tax deductions http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3543/all en-US Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-506317138 (1).jpg" alt="Making money moves before applying for a mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Each year, millions of people apply for a mortgage and purchase a home. This, however, shouldn't convince you that getting a home loan is a piece of cake. In reality, a mortgage is one of the hardest loans to qualify for. But if you make these money moves before meeting with a lender, you can swing the odds in your favor.</p> <h2>1. Pay off debt</h2> <p>Getting approved for a mortgage doesn't require zero debt, but the more you currently owe, the harder it can be to qualify for a desired amount.</p> <p>To avoid any roadblocks along the way, come up with a clearsighted plan to pay off as much of your debt as possible, especially <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit card debt</a>. A high <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a> &mdash; which is your credit card balance compared to your credit limit &mdash; can lower your credit score and make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage or trigger a higher mortgage interest rate.</p> <p>As a personal goal, keep credit card balances below 30 percent of your credit limit. To attain this, stop using cards and pay more than your minimums every month. Also, ask creditors to lower your interest rate. If you can pay less interest, you'll reduce the principal faster.</p> <p>Take it a step further and make higher monthly payments on other types of debts as well, such as a car loan, student loan, etc. This is to your advantage because the less expenses you have, the easier it'll be to adjust to a mortgage payment.</p> <h2>2. Determine what you're comfortable spending</h2> <p>Your mortgage lender decides an affordable amount based on your income and existing debt. Still, it helps to have an idea of what <em>you </em>are comfortable spending on a house before meeting with a bank. Typically, banks allow borrowers to spend between 28 percent and 31 percent of their gross monthly income on a mortgage payment.</p> <p>Do the math and calculate 31 percent of your gross monthly income, and then review your budget to see if you can realistically afford this amount on a monthly basis. After determining a comfortable monthly payment, use a mortgage calculator to estimate the maximum you can borrow based on the desired payment range.</p> <h2>3. Devise a savings plan</h2> <p>Qualifying for a mortgage entails money &mdash; lots of it. Not just money for the monthly payment, but also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash for a down payment</a> (between 3.5 percent and 20 percent of the home's value), plus there's the cost of closing. These fees can run up to 5 percent of the purchase price.</p> <p>Even if you can afford a house payment at a certain price point, you'll only qualify for a particular amount if you have enough in reserves for mortgage-related fees. Let's say you want to purchase a $300,000 house. Your income may show an ability to afford the monthly payment. But if you only have $7,500 in savings for a down payment, instead of the required $10,500 (assuming you get an FHA home loan), you can't purchase the home. You then have two options &mdash; purchase a cheaper home, or postpone buying until you save additional cash.</p> <p>Once you have an idea of how much you'll spend on a property, devise a plan to save for your down payment and closing costs. Based on your amount of disposable income each month and your desired time frame for purchasing a property, decide how much to save. Keep this money in a designated high-yield savings account.</p> <h2>4. Pay your bills on time</h2> <p>There are no hard rules regarding how many late payments a lender allows within 12 or 24 months before applying for a home loan. If there are late payments on your recent credit history, it's up to your lender to calculate the risk level and determine whether you're creditworthy. To do this, some lenders request an explanation to assess whether lateness was due to irresponsibility or circumstances beyond a borrower's control. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <p>Either way, late payments in your recent history can result in a higher interest rate, which means you'll pay more for your home loan in the long run. Therefore, aim to pay all your bills on time. If you often forget due dates, set up recurring or automatic monthly payments.</p> <h2>5. Shop around for lenders</h2> <p>According to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 47 percent of homebuyers don't compare mortgage lenders when applying for a home loan. What's even more surprising, 77 percent apply to only one lender at all. It might seem convenient to get this step out of the way ASAP, but it just doesn't make smart financial sense.</p> <p>When you're ready to apply for a home loan, you need to do research and shop around. Don't just settle for the first mortgage lender who approves you. You might be eager to get the process underway, but be patient. The first person to give you the green light might not be offering the lowest interest rates (or charging the lowest fees), which could mean the difference between thousands of dollars. Maybe they're just not the right fit for you, or they don't take the time to really earn your business. You won't know unless you compare, and that step can save you a lot of stress (and money) down the line. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage">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/5-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-home-when-youre-single">5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home When You&#039;re Single</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/do-you-really-need-a-20-percent-down-payment-for-a-house">Do You Really Need a 20 Percent Down Payment for a House?</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/3-ways-student-loan-debt-can-affect-your-mortgage-application">3 Ways Student Loan Debt Can Affect Your Mortgage Application</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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</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/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a home credit history credit score debt repayment down payments home loans mortgages saving money tax deductions Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:30:21 +0000 Mikey Rox 1908934 at http://www.wisebread.com Can I Write It Off as Charity? http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-482607478.jpg" alt="Woman learning if she can write it off as charity" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A family member of mine has won some pretty sweet prizes through charity raffles. They have won tablets, and even a huge flat screen TV. When I asked them their secret, they said that they buy a lot of tickets, since raffle tickets are tax-deductible.</p> <p>But wait. Is buying raffle tickets through a charity event really something you can write off on your taxes, especially when you get to take home a prize worth more than $500?</p> <p>In short, no. More on that in a minute.</p> <p>Just because you give money to what you consider to be a good cause, doesn't mean the IRS considers it tax deductible.</p> <p>Here is a quick guide to what you can and cannot write off as charitable deductions.</p> <h2>1. Charity Balls and Fundraiser Buys</h2> <p>Many charities and churches sell fundraiser items, such as gift certificates, cookbooks, or other merchandise. You might think buying such products is considered a charitable contribution. But it's not in the eyes of the tax man. The IRS says that you cannot claim a tax deduction if you <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/eight-tips-for-deducting-charitable-contributions" target="_blank">exchanged money for goods</a>. &quot;If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, tickets to a ballgame, or other goods and services, then you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received,&quot; according to the webpage.</p> <p>This means that if you paid $120 for a $100 massage gift certificate in the name of charity, then you can only write off $20 as a donation. For charity balls, many times the organization will tell you if you can write off a portion of your ticket. However, you must deduct the fair-market cost of your meal, venue, and entertainment from the ticket cost &mdash; even though the charity may have paid little or nothing for those expenses. In many cases, once you subtract those costs from your ticket price, there is nothing left for you to write off.</p> <p>So, if you really don't want that cookbook or a night at a charity event, but you want to donate and get a tax exemption, then donate money instead. If you donate cash or a check, make sure you get a receipt. You can also donate online to many organizations with a credit card, which will give you the proper documentation for tax purposes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-that-give-back-to-charity?ref=internal" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards That Give Back to Charity</a>)</p> <h2>2. Raffle Tickets<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Do not make the same mistake my relative made. The IRS guide to charitable contributions specifically states that you <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf" target="_blank">cannot write off</a> any raffle tickets, lottery tickets, or bingo games purchased for charity. This is true whether you win something or not.</p> <p>In fact, these raffle tickets are considered a bet, and you can write it off as a <em>gambling loss</em> deduction. However, you can only write off a gambling loss if you also report gambling winnings that same year. Gambling losses are only deductible up to the amount of gambling winnings, and must be reported on an IRS Form 1040.</p> <h2>3. Race or Walk Donations<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Participants in a charity walk or race cannot write-off the entry fee. This is because you are paying to participate in the run or event. If you were to do a non-charity walk or racing event, you would still pay an entry fee.</p> <p>If you donate money to an event like a cancer walk, not counting the entry fee, you can write it off because this is considered a straight donation. However, it is important to have proper documentation of your donation. Online donations are the easiest way to track your contributions and ensure your money goes directly to the organization.</p> <h2>4. Promised Donations or Pledges</h2> <p>Many charities hold pledge drives or allow individuals to sign up to give a certain amount of money each month. You cannot write off promised donations or pledges that you have not yet fulfilled. For example, if I signed up with Charity A to give $50 a month for a year in November 2016, I cannot claim that I donated $600 to the charity. Instead, I will only be able to write off $100 worth, for November and December. Only the actual money that's left your hands is deductible.</p> <h2>5. Political Donations<strong> </strong></h2> <p>No matter who you voted for in the 2016 history-making election, you cannot write off any contributions you made to that party. This applies to all elections, not just the presidential vote. If you gave money to political organizations, you cannot write it off. Period. This rule applies to groups that lobby for law changes, as well.</p> <h2>6. Donated Time or Blood<strong> </strong></h2> <p>No, you cannot write off donated time or blood, but thank you for doing so. Your generosity here won't lower your tax bill, but it will make a difference.</p> <h2>7. Donated Frequent Flyer Miles</h2> <p>Donating miles is a great way to make sure they get used for a good cause. However, you cannot write off your donation of miles. The IRS views your miles as a coupon or bonus discount. In the same tune, if you paid for a business trip or a trip for medical reasons with frequent flyer miles, you would not be able to write off the trip as a business or medical expense. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-sell-or-donate-your-airline-miles?ref=internal" target="_blank">6 Ways to Sell or Donate Your Airline Miles</a>)</p> <h2>8. Donated Clothing or Household Items</h2> <p>Donating unused items to Goodwill and other charities is a great way to clean out your closet or garage, and get a small tax kickback to boot. However, you are only allowed to deduct the fair market value of the item. For example, if you donated a designer purse that you paid $1,000 for, you cannot write off $1,000. Instead, you would need to claim the resale or eBay value of the item, which might only be $400.</p> <p>There are a few apps that make tracking donations easier. <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/itsdeductible/" target="_blank">Turbotax's ItsDeductible </a>app allows you to track donations and will help you figure out the value of the item that you can write off. <a href="https://www.taxact.com/support/766/2016/donation-assistant" target="_blank">Donation Assistant Through TaxAct</a> allows you to take photos of items you donate and receipts to stay on track all year long.