Dennis I. Markowitz to be honored as FBA’s ‘Person of the Year’

Dennis I. Markowitz, of Langhorne, will be honored by the Feasterville Business Association as their “Person of the Year” at the 2014 Frolic to be held at Brook Side Manor at Somerton Springs, 50 Bustleton Pike, Feasterville, on Saturday, March 29th, it was recently announced by Rose McMenamin, president of the FBA. Cocktails will be at 6:00pm, to be followed by dinner and the awards ceremony at 7:00pm.

Dennis is the founder and tax partner for the Financial Group Plus Companies in Southampton. He is marking his 50th year as a tax accountant in 2014. He is a Public Accountant in Pennsylvania and is an enrolled agent with the Internal Revenue Service. He additionally is a licensed insurance agent and is Medicare-certified.

In making the announcement, McMenamin says that Dennis is being singled out for special recognition for his long-time service to the FBA, including fundraising efforts and other business endeavors. A member of the professional business association for 20 years, he is its current treasurer, an office he’s held for numerous terms. He has also served terms as president and vice president.

In addition he has been active on many FBA committees, including its budget, nominating, golf and scholarship committees. Dennis also has been recognized by the Internal Revenue Service for his work as a volunteer in its education program. He is vice president of the Bucks-Mont Chapter of the Society of Tax and Accounting Practitioners.

Dennis is a veteran of the United States Army where he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant, and is a graduate of Temple University where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in accounting.

Marking their 47th wedding anniversary, he and his wife, Hope, have four adult children and seven grandchildren.

Tickets for the Annual FBA Frolic are $60 per person. Anyone interested in attending may call 215-206-5664 or 215-436-9768, or email FeastervilleBA@gmail.com.  

PHOTO CAP: Dennis Markowitz

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April Breakfast Meeting of the NBA

The Newtown Business Association will hold its April Membership Breakfast on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 7:30 AM at Chandler Hall, 99 Barclay Street, Newtown.  Representatives from Newtown Township and Newtown Borough will give a “State of Newtown” address. 

Also come hear all about what is happening in the Newtown Business Association and how it can help your business.  Meet with colleagues and make new contacts at this early morning get-together.  The meeting starts promptly at 7:30am and is held in the Wrights Room; NBA members are encouraged to bring a guest.  Online Registration, at www.NewtownBA.org, for this event will close at 12pm the day prior.  The cost to attend this event is $15 payable at the door or online.  Monthly NBA Breakfast meetings are held the 4th Tuesday of each month except December.

The mission of the NBA is to promote Newtown as a great place to live, work, shop and do business, thereby enhancing the economic vitality of the community for member businesses through networking, education, community involvement and coop advertising opportunities.

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Should we stay or go?

submitted by Lynne Kelleher, Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors – Newtown Office

Moving is one of the top five stressors in life, weighing in after death, illness, divorce and job loss, so most people don’t enter into the real estate market lightly. They ponder, contemplate, argue and look for signs from above before reaching a decision, which rarely comes easily. If you’re considering making a move, here are some factors to consider:

  1. You, your family and your stuff are starting to make you feel claustrophobic – and you don’t see it getting better any time soon. If you can’t store another thing under the beds and your seven-year-old is still sleeping in his toddler bed in a room with his two older brothers, it may be time.
  2. The house and grounds are starting to get the best of you, and keeping up with maintenance is becoming a challenge.  Don’t let your largest single asset start to deteriorate.
  3. Your up and coming neighborhood still hasn’t arrived, or is gradually becoming down and out.
  4. You’re using the equity in your home to get you through a “rough patch” that has lasted way longer than it should have.
  5. You had always considered this home to be a stopping point, not a destination, and have the financial ability to move up to your dream home.

If you’re a move-up buyer, it’s time to get off the fence and into the market NOW, while interest rates are still low and prices, while starting to increase, aren’t moving sharply upward. If you’re downsizing, it’s still a great time to sell as inventory levels are low and well-priced homes in good condition are selling quickly. The market has started its rebound no matter how you look at it. You’re not getting any younger – it’s time to move forward with your dreams and plans.

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Consumer Troubleshooter

submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency

Q. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I am anxious to get some work done to the outside of my home. The first thing on my list is getting the driveway paved and then some landscaping. I was asking people I know for contractor recommendations when my neighbor said that he recently heard of a contractor working in the neighborhood, knocking on doors offering a very good price for this kind of work. It sure sounds like a good deal for the price. I’m thinking of hiring them since they are already in the neighborhood. Is this a good idea?  G.T., Plumsteadville.

