How To Fight an Eviction During the Coronavirus Pandemic

EvictionPeter Dazeley / Getty Images

Eviction may soon become a reality for millions of American renters.

In March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent in homes with federally backed mortgages. But this program ended on July 24.

As a result, an estimated 20% of the 110 million Americans who rent their homes are at risk for eviction by Sept. 30, according to a report by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a group of economic researchers and legal experts working to better understand the housing, homeless, and community recovery during the pandemic.

“We anticipate a flood of evictions because many tenants won’t be able to pay the back rent, and it will be due,” says Deborah Thrope, deputy director at the National Housing Law Project, a housing and legal advocacy nonprofit.

“The eviction moratorium is simply a pause. It’s not rent cancelation,” Thrope says.

But even if you’re struggling to pay rent, this doesn’t mean an eviction is your only choice. Here’s an overview of some of the steps you can take to fight an eviction.

Talk to your landlord ASAP

“The best advice I can give tenants when their financial situation starts to deteriorate is to communicate with your landlord,” says Marina Vaamonde, a real estate investor in Houston and founder of HouseCashin. “Their willingness to have a discussion is the only way tenants can come to a resolution without going to court.”

According to a recent survey of landlords by the American Apartment Owners Association, 67% said they would be willing to offer tenants a rent deferment if they needed it.

So if you know you can’t make your next rent payment, reach out to your landlord as soon as possible. Waiting until after you get an eviction notice may be too late, and your landlord may be less likely to work with you. Your landlord could also already be in the process of filing the eviction with the court, and have paid fees to do so, which may make him more likely to follow through.

“There are a number of things you can negotiate with your landlord,” Thrope says. Some options to consider include a rent repayment agreement, shortening the terms of your lease, or possibly getting out of your lease altogether.

Learn how COVID-19 moratoriums apply to you

Eviction laws vary drastically across the country at the state and even city level, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it all even more complicated. Along with the CARES Act eviction moratorium, states and municipalities issued their own mandates to pause evictions. So make sure to read up on the eviction laws in your area specifically to better understand what your landlord is legally allowed and not allowed to do.

“Once you understand your legal rights, you’ll know your options,” Thrope says. “We have this patchwork of policy all across the country right now, so it’s important to know the local law and tenant protections.”

One resource for finding out the statutes of local eviction laws is the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which created a nationwide database. The group has also developed a state-by-state COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard, tracking states’ responses to evictions and during the pandemic.

NHLP also has local and national online resources for renters and homeowners during the pandemic.

Make sure your landlord gives you adequate notice

Landlords usually have the legal right to evict tenants for not paying rent, violating a lease, causing damage to the property, or engaging in illegal activity at the home.

Most states require landlords to give an adequate notice of eviction with a deadline to pay rent or move out and the amount owed. If you don’t meet the deadline, the landlord can file a lawsuit to evict you.

But if landlords don’t provide adequate notice of eviction, Vaamonde says a judge will often throw out the case.

In Texas, for example, landlords must provide an official three-day notice to vacate the property with the reason for the eviction, and can file an eviction hearing with the court if the tenant doesn’t respond or move out.

Landlords are also prohibited from taking extreme actions during the eviction process, like changing the locks or cutting off utilities.

Attend your eviction hearing

After being closed because of the pandemic, eviction courts are beginning to reopen across the country, and are moving cases through quickly to clear up the backlog of evictions.

If your landlord files for an eviction in court, you will receive a notice to appear for the hearing. It’s important to show up, especially if you hope to fight the case. You have the right to examine and present evidence and bring witnesses, Thrope says.

“Showing up to the eviction hearing at the courthouse is the only way to receive some form of leniency,” Vaamonde says. “If the landlord wants you out of his property, the judge is the only one with the authority to defer your eviction.”

Since the pandemic has made showing up to court more difficult and dangerous, many proceedings are being held virtually, with tenants expected to appear by phone or videoconference. This may be easier for some tenants, but Thrope says in other cases, it can interfere with due process for some tenants who may not have access to the technology. It also makes it more difficult to look over evidence or converse with attorneys. Make sure you know when, where, and how you’re supposed to show up in court to make sure you do what you can to present your case.