</p> <h2>Make Sure Your Charities Are Truly Charities</h2> <p>It is important to make sure that you donate to charities that are eligible for tax write-offs. The charity must fall under section 501(c) (3) of the tax code. Don't assume that all nonprofits fit under the charity guidelines. When in doubt, ask the charity for their tax ID number for deduction purposes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away</a>)</p> <p>Generally, donations to organizations that are considered public charities are tax-deductible. The IRS classifies most churches, hospitals, qualified medical research organizations affiliated with hospitals, schools, colleges, and universities as public charities. The IRS also allows you to <a href="https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/search-for-charities" target="_blank">search organizations</a> that qualify to receive a tax-deductible contribution on its site.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity">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/cleaning-out-for-a-cause-make-a-noncash-tax-deductible-donation">Cleaning Out for a Cause: Make a Noncash Tax-Deductible Donation</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/you-should-make-these-11-easy-donations-before-time-runs-out">You Should Make These 11 Easy Donations Before Time Runs Out</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/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</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/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill">7 Last-Minute Ways to Cut Your 2016 Tax Bill</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/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes 501(c) (3) charitable donations charity donating giving tax deductions write offs Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:30:37 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1889190 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Last-Minute Ways to Cut Your 2016 Tax Bill http://www.wisebread.com/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tax_time_clock_170171888.jpg" alt="Finding last-minute ways to cut your tax bill" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before you know it another tax season will be upon us. Do your wallet a favor and score all the deductions you can with these last-minute ways to reduce your bill in 2016.</p> <h2>1. Investment Account Balancing</h2> <p>Year-end investment account balancing is a no-brainer. If you have a taxable investment account, you should review your transactions for the year to see if you're in a net capital gain situation. If you are &mdash; says Jacob Dayan, co-founder of tax-relief service Community Tax &mdash; find some losing positions that will offset the gains and liquidate them by the last business day of December.</p> <p>&quot;If you wish to remain invested in these assets long-term, you can buy them back after 30 days,&quot; he adds. &quot;Note that this strategy also works in reverse, with one difference. If you sell a net-gain position, you don't have to wait 30 days to buy it back. In either case, if you have positions involving multiple purchases over time, identify the specific assets you want to liquidate by purchase transaction to give you the greatest tax benefit.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Charitable Donations</h2> <p>'Tis the season to give unto others &mdash; if only for the tax breaks. You have until the end of the year to make charitable donations that will count toward your 2016 contributions for tax purposes.</p> <p>&quot;All charitable donations made to qualifying organizations before December 31 will count toward your 2016 deduction, as long as you itemize your deductions,&quot; says Pennsylvania-based certified public accountant William Ray. &quot;Deductions are generally limited to 50% of your adjusted gross income, although additional restrictions may apply for those in higher income brackets. You may also deduct the current fair market value &mdash; not your original cost &mdash; of noncash contributions made to qualifying organizations. Certain noncash contributions may require additional support or an appraisal, so you should review <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf">IRS Publication 526</a> before claiming noncash contributions.&quot;</p> <p>It's also important to track your volunteer time.</p> <p>Ray adds, &quot;Although you cannot make a deduction for your time, you may claim a deduction for any mileage driven using your personal vehicle ($0.14 per mile) and any out of pocket expenses that are not reimbursed. As is the case with any deduction, documentation and support should always be maintained for all contributions.&quot;</p> <p>Financial planner Andy Yadro details another option for end-of-year giving.</p> <p>&quot;Consider contributing to a donor-advised fund,&quot; he suggests. &quot;You get an immediate tax benefit and your money can be invested with potential to grow. This is a great last minute option for someone who wants to make a donation, but hasn't decided which charity it should go to.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Max Out Retirement Contributions</h2> <p>Were you fortunate enough to get a holiday bonus? Use it to top of your tax-deferred retirement accounts such as an IRA. Even better, kick in a few extra dollars from your regular paycheck. You'll boost your savings while reducing your taxable income. However, be aware of the contribution limits for both types of retirement account.</p> <p>&quot;If you or your spouse are not covered by a retirement plan through your employer, you're both eligible to contribute up to $5,500 each to an IRA ($6,500 if you are over age 50),&quot; Ray says. &quot;You may be eligible to make a contribution, even if you are covered by a retirement plan through your employer, depending on your income.&quot;</p> <p>You also have until April 15, 2017, to make this contribution and still have it count toward your 2016 taxes. However, it's highly recommended that you do not file your tax return until you make the contribution. If you claim the deduction but cannot pay, you'll need to file an amended tax return by April 15, 2017, or pay penalties and interest.</p> <h2>4. Pay Your State or Local Income Tax Bill Early</h2> <p>If you itemize deductions, you can claim a deduction for state income taxes paid during the calendar year. This includes any amounts paid for your 2015 tax liability that were paid in calendar year 2016.</p> <p>&quot;If you consistently owe taxes on your state or local tax returns, paying them early can result in immediate federal tax savings,&quot; Ray explains. &quot;States and localities allow you to make estimated tax payments or prepayments at any time during the year. If you make a payment before December 31, 2016, that payment can be deducted on your 2016 federal tax return. But be careful of overpaying. If you overpay and receive a state or local income tax refund, you will need to claim that as income on your 2017 federal tax return.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Make January's Mortgage Payment in December</h2> <p>One of the joys of homeownership is taking advantage of the various tax breaks the government provides. The biggest of these is the mortgage interest deduction. If you can spare the extra cash, consider making your January 2017 mortgage payment before the end of the year. You'll be able to deduct the mortgage interest on your 2016 tax form. Don't get greedy here, though. Tax law generally prohibits taking annual deductions on &quot;prepaid interest,&quot; so you won't be able to pay February's mortgage bill and claim that for 2016, too. For more on the tax advantages of homeownership, see the <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-are-tax-benefits-homeownership">Tax Policy Center's analysis</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip?ref=seealso">4 Tax Deductions New Home Owners Shouldn't Skip</a>)</p> <h2>6. Review Your Health Coverage</h2> <p>If you're covered by a high-deductible health plan, you may qualify for a Health Savings Account (HSA) and contribute $3,350 ($6,750 for a family) to the plan &mdash; all of it tax-deductible.</p> <p>&quot;Many employers now offer high-deductible health plans, meaning employees often have to pay thousands toward a deductible before their health coverage kicks in,&quot; Ray says.</p> <p>To offset this cost, you may qualify for an HSA.</p> <p>&quot;An HSA is basically a 'retirement account for health care' and is becoming more common each year,&quot; Ray continues. &quot;The HSA allows you to contribute to an investment account that can grow tax free over time, while receiving a deduction on your tax return. You even receive a deduction if you don't itemize. The account can then be used to cover qualifying medical costs. Unlike a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), an HSA is 'your money' and can grow over time, rather than being forfeited at the end of the year.&quot;</p> <p>Check with your employer to see if your plan qualifies for an HSA. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover?ref=seealso">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a>)</p> <h2>7. Prepay Real Estate Tax</h2> <p>If you foresee a changing income situation, supplement next year's loss with a right-now gain. Yadro suggests prepaying your real estate taxes and taking the deduction now.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-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/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity">Can I Write It Off as Charity?</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/cleaning-out-for-a-cause-make-a-noncash-tax-deductible-donation">Cleaning Out for a Cause: Make a Noncash Tax-Deductible Donation</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/you-should-make-these-11-easy-donations-before-time-runs-out">You Should Make These 11 Easy Donations Before Time Runs Out</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/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</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/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on">35 Bizarre Things You Can Be Taxed On</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes charitable deductions charity HSA income tax investments last minute deductions mortgages real estate retirement contributions tax bill tax deductions Mon, 26 Dec 2016 10:30:23 +0000 Mikey Rox 1860478 at http://www.wisebread.com Moving? Don't Skimp on These Critical Expenses http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_empty_box_87950015.jpg" alt="Woman learning not to skimp on moving expenses" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Moving can be an expensive, daunting experience. Worst of all, many people spend unnecessary money on moving supplies and items they simply don't need. On the other hand, you don't want to be dealing with the loss of property or issues after the move because you tried to save a few bucks.</p> <p>The trick is to keep the purchases light, while getting everything you need to safely transport your items to your new destination in one piece. That's why we're here to help you determine what you should, and what you definitely <em>shouldn't</em> skimp on.</p> <h2>Professional Movers</h2> <p>Hiring professional movers may be one of the best things you do for your move. While some people like to rely on themselves, friends, and family members to load and unload the moving truck, this can be a huge waste of time and energy that could be better spent settling into your new place. This can also be a very stressful event that causes friction with friends and family members, so just leave the dirty work to the professionals.</p> <p>Quality professional movers will carefully load your items into the truck, and should adequately protect them so that you can move with the peace of mind that your items are going to make it to your new destination in one piece. In fact, most movers will arrive with moving blankets and padding to further protect any fragile items.</p> <h3>Contact at Least Three Moving Companies</h3> <p>While you will need movers, you want to be careful about who you entrust with all of your possessions. Not all movers are created equal (which you hopefully won't find out the hard way). Carefully research movers to ensure that you're getting what you're expecting. Ask neighbors for recommendations, check Yelp and the Better Business Bureau for customer reviews and complaints, and do your due diligence to find the best movers at the best value in your area.</p> <p>It's usually a good idea to contact at least three reputable moving companies so that you can compare their services and costs. You can also ask them to do an in-home estimate. This will ensure that you get a more accurate quote and it will allow you to gauge whether it's really a company you want to be working with. Make sure to carefully read the estimate or contract to verify what is included with the moving services before signing anything.</p> <h3>Additional Services Offered by Moving Companies</h3> <p>Some moving companies will also help you pack, but this is one expense that you may want to skip. If you are hard-pressed for time, or your move is quickly approaching, then it may be worth the investment to have your moving company help with the packing. Otherwise, roll up your sleeves and get to work, because it can save you big money in the end.