A. This is the time when consumers want to start fixing up their yards and this is the time when “gypsy” contractors start going door-to-door trying to drum up business. The problem is that a good majority of these contractors that go door-to-door are not legitimate. They are not registered contractors whose business has a physical address and the phone numbers they give are only cell phone numbers, not a landline. Each year we see a spike in complaints from consumers who have paid for work and either the business did not come back to finish the work or they find out the work was subpar, and that’s when they realize they have no way to reach the business. Please beware of this type of contractor. If you want to have work done please find a reputable company by doing the following; make sure they have a license to work in Pennsylvania, ask the business for their Home Improvement Contractor number or (HIC#); make sure you ask them what their physical address and phone number are for the business, ask for a written estimate; make sure the estimate or contract has a detailed description of the work to be performed, the materials to be used, and a start date and a completion date. If any warranty is offered that should also be in writing. Remember, any contract that is signed in your home gives you a three-day right to cancel notice, which should be attached to the contract. There may be a one-third deposit up front requested, but there is no reason to pay in full until the work is completed to your satisfaction. Once the bill is paid in full there is no incentive left for that business to come back and complete the work. 

If you have questions or concerns, or you would like to see if we have received any complaints against a particular contractor, call Bucks County Consumer Protection at 1-800-942-2669. Before you call, please have ready the contractor’s name and telephone number so that we may search our database. Consumers can also access our brochure on the Home Improvement Contractors Act by going to our website at www.buckscounty.org and click on Consumer Protection, and then click on consumer tips. While at our website you can also find out if a business is registered to work in Pennsylvania. Just click on Consumer Links, and then click on www.attorneygeneral.gov – PA Attorney General Website. Once there, click on “Home Improvement Consumer Information.”

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April NBA Business Card Exchange

The Newtown Business Association will hold its April Business Card Exchange on Wednesday, April 9th, from 5:00 to 7:00pm, at Penns Trail Self Storage, 104 Penns Trail, Newtown. Come network with colleagues and make new contacts while enjoying refreshments!

Register online on www.NewtownBA.org.

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Invest for the future, not the past

submitted by Michael Garry, CFP®, JD/MBA, Yardley Wealth Management, LLC

Much financial news purports to be about the future but is really just an account of the past. When stocks have fallen heavily in price, this is routinely reported as, “More bad news for investors today…” In fact, if you are a long-term investor, that could be good news unless you had to sell then. The key is how your portfolio performs from now on, not what happened yesterday. Investment is about the future, not the past. Because the future is unknown, you should strive to manage the uncertainty by diversifying across stocks, sectors, asset classes, and countries.

Everyone’s individual future is different, which means the investment strategy each of you adopts will vary. Some will want a strategy that delivers regular income; others will be more focused on capital growth. Some will be risk takers, others risk-averse.

This is why an assessment of the future and the uncertainty surrounding it should not just be approached from the level of the overall market but from the needs of each individual. That is the role of a qualified financial advisor: to help connect each individual’s circumstances and needs to their goals.

Nobody can control the future. One response to future uncertainty is to speculate and try to position one’s portfolio to take advantage of one possible outcome or another. Another response is to stay highly diversified and to use the information in market prices to stay focused on dimensions of expected return.

By hoping to diversify against risk and ensuring that your portfolio addresses your individual circumstances, this can help ensure that you are making the most of your investment. While you cannot prepare the future for your portfolios, you can still strive to prepare your portfolios for the future.

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Give tax records a mid-year tune-up

submitted by Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF, Abo and Company, LLC

Here are some tips on tax recordkeeping.

  • Keep copies of your filed tax returns as part of your tax records. They can help you prepare future tax returns. You’ll also need them if you need to file an amended return.
  • You must keep records to support items reported on your tax return. You should keep basic records that prove your income and expenses that relate to your federal tax return for at least three years. This includes income information such as Forms W-2 and 1099. It also includes information that supports tax credits or deductions you claimed. This might include sales slips, credit card receipts and other proofs of payment, invoices, cancelled checks, bank statements and mileage logs.
  • If you own a home or investment property, you should keep records of your purchases and other records related to those items. You should typically keep these records, including home improvements, at least three years after you have sold or disposed of the property. Actually, because the statute of limitations runs for six years if they find there is a “material omission of income or excess deductions,” it is suggested retaining such records for seven years to be on the safe side.
  • If you own a business, you should keep records that show total receipts, proof of purchases of business expenses and assets. These may include cash register tapes, bank deposit slips, receipt books, purchase and sales invoices. Also include credit card receipts, sales slips, canceled checks, account statements and petty cash slips. Electronic records can include databases, saved files, emails, instant messages, faxes and voice messages.
  • If you own a business with employees, you should generally keep all employment-related tax records for at least four years after the tax is due, or after the tax is paid, whichever is later.
  • The IRS doesn’t require any special method to keep records, but it’s a good idea to keep them organized and in one place. This will make it easier for you to prepare and file a complete and accurate return. You’ll also be better able to respond if there are questions about your tax return after you file.
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Can I change my annuity for one with a better interest rate?

