Thursday, June 25, 2015

Credit Card Bonus Categories Q3 2015

Save money on purchases and get cash back with the following coupon codes and credit cards:

Citi Dividend Card
  • 5% cash back 7/1/15 - 9/30/15: Hilton Hotels & Airlines
  • 1% on everything else.
Discover Card
  • 5% cash back 7/1/15 - 9/30/15: Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and
  • up to 1% on everything else.
Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
  • 2.2% on travel and dining
  • 1.1% on everything else.
  • No annual fee.
    Costco TrueEarnings Card from American Express
    • 3% cash back at gas stations
    • 2% cash back on restaurants, and travel
    • 1% on everything else.
    Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
    • 2.2% on travel and dining
    • 2.2% on everything else.
    • ($89 annual fee after first year)

    Also see the complete collection of PFStock Money Tips:
    PF Stock Money Tips #1: Use Coupons
    PF Stock Money Tips #2: Credit Cards
    PF Stock Money Tips #3: Taxes
    PF Stock Money Tips #4: Shopping
    PF Stock Money Tips #5: Organize Your Purchases
    PF Stock Money Tips #6: Reduce Wasteful Spending
    PF Stock Money Tips #7: Live Below Your Means
    PF Stock Money Tips #8: Plan Your Finances


    Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    FSA Use It or Lose It Maybe

    My last post, concerning Flexible Spending Accounts Flexible Spending Accounts (also known as FSAs) concerned the fact that any balance you have in the account at the end of the calendar year is forfeited to your employer. This is called the "Use It or Lose It" rule. However, things have changed a little bit since my last post.

    The IRS now allows the employer to either offer a grace period, or allow funds to be rolled over to the following year.

    • Under the grace period rule, a FSA plan can permit an employee to use amounts remaining from the previous year to pay expenses incurred for certain qualified benefits during the period of up to two and a half months into the following plan year.
    • Or an FSA can allow up to $500 of unused amounts remaining at the end of a plan year in a health FSA to be used toward qualified medical expenses incurred during the following plan year (rollover), provided that the plan does not also incorporate the grace period rule.

    Having said this, it is the choice of the employer (NOT the employee) to offer either of these options. This IRS Document has more information. Also, the "use it or lose it" provision still applies if you voluntarily terminate (quit) your employment, or are terminated without cause (i.e., laid off).

    My current employer does not offer either a grace period or rollover option. I plan to discuss the possibility of the company offering one of these options with human resources, sometime before open enrollment. After all, it is your own money (not your employer's); shouldn't you have the say on what to do with it?

    Does your employer offer an FSA grace period, rollover, or nothing? I would be curious to know.


    Disclaimer does not provide specific tax advice. If you have questions about FSAs and taxes, please contact a qualified tax advisor.

    Thursday, April 16, 2015

    What is a Non-dividend Distribution?

    A couple of the stocks that I own made what are called a non-dividend distributions in 2014. This was reported to me on Form 1099-DIV in box 3 (Nondividend distributions). These distributions are not treated the same as ordinary (Box 1a) or qualified dividends (Box 1b). So this begs the question what is a non-dividend distribution?

    I found the answer, on the website of one of the stocks that made a non -dividend distribution in 2014: Mattel, Inc. (Nasdaq: MAT). The third question in their FAQ is "What is a non-dividend distribution?"

    A non-dividend distribution represents a return of a portion of the shareholder’s original investment in the stock of a corporation. Generally, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, a non-dividend distribution is first treated as a reduction in the shareholder’s tax basis in the stock held, and when the basis in the stock is reduced to zero, a non-dividend distribution is then treated as a capital gain to the shareholder.

    Further down the page, Mattel has an example of how a non-dividend distribution works for tax purposes:

    Non-dividend distribution Example

    An individual who is a citizen of the United States owns one share of Company A, Inc. stock. This share was purchased on December 31, 2013 for $50.00. During 2014, the shareholder receives total dividends of $5.00 on his single share of stock. Assume that Company A, Inc. determines that for U.S. federal income tax purposes, 60% of the 2014 dividend should be treated as a non-dividend distribution and 40% should be treated as a dividend. Therefore for U.S. federal income tax reporting, this shareholder should treat $3.00 of the $5.00 distribution as a non-dividend distribution and $2.00 of the $5.00 distribution as a dividend.

    The portion of the distribution which is treated as a dividend for U.S. tax purposes is taxable to the shareholder in 2014. Accordingly, this shareholder should report $2.00 of dividend income on his 2014 U.S. Federal Income Tax Return.

