tax http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3520/all en-US Best Money Tips: Tax Audit Flags http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-audit-flags <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tax-audit-flags" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stress-155010475.jpg" alt="stress" title="stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on tax audit flags, tips for lowering your heating bill, and tips for easing back into work after vacation.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/25-tax-audit-flags/">25 Tax Audit Flags</a> &mdash; Drastic income changes and off the charts itemized deductions can be tax audit red flags. [The Wisdom Journal]</p> <p><a href="http://firefinance.blogspot.com/2008/10/save-energy-lower-heating-bill.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FireFinance-FinancialIndependenceRetireEarly+%28FIRE+Finance+-+Financial+Independence+Retire+Early%29">12 Tips to Lower Your Heating Bill</a> &mdash; To save money on your heating bill, clear your heating vents and winterize your windows. [FIRE Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Things-Do-After-Vacation-23383346">6 Tips For Easing Back Into Work After Vacation</a> &mdash; When going back to work after vacation, make the transition easier by getting in earlier and making a to-do list. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://christianpf.com/financial-options/">How to See Beyond the Obvious Financial Options</a> &mdash; If you want to see beyond the obvious financial options, practice creative thinking. [Christian PF]</p> <p><a href="http://canadianfinanceblog.com/starting-a-home-business/">Increase Your Income by Starting a Home Business</a> &mdash; Want to start your own home business? Make sure you understand the paperwork and tax implications. [Canadian Finance Blog]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://bargainbabe.com/joint-vs-separate-bank-accounts-married-couples-right/">Joint or separate bank accounts for couples - which is better?</a> &mdash; When couples have joint bank accounts, it encourages financial discussions and removes the hassle of splitting costs. [Bargain Babe]</p> <p><a href="http://financialhighway.com/money-saving-tricks-anyone-can-use/">Money-Saving Tricks Anyone Can Use</a> &mdash; To save money on clothes, make sure to use an apron when cleaning. That way your clothes don&#39;t get trashed. [Financial Highway]</p> <p><a href="http://www.inkjetwilly.com/blog/super-bowl-printables/">Super Bowl Printables: 7 Free Sites</a> &mdash; If you are looking for Super Bowl printables, try Snap Creativity or Hostess With The Mostess. [InkJet Willy]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/6-kid-friendly-ways-to-celebrate-the-super-bowl-without-watching-the-big-game">6 Kid-Friendly Ways to Celebrate the Super Bowl (Without Watching the Big Game)</a> &mdash; Teaching your kids to play flag football is just one kid-friendly way to celebrate the Super Bowl. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://staplerconfessions.com/index.php/my-kind-of-diy-easy-car-repairs/">My Kind of DIY: Easy Car Repairs</a> &mdash; Installing windshield wipers is a car repair you can easily do on your own. [Stapler Confessions]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-audit-flags">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-are-your-chances-of-getting-audited-by-the-irs-your-guess-is-probably-wrong">What are your chances of getting audited by the IRS? Your guess is probably wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ring-ring-ka-ching-lying-about-your-telephone-tax">Ring. Ring. Ka-ching! Lying About Your Telephone Tax</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes audit best money tips flags red flags tax taxes Thu, 30 Jan 2014 11:00:11 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1121283 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Tips for End of Year Tax Planning http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finances-work-4818030-small.jpg" alt="finances" title="finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on tips for end-of-year tax planning, ways to reduce risk in 2014, and the basic principles for growing wealth.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mydollarplan.com/17-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning/">17 Tips for End of Year Tax Planning</a> &mdash; Before the year is over, remember to finalize your records and do an AMT analysis. [My Dollar Plan]</p> <p><a href="http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2013/12/ways-to-reduce-risk-in-2014/">Ways to Reduce Risk in 2014</a> &mdash; To reduce risk in 2014, save up for major repairs or purchases. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="http://www.beingfrugal.net/basic-principles-for-growing-wealth/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=basic-principles-for-growing-wealth">5 Basic Principles for Growing Wealth</a> &mdash; If you want to grow your wealth, invest in yourself. [BeingFrugal.net]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/8-job-market-myths-and-truths/">8 Job Market Myths and Truths</a> &mdash; You shouldn&#39;t rely on an employment agency to help you find a job because 93% of the available positions out there are not listed with employment agencies. [The Wisdom Journal]</p> <p><a href="http://couplemoney.com/real-estate/deciding-on-when-is-the-best-time-to-sell-your-house/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CoupleMoney+%28Couple+Money%29">Deciding on When is the Best Time to Sell Your House</a> &mdash; When considering when to sell your house, ask yourself why you want to sell your home. [Couple Money]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Free-Ways-Entertain-Yourself-Home-30926585">68 Mostly Free Ways to Entertain Yourself at Home</a> &mdash; Keep yourself entertained at home cheaply by listening to a TED Talk. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moolanomy.com/3097/how-big-should-an-emergency-fund-be/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-big-should-an-emergency-fund-be">How Big Should an Emergency Fund Be?</a> &mdash; The typical rule of thumb is that you should have enough money saved up to last you 3-6 months. [Moolanomy]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyning.com/frugality/3-ways-an-auto-parts-store-can-save-you-money-on-car-repairs/">3 Ways an Auto Parts Store Can Save You Money on Car Repairs</a> &mdash; Did you know you can get a free battery check at an auto parts store? [MoneyNing]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2013/12/23/how-sustainable-are-your-financial-habits/">How sustainable are your financial habits?</a> &mdash; To determine how sustainable your financial habits are, consider whether or not you&#39;ve stabilized your housing costs. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2013/12/19/understanding-the-ipo-process/">Understanding the IPO Process</a> &mdash; The purpose of an IPO is to create liquidity for early investors and employees. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes 2013 best money tips planning tax taxes Fri, 27 Dec 2013 11:01:37 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1102190 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Tax Loopholes for the Working Man and Woman http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-loopholes-for-the-working-man-and-woman <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tax-loopholes-for-the-working-man-and-woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3225409596_87abda42a8_z.jpg" alt="women" title="women" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some stellar articles on tax loopholes, handling a part time side business, and beating burnout as a working grad student.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2013/03/lesser-known-tax-deductions/">7 Tax Loopholes for the Working Man and Woman (Lesser Known Tax Deductions)</a> &mdash; Did you know you can use tax preparation fees as a deduction? [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="http://www.20sfinances.com/2013/03/20/how-to-handle-a-part-time-side-business/">How to Handle a Part Time Side Business</a> &mdash; When handling a part time side business, remember to manage your time. [20's Finances]</p> <p><a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2013/03/19/tips-for-beating-burnout-as-a-working-grad-student">Tips for Beating Burnout as a Working Grad Student</a> &mdash; If you are a working grad student, avoid burnout by taking courses that accomodate your work schedule. [US News &amp; World Report]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyning.com/life-style/preparing-for-visitors/">How to Prepare Your Home for Visitors</a> &mdash; To prepare your home for visitors, consider creating a schedule for sharing cars so they can get around. [MoneyNing]</p> <p><a href="http://barbarafriedbergpersonalfinance.com/do-now-that-markets-peaking/">What To Do Now That The Markets Are Peaking</a> &mdash; Even though the markets are peaking, it's advisable to avoid long term bonds right now. [Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/no-physical-life-insurance/">How to Get Life Insurance Without a Physical</a> &mdash; If you are looking for an insurance company that will let you get a life insurance policy without a physical, look into Assurity or Americo. [Good Financial Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Ways-Stay-Grounded-When-Busy-28697290">12 Ways to Stay Grounded Even When Super Busy</a> &mdash; To stay grounded even if you are super busy, eat healthy and keep your space clean. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyqanda.com/building-a-pinewood-derby-car/">What You Can Learn About Investing From Building a Pinewood Derby Car</a> &mdash; Just like building a great pinewood derby car, a good investment starts with research. [Money Q&amp;A]</p> <p><a href="http://timemanagementninja.com/2013/03/cant-keep-up-7-ways-to-always-be-catching-up/">Can't Keep Up? 7 Ways to Always Be Catching Up</a> &mdash; If you are falling behind, get caught up by shutting your door to interruptions. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/six-smoothies-for-super-nutritious-mornings">6 Smoothies for Super Nutritious Mornings</a> &mdash; Using both fruits and veggies in your smoothies will make them extra nutritious. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-loopholes-for-the-working-man-and-woman">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes best money tips loopholes tax taxes Thu, 21 Mar 2013 10:00:34 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 971407 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Tax Deductions for Employees Who Work From Home http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-deductions-for-employees-who-work-from-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tax-deductions-for-employees-who-work-from-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3155017326_630cc46314_z-1.jpg" alt="Tax Deductions for Employees who Work from Home" title="Tax Deductions for Employees who Work from Home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on tax deductions for employees who work from home, creating a spending plan, and what matters in matters of love and finance.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.doughroller.net/taxes/tax-deductions-for-employees-who-work-from-home/">Tax Deductions for Employees who Work from Home</a> &mdash; Employees who work from home may be able to qualify for a home office deduction. [The Dough Roller]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Creating-Spending-Plan-2468746">5 Simple Steps For Creating A Spending Plan</a> &mdash; To create a spending plan, think ahead. [SavvySugar]</p> <p><a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2012/09/11/what-matters-in-matters-of-love-and-finance/">What Matters in Matters of Love and Finance</a> &mdash; Manage risks when it comes to love and finance by having health insurance. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="http://www.biblemoneymatters.com/what-to-do-when-your-to-do-list-starts-getting-a-bit-too-long/">What To Do When Your To-Do List Starts Getting A Bit Too Long</a> &mdash; When your to-do list gets too long, refocus your priorities. [Bible Money Matters]</p> <p><a href="http://blog.themillionairenurse.com/2012/09/12/when-does-paying-cash-pay-nine-ways-to-save/">When Does Paying Cash Pay? Nine Ways To Save!</a> &mdash; You can save money on doctor bills if you opt to use cash to pay. [The Millionaire Nurse Blog]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://genxfinance.com/working-with-a-credit-counselor-in-a-time-of-need/">Working With a Credit Counselor in a Time of Need</a> &mdash; Can you no longer control your mounting debt? Then a credit counselor might be a good idea for you. [Generation X Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.20sfinances.com/2012/09/10/how-to-pick-a-stock/">How to Pick a Stock</a> &mdash; When picking a stock, look at the price-to-earnings ratios. [20's Finances]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2012/09/11/make-money-by-turning-in-tax-cheats/">Make Money by Turning in Tax Cheats</a> &mdash; Would you ever turn in a tax cheat to make some extra money? [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2012/09/moderate-and-selective-frugality.html">Moderate and Selective Frugality</a> &mdash; If you are selectively frugal, you aren't frugal in every area of your life. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/bring-out-the-reader-in-your-young-child">10 Ways to Bring Out the Reader in Your Young Child</a> &mdash; Bring out the reader in your young child by visiting the library often. [Parenting Squad]</p> <h2>&nbsp;</h2> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-deductions-for-employees-who-work-from-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-a-bigger-refund-with-these-often-overlooked-tax-deductions">Get a Bigger Refund With These Often-Overlooked Tax Deductions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make">The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes best money tips deductions tax taxes work from home Fri, 14 Sep 2012 10:24:42 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 954495 at http://www.wisebread.com Avoiding the Poverty Tax http://www.wisebread.com/avoiding-the-poverty-tax <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/avoiding-the-poverty-tax" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Empty_pockets_15053087.jpg" alt="Man with empty pockets" title="Man with empty pockets" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a lot of money in poverty. Not for the poor folks, of course. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/too-broke-to-be-frugal">Too Broke to be Frugal</a>)</p> <p>The money in poverty is for the rich folks who sell things to the poor. You'd think that that there'd be more money in selling to the wealthy, but the wealthy tend to be difficult customers. The poor, on the other hand, are sharply constrained in ways that make them a very profitable market segment.</p> <p>Rich folks &mdash; even middle-class folks &mdash; get a whole bunch of stuff for free, starting with free checking. They also get stuff cheap &mdash; in particular, they get low rates when they borrow. Most important, they can take advantage of deals that are unavailable to poor folks. (For example, they can get <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">huge tax-free investment returns</a> by stocking up and they can afford to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-drop-collision-coverage-on-your-car">drop collision coverage</a> on their car insurance.)</p> <p>Poor folks end up dealing with check-cashing stores, payday lenders, rent-to-own stores, pawn shops, and all the other businesses that cater to poor customers &mdash; and end up paying a lot more.</p> <p>You'd think that the shops that cater to rich folks would charge more, but that's often not true. The stores that charge the most are the small shops in poor neighborhoods with a captive market of people whose work schedules and transportation options make it impossible for them to shop elsewhere.</p> <p>Gary Rivlin, in a new book on the topic called <em>Broke, USA</em>, suggests that poverty ends up adding something like 10% to the cost of living for a poor person &mdash; it's like an extra 10% tax just for being poor.</p> <p>But (and this is the whole reason it's worth writing a post about) it's only <em>like</em> a tax. It's more accurate to analyze it as a fee &mdash; a fee charged, not on poverty itself, but on people who lack a set of skills related to running their household economy.</p> <p>Most of us here at Wise Bread have these skills. We learned them from our parents, from our parents' friends, from our peers, from books, from websites like Wise Bread, and maybe even in school. We know how to balance a check register, which means we don't pay overdraft fees and we don't end up bouncing so many checks that banks won't take our business. We know <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-better-way-to-create-a-budget">how to create a budget</a>, so deciding to go into debt is a <em>decision</em>, rather than something that just happens while you're not looking. We know how to read the literature the bank sends with the rules for the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-bank-fees">various kinds of accounts</a>.</p> <p>The fundamental skill for avoiding the poverty tax is the ability to <em>calculate the all-in cost of a particular set of choices</em>.</p> <p>For example, we can take the bank's list of account types and figure out which kind of account will give us the services we need for the lowest cost.</p> <p>Avoiding the poverty tax is simply a matter of applying that skill to the larger questions of your household economy.</p> <p>When your grocery budget is tiny, it's tough to stock up on stuff that's on sale &mdash; but it's not impossible. Start with one can of tomato paste on sale. The following week you can use that one, freeing up enough cash to buy two of something else that's on sale.</p> <p>Long before your emergency fund grows to the recommended <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">six months' spending</a>, it's large enough to save you a fortune in late fees and finance charges. (And once it's a little bigger than that, it can provide the security you need to save even more money with higher insurance deductibles.)</p> <p>The trade-offs involved in deciding to buy a car are hugely complex &mdash; balancing all the costs (financing, registration, insurance, maintenance, fuel, parking) against the savings and income made possible by the increased mobility. But identifying the key variables and their approximate magnitudes is enough to make useful comparisons. You can, for example, figure out that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">you come out ahead by living within walking distance of work</a>, even if your rent is much higher.</p> <p>Of course, just having the skill is not enough. You also have to use those insights to guide your actions. This is also made tougher by poverty. If your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-stupid-hopeless">finances are already in desperate straits</a>, it's easy to imagine that any particular error or indulgence won't make any difference.</p> <p>That's just another example of how the poverty tax ends up hitting poor folks while the wealthy don't even notice. But really, avoiding the poverty tax isn't a matter of wealth. It's a matter of skill.