</p> <p>Some moving companies will also offer free storage for up to 30 days, which can be very valuable to you if your new place isn't ready yet. If you think you'll need storage, it may be wise to look for a moving company that offers it for free, rather than hiring a separate moving and storage company, which will likely cost you more money and a bigger headache in the end.</p> <h2>Moving Insurance</h2> <p>Accidents happen, which is why you should be prepared for them. Moving insurance is an absolute necessity. It will provide you with peace of mind, and in the event that the unthinkable happens, you can receive full or partial reimbursement for your damaged or lost items. Just as you wouldn't skimp on health or auto insurance, you shouldn't skimp on moving insurance.</p> <p>Most moving companies will offer some form of general insurance, but this generally tends to be about $0.60 per pound. This means that if you have a 48-inch television that only weighs 25 pounds, if the movers should drop it and you have not paid for additional moving insurance, you would only be entitled to a reimbursement of $15.</p> <p>As another example, the typical two-bedroom home usually weighs in somewhere around 4,500 pounds. Say the truck is completely destroyed (along with all of your property) &mdash; you would only be reimbursed $2,700. Your lifetime of saving and carefully choosing what to spend your money on is only worth $2,700 to the moving company. Unless you think you can refurnish an entire two-bedroom home for $2,700 (along with all of your clothing and personal possessions), you can clearly see the need for supplemental moving insurance.</p> <p>On the plus side, moving insurance is usually very affordable, particularly if you choose a higher deductible. The price will vary depending on how much insurance you need and the declared value of the items you want to insure. In most cases, you need to arrange moving insurance at least 48 hours before your move, so this isn't something you can procrastinate on.</p> <h2>Packing Supplies</h2> <p>More important than the quantity of packing supplies is the <em>quality</em>. The last thing you want to do is save a couple of bucks by buying cheap packing tape only to find that the heavy boxes split open on moving day. Don't skimp on tape or packing material for antiques and particularly valuable items.</p> <p>When it comes to glass, porcelain, or ceramic, packing paper or newspaper should work fine. You can also save some money by placing one foam dinner plate in between two glass plates. This will protect the plates during the move and make it easier for you to unpack.</p> <p>You'll also need things like a marking pen, cushioning material, scissors or a utility knife, and a tape gun, but you shouldn't have to spend a lot on these items. You also shouldn't need to spend much on boxes, if anything at all. You can typically find free boxes at your local grocery store or recycling center. Just make sure the boxes are in good condition and can safely transport your heavy items. The last thing you want is to pack your valuables in an old cardboard box that rips open on moving day or crumbles under the weight of other boxes. The cost to replace these items will likely be much higher than what you would've spent on quality boxes.</p> <h2>Don't Forget Your Tax Deductions</h2> <p>On the plus side, if your move is related to work, you can write off part of the move on your taxes. That means the movers, moving truck and supplies, and other must-have essentials might be deductible at the end of the year. Just make sure your move meets the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc455.html">IRS's time and distance test requirements</a> in order to safely deduct any reasonable moving expenses.</p> <p><em>Do you know of any other overlooked or unnecessary moving costs?</em> <em>Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">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/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move">How to Save $100s on Your Next Move</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-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</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/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">Here&#039;s How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost 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/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don&#039;t Expect</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/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford">Everybody&#039;s Wrong About How Much House You Can Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Real Estate and Housing expenses insurance movers moving new house packing relocation tax deductions Fri, 17 Jun 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1732051 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Tax Tricks to Try if You're Stuck With Student Loans http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/college_grad_cash_000049202136.jpg" alt="New grad stuck with student loans trying tax tricks " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you're buried in student loan debt, it doesn't seem fair to be paying taxes. That's why it's important to get as much as you can back with your tax returns. Take advantage of deductions and credits, and if you're fortunate enough to be able to do so, use your returns to pay down a big chunk of your debt. Here's what you should be looking for while filling out your return.</p> <h2>1. Deduct Interest Paid</h2> <p>You can deduct the interest you pay on your debt. At least this way you recoup some of what you spent.</p> <p>You'll file the deduction as an adjustment to income. The maximum amount you can deduct is $2,500. If you've paid more than $600 in interest in the past year, you should receive form 1098-E from your lender. Box #1 will tell you how much interest you paid.</p> <p>If you paid less than $600, you'll have to check records to see how much to deduct. There's an income ceiling &mdash; after you make $80,000 a year, you're exempt. See the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc456.html">IRS page</a> on this topic.</p> <p>Are you still in school? I recommend not deferring your interest payment. If you do defer, your lender simply tacks that interest onto the principal of your loan. Then, you end up paying interest on the interest.</p> <h2>2. Deduct Tuition and Fees</h2> <p>This deduction adjusts the amount of income on which you're taxed. It's good for up to $4,000 per year. If you're a dependent on someone else's tax return or you are married and filing separately, you don't qualify. Like the interest deduction, if you earn a certain amount, you're exempt. Also, if you want to claim either of the education tax credits (see &quot;Stay in School&quot; below), you can't claim the <a href="https://www.taxslayer.com/support/knowledgebasearticle187.aspx">Tuition and Fees Deduction</a>.</p> <h2>3. Get the Earned Income Tax Credit</h2> <p>If you qualify for it, get it. The EITC, or EIC, is for those of us with low income. Surprisingly, only about 80% of workers who qualify for the credit claim it. If you're married, don't file separately &mdash; this will disqualify you. If you're single, to get this credit you have to make less than $14,820 in a year. If you're married and/or have kids the <a href="http://www.efile.com/what-is-the-earned-income-tax-credit-eitc-eic-eligibility-schedule-calculator/">qualification ceiling goes up</a>.</p> <h2>4. Take on Freelance Work</h2> <p>Not only will freelancing earn you more money towards paying off your debt, you'll also be able to write off a number of expenses. These deductions include work materials, such as a laptop or tablet you use exclusively for freelance writing. You can write off meals and snacks you eat in the course of your workday. You can also write off expenses related directly and indirectly to the space you use for work. Yes it's a hassle, but make sure to document your expenses if you want to qualify for deductions.</p> <h2>5. Stay in School</h2> <p>Is graduation in sight but you're nervous about your post-graduate plans? You may want to stay in school. Here's the logic behind this: College students can be eligible for some great <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/four-major-student-tax-breaks-2013-1">tax breaks</a>:</p> <ul> <li><em>American Opportunity Credit</em> &mdash; Up to $2,500 for tuition, fees, books, and other equipment<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><em>Lifetime Learning Credit</em> &mdash; Up to $2,000 for education-related expenses</li> </ul> <p>You can only claim one of these credits. To get the American Opportunity Credit, you have to be at least a part-time student, and you can only claim it for the first four years of college. It's refundable by up to $1,000, meaning you could see that money go right back into your pocket.</p> <p>The Lifetime Learning Credit applies to the student who wants to continue for more than four years, or go to graduate school.</p> <p>Combined with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students" target="_blank">student loan interest deduction</a>, tax credits can save you a nice chunk of change to apply towards paying off your loans. Work a freelance job at the same time, get the freelancer deductions, and now you're talking tax strategy. But know you can't make more than $80,000 a year to get the American Opportunity Credit, and no more than $60,000 to get the Lifetime Learning Credit.</p> <h2>6. Look Into the Business Deduction for Work-Related Education</h2> <p>Here's a scenario. You're a writer and you're going to school to get a degree in English with some sort of writing emphasis. On the side, you do freelance writing to make a little extra cash. You can deduct your education expenses.</p> <p>Or, your employer can pay for your education and write it off on their taxes. Your degree has to go toward continuing in your employment field, and it can't be a degree toward meeting your employer's minimum educational requirements.</p> <p>Even if you're on a leave of absence from work, you can <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc513.html">still deduct educational expenses</a>.</p> <h2>7. Paying for Child Care? The Child and Dependent Care Credit</h2> <p>You can get a credit of up to $3,000 for one child/dependent, or $6,000 for two children/dependents, per year. You have to be employed or seeking employment. If you're a full-time student, you qualify as being employed. Your income will determine your credit amount, but the nice thing is there is no income ceiling. You must provide your child care provider's information, as they must be a qualifying provider (not your spouse or one of your older kids). The <a href="http://www.taxcreditsforworkingfamilies.org/child-and-dependent-care-tax-credit/">Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit</a> is a nice boost, and combined with the other credits listed here, will definitely help you out come tax time.</p> <h2>8. Get Free Tax Prep</h2> <p>All of this is a lot to take in, and doing your own taxes can be frustrating, especially if you're pressed for resources. Is there a community college in your area? Under the IRS VITA program, low to moderate-income Americans can get tax help from volunteers at community colleges and other locations. Of course there are qualifications you have to meet, and materials you have to bring. You qualify if:</p> <ul> <li>You make $54,000 a year or less<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You're elderly or incapable of preparing on your own taxes due to disability<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You speak limited English</li> </ul> <p>The IRS page on this topic will provide you with a tool for finding the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers">closest VITA tax-preparer</a>, and info on <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Checklist-for-Free-Tax-Return-Preparation">what to bring</a>.</p> <p>Happy tax prep!</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of these tax breaks for students?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Tax%2520Tricks%2520to%2520Try%2520if%2520Youre%2520Stuck%2520With%2520Student%2520Loans.jpg&amp;description=8%20Tax%20Tricks%20to%20Try%20if%20Youre%20Stuck%20With%20Student%20Loans"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20Tax%20Tricks%20to%20Try%20if%20Youre%20Stuck%20With%20Student%20Loans.jpg" alt="8 Tax Tricks to Try if You're Stuck With Student Loans" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/daniel-matthews">Daniel Matthews</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">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/6-questions-to-ask-before-taking-out-student-loans">6 Questions to Ask Before Taking Out Student Loans</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/7-unique-ways-millennials-are-dealing-with-student-loan-debt">7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt</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/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</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-things-financial-aid-might-not-cover">6 Things Financial Aid Might Not Cover</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/a-better-way-to-rank-americas-colleges">A Better Way to Rank America&#039;s Colleges</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes college dependents interest student loans tax breaks tax deductions tuition Mon, 04 Apr 2016 09:30:34 +0000 Daniel Matthews 1683568 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Tax Mistakes Millennials Make http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-mistakes-millennials-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-tax-mistakes-millennials-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_reading_stressed_000058019024.jpg" alt="Millennial man making common tax mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Claiming deductions and organizing receipts isn't fun for anyone &mdash; least of whom Millennials, who might be filing taxes for the first time or experiencing changes in their finances.