Local Business

National Business

MoneyTips

Waiting until the last minute to pay your taxes can cost you if you are expecting a refund, since the government hangs on to your money and receives more interest on it. However, if you owe money to the government, that same principle applies to you. Why not wait until the last minute?

There is no reason not to, as long as your return is postmarked or electronically submitted by May 17th, 2021, and your payments are submitted then as well. Extending your deadline to file does not extend your payment time. You are expected to pay the amount you owe, or your best estimate, by the May 17th deadline.

"Filing for an extension doesn't get you an extension to pay," confirms Betterment Head of Tax Eric Bronnenkant. "Let's say you don't pay by the deadline, well then you're still going to have to pay interest on that m...

Should You Pay Your Taxes With A Credit Card?

The Punishing Costs of Paying Your Taxes Late

You Owe Taxes, But Can’t Pay the Bill

MoneyTips

Contributing to a retirement account can be difficult for lower income households, but one can argue that it is even more important for those families to take advantage of all the retirement savings options that are possible. One of the lesser-known options applies directly to lower-income families – the credit for qualified retirement savings contributions, also known as the Saver's Credit. Note that this program is a tax credit and not a deduction, meaning that the amount you qualify for is subtracted directly from the taxes that you owe.

The credit applies to most retirement plans – 401(k)s, IRAs (both Roth and traditional), 403(b)s, 457(b)s, SIMPLE IRAs, SARSEPs, and other plans. It does not apply to rollover contributions, and any recent distributions that you received from these plans can reduce the amount of your credit. As of 2018, you may also take the credit for contributions to an Achi...

Only 25% Of Americans Know This Simple Tax-Savings Trick

It's STILL Not Too Late To Lower Your Tax Bill

Traditional vs. Roth IRAs and 401(k)s

MoneyTips

Did your kids get a taste of the real world and decide that living off Mom and Dad was not so bad after all? Cheer up… you may still be able to claim them as dependents on your taxes.

In the past, dependents could save money on your taxes in two ways: through individual exemptions and the potential eligibility for certain tax credits. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) removed the personal exemption from tax year 2018, but expanded the Child Tax Credit and kept the Dependent Care Credit in place, despite early talks of doing away with it. "The Dependent Care Credit can be very valuable. It was actually on the potential chopping block as far as the recent tax reform, but it survived," reports Betterment Head of Tax Eric Bronnenkant. "Let's say you have two kids, and let's say your employer offers a dependent care account, you're able to contribute up to $5,000 tax-free through your employ...

Top 7 Tax Benefits Of Parenthood

11 Popular Tax Credits

Top 7 Tax Deductions And Credits That People Forget

MoneyTips

Wouldn't it be nice if you could deduct your credit card debt from your taxes? For most Americans, that's just a dream that will never come true. However, some circumstances allow you to deduct some credit card debt – all related to using your card for business purposes.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the standard deduction and eliminated or reduced certain itemized deductions as part of a tax simplification effort. It's critical for those who still itemize to take advantage of all possible deductions. Self-employed taxpayers and small business owners who rely heavily on credit cards may be able to save by taking advantage of credit-related deductions.

Credit card debt on personal purchases is not tax-deductible, thanks to the 1986 Tax Reform Act. However, three varieties of business-related credit card debt may be deductible.

Interest on credit ca...

How To Save For Taxes If You Are A Freelancer

Top 10 Home Office Tax Deductions

Don't Let Taxes Kill Your New Business

MoneyTips

Procrastinator alert: your taxes are due! If you are nowhere near ready as the scary deadline approaches, you may file an extension with the IRS that gives you up to six more months to file your taxes. Filing an extension will spare you from late filing penalties — 5% of the amount of tax you owe for each month or partial month past the deadline. The extension is automatic — you do not have to send any justification or reasoning like "I have 5,000 wadded-up receipts crammed in a shoebox."

The IRS and Treasury Department have extended the 2021 tax filing and payment deadline from April 15th to May 17th, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To file an extension, fill out IRS Form 4868, "Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Return" and submi...