    The portion of the distribution which is treated as a non-dividend distribution for U.S. federal income tax purposes will likely first reduce the shareholder’s basis in his stock.  Therefore, in 2014, the $3.00 of non-dividend distribution will likely reduce the shareholders basis in his stock from $50.00 to $47.00.  The reduction in basis should not be taxable in 2014 but may impact the amount of the taxable gain or loss recognized by the shareholder when the single share of Company A stock is sold.

    Assume this shareholder sells his single share of Company A stock for $65.00 on June 1, 2015.  The shareholder’s gain from the sale of the single share of Company A stock for 2015 will likely be calculated as follows:

    Original basis                                                                $50.00
    Less: non-dividend distribution                                       ($ 3.00)
    Adjusted basis                                                              $47.00
    Sale proceeds                                                               $65.00
    Less: Adjusted basis (above)                                         ($47.00)
    Capital gain                                                                   $18.00

    I hope this information is helpful to people wanting to know more about non-dividend distributions.

    Disclaimer: This example is not intended to be tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for advice specific to your situation.


    Monday, March 23, 2015

    Financial Spread Betting as Good for Bears as It Is for Bulls

    The standard logic is that rising bull markets are where money is made. It’s easy to see why. They tend to be more even paced, and thus more predictable day to day than bear markets. But increasingly the attraction of falling markets is also being recognised. In a derivative-based investment culture, the direction of travel becomes of secondary importance to the fact of travel per se. And there is growing talk of a serious downturn in 2015.

    In other words, as long as there is volatility in the market, there is scope to exploit that movement. Traditionally this has been an expensive - perhaps prohibitively expensive - way to invest in a bear market. For all but the best resourced investors, selling in a falling market, only to buy back in at a lower price, is fraught with risk. At the same time, for those of more limited means, it can quickly pile up fees and commissions. It’s much easier - and safer - to just hunker down, let the storm blow over and let someone else deal with the risk.

    Taking a step back
    But once you start to take a step back from the market and deal in derivatives, things get a whole lot more exciting. By simply riding on the back of market moves and using a specialist financial spread betting firm such as Tradefair it is possible to:

    1. Capture value from a falling market and
    2. Avoid costly commissions, fees and taxes to maximise that return.

    This is not to say that Tradefair betting is risk free - it most certainly is not. But having made the calculation as to the direction of market travel, it is a sure fire-way to capitalise on a correct assessment of a downturn. Risk is the corollary to an investment return, after all.

    A further advantage of such a derivative-based investment vehicle is that a potential loss can be mitigated extremely quickly. Investors are connected directly to the market by a sophisticated highly user-friendly range of software applications. It means they have live control over their exposure. There is no delay in enacting a trade.

    More reassuringly, the software offered by all the major providers allows the pre-selection of a range of stop options - positive and negative - that effectively automate an exit at a predetermined point.

    Simple enactment
    The mechanics of a Financial Spread bet are strikingly simple. They have been known in the City as ‘contracts for difference’ for a long time. How it works is that an investor, once he has selected a market, an index or a stock that he wants to take a position on, then determines which direction he thinks that market price is likely to move - either up or down.

    Once he has made that decision, the investor then places a bet to the value of his choosing. But this is not an ordinary bet in the sense of the word. Rather than a simple win-draw-lose equation, the investor’s stake is now tied to the level of the market. For every point the market moves, the winning investor will win a multiple of his stake.

    There is what amounts to a bid/offer spread built into the calculation, so the stock will have to move by a predetermined amount before it starts to accumulate those multiples. But this is only ever a couple of points either way. It is on this basis that no commissions or fees are levied. The ‘spread’ thus balances the market makers’ own exposure to winning bets.

    The standard logic is that falling markets are bad news. That may be true for those who invest directly in such mechanisms, but for those who are brave enough to operate on the sidelines the derivative-based nature of financial spread betting means that a falling market can be every bit as profitable as one on the up. All it takes is the right insight and the courage of your convictions.

    Friday, March 13, 2015

    Hot Industries in a Volatile Market

    The stock market can be really troublesome sometimes. There is a general notion that, when everyone is winning, you should be wining as well. This is a really simple rule when the market is good. All you need to do is find a country with a high growth and make a solid portfolio with stocks which are representing different industries. However you put it, you will have solid returns during next few years. The issue arises when the market is bad. In this situation we usually ask ourselves, is it even worth investing? The answer is resounding yes. Where others see danger, you should see an opportunity. But, in these cases the strategy changes. You shouldn't bet on the market itself, simply because you don’t know what to expect. You should bet on companies and industries which are potentially profitable. Here is some of our advice.

