deductions http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3547/all en-US 7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-546177866.jpg" alt="Woman learning tax lessons she should&#039;ve learned this week" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cue the sigh of relief: Another tax season has come and gone. Before you kick back and relax, though, take a little moment of self-reflection. Did Tax Day make your stress levels soar?</p> <p>If the answer is yes, it's time to brush up on a few key lessons to take with you into the 2017 tax year. We guarantee you'll be breathing a little easier come next April.</p> <h2>1. Keep track of all your income</h2> <p>Specifically, don't forget about taxes you'll need to pay on any income you earn during the year outside of a full-time job. This includes money from freelance work or self-employment, dividends on investments, interest payments, and even gambling winnings. Be sure to track all of this income so that you're not surprised by a tax bill later.</p> <h2>2. Save all of your paperwork</h2> <p>Make sure you keep careful track of any forms and paperwork necessary to file your taxes. This includes your W-2 or any 1099s, as well as documents from banks, investment firms, and your mortgage company. These forms are usually sent out in February.</p> <p>More immediately, if you make any contributions to charity, you'll need the documentation. If you own a small business, you'll need receipts for all expenses you plan to deduct. If you plan to seek deductions for any unreimbursed medical expenses, you'll need a bill from your health care provider. All of these are important in order to enter accurate information on your tax return. As you gather them throughout the year, set them aside in a file or box that you keep in a safe place.</p> <h2>3. Deductions and credits are your friends</h2> <p>A credit is a straight reduction in your tax bill. A deduction means you reduce the amount of your income that is taxable. Either way, these tax breaks should not be overlooked.</p> <p>You can get a tax credit for having a kid. You can get a tax deduction if you pay interest on your mortgage. You can get a tax deduction for charitable donations. There are even deductions and credits for using energy-efficient appliances or driving a hybrid car. The list of possible deductions and tax credits is massive, and chances are, you qualify for at least a few. Most tax preparers and tax preparation programs will walk you through these deductions and credits to make sure you're getting the maximum benefit. If you haven't paid much attention to potential tax deductions or credits in the past, however, make sure you start this year. It could save you significant money.</p> <h2>4. Understand how tax-advantaged investment accounts differ</h2> <p>In addition to claiming tax credits and deductions, you can reduce your tax bill in advance simply by saving for retirement. If you use a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA to build your nest egg, there are considerable tax advantages, and you need to understand the main differences.</p> <p>With a 401(k) and traditional IRA, any money you contribute to your account throughout the year will be deducted from your taxable income now. In some cases, this could move you into a lower tax bracket and save you considerable money on this year's tax bill. With a Roth IRA, money you contribute is taxed now, but you will not have to pay taxes on any investment gains when you withdraw the money at retirement.</p> <h2>5. If you are getting a big return, that's not a good thing</h2> <p>Getting money back on your taxes is certainly better than owing so much to the IRS that you pay a penalty. But if you are getting a considerable amount back after filing your return, you may have had too much taken out of your paycheck and overpaid taxes throughout the year. So in a sense, the government has been holding onto your money interest-free for no reason when you could have been using it for yourself. To make sure this doesn't happen again, ask your employer for a new W-4 and increase the number of exemptions you claim.</p> <h2>6. If you make a mistake, you can amend your return</h2> <p>Tax time can be nerve wracking because people are petrified of making a mistake and having the IRS come after them. But the actual chances of the government knocking on your door are quite low. The IRS simply does not have the staff to audit many individuals, and when they do, they usually target either very wealthy people or people with very complicated tax returns.</p> <p>If you do discover that you made a mistake, you can file an amended return without much hassle. Simply file Form 1040X, Amended Tax Return, along with the corrected (or missing) documents you did not originally file with your return. This happened to me once when I forgot to report some dividend income, and I never had the taxman knock on my door. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax Audit</a>)</p> <h2>7. Use your taxes as a learning opportunity</h2> <p>Even with all these lessons under your belt, tax time can still be a tedious and stressful time of year. When all else fails, change your perspective. I personally find the process of doing taxes to be fairly educational. You can see a clear picture of how much money you actually took in during the year, and how much the government takes. The process of finding deductions can be a learning experience as well. If you approach doing your taxes with an attitude of curiosity, you may find the whole process to be less painful.</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/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</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/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what">I Lost My Tax Documents… Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes advice audits credits deductions forms income investing IRS tax lessons tax returns w-2 Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1931721 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How Your Taxes Will Change After You Start a Small Business http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-start-a-small-business <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-start-a-small-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-525498442.jpg" alt="Man learning how taxes change after starting a small business" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Starting a small business or taking on a side gig can do wonders for your household income. But that entrepreneurial spirit does come with at least one negative: Filing your income taxes will become much more complicated.</p> <p>How will your taxes change after you start a small business or take on a side gig? Here are five key ways. Make sure you understand all of them before you start filing your income taxes.</p> <h2>1. Say hello to estimated payments</h2> <p>Starting a successful small business will introduce you to the world of quarterly estimated tax payments. As the name suggests, you make these payments four times during the tax year. It's a way for the federal and state governments to ensure that you won't owe them big dollars every April 15.</p> <p>Business owners who file as sole proprietors, partners, and S-corporation shareholders must make estimated tax payments if they think they'll owe $1,000 or more for the given tax year. Generally, your estimated tax payments, made to both the federal government and your local state government, are due April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of the following year. (These dates might change if they happen to fall on a weekend or holiday.)</p> <p>How much you pay each quarter depends on how much money your business makes. The IRS says that calculating your estimated tax payments requires you to first determine your expected adjusted gross income, taxable income, taxes, deductions, and credits for the year.</p> <p>It's all complicated. And even if you take your time calculating a quarterly figure, there's no guarantee that you'll pay enough each quarter so that you won't owe your state or the federal government tax money at the end of the year.</p> <p>Your best bet is to hire an accountant or tax expert to work with you to determine the right amount of estimated taxes to pay each quarter. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-freelancers-and-side-giggers-need-to-know-about-income-taxes?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What Freelancers and Side Giggers Need to Know About Income Taxes</a>)</p> <h2>2. Self-employment tax can be a big hit</h2> <p>When you work for an employer, that employer withholds 6.2 percent of your paycheck for Social Security, and 1.65 percent for Medicare. Your employer also matches these amounts, meaning that, in essence, 15.3 percent of your income each year goes into Social Security and Medicare taxes on 92.35 percent of your net earnings (but as an employee, your employer splits the cost with you).</p> <p>If you are running your own business or side gig, you are responsible for paying the entire amount. Make sure that you prepare for this by setting aside 15.3 percent of your net revenue throughout the year. This is money that you don't include in your quarterly estimated payments. Instead, it's due in April when you file your income taxes.</p> <p>If you don't set aside this money, you might be scrambling to come up with thousands of dollars to send to your state government and the federal IRS. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make</a>)</p> <h2>3. You'll have to become a master at tax deductions</h2> <p>Not all of the tax changes that come with owning a business are bad. Consider tax deductions. In general, you can deduct the cost of anything that you use to run your business. If you buy a new computer for your business, you can deduct the cost of it. You can deduct the cost of office supplies and health insurance. You can even deduct part of the costs of travel and business meals, as long as these trips and dinners really were held for business-related matters.</p> <p>If you run your business out of your home, you can also deduct home office expenses. This means that you can deduct a portion of your utility bills, for instance, depending on the square footage of your home office. Just be careful with home office deductions. You actually have to use your home office <em>only</em> as an office. Don't try to trick the government. If you get caught taking a larger deduction than you actually deserve, you could face heavy fines.</p> <p>Be honest about your business deductions in general. Don't try to write off an expensive meal if you only spent two minutes during it bragging about the success of your business. That doesn't count as a business expense.</p> <p>Remember, too, that deducting something doesn't make it free. It just means you'll be paying a bit less for it. If you spend, say, $1,000 on new office equipment, your deduction &mdash; depending on your tax bracket &mdash; means you might only pay $750 for it. Don't treat tax deductions as an excuse for overspending. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-surprising-tax-deductions-you-might-miss?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Surprising Tax Deductions You Might Miss</a>)</p> <h2>4. Goodbye, 1040EZ</h2> <p>Before starting your own business, you might have filed your income taxes using the 1040EZ or 1040A tax forms. Once you are running your own business or side gig, your tax form will become more complicated.</p> <p>Most people starting new businesses operate these enterprises as a sole proprietorship. When you are filing in this category, you'll have to file your taxes with form 1040 while also including either a Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business) or Schedule C-EZ (Net Profit from Business).</p> <p>If you are responsible for paying self-employment tax, you'll also have to include a Schedule SE.</p> <h2>5. You'll probably need tax help</h2> <p>Odds are high that you'll need help from an accountant or tax-prep firm when filing your income taxes as a business owner. Taxes simply get more complicated, and making a tax mistake can cost you big in the form of missed deductions or penalties.</p> <p>Hiring an account or tax-preparation firm isn't free. But it's usually an important investment for business owners to make. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-reasons-why-an-accountant-is-worth-the-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">14 Reasons Why an Accountant Is Worth the Money</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-start-a-small-business">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/what-freelancers-and-side-giggers-need-to-know-about-income-taxes">What Freelancers and Side Giggers Need to Know About Income Taxes</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-best-states-to-start-a-new-business-in">4 Best States to Start a New Business In</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-marriage">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change After Marriage</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/6-signs-its-time-to-make-your-side-gig-your-career">6 Signs It&#039;s Time to Make Your Side Gig Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Taxes 1049ez deductions estimated payments schedule c self employment side jobs small businesses tax changes Mon, 10 Apr 2017 08:30:17 +0000 Dan Rafter 1922317 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How Your Taxes Will Change After You Have a Kid http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-have-a-kid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-have-a-kid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-520005424.jpg" alt="Couple finding out how taxes change after having a kid" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's no question that having a kid will change your life financially. Introducing a new child to your household adds a slew of new costs, but the good news is that the American tax code is written to help families with some of these expenses.</p> <p>The IRS &mdash; yes, that benevolent organization &mdash; offers a variety of tax credits, deductions, and other incentives that could lead to a smaller tax bill when you have a child. But this also makes your taxes more complicated. So here's a review of what your new baby might mean as you file this year's return.</p> <h2>You get to claim an exemption just for having a kid</h2> <p>When you have a child, you can claim an exemption that will reduce your taxable income by $4,050. And for each child you have, you get to claim another exemption. (So four kids represents $16,200 deducted from your taxable income.)</p> <h2>You can also claim the child tax credit</h2> <p>Yes, you get an additional break on your taxes just by adding a member to your family. You can reduce your tax bill by $1,000 for every dependent in your household. This usually includes any family member 17 or under that lives with you, including adopted children, foster children, and even nieces and nephews if you are their primary caregiver. The benefit is reduced once you hit $110,000 gross income if filing jointly, or $75,000 if filing alone.</p> <h2>You can reduce your taxable income by saving for college</h2> <p>The second you have a child, you can begin saving for college and get some nice tax breaks for doing it. The most popular vehicle is called a 529 college savings plan, and many states allow you to deduct contributions from your taxable income. Gains on the investments in a 529 plan also are not taxed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</a>)</p> <p>You may save money when you eventually send your child to school. As of 2016, it was possible to get a $2,000 Lifetime Learning Credit each year for qualified education expenses, or a $2,500 American Opportunity Credit. There are <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ar02.html#en_US_2016_publink1000255787" target="_blank">some subtle differences</a> between the two credits, which you can learn more about <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch03.html" target="_blank">at the IRS website. </a></p> <h2>You might take advantage of a health savings account</h2> <p>You and your partner might not worry about health care expenses, but they become more of an issue when you have kids. Many employers offer health savings accounts (HSAs), which allow you to divert some money into an account to pay for health care expenses you might accrue. Any money placed in an HSA is deducted from your taxable income. You may find it's worth contributing to an HSA if your child has health challenges, or if you have a health insurance plan with a high deductible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How an HSA Saves You Money</a>)</p> <h2>You might save less for retirement &mdash; and thus pay more tax</h2> <p>Are you planning to dial back your retirement savings in order to meet the financial demands of a new child? If so, it's important to know how that impacts your tax bill. Any contributions you place in a 401(k) or traditional IRA are deducted from your taxable income, so if you are putting less aside, your tax bill may be higher. Ideally, you'll be able to save at the same rate as always, but if not, be sure to anticipate paying more in tax.</p> <h2>You may pay less tax if you stop working</h2> <p>Many families find that their gross income goes down after having a kid because one parent stops working full-time or altogether. Lower income means lower taxes, and you may even move into a lower tax bracket. (Moving from $80,000 to $60,000 in earned income, for example, means you pay 15 percent in tax instead of 25 percent when filing jointly.) This lower tax helps take the sting out of having less income overall, and in some cases, you may even end up with more take-home pay.</p> <h2>If you pay for child care, you might get a tax break</h2> <p>The IRS allows parents to save money on their taxes if they pay someone to care for their children. This is a great thing for working parents. The child and dependent tax credit offers up to $1,050 for one person receiving care, or $2,100 for two or more. Poorer families can get 35 percent back of any qualifying child care costs.</p> <p>Many parents may save more on their taxes by instead utilizing a dependent care flexible savings account. If your employer offers such an account, you can set aside as much as $5,000 of your paycheck to cover child care costs. Contributions to this account are deducted from your taxable income, thus reducing your tax liability.</p> <h2>If you employ a nanny, your taxes could get complicated</h2> <p>In most cases like the situations above, there are tax breaks to help offset the cost of child care. But if you directly hire a nanny &mdash; as opposed to hiring one through an agency &mdash; you may be considered an employer in the eyes of the IRS. That means a boatload of paperwork, and you're on the hook for things like Social Security, unemployment, and Medicare taxes. So be sure to take all of this into account when researching child care options.</p> <h2>Expanding your home may have tax advantages</h2> <p>When you have a child, you may realize you need to expand your home with a new family room, bedrooms, or other space. The bad news here is that you can't claim the cost of home improvements on your taxes. But, any home upgrades will be added to the cost basis of your home. Thus, you may be able to reduce or even eliminate capital gains taxes when you sell.</p> <p>If you do make upgrades, you can deduct the cost of things to make the home more energy-efficient, such as Energy Star rated windows and appliances.</p> <h2>Adopting a child comes with a big tax break</h2> <p>If you adopt a child, you get some significant tax breaks in addition to the ones listed above. The Federal Adoption Tax Credit gives families a maximum of $13,460 to offset qualified adoption expenses. This can include adoption fees, court fees, travel costs, and attorney fees, among other costs. Parents who adopt a child may also receive additional tax credits from their state.</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/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-have-a-kid">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/4-tax-mistakes-new-parents-make">4 Tax Mistakes New Parents Make</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-your-spouse-be-a-dependent-on-your-taxes">Can Your Spouse be a Dependent on 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/dont-miss-out-on-this-easy-way-to-pay-for-child-care">Don&#039;t Miss Out on This Easy Way to Pay for Child Care</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/save-money-with-a-dependent-care-tax-credit-and-fsa">Save Money with a Dependent Care Tax Credit and FSA</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/6-ways-the-sandwich-generation-can-get-ahead">6 Ways the Sandwich Generation Can Get Ahead</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Taxes adoption american opportunity credit child care children deductions dependents exemptions kids lifetime learning credit parents tax credits Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:30:33 +0000 Tim Lemke 1913753 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How Your Taxes Will Change After Marriage http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-marriage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-marriage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-533851044.jpg" alt="Married couple&#039;s taxes changing after marriage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life tends to get more complicated after marriage. And your taxes are no exception.</p> <p>Getting married will change the way you file your taxes every April 15. There is good news, though: Many of the changes will be positive ones that can help boost your deductions and save you money.</p> <p>Let's look at five of the biggest tax changes you'll face after the wedding bells stop ringing.</p> <h2>1. Filing Jointly vs. Separately</h2> <p>Once married, couples have to face a big tax decision: Should they file their taxes jointly or separately? In most cases, married couples who file their taxes jointly save more money. But there can be exceptions.</p> <p>Couples who file their taxes jointly in 2017 will qualify for a standard deduction of $12,700. When married couples file separately, they each can claim a standard deduction of $6,350. Note that if your spouse chooses to instead itemize their deductions, you will have to as well.</p> <p>Filing jointly makes especially good financial sense for married couples in which one person earns significantly more than the other. The averaging effect of combining two incomes can bring these couples out of higher tax brackets.</p> <p>When couples file jointly, they might also qualify for several tax credits and deductions that they wouldn't otherwise get if filing separately. This could include the earned income tax credit, child and dependent care tax credit, American Opportunity Act education credit, and the Lifetime Learning education tax credit. Couples who have adopted might also qualify for adoption tax credits when they file jointly. You also will not be allowed to deduct student loan interest if you and your spouse opt to file separately.</p> <p>This doesn't mean that filing jointly is always the right decision for married couples. Say one spouse has significant medical expenses, casualty losses, or miscellaneous itemized deductions. Taxpayers can deduct medical expenses and casualty losses only after they pass 10% of their adjusted gross income for the year. That milestone can be easier to reach when couples file separate tax returns.</p> <p>Taxpayers can deduct miscellaneous itemized deductions after they exceed 2% of their adjusted gross income. If one spouse has a significant amount of these deductions, it might make financial sense for this taxpayer to file separately because the spouse will be able to claim a greater percentage of these deductions.</p> <h2>2. You Might Be on the Hook for Your Spouse's Filing Mistakes</h2> <p>Before you got married, you were responsible for the information you provided on your own tax return. If you are married and filing your taxes jointly, you are now also responsible for any information your spouse provides on his or her tax return.</p> <p>This means that if your spouse provides incorrect information on deductions, charitable contributions, or income, you could also face financial penalties from the IRS. If you suspect your spouse may have been dishonest with their tax returns, intentionally or not, you may choose to protect yourself by filing separately. This will ensure you're only responsible for your own tax liabilities.</p> <h2>3. It's Easier to Protect Your Estate From Taxes</h2> <p>You might be worried that too much of your estate will be gobbled up by taxes after you die. Being married should ease these concerns. Federal laws state that you can leave any amount of money to your spouse after you die without generating estate taxes. This makes it far easier to protect the financial assets that you want to leave behind.</p> <h2>4. Your Tax Bracket Might Change</h2> <p>The rate at which your income is taxed depends on the amount of money you made during the most recent year. Filing your taxes jointly might change your tax bracket.