The Punishing Costs of Paying Your Taxes Late

Last-Minute Tax Day Filing

You Owe Taxes, But Can’t Pay the Bill

MoneyTips

As much fun as it is to hold your tax refund check in your hands as you rub them together with glee, direct deposit is a simpler and faster method of receiving your refund. It may be safer as well. Not only will you be spared the possibility of someone stealing your check out of the mail, you will also be less tempted to spend it.

However, there is an even better way to avoid spending your refund. You can have it directly deposited into an individual retirement account (IRA) or purchase U.S. savings bonds with it. Some institutions may allow you to directly deposit your refund into other types of accounts such as 529 College Savings Plans or mutual funds.

IRS Form 8888, "Allocation of Refund," allows you to split your refund into a...

Your Roth IRA 60 Day Withdrawal Window

Don't Get A Surprise Tax Bill From Your IRA

5 Top Myths And 5 Top Facts About Tax Refunds

MoneyTips

Caring for an elderly relative can be rewarding, but incredibly difficult – as well as expensive. However, it may be possible to recoup some of the costs through income tax savings.

There are two general approaches to tax savings on elder care costs – taking medical deductions that can be itemized and claiming a dependent care credit that can be subtracted directly from the taxes you owe.

First, you must determine if your elderly relative qualifies as a dependent. Full details are listed in IRS Publication 501, "Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information," but the primary criteria are that they must be a relative, you must be providing over half of their support, and their gross 2020 income must be less than $4,300.

The definition of relatives includes stepparents and in-laws. They do not...

11 Popular Tax Credits

Tax Benefits Of Having Dependents

Top 7 Tax Deductions And Credits That People Forget

MoneyTips

When you use your car for both personal and business reasons and you are not fully reimbursed through your employer for the business expenses, you can deduct those costs from your taxes. How do you go about claiming these deductions? Assuming that you itemize, you have two general paths:

  • Standard Mileage Method – The IRS prints flat rates of reimbursement per mile driven for each calendar year. For business use of your vehicle in tax year 2020, the standard mileage rate is 57.5 cents per mile, down from the 2019 value of 58 cents per mile.
  • Actual Expense Method – Rather than calculate an average based on miles, you can calculate the actual expenses related to the non-personal use including gas, oil, maintenance costs, depreciation, tolls, parking fees, insurance, and other applicable exp...

Retirees Not Maximizing Tax Refunds

Giving to Charitable Foundations

Men Benefit More from Mortgage Interest Tax Deductions

MoneyTips

A stable income is critical to a comfortable retirement – as is limiting the amount of that income that you give to Uncle Sam. Maximizing retirement income and minimizing taxes requires advance planning – as illustrated in these seven tips.

1. Use a Roth IRA

Because Roth IRAs are funded with post-tax dollars, they are flexible retirement income sources and excellent for plugging retirement income gaps. You may draw contributions out at any time and earnings may be withdrawn tax-free if you are at least age 59½ and have had the account for at least five years.

Roth IRA contributions are less attractive when you are in higher-earning years where a high tax bracket applies. Contribute to a Roth IRA when tax conditions are favorable or convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in a year where your adjusted gross income (AGI) is low, taking the tax hit while you'r...

7 Taxes Retirees Must Consider

Top 13 Ways To Cut Your Taxes

3 Top Retiree Tax-Planning Mistakes

MoneyTips

In general, deducting pet expenses on your tax return can get you into hot water with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Usually pet expenses will not hold up should the IRS audit you. However, specific cases exist that allow you to take legitimate tax deductions for spending on your pet.

Regardless of how you justify your pet deductions, make sure that you have receipts and documentation for all expenses you claim on your tax return or they will be disallowed.

Guard Pets

Guard animals could pass muster for a deduction for your business. If you consider deducting your pet as a guard animal, make sure that they actually perform guard duties. Your pet's breed should be one that is often considered that of a typical guard animal. For instance, a pit bull could be considered a guard dog while a Chihuahua probably would not.

It would be beneficial if you could pr...

Top 7 Tax Benefits Of Parenthood

Giving to Charitable Foundations

Tax Benefits Of Having Dependents

MoneyTips

What two words cause the most panic to Americans? There are probably a hundred funny responses running through your mind right now, but we were thinking of a less humorous response: "IRS audit."

