Affordable Care Act Consumer Alert: Choose Your Tax Preparer Wisely

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The IRS urges you to choose your tax professional carefully in response to reports from last year describing unscrupulous preparers. In some cases, these preparers were instructing their clients to make individual shared responsibility payments directly to that preparer. In some cases, this was happening even though the taxpayer had Medicaid or other health coverage. Under this circumstance, the taxpayer didn’t need to make the shared responsibility payment at all. In some parts of the country, unscrupulous return preparers were targeting taxpayers with limited English proficiency and, in particular, those who primarily speak Spanish.

Most people don’t owe the payment at all because they have health coverage or qualify for a coverage exemption. However, if you owe a payment, remember that it should be made only with your tax return or in response to a letter from the IRS.  The payment should never be made directly to an individual or return preparer.

Preparers who inappropriately ask for direct payment use a variety of invalid reasons that include:

  • telling individuals that they must make an individual shared responsibility payment directly to the preparer because of their immigration status
  • promising to lower the payment amount if the client pays it directly to the preparer
  • demanding money from individuals who are exempt from the individual shared responsibility payment

If you are not a U.S. citizen or national, and are not lawfully present in the United States, you are exempt from the individual shared responsibility provision and do not need to make a payment. For this purpose, an immigrant with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status is considered not lawfully present and therefore is exempt. You may qualify for this exemption even if you have a social security number.

If you believe you have been targeted by an unscrupulous preparer or you have been financially affected by a tax return preparer’s misconduct or improper tax preparation practices, you can report it to the IRS on Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer.

You can use our Interactive Tax Assistant tool – Am I required to make an Individual Shared Responsibility Payment? to help determine if you qualify for an exemption or owe the payment.

Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully

The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. However, the IRS encourages taxpayers to avoid dishonest and unscrupulous preparers by choosing their preparer wisely. To help, the IRS offers a new, online, searchable public directory of tax preparers who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS or certain other qualifications.

For information on choosing a preparer, filing a complaint about an unscrupulous preparer, or using the new directory, see our Choosing a Tax Professional page on IRS.gov.

Find out more about the tax-related provisions of the health care law atIRS.gov/aca.

Using tax preparation software is the easiest way to file a complete and accurate tax return. Visit the E-File Options page on IRS.gov for information.

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IRS Tax Tips for Deducting Gifts to Charity

The holiday season often prompts people to give money or property to charity. If you plan to give and want to claim a tax deduction, there are a few tips you should know before you give. For instance, you must itemize your deductions. Here are six more tips that you should keep in mind:

1. Give to qualified charities. You can only deduct gifts you give to a qualified charity. Use the IRSSelect Check tool to see if the group you give to is qualified. You can deduct gifts to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies. This is true even if Select Check does not list them in its database.

2. Keep a record of all cash gifts.  Gifts of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. You must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity to deduct any gift of money on your tax return. This is true regardless of the amount of the gift. The statement must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, or bank, credit union and credit card statements. If you give by payroll deductions, you should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document from your employer. It must show the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

3. Household goods must be in good condition.  Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. These items must be in at least good-used condition to claim on your taxes. A deduction claimed of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if you include a qualified appraisal of the item with your tax return.

4. Additional records required.  You must get anacknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. Additional rules apply to the statement for gifts of that amount. This statement is in addition to the records required for deducting cash gifts. However, one statement with all of the required information may meet both requirements.

5. Year-end gifts.  Deduct contributions in the year you make them. If you charge your gift to a credit card before the end of the year it will count for 2015. This is true even if you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2016. Also, a check will count for 2015 as long as you mail it in 2015.

6. Special rules.  Special rules apply if you give a car, boat or airplane to charity. If you claim a deduction of more than $500 for a noncash contribution, you will need to file another form with your tax return. Use Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions to report these gifts.

The Eccentric Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jr.