</p> <p>In 2017, married couples filing jointly who earned $18,650 to $75,900 in the previous year will fall into the 15% tax rate. This means this couple would pay $1,865 in taxes plus 15% of any money they earned over $18,650. Married couples filing jointly who earned $75,900 to $153,100 would fall into the 25% tax rate. They would pay $10,452.50 in taxes plus 25% of any dollars they earned over $75,900.</p> <p>The rates go up from there. It's important to note that depending on your spouse's earnings, your tax rate might rise or fall after you get married if you decide to file jointly.</p> <h2>5. If You Bought a Home, You Could Enjoy Major Deductions</h2> <p>Owning a home comes with an important tax deduction: the home mortgage interest deduction. This deduction allows homeowners to deduct the interest they pay on their mortgage loan throughout the year. This deduction can be especially valuable during the years in which you first own your home, as a large amount of your monthly mortgage payment will be made up of interest. You can also deduct the property taxes that you pay on your home each year, as well as any mortgage points.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-marriage">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/can-your-spouse-be-a-dependent-on-your-taxes">Can Your Spouse be a Dependent on Your Taxes?</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/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-start-a-small-business">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change After You Start a Small Business</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-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-have-a-kid">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change After You Have a Kid</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-clever-tax-shelters-anyone-can-use">5 Clever Tax Shelters Anyone Can Use</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/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes deductions filing jointly filing separately getting married marriage tax changes tax credits tax rates Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:00:18 +0000 Dan Rafter 1898303 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Surprising Ways Real Estate Cuts Your Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-121277252.jpg" alt="Learning surprising ways real estate cuts taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Once you own property, you may be eligible for a long list of tax breaks, whether you use it as your primary home, for rental income, or sell it for profit. Let's run through familiar benefits, such as the mortgage interest deduction, and also the various (stunning!) tax breaks real estate investors, landlords, and homeowners enjoy.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage Interest<strong> </strong></h2> <p>This is the most familiar of all deductions and one of the very few times that you can use the interest that you're paying to reduce your tax bill. Besides deducting mortgage interest that you're paying for the purchase of your primary residence, you can also deduct mortgage interest from a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).</p> <p>You can deduct up to $500,000 ($1 million if married filing jointly) in all mortgage interest used to buy, construct, or make substantial improvements in your first home (and second, if applicable). You can't, however, deduct any mortgage interest for purchases on a third home and so on. You can also deduct up to $50,000 ($100,000 if married filing jointly) from all home equity debt for reasons other than to buy, build, or substantially improve your first or second home.</p> <h2>2. Mortgage Interest Credit</h2> <p>Recipients of a mortgage credit certificate (MCC) by a state or local government under a qualified mortgage credit certificate program could be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to 20% of their annual mortgage interest. Figure this credit on Form 8396. The best part is that the remaining 80% of your mortgage interest is still eligible as a deduction!</p> <h2>3. Points</h2> <p>Charges paid by a borrower to secure a mortgage (also known as origination fees, maximum loan charges, or discount points) can generally be deducted. However, if you were to pay points to refinance an existing mortgage, you would amortize the points over the life of the mortgage. When you refinance a loan, your lender will send you a Form 1098 listing the points that you paid, but in the event that they don't, look for your points in your HUD-1 settlement sheet.</p> <p>Page 6 of <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p936.pdf" target="_blank">IRS Publication, 936 Home Mortgage Interest Deduction</a> provides a useful diagram to determine whether or not your points are fully deductible for this year.</p> <h2>4. Real Estate Taxes</h2> <p>You can deduct real estate taxes, including state, local, or foreign, you paid on real estate you own that wasn't used for business. Tally only taxes paid to government institutions and don't include itemized tax charges for services to specific property or people, such as a gardener or trash collection service. If you were to sell your property and receive a refund or rebate of real estate taxes, you would reduce your deduction by the amount of the refund or rebate.</p> <h2>5. Mortgage Insurance Premiums</h2> <p>You can deduct eligible mortgage insurance premiums provided by government authorities, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Rural Housing Service, as well as private mortgage insurance (PMI) issuers on loans issued after December 31, 2006. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</a>)</p> <p>In 2017, you can't deduct your mortgage insurance premiums if your adjusted gross income is more than $54,500 ($109,000 if married filing jointly). If your adjusted gross income falls between $50,000 and $54,500 ($100,000 and $109,000 if married filing jointly), your deduction is limited and you must use the Mortgage Insurance Premiums Deduction Worksheet to figure your deduction.</p> <h2>6. Capital Gains Exemption</h2> <p>Eventually, you may sell your real home. Depending on several factors, such as years of ownership, substantial improvements, and neighborhood developments, your home may have appreciated by several thousands of dollars. To lessen the tax hit on taxable capital gains from the sale of your property, the IRS may exempt up to $250,000 ($500,00 if married filing jointly) of that gain from your income.</p> <p>In general, you qualify for a capital gains exemption as long as you have owned and used your home as your main home for a period aggregating at least two years out of the five years before its date of sale. Consult <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p523/index.html" target="_blank">Publication 523, Selling Your Home</a> for more details. The beauty of this tax break is that there is no restriction as to how many times you can use it!</p> <h2>7. Investment Interest</h2> <p>Real estate investors also get a tax break on interest paid on money they borrowed that is allocable to property held for investment. Such investors need to use Form 4952 to figure out their investment interest expense deduction.</p> <p>Despite its name, this investment interest deduction doesn't cover interest gained from passive-income activities or securities that generate tax-exempt income.</p> <h2>8. Expenses for Business Use of Homes</h2> <p>Freelancers, independent contractors, and small business owners can deduct expenses for business use of their homes. With Form 8829, you can claim the area used regularly and exclusively for business to allocate a deductible portion from a wide range of expenses, including utilities and depreciation.</p> <p>If your deductions for home business are greater than the current year's limit, you can carry over the excess to 2017! This carry-over will be subject to the deduction limit for that year, whether or not you live in the same home during that year.</p> <h2>9. Tax Credits for &quot;Green&quot; Improvements</h2> <p>To encourage more energy efficient home improvements, the IRS provides tax credits for qualifying expenses. Here are two examples:</p> <ul> <li>Windows, doors, and skylights that met the ENERGY STAR program requirements and were installed between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 at the homeowner's primary residence may grant you up to $500 in energy efficiency tax credits.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Solar energy systems provide a tax credit of 30% of cost with no upper limit through December 31, 2019. The credit will decrease to 26% in 2020, drop to 22% in 2021, and goes away in 2022.</li> </ul> <p>To learn about other tax credit opportunities from energy efficient home improvements, visit&nbsp;<a href="http://www.energystar.gov" target="_blank">EnergyStar.gov</a>.</p> <h2>10. Deductions From Rental Income Activities</h2> <p>Rental real estate provides several tax breaks to landlords. For example, landlords could potentially deduct:</p> <ul> <li>Local transportation expenses to collect rental income or to manage, conserve, or maintain rental property;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Expenses for managing, conserving, or maintaining rental property from the time it was made available for rent;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Depreciation expenses for the wear and tear of rental property;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Local benefit taxes for maintaining, repairing, or paying interest charges for the benefits;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Legal and professional fees directly related to operating expenses; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prepaid insurance premiums.</li> </ul> <p>To learn the full list of rental expenses and guidelines for deduction, consult <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p527/ch01.html#en_US_2016_publink1000218979" target="_blank">Publication 527, Residential Rental Property</a>. If you use some of your rental properties for personal purposes throughout the year, then you should hire a tax pro to appropriately deduct expenses for rental income. Hiring an accountant to report income from your rental activities is itself an eligible deduction, after all! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-you-should-splurge-and-hire-a-pro?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Times You Should Splurge and Hire a Pro</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes">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/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn&#039;t Skip</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/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</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-9-most-important-lessons-i-learned-about-money-when-i-became-a-landlord">The 9 Most Important Lessons I Learned About Money When I Became a Landlord</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/heres-why-a-30-year-mortgage-is-a-smart-financial-choice">Here&#039;s Why a 30-Year Mortgage Is a Smart Financial Choice</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Taxes business owners capital gains credits deductions energy efficient homeowners interest landlords mortgages rental properties Fri, 24 Feb 2017 10:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1897585 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-182251590.jpg" alt="Man learning answers to common tax questions" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's tax season: That joyous time when you look back on what you earned last year and figure out whether you gave enough of it to Uncle Sam. Think of it as Christmas for the government.</p> <p>If you're new to filing a tax return, the process can seem daunting. The forms have cryptic names. Making a mistake can have serious consequences, whether it's inadvertently paying too much, or paying too little and getting audited. A quick lesson in the basics of filing a tax return might help.</p> <p>Before we begin, a reminder: I'm not an accountant. If you have a question about your individual tax situation that you can't answer by consulting the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/" target="_blank">Internal Revenue Service</a>, ask a professional. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a>)</p> <h2>1. Do I Have to File a Tax Return?</h2> <p>You may be surprised to learn that not all adults are required to fill out a federal tax form every year. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you could be off the hook if you earned less than $10,000, or if certain <a href="https://www.irs.com/articles/who-has-file-federal-income-tax-return" target="_blank">other criteria</a> were met. However, you may still want to file, because you could qualify for a tax credit that puts money back in your pocket. (More on that below.)