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Protect Yourself from Credit Repair Scams


Every day, companies promise consumers who have poor credit histories that, for a fee, they will clean up their credit report so they can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance or even a job. The truth is, these companies cannot deliver an improved credit report using the tactics they promote. It’s illegal to remove accurate, negative information from your credit report. So after you pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars in up-front fees, you are left with the same credit report and a lot less money.

Attorneys at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) say they have never seen a legitimate credit repair operation. The fact is, there is no quick fix for bad credit. The only legitimate credit repair starts with you – and it takes time and a conscious effort to pay your debts.

Recognizing a Credit Repair Scam

If you see a credit repair offer, here’s how to tell if the company behind it is up to no good:

To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free 877- FTC-HELP.

Article adapted from “Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself” at

This article was written by Advicent Solutions, an entity unrelated to Prudential. Material is provided courtesy of Prudential Advisors. “Prudential Advisors” is a brand name of The Prudential Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries. Prudential and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own advisors regarding your particular situation. ©2018 Advicent Solutions.

Seema Ramroop, financial planner at Prudential Advisors, can be reached at (813) 957-8107 or email [email protected]


The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) – PART 2

By D. Brook Bahrenburg

AMT exemption amounts

While the AMT takes away personal exemptions (no longer applicable from 2018 to 2025) and a number of deductions, it provides specific AMT exemptions. The amount of AMT exemption that you're entitled to depends on your filing status.

Your exemption amount, however, begins to phase out once your taxable income exceeds a certain threshold. (Specifically, your exemption amount is reduced by $0.25 for every $1.00 you have in taxable income over the threshold amount).



AMT Exemption Amounts by Filing Status




Married filing jointly



Single or head of household



Married filing separately



AMT Exemption Phaseout Threshold




Married filing jointly



Single or head of household



Married filing separately



Technical Notes:  

In the context of AMT exemption amounts and tax rates, taxable income really refers to your alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI). Your AMTI is your regular taxable income increased or decreased by AMT preferences and adjustments.

When it comes to the phaseout of AMT exemption amounts, a special calculation applies to individuals who are married filing a separate federal income tax return. These individuals have to add an additional amount to their AMTI before calculating the exemption phaseout.

AMT rates

Under the AMT, the first $199,900 (for 2021, $197,900 for 2020) of your taxable income is taxed at a rate of 26%. If your filing status is married filing separately, the 26% rate applies to your first $99,950 (for 2020, $98,950 for 2020) in taxable income. Taxable income above this amount is taxed at a flat rate of 28%.

The lower maximum tax rates that generally apply to long-term capital gain and qualifying dividends apply to the AMT calculation as well. So, even under AMT rules, a maximum rate of 20%, 15%, or 0% (depending on your taxable income) generally applies for 2020 and 2021. However, long-term capital gain and qualifying dividends are included when you determine your taxable income under the AMT system. That means large capital gains and qualifying dividends can push you into the phaseout range for AMT exemptions, and can indirectly increase AMT exposure.

Summing up

Owing AMT isn't the end of the world, but it can be a very unpleasant surprise. It also turns a number of traditional tax planning strategies (e.g., accelerating deductions) on their heads, so it's a good idea to factor in the AMT before the end of the year, while there's still time to plan.

If you think you might be subject to the AMT, it may be worth sitting down to discuss your situation with a tax professional.

TIP: If you owe AMT, you may be able to lower your total tax (regular tax plus AMT) by claiming itemized deductions on Form 1040, even if your total itemized deductions are less than the standard deduction. This is because the standard deduction is not allowed for the AMT and, if you claim the standard deduction on Form 1040, you cannot claim itemized deductions for the AMT.

Source: 2019 Instructions for Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax Individuals

NOTE: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, substantially increases the AMT exemptions and exemption phaseout thresholds from 2018 to 2025 (with inflation adjustments after 2018). After 2025, the amounts revert to their pre-2018 levels and are substantially reduced.

Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Ecliptic Wealth Management is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.

Prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions Copyright 2021

This information, developed by an independent third party, has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. This information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. The material is general in nature. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. does not proved advice on tax, legal or mortgage issues. These matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional.

D. Brook Bahrenburg, FA, of Thakar Financial LLC., Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. in Clearwater, can be reached at (727) 677-9700, via email at [email protected] or visit

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