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoiding-the-poverty-tax">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-every-woman-can-take-control-of-her-finances">How Every Woman Can Take Control of Her Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-ways-youd-be-better-off-as-a-bum">37 Ways You’d be Better Off as a Bum</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-work-for-food-the-primal-connection-between-food-and-personal-finance">Will Work For Food: The Primal Connection Between Food and Personal Finance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance choice financial skills poverty tax Fri, 07 Oct 2011 10:24:24 +0000 Philip Brewer 732686 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tax-refund-cash_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="169" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Brought to you by </em><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;239332750;62162108;z" target="_blank"><em>TurboTax Federal Free Edition &mdash; Free to prepare, Free to print, Free to efile</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>With millions of Americans due to receive tax refunds in the coming weeks, it's worthwhile to think about what to do with that mini-windfall. After all, since refunds are somewhat unpredictable, chances are you may not have a plan in place just yet. Here are 8 ideas to get the most out of your refund this year:</p> <p><b>1. Pay Down High Interest Debt Immediately </b></p> <p>I intentionally listed this as the first priority. Whether it's 20% interest on a credit card or 9% interest on a car loan, chances are that even if you invested your refund in equities or other conventional asset classes, you wouldn't get a higher return than the reduction in high interest debt. Plus, debt write-downs are guaranteed and involve no uncertainty or volatility. As we've seen on numerous occasions, including recent events in Japan, stocks are highly volatile.</p> <p><b>2. Build an Emergency Fund </b></p> <p>This one takes a close second. Even if you have some high interest debt, if you have no emergency fund whatsoever, you need to start one right away. This isn't exactly the hottest job market. It would behoove you to plan for the unexpected. While your refund might only equate to a month or two of post-tax spending, it's better than having no buffer at all. Any calamity ranging from job loss to a medical emergency could force you to ring up more high interest credit card debt, ruin your credit, or worse. An emergency fund is there to help you sleep better at night and weather the unexpected&mdash;because life happens. Think of it as insurance and hope you never need it.</p> <p><b>3. Upgrade Your Home and Get Another Refund Next Year </b></p> <p>Fortunately, recent tax legislation included some tax credits for green initiatives and stimulus efforts for the appliance, HVAC and window industries (see&nbsp;<a href="http://www.darwinsmoney.com/energy-tax-credit-2011/" target="_blank">2011 Energy Tax Credits</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Other-Deductions-and-Credits/Video---What-Are-Energy-Tax-Credits-/INF13770.html" target="_blank">What Are Energy Tax Credits</a>&nbsp;for full details).</p> <p>While the tax credits aren't as generous as they were from 2009-2010, homeowners can still receive credits totaling several hundred dollars while realizing lower energy costs for the life of the home. Now that's &quot;reinvesting&quot; that refund.</p> <p><b>4. Start Investing </b></p> <p>If recent headlines have taught us anything, it's that market and government forces are forcing more costs onto employees by way of higher health care contributions, higher pension contributions, lower wages and in all likelihood, some reduction in future Social Security benefits. With that in mind, it's important to start investing early and be more self-reliant in your later years. By investing just a portion of every refund you greatly reduce the burden on your budget in retirement. If you're not already an experienced investor, consider focusing on a simple low-fee index mutual fund or ETF.</p> <p>Not sure how to make the best of your IRA contributions? Check out this <a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/calculators/ira/" target="_blank">IRA Tax Calculator</a> to estimate your IRA contributions.</p> <p><b>5. Save for College </b></p> <p>With college costs rising by roughly 2-3 times the rate of inflation annually, it's no surprise that even a state school education is out of reach for many American families. Realistically, we're talking over $100,000 per child in today's dollars. It's therefore important to start saving while your children are young, in either a college credit purchase plan or a self-directed investment plan.</p> <p><b>6. Start a Small Business</b></p> <p>There are so many ways to make money online these days I couldn't possibly list them all. Either online or through a particular skill set you possess, perhaps you can roll your refund into a new business. Some online examples include starting a new blog, or even buying a blog with existing traffic and income.</p> <p><b>7. Refinance</b></p> <p>Here's another opportunity to turn a few thousand dollars into years of annual savings. While interest rates had run up a bit over the past few months, they dipped again recently following the Earthquake in Japan when investors fled into Treasuries. The dip in the 10 Year bond yield drove mortgage rates back down so refinancing may be more attractive than it was just a few weeks ago. Often times, a refinance will run a few thousand dollars in closing fees, but if the monthly savings make sense, go for it!</p> <p><b>8. Enjoy Life (Experiences over Materialism)</b></p> <p>There's more to life than making and saving money. Sure, maybe it's high time you splurge and buy that iPad 2. But maybe you want to enjoy a life experience with a significant other or family. Jump on a <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10817658">Groupon</a> or LivingSocial weekend getaway. Go skydiving. Learn how to fly-fish. Plan a big surprise birthday party or anniversary getaway. With an unplanned windfall, if your finances are in order already, consider a life experience you'll take with you. Technology is obsolete within months, life experiences are forever.</p> <p>I hope those ideas got your creative juices flowing. Personally, I'm using this year's refund for 529 savings, topping off our 2010 IRA contributions and investing in our business we just started. And for you tax procrastinators out there&mdash;if you haven't even started your taxes yet and you're itching to know what your refund's going to look like, check out this <a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/calculators/taxcaster/" target="_blank">Tax Refund Calculator</a> for some instant gratification!</p> <p><em>What are your refund ideas?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darwins-money">Darwins Money</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/warning-turbotax-missing-minnesota-tax-info">Warning: TurboTax Missing Minnesota Tax Info (Updated With TurboTax Response)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-file-your-first-tax-return">How to File Your First Tax Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-tax-preparers-should-tell-you">5 Things Tax Preparers Should Tell You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes refund tax turbotax Tue, 12 Apr 2011 16:00:17 +0000 Darwins Money 517391 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/free-tax-advice-wisebread_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&rsquo;d like to update the old adage of &ldquo;nothing is certain but death or taxes,&rdquo; and clarify it to add &ldquo;&hellip;and doing those taxes will almost always be confusing.&rdquo; No matter how hard the letters &ldquo;EZ&rdquo; at the end of the simple 1040 form try to lull us into a sense that taxes can be easy-breezy, it&rsquo;s likely that while preparing your taxes, you&rsquo;ll run into a question that you just aren&rsquo;t sure how to answer.</p> <p>Thankfully, you don&rsquo;t have to wade through pages and pages of complex IRS instructions, trying to decipher the tax code all by your lonesome. Nor do you have to pay a tax professional hundreds of dollars to add and subtract every line on your tax form. If you feel confident preparing your taxes on your own and just need a little help along the way, there are several places where you can get free tax advice from experts&mdash;even the IRS itself!</p> <p>In our <a href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2011/03/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice.html">latest article on My Life Scoop</a> we checked out six places where you can get free tax advice. Here's a sneak peak at the top of the list:</p> <p><b>1. The IRS</b></p> <p>The Internal Revenue Service&mdash;what might feel like the U.S. Government&rsquo;s biggest and most threatening institution (at least to your wallet)&mdash;wants to help you. Seriously. That&rsquo;s why the IRS offers a toll-free hotline where individuals can call for answers to tax questions. Because really, who better to ask for clarification than the people who made the rules in the first place? The IRS&rsquo;s number is 1-800-829-1040, and the service is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. &ndash; 10 p.m.</p> <p>The IRS also offers free tax preparation for members of qualifying communities, including &ldquo;low-to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns&rdquo; and the elderly. More information is available on the IRS&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=107626,00.html">Free Tax Return</a> page.</p> <p><b>2. TurboTax</b></p> <p>Tax-prep software provider TurboTax offers the <a href="https://ttlc.intuit.com/">TurboTax Live Community</a>. Open to everyone&mdash;whether or not you&rsquo;re a TurboTax user&mdash;TurboTax Live allows taxpayers to post, read, and answer tax questions about both federal and state returns. Some of the questions are answered by actual TurboTax professionals, but many are answered by other users, including &ldquo;Super Users&rdquo; who are active in the community and whose answers have been highly rated by others.</p> <p>TurboTax also has a <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/login/start.jsp?priorityCode=4643800000&amp;productid=512&amp;abtest=PONHelp%3DC%26feereview%3DC%26EFSelection%3DB">free edition</a> of their online tax preparation for completing simple federal tax returns.