Are You Aware of the Financial Scams Targeting Elders?

April 4, 2019 / by Fortis Family Office Tax Team

Elderly fraud is becoming a major problem. Ever have a grandparent or parent ask how to access, fix, use, or view something on their iPhone or computer?  They could be asking due to their lack of understanding of advancing technology, which can make them an easy target of financial scams.

The National Council on Aging has identified the top 10 financial scams targeting elders:¹

  • Medicare/health insurance scams
  • Counterfeit prescription drugs
  • Funeral and cemetery scams
  • Fraudulent anti-aging products
  • Telemarketing scams
  • Internet fraud
  • Investment schemes
  • Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
  • Sweepstakes and lottery scams
  • Grandparent scams

Those with financial and accounting backgrounds, such as CPA’s, can educate clients and family members to avoid financial frauds and scams. The elderly fraud article the PICPA published by Howard M Silverstone and Irina Balashova, is one of the many resources that provide useful information. ²

Additional Resources:

Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.picpa.org/consumers/money-life-tips/fraud)


¹ The National Council on Aging (www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/top-10-scams-targeting-seniors)

² https://www.picpa.org/articles/picpa-news/2019/02/28/pa-cpa-journal-elder-financial-abuse-is-a-growing-problem-cpas-can-help-prevent-it

 

 

What Can You Do Today to Qualify for a 2018 Tax Deduction?

March 28, 2019 / by Fortis Family Office Tax Team

The IRS is reminding taxpayers it’s not too late to make a traditional IRA contribution and claim it on your 2018 income tax return.  Contributions must be made by April 15, 2019 and cannot exceed $5,500, unless the taxpayer was 50 years of age at the end of 2018, the contribution limit is $6,500.

What is a Traditional IRA? Contributions you make to a traditional individual retirement account may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your circumstances.

Making yearly contributions to your traditional IRA can not only build up your savings for retirement, but can typically lower your AGI (annual gross income).  You have until each year’s tax filing deadline to make your traditional IRA contributions.  For 2018 that means you can make your contributions from January 1, 2018 until April 15, 2019.

Keep in mind that not all taxpayers can qualify for this deduction.  It is best practice to always consult with your tax preparer and/or an advisor who can help you determine the type of IRA that can be tax beneficial to you.

Sources:

Traditional IRAs

Tax Time Guide

 

 

Paycheck Checkup for 2019 Withholding


When to check your withholding?

You should always check your withholding early in the year and now is the time to do it. Especially when your income changes or when a life changing event occurs.

 

What are some life changing events?

⋅ New job

⋅ Marital status

⋅ Number of dependents

⋅ Salary increase/decrease

Buy/Sell a house 

 

Why check your withholding?

Every taxpayer should do a paycheck checkup each year. Two reasons…

1.Having too little tax withheld could result in owing interest & penalties when you file your return.

2.Having too much tax withheld means having to wait to get back your money until your return is approved and processed by the IRS.

The IRS  2019 Withholding Calculator is an easy way to help you determine whether you need to make changes to withholding.  

If you make the decision to change your withholding you will need to complete a new Form W-4 and give the form to your employer. 

 

 – Your Fortis Tax Team

March 14, 2019

 

 

Sources:

Tax Withholding – How to Get it Right

IRS Withholding Calculator

 

 

Tips on Choosing a Tax Preparer


1. You should always ask if the tax preparer has an IRS preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

2. Important credentials are certified public accountant (CPA) or/and an enrolled agent (EA).

3. It is best practice to obtain a written agreement for service fees.

4. A tax preparer should…

  • Be reachable during tax season.
  • Be up-to-date. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made big changes to the U.S. tax code.  A tax preparer should be aware of these changes and how they might affect you.
  • Know the requirements of the states and localities where you are required to file.  Ask upfront to make sure that your tax preparer knows – and can handle – the filing requirements of all states and localities required.
  • Be upfront about the time to prepare and deliver your tax return. You should receive an idea of how long it will take for your tax return to be completed and upon completion, receive a complete copy of your tax return.
  • Be organized. A reputable tax preparer should be able to explain what documents are needed to complete an accurate tax return.

– Your Fortis Tax Team

March 7, 2019

 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2019/02/07/how-to-find-the-perfect-tax-preparer/#17dad42a16f9

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-urges-taxpayers-to-choose-a-tax-preparer-wisely-for-the-filing-season-ahead

Are Hedge Funds Really Worth the Fees They Charge?

From the Desk of Our Managing Partner, Randy Hubschmidt

As Bloomberg’s Nir Kaisser so adroitly pointed out in his recent Opinion piece, money continues to flow in to hedge funds even as hedge funds continue to underperform.

Back when there were fewer hedge fund managers, there was less competition for good deals and hence, more opportunity for tremendous returns.  Just as more entrants chase the same (or similar) strategies, reversion to the mean inevitably occurred. High fees, low tax efficiency and illiquidity all add up to significant underperformance.

Sound familiar?

As many of you know, my colleagues and I at Fortis Wealth have been ardent advocates for building TOTAL wealth, not chasing fads.

As shown in the chart below hedge fund assets have exceeded pre-2008 levels.  The 10 year bull market has emboldened investors to once again roll the dice…

Notice the spread between the HFRI Equity Hedge Total Index and the Bond Index shown in the chart below.

