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Taxes


  • Ask the Readers: Should We Get Married Sooner to Lower Our Taxes? (49 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Landen and his fiancé are planning to get married in the fall of 2015 and they’re starting to think about how to blend their financial lives together as they tie the knot. There are always a lot of decisions to make when you get married: Will you keep…

  • How I paid less in property taxes (17 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Today I present the second and final installment of my property tax saga — the informal hearing. (You can check out the first post here.) To briefly recap, I’m a new homeowner and my assessed property value shot up by 31 percent from last year. So that, along…

  • I was audited by the IRS! (39 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. His non-financial writing lives at More Than Money. When I was young, my father got audited by the IRS. I can’t remember the details…

  • Homeowners: Could this save you thousands in just a few hours? (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. You know all those great tactics to save huge chunks of cash — the tactics that don’t require you to scrimp and save? I’m talking about things like lowering the APR on your credit card or getting a better deal on your car insurance — paying less for…

  • One year later: The benefits and tragedies of self-employment (76 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Almost exactly a year ago today, I quit my full-time job to pursue my passion — writing. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, but it was also terrifying. I had spent the last six years working alongside my husband, a mortician, in the…

  • Reader Story: Looking ahead pays off until “boom”! (49 comments)

    This reader story comes from JenB. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I thought I had it all figured out, but…

  • Ask the Readers: 5 questions about your taxes (55 comments)

    It’s that dreaded time of year, but we all must face it. So let’s talk about taxes today. I’ve got some questions (and offer my answers). 1)      Do you get a refund or max out your withholding? A recent Moneyrates.com survey found that 31 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed prefer to get a refund….

  • 7 year-end tax tips to keep Uncle Sam out of your wallet (26 comments)

    This article is a guest post from Maryalene LaPonsie. Maryalene has been writing professionally for more than a decade on a variety of subjects including life insurance and personal finance. She helps consumers navigate topics such as creating budgets, using credit wisely and protecting income and assets by making smart insurance choices. Prior to her…

  • Taxes: Don’t rush it (62 comments)

    I was really excited about filing my taxes this year. For once, I wasn’t really in need of any pricey things for the house (though I have plenty of wants. Hello, wood stove!), and was rubbing my hands together with the thought of the emergency savings fund I’d soon have in the bank account! Thanks…

  • Tax prep costs: What’s it worth to you? (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, the senior financial analyst at our sister site MoneyRates.com. Richard has earned the CFA designation and is a 20-year veteran of the financial industry, including having previously served for more than a dozen years as a member of the Executive Committee of Manning & Napier Advisors, Inc….

  • Reader story: Tax-efficient charitable giving (15 comments)

    This is a guest post from LD, a practicing Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner who blogs about personal finance at Personal Finance Insider. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and…

  • How to Pick the Best Darned Account for You (9 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Happy World Wide Invest Better Day! What, you’re not familiar with this holiday?…

  • Redefining Frugality: Mistakes and Money Lessons Learned as a Freelancer (64 comments)

    Sitting on my desk as I write this is an application I should have filled out months ago. Twenty-two months ago, to be exact. It was then that I left my 40-hour-a-week office job, which included a convenient 401(k), dependable health care plan and, most refreshingly, a kind and understanding boss. It was tough to…

  • How I Got Rich Quickly, Then Failed…Miserably (62 comments)

    This is a guest post from Belinda James. Belinda is currently attending Trident Online University and earning her master’s degree in business administration. In her spare time she writes automotive articles for Nissan Minneapolis. A few years ago I had a regular administrative 9-to-5 job working for one of the three credit bureaus. It was…

  • Prepare for the Tax Preparer to Save Money (48 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Tax Day falls on my birthday. This year, I’m giving myself the gift of a tax preparer. Last year, in the days leading up to The Big Day, I locked myself in the home office. I emerged bleary-eyed from staring at a computer screen and mentally exhausted…

  • Tax Prep Tips: Is Cheaper Always Better? (86 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, who has earned the CFA designation and is a 20-year veteran of the financial industry, including having previously served for more than a dozen years as a member of the Executive Committee of Manning & Napier Advisors, Inc. Richard has written extensively on investment and personal finance…