“We hope that courts understand that this is a public health crisis, and that people sheltering in their homes is one of the remedies,” Thrope says. “To put people on the street right now is only going to exacerbate this crisis, so we hope courts will do the right thing.”

Consult an attorney

Fighting an eviction alone is overwhelming for many tenants since the process is so complex. Thrope urges tenants facing eviction to hire an attorney or contact local legal aid organizations.

“Reach out for legal assistance,” she says. “That’s really important because you need to understand what protections you can avail yourself locally.”

A lawyer can help explain whether you’re protected by the CARES Act or other local mandate, as well as how regular eviction laws apply in your situation and what exactly you need to do to fight an eviction.

A lawyer will also help you gather documentation to use as evidence, such as proof of past rent payments or that you lost your job, and any communication that you had with your landlord.

“Most tenants are not represented,” she says. “Some tenants may be savvy enough to [represent themselves], but it’s a legal process. We have the right to counsel, and it’s really critical here.”

The post How To Fight an Eviction During the Coronavirus Pandemic appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Remote-Work Boom During Covid-19 Pandemic Draws Real-Estate Startups

Park in San Francisco social distancingDavid Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of real-estate startups is aiming to cash in on the remote-work phenomenon.

With many corporate offices closed because of the pandemic, many young professionals have left cities like New York and San Francisco for warmer, cheaper places. A number still plan to return after their offices reopen, leaving them reluctant to buy homes or sign long-term apartment leases.

That situation is creating fresh demand for furnished housing on a short-term basis, a fast-growing niche that many property startups and their venture-capital backers are rushing to fill.

One of them is Landing, which runs a network of furnished apartments across the U.S. When it launched in 2019, the Birmingham, Ala., and San Francisco-based company initially planned to operate in about 30 cities last year. Instead, it expanded to 75, largely because demand grew much faster than expected, said Landing Chief Executive Bill Smith.

“Covid has taken a decade of change that I was thinking was going to happen between now and 2030 and kind of compressed it into a year,” he said.

Legions of remote workers also offer these firms a chance to make up for reduced tourist and corporate business. San Francisco-based Sonder, which rents out furnished apartments by the night, ramped up its marketing of extended stays during the pandemic, according to Chief Executive Francis Davidson. Stays of longer than 14 days now account for about 60% of the company’s business, up from less than a quarter before the pandemic, he said.

Kulveer Taggar, CEO of corporate-housing operator Zeus Living, said his firm experienced a steep drop in demand as companies hit the pause button on employee travel and relocations. But he was able to make up some ground by renting apartments to individuals. People working from home now account for about a quarter of the company’s business, Mr. Taggar said, up from virtually nothing before the pandemic.

Unlike Sonder and Zeus, remote workers were a key part of Landing’s business before the pandemic. Its customers pay an annual membership fee, which gives them the right to rent furnished apartments in any city. The minimum length of stay varies from 30 to 60 days, and the company asks for a month’s notice before a customer moves out.

The company is popular with college-educated young professionals who don’t want to be tied to a single location. Since the start of the pandemic, it has seen a growing number of customers leave New York and San Francisco and move to cities like St. Petersburg, Fla., and Denver, Mr. Smith said.

In November, Landing raised $45 million in venture funding from a group of investors led by Foundry Group and including Greycroft and Maveron, along with $55 million in debt. Mr. Smith said he hopes to expand to 25,000 apartments by the end of this year, up from around 10,000 today.

That growth carries risk if demand from remote workers were to disappear again after the pandemic is over. Still, Chris Moody, a partner at Foundry Group, said the number of furnished apartments available under flexible terms is still so small that he doesn’t worry about a lack of customers.

“Even at the end of 2021, we won’t really have scratched the surface,” he said.