 

Conclusion

If you’d like to learn more about our unique philosophy for managing wealth, visit our website www.fortis-wealth.com

October is Cyber-Security Awareness Month – Week 4

October 2018

Here at Fortis, we believe cyber-security is of the utmost importance, and we have made cyber-awareness a top priority for our Clients, Colleagues and Friends.  October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Fortis is promoting cyber security by sharing weekly tips and information during the month of October.

 

Cyber Security and Social Media

The ubiquity of social media can’t be understated. It effects the vast majority of our population – ranging from children to people well into their retirement years. As such, safeguarding these connections must be a top priority.

Earlier this month, some 30 million Facebook accounts were compromised due to a security breach. In addition, a few dozen accounts were removed from Facebook due to Russian companies who create biometric software for the Russian government extracting data from the social network. The companies were suspended by Facebook for policy violation. While these widespread acts can be punished, there are other heinous acts such as cyberbullying, stalking or harassment that are more specifically targeted social media violations – particularly among teens – that can be more difficult to track. Predators may use social media as a way to build a relationship with children, or could use account information to stalk or even harm them. Teens can use it to spread rumors, or share unflattering images. Unfortunately, in extreme cases, victims have taken their own lives. (more…)

October is Cyber-Security Awareness Month – Week 3

October 2018

Here at Fortis, we believe cyber-security is of the utmost importance, and we have made cyber-awareness a top priority for our Clients, Colleagues and Friends.  October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Fortis is promoting cyber security by sharing weekly tips and information during the month of October

 

Parenting in the Digital Age & the Best Software to Help in 2018

from PC Magazine

Modern kids have never known a time when they couldn’t connect to the entire world via the internet. In fact, they probably spend more time online than anyone else—certainly more than their parents. If you are a parent, this presents a problem, as there are explicit, disturbing, and illegal sites on the web that you don’t want your kids to encounter. Furthermore, with the ever-increasing number of devices that kids use to connect, you simply can’t supervise every moment they’re online on your own. That’s where parental control services can help. This software gives you the ability to block unwanted web content, limit screen time, restrict the use of risky applications, and more. Basically, these services are a way to help keep your kids safer on their computers and mobile devices. (more…)

October is Cyber-Security Awareness Month – Week 2

October 2018

Here at Fortis, we believe cyber-security is of the utmost importance, and we have made cyber-awareness a top priority for our Clients, Colleagues and Friends.  October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Fortis is promoting cyber security by sharing weekly tips and information during the month of October

Our House is a very, very, very SMART house

Image Source

Is your house too smart for its own good?

When Graham Nash of Crosby Stills and Nash wrote “Our House” in the 1970s I’m sure he never imagined that houses of today would be controlled by devices.

While I listen to you play your love songs all night long for me, only for me.’ – Is he talking to Alexa?

Life used to be so hard. Now everything is easy ‘cause of you.’ – Can you imagine life without a smart phone?

(more…)

October is Cyber-Security Awareness Month – Week 1

October 2018

Here at Fortis, we believe cyber-security is of the utmost importance, and we have made cyber-awareness a top priority for our Clients, Colleagues and Friends.  October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Fortis is promoting cyber security by sharing weekly tips and information during the month of October

Cybersecurity statistics that small business owners need to know

Data breaches and ransomware at large companies dominate the headlines but recent data indicates that small businesses suffer the most malware incidents. There are many smaller scale attacks that are having huge impacts on small business. If you are a small business owner, here are 5 things you need to know:

1. 58% of malware attack victims are categorized as small businesses. (Source)

2. Not only do small businesses suffer more infections, the frequency of attacks appears to be on the rise. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses report, attacks increased from 55% in 2016 to 61% in 2017. It’s not that cyber criminals are explicitly targeting small businesses, but it’s more likely that small businesses simply present more vulnerabilities. It’s often a matter of having inadequate protection.  (more…)

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

Buying any amount of life insurance is based on several factors – your income, how many dependents you have, and your debts and other financial liabilities. Your own personal preferences and risk tolerance were also considered when you decided what type of policy to buy. All of these things can –and likely will –change over time. When is the last time you reviewed your current insurance to make sure it still makes sense for you and your family? Is it keeping up with your evolving financial situation so that you and your loved ones can live life confidently?

When to review your life insurance program

Like other aspects of your financial life, your life insurance should be reviewed periodically. If that hasn’t happened, here are some situations that should prompt you to do so –

  • You have married or divorced
  • You have a new child
  • You have changed jobs or careers
  • Your health has changed
  • You have purchased or sold a home
  • You have started or sold a business
  • Your children or others are no long dependent on your income for their needs
  • You are about to retire
  • Your net worth has changed
  • Your legacy goals have changed

Don’t Delay

Families grow, careers progress, needs change, your plans and goals shift. You need to make sure your life insurance keeps up.

Your Fortis Wealth team has the expertise and resources to help you – Call to schedule a life insurance review today.

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, a nationwide campaign created in 2004 by Life Happens. Life Happens is an organization dedicated to educating consumers on financial products and topics.

Fortis Solutions, LLC is a licensed insurance agent under laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is providing this information for educational purposes only. Fortis Solutions LLC may sell and service certain insurance products.