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Taxpayers who are not ordinarily required to file taxes and do not receive social security may need to file a zero return.

MCLA Professors, Accounting Students to Prepare Virtual Tax Returns Through VITA Program

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two MCLA accounting professors and their students will again be preparing tax returns for local low-income residents — this time, virtually — through Habitat for Humanity's VITA program.

MCLA's new virtual VITA location, approved by the IRS, will be working through the end of April 2020 preparing eligible taxpayers' returns and helping ensure Berkshire County residents receive their coronavirus stimulus payment from the federal government. 

Individual taxpayers may be eligible for a $1,200 stimulus payment; married taxpayers filing jointly may be eligible for a 2,400 stimulus. In addition, taxpayers are eligible for an additional $500 per qualifying child. 

Taxpayers who are not ordinarily required to file taxes and do not receive social security may need to file a zero return.

Residents can email vita@mcla.edu or call 413-662-5507 to determine if they qualify and begin the process. Spanish translation is available thanks to Bielka Reinoso, Class of 2019, who worked on the VITA Program as an MCLA student and has agreed to help with this year's program as well. MCLA senior Abigail Dumo, a second year VITA volunteer, will be providing translation in Tagalog for those who need it.

Students will be preparing returns under the guidance of accounting professors Tara Barboza, CPA, and Adam Rice, EA, who will file electronically on behalf of their VITA clients. The deadline to file a federal tax return has been extended to July 15, 2020, and MCLA's virtual VITA site will operate through April 2020.


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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life

Submitted by Edward Jones

As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life. 

Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them: 

• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly. 

• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals. 

• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement. 

• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily. 

As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.

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