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Reminder to Businesses: Special Tax Benefits Still Available in 40 Designated Empowerment Zones

Eligible businesses can still claim Empowerment Zone tax benefits through the end of this year. Empowerment Zones are certain urban and rural areas where employers and other taxpayers qualify for special tax benefits.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture designated 40 economically distressed locations as empowerment zones. Find a list of them in the instructions to IRS Form 8844.

Key Empowerment Zone tax benefits include:

Renewing Your ITIN? Here’s Where to Get Help

 

As the year-end draws near, taxpayers with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number set to expire are encouraged to start the renewal process now. This will help to avoid delays at tax time. The IRS issues ITINs to people with a federal tax filing or reporting requirement who don’t have and cannot get a Social Security number. 

Find help renewing an ITIN here:

IRS, Partners Offer Tips to Protect Data from Online Threats

 

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry urge you to join their effort to combat identity theft by doing more to protect personal and financial data from online threats.

Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference. That’s why for the second year in a row, we have embarked on a public awareness campaign called “Taxes. Security. Together.” And, we’ve launched a series of security awareness tips that can help protect you from cybercriminals. This is all part of the Security Summit effort, a joint effort between the IRS, the states and the private-sector tax industry.

Here’s an overview of basic steps to help protect your data:

What should I evaluate when considering a new job offer?

Today, few people stay with one employer until retirement. Instead, it's likely that at some point during your career, you'll be searching for a new job. You may be looking for more money, greater career opportunities, or more flexibility. Or you may be forced to look for new employment if your company restructures. Whatever the reason, at some point in your working life you might be faced with a new job offer. Should you take it? Here are some things to evaluate.

What It Means to Be a Financial Caregiver for Your Parents

If you are the adult child of aging parents, you may find yourself in the position of someday having to assist them with handling their finances. Whether that time is in the near future or sometime further down the road, there are some steps you can take now to make the process a bit easier.

Mom and Dad, can we talk?

Your first step should be to get a handle on your parents' finances so you fully understand their current financial situation. The best time to do so is when your parents are relatively healthy and active. Otherwise, you may find yourself making critical decisions on their behalf in the midst of a crisis.

You can start by asking them some basic questions:

·         What financial institutions hold their assets (e.g., bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts)?

The Giving Season: Six Tips for Making Smart and Effective Charitable Donations This Holiday Season

The holidays are a popular time for charitable donations. With so many charities to choose from, it's more important than ever to ensure that your donation is well spent. Here are six tips that can help you make smart and effective charitable donations.

1. Choose your charities wisely

Choosing worthy organizations that support the causes you care about can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be time-consuming. There are several well-known organizations that rate and review charities, as well as provide useful tips and information on how to donate and choose a charity (see sidebar). To get started, here are some things to consider:

·         How the charity plans to use your gift. Contact the charity by phone or go online to find information about the charity's mission, accomplishments, financial status, and future growth.

Should I accept my employer's early-retirement offer?

The right answer for you will depend on your situation. First of all, don't underestimate the psychological impact of early retirement. The adjustment from full-time work to a more leisurely pace may be difficult. So consider whether you're ready to retire yet. Next, look at what you're being offered. Most early-retirement offers share certain basic features that need to be evaluated. To determine whether your employer's offer is worth taking, you'll want to break it down.

Does the offer include a severance package? If so, how does the package compare with your projected job earnings (including future salary increases and bonuses) if you remain employed? Can you live on that amount (and for how long) without tapping into your retirement savings? If not, is your retirement fund large enough that you can start drawing it down early? Will you be penalized for withdrawing from your retirement savings?