</p> <p>And while making mistakes might at times be unavoidable, it's not a legitimate defense if the tax man comes knocking. Consider these eight common errors Millennials make when preparing and filing taxes.</p> <h2>1. Not Hiring a Tax Professional (If You Need One)</h2> <p>Not everyone needs a CPA or other tax professional. In fact, if your taxes are straightforward, you can easily file them yourself for free, or use low-cost services such as TurboTax. But not hiring a CPA is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if your taxes are complicated. Accounting professionals are all too familiar with legal loopholes, tax credits, and qualifiable exemptions, and they will work on your behalf to understand your particular situation and get you the maximum return.</p> <p>A simple rule of thumb: If your taxes seem too challenging to file on your own, they probably are. Seek expert guidance before you make costly mistakes.</p> <h2>2. Spending Tax Refunds</h2> <p>Before most people have received their tax refund, they've already decided how they're going to spend it. Most often it's on a depreciating asset like a car, clothes, or electronics. If tax season is exciting to you for this reason, you definitely should not be spending your refund. I know this not what people want to hear, but you should find more financially constructive uses for this money &mdash; such as investing, tackling debt, or making truly necessary purchases. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund?ref=seealso">8 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund</a>)</p> <h2>3. Allowing High-Interest Debt to Linger</h2> <p>If you're carrying high-interest debt on anything &mdash; including car loans, student loans, or a mortgage &mdash; you may want to use your annual tax refund to knock it out fast. This just depends on your personal situation. First, see if you qualify for ways to reduce your interest rate and/or monthly payments, such as mortgage refinancing, a student loan forgiveness program or income-sensitive repayment. If you can't, paying the debt off quickly might make sense. Put your refund in a savings account, divide it by 12, and take small monthly withdrawals of this amount to include with your regular payments each month. Use this strategy for any debt you wish to repay early. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big?ref=seealso">4 Times Student Loan Refinancing Can Save You Big</a>)</p> <h2>4. Not Using Retirement Accounts to Lower Your Tax Bracket</h2> <p>Taxes are by far one of the biggest obstacles normal people face when trying to build wealth. If you don't believe me, here's a simple example. If $1 invested doubled every year for 20 years, it would end up being worth $1,048,576. If the same $1 invested doubled every year for 20 years and was subject to a 28% tax bracket, it would be worth a modest $51,353. Now you see the importance of investing to the max inside of tax-advantaged accounts such as 401Ks and 403Bs in order to reduce your tax bracket.</p> <h2>5. Forgetting to Claim Capital Losses</h2> <p>Whether you invest inside of your retirement accounts, or trade on investing platforms such as E*TRADE, if your capital losses offset your capital gains the difference can be claimed as a tax deduction. Let's say you decided to trade penny stocks &mdash; and I'm not saying penny stocks are necessarily a bad investment, but let's say this year you lost $2,000 with no other capital gains from other investments. Your $2,000 loss on risky stocks can be deducted from your other income. In fact, you can deduct up to $3,000 of Capital losses in any tax year. Anything over $3,000 can carryover to the following tax year.</p> <h2>6. Failing to Claim Student Loan or Mortgage Interest Payments</h2> <p>Mortgage and student loan interest payments are generally tax deductible, within certain limits. If you qualify for these deductions, don't forget to claim them. It could otherwise cost you thousands of dollars at tax time.</p> <h2>7. Not Using an FSA for Childcare Costs</h2> <p>If your employer offers an FSA, make sure to take advantage of it. The annual contribution limit to <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/flexible-spending-accounts/">Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)</a> is $2,550, and money saved inside a FSA is tax-advantaged and can be used for health-related costs and dependent care expenses. Any money saved inside your FSA is taken from your pre-tax income, reducing your annual income by the subsequent amount. However, there are time limits on using FSA funds so, be careful not to lose the money you've saved. In <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a>, I explain how to avoid losing your hard-earned dollars.</p> <h2>8. Not Claiming the Cost of Moving</h2> <p>Millennials move more than any other group. And the majority of them move due to career opportunities. Well, did you know that if you change residences due to work, you can claim the expense of your move as a tax deduction? The IRS states that if you meet certain requirements, the cost of your <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc455.html">work-related move</a> may be tax-deductible.</p> <p><em>Have you made any of these tax-time mistakes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-mistakes-millennials-make">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-6"> <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-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</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/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</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/6-smart-reasons-to-pay-your-credit-card-bill-before-its-due">6 Smart Reasons to Pay Your Credit Card Bill Before It&#039;s Due</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/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake</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/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">3 Tax Deductions You Can Never Take</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes capital losses debt interest millennials Mistakes refunds tax deductions Thu, 03 Mar 2016 11:30:07 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1665767 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Save $100s on Your Next Move http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_blueprints_000054338660.jpg" alt="Couple saving $100s on their next move" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether it's across the country or across the street, moving can be difficult. It can also be expensive, costing you thousands of dollars, particularly for long distance treks. If you'd like to save time and money on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">your next move</a>, then there are a few simple tips that can help get you started.</p> <h2>1. Have a Plan</h2> <p>A solid plan will keep you organized and help you quickly find what you need when you are unpacking. Keep track of what is in each box on a separate note pad, which can save you a lot of time when you are unpacking later. You should also consider labels or labeled packing tape that specifies which room each box belongs in. This will keep the move organized and save time moving and unpacking.</p> <p>The last thing you want is to get to your new place and realize that you don't have enough space to fit all of your belongings. If possible, print out the floor plan and draw your furniture inside beforehand. If it doesn't fit in the drawing, it probably won't fit into your new place. This will also help you arrange items quickly when you're moving in, saving time spent with the movers.</p> <h2>2. Get Rid of Junk First</h2> <p>The less you have to move, the easier the move will be. Having fewer items to move can also help save you money on a larger rental truck, moving supplies, and time with movers. By eliminating junk first, you can also store less, saving you money on your storage unit. If you get rid of enough stuff, you may be able to do a direct move and skip the storage unit altogether, saving you even more money.</p> <p>As you're packing your items, decide what you really need. If you haven't used something or worn certain items of clothing in over a year, what are the odds you'll use them in the next year? Consider recycling or donating these items instead. You may also have items that can be sold on eBay or Craigslist, so you can make a little extra cash before the move.</p> <h2>3. Compare Several Moving Companies</h2> <p>Check Yelp or other online review sites to find several moving companies in your area. Compare their prices, services, customer ratings, and willingness to help. Look for hidden fees and insurance costs to make sure you won't be shocked by the final price at the end. You don't need to hire a moving company just because you asked for an estimate, so make sure to do your research.</p> <p>Inquire about whether any of the companies can offer you a deal or can throw in any free services or packing supplies. See if your favorite moving company is willing to negotiate on the price to match your budget.</p> <h2>4. Find Free Boxes</h2> <p>Boxes can cost an average of $50&ndash;$400, particularly if you choose various sizes. On the other hand, you can get free boxes from your local supermarket, office supply store, home improvement store, liquor store, bookstore, furniture store, or coffee shop. Call some local stores and ask them to set aside some boxes for you to pick up. You may also be able to pick up some free boxes on Craigslist or <a href="https://www.freecycle.org/">Freecycle</a>. Make sure to also fill up any empty suitcases you have!.</p> <h2>5. Find Deals on Moving Supplies</h2> <p>Take advantage of free packing supplies, like old newspaper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, blankets, linen, towels, clothing, and area rugs. You can save money on supplies and just wash any blankets or linen you used for padding when you get to your new place.</p> <p>While you want to find a good deal, it's important to choose quality supplies, especially when it comes to packing tape. The last thing you want is for your items to spill out all over the street because the cheap packing tape simply couldn't hold up to the weight in the box.</p> <h2>6. Move During Off-Season</h2> <p>Moving during the off-season can result in savings. If you can be flexible on dates, keep your options open. Remember, the busier the season is, the more it will cost you.</p> <p>Most people move at the end of the month, so if you can move mid-month, you may save on your new lease, the moving truck, and moving services. Avoiding the 15th of the month can save you even more because this is another popular move-out date, so aim for odd dates. Moving mid-week, as opposed to on the weekend, can also save you money and help reduce traffic. Moving in the summer is the busiest time, while October is the slowest time.</p> <h2>7. Do Your Own Packing</h2> <p>Did you know that about 1/3 of the moving costs go straight to packing? By skipping the full-service move and packing the items yourself, you can save up to 35% on your moving expenses. Hiring movers to pack your belongings may seem tempting, but the savings in time and energy is likely not worth the cost. You may be surprised at just how quickly you can pack your belongings, especially when you have a plan.</p> <h2>8. Enlist Some Help</h2> <p>When all else fails, it's time to start cashing in on favors from your friends and family. They may be able to help you pack or move your belongings, so you can save money on movers. While enlisting help can save you money, you'll want to be careful with this tip because moving can be an extremely stressful process and can cause disagreements between you and your helpers. It may be worth the money to hire movers so that you can just sit back, relax, and delegate.</p> <h2>9. Ask Your Employer for Help</h2> <p>If you need to relocate for work, ask your employer if they are willing to pick up a portion of the tab. Many employers will offer a stipend to employees who are making a move for work. They may also have suggestions for affordable moving supplies or services in the area.</p> <h2>10. Save It for a Tax Deduction</h2> <p>If you are moving for work purposes, you may be able to write off some of your moving expenses. Speak with your tax professional about the options available to you. If you aren't sure whether your moving expenses are tax deductible, then read up on what the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc455.html">IRS says about moving expenses</a>.