submitted by Rosemary G. Caligiuri, CASL™, President, Harvest Group Financial Services

Yes. However, to receive favorable tax treatment, the exchange must satisfy the requirements of a Section 1035 exchange. According to Section 1035 of the Internal Revenue Code, you can exchange one annuity for another without the immediate recognition of any gain or loss, as long as the following requirements are met:

  • The annuity cannot be cashed in and the proceeds then used to purchase a new annuity contract. Rather, the value of the old annuity must be transferred to the new annuity, usually by assigning rights to the old annuity to the company issuing the new annuity.
  • The exchange must involve like-kind property (i.e., property that is similar in nature or class and of equal value). If the annuitant receives cash or a payment in kind of cash or property, then that part of the exchange involves property that is not like-kind and may be taxable.
  • Under the new contract, the owner, along with the annuitant, must be the same as under the old contract. Both contracts must also be payable to the same person(s) (the beneficiary).

Also, be aware that surrender charges may reduce the value of the annuity you transfer. In addition, the new annuity likely will impose a new set of surrender charges.

Any information contained herein should not be construed as tax or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult a qualified tax or legal professional regarding your personal situation.

Registered representative offering securities and advisory services through CentaurusFinancial Inc, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA & SIPC,Supervisory Branch: 3902 State Street, Suite 101, Santa Barbara, CA 93105,1-888-569-1982, Harvest Group Financial Services, Corp and Centaurus Financial, Inc Are Not Affiliated Companies.

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Opportunity Council celebrates 10 years of free tax prep: Volunteers needed

The Bucks County Opportunity Council Buck$Back Program marked 10 years providing free income tax preparation services on February 1st with the opening of three tax preparation sites throughout Bucks County. Volunteers are needed for the 2014 tax season to work directly with people who need help preparing their tax returns.

Since 2004, Buck$Back volunteers have helped prepare more than 7,000 income tax returns for low-to-moderate-income taxpayers, providing a value of $12.2 million in refunds, credits and fee savings. The volunteers assist hard-working, motivated families and individuals to obtain crucial refunds that can be used to reduce debt, start a savings account, go back to school, or pay for reliable transportation.


Linda Price, a long-time Buck$Back volunteer, enjoys making life a little easier for people struggling in hard times.
“Helping people who are trying so hard to help themselves is the biggest part of what we [volunteers] do,” said Linda. Don’t know that much about taxes? Don’t worry. Training is free and available in person or online. The program needs greeters, tax preparers, quality reviewers and phone schedulers. Retired or practicing tax professionals, college students and individuals with no prior tax-preparation experience who complete the training program are welcome. Become one of nearly 99,000 volunteers nationwide who helped people in their community file their tax returns. 
“You think, wow, it’s really great. I was really able to make that person’s day,” Linda said. “I encourage anyone who maybe doesn’t fit in a normal volunteer niche to consider something like this.”

Buck$Back is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program administered by the Opportunity Council with funding support from the Bucks County Foundation in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service.
 Sites are located in Lower, Central and Upper Bucks through partnerships with Foxwood Apartments in Levittown, St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Warminster, and the Gathering Pointe Community Center in Perkasie.
 For specific information about volunteering for the program, visit www.bcoc.org and click Buck$Back, or call 215-345-8175 x209. 

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Consumer Troubleshooter

submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency

Q. I recently ordered a bundled package from a provider for my telephone, cable and Internet service. When the first bill came in I noticed a charge for almost ten dollars. I had no idea what the charge was for, so I called the company. I have still not received an answer. I would appreciate any help you can provide. L. H., Levittown

A. We applaud you for taking the time and actually going through the bill. Many consumers are so rushed they just take for granted that a bill from the utility or credit card company is correct and just send the payment. The charge you found is for a credit monitoring service and apparently was not ordered by you. The company is a third party billing service provider and works for numerous companies offering an array of products and services. On the bill the name and number of the provider is clearly stated and if disputed or not paid will not terminate your phone service. 

The company apparently did respond to your call, because when our office called they stated that a credit was applied and that the service was removed permanently. They claimed it was an error and will send you a letter stating what happened and showing a zero balance. Had you not been reviewing the bill and they charged you for several months it would have made it difficult to cancel. By paying the bill you would have inadvertently approved the service. Bucks County consumer protection encourages consumers to review all their bills carefully. Any charges or statements that are questionable or not stated clearly should be addressed immediately. We would also suggest that all terms and conditions for a service be sent to you in writing before agreeing to any contract. Remember always review the fine print.

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