Mike Adenuga

Founder of Globacom Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jr. is the second richest Nigerian in the world.  Mr. Alhaji Aliko Dangote is the first richest Nigerian in the world and the richest black billionaire for 2015 in the world.  When I started writing about the top eleven black billionaires he was the first blog, so go back and read about him.  Globacom is a multinational telecommunications carrier base in Lagos, Nigeria.  At present this company spans over four countries in West Africa:  Nigeria, The Republic of Benin, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Dr. Adenuga also runs Conoil Producing, the first Nigerian company to strike oil in commercial quantities in the early 1990s. Today it is Nigeria’s largest oil exploration company.  Conoil Producing has grown from Nigeria’s number one marketer to becoming an intimidating force in the petroleum industry.  Mike earned his first million selling lace and distributing Coca-Cola Products at the age of 26.  Dr. Adenuga is now worth $4.2 billion dollars and is the world’s third richest billionaire n the world. He has invested $1 billion dollars in submarine cable connecting Nigeria to the rest of the world.

So let’s take a sneak peek at this man’s world.  Dr. Adenuga, Jr. is simply in his own world – eccentric, strange and unusual.  He will not play second fiddle to anyone.  Mike rules his world and dominates his environment.  You can find him still working in his office at 2am and if you are large and in charge at one of his companies he expects the same work ethic from you.  Don’t be shocked if you get a call on one of his late night or early morning (depending how you look at it) work sessions and you are expected to come into the office.  All of his calls and mail goes through someone else before he takes a call or reads mail.

Even though Dr. Adenuga is a true workaholic he does sponsor events like the Glo Slide & Bounce.  the outstanding entertainment includes PSquare, Wizkid, Flavour plus others well known artists.  The Slide & Bounce concert will be held in 11 locations across the country: Ikeja, Ikorodu, Egbeda, Surulere and Victoria Island in Lagos; Ibadan; Port Harcourt; Abeokuta; Ijebu Ode; Benin and Abuja.  Mike also launched literacy writing competition named Glo Literature Prize for Undergraduate Students.  Believe it or not he rarely attends any of his events.  When he does go to an event he doesn’t smile he talks to no one, no matter how important you are, he doesn’t eat or drink anything and he is always surrounded by his bodyguards.  So what puts a smile on this mans face?  How does he relax?  He enjoys Chinese food and Champagne. He also loves his women busty and full figured.  Don’t take that literally! Dr, Mike Adenuga, Jr. is married with children.

Four Core Principles of Sheikh Mohammed Husein Al Amoudi

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About a month ago I learned from a webinar presented by the co-founders Delxino & Deborah Wilson de Briano of the Black Business Network (www.blackbusinessnetwork.com/Sandra60) that there are only 11 black billionaires in the world.  Upon grasping this knowledge I started investigating these billionaires because I wanted to learn.  Come to find out 9 of these black billionaires live in Africa.  Okay, I was blown away.  I had to know who they were and what they were doing.

The richest black billionaire in the world is Mr. Aliko Dangote.  At this writing he is worth $17.3 billion. Read my blog “Who Wants To Be A Billionaire” to learn more about him.  Today I am writing about the second richiest black billionaire in the world Sheikh Mohammed Husein Al Amoudi.  I have become fascinated with this man because of his agricultural wealth.  Sheikh Al Amoudi owns Horizons Plantations that produces coffee and tea in Southern Ethiopia.  This coffee is traded through Neumann Kaffee Gruppe to Starbucks and other companies.  Lipton (Unilever) is trading for tea leaves through Ethio Argi-CEFT from the plantations of Wush Wush and Gumaro.

ethiopia_gemadro_tin_us_0 Lipton Tea

Sheikh Ali Amoudi over the passed twenty-five years as Chairman has built the MIDROC Group on four core principles: 1) The creation of a business culture based integrity, quality and financial prudence 2) Fairness to employees, partners, suppliers and customers 3) A commitment to maximize utilizing the local resources 4) Preserving the environment. As part of Chairman Ali Amoudi’s and the MIDROC Group’s commitment to the local communities and the local economics, they actively promote the growth in education.  The Unity University in Ethiopia is one of the investments in education for the employees.  It is the first privately owned institute of higher learning to be awarded the full-fledged university status in Ethiopia by the Ministry of Education with postgraduate programs leading to master degrees in Business Administration and Development Economics.  To support his employees the Sheikh provides funds for his MIDROC employees for further their education through the Unity University and with that same zeal he invests in healthcare education in Saudi Arabia.

