Setting smart goals now can be your key to financial success this year.

Lots of people make resolutions or commit to getting their finances in order at the start of the year.  Tax time is a good season to think about what you want to do with your money and set some goals.  Here are a few things people should think about before they file their taxes:

  1. Mortgage relief tax deduction – At the end of last year Congress extended the mortgage debt relief tax exemption so if you had a short sale or had some portion of your mortgage forgiven or reduced you do not have to pay taxes on that money.  That extension was only for a year.  They will have to revisit the legislation and extend it again by the end of this year.
  2. Are you eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit? –  The income limit has increased for the Earned Income tax Credit.  If your family earns $80,000 a year or less you might be eligible for more than $5,800 Credit on your tax return.
  3. You don’t have to pay to get your taxes prepared or filed.  Especially if you have relatively simple taxes.  The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides free tax prep services in Cuyahoga County.  ESOP is one location where you can get your taxes prepared and filed for free.   Call United Way 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment.
  4. DO NOT pay for tax refund advances!  – Many tax prep companies advertise that they will file your taxes and get you an instant refund.  That’s actually an advance on your estimated refund from the IRS.  They take a percentage of the refund you are due.  And if the refund amount turns out to be wrong, you have to pay the difference back to the company.
  5. What will you do with your tax refund?  – Don’t just splurge.  Think strategically about what you want to accomplish with your money this year.  Do you want to reduce debt, improve your credit score, save for a house?
  6. Financial advisors aren’t only for the rich.  – You can get free financial counseling and coaching to help you take an honest look at your finances and credit, set financial goals, and make an action plan to reach them.  If you’re interested in a free financial coaching session you can contact ESOP toll free at 877-731-ESOP or go to our website http://www.esop-cleveland.org/.

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ESOP is a HUD-approved housing and financial counseling agency. ESOP‘s mission is to foster the economic empowerment of disenfranchised communities through outreach, education and advocacy. 

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