</p> <h2>2. Do I Need to Hire an Accountant to File?</h2> <p>No. If your tax situation is simple &mdash; for instance, if all your income comes from your full-time job and your earnings are modest &mdash; your filing process should be straightforward. Of course, hiring an accountant could save you time. The IRS estimates that the &quot;short form,&quot; 1040A, takes about <a href="http://www.dontmesswithtaxes.com/2012/03/22-hours-needed-to-complete-form-1040.html" target="_blank">10 hours to file</a>.</p> <p>If you want to do your own taxes but are worried you'll make a mistake, using a tax prep website can be a good compromise. TurboTax, H&amp;R Block, and TaxAct all offer free versions for simple returns. If your taxes are a bit more complicated &mdash; for instance, if you want to search for possible deductions &mdash; you can get both state and federal taxes filed through these sites for between $40 and $100. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-file-your-taxes-for-free-in-2015?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to File Your Taxes for Free</a>)</p> <h2>3. Where Do I Find Tax Forms?</h2> <p>If you file online, you don't need to locate forms &mdash; any of the websites mentioned above will ask you questions and then submit your return online. But if you want to take pencil to paper, you can print out tax forms from the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/" target="_blank">IRS website</a> or pick them up, along with instruction booklets, at a public library or post office.</p> <h2>4. What Money Do I Have to Pay Taxes On?</h2> <p>You have to pay taxes on almost any money you make, whether it's from working, selling something, or even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on?ref=internal" target="_blank">finding buried treasure</a>. That said, there are plenty of exceptions, such as <a href="https://www.efile.com/tax/estate-gift-tax/" target="_blank">most gifts</a>, <a href="http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/is-your-personal-injury-settlement-taxable.html" target="_blank">compensation for injuries</a>, proceeds from <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Home-Ownership/Tax-Aspects-of-Home-Ownership--Selling-a-Home/INF12035.html" target="_blank">selling your home</a> (within limits), and investment gains inside certain retirement accounts (you'll pay taxes on the gains inside your IRA eventually, but not now).</p> <p>Getting paid in cash, making money doing something illegal, or working without documentation do not exempt you from paying taxes on the money you make.</p> <h2>5. Will I Get a Refund?</h2> <p>Most employers take money out of your check week after week, all year. Because no one knows exactly how much you're going to owe the IRS until the year ends, this withholding is merely an estimate. Once you work out your taxes, it may happen that the money taken out of your check every week turned out to be too much. If that happens, the IRS will refund the difference.</p> <p>On the other hand, if it turns out that the money withheld was less than your tax liability, you will have to send the IRS a check.</p> <p>Just because you got a refund last year doesn't mean you'll get one this year. Things change; for instance, if you made more money this year, you might have moved to a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tax-brackets-explained?ref=internal" target="_blank">higher tax bracket</a>, causing you to owe more.</p> <p>Moreover, getting a huge tax refund isn't necessarily a great thing. While receiving a fat check is always fun, what this really means is that you gave the government an interest-free loan all year. If you get a large refund this year, you should look into having the amount taken out of each paycheck reduced so that it doesn't happen again next year.</p> <h2>6. What's the Difference Between a Deduction, an Exemption, and a Credit?</h2> <p>All three are ways the tax code allows you to reduce the tax you owe.</p> <p>For the average taxpayer, an exemption and a deduction are practically the same thing: They both reduce the amount of your income that counts toward your taxable total. The most well-known exemption is for your children: For 2016, everyone gets to subtract $4,050 from their income for a dependent child living in the home.</p> <p>We get tax deductions for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-to-deduct-charitable-donations-on-your-taxes?ref=internal" target="_blank">charitable donations</a> we make, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-the-mortgage-interest-deduction-went-away?ref=internal" target="_blank">mortgage interest</a>, and for some work-related expenses, among many other things. For example, if you earned $50,000 this year, donated $2,000, and spent $1,000 looking for work, your taxable income would be $47,000 (minus any other exemptions and deductions you have).</p> <p>Tax credits are subtracted directly from your tax bill, not your income. For instance, if your tax bill for the year is $5,000, but you can claim a $4,000 tax credit, you only have to pay $1,000.</p> <p>One of the most important tax credits to know about is the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit/eitc-income-limits-maximum-credit-amounts" target="_blank">earned income tax credit</a>, a benefit for working people with low-to-moderate income. Qualifying families can receive between $3,373 and $6,269, depending on their number of qualifying children (or $506 for no qualifying children). The best part is, if your credit is more than you owe on taxes, you'll get the balance back as a &quot;refund.&quot;</p> <p>For instance, say you and your spouse owed $5,000 in taxes in 2016, but you qualified for the maximum credit of $6,269. The IRS would send you a refund check for $1,269 &mdash; plus any taxes that had been withheld from your paychecks. This is why it may be a very good idea to file a tax return even if you didn't earn enough for it to be required.</p> <h2>7. What If I File Late?</h2> <p>If you're not going to be able to submit your tax return and any tax owed by the deadline (in 2017, it's April 18), you should at least <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know?ref=internal" target="_blank">file for an extension</a> by that date. If you were expecting a refund, being late on submitting your forms isn't a big deal. But if you end up owing a payment, the IRS will charge late fees every month &mdash; so don't delay.</p> <p>Of course, it's never too late to pay money you owe to the IRS. If you failed to file or to pay what you owed in past years, you can file a &quot;back tax return&quot; now. If less than three years have gone by, you can even <a href="https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/filing-past-due-tax-returns" target="_blank">claim refunds for past years</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</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/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes beginners deductions earned income tax credit exemptions filing income IRS questions refunds tax returns withholdings Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:00:18 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1890385 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/magnifying_glass_paper_533045204.jpg" alt="Man making tax mistakes he needs to stop making" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In an ongoing effort to prevent tax fraud and collect the right amount of money, the IRS audits close to <a href="http://time.com/money/3820009/irs-tax-audit-chances/" target="_blank">1% of all returns</a>. If being audited by the IRS isn't nerve racking enough, about 30% of audits are made in person, adding extra pressure. So, let's start 2017 on the right foot and review five ways to protect yourself from an audit.</p> <h2>1. Declare at Least $1 in Gross Income</h2> <p>Depending on your unique financial situation, you may not have gained any money throughout the year. However, declaring no adjusted gross income increases your probability of getting audited by more than fivefold! In 2014, the IRS audited 5.26% of all returns with no adjusted gross income. On the other hand, the IRS only audited 0.93% of returns declaring $1 to $24,999 in the same year.</p> <p>So, find a way to get some income and dramatically lower your chances of an audit!</p> <h2>2. Use an Accountant When Making Over $200,000</h2> <p>According to 2014 and 2015 IRS audit data, returns with gross incomes between $25,000 and $199,999 have the lowest range of probability of an audit.</p> <p>Like a Las Vegas casino, the IRS is currently chasing the &quot;whales&quot; &mdash; individuals with a high net worth. In 2014, 1.75% of returns with an unadjusted gross income of $200,000 to $499,999, and, get this &mdash; a whopping 10.53% of those with an adjusted gross income of $5 to $10 million, were audited. It seems that there's some truth to &quot;more money, more problems.&quot; So, if you're making a gross income of $200,000 or higher, hedge against the higher chances of potential IRS audit by using the services of an accountant. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-you-should-splurge-and-hire-a-pro?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Times You Should Splurge and Hire a Pro</a>)</p> <h2>3. Include Income From All W-2s and 1099s</h2> <p>The IRS gets a copy of every single W-2 and 1099 form that you receive. So, forgetting to include the income reported on those forms to calculate your tax obligation or refund may result in an audit.</p> <p>While it's generally easy to trace back your W-2s, keep in mind that there are different types of 1099 forms, including:</p> <ul> <li>1099-C: Cancellation of Debt, which is sometimes a taxable event;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>1099-DIV: Dividend and Distribution Income;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>1099-H: Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) advance payments;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>1099-INT: Interest Income;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income, which are payments to independent contractors; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>SSA-1099: Social Security Benefit Statement.</li> </ul> <p>You will receive an applicable 1099 form after reaching certain thresholds. For example, you will receive a 1099-MISC when you received at least $600 in payment for your services as a freelancer or independent contractor. On the other hand, you only need to make at least $10 in interest income to receive a 1099-INT. Regardless of whether or not an organization issues you a 1099, include the taxable income in your return.</p> <p>If you haven't received a 1099 by January 31st, the IRS recommends contacting the issuing organization or the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to request a substitute form.</p> <h2>4. Use Schedule C Correctly</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sc.pdf" target="_blank">Schedule C</a> is a form in which sole proprietorships provide details on their calculations of net profit or loss. When used properly, Schedule C allows freelancers, independent contractors, and small business owners to effectively deduct businesses expenses, including expenses for business use of a home (<a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8829.pdf" target="_blank">Form 8829</a>).</p> <p>Taxpayers using Schedule C frequently make intentional or unintentional errors on this form. And the IRS has noted that it can get a better bang for its auditing buck in inspecting the returns of sole proprietorships. The result: Roughly <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yourmoney-freelancing-irsaudit-idUSTRE81R1QR20120228" target="_blank">3% of small businesses</a> under Schedule C get audited, compared to just 1% of corporations. The IRS pays close attention to businesses with large net losses and cash-intensive activities, such as car washes and food vendors.</p> <p>Make sure that you have supporting documentation, such as receipts, statements of personal and business bank accounts, and inventory count sheets for all the numbers that you include in Schedule C. For example, if you have an advertising expense, keep the bill or receipt as proof of that expense. If the IRS were to have reasonable doubt that your numbers are accurate, the agency would send you a Form 4564, Information Document Request. Be proactive, review this <a href="https://www.irsvideos.gov/audit/docs/Form%204564,%20IDR1%20-%20Howard.pdf" target="_blank">sample Form 4564</a> from the IRS, and make sure to keep the type of records that the IRS would ask from you in case of an audit due to a Schedule C.