Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
February 29, 2012     The New Era Paper
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February 29, 2012

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lt i ra - February 29, 2012 Page 13 Putting Your Money tO Work for Tax time great opportunity to gauge retirement preparedness Every year, tax time serves as a reminder of financial progress. Before the big April deadline rolls around, most of us spend time gathering documents, reviewing ac- counts and meeting with financial advisors, and all of that effort is centered around getting a firm grasp on what you earn, save and invest. What many don't realize is that tax time preparation can be ben- eficial for more than one reason. Consider this: Many of the same documents, papers and files you go through to complete your taxes are the same documents you need for assessing your retirement prepared- ness. Whether you're just starting out or nearing retirement, knowing your level of readiness for retire- ment is critical to your financial well-being. Conducting an annual checkup for retirement is not only smart fi- nancially; it can also give you added peace of mind, which is something investors need now more than ever. In fact, a recent survey released by TD Ameritrade found that while the majority (85 percent) of work- ing Americans have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and/ or a 401(k)/403(b) plan in place, many are not confident they'll have enough saved when they're ready to retire. Just 23 percent of work- ing Americans surveyed said they are completely confident they will reach their savings goals by the time they retire. "People want the comfort of knowing that whenthey retire, their money will lasL However, in order to achieve this, planning is required," says Lule Demmissie, managing -director, investment products and retirement, TD Ameritrade, Inc., a brokerage subsidiary of TD Ameri- trade Holding Corporation. "It's important for investors to remember that there are more educa- tional tools and resources available today than ever before to help them develop a sound retirement plan. Breaking up the planning process into phases can make the task seem less daunting, and tax time is a great time to get the process started." Whether you're going it alone or working with a professional, keep these tips in mind to maximize your time this tax season: Conduct a retirement assess- ment. Tax documents and end-of- year statements will often give you the clearest, most up-t0-date snap- shot of your finances. Use that in- formation to assess your retirement progress and analyze these docu- ments to determine if you should consider updating or altering your strategy. Formulate or refine your plan. There are a wide range of fi- nancial considerations, concerning your income and expenditures that need to be taken into account as you save, all of which should fac- tor into .your overall plan. Make use of online resources such as TD Ameritrade's WealthRuler(TM) re- tirement calculator, which can help Conducting a retirement. checkup is smart financially and can give you peace of mind. you refine your approach to retire- ment investing. Investors can also speak to a retirement specialist or do a quick Retirement Checkup at one of TD Ameritrade's branches. Take action? Once you've assessed your situation and devised ways to strengthen your retirement plan, put your strategy in motion. The sooner you can get started, the sooner you can make progress to- ward achieving your goals so you can be more secure about the fu- ture. - ARA Content State: Don't fall victim to tax season scams The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services is urging Oregonians not to fall victim to tax season scams promis- ing "free" help around debt man- agement. Under Oregon law, those offer- ing help in debt management, such as foreclosure avoidance, short sales, modifying loans or negotiat- ing with a consumer's creditors to reduce monthly payments for a fee, must be registered with the state. The law sets maximum fees that debt management companies can charge. The maximum upfront fee a company may charge is $50, and the maximum monthly fee is $65. Particularly during this time of year, consumers may be solicited for debt services in relation to tax assistance. The department is en- couraging consumers to obtain in- formation about tax questions from the IRS or by consulting a licensed tax preparer. "We recognize many people are struggling financially but con- sumers need to be cautious," said David Tatman, administrator of the department's Division of Finance and Corporate Securities. "Oregon has strong protections in place for debt. management companies. Don't be duped by a tax season scheme." The department has recently seen fliers and websites offering "free" help with the 2007 Mort- gage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. In one instance, a flier was disguised with symbols to make it appear that it came from a govern- ment agency. Consumers can search for registered debt management com- panies by going to the division's website at www.dfcs.oregon.gov/ debt_mgmt.html or by calling the department toll-free at 1-866-814- 9710. The site also has a frequently asked questions section and encour- ages Oregonians to report compa- nies who are illegally advertising debt-related services in the state. For more information on the Mortgage Forgiveness Re- lief Act, visit the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/ article/0,,id= 179414.00.html. SUNDBERG, RAUCH, BENNETH, HORNER & McFETRIDGE, CPAs, LLC Extraordinary Help for Ordinary FolksJ Premium CPA Services at Low Hourly Rates. I Special rates for Seniors, M ilita O' and Low Income Families. 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