The post Remote-Work Boom During Covid-19 Pandemic Draws Real-Estate Startups appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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The Commercial Space Post-COVID – With Cove CEO Adam Segal

A recent Q & A we had with Adam Segal, CEO + Founder of Washington D.C. based Cove offers a picture window into the future of business. What was intended to be a real estate technology informative, turned out to be a glimpse of what the post-COVID world of real estate may look like. Initially focused on creating a network of co-working spaces to foster efficiency and productivity in the digital age, Segal’s company’s ship may have just arrived in the form of a world cataclysm. 

Cove logo

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing a paradigm shift for every business and institution on Earth. The world is turned upsidedown, and the only sure thing people can cling to, for the moment, is uncertainty. The daily grind, the 9-5, in contrast to the homogenization of the digital and the physical world, is creating catastrophes and vast opportunities for the future. And Cove sits smack in the middle of what most experts think will be the transition of transitions not just in real estate, but for business in general. I exchanged emails with the Cove CEO this past week, since catching up with him via phone proved impossible. Here’s the brief interview, followed by some takeaway points. 

RealtyBiz: How do you see commercial property marketing shaping up in the post-COVID era?

Adam Segal: At Cove, we believe commercial real estate will still have a place in a post-COVID era. In fact, it will transform from a place for your dedicated desk into an absolute key business resource to define culture and engagement. Traditionally, there has been a strong emphasis on your everyday desk or office. Moving forward, companies will consider where and how people are most productive, thereby enabling employees greater flexibility to choose when and where they work. The office will morph into a place to come together as opposed to being the required 9-5, everyday solution. For employees, this is an incredibly exciting future — as soon as you are no longer tied to a single desk or office, you have the freedom to design your life without your employer’s office location and long commutes as the deciding factor. At Cove, we provide the technology and service to support that future world for companies, while empowering office building owners a partner to create modern experiences integral to the future of work.

RealtyBiz: Some experts see the negative pricing trend for commercial property continuing to spiral downward. What is your view on this trend, and how can owners/developers prepare?

Adam Segal: When there is an increase in demand, differentiation becomes the absolute key. For those assets that are able to capture the future of work and unlock a differentiated experience, there will not be a downward spiral — in fact, just the opposite.

RealtyBiz: How do you see your business at Cove changing to address this new landscape? 

Adam Segal: Cove implements a modern consumer approach to the future of work for companies and owners of office buildings. Our focus is on building an experience around the office by building robust tools to bring everything online — from scheduling and coordinating your team to reduce capacity, unlocking onsite services and delivery, real-time updates — really a gateway to a modern work experience. The post-pandemic office will look nothing like the office of yesterday. In the future, the office will no longer be a home for your desk. Instead, the office will be a resource to bring people together for meaningful engagement. As a result, every company will need more intentional and coordinated office days for collaboration. The future of work for any company will include a mix of working remotely, in office, on travel — but now a real focus on productivity as opposed to a default 9-5, Monday through Friday culture. 

The Takeaway

According to Crunchbase, Cove is funded by Early Light Ventures. My takeaway on their investment, given the current state of transformation in business, is that those investors are smiling great big about now. $8.4 million in total funding could well turn into 100 times that figure. Here’s why.

Whatever benefits the remote office had before COVID-19, those benefits have been multiplied by 10,000 now. Furthermore, whichever businesses chose to optimize their buildings using Cove services before the pandemic, those clients are the leading edge of what physical office space will be in the future. Think about the whole situation like this. Once corporations and smaller entities make the adjustments for distancing, access assurance, safety measures, and added efficiency, how many do you think will switch back to business as usual? I should not have to spell out Cove’s potential here. From custom virtual events to building access management, Cove had a finger on the pulse of office buildings to start with. The next generation of office space will be all about remote work and managing a new kind of physical space. Who better to help transform the work at home corporate synergy? So, Cove has one of those rare opportunities brought about by the cosmos.

The post The Commercial Space Post-COVID – With Cove CEO Adam Segal appeared first on RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News.