Your odds of avoiding an audit are usually pretty good. The IRS reviewed 771,095 in fiscal year (FY) 2019, resulting in a low audit rate of 0.4%. Raising red flags in your return are likely to increase your odds of being audited. Some of these cannot be avoided, but others are essentially errors in judgment.

  • You Are Wealthy – The IRS disproportionately audits wealthier Americans. Why? As the famous bank robber Willie Sutton allegedly said, "Because that's where the money is." Think of it as a return on investment of IRS time. As Betterment Head of Tax Eric Bronnenkant puts it, "The IRS audits wealthy people because they're the ones who are the most likely to get an adjustment out of it."

    While there may be an element of ROI involved, the...

Top 7 Tax Deductions And Credits That People Forget

Top 7 Tax Benefits Of Parenthood

How Long Should Tax Returns Be Saved?

MoneyTips


By Eric Olsen, Executive Director, HELPS Nonprofit Law Firm

At this time of year, creditors sometimes send out what is called a Form 1099-C. They email it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and copy the person who owes them debt. The form tells the IRS that they, the company who is owed the debt, has tried (unsuccessfully) to collect and the unpaid debt is now "written off."

Seniors are often told by their tax preparers that they now have to pay taxes on the debt contained in the 1099-C, as it is now considered income they received. This is almost always NOT the case and I shudder to think of all the taxes that have been paid because of a 1099-C when it wasn't necessary. Often, you don’t have to pay if you know what to do.

The rule is that to the extent a person is insolvent, meaning their debts exceed their assets, they DO NOT OWE TAX. IRS Form 9...

Not Every 1099 Raises Your Tax Bill

Free Tax Preparation

Top 12 Mistakes To Avoid In Tax Planning

MoneyTips

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 gave most Americans a break on their upcoming taxes – but you don't need legislation to cut your taxes even further with sound investment strategies that focus on tax optimization.

Here are a few ways to help yourself at Uncle Sam's expense.

1. Shift Toward Capital Gains – The TCJA narrowed the gap between individual tax rates and capital gains taxes, but it's still preferable from a tax perspective to have investments that rely on price appreciation for returns instead of income generation. Returns on the former are taxed at the capital gains rate (15-20%, with a few exceptions) while returns on the latter are taxed per the standard income brackets.

2. Qualified Pass-Through Income – The TCJA also handed a huge, albeit temporary, gift to many small-business owners by allowing a 20% tax d...

Tax-Loss Harvesting 101

Tax-loss Selling

Tax-Loss Harvesting Causes Buy Opportunities

MoneyTips

Does your ability to pass on your wealth to your heirs depend on where you live ... and die? Indeed, it does. Federal estate taxes apply no matter where you live within the U.S., but eighteen states subject their citizens to estate taxes or inheritance taxes. The difference between the two is that estate taxes are subtracted from an estate before it is dispersed to the heirs, while the inheritance tax applies to the heirs — even if they live in a different state than the deceased.

Inheritance taxes only apply in six states: Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. All of these states completely exempt spouses from paying inheritance tax, and New Jersey exempts domestic partners, too. Children and siblings are also often exempted. Nebraska and Pennsylvania are the only states where children and grandchildren...

Do I Have To Pay Taxes When I Inherit Money?

Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax 101

6 Hot Taxation Topics (Infographic)

MoneyTips

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you should receive 1095 forms along with the W-2, 1099, and other tax forms that you receive from employers and financial institutions. The 1095 forms verify your health care insurance status for tax purposes. 1095-A forms debuted in 2015, while taxpayers received 1095-B or 1095-C forms for the first time in 2016.

All You Need to Know About the ObamaCare Tax Forms

Form 1095-A is issued through the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace for those who purchased health insurance through the marketplace. Effectively, it is your proof of insurance if you are receiving insurance outside of an employer. All consumers who received cost assistance through the marketplace need the 1095-A form to be able to file their taxes properly.

Forms 1095-B and 1095-C are complementary forms...

Tax Impact Of The Affordable Care Act

Is Your W-2 Tax Form Less Than Your Salary?

Interactive Tax Assistant 101