  • Reader Story: I Fought the Law (and the Law Won) (84 comments)

    This guest post from Brooklyn Money is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. One fine evening late…

  • How to Spend a Tax Refund (126 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. For the past two years doing taxes has not been bearable: it’s been terrific! I’ve used an online e-filing service for several years now after many years of taking great pleasure — really! — in filling out the paper forms, just because it gets the money to…

  • 11 Things You May Not Know About Retirement Accounts (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks, and photocopies his face and other body parts. I don’t know you personally (yet),…

  • Getting The Most From Your Charitable Deductions (33 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Charitable deductions can be a complex and confusing area of your tax return. Understanding what you can deduct and what you can’t deduct can be confusing. Documenting it properly adds yet another layer of difficulty. To…

  • Tax Tips for the Freelancer (24 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. If you’re one of the many freelancers and small-business owners who wait until the last minute to file your taxes, there’s good news in 2011: Tax Day is April 18 this year, which gives you three extra days. Ready for the bad news? That’s less than a…

  • Tax Prep Costs: How Much Will It Cost to Get Your Taxes Done? (80 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, a freelance writer and novelist who spent over 20 years as an investment industry executive. Barrington is a regular contributor at MoneyRates. Previously at GRS, he shared how to find the right CD or money-market account and tips for sound saving and investing. Note: See the 2012…

  • A Quick and Easy Way to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund (17 comments)

    This morning I posted my annual review of the Consumer Reports auto issue. Now might be a good time to publish another annual reminder: It’s tax refund season! If you have a refund due this year and you’re getting antsy for it, you can check its status easily with this simple web-based tool from the…

  • The Truth About Tax Deductions (38 comments)

    This is a guest post from GRS reader Greg Braun, a Certified Public Accountant from Nampa, Idaho. Nobody likes to pay taxes. And I think we all get a little kick out of finding ways to save on our tax bill. We smile when we find a deduction we’d been missing. Maybe we think it’s…

  • How to “Cheat” on Your Taxes — Legally (46 comments)

    This is a Guest Post by Richard Close. As a former IRS Revenue Officer, Richard “stole” $10 Million for the IRS. Now he works to help American taxpayers. Richard writes IRS news and updates daily on his website, The IRS Hitman. You can find answers to common tax questions in his knowledge vault. Ah, tax…

  • Use FreeFile to File Your Tax Return for Free (32 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing, and again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free: The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service…

  • The Tax Protestor FAQ (53 comments)

    Every so often (especially this time of year), someone writes to let me in on a secret. “J.D., did you know you don’t have to pay income taxes?” they’ll say. “It’s true! Income tax is illegal!” I’ve never known how to respond to these folks. Now, I can just point them to the Tax Protester…

  • Taking Care of Business: Expense Reimbursement (50 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Most employees have to submit expense reports at some point — be it for out-of-town travel, client dinners, special events, or other expenses you incur due to your job responsibilities. Keeping track of these expenses is important, otherwise you’re losing money while on the job and…

  • 2011 Death and Taxes Poster Now Available (22 comments)

    In my posts last summer about understanding the federal budget and the truth about taxes, I pointed to Jess Bachman’s Death and Taxes poster. This monster 24-inch by 36-inch graph shows you just how the government spends your tax money. From the site: “Death and Taxes” is a large representational graph and poster of the…

  • Roth IRA Conversions Made Easy (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Steve Juetten, a fee-only certified financial planner in Bellevue, Washington, and long-time Get Rich Slowly reader. He has written a book for consumers on the topic of 2010 Roth IRA conversions. You can find out more about Steve, the book, and his services at finpath.com. Traditional and on-line media…

  • How To Check Your Federal IRS Tax Refund Status (44 comments)

    For years, I loved to get a tax refund. In fact, it seemed the only way I could save was by having extra withheld from my paycheck so that I’d get a big refund at the end of the year. Using this method, I was able to buy a new computer, a new bike, and…

  • New from the IRS! Use Your Tax Refund to Buy Savings Bonds (29 comments)

