What Your Teenager Needs to Know About Income Taxes

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When your teenager looks at their first paycheck they will probably notice that some of their money was taken out. While it’s never too early to learn about taxes, it’s especially important when your teen is working that they become familiar with the basic rules of taxes. Having conversations with your teenager and discussing taxes is not only important to understanding what they are about, but it also helps your teen build confidence. Tax professional David Stewart outlines some of the most significant things you should explain to your teenager to help them understand taxes.


If your teen works, they will have to pay taxes

When paying income tax, age is no factor. If your teenager works for a company, they will see taxes taken from their paycheck. Your teen should also know that the higher the pay, the more taxes will be taken out of their pay. Also, if your teen makes over a certain amount of money in a year, they will have to file an income tax form and pay taxes on that amount.

“Under the table” jobs are considered earned income by the government

If your teen earns an income by babysitting or mowing lawns, they will have to pay self-employment taxes if the amount is above what is set for that year.

Lots of tax forms and paperwork are involved

When it comes to taxes, there certainly is a lot of paperwork and forms involved. When your teen first gets a job they will have to fill out a W-4 and when they get paid they will receive a pay check stub. If your teenager did self-employment work such as landscaping, they will have to fill out a Schedule C form. Show them each of the forms and explain to them how to go about filing them correctly.

What does the government do with the tax money?

It’s not uncommon for a teenager to ask, “Why does the government take money from my paycheck and what do they do with it?” Taxes are the government’s source of income and are used to fund government activities and services such as military spending, law enforcement and national highway repairs. You should inform your teen of the importance of these services and how they benefit everyone.

By explaining this important tax-related information with your teen, they will have a better understanding of taxes and how taxes influence and affect them.

 

Should You File Your Taxes Yourself or Hire a Pro?

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When it comes to filing taxes you ultimately have two choices: do your taxes yourself or hire a professional. In either instance, it’s safe to say that everyone dreads the task. To help you decide if you should do your taxes yourself or call in a professional, tax expert David Stewart recommends you consider the following.

When Should You File Your Own Taxes?

While filing taxes may seem tedious and stressful, you may want to consider filing your own taxes if:

  • You keep track of transactions and receipts: In other words, you’re a numbers person and keep track of spending and expenses, and have everything organized. You know your financial situation best.
  • Your tax situation is simple: If you only worked one job, don’t have any dependents and no other sources of income, filing your taxes on your own will be simple.
  • You don’t own property or investments: When you own property or acquire investments, it can be hard to stay current on everything. Property and investments come with deductions and credits that can benefit your taxes.
  • You understand tax law: If you are knowledgeable in finance and tax law, and are up-to-date with the IRS standards, then filing yourself may be your better option. You can also save yourself time and money that hiring a professional requires.

When Should You Hire a Professional?

Hiring a professional to do your taxes is a great option if:

  • You don’t keep track of finances: If tracking spending and staying in the loop with transactions isn’t something you’re good at, then hire someone to help.
  • You don’t understand tax laws: Tax professionals stay current on tax laws and know how handle your specific situation.
  • Check for mistakes: We all make mistakes, but you want to avoid them when filing taxes. Hire a tax expert to serve as your second pair of eyes to ensure you file correctly.
  • You started a new business: If you just opened your first business, you will have business taxes to file. By hiring a tax expert they can help you find deductions and guide you in the right direction when filing.
  • You got married, divorced or had a child: If you’re recently married or divorced, and/or had a child, you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you determine the best filing status for that year.

Ultimately the decision is up to you whether to hire someone or do your taxes yourself, and is really a matter of what you’re comfortable with. If you’re comfortable doing your own taxes, then file yourself and take advantage of saving time and money, among other things. But if you can’t keep up with finances and don’t understand taxes well, hire a trustworthy professional to help.

 

How Do People Cheat on their Taxes?

Although people really do hate to pay their taxes, do many of them cheat? According to one IRS report released in 2006 as reported by CNBC, 83 percent of people paid their taxes correctly and on-time. The other 17 percent either underreported their income or did not file a tax return at all. In fact, 90 percent of people do believe that paying taxes is part of their civic duty. For 60 percent of taxpayers, the other reason why they paid their taxes on time is because a fear of getting caught.

