Tag Archives: Tax Return

6 Tips to Prepare Your Home for the Summer Heat

 

In Texas, we can never be certain what type of weather we are going to get. But one thing we do know is Texas heat is no joke!!
Here are a few tips to help prepare your home for those HOT summer days.

1. Give Your Air Condition a Check Up
Now is the perfect time to make sure your air conditioner unit is functioning at its best. It would be horrible to find out in the dead of summer you’re a/c is going out. First, replace your air filter. Clean any debris from the vent and the exhaust and dust off any dirt from your main unit. Turn you’re a/c on while you leave and test how it regulates the temperature to ensure it is working properly. If something doesn’t seem right, it may be time to contact a professional. Some companies offer a free service check and can tell you of any necessary fixes. This may also be the best time to invest in a programmable thermostat if you do not have one. Programmable thermostats help regulate the use of your air condition and offer energy saving solutions. Look for a blog on Smart Thermostats.
2. Clean and Inspect your Gutters and Roof
During the winter months, your gutters suffer a lot, from freezing rain to fallen debris. Take this time to inspect your gutters for leaks, give them a thorough clean and check for any damage. Inspect your downspouts and ensure they are flowing away from your house. This is also a great opportunity to check the roof for any damages or possible leaks. With the heat comes the rain. Check exteriors and take note of any water build up or cracks that can cause water to seep in. Cleaning the gutters and checking the roof, may not be possible for everyone, especially those in a two-story home. Contact a professional if you need assistance.
3. Change Your Ceiling Fan Direction
Did you know that your ceiling fan is meant to run in different directions based on the season? During the winters months, it should run clockwise to help distribute heat that rises. As for the summer months, your fan should run counter-clockwise at a higher speed to get a breeze flowing. Check to see which direction the fans in your home are moving, and, if necessary, hit the small black switch near the base to change directions.
4. Clean Windows & Screens: Check for Ventilation
It’s time to wash away the winter build up on your windows and screens. Take some vinegar and water and scrub away the winter grime from the exterior of your windows. Rinse off all your screens and replace the old torn ones. Check your window seals and weather stripping during this time to ensure there are not any leaks in the ventilation. Replace or re-caulk where necessary. This keeps the cool air in and the hot air out.
5. Inspect Outdoor Plumbing
The water hose hasn’t seen the daylight in quite some time. Begin checking your outdoor plumbing before the summer heat is in full force. Run your sprinklers and test the system to make sure everything is running smoothly. A slow trickle may be a sign something is not functioning properly. Finding out you have a busted pipe right when your kiddos are ready to run the sprinkler, is no fun! If you are unable to find the cause, call a professional to come out and take a look.

6. Prepare for Summer Bugs
With the hot summer days and the rain comes bug heaven. During the winter months, you may not notice more bugs making their way in. However, most of these insects stay cooped up in the walls or attic. Enter summer months- bugs wake up and began to head back outdoors. The hot, humid weather also makes for a great combination of insects. Find a DIY pest control solution here and begin to treat all your baseboards, exterior exits, and windows. If you checked for ventilation in the windows- you are one step ahead!

In Texas, we can never guarantee any type of weather. But we can guarantee our home will be ready to take on the heat. Contact your Al Boenker Insurance agent today to see how they can help you save on your home insurance.

Be Prepared to Tackle Your Taxes This Season

It’s that dreaded time, Tax Season! You have those that prepare all year long, are organized and ready to pass everything on to their CPA or Tax professional and BAM taxes are ready to be submitted February 1st!  Then there is the rest of us who will wait to the last minute, scramble to find all the documents and still feel unprepared to file.

However, being prepared and confident is not a far reach. Whether you recently got married, had a baby, bought a home, changed jobs, or started a small business, there is no reason to delay filing. Waiting until the last minute and scrambling adds more stress to the already stressing task.

Here are a few tips and tricks to prepare yourself to rock your taxes!