    Here’s something cool I learned at Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge. Apparently you can now use your tax refund to automatically buy I-series bonds from the U.S. government. As recently as three years ago, I was a huge fan of tax refunds. Despite the arguments against them, I liked getting a tax refund because it was the…

  • A Fast, Free Way to File Your Federal Income Taxes (23 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing, and again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free: The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service…

  • Where Your Money Goes: An Interactive Tax Calculator (28 comments)

    Last August, in the midst of a growing debate about taxes in the United States, I decided I’d had enough. I was sick and tired of the histrionics from both sides of the political fence, and I wanted to find the facts. I spent twelve hours researching the federal budget and the U.S. tax system,…

  • Energy-Efficiency Tax Credits Could Be Your Personal Government-Bailout Package (38 comments)

    David Kaplan wrote with the following: “A lot of personal finance blogs cover the same material. I’d like to see some quality content on the value added by investing in energy efficiencies. My prime interest is in windows/insulation and other items eligible under the current tax credit, perhaps you can consider several options.” Since I’m…

  • The Truth About Taxes (229 comments)

    Note: Although I try to keep GRS a politics-free zone, today’s topic is inherently political. I’ve stayed as neutral as possible in the article, but I know that there’ll be some political discussion in the comments. Please keep conversation civil, as always. Because I was frustrated with my own ignorance about the U.S. federal budget…

  • Understanding the Federal Budget (141 comments)

    Note: Although I try to keep GRS a politics-free zone, today’s topic is inherently political. I’ve stayed as neutral as possible in the article, but I know that there’ll be some political discussion in the comments. Please keep conversation civil, as always. Recently at The Simple Dollar, Trent posed the question, “How much do taxes…

  • How Marginal Tax Rates Work (95 comments)

    Yesterday I hosted a guest article about the mortagage-interest tax deduction. As part of his argument that this tax break should not be used to justify buying a house, CJ from Wise Money Matters looked at the savings by tax brackets. What CJ did not consider (and what escaped my notice, and even that of…

  • Why You Shouldn’t Keep a Mortgage Just for the Tax Deduction (107 comments)

    This is a guest post from CJ at WiseMoneyMatters.com. This post represents CJ’s viewpoints, which are not necessarily my viewpoints. (Although I, too, hope to pay off my mortgage early.) Note: This is embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve ever had a post with an error like this slip by me before. I apologize. I’ve removed…

  • Stand Up to the IRS: Free Guide to Tax Audits (and More!) (5 comments)

    After yesterday’s post about taxes, author Fred Daily wrote to point out a free tax resource that he’s posted online. Daily is a tax attorney, and a long-time subscriber to this site. He’s also the author of Stand Up to the IRS and Tax Savvy for Small Business. In an interesting move, Daily has placed…

  • Top 10 Tips for Preparing Your Tax Return (and Tax Software Giveaway!) (164 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing. Readers are peppering me with questions, and marketers are forwarding promotional material for their products. This seems like a good time to meld the two opposing forces into a single post! Tips for preparing your tax return First up, Roni Deutch, CEO of the nation’s largest tax-resolution law firm,…

  • What Tax Season Taught Me About Personal Finance (29 comments)

    This is a guest post from Tara Young. This winter marks my fourth season as a volunteer tax preparer under the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, which provides free tax preparation services for lower income and elderly taxpayers. The experience has been quite rewarding, and I’ve learned more about U.S. personal income taxes than I…

  • Bankrate’s 2009 Tax Guide (42 comments)

    It’s tax season! I’m a little late getting around to my own taxes this year — I’ve had other things to worry about. One of my goals for this weekend is to begin rounding up all of the necessary documents. And, as usual, one of my first stops for information will be the Bankrate Tax…

  • Tax-Loss Harvesting: How to Use the Market Downturn to Save on Taxes This Year (26 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Linden Cornett. Linden is a Portland-area professional with an interest in finance. The stock market is down this year, and many people have asked me if I’ve made any changes to my investments as a result. My general strategy is to buy-hold-rebalance my stock and…