</p> <p><b>3. H&amp;R Block</b></p> <p>Similar to TurboTax, H&amp;R Block offers an online community called <a href="http://getitright.hrblock.com/">Get It Right</a> where taxpayers can ask questions and read responses to already-answered ones. The community features several registered tax professionals who respond to users. The <a href="http://twitter.com/hrblock">H&amp;R Block Twitter feed</a> is also a source of tips and answers about common tax questions, as well as the company&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.hrblock.com/free-tax-tips-calculators/index.html">tax calculator and tips</a> section.</p> <p>H&amp;R Block offers <a href="http://www.hrblock.com/loginRedirect.html?TaxType=TCF&amp;FV=T&amp;HT=F&amp;TaxYear=2010&amp;&amp;otpPartnerId=0&amp;PartnerID=0">free simple federal filing</a>.</p> <p><b>4. Tax Blogs and Sites</b></p> <p>Several tax blogs and sites offer free advice to readers:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://taxmama.com/">Tax Mama</a> (&ldquo;tax information with a mother&rsquo;s touch&rdquo;) provides expert answers to your questions on its forums.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Tax professional and author <a href="http://ronideutch.blogspot.com/">Roni Deutch</a> (&ldquo;The Tax Lady&rdquo;) posts responses to questions she receives on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, along with other tax advice and news.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>David Greenslit, CPA, of the <a href="http://taxtipsblog.com/">Tax Tips Blog</a>, also accepts reader questions along with posting regular advice. David does note that &ldquo;Though I am busy this time of year, I&rsquo;ll see what I can do&rdquo;&mdash;basically, a response is not guaranteed.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>About.com&rsquo;s <a href="http://taxes.about.com/">Guide to Taxes</a>, William Perez, offers extensive advice and has an <a href="http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&amp;webtag=ab-taxes&amp;lgnF=y">active forum</a> for tax discussion.</li> </ul> <p>For the rest of the list, please&nbsp;<a href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2011/03/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice.html">continue reading our full article on My Life Scoop</a>.&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund">8 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-too-late-to-get-your-irs-stimulus-rebate-if-you-qualify">Not too late to get your IRS stimulus rebate--if you qualify</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what">I Lost My Tax Documents… Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-you-should-really-fear-an-irs-audit">10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes IRS tax tax advice turbotax Tue, 15 Mar 2011 16:26:35 +0000 Meg Favreau 503817 at http://www.wisebread.com How to File Your First Tax Return http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-file-your-first-tax-return <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-file-your-first-tax-return" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/student-doing-taxes.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Brought to you by <a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online/free-edition.jsp" target="_blank">TurboTax Federal Free Edition &mdash; Free to prepare, Free to print, Free to efile</a>.</i></p> <p>Filing your first tax return doesn't have to be the daunting task you've seen portrayed in the media, especially if your tax situation isn't abnormal. Although we keep hearing about how complex the tax code itself is, most Americans simply need to reconcile a few sources of income, some deductions and credits, and from there, the software or a competent tax preparer can handle the rest. Even more complex situations are becoming easier to handle with the evolution of online tax software and tax-advice sites.</p> <p>Many Americans will end up qualifying for the first-tier IRS 1040-EZ&nbsp;form. It is the quickest and easiest to complete, provided you don't have dependents (usually children), don't plan on taking a deduction for mortgage interest from a home, had income of under $100,000, and satisfy a few other requirements. (See also: <a href="http://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/taxes-101/who-can-qualify-for-free-tax-filing-with-the-form-1040ez/01312011-5037" target="_blank">Who Can Qualify for Free Tax Filing with 1040-EZ</a>)</p> <p>If this doesn't apply to you, then the next tier of complexity (still relatively simple, though) would be the 1040A, which still beats completing Form 1040. The 1040A has allowances for common tax credits and deductions.</p> <p>Don't fret if you need to complete the Form 1040, though, as that is also quite common, but just a bit more involved than the 1040-EZ and 1040A. Regardless of which camp you fall into, chances are that if this is your first tax return, it can be handled with relative ease, provided you prepared properly, retained the proper information, and are using the right medium for filing.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Forms and Documents You'll Need for Filing</h3> <p>While you'll get most of your income statements after the end of the calendar tax year, there are various pieces of documentation you'll want to be sure to save throughout the year related to deductions, credits, and other events with tax implications. Some of the most common forms and types of documents you'll need to save leading into tax season are the following:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li><b>W-2</b>: This is the tax form your employer should provide, which will outline your income (accounting for 401K and equivalent contributions) and highlight the taxes already withheld during the year.</li> </ul> <ul type="disc"> <li><b>1099-INT</b>: Any interest you earned throughout the year from the likes of savings accounts, money market accounts, and CDs will be sent to you from your bank.</li> </ul> <ul type="disc"> <li><b>1099-DIV</b>: Your mutual fund company or brokerage will send this form for any dividends paid during the year for mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, or other instruments, since dividends are taxable if held outside a retirement account like an IRA.</li> </ul> <ul type="disc"> <li><b>1098</b>: If you're a homeowner paying a mortgage, this form will dictate the mortgage-interest deduction you can take from the prior year.</li> </ul> <ul type="disc"> <li><strong>1098-E</strong>: You will receive this form from lenders if you have a student loan and paid more than $600 in interest. Use the information from the 1098-E to determine <a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/support/iq/Can-I-Claim-the-Student-Loan-Interest-Deduction-/GEN80353.html" target="_blank">whether you are eligible for student loan deductions</a>.</li> </ul> <ul type="disc"> <li><b>FSA/HSA Receipts</b>: If you participated in a Flex Savings Account or Health Savings Account, you'll want to be sure you saved receipts for qualifying health-related expenditures to ensure that you are fully reimbursed for your contributions during the year. In years past, people who had remaining funds in their Flex Savings Accounts would stock up on OTC medicines at the end of the year due to the &ldquo;use it or lose it&rdquo; provision, but OTC meds aren&rsquo;t eligible from 2011 onward. So if you&rsquo;re participating in an FSA, make sure to check on where you stand mid-year and plan expenditures accordingly.</li> </ul> <ul type="disc"> <li><b>Receipts from Charities</b>: If you made charitable contributions, save receipts related to those donations as well.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <ul type="disc"> <li><b>1099-B</b>: Gains and losses from sales of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs are common taxable events as well. These transaction records will be sent to you by your brokerage or mutual fund company.</li> </ul> <p>There are myriad other tax forms and documents, but for the majority of Americans, these documents comprise the lion&rsquo;s share of the paperwork you&rsquo;ll need to have in-hand prior to tax time. For a more exhaustive list, check out this&nbsp;<a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Planning-and-Checklists/Tax-Preparation-Checklist/INF12048.html" target="_blank">tax prep checklist</a>.</p> <h3>When to File Your Taxes</h3> <p>If you're anticipating a tax refund, you might as well jump on the activity as early in the year as possible. Personally, I have to wait a bit into the year for a special K-1 tax form that comes later in February from a Master Limited Partnership investment. But the vast majority of Americans can usually start their taxes in January each year.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darwins-money">Darwins Money</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-file-your-first-tax-return">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund">8 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-more-questionable-aspects-of-the-housing-bailout-bill">The Questionable Aspects of The Housing Bailout Bill - H.R. 3221</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-too-late-to-get-your-irs-stimulus-rebate-if-you-qualify">Not too late to get your IRS stimulus rebate--if you qualify</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes first time student tax Tue, 15 Feb 2011 16:36:09 +0000 Darwins Money 490195 at http://www.wisebread.com Optimize Your IRA and 401(k) http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/optimize-your-ira-and-401k" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/apollo-4-liftoffa.jpg" alt="Apollo 4 Liftoff" title="Apollo 4 Liftoff" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="345" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your IRA and 401(k) (or 403(b) if you work for a non-profit) are great tools for deferring taxes, and have other advantages as well. But because they're labeled &quot;retirement&quot; accounts, people are much too likely to put the wrong investments in them. Here's how to use them correctly.