Source: realtybiznews.com

How COVID-19 is Affecting Mortgages

Coronavirus cases are increasing at a phenomenal rate and sending the economy into free-fall. Every industry will be affected in some way, but the housing market could be one of the hardest hit. Borrowers are struggling to pay their mortgages, lenders are seeing far fewer applications, and we could be just around the corner from a housing crisis akin to the decline of 2008.

So, what’s happening here, how is COVID-19 affecting mortgages and are we likely to see any major issues on the horizon?

How Will COVID-19 Impact Mortgages?

In early March, mortgage rates dropped to an all-time low, hinting at things to come. The rate for a 30-year fixed-term mortgage fell to 3.29%, compared to March of 2019 when rates were 4.14%. That may not seem like much of a difference, but the difference between 3.29% and 4.14% on a $200,000 30-year mortgage is around $35,000.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg; the start of the problem.

Experts predict that rates will continue to fall as we progress through 2020 and COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the US economy.

As noted in our recent guide to Coronavirus Mortgage Relief, lenders are already providing lenders with debt relief options to help them manage their mortgage in this difficult time. Foreclosure is expensive and it’s an expense that banks and credit unions can’t afford right now. They want homeowners to pay their bills and keep their homes and they will do everything they can to make that happen.

The federal government is also lending a helping hand by way of the CARES act, and we could see more significant moves on behalf of lenders and the government before the year draws to a close.

In other words, although big moves have been made and huge changes have taken place, all of this could pale in comparison to what happens when the pandemic is eradicated and the rebuilding process begins.

Can You Benefit from this?

If you’re a homeowner tied to a high-interest rate, you could benefit from the current reduced interest rates by refinancing your mortgage. You could do that now and capitalize on the all-time low rates mentioned above or wait to see what happens in the next few months.

In any case, you can get a much lower rate than what you already have and potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

It’s not about profiting from a bad situation, it’s about making life easier for yourself so you can navigate through this chaos. If your monthly mortgage payment is reduced, you’ll have more money in your pocket every month, which means you can put more cash towards unsecured debts and your monthly grocery bill.

It also reduces your chances of defaulting and being foreclosed upon in the future.

COVID-19 and the Housing Market

In the spring of 2019, the housing market was booming. It was a good time to invest in bricks and mortar and it seemed like there were some bright years ahead for homeowners and investors. 

In 2020, the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic fell on the country and now, a year on from that boom, the housing market has ground to a screeching halt. No one is selling because no one is buying. The market hasn’t necessarily crashed, but it has paused, and that could cause some huge problems in the near future.

What happens to all the homeowners who were selling their homes before this crisis and wanted to sell during? As soon as the pandemic fades away, they’ll all list their homes at the same time, and they’ll no doubt be joined by countless other homeowners who are selling because of the pandemic.

Once the market reopens, it will be flooded with homes for sale. At the same time, homeowners once ready to buy will now be struggling to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, while others will be hesitant of buying and will want to bide their time. Sellers will get desperate, prices will drop, and it will be a buyer’s market.

It’s hard to predict just how far house prices will fall or even if they will fall at all, but if the last few months are anything to go by, it’s fair to assume that the damage will be considerable.

Could it be a Seller’s Market?

While it seems most likely that post-pandemic USA will be a buyer’s market, it could also go the other way. Millions of Americans could be looking to purchase homes in 2020. If all of them are waiting for the end of the pandemic in the hope that the prices will be lower and the interest rates more favorable, they could overload the market.

Buyers may also be desperate to sink their money into bricks and mortar, believing it to be a safe investment and protection against any future economic issues. After all, when you rent, you’re always at the mercy of the landlord and have few guarantees that your home will still be your home months down the line.

That’s a scary thought in the middle of a pandemic, where it may be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to move into another property on short notice.

To remedy this, renters may be desperate to buy and may jump into the housing market as soon as the chaos dies down. A sudden rush of buyers will send the market in the opposite direction, allowing sellers to jack up their prices. 

COVID-19, Mortgages, and the Future of the Housing Market

Most of which we discussed above is speculation. We can predict the likelihood of it being a buyer’s market and of interest rates falling based on everything that has happened thus far, but we can’t say that it will happen for certain.