</p> <h2>11. Carefully Pack and Protect Your Valuables</h2> <p>Anything that breaks during the move becomes a loss. Carefully pack and protect your valuables so that they are not damaged or destroyed during the move. Invest in bubble wrap, furniture covers, packing paper, packing peanuts, and anything else you feel is necessary to protect your items. If the movers damage your belongings, make sure to say something.</p> <h2>12. Use Up Your Groceries</h2> <p>Another way many people waste money on a move is by neglecting their fridge and freezer. It is difficult to move these items, so many people end up throwing away perfectly good food and condiments simply because they couldn't eat them in time. Any food that is wasted is literally money thrown away. Challenge yourself to eat at home more so you can use up the contents of the fridge and freezer before the move, and you'll save money in the process.</p> <p><em>Do you have any other tips for how to save money on your next move? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move">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-7"> <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/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">Moving? Don&#039;t Skimp on These Critical Expenses</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-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</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/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</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/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">Here&#039;s How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost You</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-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don&#039;t Expect</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Real Estate and Housing expenses moving packing relocating tax deductions Wed, 05 Aug 2015 17:00:24 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1508948 at http://www.wisebread.com You Should Make These 11 Easy Donations Before Time Runs Out http://www.wisebread.com/you-should-make-these-11-easy-donations-before-time-runs-out <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-should-make-these-11-easy-donations-before-time-runs-out" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-donation-volunteers-Dollarphotoclub_45319912.jpg" alt="woman donation volunteers" title="woman donation volunteers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's natural this time of year to feel a little more charitable. Many nonprofit organizations <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/life/holidays/2013/12/year_end_charitable_giving_most_people_are_terrible_at_it_don_t_be_one_of.html">report that they see a surge of donations in the last month</a> of the year, and there are some advantages to making donations before the calendar turns another page.</p> <p>In addition to keeping with the holiday spirit, giving to charity before year's end ensures that you can get a tax deduction to count for 2014. In in some instances, corporations are in an extra giving mood and will match many cash donations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-give-to-charity-that-fit-a-holiday-budget?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Give to Charity That Fit a Holiday Budget</a>)</p> <p>If you're feeling charitable or just have some stuff you want to unload, consider these simple donations you can make before 2015 comes around. (Just make sure you keep good records for the tax man!)</p> <h2>1. Clothes and Household Items</h2> <p>There's a good chance you'll get some new clothes and other stuff for the holiday season. Now may be a time to donate some of your older (but still usable) items to a thrift shop or charity such as Goodwill. You'll free up some closet space and get a 2014 tax deduction in the process. This time of year, coats and other warm-weather items are especially needed.</p> <h2>2. Food</h2> <p>Local food pantries are always in need of donations, especially during the winter months. Drop off a few bags of canned goods, or get in touch with a charity such as Meals on Wheels to donate food to a shut-in. You're probably cooking a ton for the holiday feast anyway, so set some aside for a needy family.</p> <h2>3. Shares of Stock</h2> <p>If you've seen portions of your investment portfolio rise in 2014, why not share the wealth? Donating shares of stock is a great way to help out a charity because unlike a cash donation, the contribution may rise in value. You get a tax deduction by donating, and also avoid any capital gains fees you might have otherwise incurred by selling.</p> <h2>4. A Car</h2> <p>If you're thinking of buying a new car in 2015, consider donating your car to charity this year to get the tax benefits. Many charities will accept donations of cars, which they then sell at auctions and pocket the proceeds. Other charities turn the cars over directly to needy families. A car donation is tax deductible, and many charities will even go through the effort to pick up the car from your house free. Donating your car makes sense if you feel like you wouldn't get much for a trade-in anyway.</p> <h2>5. New Toys</h2> <p>It's almost impossible to avoid seeing the U.S Marines manning Toys For Tots stations all over the country. A donation of a new toy will help ensure a great Christmas for an underprivileged child. This year, Toys For Tots is looking to collect 7 million toys. Go to <a href="http://toysfortots.com">Toysfortots.com</a> to find a drop-off location near you.</p> <h2>6. Old Building Materials</h2> <p>When my family built a new addition to our house, we donated some old windows and a sliding glass door to <a href="http://www.loadingdock.org/">a local charity</a> that recycles such things. It was a stress-free way to unload the items, and we got a sizable tax deduction. Contact the <a href="http://bmra.org/">Building Materials ReUse Association</a> to see if there's a charity near you.</p> <h2>7. Your Time</h2> <p>Rather than spending a day at a mall indulging in retail excess, consider taking time to help out at a soup kitchen, food pantry, or other charity. Better yet, consider making a commitment to volunteer not only during this holiday season but throughout the year.</p> <h2>8. Your Artistic Talent</h2> <p>This time of year, it's common for organizations to have parties featuring silent auctions as fundraisers. If you're an artist or photographer, why not donate a painting or photograph? It's a great way to direct money to a charity and perhaps also get some exposure for your skills. Similarly, a musician could volunteer to perform holiday music at a charitable event, or even offer free lessons.</p> <h2>9. Cash</h2> <p>This may seem lazy, but most charities are more than happy to receive monetary donations. In fact, sometimes money is the best gift to a charity because they know better than anyone what specific items they need. Donating cash could be as easy as dropping some coins into a Salvation Army pot, or writing a sizable check to another non-profit group.</p> <h2>10. Blood</h2> <p>This time of year, blood donations are often low because people are so busy. But it's a great way to give back in a way that won't cost you a dime. I make a point of donating blood every December 24 at my local Red Cross donation center. It gets me in the Christmas spirit, and there are usually free cookies. Go to <a href="http://www.redcross.org/">RedCross.org</a> to locate a blood drive or donation center near you.</p> <h2>11. Money to Your Future Self</h2> <p>This may not be a &quot;donation&quot; in the classic sense. But it's still a great idea to try to max out your retirement accounts by the end of the year. If you have an IRA, you can contribute up to $5,500 for 2014. Any contribution up until April 15, 2015 counts toward 2014, but why wait?</p> <p><em>What will you be giving this year? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-should-make-these-11-easy-donations-before-time-runs-out">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/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</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/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity">Can I Write It Off as Charity?</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/ten-great-charities-that-deserve-your-dollars-this-year">Ten Great Charities that Deserve Your Dollars This Year</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/4-ways-your-money-can-support-your-values">4 Ways Your Money Can Support Your Values</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/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Taxes charity donations giving tax deductions taxes Wed, 24 Dec 2014 14:00:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1271198 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-commonly-overlooked-tax-deductions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-commonly-overlooked-tax-deductions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/magnifying-4057616-small.jpg" alt="magnifying glass" title="magnifying glass" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></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 commonly overlooked tax deductions, where you can learn home improvement skills, and tips for escalating your productivity.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://ptmoney.com/tax-deductions-commonly-overlooked/">10 Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions for 2014</a> &mdash; Don't overlook the tax deductions of state sales tax and jury duty pay. [PT Money]</p> <p><a href="http://lifehacker.com/where-can-i-learn-home-improvement-skills-1535195959">Where Can I Learn Home Improvement Skills?</a> &mdash; You can learn home improvement skills at your local hardware store or via technology. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2014/03/10-tools-tips-for-escalating-your.html">10 Tools &amp; Tips For Escalating Your Productivity</a> &mdash; To increase your productivity, utilize your commute time and take breaks. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="http://www.mainstreet.com/article/moneyinvesting/insurance/finance-must-do-2014-often-forgotten">This Finance Must-Do in 2014 Is Often Forgotten</a> &mdash; If you are renting your home or apartment in 2014, get renter's insurance! [MainStreet]</p> <p><a href="http://frugalportland.com/the-essential-items-in-a-minimalist-closet/">The Essential Items in a Minimalist's Closet</a> &mdash; Every minimalist should have two or three pairs of jeans in their closet. [Frugal Portland]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/little-things-go-a-long-way-4-tricks-that-make-being-a-mom-easier">8 Tax Breaks You Should Take Advantage of Now Before They Expire</a> &mdash; Take advantage of tax credits for energy-efficient homes and appliances and tax credits for electric vehicles. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/03/02/40-regrets-you-dont-want-to-have-in-40-years/">40 Regrets You Don't Want to Have in 40 Years</a> &mdash; Make sure you don't have the regrets of ignoring your intuition or letting your health go. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-simple-ways-cure-hangover-effectively.html">10 Simple Ways To Cure A Hangover Effectively</a> &mdash; Cure your hangover effectively by drinking coffee and eating honey on toast or crackers. [Stepcase Lifehack]</p> <p><a href="http://timemanagementninja.com/2014/02/5-work-from-home-habits-that-are-killing-your-productivity/">5 Work from Home Habits That Kill Your Productivity</a> &mdash; Starting your day without a plan can kill your productivity if you work from home. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/little-things-go-a-long-way-4-tricks-that-make-being-a-mom-easier">Little Things Go a Long Way: 4 Tricks That Make Being a Mom Easier</a> &mdash; To make being a mom easier, don't be afraid to delegate. [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-commonly-overlooked-tax-deductions">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-9"> <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-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</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/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity">Can I Write It Off as Charity?</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/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">3 Tax Deductions You Can Never Take</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/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill">7 Last-Minute Ways to Cut Your 2016 Tax Bill</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes best money tips tax deductions Thu, 06 Mar 2014 11:00:26 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1129456 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Tax Deductions Job-Hunters Can’t Afford to Overlook http://www.wisebread.com/6-tax-deductions-job-hunters-can-t-afford-to-overlook <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-tax-deductions-job-hunters-can-t-afford-to-overlook" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4797027866_37fe25954b_z.jpg" alt="man walking" title="man walking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="223" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you&rsquo;re out of work, any help you can get with expenses is more than welcome. Sometimes these gifts come from unexpected sources, such as the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS provides tax deductions for job-hunting expenses that reduce your taxable income and decrease your tax bill. As an added bonus, you can claim them even if you didn&rsquo;t land a job that tax year. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-great-tax-deductions-you-may-have-overlooked">16 Great Tax Deductions You&nbsp;May Have Overlooked</a>)</p> <p>However, there are a few caveats:</p> <ul> <li>Your job hunting expenses must add up to at least 2% of your total gross income to qualify as deductions.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You must be looking for work in the same field. Unfortunately, career changers aren&rsquo;t able to benefit from the government&rsquo;s generosity.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>People looking for their first job are out of luck, too. You can only deduct job search expenses if you&rsquo;ve already been employed, even if it was part-time.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The IRS doesn&rsquo;t recognize job hunting expenses you incur after a &ldquo;substantial break&rdquo; between losing your job and starting your search. While the agency doesn&rsquo;t provide a specific definition for &ldquo;substantial break,&rdquo; waiting months to start your search may be a mistake.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Most of these deductions allow you to write off the costs in full, but some do have limits. Check with a tax professional if you&rsquo;re unsure.</li> </ul> <p>The sum of these expenses is listed as a single itemized deduction on line 21 of Schedule A. You won&rsquo;t have to send in any receipts or other documentation with your return, but make sure you have them just in case the IRS initiates an audit. Without comprehensive records, the IRS may disallow them and make you pay any additional tax you owe.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Employment Services</h2> <p>Using employment services can give you a boost in your job search, but the costs can get steep. Luckily, job seekers can deduct the fees associated with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-unique-ways-to-score-a-job-interview">employment counseling, headhunters, or other job placement services</a>. You can also deduct the costs of placing job-seeking ads in newspapers or on classified websites. Fees you pay for access or membership to job ad websites are similarly deductible.</p> <h2>2. Resume Preparation</h2> <p>Your resume is the first impression potential employers have of you, and sometimes you need to shell out a good bit of money to get it just right. You can deduct expenses you incur from professional resume preparation services, as well as books that provide resume-related advice and instruction. You can also write off printing and copying costs such as ink and paper, mailing when you send your resume to employers.</p> <h2>3. Communication</h2> <p>Local and long-distance phone calls you make via land line or cell phone to inquire about work or for job interview purposes are deductible. Keep in mind that unless you use the phone service solely for job-hunting purposes, you cannot deduct your entire phone bill. Only the portion of the charges that directly relate to your employment search are eligible. Request itemized bills so you can see exactly when you made the calls, how long they lasted, and how much they cost.</p> <h2>4. Networking and Professional Development</h2> <p>The fees you pay to attend job fairs, seminars, conferences, and other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-simple-networking-tricks"> networking events</a> while looking for work are also deductible. You can even write off fees for online networking sites and premium employment services such as those offered by LinkedIn. If you take any classes or training courses to build your skills and make yourself more marketable to employers, you can write off those expenses as well.</p> <h2>5. Travel</h2> <p>Travel expenses can be a little tricky, but if you don&rsquo;t mind a little math, you should be able to write off a good portion of your costs. The IRS gives job hunters a $0.55 deduction per mile that covers both local and out-of-town driving to job interviews, networking events, and other job-related trips. You can also write off parking fees. If you use mass transportation or travel via air or rail, you can deduct the costs in full. Hotel or other lodging costs are deductible as well. And if you grab a bite to eat while you&rsquo;re hitting the pavement, whether it&rsquo;s a fast food breakfast in your car or a lunch interview at a fancy restaurant, you can write off 50%of each meal.</p> <h2>6. Childcare</h2> <p>While this last one isn&rsquo;t actually a deduction, it&rsquo;s still a huge help for many job seekers. The child and dependent care credit covers up to 35% of your day care or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-on-babysitting-without-ending-up-on-the-local-news">babysitting costs</a> dollar-for-dollar, directly reducing the amount of tax you owe instead of reducing your taxable income. You can only claim expenses that you incurred while looking for a job and you must have the provider&rsquo;s Social Security or Employer Identification number to qualify.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lauren-treadwell">Lauren Treadwell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tax-deductions-job-hunters-can-t-afford-to-overlook">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-10"> <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/11-ways-college-grads-can-get-ahead-in-the-job-hunt">11 Ways College Grads Can Get Ahead in the Job Hunt</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/job-search-tips-that-will-get-you-a-job-in-2012">Job Search Tips That Will Get You a Job in 2012</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-keep-your-job-search-a-secret">How to Keep Your Job Search a Secret</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/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</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/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity">Can I Write It Off as Charity?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting Taxes job hunting expenses networking resumes tax deductions Tue, 09 Apr 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Lauren Treadwell 973338 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get Rid of Your Old Electronics http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-your-old-electronics <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-rid-of-your-old-electronics" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/7904351958_ddb0efe239_b.jpg" alt="old tv" title="old tv" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We have an old TV. It's old and huge and heavy and not at all flat-screened. By &quot;old&quot; I mean to say that our TV probably rolled off the assembly line about 10 years ago, a fact that, unless you're a teenager, will probably make you feel very old yourself. This TV is not high-tech or beautiful, but it does work, so we keep it around.</p> <p>As it turns out, that's increasingly rare.</p> <p>According to the Consumer Electronics Association, American consumers consistently spend more than $1,000 per year on household electronics like televisions, computers, and smartphones. That's a lot of money, but assuming we all have the money to pay for these gadgets, what's more distressing is what happens to the older, less-advanced devices they aim to replace.</p> <p>To be blunt, most of these discarded gadgets end up in landfills, says the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, it is estimated that Americans throw out more than 350,000 cell phones and 130,000 computers every day, making electronic waste, or &quot;e-waste,&quot; one of the fastest growing components of landfill waste. And while that huge, old computer monitor may seem innocent enough, it's packed with lead and other toxic chemicals, which isn't just bad for the environment, it's bad for us too.</p> <p>So what can you do with your electronics when they're no longer of use? Here are a few environmentally friendly options. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25&nbsp;Things to Throw Out Today</a>)</p> <h2>Safety First</h2> <p>First things first &mdash; whether you're offloading an old cell phone to a recycling service or selling a laptop to a friend, you need to wipe any and all electronic devices that store data.</p> <p>When it comes to your cell phone, you also need to ensure that your account with your service provider has been terminated. If you aren't sure how to wipe an electronic device (hint: it involves more than just deleting your files), you may want to consult a professional (or tech-savvy friend) for advice. Leaving personal data on a device could make your private life more public than you'd like &mdash; and put you at risk for identity theft.</p> <h2>Sell It</h2> <p>If your old devices still work, you could try selling them on eBay, Craigslist, or through a local classified ad. There are also several services that are willing to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-money-recycling">pay cash for certain gadgets</a>. <a href="http://www.nextworth.com/" target="_blank">Nextworth</a>, <a href="http://www.gazelle.com/" target="_blank">Gazelle</a> and <a href="http://www.recellular.com/" target="_blank">ReCellular</a> all offer such programs. Some will only buy devices that work, others will buy things that are broken.</p> <p>There are many such services out there, so take some time to research whether there's anyone who'll pay for what you're trying to offload. If you can't find any takers for a device that still has some life left in it, you could try to find a new home for it on <a href="http://www.freecycle.org/" target="_blank">Freecycle</a>.</p> <h2>Trade It In</h2> <p>Many electronics retailers and manufacturers are now offering trade-in programs for retired electronics. Turn in your old PC, for example, and you'll get a gift card or credit for what the company deems your item to be worth. After all, even broken electronics often contain valuable materials that companies can recycle. <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Electronics-Promotions/Online-Trade-In/pcmcat133600050011.c?id=pcmcat133600050011&amp;DCMP=rdr101887" target="_blank">BestBuy</a>, <a href="http://www.targettradeinprogram.com/" target="_blank">Target</a>, <a href="http://www.radioshacktradeandsave.com/online/home/index.rails" target="_blank">RadioShack</a>, <a href="http://www.apple.com/recycling/gift-card/" target="_blank">Apple</a>, and <a href="http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContentDisplayView?storeId=10151&amp;hideHeaderFooter=false&amp;cmsId=tradeup&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10551" target="_blank">Sony</a>, among other retailers, all offer this type of service. If you're looking to replace a device, this might be an option worth considering.</p> <h2>Donate It</h2> <p>There are many charities, schools, and community centers that will happily accept working computers, printers, and other electronic devices. Others will take electronic devices in any condition to refurbish or recycle.</p> <p>You can start by looking locally, but there are also a number of national organizations to consider. These include <a href="http://www.goodwill.org/get-involved/donate/donation-acceptance-guidelines/" target="_blank">Goodwill</a>, <a href="http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf/0/e3610fb5ddd550a1802573250030e32a" target="_blank">Salvation Army</a>, <a href="http://www.recyclingforcharities.com/index.php" target="_blank">Recycling for Charities</a>, and <a href="http://www.komputers4rkids.com/index.html" target="_blank">Komputers 4 Kids</a>. They all accept donations, and may even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cleaning-out-for-a-cause-make-a-noncash-tax-deductible-donation">provide a tax receipt</a>! <a href="http://www.thinkrecycle.com/en/" target="_blank">ThinkRecycle</a> allows organizations to run drives for electronics and raise money for a cause, all while helping to remove a few more devices from the waste stream.</p> <h2>Recycle It</h2> <p>For devices that no longer work or that are undesirable (like my old TV, when it finally meets its re-maker), recycling may be the only option. The best place to find out where to recycle your old electronics is the Environmental Protection Agency, which offers a great <a href="http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm">search tool</a> for finding manufacturers and retailers that will take old stuff. Many do.</p> <p>The other option is to connect with a recycling program like <a href="http://www.call2recycle.org/locator/" target="_blank">Call2Recycle</a>, <a href="http://search.earth911.com/" target="_blank">Earth911</a>, <a href="http://ecyclingcenter.com/" target="_blank">ECycling Center</a>, <a href="http://www.ecyclingcentral.com/" target="_blank">Electronic Industries Alliance</a> and <a href="http://greenergadgets.org/" target="_blank">GreenerGadgets</a>.