    The global population is slowly getting older. In most cases, the service provided by local hospital or online drugstore is on such a high level, that the people are completely taken care of. This means that the older we get, the more support we will need. Entire private, medical sector is on enormous rise. It will probably be this way in future unless something changes drastically. Big part of that sector is your favourite online pharmacy. Like all the other businesses, this one also strives to become connected to internet and provide best supply in least time possible.

    Businesses that can relate to previous paragraph are healthy life and healthy food. It is a simple fact; we want to live longer and better. This is why everyone is trying to eat healthy, unprocessed food. There are many restaurants with raw menu being opened all over the world. As if that wasn't enough, many gyms are providing yoga and pilates classes instead of your usual body building or karate. This trend can be even seen in the movies, where slender men get advantage in comparison to muscular ones. This is why, everything related to healthy life and better living will bring in big profits in future.

    As the global market changes, we become more intertwined. The transit and trade between the countries have become enormous. We, as a planet, strive to eliminate all the national borders. European Union is a good example. Many nations are a part of it, and with each new member, the need for translators and other linguist services increases. This is the same practice with multinational companies. Although English is the dominant language in most of these companies, the management still needs to sell products and services to local people. So, different linguist services within the company are a must.

    Similarly to your online pharmacy, your local farmer has decided to take its business online. This means that there is much more IT programs which are designed for this industry. Modernization and automation are future of this business. Given the predicted deficit of the food in the world, agriculture will play a big part in future economy. Similarly to that, all the other companies are doing their best to improve their systems and take their business online. Another good example are government institutions.

    Stock market is all about prediction. If we realize on time what will be profitable in future, we can make major profit and ensure that our investment will be safe and sound.

    Friday, February 13, 2015

    IRS e-file – When Will I Get My IRS Tax Refund (2015)?

    Are you using TurboTax this year to prepare your taxes? It seems that Intuit's flagship TurboTax Deluxe product has garnered particularly bad reviews this year.

    Anyway, if you are wondering when you can expect to receive your tax refund from the IRS, you are not alone. In past years, the IRS published a table where you could look up when your federal tax refund would be deposited in your bank account (by direct deposit), or when your check would be mailed. It seems that this document, Publication 2043, either doesn't exist or doesn't provide a table anymore. From previous years, the IRS reported that most refunds were issued 7-15 days after the IRS tax return was accepted. Also, they stated that 90% refunds were issued in less than 21 days last year. The same results are expected in 2015.

    You can also check the status of your income tax refund using this link. (And of course, en Español: ¿Dónde está mi reembolso?) You will need to enter your social security number, filing status, and refund amount to see your refund status.

    I've heard some anecdotal stories about the IRS a long time to process refunds in 2014. So I will be curious how the IRS does this time around.

    If you haven't prepared your tax return yet, I encourage you to use either TurboTax or H&R Block Software. But, based on the negativity surrounding TurboTax, TT users may want to reconsider switching to H&R Block.


    Note to Commenters: If you represent a company such as Intuit, H&R Block, TaxACT, CompleteTax, FreeTaxUSA, Microsoft, etc., please leave your contact information or send pfstock an Email (the Email address is listed in the sidebar) to let me know that you left a comment. If I cannot determine that your comment is authentic, it will be deleted.

    Friday, January 9, 2015

    Citi Dividend Card 2015 Categories

    I had written before that I have a Citibank Dividend MasterCard. One of the benefits of this card is that it offers 5% cash back on rotating categories of merchants. The main problem I have with this arrangement is that I always forget which categories are currently offering 5% cash back when I am at the store. As a result, I often miss out on the bonus dividend dollars. In order to help me remember, I have decided to post the categories which change every three months here.

    Q1 2015 (New Beginnings): Macy's, Home Furnishing Stores
    Q2 2015 (Celebrate Spring): The Home Depot, Home & Garden Stores
    Q3 2015 (Summer Fun): Hilton, Airlines
    Q4 2015 (Holiday Shopping): Best Buy, Department Stores

    Note that "Q1 2015" means from January 1 - March 1, 2015. Also note that even if you have a Citi Dividend Card, the enrollment is not automatic. You have to login and sign up for this offer at the Citibank website.

    See also Discover Card 2015 Cashback Bonus Categories

    PF Stock