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Why It's Imperative You File Your Taxes Now, Not Later

Career

While taxpayers have until April 17 of this year to file their federal income tax returns, it isn’t in their best interest to wait to do so. Despite, if you are expecting a refund or will owe a balance, filing early is always better than filing later. While many Americans rush to file in April, there are many benefits and reasons why you shouldn’t wait till the last minute.


Here’s why “The early bird catches the worm” applies to filing your taxes as well.

You’ll Receive A Faster Tax Refund - And Maybe Even A Bigger One

One of the biggest reasons to file early is you will receive a faster tax refund. As soon as you receive your W-2 and you check it over for mistakes, you can file your return. The IRS issues about 90 percent of refunds in less than 21 days, an even faster way to receive your refund is to e-file and have the money deposited directly into your bank account. Early filers also tend to get larger refunds. This is attributed to the fact that those who get a head start on their taxes have more time to be thorough that they claimed all the deductions that they are eligible for. Most taxpayers cut corners by claiming standard deduction instead of itemizing their deductions. It may take having some patience and require more documentation, but in the long-run, it could result in a larger tax-refund check.

Not Filing Early Can Leave You Exposed

Identity theft has increased over the past few years, especially due to the breaches such as the Equifax Data Breach of 2017. While filing your returns early does not mean eliminating identity theft completely, it can help protect your refund and potentially catch those who have stolen your information. Refund theft happens when scammers use your social security number to receive your refund. The IRS will then have you marked as being paid. Subsequently, when you go to file the real refund, the IRS will reject your return, and it may take months for the issue to be resolved. Filing your taxes early can help deter identity theft.

You Have More Time to Financially Prepare In Case You Owe

If you expect to owe on your taxes, filing early will allow you more time to allocate funds to pay the IRS. Last minute filers may have to greatly tighten their budget, dip into savings, or even their emergency fund to pay what they owe which can negatively affect their financial stability. If you owe a decent amount of money, budgeting ahead of time can make all of the difference because your tax bill can collect interest and penalties if you are charged for a late payment.

Less Stress

The longer you wait, the more of a rush it becomes to submit your return and this can create unnecessary stress. Being in a hurry can lead you to make mistakes or forget to claim some of your deductions which may put a strain on you financially. Getting your taxes filed sooner means getting it out of the way and not having to stress over it. Additionally, the closer it gets to the tax deadline, the busier accountants get. Unfortunately, taxpayers learn the hard-way to set up their appointments early because they end up having to file for an extension or need to pay more money to be squeezed into the tax professional’s busy schedule.

Photo Courtesy of MoneyManagement

Don’t drag your feet when it comes to filing your taxes! As soon as you have all the necessary information and financial documentation, it’s in your best interest to move the process along as quickly as possible.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.