 

According to the IRS’s website, penalties for tax evasion depend on the level of the crime and how many times the person has been charged with the crime. For example, for a first time offense, tax evaders could spend as much as five years in prison and be forced to pay up to $250,000. Corporations would have to pay as much as $500,000. Still, the number of people who get charged with tax evasion is low. Only about 1% of people and corporations are audited each year and about 1,000 people go to jail each year with sentences ranging from a few months to 15 months in most cases.

 

In regard to how people can cheat on their taxes, underreporting income is far and away the most popular reason why people are charged with tax evasion. Falsifying income or receipts and not reporting income at all are far less common. And then there’s the question of whether there was intent. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal and can sometimes get mixed with tax evasion. It really can be a question of interpretation.

 

Still, it’s never fun to have your name associated with tax evasion. David Stewart of Bowling Green, KY found his name and tax evasion going together a few years back, and it can produce a negative stigma. Therefore, it’s always smart to really take a look at your records and make sure you are paying the full amount on your taxes.

 

Have you ever been audited? Tell us your stories in the comment section below.

David Stewart of Bowling Green, KY Discusses Some Things You Should Know about Camping at Massive Cave

From now until the end of November, families looking for a fun adventure that allows them to get some fresh air, experience beautiful natural attractions, and live amongst nature for a few days should come out to Massive Cave National Park for a camping trip like no other. Massive Cave, itself, is an amazing place to check out. Massive Cave is the world’s largest known cave system, and a number of lighted guided tours are available depending on your group size and fitness levels.

However, the caves are only a small part of what makes Massive Cave National Park a cool place to camp. There’s Dinosaur World, zip-lining, canoeing, and kayaking, horseback riding, and plenty of other activities and attractions available around the park. By camping at one of the three campgrounds in the area, you will be within close proximity of these and more. Additionally, you will have the best view of the nighttime stars and be right by the water.

However, before you pack the car, here are a few tips from David Stewart of Bowling Green KY in regard to what you should expect when you get there. As a Bowling Green, KY resident, David Stewart has visited the park many times and knows the park very well.

Don’t Bring your Own Firewood: Currently, there is a firewood quarantine at Massive Cave National Park because of an insect infestation that is putting some tree species at risk. Therefore, any firewood that you try to bring in will be confiscated. You can use downed wood or buy wood at the park.

You Can Have a Maximum of 8 People at Your Site:  If you’re planning on having a party at Massive Cave National Park, you may want to think again. This is not to say that more than 8 people can’t get together for camping. You’ll just need to rent more than one site.

You Can Have Pets: Bring your dog. He or she will have a great time. Just make sure the he or she is leashed at all times. Obviously, you’ll have to take care of the waste though.

There are a number of amenities at Massive Cave National Park for campers, including showers, laundry facilities, water hydrants for on-site water needs, and more. Site fees are very affordable and the area is always kept clean. If you’re looking for a new adventure, David Stewart of Bowling Green, KY suggests checking out Massive Cave National Park.

 

 

5 Things You Should Know about Tax Evasion

tax evasion on calculatorDid you know that one of the most common federal tax crimes is tax evasion? While no one is necessarily thrilled about paying taxes, taxes are a part of our infrastructure. Failing to report taxes, reporting them inaccurately or failing to pay them is not only unfair to other citizens, but is a criminal offense that can be costly. Is someone you know facing tax evasion charges or do you simply want to have a better understanding of the subject? If so, check out this tax evasion information from businessman David Stewart.

1.  Tax Evasion is Illegal

Tax evasion is the most commonly charged tax crime. It is an illegal practice in which an individual or a business knowingly underreports or doesn’t report income in an effort to eliminate or lessen their taxes. A few common examples of tax evasion include businesses and employees underreporting income because they deal largely in cash (such as hair salons and waitresses), and families overstating the size of their home in order to receive a larger deduction.

2.  If Caught, You can Face Criminal Charges

Tax crimes are usually found during audits, as auditors are trained to look for signs of tax fraud. If you are caught evading, you may face criminal charges and substantial penalties. However, to be charged with a crime, the IRS has to prove that you intentionally underpaid your taxes.

3.  There is a Difference between a Simple Mistake and Deliberate Fraud

There are instances in which individuals or businesses make innocent mistakes when filing taxes. These will necessitate paying what you owed, but you will not face penalties and other charges. The good news is that most auditors will be able to distinguish innocent errors from intentional ones.