</p> <p>Because of rules designed to discourage people from taking money out until they approach retirement age, people assume that they ought to put their &quot;long-term&quot; investments in their 401(k). But that's the wrong way to think about it.</p> <p>The key difference in a 401(k) or IRA account is not that it's supposed to be for your retirement. The key difference is that money that goes into the account--and money earned in the account--is tax deferred. If you let the fact that the accounts are called &quot;retirement&quot; accounts influence what assets you hold in them, you're unlikely to make maximum use of their key feature--and that amounts to throwing money away.</p> <h2>Use that tax deferral!</h2> <p>There are two steps to optimizing your various retirement accounts. The first is to get some money into them, and the second is to put the right investments into the right accounts.</p> <p>First of all, you probably want to put as a big chunk of your regular income into your 401(k), as you can.</p> <p>I say &quot;probably&quot; because there are a few reasons why you might want to limit how much money you put in your 401(k):</p> <ul> <li><strong>Your income is very low</strong>. If your income is low enough that you're being taxed at 10% or less, there's a pretty good chance that you'd pay higher taxes when you take the money out of your 401(k) after retirement.</li> <li><strong>Your income is very high</strong>. Both the IRS and your company limit how much money you can tax defer if you have a very high income.</li> <li><strong>Your employer's plan is crappy</strong>. Some plans have high fees or poor choices of investments.</li> <li><strong>You want to save money outside the plan</strong>, such as because you want to use it before you're retirement age.</li> </ul> <p>Of course, if your company still provides a corporate match, that plays into the decision as well.&nbsp; I've got a post on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-not-to-put-money-in-your-401-k">when NOT to put money in your 401(k)</a> that talks about those issues in some detail. To what I'd say there I'd only add that federal income tax rates are currently at generational lows. That, combined with the current level of the deficit, suggests to me that future tax rates are likely to be higher than current tax rates--another reason why you might not want to put all your long-term savings in your 401(k).</p> <h2>Separate asset allocation from account selection</h2> <p>The allocation of assets among your various long-term goals is a completely different step from the selection of which account should hold which asset. <strong>Understanding this can add substantially to your wealth.</strong></p> <p>You probably have several long-term goals. Retirement (including early retirement) is one, but anything that requires years of saving qualifies as a long-term goal. (Examples: college savings for a young child, money to start a business, your dream home, a round-the-world cruise).</p> <p>Investments for all your long-term goals can <strong>and should be</strong> managed together. All your assets support all your goals; you just confuse yourself if you start thinking that <em>these</em> stocks are for retirement while <em>those other ones</em> are to put a new roof on the house someday.</p> <p>So, step one is to figure out your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-asset-allocation-for-your-portfolio">ideal asset allocation</a>. This probably includes putting a large fraction of your investments in a broad-based, low-cost stock index fund, but may include investments in many other asset classes: mutual funds that invest in foreign stocks or dividend-paying stocks (or direct investments in such stocks), bonds, real estate, gold, silver, other commodities, etc.</p> <p>Only after you've figured out how you want to invest your entire portfolio do you want to figure out which accounts should hold which investments.</p> <h2>Choosing compartments</h2> <p>The key to this step is to put income-earning investments in tax-deferred accounts.</p> <p>Your asset allocation may include an investment in non-dividend paying stocks. They'd be part of a long-term investment strategy whose purpose is to produce growth over the next 20 or 30 years--but just because they're long-term does not mean that they should go in your 401(k)! Quite the reverse: a non-dividend paying stock that's a core holding in your portfolio should be in your regular brokerage account. If it does well you can go on holding it for years and years and won't have to pay any taxes until you sell--and when you do sell, you'll owe taxes at the low capital-gains rate.</p> <p>Holding that investment in your retirement account would be crazy. First, since you already don't owe taxes while you're holding it, you'd get no benefit from the tax deferral. Second, when you withdraw money from a retirement account you have to pay taxes on it as regular income--losing the favorable tax treatment for capital gains.</p> <p>(It doesn't work out any better if the investment does poorly--in your regular brokerage account you can use a capital loss to offset other gains before paying taxes, but losses in a retirement account are just losses.)</p> <p>You don't want the compartment decision to drive your asset allocation--you already decided what investments you wanted to hold. But those assets should end up in compartments based on tax considerations. Interest-earning investments like bonds go in tax-deferred accounts. So do investments with frequent turnover--if you make trades in your regular brokerage account you have to pay taxes on your profits every year.</p> <p>Dividends are a special case. Currently dividends are receiving favorable tax treatment, so you're probably better off keeping most dividend-paying stocks outside of your 401(k) at the moment. This is likely to change, though, so you'll have to monitor the situation.</p> <p>If you have a good 401(k) plan with lots of low-cost fund choices, it should be easy to hit your target allocation with most of your interest-earning investments (and investments that you might trade actively) inside the plan.</p> <h2>Limitations</h2> <p>In an ideal world it would be straightforward to allocate things to the different categories: You'd put the things that earned interest into your 401(k) and IRA while keeping things that produced capital gains (and currently dividends as well) in regular accounts.</p> <p>In the real world there are a bunch of constraints on that, the biggest being that many people, especially younger folks, have practically their whole wealth concentrated in their 401(k).</p> <p>This happens almost automatically: You get a job, you direct enough money into your 401(k) to get the full corporate match (back when companies actually paid a corporate match), and then you spent most of your take-home pay. You can't hold your stock portfolio in your brokerage account (where you'd get the maximum tax advantage of the capital gains and dividend tax breaks) because you just don't have enough money outside the 401(k).</p> <p>This and similar real-world considerations are going to limit your ability to get this exactly right--and that's to be expected. The important thing is to base your asset-allocation decisions on your best analysis of your goals and your expectations for the future. Below I've got a few tips for dealing with specific situations.</p> <p>The main limitation on your ability to optimize your 401(k) plan has to do with the choices your employer offers within the plan. Happily, you can work around even a pretty mediocre plan's limitations, as long as you at least some of your long-term savings outside your 401(k).</p> <p>First, take a close look at the investment choices you've got and compare them to your desired asset allocation. Maybe there's no bond fund, but there is a balanced investment fund that's half-and-half stocks and bonds. If you wanted 20% in bonds you could get that by putting 40% of your money into the balanced fund. (That would also put 20% of your money into stocks--which is fine, as long as your stock allocation is at least 20%, which it probably is.)</p> <p>Second, where you really can't find the investments you need within the plan (no international fund, perhaps, or no gold fund) you have to cover that fraction of your asset allocation elsewhere--which is also fine, as long as you have some of your long-term investments outside the plan. If the investment is one that ought to be tax-deferred, see if you can't buy the appropriate asset within an IRA.</p> <p>Generally, make hitting your asset allocation your number one priority. Maximum tax efficiency is a secondary consideration--but to the extent that you can keep your bond investments (and any investments where you make frequent trades) inside a tax-deferred plan, you'll come out ahead.</p> <p>As a secondary matter, start saving some money outside your 401(k). As the sum grows, use it to invest for capital gains (and, for however long they remain tax-advantaged, dividends)--and simultaneously shift your 401(k) toward interest-earning investments that make maximum use of the 401(k)'s tax advantages.</p> <p>For most people this will probably be a long-term problem: Unless you become quite wealthy, your 401(k) will always be larger than the amount of money you want to hold in bonds. But that's not a big problem. Just stick with your asset allocation and emphasize capital gains and dividends outside the 401(k).</p> <h2>Using a Roth</h2> <p>A Roth IRA is a special case. If you follow the rules (wait until your Roth is 5 years old and until you're 59-and-a-half), you can avoid paying any taxes on money earned in a Roth.</p> <p>The upshot is that most of these issues don't really apply to a Roth. Just invest according to your asset allocation and don't worry about it.</p> <p>Remember that tax rates always change (and everyone's individual tax situation is different), so be sure to check and understand how the rules will actually apply in your case.