February Tips

Five Tips to Help Keep You Calm this Tax Season

Does even the mention of “tax season” increase your stress levels? Do you work hard to get everything right, but end up with a bad headache and little to no refund? You’re not alone. It takes a lot of effort to keep up with the latest tax laws and plan and prepare your taxes for the best possible refund. Here are five tips you may not have thought of to help you maximize your return and reduce your headache.

Contribute to your retirement plans.

Even though it’s February, it’s not too late to make contributions to your retirement plans for the 2019 tax year to lower your taxable income. For a 401(k), you can contribute up to $19,000, or $25,000 if you’re over 50. For an IRA, it’s $6,000. By contributing to a qualified retirement plan you may be able to lower your taxable income.

Start now and get organized!

Getting organized takes time. Don’t wait to gather all your tax documents. Do you have everything?

Find which deductions work best for you.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) raised the standard deduction in 2018 and placed new limits on deductions. The result is that it’s less likely that you will gain much by itemizing. Look for “above the line” deductions on your 1040 form because these deductions subtract from your adjusted gross income, and you can use them without itemizing.

Do you qualify for tax credits?

Tax deductions are what most people think about when trying to reduce their tax burden, but tax credits are even more valuable because they come right off your tax bill. In contrast, tax deductions only reduce taxable income. Refundable tax credits do even more because they can give you a refund that is even more than the tax that you owe.

Let software crunch the numbers for you.

If you’re going to do your taxes, you may want to take advantage of some great software out there that can not only do the math for you but can find deductions and tax credits that you may have missed. Some will even let you file your taxes right through their application. There are lots of great choices, so do some research to see which may work best for you. Also, the IRS now offers a free online filing system to help you.

Yes, this is a stressful time of year, and five tips won’t change that entirely, but every little bit helps. At First Nebraska Bank, we want you and your family to be financially secure. Stop into your local branch if you ever have any questions about the best ways to move forward with your money to be as successful as possible.

Security Update:

“File Deletion” Alert Becomes the Latest Scam to Compromise Office 365 Credentials

Attackers like to take advantage of your concern as a way to trick you into offering up your Office 365 login credentials. One example is a very official-looking email that is making the rounds, hitting about 50% of companies that currently use Office 365. And it’s not surprising, as Microsoft is the most impersonated brand in phishing attacks today. This scam takes advantage of the victim’s worry about files being deleted. Creating a sense of urgency is a common tactic in phishing emails, as it is enough to get recipients to move into action.

Upon clicking the email, users are presented with a similarly realistic-looking Office 365 logon page:

Note the URL in the image above — while looking genuine, it’s definitely not from Microsoft. Notice how it sneaks “windows.net” into the URL to help make you think it’s the real thing. Scams like this seek to capture user credentials to either be sold on the Dark Web or to further a more complex fraud or data theft attack on an organization.  Users should be encouraged to scrutinize emails and logon pages for URLs used to make sure are what they say they are.