Taxes

Five Ways to Write Off Your Next Vacation

Planning a vacation and dreading all the costs? While there are many ways to spend less on vacation, there’s another route to try if you want to travel at a discount: Write off a portion of your trip on your taxes. The savings won’t be immediate, but you’ll appreciate them come tax time next year. The trick is, you’ll …

Categories: Saving Money, Taxes, Travel

Roth IRA vs 401k? You May Not Have to Choose

One of the most common retirement questions I get asked is: Roth IRA or 401(k)? Although both are good options worth considering, the answer isn’t always as straightforward as one might think. Also, it’s crucial for you to understand that you may not even need to pick one or the other. If you’re able to …

Don’t Waste Your Tax Refund: Four Better Ways to Use It

According to the IRS, the average tax refund so far this year has reached a staggering $3,539. It’s still early, however. And as the tax agency notes, most of the big refunds are filed quickly since the people receiving them don’t want to wait for their payday. Still, last year’s refunds for tax year 2013 were averaging around …

Categories: Saving Money, Taxes

Can the Saver’s Credit Save You Money on Your Taxes?

For many people, two of the most frightening words in the English language are death and taxes. Even among those for whom the words are not terrifying, they evoke strong emotion. Another word that generates strong emotion is retirement. Unlike death and taxes, that word usually brings a smile to people’s faces. That is, until …

Categories: Retirement, Taxes

TurboTax Discount Code – Free Offer Promotion

Tax preparers usually need a TurboTax discount code to get a great deal on the software for tax season. However, due to a PR mix up earlier this year TurboTax has slashed prices on its Premier and Deluxe packages. As usual, you can is running a limited-time offer that could get simple filers to complete …

Best Tax Software for 2015: TaxACT vs TurboTax vs H&R Block

The countdown to April 15, 2015 is on and its time to get a head start looking at the best tax software options. Why? Because, according to IRS disclosures, it takes a person in the US an average of 13 hours to plan, prepare and file their federal taxes. For most of us, it can …

Tax Benefits for Members of the Military

Under normal circumstances, preparing all but the simplest tax returns can be confusing and stressful. For many military taxpayers, there is no such thing as a simple return. Along with military service often comes unique circumstances and stresses, including frequent repostings and deployments in combat zones. In recognition of the unique contributions of service members — …

Categories: Taxes

Is Your ‘Business’ Just a Hobby?

There’s an old Gershwin song that goes, “You say tomato, I say tamahtoe … let’s call the whole thing off.” Taxpayers and the IRS have their own version: “You say hobby, I say business.” The difference between businesses and hobbies is that you have to prove that your hobby is a business by passing not one …

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Taxes

To Itemize or Not to Itemize? That Is the Question

Misconceptions are common when it comes to taxes in general, but some aspects of income tax preparation seem to have more than their fair share. A breeding ground for misconceptions is the discrepancies over rules: The actual IRS rules versus the rules according to your best friend. The rules that you hear on the street include timeless …

Categories: Taxes

Don’t Forget to Deduct…

The tax-preparation chain H&R Block is running a commercial this year that invites Americans to “get their billions back.” But what exactly does it mean? The overwhelming majority (84%) of Americans who e-filed a tax return last year received a refund, according to the IRS. The average amount of those refunds was $3,211, for a …

Categories: Taxes

Six Common Tax Misunderstandings – and How to Survive Them

During the first few months of the year, I read lots of articles and hear from many readers on the question of income taxes. It’s not surprising since filing income tax paperwork is part of the life of most American adults during these first few months of the year, and it’s always a painful process. …

Categories: Taxes

Five Tax Breaks for Parents

There’s a lot to be said about having children; they’re a joy, they’re a handful — and they’re expensive. How expensive depends upon where you live and how much you earn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates it costs between $180,000 and $540,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18, and those numbers just …

Categories: Family, Taxes

Seven Truths About Self-Employment

It’s three hours until closing time and you’re already counting down. Once the clock strikes 5 p.m., you are ready to race out that door and find comfort with your family – at least until tomorrow. Your morning meeting was beyond frustrating, your co-worker smacked her gum all day (again), and the entire day was …

Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights

The majority of taxpayers have long held the belief that they have no rights before the IRS, according to IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. IRS surveys have confirmed this view, despite the fact that Congress has passed multiple bills over the years titled “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.” The Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office …

Tax Prep Checklist

Even the most knowledgeable tax professional can’t complete your income tax return correctly and quickly without all the information they need. Yet every year, countless people sit down opposite their accountant and answer, “I don’t know,” or, “Can’t you just plug a number in?” to questions about income and expenses. Most professionals will smile and …

Categories: Taxes

Going Pro: How to Choose a Tax Preparer

More than 50% of taxpayers hire a professional to prepare their taxes. But you’re legally responsible for what is on your tax return even if you paid someone else to prepare it for you. Mistakes and their consequences are the responsibility of the individual, married couple, or business whose name appears at the top of …

Categories: Taxes

Understanding Income and Tax Brackets

There is a good reason so many people seek professional help with preparing their income taxes. It’s because the tax is complicated, and at the heart of the convoluted system are tax brackets. Federal income tax rates are divided into seven brackets that are based on income and range from 10% to 39.6%. If that was …

Categories: Taxes

Six Big Financial Differences Between a Normal Job and Self-Employment

In 2008, I took the leap from a traditional white collar job into self-employment, mostly on the back of a small side gig I had built for myself that was mostly based around The Simple Dollar. It was a scary change, as I walked away from the stable salary and relative security of my previous …

Top Tax Scams to Watch Out for in 2015

Every year, Americans lose untold billions of dollars to a host of tax scams that range from identity theft to return-preparer fraud. While most of these scams can happen at any time, they tend to be most active during tax season, from January through April 15. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen urges taxpayers to “use caution …

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