</p> <p>In the end, a taxpayer using Schedule C could benefit from using a professional tax preparer. They can also deduct that expense in their Schedule C, after all.</p> <h2>5. Automate Calculations</h2> <p>Completing your tax return by hand increases your odds of making math errors, miscalculating work sheets, and misreading tables. Just in 2015, the IRS sent out <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/15databk.pdf" target="_blank">1,679,367 math error notices</a> to taxpayers for a total of 2,177,802 math errors!</p> <p>To decrease your chance of computational errors, incorrectly transcribed values, and omitted entries, consider hiring a pro that will double check all the work for you or using a tax preparation software that will do all the calculations for you.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Prevent That Audit!</h2> <p>Better safe than sorry. If the IRS notifies you of an audit by phone or mail (no emails!), you are most likely to either have to pay extra or experience no change. In 2015, only 3.33% of examined individual income tax returns resulted in additional refunds to the taxpayer. Take action and use these five ways to prevent common tax mistakes that increase your chances of an IRS audit.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making">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/what-freelancers-and-side-giggers-need-to-know-about-income-taxes">What Freelancers and Side Giggers Need to Know About Income Taxes</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-signs-you-probably-need-an-accountant">5 Signs You Probably Need an Accountant</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/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">Avoid the Tax Season Rush With These Early Prep Steps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes 1099 accountants audits declaring income deductions gross income IRS schedule c tax mistakes w-2 Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:00:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1870060 at http://www.wisebread.com Improve Your Giving With 5 Smart Charity Tricks http://www.wisebread.com/improve-your-giving-with-5-smart-charity-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/improve-your-giving-with-5-smart-charity-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-470950762.jpg" alt="make the most out of giving to charity" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Year's end is fast approaching, and now's a good time to pull out your wallet and make a charitable donation. Deductions, baby! Of course, donating to charity isn't just about the tax advantages; your contribution can make a difference in someone's life. Nonprofits will accept donations of any size, so there's no excuse to hold back your generosity. Still, there are ways to make the most out of being charitable. Take a look.</p> <h2>1. Select an Organization You're Passionate About<strong> </strong></h2> <p>You can give to any cause, whether it's one that helps women, children, churches, hospitals, or veterans. Some people choose a random organization to support, which is perfectly okay. But to make the most out of being charitable, choose a cause that means something to you.</p> <p>Maybe you have a relative or friend who is visually impaired. If so, you could make a donation to the American Foundation for the Blind or a similar organization. Or if you've been affected by childhood cancer, a donation to St. Jude might be up your alley.</p> <p>Whatever organization you choose, make sure it's reputable to avoid scam artists. It's unfortunate, but some people will take advantage of your generosity. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission busted and <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/05/ftc-all-50-states-dc-charge-four-cancer-charities-bilking-over">charged four fake cancer charities</a> for scamming more than $187 million from generous donors. Do your research and learn about organizations before you give a dime. Sites like <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/">Charity Navigator</a> and <a href="http://www.givewell.org/">Givewell</a> will help you evaluate.</p> <h2>2. Ask About the Charity's Needs</h2> <p>Although your favorite charities may accept any donation you give, you can make the most out of being charitable by contacting individual charities to see if they have any specific needs.</p> <p>Just about every charity can benefit from a cash donation. If you don't have the resources to write a check, you can donate old items cluttering your house. But depending on the item, the charity could already have a stockpile in their inventory and a shortage of other items. If you know what an organization needs, you increase the likelihood of your donation being put to good use.</p> <h2>3. Put Donations on Autopilot</h2> <p>Even if you have every intention of making regular charitable donations, it's easy to get busy and forget. Fortunately, there's a simple way to be charitable &mdash; put your donations on autopilot.</p> <p>Many organizations allow givers to set up automatic or recurring monthly donations. Give your favorite charity a call to see if this is an option, and then ask for details on setting up your account. Some credit cards also have online portals that allow cardholders to donate to a chosen charity using their credit cards, plus the option of donating their rewards points and cash back rewards to charity. You can also apply for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-that-give-back-to-charity?ref=internal">credit card that partners with an organization that gives back</a> for your purchases.</p> <h2>4. Save Receipts for Tax Purposes</h2> <p>One benefit of being charitable is the opportunity to write off donations on your tax return and reduce your tax obligation. This can result in a lower tax bill or a bigger refund.</p> <p>There are a number of ways to save with charitable donations, so talk to your tax preparer to see how you can get the most bang for your generosity. For example, you can donate appreciated stock that you've held for at least a year to avoid long-term capital gains tax. You'll also get a tax deduction, which turns your good deed into a win-win situation.</p> <p>If you don't own stock and want to donate cash, keep in mind that any amount $250 or more requires proof of the donation, either with a bank statement or a receipt from the organization. If you're giving a non-cash donation (clothing, gifts, household items, etc.), contributions greater than $500 requires filling out IRS Form 8283 and attaching the form to your tax return. If your donation is greater than $5,000, you'll need a qualified appraisal to benefit from the donation.</p> <h2>5. Make Sure the Organization Qualifies for a Deduction</h2> <p>Just because an organization accepts donations doesn't mean it's an <a href="https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/charitable-contribution-deductions">IRS qualified charity</a>. If you itemize your tax return and deduct charitable contributions, you can write off deductions up to 20% to 50% of your adjusted gross income. Larger donations can lower your taxable income significantly, but you'll only reduce your tax liability if your money goes to the right organizations.</p> <p>The IRS explains the rules for determining whether a cause is a qualifying organization for a tax deduction. Qualified organizations include those that support religious groups, war veterans, non-profits, volunteer firemen, civil defense organizations, foundations. etc. If you're unsure whether a particular organization qualifies, contact the IRS.</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/improve-your-giving-with-5-smart-charity-tricks">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-clever-tax-shelters-anyone-can-use">5 Clever Tax Shelters Anyone Can Use</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/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</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-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-start-a-small-business">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change After You Start a Small Business</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/7-surprising-tax-deductions-you-might-miss">7 Surprising Tax Deductions You Might Miss</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Taxes charitable donations charities deductions Giving Back good causes organizations Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:30:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1848173 at http://www.wisebread.com Can Your Spouse be a Dependent on Your Taxes? http://www.wisebread.com/can-your-spouse-be-a-dependent-on-your-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-your-spouse-be-a-dependent-on-your-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_calculator_bills_17400550.jpg" alt="Couple learning if a spouse can be added as a dependent" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's a common scenario: One person in a relationship brings home a much higher salary than the other. For couples in this situation, the higher earner typically handles the majority of the expenses.</p> <p>To lower their tax burden, some may want to claim their lower-earning spouse as a dependent. In other situations, the earner's spouse is disabled and unable to contribute to the family's income. However, while you might think that labeling a spouse as a dependent is a smart decision, it's actually not allowed by the IRS.</p> <h2>What the IRS Says About Dependent Spouses</h2> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p17.pdf">IRS Publication 17</a>, your spouse can never be claimed as a dependent. Other people, such as siblings, children, or other relatives can be dependents, but no matter the circumstance, your spouse cannot.</p> <p>In the IRS' eyes, a dependent is defined as a child or qualifying relative. The person does not have to be related by blood &mdash; they just had to live with you for the year and not have gross income.</p> <h2>Spousal Exemptions</h2> <p>While a spouse cannot be a dependent, you may be able to <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/can-i-claim-my-personal-and-or-spousal-exemption">claim an exemption</a> for your spouse, thereby lowering your tax burden. You can go this route if you are married, and your partner has no gross income to report.</p> <p>If your spouse is physically challenged, you may be able to claim credit for expenses related to the care of your spouse. This option would be a possibility if you needed to hire help to care for your spouse so you could go to work or search for employment.</p> <h2>Marriage and Taxes</h2> <p>To minimize how much you owe on your taxes, it often makes the most sense to file jointly, rather than separately. To encourage couples to file together, the IRS gives joint filers some of the largest standard deductions, allowing them to deduct a big amount from their taxable income.</p> <p>Joint filers can typically claim two exemptions and more easily qualify for other tax credits, including:</p> <ul> <li>Earned Income Tax Credit</li> <li>Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit</li> <li>American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Education Credit</li> </ul> <p>If you file jointly, there is also a higher threshold for taxes and deductions, meaning you can qualify for more credit and tax breaks for a higher income than if you filed separately.</p> <h2>When It Makes Sense to File Separately</h2> <p>Filing separately only makes sense in very specific circumstances, such as in the case of large out-of-pocket medical expenses. Because the IRS only allows you to deduct 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), filing separately can help you save more money.</p> <p>While you may hear some professionals recommend claiming your spouse as a dependent, it is not permissible by the IRS. Instead, you can claim your partner as a personal exemption in particular circumstances. To lower your tax burden, consult with a tax professional to make sure filing jointly makes the most financial sense for your situation and get all of the deductions and tax breaks you are entitled to.