</p> <p>According to the EPA, there's no federal mandate to recycle e-waste. There have been numerous attempts to develop a federal law to deal with the issue; unfortunately, sometimes waiting for new legislation is like watching grass grow...only slower.</p> <p>If you're concerned about keeping electronic waste out of landfills, you're the one who'll have to take the initiative to ensure it's properly disposed of. I know I'll be looking for some way to recycle my old TV in the next few years. Fortunately, that appears to be getting easier all the time. If only I could say the same for carrying the darn thing down the stairs.</p> <p><em>How have you responsibly retired your old electronics?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div align="center"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-get-rid-of-your-old-electronics&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%20to%20Get%20Rid%20of%20Your%20Old%20Electronics.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Get%20Rid%20of%20Your%20Old%20Electronics" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <div align="center">&nbsp;</div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Get%20Rid%20of%20Your%20Old%20Electronics.jpg" alt="How to Get Rid of Your Old Electronics" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-your-old-electronics">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-11"> <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/18-smart-ways-to-reuse-your-empty-glass-bottles">18 Smart Ways to Reuse Your Empty Glass Bottles</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/11-creative-ways-to-reuse-egg-crates">11 Creative Ways to Reuse Egg Crates</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/make-money-recycling">Make Money Recycling: Get Paid to Recycle by 15 Websites</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/12-cool-ways-to-make-treasure-out-of-trash">12 Cool Ways to Make Treasure Out of Trash</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/dumpster-diving-101-6-strategies-for-success">Dumpster-Diving 101: 6 Strategies for Success</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living donating electronics recycling tax deductions Thu, 04 Apr 2013 10:36:31 +0000 Tara Struyk 971504 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Tax Deductions You Can Never Take http://www.wisebread.com/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-doing-taxes.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I spent a fair share of my mid-twenties lugging around a two-volume set of the Internal Revenue Code to class every day (picture a small woman with two encyclopedia-sized bricks on the subway), so I know first hand just how overwhelming our tax laws can seem. Every tax season, people ask me about the same mythical deductions &mdash; stuff they feel they <em>ought</em> to be able to deduct on their tax returns, even though the government doesn't exactly see eye-to-eye with them. While it may be freezing in some parts of the country, tax season <em>is</em> right around the corner, and it pays to take a look at these three common points of confusion before filing this spring.</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-great-tax-deductions-you-may-have-overlooked" title="16 Great Tax Deductions You May Have Overlooked">16 Great Tax Deductions You May Have Overlooked</a>)</p> <h3>1. Can I deduct my personal credit card interest?</h3> <p>Nope, unfortunately not. When you make personal charges on your plastic &mdash; like going out to eat, trips to the grocery store or Disneyland, really any of the expenses you associate with your daily life &mdash; the interest is never deductible.</p> <p>Here's the source of the misunderstanding. You <em>used to</em> be able to deduct credit card interest. But you can thank President Reagan and Congress (Democrats and Republicans alike) for eliminating the interest deduction for consumer loans, which includes your Mastercard or VISA. They believed that consumer interest deductions generally encouraged folks to overspend and over-borrow, so they changed the law.</p> <p>People may also be confused because you often <em>can</em> deduct the interest that you pay on the <em>business expenses</em> you put on your credit card.</p> <p>A note of caution: If you are self-employed or run your own shop, I always recommend having a separate credit card for business purposes (or else it's nearly impossible to calculate which portion of the interest is deductible).</p> <h3>2. Can I deduct my new interview suit or work clothes?</h3> <p>Here's another one I get all the time, especially in the current job market when so many people are out there pounding the pavement, and the cost of getting your foot in the door adds up pretty quickly.</p> <p>The tax laws are a little tricky here. You <em>can't</em> deduct your new <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-snag-budget-friendly-business-clothes" title="5 Ways to Snag Budget-Friendly Business Clothes">interview outfit</a> (on the theory that you could also wear it for personal use, like to a cocktail party, wedding, date or any other event where you want to look pulled together). And you can't deduct the cost of your ordinary, run-of-the-mill work clothes, either. Think: no deduction for things I could otherwise wear out in public anyway &mdash; normal pants, dresses, skirts, shirt &mdash; even if you work at a clothing store that asks you to dress nicely while you're on the clock.</p> <p>But there are some good news. While your fancy interview suit is off limits, you may be able to deduct some of the expenses you rack up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-websites-to-help-you-get-a-job" title="25 Awesome Websites to Help You Get a Job">looking for a job</a>, like the amount you pay to an employment service, and the cost of preparing and sending out all those resumes under certain circumstances. And there is a clothing deduction exception if you wear a specialized uniform to work and it's not suitable for everyday life. (How many UPS guys are going to whip out their uniforms to wear around town on their day off?)</p> <h3>3. Can I deduct my commuting costs?</h3> <p>Again, this one is a no-go for the IRS. You <em>can't</em> deduct the cost of commuting from your house to your job, on the theory that you choose where you want to live in relation to your workplace and the time in your car or on the train is personal.</p> <p>But of course, because it's the tax code, there <em>is</em> an exception. People who are self-employed with a home office may be able to write off some of the costs of traveling between their residence and another location where they have work-related business. You may also be able to deduct the costs of going from your job (wherever you work) to other work-related meetings and outings. My advice? Sit down with an accountant or tax professional if you plan on deducting these kinds of costs on your return this April, so you can make sure you're calculating everything properly.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Jacoba Urist is a tax and estate attorney from New York. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is writing a book &quot;The Happiest Parent&quot; about preparing the best possible future for every child. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/TheHappiestPare">@TheHappiestPare</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jacoba-urist">Jacoba Urist</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">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-12"> <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-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible">8 Reasons You Should File Your Taxes as Soon as Possible</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/4-big-business-accounting-tools-every-side-gig-needs">4 Big Business Accounting Tools Every Side Gig Needs</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/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake</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/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year</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/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Taxes accounting tax deductions tax returns Thu, 09 Feb 2012 11:36:37 +0000 Jacoba Urist 892649 at http://www.wisebread.com Start 2012 Off Right With 5 Tax-Wise To-Dos http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tax_wise_to_dos.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="157" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the new year is about to begin, make it your <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/18-year-end-financial-must-dos">resolution to start the year off right</a> from a tax perspective. This includes doing the following:</p> <p><b>1. Read Your Odometer.</b></p> <p>If you use your personal car, truck, or van for business, be sure to jot down your odometer reading on January 1. This will help you track your business mileage throughout the year, so you can claim a deduction for this driving. You&rsquo;ll also need to keep a record of all your business driving; without this record, your deduction may be disallowed.</p> <p><b>2. Decide Whether to Become an S Corporation.</b></p> <p>If your business is already incorporated, you generally have until March 15, 2012, to elect to be taxed as an S corporation. This means the owners, rather than the corporation, pay tax on the business&rsquo; profits. Electing by this date lets you be treated as an S corporation for the entire year. The election is made by filing <a target="_blank" href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2553.pdf">IRS Form 2553</a>.</p> <p>If you incorporate a business in 2012, you have two months and 15 days from the start of the corporation to make the election. For example, if you incorporate on January 7, 2012, you have until March 21, 2012, to file the election form with the IRS.</p> <p>Talk with your tax advisor about whether an S election makes sense for your company.</p> <p><b>3. Determine Contributions to Your FSA.</b></p> <p>If your company has a flexible spending arrangement (FSA), you usually have to decide how much to contribute for the new year before the year begins. For 2012, it is up to the company to set limits on how much an employee can contribute from salary to the FSA. (Starting in 2013, the tax law sets the limit at $2,500 per year.)</p> <p>If your company does not yet have an FSA, discuss with your tax advisor the feasibility of adding one now. Even if you start mid-year, you and your staff can benefit from it.</p> <p><b>4. Decide on contributions to your 401(k).</b></p> <p>If your company has a 401(k) plan, just like the FSA, you usually have to decide how much to contribute for the new year before the new year begins. The elective deferral limit for contributions from an employee&rsquo;s salary is higher in 2012 than it was in 2011 ($17,000 in 2012 versus $16,500 in 2011). Those who are at least 50 years old by the end of 2012 can add another $5,500 to the account. Contributions, however, cannot exceed wages.</p> <p>If your company does not have such a plan, you might want to start one. You can use a 401(k) plan even if you are the only one who works for the business. A solo 401(k) can enable you to maximize your annual retirement plan contributions for yourself because you can use the maximum employer contribution permitted in addition to the employee elective deferrals. These contributions are allowed whether you are an employee of your corporation or you are a self-employed person.</p> <p><b>5. Decide Whether to Use an HSA for 2012.</b></p> <p>If you do not yet have health insurance in place for your company, you might want to use a high-deductible health plan combined with a savings account called a Health Savings Account (HSA). This can be an affordable way to provide health coverage.</p> <p>You can decide whether you, your employees, or a combination will pay the health insurance premiums and/or make the HSA contributions. If you pay the premiums, you may even qualify for the smaller employer health insurance credit of up to 35 percent of these premiums!</p> <p><b>Bottom Line</b></p> <p>Hopefully 2012 will be a very good year from a revenue perspective. This is all the more reason to get your tax ducks in a row so you can minimize the portion of your profits that you&rsquo;ll have to share with Uncle Sam.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos">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-13"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-states-with-the-lowest-taxes-for-retirees">7 States With the Lowest Taxes for Retirees</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/follow-these-5-steps-to-full-health-care-coverage-in-retirement">Follow These 5 Steps to Full Health Care Coverage in Retirement</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/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill">7 Last-Minute Ways to Cut Your 2016 Tax Bill</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/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center 401(k) FSA HSA small business tax deductions taxes year end taxes Mon, 26 Dec 2011 22:04:44 +0000 Barbara Weltman 835743 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Myths about Deducting T&E Expenses http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-myths-about-deducting-te-expenses <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-myths-about-deducting-tampe-expenses" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-myths-about-deducting-tampe-expenses</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-myths-about-deducting-te-expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000017020332Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Travel and entertainment costs are a common expense for most businesses. Unfortunately, the <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/whats-tax-deductible-for-your-next-business-trip-1" target="_blank">rules for deducting T&amp;E costs</a> can be complicated and are often misunderstood. Here are five myths that you should be aware of.