Learn about reports and credit scores.

Learn about reports and credit scores.

Learn how to get a copy of your credit report and how to correct errors in it. This will help you improve your credit score.

Your report and credit score can affect your ability to get a loan, rent a property or even get a job.

A credit report contains the payment history of your bills, current debts and other financial information. Companies and lenders use your credit report to calculate your credit score (usually between 300 and 850).

The higher the score, the lower your interest rate for a loan or credit card.

Learn some of what you can do to start or improve your report and credit score:

Get and review your credit report:

Request a free annual report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion on the official AnnualCreditReport.com website, check for errors or fraudulent accounts. This report does not include your credit score.

Credit reports included in your payment history and financial solvency. This information is used to calculate your FICO credit score, that is, the level of risk you represent for a creditor.

In addition, creditors, certain, insurers and other companies purchase these reports to determine:
• How much money you can borrow or not
• What interest rate will be charged?
• If you pay your bills on time
• If you have been sued
• If you have ever declared bankruptcy

Check your credit reports to make sure everything is correct, it is important that you know that:
• Your data is correct every year with the three credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
• No other person has requested a credit line using your name.
• Negative information can remain up to seven years in your report and up to 15 years if it is a bankruptcy.
• You can contact each credit reporting company to correct incorrect information.
• If you apply for a loan and do not get it because of your credit report, you have the right to request a free report within 60 days.

How to get your free credit reports

Once a year you can request a copy of each company through Annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
The Federal Trade Commission offers more information on these free credit reports.

Correct errors in your credit report:

Write to the credit reporting agency and the information provider (bank, credit card company, etc.) detailing each error or fraud. They are required to investigate. Keep a copy of the letters or electronic communication with them.

If you find errors in your credit report, use this sample letter to report errors. Then, send the letter (along with the supporting documentation) to the following entities:
• Credit reporting companies. Find the contact information of the three companies on their pages: Equifax (in English), Experian (in English) and TransUnion (in English).
• Information providers. They are your bank, credit card company or other organization that provided the credit reporting agency with inaccurate information.
Get detailed instructions on how to report errors.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both the credit reporting company and the information provider are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report.
If errors continue to be reported on your credit report after you have disputed them in writing, you may file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB).

Know your credit score:

Request your score by paying a credit reporting agency or get it for free on your statement or on the website of your credit card company. Paying your bills on time and reducing your debts can help you improve your score.

How to start your credit history

With a good credit history it can be easier to get a job, apartment or even a credit card. However, establishing and maintaining good credit requires discipline and planning.

Understand your account status and how to monitor your credit card. Also, find out how to start and maintain your credit or help your children start their own.
Credit cards

Before requesting credits or loans, be sure to check if the conditions offered are favorable and reliable.

When requesting a credit card, consider the following:
• The annual interest rate (APR). If the interest rate is variable, ask how it is determined and how much it can vary.
• The periodic rate. This is the interest rate used to calculate financing expenses on your balance in each billing period.
• The annual membership fee. Some cards charge you an amount each year for being a credit card holder.
• Rewards programs. Use online resources to find the card that offers the rewards that interest you most.
• The grace period. This is the number of days you have available to pay the bill, before you start running the finance charges.
• Finance charges. It is important to know exactly what you are paying in financing charges. By law, financial institutions must disclose the method they use. To avoid paying finance charges on credit card purchases, pay your balance due each month.
• Other charges. Find out if special charges are charged for cash advances, for late payments or for exceeding the credit limit. Some companies also charge a monthly fee.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Law protects you when dealing with entities that usually offer credit, including banks, financial companies, stores, credit card companies and credit unions.

How to dispute charges

The Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute charges that appear on your credit card that are incorrect, that you did not make, or that are about goods or services that you did not receive. Follow the steps below:
• Send a letter to the creditor within 60 days of the date the bill was issued.
• Include your name, your account number, the date and amount of the charge in dispute, as well as an explanation of why you are disputing the charge. Send your letter by registered mail and request the acknowledgment.
• The creditor or card issuer must acknowledge receipt of your letter in writing within 30 days of receiving it and conduct an investigation within 90 days. You do not have to pay the amount in dispute during the investigation.
• If there was an error, the creditor must credit your account and eliminate any associated fine or cost.
• If the invoice is correct, you must be notified in writing how much you owe and why. You must pay the debt and any associated financial charges.
• Search online for a sample letter to file a complaint.

Prepare for taxes: plan today to file your 2019 tax return

The Internal Revenue Service urged taxpayers to take action now to avoid surprises when they file next year and ensure a smooth processing of their 2019 tax return.

This is the first in a series of reminders to help taxpayers prepare for the next tax filing season. For this, the IRS recently updated a special page on its website that describes the steps that taxpayers can now take to prepare for the 2020 tax filing season.

Gather documents and organize tax files.

The IRS urges all taxpayers to develop a file maintenance system, electronic or paper, to keep important information in one place. Keep copies of the statements submitted and supporting documents for at least three years. Add files as they are received. Having the necessary documents on hand before starting to prepare your return helps taxpayers to file a complete and accurate tax return.

Taxpayers must confirm that each employer, bank or other payer has a current postal or email address. Typically, these forms begin arriving by mail, or are available online, in January. Check them carefully and, if any of the information shown is incorrect, contact the payer immediately for a correction.