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-your-spouse-be-a-dependent-on-your-taxes">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/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-marriage">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change After Marriage</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/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-have-a-kid">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change After You Have a Kid</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-ways-to-boost-your-social-security-payout-before-retirement">6 Smart Ways to Boost Your Social Security Payout Before 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/5-clever-tax-shelters-anyone-can-use">5 Clever Tax Shelters Anyone Can Use</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/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes deductions dependents exemptions filing jointly filing separately marriage spouses tax credits Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:00:07 +0000 Kat Tretina 1796981 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_grad_broke_53019460.jpg" alt="Woman learning how student loans affect taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tax time can make many feel anxious, especially if they're already burdened by student loan debt. Many people might not even think about their student loans when it comes time to file, and that would be a huge mistake.</p> <p>Here are three big tax issues &mdash; and one <em>huge</em> tax benefit &mdash; you should be aware of if you have student loan debt.</p> <h2>You Can Deduct Loan Interest</h2> <p>Yes, you can deduct your <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch04.html">student loan interest</a>, reducing your income by up to $2,500. But to qualify for this deduction, you must earn less than $80,000 if single or $160,000 if you are filing jointly.</p> <p>If you paid more than $600 in interest on your student loan, you should automatically receive a Form 1098-E in the mail. However, if you do not receive this, you can still claim the interest you paid. Just request this form from your lender in January. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-pay-back-student-loans-faster?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Pay Back Student Loans Faster</a>)</p> <h2>Defaulting on Your Loan Could Cost You Your Tax Refund</h2> <p>If you default on your federal student loan, your tax refund could go straight to your lender. They are legally allowed to take 100% of your tax refund. For most federal loans, you will be considered in default if you have not made a payment in 270 days.</p> <h2>Filing Jointly Can Cost You More in Student Loans</h2> <p>Many couples will file jointly to save money on their taxes and have easier access to tax credits, like the child tax credit and the dependent care credit. However, filing jointly can also make you pay more in student loan repayment throughout the year.</p> <p>Many individuals pay for their student loans on an income-driven repayment plan, which calculates monthly payments based off earnings. Since your joint income will be significantly higher than your individual incomes, your loan payments are likely to be higher. To make smaller monthly payments on your loans, you should probably file separately.</p> <p>You want to understand how much money it will cost to file your taxes separately versus how much you'll make in additional monthly student loan payments if you file jointly. MagnifyMoney.com put together a simple example scenario of a married couple without children. In their example, the couple would have saved over $1,100 in federal taxes if they filed jointly, but they would have saved $6,816 on their student loan payments by filing separately.</p> <h2>Student Loan Forgiveness/Cancellation Could Mean More Taxes</h2> <p>Student loan forgiveness programs are a great way to offset some of your student loan debt. However, some student loan forgiveness programs also come with a hefty tax bill in the end.</p> <p>Student loan forgiveness programs such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and other plans for teachers, health professionals, lawyers, or volunteers are all tax-free. If you follow the programs' rules for loan forgiveness, your loan will be forgiven without tax repercussions.</p> <p>Certain student loan forgiveness programs offered through individual states can be subjected to taxes. Many are not, but it is a good idea to do your research.</p> <p>If your student loan is cancelled or discharged, it can be considered taxable income. It might be cancelled or discharged for one of the following reasons:</p> <ul> <li>Cancellation for closed school;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cancellation for False Certification of the loan;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cancellation for unpaid refund of the loan;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Discharge for death or disability.</li> </ul> <p>Finally, if you sign up for repayment programs that offer loan forgiveness after a certain number of years, any unpaid amount which is forgiven is considered taxable income. This usually happens with the income-based repayment (IBR) plans and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) repayment plan. (See also:<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt?ref=seealso"> 5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a>)</p> <p>Talk with a financial adviser that specializes in student loan debt for more help.</p> <p><em>Do you write off your student loan interest on taxes? </em></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/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">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/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/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/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads">5 Most Common Tax Mistakes Made by College Grads</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-things-you-need-to-know-about-deferring-student-loans">4 Things You Need to Know About Deferring 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/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big">4 Times Student Loan Refinancing Can Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes deductions filing jointly filing single interest loan forgiveness refunds repayment student loans Thu, 09 Jun 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1725704 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Most Common Tax Mistakes Made by College Grads http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000059339990.jpg" alt="College grads making common tax mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Attention grads: While you may be done with college, you aren't off the hook from major assignments. One of those major assignments is filing your tax return, and this is one assignment deadline that you don't want to miss.</p> <p>This year, Monday April 18th is the deadline to file your federal taxes. (Residents of Maine and Massachusetts get an extra day!) With time running out, it&rsquo;s important to file your return correctly the first time around. Be on the lookout for the five most common tax mistakes made by college grads.</p> <h2>1. Not Claiming Education Credits</h2> <p>According to a 2014 study from H&amp;R Block, only two-thirds of Americans eligible for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">tax breaks for students</a> actually claim them! Within those tax breaks, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit stand out because they can reduce your tax bill by up to $2,500 and $2,000, respectively.</p> <p>Unlike other tax deductions, the American Opportunity Credit can still get you a refund even when you don't owe any federal income tax. If the American Opportunity Tax Credit brings the amount you owe to zero, you can have 40% of the remaining amount of the credit (<a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/AOTC">up to $1,000</a>) refunded to you.</p> <p>While the American Opportunity Tax Credit requires you to not have finished the first four years of higher education at the beginning of the tax year, the Lifetime Learning Credit doesn't require students to be working toward a degree. You're eligible to claim this credit as long as you're taking at least one class.</p> <p>Bonus: If you're taking a sabbatical from your recent graduation and are eligible to be claimed as a dependent by your parents, they can claim these credits in their own return.</p> <p>File <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8863.pdf">Form 8863</a> with your federal return to claim the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits.</p> <h2>2. Not Filing Taxes When Abroad</h2> <p>Talking about sabbaticals, you still need to check with Uncle Sam every year during tax season even when you're abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, no matter where you live.</p> <p>The good news is that when you expect to get a refund or not to owe any federal taxes, you can take advantage of the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/U.S.-Citizens-and-Resident-Aliens-Abroad---Automatic-2-Month-Extension-of-Time-to-File">automatic two-month extension</a> to file your return. However, if you believe that you will owe federal taxes, then file by the regular deadline (April 15 most years) to avoid paying applicable interest charges or penalties.</p> <h2>3. Forgetting About Moving Expenses</h2> <p>Chances are that your first job after graduation will require you to move. No matter whether you move away from your college dorm, parent's home, or own rental, double check how far away your new job location is from your old residence. If the distance is <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/Moving-Expense-Deduction">at least 50 miles</a>, then the IRS allows you itemize several moving expenses, including:</p> <ul> <li>Transportation and storage of household goods and personal effects within any period of 30 days in a rows after date of move;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Insurance for those household goods and personal effects before delivered to your new home;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Out-of-pocket expenses for gas and oil or mileage at 23 cents a mile, in case you drive for the move; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Parking fees and tolls.</li> </ul> <p>Use <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3903.pdf">Form 3903</a> to figure out whether or not you can deduct your moving expenses and what is your allowable moving expense deduction.</p> <h2>4. Withholding Too Much in Taxes</h2> <p>Whether you graduate in the spring, summer, or fall, you would expect to be employed fewer than 245 days (about eight months) during the current calendar year. In that case, you can ask your employer to use the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p505/ch01.html#en_US_2016_publink1000194430">part-year withholding method</a> so that less tax is withheld from each of your paychecks.</p> <p>IRS Publication 505 states that you must ask your employer in writing to use this method. In your letter, make sure to include these three items:</p> <ul> <li>Date of your last day of work for any prior employer during the current calendar year;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Statement that you don't expect to be employed more than 245 days during the current calendar year; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Statement that you're using the calendar year as your tax year.</li> </ul> <p>If your employer approves your request, the HR department will use the regular percentage method tables from Publication 15 with adjustments for your part-year employment. This is the best way to maximize those first-year checks. Remember that you don't earn interest on refunds!</p> <h2>5. Miscalculating Student Loan Interest</h2> <p>Mom and Dad are always willing to lend you a helping hand and may have footed your student loan payments until you landed your first post-graduation job. In that case, and as long as you're not claimed as a dependent by your parents, you can deduct up to $2,500 of interest paid on qualifying student loans by them from your income subject to tax every year. Just make sure to let your parents know that they won't be able to deduct those interest payments from their own return.</p> <p>Even when you're making student loan payments yourself, you can still deduct up to $2,500 of the interest payments. To be eligible to claim this deduction in 2016, your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be less than $80,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er), or $160,000 if married filing a joint return.</p> <p>To figure out your student loan interest deduction, check Form 1098-E from the institution that receives interest payments made on your behalf or paid by you. Your interest deduction is gradually reduced when your MAGI is between $65,000 and $80,000 ($130,000 and $160,000 if you file a joint return).</p> <p>Let's imagine that you paid $2,600 on interest for a qualified student loan throughout 2015. Assuming you file your return as single, here's how much you could deduct based on your 2015's MAGI:</p> <ul> <li><strong>MAGI is $50,000</strong>: You can deduct the full $2,500.