</p> <p><strong>Myth 1. The Full Cost of Business Meals and Entertainment is Tax Deductible</strong></p> <p>Taking a customer to lunch, wining and dining a vendor, or taking a prospective client to the theater or sporting event are normal business practices. Regardless of how much or how little you spend, you can only write off 50 percent. For example, you take an out-of-town customer to dinner and the theater. It costs you $350 for the evening. You can deduct $175; the balance is not deductible.</p> <p><strong>Myth 2. The Cost of Commuting To and From Work is Deductible</strong></p> <p>Regardless of how far you have to commute, the method of transportation you use, or what it costs you, you <i>cannot </i>deduct the cost of commuting. This is considered to be a nondeductible personal expense.</p> <p>If you have to pay extra to transport business-related tools during your commute, such as heavy equipment or large musical instruments, the added expense is deductible.</p> <p>Once you are at work, your travel to other business locations becomes deductible. A doctor can deduct the travel costs between her medical office and the hospitals at which she had privileges, but not the cost of getting to the medical office. If you have a home office for which you take a tax deduction, all trips from home for business&mdash;to see a customer or vendor, do banking, or buy supplies&mdash;are deductible; this is not commuting.</p> <p><strong>Myth 3. You Need Receipts for All T&amp;E Costs</strong></p> <p>You do <i>not</i> need receipts for expenses of $75 or less. Thus, if you take a taxi from your office to see a customer for a cost of $12, no receipt is required. Exception: You need a receipt for lodging of any amount, even at a Motel 6.</p> <p>While you may not be required to keep all receipts, it doesn&rsquo;t hurt to do so. They often serve as a reminder for a deductible expense, especially if you&rsquo;ve paid cash (e.g., the taxi ride).</p> <p><strong>Myth 4. There is a Dollar Limit on What You Can Deduct</strong></p> <p>There is no overall dollar limit on your deduction for T&amp;E expenses. However, you can&rsquo;t deduct meal and entertainment costs that are &ldquo;lavish and extravagant.&rdquo; The tax law does not define these terms. It&rsquo;s up to you (and your tax advisor) to decide whether costs are &ldquo;too much&rdquo; before you deduct them.</p> <p><strong>Myth 5. You can&rsquo;t Deduct a Trip if Your Family Comes Along</strong></p> <p>The tax law lets you combine business with pleasure under the right conditions. If you travel within the U.S. and the <i>primary</i> reason for the trip is business, you can deduct all of your travel (e.g., airfare) costs. The fact that your spouse, significant other, or your family comes with you does not negate your deduction.</p> <p>It may not even cost you anything extra (other than meals) to bring your spouse with you. If you drive, there&rsquo;s no extra cost, and usually there&rsquo;s no additional charge for another person in your hotel room.</p> <p>You can&rsquo;t deduct your costs for the portion of your trip spent sightseeing, visiting family, or pursuing other personal endeavors. For example, say you travel from Trenton to Los Angeles to meet with clients on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You spend the rest of the week sightseeing and take the redeye home on Sunday night. The cost of your hotel and meals on the non-business days is not deductible. But your entire airfare remains deductible because the primary purpose of the trip was for business. Remember, even on the business days, only 50 percent of your meals are deductible.</p> <p><strong>Final Word</strong></p> <p>You can learn more about deducting travel and entertainment costs in <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf" target="_blank">IRS Publication 463</a> (the IRS has not yet released the version for the 2011 return, but the general rules still apply). Also check with your tax advisor to determine the tax impact of your T&amp;E activities.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-myths-about-deducting-te-expenses">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-14"> <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/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</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-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month">5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month</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-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</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/5-free-accounting-tools-for-freelancers">5 Free Accounting Tools for Freelancers</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/learn-how-to-travel-forever-from-these-7-digital-nomads">Learn How to Travel Forever From These 7 Digital Nomads</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center Taxes Travel deductible expenses expenses small business t&e deductions tax deductions travel and entertainment Mon, 12 Dec 2011 21:36:58 +0000 Barbara Weltman 816775 at http://www.wisebread.com Are Capital Improvements Required By Law Tax Deductible? http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/are-capital-improvements-required-by-law-tax-deductible <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/are-capital-improvements-required-by-law-tax-deductible" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/are-capital-improvements-required-by-law-tax-d...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/are-capital-improvements-required-by-law-tax-deductible" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000012068272Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="182" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>From time to time, the government may step in to tell you what to do about your facilities, such as <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-things-to-know-about-the-ada">improvements required by the American with Disabilities Act</a> (ADA). You have little choice about compliance; make the changes that the government wants or pay penalties. What <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/31-small-business-tax-deductions-1" target="_blank">tax relief can you claim</a> for compliance with the improvements you have to make?</p> <p><strong>General Rules</strong></p> <p>Usually, the costs of capital construction and improvements are not immediately deductible. The costs are added to the basis of property and recovered through depreciation. This can be a long process, giving little tax relief upfront when you incur the costs.</p> <p>If you are forced to pay penalties for noncompliance or law violations, the penalties are <i>not </i>tax deductible. The tax law specifically denies deductions for fines and penalties paid to government for violating the law.</p> <p>Thus, you have little choice but to comply with government-ordered improvements, and do it as quickly as possible, to minimize or avoid penalties. Special rules may help you accelerate your write-offs for making certain improvements.</p> <p><strong>ADA Compliance</strong></p> <p>If you have to make changes to your facilities to accommodate the handicapped and elderly in order to be in compliance with the ADA, such as adding ramps and railings, you may be in line for a tax break. There are two options that could apply to your situation:</p> <ul> <li><i>Disabled access credit</i>. You can claim a tax credit of 50% of the cost of expenditures over $250 and up to $10,500 a year, for a top tax credit of $5,000. This credit applies only for small businesses, defined as those with gross receipts of $1 million or less, <i>or</i> fewer than 30 employees in the preceding year. Details about the type of improvements eligible for the credit are explained in the instructions to <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8826.pdf" target="_blank">IRS Form 8826</a>.</li> <li><i>Deduction for costs of removing barriers to the disabled and the elderly</i><b><i>. </i></b>The deduction is capped at $15,000 per year. If costs are greater, the amount over $15,000 can be capitalized and recovered through depreciation.</li> </ul> <p>You can only use a cost once (you can&rsquo;t use it for both a credit and a deduction), so decide how to maximize your write-offs from ADA-related improvements.</p> <p><strong>OSHA Compliance</strong></p> <p>The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is concerned with safety for employees in the workplace. There are no special tax breaks immediately tied to OSHA-ordered changes or improvements. Depending on the type of changes required, the costs may be immediately deductible or will have to be capitalized.</p> <p><i>Examples</i><b><i>: </i></b>Personal safety equipment you buy for workers, such as goggles and protective gloves, may be immediately deductible as an ordinary and necessary business expense, or if expected to last more than one year, as an immediate write-off under <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p946.pdf" target="_blank">first-year expensing or bonus depreciation rules</a> for 2011. Re-wiring, constructing exit overhead protection, or other capital improvements to a facility may have to be capitalized. However, for a limited time, special rules may help leaseholds, restaurants, and retail establishments write-off improvements more quickly than over lengthy depreciation.</p> <p>You may want to consider <a href="http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html" target="_blank">OSHA&rsquo;s free on-site consultation</a>. The program does not entail penalties or citations; it merely makes recommendations for improvements to be a safer workplace. This can help you prevent penalties that could result from inspections down the road.</p> <p><strong>Environmental Remediation Costs</strong></p> <p>The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may require you to take certain actions, such as encapsulating or removing asbestos. You may be eligible for accelerated write-offs for doing so. As long as the cost merely restores property to its pre-contamination condition and does not improve the value or extend the life of the property, the costs can be immediately deducted.</p> <p><i>Examples</i><b><i>: </i></b>One nursing home that replaced mold-contaminated drywall could immediately deduct the cost as an ordinary and necessary business expense. The cost of encapsulating asbestos is deductible, while the cost of removing it must be capitalized.</p> <p>Even if costs to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater and removing hazardous waste would normally have to be capitalized, there is a special rule for remediation costs related to so-called &ldquo;brownfields.&rdquo; These costs are immediately deductible; there is no annual dollar limit. However, this special break is set to expire at the end of 2011, unless Congress extends it. There is <a href="http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/tax/index.htm" target="_blank">EPA guidance</a> on this tax break.</p> <p>Check state-level tax breaks that can be helpful in paying for the cost of cleanup. These can include:</p> <ul> <li>A current deduction for capitalizable remediation costs;</li> <li>Income tax credits;</li> <li>Property tax abatements and exemptions;</li> <li>Special financing.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Bottom Line</strong></p> <p>Before undertaking any improvement program for your facilities, talk with your tax adviser. You may be able to plan out the changes to maximize upfront write-offs.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/are-capital-improvements-required-by-law-tax-deductible">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-15"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year</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-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit">The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax 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/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making">5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making</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/15-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-50-or-less">15 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $50 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center ADA building improvements compliance deductions epa improvements IRS OSHA renovations small business tax deductions Tue, 15 Nov 2011 23:26:15 +0000 Barbara Weltman 781124 at http://www.wisebread.com