4.  Tax Avoidance is Not Tax Evasion

While the terms seem synonymous, they have different meanings. Tax avoidance lowers your bill by arranging your transactions so that you receive the largest possible tax benefits. As a citizen, you have the right to lessen the amount of taxes you pay, but only if it is done via legal means. Tax evasion, however, is a deliberate attempt to reduce the taxes you owe by misrepresenting your income and is illegal.

5.  An Attorney can Protect You

If you are accused of tax evasion or related charges by the IRS, it is imperative that you hire an attorney who specializes and is experienced in tax fraud and evasion to protect you.

David Stewart List Five Celebrity Tax Evasion Scandals

It would be a misnomer to think that only the extremely poor get in trouble for not paying their taxes. In many cases, those who are convicted of tax evasion are actually well able to pay their taxes, but don’t for one reason or another. From accounting errors to pure refusal, some of the biggest celebrities and rich have been convicted of tax evasion. Some of them even went to jail. David Stewart discusses five of the most egregious incidents of celebrity tax evasion.

Willie Nelson: The famous country singer created an album “The IRS Tapes: Who Will Buy My Memories?” to help pay off his back taxes. Unfortunately, with the penalties and interest of years of nonpayment, Nelson owed more than $16.7 million. To pay back the IRS, Nelson had to sell off many of his possessions, but he has bounced back since then.

Nicolas Cage: In 2009, Cage was given a $6.2 million bill in back taxes from the IRS for a failure to pay taxes on  $24 million he made on two movies. Unfortunately, Cage’s business manager did not report this income and may have been defrauding Cage in the process. Cage had to sell several homes and memorabilia to pay the bill.

Wesley Snipes: Snipes went to jail for three years after failing to pay his tax bill of $17 million. This number included a large amount of penalties and interest in addition to back taxes. Snipes was freed from prison in 2013.

Richard Hatch: Although more than 50 million people watched Richard Hatch win the first season of Survivor, he didn’t think that the IRS was. This is the only line of reasoning that could have led him to not report his Survivor prize of over a million dollars. He was sentenced to six years and has run into trouble with the IRS since his release.

Leona Helmsley: Helmsley did not pay taxes because as she put it, “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.” She was charged with tax evasion and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 1989. She would end up serving 19 months.

 

 

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What Advice Does David Stewart Have for Western Kentucky Graduates?

On May 16th, thousands of undergraduate students will don their caps and gowns and receive their diploma from Western Kentucky University. As one of the top schools in the state of Kentucky and the entire southeastern region, Western Kentucky produces many talented young men and women, but as with many of us who were that age once know, the future can be intimidating. As a resident of Western Kentucky’s home, Bowling Green, KY, and a successful businessman, David Stewart has seen many talented people from Western Kentucky and other universities take their talents to the real world. Here are some things many of them know:

You Don’t Have to Have Everything Figured Out When You’re 25: Most of us don’t. If you don’t have your dream job right out of college, that’s okay. A great majority of us will have a career change at least five times in our lives. This is the time to learn more about yourself and the workplace to see what you might like to do to make a living. Always keep an ear for opportunities. You’ll be surprised how careers are made through a random series of events.

You’re Allowed to Fail: Our early twenties are the time to fail. As we get older, most of us will have more responsibilities that limit our ability to take chances: families, mortgages, etc. When you’re 22 or 23, you’re most likely renting and don’t have children yet. This is the time to take a chance and pursue your passion. If you do fail, you can pick yourself up and try something else.

Don’t Burn Bridges: Remember earlier about always keeping your eye open to new opportunities? The truth is that you’ll never know where that next opportunity might come from. Therefore, it’s important to make connections and keep those connections open. For example, if you leave a job that you don’t particularly like, don’t then trash the boss or your co-workers. You may never know where you might run into them into the future.

David Stewart would like to wish Western Kentucky graduates the best of luck as they make their mark in the world.

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Check Out Collectible Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY

You can’t keep a good car down. These words were certainly put to the test last year when a sinkhole opened under the floor of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The February 12th disaster caused eight collectible Corvettes to fall into the sinkhole. Unfortunately, three have never been recovered, but the remaining five join a lineup of more than sixty other Corvettes that still remain at the National Corvette Museum. The museum is located right across from the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant and is open to the public. Tours are also available at the assembly plant for motor enthusiasts of all ages.

As a resident of Bowling Green KY, David Stewart has a great affinity for the Corvette. According to the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, every single Corvette currently produced in this country has been made in Bowling Green, KY. The Corvette was originally produced in Flint, MI, but was later moved to its current home in Kentucky. In fact, Kentucky residents love the Corvette so much, it is the official sports car of the commonwealth.