The MIDROC group is a global investment group completely owned by the Sheikh.  It’s interests are in petroleum, agribusiness, property industry, industrial services, engineering, construction, tourism, trade and investment.  The Horizon Plantations is a state-of-the-art productions of coffee, spices, fruits, vegetables, pulses (navy beans and soy beans), corn and organic honey.  Major emphasis is given to the adoption of modern and environmentally friendly productions and processing that proved to be successful elsewhere in the world, by ensuring educating that knowledge to surrounding communites.  The vision is to be a leading producer, processor and exporter in Ethiopia of agricultural goods providing customers with superior products.

Who Wants To Be A Billionaire – Aliko Dangote

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Mr. Aliko Dangote is the richest black billionaire in the world.  I was simply floored two weeks ago when I watched a Black Business Network seminar and learned that 16.3% of the people in the world are millionaires.  That is 1.1% of all households globally.  Blacks consist of 13.6% of the worlds population and only 1.4% of the millionaires of the world.  Amazing right, but wait this is not what floored me.  What about the billionaires? 1% of the world’s population are billionaires that is 1,826 people, wait only 11 of that 1% are black.  Okay I’m lightheaded now then Delxino Wilson de Briano says the 9 of the 11 live in Africa.  Yep, I hit the floor.

So the question that has bothered me for the past two weeks is why?  Why are our percentages so low and why do the majority of our wealthiest people live in Africa?  I have decided to take my time and read about all 11 of them and try to figure out what they are doing that I am not doing.  Now I am not trying to be a billionaire, but I do want to run the race to be one.  Confused?  Okay this is how I look at it.  God put me here to serve a purpose.  His Word says that a borrower is the slave to the lender and that everything I need to be successful is already in me.  I figure if I train to run the race on a daily basis, when it comes time for me to compete I can perform what I trained for.  One of the 11 billionaires is Ms. Oprah Winfrey.  Did you know her very first job was in a local grocery store?  Yes, so don’t tell me it is not possible.  I hope you learn as much as I do about these people.

Mr. Aliko Dangote is the richest black man in the world has made his fortune in cement, sugar and flour.  Dangote Cement is publicly traded selling at this writing at $170.04 a share, NASCON refineries is $6.00 a share and sugar is $6.62 a share.  He made his first fortune trading commodities 3 decades ago with a loan from his uncle.  The Dangote Group is based in Lagos, Nigeria and has companies in 13 other African countries.

Mr. Dangote starts his day at 5am.  He says starting that early allows him time to get a lot done and be very productive including a 6am haircut if needed.  He also fits in some time to exercise which helps his stress level.  Aliko says, “Exercise is better than any medicine I can take”.  He also says he sleeps about 4 to 5 hours where most of us need 6 to 8 hours his sleep time is very sound.  Mr. Dangote spends more time sleeping on his jet than in his bed. With all the invitations he gets on a daily basis to weddings, conferences and other functions he tries to spend 20 minutes at each one he has time to attend.

There are a two books about Aliko Dangote, Aliko Mohammad Dangote: The Biography of the Richest Black Person in the World

Dangote Group

IRS Sets July 31 as Deadline to File 2014 Tax Returns for ACA Premium Tax Credit

The deadline for filing 2014 tax returns is October 15th.  There is another deadline that you need to pay attention to.  The Affordable Care Act  (ACA) Premium Tax Credit will end on July 31, 2014.  If you want to keep your advance premium tax credit for 2016 and have not filed your return please do so immediately.

You are eligible for the premium tax credit if you meet the following requirements:

  • You must purchase your insurance coverage through the marketplace
  • You don’t qualify for any government healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid
  • You don’t have access to employer-sponsored health insurance or your employer-provided health insurance pays less than 60% of covered benefits or your employer-provided health insurance premiums are more than 9.5% of your annual household income
  • Your annual household income is between 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level. (check your state for the numbers they are using)
  • you are not filing a Married Filing Separate Tax Return (certain victims of domestic abuse and spousal abandonment may be eligible)
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s return

Open enrollment for 2016 begins November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.  You can apply on Healthcare.gov or any applicable state marketplace.

 

 

 

 

National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day

Take the Test: Protect Yourself and Others

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and nearly 1 in 8 doesn’t know it. 

It is important to get tested and know if you are in this group, only then can you take the next steps to protect your health and others. Find a free testing site near you and take today as an opportunity to share this information and raise awareness about preventing the spread andreducing your risk of getting HIV.