COVID-19 has made life very unpredictable. In December 2019, when word of the first Chinese cases began to filter to our shores, few could have guessed that just 3 months later, the world would be in lockdown, everyone would be going crazy for toilet paper, and people would be dying in their droves. 

At the beginning of the outbreak, when Europe was on its knees, President Trump was dismissive of the risks and suggested that everything would be okay, the US would be safe, and the virus would be fleeting. A few weeks later, the United States became the worst affected country and fatalities entered double figures.

It’s a novel pandemic that few predicted, and no one was prepared for, and as things stand it’s less about fighting the disease and more about avoiding it. 

As a result, we can’t be certain that the housing market will decline or that mortgage rates will drop. We just have to wait and see and hope that we all get through this with our lives, properties, and professions intact.

How COVID-19 is Affecting Mortgages is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

These are the U.S. travel advisories for December 2020

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.  The global coronavirus pandemic has impacted every country in the world. As Americans (and countries around the world) experience a surge in COVID-19 cases, it’s important to revisit the travel advisories that have been issued by the U.S. Department of State, especially as …

Source: thepointsguy.com

6 Tips for Your Job Search During the Coronavirus Outbreak

A woman writes in a notebook with her laptop open next to her

New developments continue to pour in each day surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically changed nearly every aspect of life for millions of people, and the workforce in particular has been hit hard. Businesses, employees, and job seekers are all scrambling to identify what exactly “normal” will look like in the coming months. Many employers are questioning how to continue business as usual, and people seeking new employment are left with an equally tough question: How do I get a job during this pandemic?

While things are
changing every day, it’s important to know there are plenty
of businesses still actively hiring new employees. Your job search may look a
bit different than it did in the past, but rest assured that there are still
opportunities ripe for the taking if you make a few adjustments to your overall
job search strategy.

Look Specifically for Remote Jobs

Many businesses
have been deemed “nonessential” and legally
ordered to shut their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. With office buildings
closing up shop for the time being, it’s a great idea
to focus your job-hunting efforts on remote work.

Work-from-home
opportunities have recently seen an exponential growth in popularity, and the
coronavirus crisis has forced even more businesses to rely on remote work to
keep things operational. As you begin your search, keep a closer eye out than
usual for remote job opportunities related to your field and expertise.

Specifically, come up with a plan for yourself should you land an interview for a remote job. Be prepared for a virtual interview and have a game plan for discussing how you would manage a balanced work-from-home routine. If you have prior experience working remotely, emphasize this on your resume. Once you have a plan in place, start your search by browsing a job board focused on remote employment such as FlexJobs.

Embrace Online Networking

Your professional
network is more important now than ever before. If you haven’t logged into your LinkedIn account recently, this is the time
to start embracing the power of online networking.

In addition to
browsing available jobs on the platform, make sure you’re interacting with your connections, sharing articles, and
keeping your profile in tip-top shape. After all, your LinkedIn profile can
catch the eye of a recruiter and become a deciding factor in whether you are
chosen for a job.

Even further, according to a field experiment conducted by ResumeGo, job seekers with an active and comprehensive LinkedIn profile had a 71% higher chance of getting an initial job interview. In short, now is your time to shine on LinkedIn!

Broaden Your Job Scope and Your Resume

If you’ve been
job hunting during the current pandemic and simply haven’t found many jobs you consider an ideal fit for you, it might
be time to broaden your horizons—even if it’s just a little.

Remember to keep
an open mind as you browse openings and realize that current opportunities are
a reflection of these trying times. With companies implementing hiring freezes
and others struggling to adjust to remote work, your dream job simply may not
be feasible at the time, and that’s okay!

Reevaluate your
best skills and ask yourself how else they could be useful to a company. Are
there similar jobs for which you’d make a great
fit? Can you tap into any other skills that may not be listed on your resume?
Do your best to stay open-minded and have more jobs to consider.

Stay in Touch with Your Old Employer

If you were recently laid off due to the coronavirus, rest assured you’re not alone. Many employees lost their jobs and were left scrambling to file for unemployment or seek out other work opportunities.