</p> <p>Whatever mix of retirement accounts you end up using, don't let the fact that they're called &quot;retirement&quot; accounts distract you from the essential features that distinguish those accounts: the tax advantages. Taking maximum advantage of those features can add significantly to your wealth over the next few decades.</p> <p><em>&nbsp;[Update 6 August 2009:&nbsp; This post was included in the </em><a href="http://www.christianpf.com/famous-money-quotes-copf/"><em>Carnival of Personal Finance</em></a><em>.]</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-accounts-and-money-to-spend">Retirement accounts and money to spend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-financial-moves-you-will-always-regret">9 Financial Moves You Will Always Regret</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-despair-over-small-retirement-savings">Don&#039;t Despair Over Small Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-you-cant-postpone-planning-for-your-retirement-and-how-to-start">This Is Why You Can&#039;t Postpone Planning for Your Retirement (And How to Start)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 401(k) 401(k) plans 401k 401k plans investing investments IRA long-term Roth savings tax tax-advantaged tax-deferred taxes Wed, 29 Jul 2009 20:00:11 +0000 Philip Brewer 3442 at http://www.wisebread.com Modifiers: 5 things that change an item's final price http://www.wisebread.com/modifiers-5-things-that-change-an-items-final-price <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/modifiers-5-things-that-change-an-items-final-price" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dice_0.jpg" alt="Dice" title="Dice" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="250" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On <em>Who Wants to Be a Millionaire</em>, Regis Philbin's famous catchphrase was &quot;Is that your final answer?&quot; You should keep the same thing in mind when buying stuff, because spending a few seconds to check could <strong>save you a substantial stash of moolah</strong>.</p> <p>Not counting &quot;used&quot; (B-stock and refurbished) goods and store cards, <strong>here are 5 modifiers which affect the final price of what you</strong> <strong>buy</strong>, whether it's in person or on the Internet:</p> <h2>1. Coupons &amp; promo codes</h2> <p>How easy! Surely you've heard of these &mdash; magical slips of paper that give you a spontaneous discount at the register. Or online, it's even easier (and saves trees): just paste the code into the order form at checkout.</p> <p>Offline, there's no shortage of flyers being mailed to the point where it becomes overwhelming. If you don't already have a few favorite stores, <strong><em>focus</em> on your options and weigh not just individual item coupons, but the overall shopping experience</strong>. (It doesn't make sense to save a few cents and be let down by unhelpful staff.) Find out if you can be apprised of specials online, since they tend to be more searchable. For example, Costco has paper coupon booklets, but they (and many Costcoholics, apparently) also post them on the web, which makes them easier to find or even setup an automatic alert for. This includes big things you're waiting for the price to drop on &mdash; such as an HDTV or fridge.</p> <p>Clipping paper coupons is a time-honored art which my Mom excelled at, the details of which are beyond this article's scope. But one principle which must always be stated is: most coupons for lower-priced goods (like food) don't make much of a difference in isolation. It's in aggregate that the savings add up. However, while you can make more money, you can never make more time, so <strong>consider whether the laborious task of scouring booklets and compiling your coupons &mdash; a crimp on convenience &mdash; is worth the cost</strong>. This is highly individual and needs to meet your needs, as some people enjoy coupon-clipping as a hobby. <em>Don't knock 'em! </em></p> <p>Online, <a href="http://www.retailmenot.com/"><strong>RetailMeNot</strong></a> is essential. It's user-powered, meaning many people submit promo codes and other people vote on their accuracy. Stale/expired coupons sink into the red while hot ones rise upwards. Some vendors feel threatened by this collective knowledge so they've asked RetailMeNot to exclude them, but other companies actively participate in promos. Be skeptical, however, as they may make something look better than it actually is. That's marketing for ya.</p> <p>Always look out for <strong>stackable coupons</strong>. Some deals mavens have mastered combining them, such as:</p> <ul> <li>a time-unlimited $50 off +</li> <li>a one-week special which removes a further $25 +</li> <li>extra 10% off if you buy 2.</li> </ul> <p>The math can get confusing, but don't let that deter you from savings, because web checkout forms usually assist with calculations.</p> <h2>2. Cashback</h2> <p>Cashback often comes in the form of: you need to sign up, then click on a special link which tracks you when you buy something. Then, after an elapsed amount of time (so the participating company can reap a net profit), you get your cash back (literally). Under this are all manner of economic and social complexities, such as partner sites receiving commission payments.</p> <p>Cashback tends to be smaller amounts like 2-10% and there are many flavors &mdash; <a href="http://www.fatwallet.com/"><strong>FatWallet</strong></a> is one of the more popular sites to have strategically turned cashbacking into a community &mdash; but there are occasional jackpots. For instance, eBay's Buy It Now thru Microsoft Live Search once <a href="http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?t=846962">rose as high as 35%</a> (!), and while I missed out on that, the cashback amount was at a still-respectable 25% when I opted for some pricey music gear. I ended up saving myself over $600 (it took a rolling 60 days to receive all my money after the orders had taken place).</p> <p>One downside of cashback programs, including the eBay-Microsoft one: at-face prices may be inflated slightly or hugely, so <strong>be careful the cashback doesn't merely reduce the price to its usual parity</strong>.</p> <p>Like coupons, take advantage of compound savings whenever possible: there've been a few times where I didn't just stack coupons, there was also cashback, sweetening the deal further. And sometimes there are rebates on top of that.</p> <h2>3. Rebates</h2> <p>Rebates come in different flavors, but they all have one thing in common: motivating you to take action (buy!) when you might normally not be so interested.</p> <p>MIR stands for Mail-In Rebate, another way of enticing you to buy an item with a lower final cost, but you need to wait weeks, or even months to get a check in the mail as compensation. If money is tight <em>today</em>, be sure to factor that in. The waiting game can be tense and rebate programs often have strict rules, such as how your claim form is filled out, and what you need to include from the original packaging &mdash; commonly both a copy of the receipt and original UPC (bar code). Let me assure you, it sucks to go through that trouble, miss out one detail, and receive a rejection letter instead of money. Some rebate programs are shady and unresponsive, so search for others who've dealt with certain companies before.</p> <p>This is why I prefer instant rebates &mdash; just like a coupon, but even easier, because it's automatically applied at checkout. All you have to do is buy. Ah, consumerism.</p> <h2>4. Shipping</h2> <p><strong>Don't be fooled by &quot;free shipping&quot;. It sounds tasty but often isn't true, as the cost is eaten up by a premium on the item itself.</strong> This applies everywhere from Amazon to eBay to Zappos.</p> <p>But it's also true some places have substantially better shipping deals than others, all costs considered. Some may spur you to buy over a certain amount, e.g., &quot;All orders over $99 get free ground shipping&quot;. This is tied to the economy of scale, since it takes about the same time to process most orders, but if you have a more expensive order, you (or at least your money) are viewed as more valuable to the company's bottom line.</p> <p>In those cases, if your order is close to the minimum for free shipping, it may make sense to buy a small, sub-$10 item (also known as a &quot;<a href="http://www.filleritem.com/">filler</a>&quot;) to push you over the limit. But <strong>don't force yourself to buy more than you actually need</strong>, 'cuz then you won't be saving at all.</p> <p>I previously wrote, &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-worth-paying-more-for-faster-shipping">Is it worth paying more for faster shipping?</a>&quot;. Check it out if you'd like related info.</p> <h2>5. Tax</h2> <p>Death and taxes may be certain, but at least you have a say in controlling the eventuality of the latter &mdash; like <strong>not paying sales tax if you order from out-of-state</strong>. After <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-mac-minis-beware-small-gains-at-a-big-price">writing about the Mac mini for Wise Bread</a>, I found out <a href="http://www.powermax.com/">PowerMax</a>, located one state to the south in Oregon, wouldn't ding me for $75 sales tax unlike Apple's own store. Sales tax becomes even more prohibitive on expensive orders: with high-end electronics, it easily runs into the hundreds of dollars.</p> <p>The point here isn't to deprive the government, but make the smartest decision based on what's legal and available. Be resourceful like MacGyver.</p> <h2>The most important lesson I've learned about modifiers...</h2> <p>is <strong>don't get excited until <em>you</em> see the final price</strong>. So often, I've thought &quot;That sounds like a bargain!&quot; but by the time I get to the register, all these additional hits, surcharges, and in the case of airlines, hidden costs have added up and stabbed me in the side.