  • The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit (68 comments)

    First-time home buyers are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 under the U.S. Housing and Economic Recover Act of 2008. To qualify for the tax credit, purchasers must close on a home between 09 April 2008 and 01 July 2009. Married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for the full…

  • The Saver’s Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions (30 comments)

    When you don’t have much money, it can be difficult to save for the future. Last month I highlighted San Francisco’s Earned Asset Resource Network, a non-profit organization providing financial assistance and education to those who need it most. Believe it or not, the U.S. government also has ways to encourage people to save. The…

  • Check the Status of Your Tax Refund (10 comments)

    It’s tax refund season! If you have a refund due this year and you’re getting antsy for it, you can check its status easily with this simple web-based tool from the IRS web site. You’ll need to provide your social security number, marital status, and exact refund amount in order for your request to be…

  • Free File: A Fast, Easy Way to File Your Federal Income Taxes (19 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing! Again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free. Free File is a free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers, developed through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service…

  • Mr. Lawyer and Mr. Accountant Chat About Taxes (38 comments)

    On Friday, I stopped by the office of my friend, Mr. Accountant. Another friend, Mr. Lawyer, was there, and the three of us fell into conversation. “How’s the web site going,” asked Mr. Accountant. “Good,” I said. “But I’m stuck on something. Maybe you can help. On Monday, I’m supposed to share my best piece…

  • Calculate Your Economic Stimulus Tax Rebate (62 comments)

    President Bush has signed the economic stimulus package into law. This plan provides tax breaks to businesses that invest in capital equipment, temporarily allows larger mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration (and related entities), and provides a personal income tax cut for 2008. Instead of passing this on when we file taxes next year, the…

  • Bankrate’s 2008 Tax Guide (0 comment)

    Tax season is upon us. Get Rich Slowly still doesn’t have a body of tax articles, but Bankrate does. Every year, they offer the following resources: Tax calendar — “April 15 isn’t the only important day for taxes. Our tax calendar provides you with many others to circle.” Daily tax tip — “The daily tax…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Prepare My Own Taxes or Go to an Accountant? (90 comments)

    Earlier this month, I mentioned that I haven’t prepared my own taxes since 2001. I pay somebody else to do them. I did them on my own for fourteen years before they became too much for me to handle. This comment prompted several GRS readers to write for advice about finding a good accountant. Here’s…

  • A Brief Overview of the Alternative Minimum Tax (34 comments)

    It’s the time of year to start talking about taxes. I used to do my own taxes, but it was always a frustrating experience. Eventually I learned that by paying somebody else to do them, I was actually saving money. Because my accountant actually knows what he’s doing, he gets all the deductions I’m entitled…

  • Paycheck and Withholding Calculators for Year-End Money Moves (14 comments)

    Ah, winter. It’s the time of year that a young man’s thoughts turn to taxes. It used to be that I would rough out our tax situation as soon as the forms became available. Because I insisted on having too much withheld from my paycheck, I was anxious to know how large my tax refund…

  • How to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund (5 comments)

    Are you getting antsy for your tax refund? You can check the status of your refund easily with this simple web-based tool from the IRS web site. You’ll need to provide your social security number, marital status, and exact refund amount in order for your request to be processed. If you are receiving a large…

  • Last Minute Tax Tips (15 comments)

    Because I love a big tax refund, I filed my return long ago, received the money, and used it to pay down debt. But like many people, my cousin Nick hasn’t even started. He doesn’t get a refund, so he waits until April to do his taxes. He’s been skulking around the office for the…

  • Free Online Tax Preparation and E-Filing From the IRS (14 comments)

    The Internal Revenue Service offers a program that allows two-thirds of U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free. The Free File program is a free federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers developed through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Free File Alliance LLC, a…

  • Save or Spend? The Tax Refund Dilemma (1 comment)

    Chris at Money Management International — the largest non-profit credit counseling and debt management organization in the U.S. — dropped a line yesterday. He saw my story about tax refunds and wanted to remind me of a new MMI site devoted to the subject: We just released a new tax-themed site, SaveorSpend.com. While it has…

