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Tips for tackling tax season


To help maximize refunds and avoid time-consuming complications, tax preparers are urging locals to gather all pertinent financial documents before filing their tax returns this season.

Deb Tuszkiewicz, a registered tax preparer with Liberty Tax Service, recommends people gather all of their income statements before filing, especially documents related to wages, bank interest, stock dividends and unemployment payments.

“The best time to file is when you know you have absolutely all of your paperwork ready,” Tuszkiewicz said. “Even if you think you’re due a refund, don’t file right away. Otherwise, you may have to file amendments, which takes longer.”

4 ways to get your money in order


Budgeting, bill paying, health care spending, investing, taxes, insurance, argh! It’s not easy to stay on top of it all. So ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, checked out some new ways to get your finances organized.

Try SimpleeONE. It’s bad enough if you are ill or injured and need expensive medical treatments, but the subsequent tsunami of paper statements, bills and notices from multiple health care providers and insurance companies can be overwhelming. SimpleeONE turns awful into awesome by organizing all of the information in one place.

Consumer complaints up more than 10 percent


MADISON — Scammers and thieves stepped up their efforts to steal your money or identity in 2014 based on the double-digit increase in complaints received at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Overall, complaints filed by Wisconsin consumers were up more than 10 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year, and four out of the top five categories of consumer complaints all saw substantial increases.

Chase Bank closes drive-thru lanes at two Kenosha locations


Chase Bank closed drive-thru lanes at two Kenosha branches in an effort to focus resources on mobile and online services, a spokeswoman said.

The locations — 2901 Washington Road and 3611 80th St. — continue to provide lanes for ATMs. However, customers hoping to speak with a teller or deposit physical checks must now walk into those branches. Other locations may soon follow suit.

Groups offer help for low-, moderate-income tax filers

A pair of services are available to help low- and moderate-income families file their taxes.

Free tax-filing assistance is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Tax scam avoidance starts with awareness


MADISON — Imagine going to your tax office with all of your paperwork and finding out that a return had already been submitted and paid out in your name. Or receiving a letter in the mail that a tax return using your information was filed in multiple states without your knowledge.

These are only a couple of examples of tax identity theft that have been reported to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Tax ID theft causes delays in victims’ tax returns and costs victims significant time and money in repairing the damage to their identities.

5 steps to getting your house in order


Just because I write about home maintenance, yard work and related topics doesn’t mean I’ve got my own house in pristine order. I’m as human as the next homeowner.

But I’ve developed a plan, ideally suited for New Year’s resolutions, that can help you and me get going on those projects we’ve neglected in the past year. And I’ve broken it down into five manageable steps:

Covering college costs


High school seniors and returning college students should complete their federal student loan applications and begin applying for scholarships as soon as possible, according to recommendations from local student advisers.

Ideally, students should begin filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by mid-January, said Kristina Klemens, a financial aid counselor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Scared of outliving your savings?


NEW YORK — When faced with the prospect of outliving their money, most people might toss and turn at night or obsess about where to slash their budgets.

Others have a more extreme reaction: wishing for early death.

Top ways to save more in 2015


You’re always looking for new ways to save. That’s why ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, is always on the hunt for great bargain-snagging strategies.

ShopSmart offers these tips:

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