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>MAGI is $70,000:</strong> You need to phase out your student loan interest deduction using rules from <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch04.html">IRS Publication 970</a>: $2,500 x ($70,00-$65,000)/$15,000 = $833.33. Your eligible student loan interest deduction would be $2,500 - $833.33 = $1,666.67.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>MAGI is $85,000</strong>: You can't deduct any student loan interest payments.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you made any of these tax mistakes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads">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/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">Don&#039;t Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <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/6-things-financial-aid-might-not-cover">6 Things Financial Aid Might Not Cover</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes abroad college grads deductions IRS moving expenses student loans students Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1687443 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Tax Mistakes New Parents Make http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-mistakes-new-parents-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-tax-mistakes-new-parents-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mom_dad_baby_000068517403.jpg" alt="New parents making common tax mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Raising a child in America isn't cheap. CNNMoney and FutureAdvisor reported that it would cost $245,340 to raise a child born in 2013 from birth through age 18.</p> <p>That's a lot of money. But your children can actually save you dollars one time each year: When you're <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">preparing your income taxes</a>. Kids come with some valuable tax deductions and credits. The problem? Many new parents, understandably overwhelmed with the burdens of taking care of a baby, fail to claim these savings.</p> <p>And that can cost them thousands of dollars. If you are a new parent, don't pass on these key tax savings.</p> <h2>1. Skipping the Child Tax Credit</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/Ten-Facts-about-the-Child-Tax-Credit">child tax credit</a>&nbsp;shouldn&rsquo;t be overlooked. If you had a new baby in 2015, whether through birth, adoption, or the foster care system, you can claim this additional $1,000 tax credit. It doesn't matter, either, on what day of the year you became a new parent. You can claim the credit even if you had your child on Dec. 31. Your child just needs to be younger than 17 at the end of the tax year in which you are claiming the credit.</p> <p>&quot;Having a baby gives you access to a tax bonus, and will help you reduce your taxable income,&quot; said David Hyrck, partner with New York City's Reed Smith. &quot;I see way too many new parents who overlook this child tax credit. Everyone needs to be doing this.&quot;</p> <p>There is one downside to the tax credit: It is nonrefundable if the credit is higher than your tax liability. Say you owe the government $500. Your $1,000 child tax credit will erase the money you owe the government. But you will lose the extra $500 that you could have claimed if you owed more than $1,000 on your tax bill.</p> <h2>2. Forgetting to Adjust Withholdings</h2> <p>Michael Eckstein, owner of Michael Eckstein Tax Services in Huntington, New York, says that new parents need to adjust the amount of money that their employers withhold from each of their paychecks for taxes.</p> <p>To do this, ask your employer for a new W-4 form. Once you have that form, indicate that you have a new child.</p> <p>Eckstein says that it's important to do this because children bring with them new deductions and credits. You should also tell your employer to reduce the amount of money you&rsquo;re withholding to account for these new tax benefits.</p> <p>If you don't, you will receive a larger tax refund. But remember: Getting a big refund isn't the goal. You'd rather have that extra money in your own hands with each paycheck. You can then use that money for important purchases, or you can invest it and watch it grow. That's a better alternative than giving it to the U.S. government for a full year.</p> <h2>3. Missing Out on Adoption Credits</h2> <p>If you became a new parent this year through an adoption, you're eligible for a significant federal tax credit of as much as $13,400. That's a big help with the high costs that can come with adopting.</p> <p>You don't have to use this tax credit in just one year, either. Say your bill for the 2015 tax year is $5,000. You can use $5,000 of the $13,400 tax credit and then save up the rest of the credit for future years. You can carry over any unused portion of the adoption tax credit for up to five years or until you use up all of the entirety of the credit, whichever comes first.</p> <p>To take this credit, your adopted child must be under 18 at the end of the tax year.</p> <h2>4. Skipping the Child and Dependent Care Credit</h2> <p>New parents should also investigate the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc602.html">child and dependent care credit</a>. This tax credit benefits parents who are working and must pay others to care for their children. To qualify for this credit, both you and your spouse must have earned money during the year from a job and must have paid someone to care for your child while you were working.</p> <p>Calculating how much you can claim for child care expenses is complicated, and depends on how much you spend on childcare, as well as your income. The maximum amount of expenses that you can claim for one child is $3,000, and for two or more children, $6,000.</p> <p><em>Are you making any of these parenting and tax mistakes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-mistakes-new-parents-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-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/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-after-you-have-a-kid">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change After You Have a Kid</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-fun-games-that-teach-your-kids-about-money">6 Fun Games That Teach Your Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-things-science-says-you-should-do-for-your-family">5 Easy Things Science Says You Should Do for Your Family</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/does-your-kid-need-an-ira">Does Your Kid Need an IRA?</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/4-bad-money-habits-youre-teaching-your-kids">4 Bad Money Habits You&#039;re Teaching Your Kids</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family adoption children deductions dependents kids new parents tax credits Mon, 14 Mar 2016 11:00:13 +0000 Dan Rafter 1665554 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/female_student_000051988928.jpg" alt="Female student finding helpful tax deductions and breaks" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Dear students, I'm sure that you have heard the news: Every single year the average student loan debt per borrower is increasing. For example, the average class of 2015 graduate with student loan debt will owe a <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/05/08/congratulations-class-of-2015-youre-the-most-indebted-ever-for-now/">little more than $35,000</a>.</p> <p>Still, there is a silver lining: College students and grads often qualify for significant tax breaks and deductions. To minimize your tax bill and increase your chances of a refund, here are eight tax deductions and breaks worth knowing about.</p> <h2>1. 529 Plans</h2> <p>If your parents or other donor started a 529 plan for you, you're in luck. Also known as qualified tuition programs, 529 plans allow individuals to save for education expenses on a tax-deferred basis and allow a designated beneficiary (ideally, that's you) to use those funds, including interest gains, for qualified expenses free of taxes or penalties.</p> <p>But few people know that you can also start a 529 plan for yourself. Yes, if you anticipate returning to school for any reason, you can save for related expenses in your own 529 plan &mdash; at any age. The list of qualified education expenses goes beyond tuition and academic fees, including expenses for room and board, transportation, equipment, and accommodations for individuals with special needs, so adults can benefit, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans?ref=seealso">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</a>)</p> <h2>2. Qualified IRA Distributions</h2> <p>Qualified distributions taken from a traditional IRA for use in qualified higher education expenses create no tax burden or penalty for you, assuming you only withdraw contributions, and not any earnings on the contributions. (Note: If your spouse, parent, or grandparent takes distributions from their own plans to fund your educational expenses, they would have to pay applicable income taxes on those funds, but don't have to pay the early distribution penalty which applies if under age 59 1/2.)</p> <h2>3. American Opportunity Credit</h2> <p>Replacing the Hope Scholarship credit, the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/AOTC">American Opportunity Credit</a> allows you to cover up to $2,500 of undergraduate college costs, including:</p> <ul> <li>100% of your first $2,000 qualified education expenses; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>25% of next $2,000 qualified education expenses.</li> </ul> <p>Keep in mind that you can claim the American Opportunity tax credit on your own academic expenses or on those of your spouse and kids. This means that you can claim up to $2,500 per student living in your household. However, to be eligible for the full credit, your modified adjusted gross income must be $80,000 or less (those making more receive a reduced amount of the credit).</p> <p>Another advantage of this tax credit is that 40% of it is refundable, meaning that the IRS will issue a refund for that amount even if you don't owe any federal income tax.</p> <h2>4. Lifetime Learning Credit</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/LLC">Lifetime Learning Credit</a> allows you to deduct up to 20% of your first $10,000 in qualified education expenses, up to $2,000 per taxpayer.</p> <p>Unlike the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit isn't refundable. You can use it to reduce any tax that you owe, but won't receive a refund for the unused portion when your tax bill is already zero.</p> <p>However, the Lifetime Learning Credit doesn't require you to be working towards a degree like the American Opportunity Credits does. A single class makes you eligible for this tax credit.</p> <p>To claim the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits, file <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8863.pdf">Form 8863</a> with your federal return.</p> <h2>5. Business Deduction for Work-Related Education</h2> <p>The IRS allows you to deduct the costs of <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch12.html#en_US_2015_publink1000178645">qualifying work-related education</a> as business expenses as long as the education is:</p> <ul> <li>Required by employer of by law;</li> <li>Necessary to maintain or improve skills; or</li> <li>Indispensable to meet minimum requirements.</li> </ul> <p>You can also deduct qualifying transportation and travel expenses necessary for completing the education. For example, you can deduct 57.5 cents per mile driven and 50% of meals when traveling overnight for education purposes throughout 2015.</p> <p>Make sure to keep all records, such as transcripts and catalogs of coursework, and receipts from all of your education expenses to provide sufficient support, especially in case of an IRS audit. A best practice is to obtain a statement from your employer providing details about your required education and reimbursements.</p> <p>For more details, consult Chapter 12 from <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf">IRS Publication 970</a>.</p> <h2>6. Coverdell Education Savings Account</h2> <p>Students under age 18, or of any age with special needs, don't pay any tax on distributions from <a href="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc310.html">Coverdell Education Saving Accounts</a> for qualified education expenses at eligible institutions.</p> <p>While there is no limit on the number of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts that can be opened for the same beneficiary, the total cash contribution to all accounts on behalf of the beneficiary cannot exceed a total of $2,000 per year. Contributions can only be made in cash.