can write off 100% of the cost as a business expense with some exceptions. These are exceptions to the usual 50% write-off rule for meals and entertainment.
Common examples of expenses that can be written off at 100% include:
- Meal and entertainment expenses for a company picnic or holiday party so long as this is only 1-2 times per calendar year. In other words, you can’t do this every week and treat it at 100%
- Free coffee, bottled water, donuts, and office snacks provided to employees at the place of business.
- Free food or beverages provided to the public for promotional purposes.
- Meals provided at the place of business to more than half of the employees as an enticement for working after-hours, weekends, or holidays but be careful!! The purpose of this is to meet deadlines or cover shifts where as the employee can not leave their station during what would be their normal dinner/lunch break. However, if you are doing this as a benefit (something nice for your employees) then the value of the meals must be added to your employees income and is taxable.
- Cost of meals included on employee W-2 forms as taxable compensation.
- If you bill your clients for meals as part of the services you provide, so long at the meals are line listed on their invoice, you can include the meals on your tax returns at 100% however your client can only include these meals at the 50% tax deduction level.
Parents are stressed in so many ways now-a-days, work, school and summer – what to do with the kids while I work! However there may be at the least, some tax relief available. And if you haven’t yet filed your 2016 taxes… don’t forget last summers camps!
Here’s the IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-16, June 11, 2014
Many parents pay for childcare or day camps in the summer while they work. If this applies to you, your costs may qualify for a federal tax credit that can lower your taxes. Here are 10 facts that you should know about the Child and Dependent Care Credit:
- Your expenses must be for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Your dependent child or children under age 13 usually qualify. For more about this rule see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
- Your expenses for care must be work-related. This means that you must pay for the care so you can work or look for work. This rule also applies to your spouse if you file a joint return. Your spouse meets this rule during any month they are a full-time student. They also meet it if they’re physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
- You must have earned income, such as from wages, salaries and tips. It also includes net earnings from self-employment. Your spouse must also have earned income if you file jointly. Your spouse is treated as having earned income for any month that they are a full-time student or incapable of self-care. This rule also applies to you if you file a joint return. Refer to Publication 503 for more details.
- As a rule, if you’re married you must file a joint return to take the credit. But this rule doesn’t apply if you’re legally separated or if you and your spouse live apart.
- You may qualify for the credit whether you pay for care at home, at a daycare facility or at a day camp.
- The credit is a percentage of the qualified expenses you pay. It can be as much as 35 percent of your expenses, depending on your income.
- The total expense that you can use for the credit in a year is limited. The limit is $3,000 for one qualifying person or $6,000 for two or more.
- Overnight camp or summer school tutoring costs do not qualify. You can’t include the cost of care provided by your spouse or your child who is under age 19 at the end of the year. You also cannot count the cost of care given by a person you can claim as your dependent. Special rules apply if you get dependent care benefits from your employer.
- Keep all your receipts and records. Make sure to note the name, address and Social Security number or employer identification number of the care provider. You must report this information when you claim the credit on your tax return.
- Remember that this credit is not just a summer tax benefit. You may be able to claim it for care you pay for throughout the year.
Did you know that you can claim your Boyfriend or Girlfriend (Partner) on your Personal Tax return!! However there are a few criteria you must meet in order to take advantage of this little known rule.
In order to take advantage of this, your partner must meet the following tests…
- The Partner must be a U.S. Citizen, Resident Alien or a Resident of Canada or Mexico
- Can not be the Qualifying Child of the taxpayer
- You must have lived together the entire year as a member of your family and cohabitation must not be against the law in your state (FYI in Wisconsin, it’s not, I just looked)
- She/He can’t have earned over $4,050
- You must have paid more than ½ her/his living expenses during 2016
- And, he/she must not be able to be claimed by anyone else (ie his/her parents, grandparent, etc)