</p> <p>Online, don't be afraid to do a simulation by adding items to your cart and rushing to the checkout to see what it really costs. Some stores add additional friction (whether by dumb design or accident) and require you to signup for account &mdash; in which case, if you're understandably concerned about your privacy and getting spammed, have an alternate email address on hand to test the waters.</p> <p>If you're new to this, the first few times of keeping the above 5 modifiers and other elements straight can be confusing. But persist, know what you want, and <strong>get it at a better price than you originally thought possible</strong>.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your fave modifiers? Have a modifier that I missed? Share your knowledge with us!</em></strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/modifiers-5-things-that-change-an-items-final-price">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-awesome-art-of-getting-great-deals-online">The Awesome Art of Getting Great Deals Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-little-known-amazon-shopping-hacks">5 Little Known Amazon Shopping Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-sweet-spot-when-buying-electronics">How to find the sweet spot when buying electronics</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-worth-paying-more-for-faster-shipping">Is it worth paying more for faster shipping?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/simple-ways-to-shop-around">Simple Ways to Shop Around</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Amazon cashback costco coupon eBay fatwallet modifier powermax promo rebate retailmenot shipping tax Zappos Sun, 22 Mar 2009 14:29:46 +0000 Torley Wong 2950 at http://www.wisebread.com Not too late to get your IRS stimulus rebate--if you qualify http://www.wisebread.com/not-too-late-to-get-your-irs-stimulus-rebate-if-you-qualify <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/not-too-late-to-get-your-irs-stimulus-rebate-if-you-qualify" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/irs-gov-art_0.jpg" alt="IRS.gov" title="IRS" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="186" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A lot of taxpayers missed out on getting their IRS economic stimulus rebate last year, even though they qualified.&nbsp; If you're one of them, you'll be glad to know that there's a way to get your check.</p> <p>There seem to be two big reasons people didn't get the payment they should have. Some people made a mistake on their tax return, such as an incorrect Social Security number for a dependent--and according to IRS rules, that disqualified them. Other people qualified for the payment last year, but wouldn't have qualified the previous year--but the IRS used your previous year's tax return to decide whether to send a check or not.</p> <p>Whether it was for one of those two reasons or some other, if you qualified for a tax rebate last year, but didn't get one--or didn't get the full amount--you can fix it when you file your taxes this year.</p> <p>The details are on these two IRS pages:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=186065,00.html?portlet=7">Recovery Rebate Credit Information Center</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=201641,00.html">Questions and Answers about the Recovery Rebate Credit</a></li> </ul> <p>The gist of the matter, though, is that you can figure out what the stimulus payment should have been, based on correct information and your actual status for 2008. If you got some stimulus money, but not the full amount, you subtract off the partial amount--but whatever stimulus you qualified for, but didn't get, goes on your return as a credit, and will be added to your refund (or deducted from whatever you owe).</p> <p>Of course, if you didn't qualify for a stimulus payment, this doesn't help. But if you qualified, but didn't get the full payment you should have gotten, now you can fix it.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-too-late-to-get-your-irs-stimulus-rebate-if-you-qualify">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Bush&#039;s economic stimulus package; What will you get back?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-you-should-really-fear-an-irs-audit">10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what">I Lost My Tax Documents… Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes IRS rebate rebate check stimulus stimulus check tax Wed, 14 Jan 2009 19:20:04 +0000 Philip Brewer 2745 at http://www.wisebread.com The Questionable Aspects of The Housing Bailout Bill - H.R. 3221 http://www.wisebread.com/the-more-questionable-aspects-of-the-housing-bailout-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-more-questionable-aspects-of-the-housing-bailout-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/caution.jpg" alt="Caution Tape" title="Caution Tape" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In my last article I wrote <a href="/seller-funded-down-payment-assistance-charities-scammers-or-saints" target="_blank">about the one aspect</a> of the $300 billion dollar housing bailout that I thought made sense, but the full text of the bill known as H.R. 3221 is over 700 pages so it is too complex to discuss in any one blog post. Today I shall highlight some of the more questionable and even dangerous aspects of the bill.</p> <p><strong>Loose underwriting standards for troubled homeowners</strong> - In a section called &quot;Flexible Underwriting Criteria&quot;, the bill states that The Oversight Board will &quot;ensure that each mortgagor under a mortgage insured under this section has a reasonable expectation of repaying the mortgage, taking into consideration the mortgagor&#39;s income, assets, liabilities, payment history, and other applicable criteria, but which shall not result in a denial of insurance solely on the basis of the mortgagor&#39;s current FICO or other credit scores, or any delinquency or default by the mortgagor under the existing mortgage or mortgages, or any case filed under title 11, United States Code, by the mortgagor.&quot; Basically it says that a troubled homeowner can still qualify for a new government insured loan despite bad credit and past financial mistakes. This is encouraging for those truly trying to get out of their real estate nightmares, but I imagine it will probably result in more defaults because some financially irresponsible people just never change. When those second defaults come in, tax payers will have to eat more loan losses.</p> <p><strong>Revenue recovery through home sale profits</strong> - According to Section 257 of the bill, if the FHA gives a loan to a troubled homeowner then the FHA is entitled to an exit premium. This means that when the homeowner sells the home and makes a profit the FHA can collect all or a portion of the profits. The FHA is entitled to 100% of any profits realized within one year, 80% of any profit realized within two years, 60% of any profit realized within three years, and 50% of any profit thereafter. I can see a lot of ways to get around this provision. For example, sellers and buyers can work out a deal where it looks like the seller is not making a profit, but in actuality the buyer gives the seller cash in the form of a &quot;gift&quot;. It also does not seem clear how they will collect these profits.</p> <p><strong>Credit card and other payment processors must report transactions to the IRS </strong>- At first glance, I thought that it was strange this is in this housing bill. Apparently, the government believes that if all credit card and other monetary transactions such as PayPal are reported they are likely to receive more tax revenues. Groups and consumers concerned with privacy are very wary of this provision because many small business owners use their own Social Security Numbers as a tax ID. See more information <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&amp;">in this article from Computer World</a> .</p> <p><strong>More tax credits and deductions for homeowners</strong> - There are over 60 sections in this bill related to various different tax incentives. One section describes the $7500 first time homeowner tax credit that I discussed a while back <a href="/more-tax-credits-coming-for-homebuyers">in this article.</a> Another section allows an additional standard deduction on the federal tax return for filers who do not itemize for their local property tax. The additional deduction is $350 for an individual filer or $700 for a joint return so the impact should not be very big. As I said in my previous article, I think there are enough tax credits for homeowners already.</p> <p><strong>The Treasury gets a blank check to maintain Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae</strong> - The Treasury is given the authority to buy stocks and debt in these two giant Government Sponsored Enterprises in order to keep them afloat. In short, taxpayer money will be used to cover losses Freddie and Fannie incurred. This is pretty irresponsible considering that most tax payers did not benefit from Freddie and Fannie financially when their stocks were darlings of Wall Street. Now that these companies are falling down it is the taxpayers that have to pay for the damage.</p> <p><strong>The national debt limit is raised by $800 billion</strong> - All I have to say is, why do they even bother with a limit if they intend to spend and borrow as much as they can? This increase brings the debt ceiling to $10.6 trillion, and that is equivalent to about 75% of America&#39;s gross domestic product. This will probably devalue the dollar as America becomes a more risky place for investment. </p> <p>The Senate is set on voting for this bill this week and President Bush has backed off from saying that he would veto this bill so most likely it will pass. I think this bill will be very costly to every tax paying American resident. It could also have the effect of artificially propping up home prices because lenders will probably jump at the chance of getting whatever they can from the government rather than going through a long and painful foreclosure process. If the government&#39;s agenda is to advance affordable housing, then this bill is not the answer.