If you are a car enthusiast or history buff and want to see America’s favorite sports car, David Stewart and the rest of Bowling Green, KY encourage you check out the National Corvette Museum and Assembly Plant. The National Corvette Museum is open almost every day of the year (Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day are the only the days it is closed), and it is not too expensive to check out. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $5 for children and $7 for seniors. If you want to get a better look at the plant itself, tours can be arranged for $7 a person.

There is nothing more American than a beautiful sports car on an open highway road, and Bowling Green, KY is proud to make a contribution to this slice of Americana with the Chevrolet Corvette.

 

David Stewart is Excited about the Possibility of Passenger Rail in Bowling Green

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The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) has recently proposed a passenger rail line that would stop in Bowling Green, KY and David Stewart couldn’t be happier. Stewart, an energy consultant and life-long Bowling Green resident, has always had the economic and societal wellbeing of the area at heart, and sees great opportunity for everyone there with the addition of a new rail line.

The proposal details a roughly 15-stop line that would run from Louisville to Atlanta, with stops in various towns and cities along the way and, according to David Stewart, the advantages of this new passenger train for Bowling Green would be great.

The most obvious and important of these advantages is accessibility. A rail line is a portal that makes travel from smaller areas to larger ones cheaper, safer, and simpler. Many areas that were not easy to reach or that people would have to drive out of their way to get to would now simply be a train ride away. This easier access also brings with it economic advantages for businesses in and around the line by allowing them to cater to commuters and encouraging local tourism. In addition, train lines stimulate job growth, as they allow people to commute more easily to urban areas and vice versa.

According to the “Your Turn” survey conducted in 2013 by the KTC, the primary transportation method of those questioned was overwhelmingly (88%) personal vehicle. Though the reason for this is not explicitly stated, one of the major factors in the way that Americans travel has always been availability. In cities, there are buses, taxis, light rail options, and sometimes even trollies; when you head out into the country, many of these options are not available and highways become the most direct way to get from one place to another. In Kentucky, most transportation spending in recent decades has been funneled towards highway building and maintenance. A train line could change all of that.

However, for now the proposed rail line is just an idea. Without either a substantial government grant or private funding – the latter of which is more likely – there’s very little chance that the plan will come to fruition any time soon. While the window for public comment on the proposal has ended, David Stewart is still hoping that public engagement and awareness of this issue will help sway any decision makers and prove the viability of this particular plan.

David Stewart of Bowling Green KY: A Faithful Attendee of the Lost River Music Festival

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There is absolutely no denying how many of us love the sound of music. Imagine a world without it; where would we be? Without our favorite songs, compositions, or even instruments, our lives would be deprived of the beauty that music brings to us. Whether you are rocking out to your favorite song and turning up the volume when it gets to that incredible guitar riff or singing your heart out to a newly released pop hit, there is no doubting the absolute power of music to bring people together.

David Stewart of Bowling Green KY is a music lover himself. After all, who said that petroleum and oil experts can’t appreciate a good old fashioned tune? David Stewart is an avid fan of music and supports it whenever he has the opportunity to do so. According to him, there is nothing quite like a song that touches your heart, makes you relate to the lyrics, and feel like the song was written directly for you.

That is why David Stewart is excited about the upcoming Lost River Music Festival. As a fan of the unique blend of rock and roll, country, bluegrass, soul and southern culture that this festival brings together, David Stewart is unquestionably going to attend. Plus, he finds festivals to be a great time no matter what, which is one of the other reasons he is going to make a special appearance.

When it comes to the best of Bowling Green music, the Lost River Music Festival can’t be beat. The event brings important and innovative acts to Bowling Green, Kentucky, both livening up the town and giving more people a reason to visit. The festival takes place in the Bowling Green Ballpark on October 25th, and will feature ZZ Top as a headliner, with several other local acts.

This year, the proceeds of the Lost River Music Festival will go to Hotel, INC., JDRF, the Center for Courageous Kids, and even the Salvation Army. These are excellent causes to support, as far as David Stewart is concerned, which is yet another reason that he is so fond of the festival—aside from the fabulous music, of course. The Lost River Music Festival is proud to support these organizations while simultaneously offering some of the best acts available in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area.

David Stewart is proud of this festival; it brings a lot to the community and is just one more example of the growing arts and culture scene in the area. He encourages all to attend . . . he sure will be!