However, before
you cut ties with your previous employer, consider keeping the lines of
communication open as they may plan to bring their previous staff back into the
business once the dust settles. This is an uncertain time for everyone, so keep
all your options on the table.

Take the Opportunity to Learn New Skills

Whether you’re a pro in your field or just beginning to learn the ropes,
there’s always room for anyone to acquire
new skills that can take their abilities to greater heights.

If you’re not in financial stress and don’t need to find a new job in a hurry, this can be the perfect
time to invest in your professional skills and learn something new. Browse the
internet for courses or tutorials to help you earn a new certification to add
to your resume.

Additionally, be
sure to check your local colleges and universities, as many schools are
offering free or discounted courses for people to take during the COVID-19
pandemic. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about
anything, now is the perfect time to do so!

Pay Attention to the News

New developments
to the coronavirus and related relief efforts are announced daily. As medical
professionals and government officials continue to learn more about the virus
and adjust our precautions, you can expect a new norm for many weeks to come.

While cases have
been escalating at an alarming rate, keep in mind that things will get
better
. Stay up-to-date on the latest developments by tuning in to a
reputable news source so you can be one of the first to know if new
opportunities become available. Nonessential businesses will eventually open up
at some point, and when that moment comes, there will be an influx of new job
opportunities for those who move quickly.

Conclusion

During such difficult
times, it’s easy to become unmotivated when it
comes to pursuing new employment. Circumstances are changing each day, but
remember there is still plenty you can do to carry on with your job hunt.

Go to Guide
Privacy Policy

Several businesses are actively hiring, and others are even urgently seeking new team members. While your job hunt may look different for the next couple months, keep your head up! Together, we will overcome this crisis.

McLean Mills is a career coach and resume writer, as well as a content creator for Enhancv. He has over a decade of experience helping job seekers unlock their hidden career potentials and knows the hiring game inside and out. In his spare time, he loves jogging, playing frisbee with his dog, and spending time with his children.

The post 6 Tips for Your Job Search During the Coronavirus Outbreak appeared first on Credit.com.

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How to Maximize Your Tax Return for a Bigger Refund

Note: Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the IRS has extended the federal tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020. The recent relief package passed by Congress may have additional tax implications. Please contact a tax adviser for information you may need to complete your taxes this year. Learn more.

It’s finally spring—cue the flowers, warm weather and all-around greenery. And tax season. Sure, you could get a nice tax refund. Or you could put all that work into your taxes and get barely anything.

Luckily for you, we’ve got a few tips on how to maximize your tax return. We want to make sure that you avoid mistakes on your taxes. If you don’t you might end up paying even moretaxes than you have to or under-reporting your income and paying interest and penalties later.

We don’t want that to happen. This year, follow these easy ways that can help you maximize your tax return.

1. Don’t Leave Money on the Table

If you forget to use all of your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) dollars or don’t make contributions to your individual retirement and 529 accounts, you could leave money on the table. You have until December 31 to use money in your FSA or contribute to a 529 account. Some states even allow deductions for 529 contributions.

You can also make contributions to your traditional and Roth IRAs for the 2019 tax year has been extended to July 15, 2020.  For the 2019 tax year, you can contribute a total of $6,000 to IRAs.

Wondering how you can maximize your 2020 refund? If you’re ready to start working on maximizing your return for next year, consider how much you can contribute to retirement plans in 2020. You can contribute up to $19,500 to 401(k) plans.

Choosing to not file a return because your income for 2019 might also mean you’re leaving money on the table. Just because your income doesn’t require you to file doesn’t mean you’re not due a refund. And if you’re eligible for a refund, you have to file a return to get it. In 2018, the IRS reported it had $1.1 billion of unclaimed refunds from an estimated 1 million taxpayers who didn’t file in 2014 alone.

2. Claim All Available Deductions, Including Charitable Contributions

Dig into all deductions available to you. Some of the more common deductions include charitable donations, medical costs, prepaid interest on a mortgage and education expenses. Deductions are subtracted from your adjusted gross income, which lowers your actual taxable income.