<br /><strong><br /><em>What do you think of this complex and far reaching bill? Do you think it will help Americans or backfire in a horrible way?</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-more-questionable-aspects-of-the-housing-bailout-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-the-new-home-appraisal-rules-good-for-consumers">Are the new home appraisal rules good for consumers?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8000-housing-tax-credit-can-now-be-turned-into-cash-at-closing-according-to-fha">$8000 housing tax credit can now be turned into cash at closing according to FHA</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seller-funded-down-payment-assistance-charities-scammers-or-saints">Seller Funded Down Payment Assistance Charities - Scammers or Saints?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light">Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-check-if-your-mortgage-statement-is-correct">How to check if your mortgage statement is correct</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing Taxes housing.real estate laws tax united states Thu, 24 Jul 2008 23:05:15 +0000 Xin Lu 2264 at http://www.wisebread.com Bush's economic stimulus package; What will you get back? http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/345829246_a7434a76dc.jpg" alt="Tax calc" title="Tax calc" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="184" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As you’re no doubt aware, President Bush has created an economic stimulus package in the hopes of stalling the impending recession (or if you believe some, depression) that’s on the horizon. It’s not approved yet, but it has already passed its first major hurdle – The House Of Representatives approved the $146 billion dollar deal. Want to know how much you&#39;ll get?</p> <blockquote><p><em>The chamber – by an overwhelming majority of 385 to 35 – approved sending tax rebate checks of up to $600 per person and $1,200 per married couple, plus an additional $300 for each child.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>The checks could be in the mail as early as May. But what does this mean for you? I mean, that’s some fairly vague information. I hate the words “up to” because if I give you “up to $10” I could in fact give you a dime and not be lying. </p> <p>I did some digging around the news sites, the BBC, government blogs and so forth and have put together a quick check-list of what you will most likely get back. It’s not concrete as the bill hasn’t been through the entire system yet. </p> <p>In essence, the stimulus package removes the 10% tax bracket currently in place. Of course, if it were that simple we’d all be a lot happier. There are phase-outs baked into the plan that start deducting from your rebate check. But to be honest, the people that will affect most won’t really care as they’re already earning a very healthy sum of money. </p> <p>The system works in two stages. First, you figure out just how much you can get back. Then, you calculate the benefit reductions based on salary. </p> <p><strong>First, let’s see what singles could get back.</strong></p> <p> <em>Earnings                                         Rebate</em> <p>$3,000 or less                                A big fat zero. <br />$3,000 or more, paid no taxes       $300.<br />$3,000 or more, paid taxes            $600.<br />Have children?                               $300 per child</p> <p>Now, the reductions.<br />It’s fairly simple math. Once you earn over $75,000, your check is reduced by 5% per $1000 above the $75k threshold. After $87k, you get nothing. Here are some rough examples.</p> <p>Single person earning $50k a year with 2 children = $1200<br />Single person earning $80k a year with 1 child = $675 ($900 - $225)<br />Single person earning $90k a year with no children = $0</p> <p><strong>Couples get the same treatment, </strong>only everything is doubled to take into account the two people in the household:</p> <p><em>Earnings                                         Rebate</em> </p> <p>$3,000 or less                                A big fat zero. <br />$3,000 or more, paid no taxes       $600.<br />$3,000 or more, paid taxes            $1200.<br />Have children?                               $300 per child</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And the reductions.</em><br />Once again, simple math. Once couples earn over $150k, the check is reduced by 5% per $1000 above the $150k threshold. After $174k, you get nothing. </p> <p>I found these further examples, all based on the 2007 filing period. </p> <p>A couple with no children, with adjusted gross income of $100,000:<br />$1,200 couples rebate. <strong>A $1,200 rebate.<br /></strong><br />A couple with income of $145,000, with three children: <br />$1,200 for the couple, plus $300 for each child. <strong>A $2,100 rebate</strong>.</p> <p>A couple with income of $160,000 with two children: <br />$1,200 for the couple plus $300 per child — BUT would go down by 50 percent (5% for every $1000 over the $150 threshold). <strong>A $900 rebate.</strong></p> <p>A couple with income of $200,000 and four children: <br />Disqualified, income exceeded $174,000. <strong>No rebate.</strong></p> <p>There are other aspects to the bill that I’m not covering here, including mortgage relief. But there is another important message here. The government wants you to SPEND THIS REBATE. </p> <p>It’s a stimulus package, and thus they want the money to go straight back into the cash registers of businesses far and wide. The problem I see with that is that in a time of record debt and no savings, how fiscally responsible is it of the government to tell us to spend our rebate? Isn’t over-spending the reason we got into this mess anyway? I’m sure economists out there will set me straight.</p> <p>Still, there you have it. A touch more clarification, I hope it helps. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bushs-economic-stimulus-package-what-will-you-get-back">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-stimulus-check-is-on-its-way">Your stimulus check is on its way!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-marriage-penalty-of-taxes-in-america-how-does-it-affect-you">The &quot;marriage penalty&quot; of taxes in America - how does it affect you?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-the-election-could-impact-your-wallet">Here&#039;s How the Election Could Impact Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Taxes Bush check Economy president rebate tax taxes Wed, 30 Jan 2008 23:21:22 +0000 Paul Michael 1705 at http://www.wisebread.com Save $5 or more on your Verizon wireless bill http://www.wisebread.com/save-5-or-more-on-your-verizon-wireless-bill <p><img width="233" height="204" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/razor.jpg" alt=" " /></p> <p>Consumerist covered this a while back, but I'm just confirming its value after having tried it out.</p> <p>You can lower your cell phone bill by moving your cell phone to a state with lower taxes (unless, of course, you already live in said state). Nevada, thanks to it's gaming industry, has really low taxes - 1.14% for cell phones. As an aside, I'd like to mention that if you are road tripping, stock up on booze in Las Vegas. Not only can you buy large amounts of hard liquor at Costco, but the taxes are so low that they feel non-existent.</p> <p>A few things to note: I use Verizon and don't know if this works with any other service. I don't know if Verizon will wise up to this and prevent people from doing it in the future, or if they even care. You have to use <strong>a valid Nevada address</strong>. Also, see below about my experience versus my boyfriend's experience.</p> <p>Now, from <a href="http://consumerist.com/consumer/nevada/move-your-cell-phone-to-nevada-for-tax-purposes-242347.php">Consumerist</a>:</p> <blockquote><p class="blockquote">Apparently, Verizon ties 3 addresses to your account which can all be different. There's your BILLING address, YOUR address and your CELLPHONE'S address. The tax rate is tied to where your CELLPHONE resides which can be completely arbitrary for all they care.</p> </blockquote> <p>My boyfriend's parents live in Las Vegas, so he changed his cell phone's address to their address. I did the same. The next month, his bill was $10 lower (he has a family plan and pays for several phone lines, so his bill is high to begin with), whereas my phone bill was the same.</p> <p>So, I called Verizon again and tried to figure out why that had happened. The address change had taken, and my cell phone's address was in Las Vegas. I hemmed and hawed about my concerns, not wanting to come right out and say that I wanted lower taxes. The rep figured out what I was up to, and to my surprise and delight, helped me out by telling me that since I have paperless (online) billing, I can change ALL of my addresses to the Las Vegas one. For Verizon, your billing address for your phone does't have to match the billing address on the credit card that you pay the bill with.</p> <p>Yipee! So I changed all of my addresses to Las Vegas. And saved about $5 per bill. It's not a lot, but it's a latte.</p> <p><em>(Picture by </em><a href="http://www.morguefile.com/forum/profile.php?username=spiroll"><em>Elizabeth Stafford</em></a><em>)</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-5-or-more-on-your-verizon-wireless-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/modifiers-5-things-that-change-an-items-final-price">Modifiers: 5 things that change an item&#039;s final price</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/never-go-shopping-unless-youre-armed-with-a-cell-phone">Never go shopping unless you&#039;re armed with a cell phone.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cell-phone-relief">Cell Phone Relief</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-digital-food-scales">The 5 Best Digital Food Scales</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping cell phone save tax Fri, 20 Apr 2007 16:33:41 +0000 Andrea Karim 537 at http://www.wisebread.com