  • Telephone Excise Tax Refund (4 comments)

    Here’s a quick way to get a few extra bucks. Or, more precisely, to get back a few bucks you’ve already lost. This year the IRS is granting a one-time only Telephone Excise Tax Refund. This refund will return previously collected telephone taxes collected since 2003. According to the IRS web site: [Individual] taxpayers have…

  • A Contrarian View: Why I Love a Huge Tax Refund (63 comments)

    Kris and I received $2789 in tax refunds this year. Already I can hear the sound of hundreds of heads thumping against hundreds of desks. Many of you are wailing, “Why?! Why?! Why?!” Of all the financial choices a person can make, getting a large refund is universally considered one of the dumbest. Magazines advise…

  • Ten Red-Flags That Lead to IRS Audits (32 comments)

    The latest issue of Money magazine has an article by Donna Rosato on how to file a tax return that won’t raise red flags with the IRS. Rosato writes: Some 12 percent of people admit they think it’s acceptable to cheat on their taxes. No wonder IRS Commissioner Mark Everson has made it his top…

  • Original Income Tax Form from 1913 (8 comments)

    In 1913, Wyoming ratified the 16th Amendment, providing the three-quarter majority of states necessary to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax. That same year, the first Form 1040 appeared after Congress levied a 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with a 6 percent…

  • Taxpayer Panic: What To Do If You Can’t Pay Uncle Sam (4 comments)

    Here’s a guest post from Brian Brown, C.P.A. He offers advice on what to do if you find you can’t pay your taxes. With enthusiasm and boldness, you head into 2007 with hopes of greater discipline in spending, saving and investing. However, much to your dismay, the first part of 2007 brings the inevitable day…

  • Bankrate’s 2007 Tax Guide (3 comments)

    Tax season is upon us. Get Rich Slowly doesn’t have a body of tax articles yet, but Bankrate does. Bankrate offers the following resources: Tax calendar — “Think April 16 is the only date that matters? Bankrate’s tax calendar informs you of other important deadlines.” Tax news to use — “A tax tip a day…

  • Tax Tips for Tykes (6 comments)

    Here’s some end-of-the-year advice from new GRS-reader W.C. Varones, a finance professional from San Francisco. Varones writes that if you have investments for your children, now is the time to maximize them. If you have stocks or mutual funds in investment accounts for your children, don’t let December pass without taking the opportunity to step…

  • Which Financial Records to Keep (and How Long to Keep Them) (35 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders how long to keep receipts: I have been keeping all of my receipts for some time now. Every day, I enter them into my money tracking system (presently just a text file where I capture date, payee and amount). Then I file the receipts away in folders by month. My question:…

  • The 9 Strangest Tax Write-Offs (4 comments)

    MSN MoneyCentral has a list of somestrange tax write-offs that people have claimed over the years. For example, there’s the disc jockey who claimed his dog as a dependent. Dogs (and cats) may require as much attention as kids sometimes, but they’re not a legal deduction. Then there’s this one: [A client] approached Manhattan CPA…

  • Priciest Places to Smoke and Drive (3 comments)

    CNNMoney has posted a list of the priciest places to smoke and drive. According the list, compiled by CCH (a tax-services firm), the top five cigarette taxes by state can be found in Rhode Island ($2.46/pack), New Jersey ($2.40), Washington ($2.025), Maine ($2.00), and Alaska ($1.80). The top five gas taxes by state are in…

  • Long-Distance Phone Tax Repealed (0 comment)

    Here’s a piece of news that’s odd but good. The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday conceded a legal dispute over the 3 percent federal excise tax on long-distance telephone service and said $13 billion would be refunded to taxpayers. One-hundred-six years ago, in 1898, the U.S. Congress implemented a long-distance phone tax to help fund…

  • Organizing Tax Documents (1 comment)

    When preparing taxes, one challenge is collecting all of the necessary documents. Tax-related papers flow into a home at all times of the year, not just in the spring. It’s easy to lose important papers. I’ve found a method to eliminate the headache completely. I have a bill-paying area at my desk: a small cubby-hole…