To avoid delays in reimbursements, taxpayers should avoid the use of incomplete files and, instead, wait to file until they have collected all the documentation of end-of-year income. This will minimize the chances of having to file an amended return later, which is additional work for taxpayers and can take up to 16 weeks to process once the IRS receives it.

Taxpayers who use a software product for the first time may need the adjusted gross income (AGI) amount shown on Line 7 of their 2018 return to file their 2019 tax return electronically. You should check the statement from the previous year or the link to view your account at IRS.gov. Learn more about identity verification and the electronic signature of a return in Verify your tax return after filing electronically.

Notify the IRS of address changes and notify the Social Security Administration of a legal name change to avoid a delay in processing your tax return.

Renew expiring ITINs.

Taxpayers with expired Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) can renew their ITINs more quickly and avoid delays in reimbursements next year by submitting their renewal application soon.

An ITIN is a tax identification number used by taxpayers who do not qualify to obtain a Social Security number. Any ITIN with average digits 83, 84, 85, 86 or 87 will expire at the end of this year. In addition, any ITIN that has not been used in a tax return in the last three years will expire. As a reminder, ITINs with average digits 70 to 82 that expired in 2016, 2017 or 2018 can also be renewed.

The IRS urges any affected person to submit a complete renewal application, Form W-7, IRS Taxpayer Personal Identification Number Application, as soon as possible. Be sure to include all required identification and residency documents. Otherwise, processing will be delayed until the IRS receives these documents.

Once a completed form is submitted, it usually takes about seven weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter from the IRS. But it may take longer, from nine to 11 weeks, if an applicant waits until the filing season to submit this form or sends it from abroad. Taxpayers must take action now to avoid delays.

Taxpayers who do not renew an ITIN before filing a tax return next year may face a deferred refund and may not be eligible for certain tax credits. With about 2 million homes of taxpayers affected, the application will now help avoid haste, as well as delays in reimbursement and processing in 2020. For more information, visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov.

Prepare to submit electronically; use direct deposit for refunds.

Electronic filing is easy, secure and the most accurate way to file taxes. There are a variety of free electronic filing options for most taxpayers, including the use of the IRS Free File for taxpayers with incomes under $ 66,000 or interactive forms for those who earn more. Taxpayers who earn $ 56,000 or less can get free help preparing their tax return at a Volunteer Taxpayer Assistance or Tax Advice for the Elderly site.

Combining direct deposit (in English) with electronic filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get a refund. With direct deposit, a refund goes directly to the taxpayer’s bank account. You do not have to worry about a lost, stolen or undelivered refund check. This is the same electronic transfer system that is now used to deposit almost 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits. Almost four out of five federal tax refunds are deposited directly.

Direct deposit is easy to use. Taxpayers simply select it as their method of reimbursement through the tax software or inform their tax preparer that they want a direct deposit. Taxpayers can even use direct deposit if they file a paper return. Be sure to have your bank account and routing numbers handy when submitting and verifying the information to avoid mistakes.

Direct deposit also saves taxpayer money. Taxpayers cost more than $ 1 for each refund check issued, but only one cent for each direct deposit.

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for those who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The law requires that the IRS withhold full refund, including the part not associated with EITC or ACTC. This change in law, which took effect in early 2017, helps ensure that taxpayers receive their reimbursement by giving the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud.

As always, the IRS warns taxpayers not to trust a refund on a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Keep in mind that some statements may require additional review for a variety of reasons and may take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the state and nation’s tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and reimbursement fraud.

Start with IRS.gov to get help that includes tools, tax filing options, other services and resources. Taxpayers increasingly use IRS.gov as their first resource for tax matters. Information in languages ​​other than English is available on the “Language” tab on IRS.gov. The Let us help you page presents links that lead users to information and resources about a wide range of topics.

How do I apply for an ITIN?

You can file Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), with your federal income tax return. You must also include original documentation or certified copies from the issuing agency to prove identity and foreign status.

If you qualify for an exception, then file Form W-7 with your proof of identity and foreign status documents and supporting documentation for the exception.

Where to apply?

Option 1

Mail your W-7, tax return, proof of identity, and foreign status documents to:

Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

You will only file a tax return to the address above once, when you file Form W-7 to get an ITIN. In subsequent years, when you have an ITIN, you will file your tax return as directed in the form instructions.

If you will need your original documents for any purpose within 60 days of submitting your
ITIN application, you may wish to apply in person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center or
CAA. You may also choose to submit certified copies of documents from the issuing agency
instead of original documents. Original documents you submit will be returned to you at the
mailing address shown on your Form W-7. You don’t need to provide a return envelope.
Applicants are permitted to include a prepaid Express Mail or courier envelope for faster return
delivery of their documents. The IRS will then return the documents in the envelope provided
by the applicant. If your original documents aren’t returned within 60 days, you can contact the

Option 2

Apply for an ITIN in-person using the services of an IRS-authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent. This will prevent you from having to mail your proof of identity and foreign status documents.

Option 3

Make an appointment at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. This will also prevent you from having to mail your proof of identity and foreign status document                                                                                                                                                     

After processing, the IRS will issue your ITIN through the mail.

When should I apply?

You can apply for an ITIN any time during the year when you have a filing or reporting requirement. At a minimum, you should complete Form W-7 when you are ready to file your federal income tax return by the return’s prescribed due date. If the tax return you attach to Form W-7 is filed after the return’s due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties.

How long does it take?

You will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number usually within seven weeks if you qualify for an ITIN and your application is complete.