</p> <h2>7. Education Savings Bond Program</h2> <p>Series EE bonds issued after 1989 and Series I bonds qualify for the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch10.html">Education Savings Bond Program</a>, allowing you to not pay tax on the interest earned on those U.S. savings bonds. While you can take the tax deduction for your own education, you must be at least 24 years old before the bond's issue date.</p> <p>For additional eligibility criteria, such as modified adjusted gross income tiers, consult Chapter 10 from IRS Publication 970.</p> <h2>8. Scholarship and Fellowship Grants</h2> <p>Last but not least, the IRS exempts students from any taxes on funds from scholarship or fellowship grants that don't exceed qualified education expenses or represent payment for teaching, research, or other services.</p> <p>To increase the combined value of educational credits and other types of educational assistance, the IRS recommends to coordinate Pell grants and other scholarships by including some or all of the additional assistance in income in the years it's received.</p> <p><em>What are other tax deductions and breaks available for students?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">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-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads">5 Most Common Tax Mistakes Made by College Grads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-college-expenses-you-arent-saving-for">9 College Expenses You Aren&#039;t Saving For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</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-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes">10 Surprising Ways Real Estate Cuts Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes 529 plans college credits deductions savings programs students Wed, 09 Mar 2016 10:30:27 +0000 Damian Davila 1668045 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn't Skip http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_moving_boxes_000029693370.jpg" alt="Couple taking tax deductions they shouldn&#039;t skip" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You bought your first home this year. Even better, come tax day, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-things-new-homeowners-dont-prepare-for">owning a home</a> can provide you with big financial rewards. That's because homeowners can claim several tax breaks that can shave thousands off your tax bill.</p> <p>But they won't help you if you don't claim them. Here is a list of the most important tax breaks for homeowners. To claim these, you'll have to itemize your taxes using IRS Form 1014 and Schedule A. This means that you'll no longer be able to quickly fill out your income taxes with the 1040EZ form.</p> <p>You'll find, though, that the extra work usually pays off with solid savings.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage Interest Deduction</h2> <p>When you first begin paying your mortgage, the bulk of your payments go toward interest, not the principal balance on your loan. The good news at tax time is that you can deduct the interest that you pay on your mortgage. These deductions can be sizable during your first years of owning a home.</p> <p>There is a limit, though, on interest deductions. You can't claim mortgage interest payments if your home loan is more than $1 million, but fortunately, that's not something that most new owners will have to worry about.</p> <p>Your lender will send you a Form 1098 each January. This form will list how much you paid in mortgage interest throughout the year. You then simply enter that number when filing your taxes.</p> <h2>2. Property Taxes</h2> <p>Depending on where you live, you might pay plenty in property taxes each year. Usually, you'll pay a portion of your yearly property taxes with each mortgage payment you make. You'll include extra dollars with your mortgage payment &mdash; in an amount determined by your lender &mdash; that your mortgage provider will then deposit in an escrow account. When your property taxes are due, your lender will pay them on your behalf from this account.</p> <p>Fortunately, you can deduct your property taxes each year, too. If you have an escrow arrangement with your mortgage lender, the amount you pay in property taxes will also be listed in the Form 1098 that they will send you in January.</p> <h2>3. Points</h2> <p>Did you pay your lender points to reduce your interest rate? If so, you might be able to deduct their cost, too.</p> <p>Buyers spend 1% of their home loan to buy a single point. Lenders allow buyers to purchase points as a way to lower their interest rate. The goal for buyers is to spend a bit upfront for a lower interest rate that guarantees them lower monthly payments for the life of their loan.</p> <p>If you did pay points, the amount you paid will again be listed in the Form 1098 that your lender sends to you.</p> <h2>4. Private Mortgage Insurance</h2> <p>Homeowners don't like paying for private mortgage insurance. This is no surprise. This insurance doesn't protect homeowners at all. Instead, it protects your mortgage lender in case you stop making your monthly payments.</p> <p>But you can deduct your private mortgage insurance premiums on your taxes, thanks to the new Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015. This recent piece of legislation preserves the deduction for private mortgage insurance for the 2015 and 2016 tax years.</p> <p>You'll have to pay for private mortgage insurance if the down payment you provided was less than 20% of your new home's purchase price. You can drop private mortgage insurance on conventional loans not insured by the federal government once your loan-to-value ratio hits 80%.</p> <p><em>Are you claiming all your real estate tax deductions?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">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/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes">10 Surprising Ways Real Estate Cuts Your Taxes</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/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage">8 Signs You&#039;re Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <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/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Taxes deductions interest new homeowners pmi points tax breaks Fri, 04 Mar 2016 10:30:43 +0000 Dan Rafter 1666375 at http://www.wisebread.com The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax Audit http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_doing_taxes_000051800066.jpg" alt="Woman finding easy way to avoid tax audit" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one enjoys tax day. Filling out all those forms and checking those figures is a drag. But there's one thing worse than filling out your income taxes: an IRS audit.</p> <p>Here's the secret, though: There's no magic formula for avoiding an IRS audit. The only surefire way to never receive one of those ominous IRS letters is to be honest when completing your taxes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a>)</p> <p>&quot;Any tax professional who gives you a list of audit triggers is selling snake oil,&quot; said Stewart Patton with U.S. Tax Services. &quot;They are simply trying to trump up their own personal experience into something universal, trying to position themselves as a unique soothsayer among mere mortals.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <h2>Your Tax Return Tells a Story &mdash; Make It Honest</h2> <p>Sam Brotman, a tax attorney with San Diego's Brotman Law, explains it like this: &quot;Every tax return tells a story,&quot; he said. &quot;The IRS audits people when that story does not match up.&quot;</p> <p>Brotman said that most filers believe that taking too many deductions will trigger an audit. But that's not necessarily true. Brotman said instead that who gets audited is based mainly on statistics.</p> <p>Your tax return contains what Brotman says is a &quot;treasure trove&quot; of information about who you are, what you do, and how you earn a living. The IRS then compares the information on your return with other people in your area who share similar attributes.</p> <p>The people who get audited are those that differ significantly from the norms, Brotman said. He gives this example: If you and all of your neighbors live in a neighborhood where everyone makes the same approximate level of income except for one or two people, the IRS is more likely to audit those two outliers.</p> <p>&quot;The biggest tip that I can give is to be honest about your deductions and your income,&quot; Brotman said. &quot;People who try to game the system are often unclear on how the IRS' statistical methods for auditing work and often end up getting audited anyway.&quot;</p> <h2>Avoid Basic Mistakes</h2> <p>That being said, there are certain mistakes that will increase your odds of an IRS audit. Venar Aya, a tax attorney with Southfield, Michigan's Ayar Law Group, said that those filers who make mathematical errors on their returns are more likely to get hit with an audit.</p> <p>&quot;All of your taxes are run through a computer, so if you botched the math somewhere along the line, it's going to trigger a red flag,&quot; Ayar said.</p> <p>Ayar recommends that filers triple check their numbers before sending off their taxes.</p> <p>You'll also increase your chances of an audit if you try to under-report your income, Ayar said. Remember, the companies that you work for will report what they've paid you to the IRS. If you try to hide that income, the IRS will find out, and it won't be happy.</p> <p>&quot;Part of the IRS' job is making sure you pay what you're supposed to,&quot; Ayar said. &quot;To be perfectly blunt, when it comes to filing your taxes, don't screw around.&quot;</p> <p>Ayar also pointed to charitable donations as a possible trouble area. It is good to donate to charity, and you should claim your charitable donations as deductions to help ease your tax burden, Ayar said. But you must accurately report the amount you donated. Trying to claim larger contributions than you actually made could raise the suspicions of the IRS.</p> <p>&quot;When you make a donation that is abnormally big in comparison to your income, that will raise some eyebrows,&quot; Ayar said.</p> <h2>Business Expenses Are Tricky</h2> <p>Deductions associated with running a business either full-time or part-time from your home can also make the IRS suspicious, said Dave Du Val, vice president of consumer advocacy at Citrus Heights, California-based TaxAudit.com.</p> <p>Yes, you want to deduct legitimate business expenses if you run a business from your home. But if you deduct too much, and if you tend to only deduct &quot;fun&quot; expenses such as a new digital camera, high-end smartphone, or ultra-expensive laptop computer, you just might trigger an IRS audit.</p> <p>Du Val recommends that consumers be careful, too, when deducting miles, airline flights, or hotels that they are claiming as business expenses. It all comes down to whether your business is truly a business and not a hobby, and whether the purchases you are deducting are actually business expenses.</p> <p>For instance, you can't really claim that trip to Disney World as a business expense if during your seven-day stay you only had one business meeting. And if you spent the other six days with your family in the Magic Kingdom? That's really not an appropriate business deduction.</p> <p>&quot;Ask yourself, is your business really a business according to the Internal Revenue Code?&quot; Du Val asked. &quot;If you have a business with little to no income for which you have been reporting a loss year after year, review the IRS' guidelines for determining if an activity is a business or hobby. Maybe it's time to stop reporting that hobby as a business.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you ever fallen under the IRS' baleful gaze? What triggered the audit?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit">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/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-2 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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-freelancers-and-side-giggers-need-to-know-about-income-taxes">What Freelancers and Side Giggers Need to Know About Income 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/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/heres-how-to-deduct-charitable-donations-on-your-taxes">Here&#039;s How to Deduct Charitable Donations on Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes audits business expenses deductions IRS red flags tax laws Wed, 24 Feb 2016 10:30:29 +0000 Dan Rafter 1659933 at http://www.wisebread.com