Your taxable income is the amount you pay taxes on. The lower your taxable income, the less tax you pay and the higher refund you might receive.

If you’re charitably inclined and itemize your deductions, you can maximize your return by taking advantage of donations in all forms—cash and goods. That means you can claim the value of those clothes donated to a local church drive, for example.

Be sure to keep good records and receipts. Also, make sure that you’re only claiming deductions for organizations that have tax-exempt status with the IRS.

3. Use the Best Filing Status

What’s your best filing status? If you have a tax preparer, make sure you update them on any life changes you’ve had, such as getting married or divorced. Your relationship status on December 31 determines your filing status for the entire year and is the one you need to use when filing that year’s tax return. Options include:

  • Single
  • Head of household
  • Married, filing jointly
  • Married, filing separately
  • Qualifying widower

Whether or not you can file head of household, which comes with some tax benefits, is one of the more confusing questions. To file as a head of household, you must:

  • Be unmarried or considered unmarried on Dec. 31 of the relevant tax year
  • Paid more than half of the costs associated with keeping and maintaining your home during the tax year
  • Have a qualifying person, such as a child or other dependent, living with you for at least half the year

If you could technically file with two different statuses—like if you could file single and head of household—you might try calculating your taxes with both to find out which is in your best interest. This could mean checking to see if your refund changes whether you file as single or head of household or whether you file as married jointly or separately. Just don’t actually file your taxes until you make a decision, as you can only file once.

4. Report All Your Income

Some people fail to report all their income on their return. This oversight—intentional or not—can cost you. If you have unreported income and the IRS uncovers it, you’re looking at interest and penalties for unpaid taxes.

Sadly, you won’t get a free pass when you make an honest mistake. So spend a few extra minutes reviewing your return. Think through the year and your accounts to make sure you don’t forget any income sources. It’s often 1099 income that’s overlooked—things like contract work, interest income and dividends.

It can be helpful to keep a spreadsheet of all of your tax information—including sources of income, 1099s, charitable gifts and IRA and 529 contributions. Update it each year to help avoid missing things during tax prep. You’re less likely to forget about a 1099 if it’s listed in your prior year’s tax information.

5. Meet the Deadlines

Your 2019 federal tax return must be electronically filed or postmarked by July 15, 2020. The only exception is if you file an extension, which must be filed or postmarked by that date. An extension buys you through mid-October to file your return without penalties. However, you will still owe interest for any tax that was owed by July 15 and not paid.

What Happens if You Don’t File Your Tax Return on Time?

The IRS charges a number of penalties, including one for failing to file in a timely manner. It equates to 5% of your unpaid taxes and is charged for each month your return is late up to five months. And if you file more than 60 days late, you can be hit with a minimum penalty amount if even if you don’t owe any taxes.

If you don’t pay your taxes on time, the IRS charges penalties and interest on it. The total amount you might end up owing depends on how much tax you owe and how long it’s outstanding.

6. Check Your Math

It sounds a little obvious, but year after year, math or number errors are among the most common mistakes. When you’re filling out your tax forms, go slowly and double-check your numbers and math. A lot of mathematical errors can be avoided if you’re using tax software that does the calculating for you. If you find the entire process daunting, consider working with a tax preparer or accountant to help reduce these types of errors.

7. Check Your Bank Account Details

If you plan to use direct deposit to receive your refund, double check the bank account information you provide. If you enter the wrong account information, you won’t receive your refund as you planned. And getting things straightened out can be a pain.

If You Have to Refile a Tax Return

If you find you made a mistake after filing your tax return, make the necessary corrections as soon as possible. You need to file an amended return if you made mistakes regarding your filing status, dependents, income, deductions or credits. Form 1040X is used to file the corrected return, and it has to be done on paper rather than digitally. Amended returns must be filed within three years of the original filing date or two years from the point you paid any taxes owed for that tax year.

For more information about filing your taxes or to find answers to other common tax questions, check out the Tax Learning Center.

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Source: credit.com