  1. Don’t Delay! Remember the saying, “The early bird gets the worm?” well unfortunately when you delay it takes a lot longer to see your tax return. Filing early prevents you from scrambling to meet the deadline -eliminating errors and a quicker turn around on your refund.
  2. Gather Necessary Documents Having all your documents ready when you visit your tax professional or sit down to file saves time and eliminates the  Get a complete tax checklist here.
  3. Know Your Deadlines Deadlines are very important when it comes to your taxes. If you need to file an extension make sure you do so before the cut off. This will prevent you from acquiring more fees and penalties. Here are your deadlines.
  4. Get Help! Reach out to your local tax professional. Most will let you call or stop by and offer you some guidance. Seeking assistance is one way to guarantee that you are getting the most out of your refund and not making any mistakes. No one wants to get audited…

Tax season can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Utilize your resources, do a little research if there was a major milestone in 2017 and don’t wait until the last minute! You got this! J

 

Last Minute Tax Tips

Benjamin Franklin once penned, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This infamous quote has stood the test of time and seems to be more relevant today than ever. Almost everyone has spent the past few weeks preparing to file their tax returns before the deadline hits tomorrow. Filing your taxes can be an immense pain, but it’s all worth it when you receive that glorious return check in the mail. If you’re still scrambling at the last minute to finish up your filing process, don’t panic – we’re here to help! Here are some helpful tax day hacks to help make your day a little easier.

 

Tax Tips for 2017

 

  1. For starters, you’re going to want to plan ahead to minimize the risk of any blunders. Make sure you check out the post office hours of operation so that you can schedule a window of time to drop off your return. There will also most likely be hordes of people who are sending out their returns at the last minute, so take that into account, as well as other factors that could hinder your outing, such as bad weather.
  1. After you have your delivery mapped out, make sure that you’re not forgetting anything. You won’t believe how many people forget to sign their return, so double check yours to see if everything is in order. Remember that both spouses must sign the form if you’re married! Other errors to look for include incorrect social security numbers, account numbers or any PIN errors if you’re submitting electronically.
  1. If you feel that you’re just too far behind on finishing your tax return, it would be wise to go ahead and file an extension. To do so, use the IRS Form 4868 through your tax software program in order to file a request. Doing this will give you until October 16th to complete your filing process. Don’t forget that this only extends the time to file your return and does not apply to paying the taxes you owe. If you’re facing financial issues and you’re unable to pay your taxes by the deadline, then you could face some penalties and fines. Make sure to contact the IRS and work out a solution on how to meet these payments. Often, they will allow you to pay these fees out in installments.
  1. One big concern to keep an eye out for as the day approaches is tax fraud. This occurs when someone steals your social security number and files a tax return in order to obtain a fraudulent refund. Tax fraud can be carried out in a number of different ways including scams, hacking and identity theft. There are many early warning signs you can detect that signal tax ID theft. For instance, if the IRS shows that you received wages from someone you didn’t work for or if more than one tax return was filed using your SSN, then you’re probably a victim of fraudulent activity.  If you sense any abnormal behavior or find that you’re a victim of tax ID theft, simply file a complaint with the FTC. You can also contact any credit bureau and alert them of fraudulent behavior on your credit records. You can also reach out to the IRS and they will take you through the necessary steps to resolve the situation.

Tax season may appear to be a maddening chore, but keep calm and remember that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s something that everyone has to go through and keep in mind that there are certain catalysts to help ease your stress. Usually there are different companies that offer free gifts and promotions, so be on the lookout for these great deals. You could end up with some cool free stuff!

Before tax day hits, now is a great time to make sure that all of your insurance needs are up-to-date. Give us a call at 1-800-Thanks-Al to have an agent review your policy to confirm that your auto insurance has the right amount of coverage for your family and your needs. We can also ensure that you are getting the best rate for your policy. You might even qualify for additional discounts, especially if you have your home insured through us!