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Taxes


  • Year-end tax planning – 2015 checklist (10 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    Know your taxes! I am a big fan of the philosophy: No one cares more about your money than you do. Even if a professional prepares your taxes every year, learn to do it yourself. Aside from what you’ll save in fees, here are two benefits of learning to prepare your taxes yourself: By doing your taxes on your own, you can learn quite a bit…

  • Things you never knew were taxable (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    When you order something online, does the retailer charge you sales tax? Do you pay attention to that? I haven’t always. Online purchases and sales tax After we became Amazon Prime users, our online internet orders went waaaaaay up. That free shipping will getcha every time. That year, my husband and I sat in our CPA’s office, as oblivious to most tax things as, unfortunately, every…

  • I just organized my files, and here’s what I did (21 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    I don’t like clutter at all, but it’s oh so easy for stuff to build up and get out of control – especially when it comes to paper. If you really like everything to be neat and tidy – but you don’t want to spend your life managing the mess – read on. The problem with paper I dream about going paperless. But the fact is that…

  • The tax mistake that could hurt you now or next year (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    Presumably, it has been a little more than a month since you submitted your tax return for 2014. Did you end up owing the IRS or did you get a refund? There are plenty of personal finance articles that discuss the pros and cons for each of these situations. So we will skip those discussions and go right to the point: Are you happy with your…

  • Ask the Readers: Have you ever opened a retirement account to reduce your taxes? (40 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    As we finished up our tax return this year, it turned out that we owed. Great. We don’t have to scrape the money together. We had planned for the extra liability when an unexpected consulting gig came together for my husband at the end of 2014. But nonetheless, it stings when you have to write a check to the Internal Revenue Service. (And besides, you just want…

  • The sharing economy and taxes (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    Etsy, TaskRabbit, Uber, AirBnB, and numerous other technologies make earning a little extra income (or even a full-time income) easier than ever. Almost anyone can be a micropreneur these days, even if they started out just pursuing a hobby. The sharing economy or peer-to-peer economy is growing at a record pace by leveraging disruptive technologies. But a lot of people don’t seem to understand how the…

  • 10 tax breaks for 20-somethings (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    When I was in my 20s, I was single, without kids, renting, had graduated from college, working at my first job and no interest whatsoever in taxes. My feeling was, Why should I waste time thinking about taxes? As a single, renter with no kids, I would get absolutely no deductions or credits — and in addition to that, I had nothing to itemize. That meant…

  • 5 tax deductions military service members could claim but often don’t (19 comments)

    (Petrish Dyer is an active military Navy Chief, currently stationed in Japan. Please understand that her duties and time zone may prevent her from responding to comments in a timely manner even though she would like to. Petrish is also the founder of debtfreemartini.com where she blogs and inspires others to live a debt-free life.) As an active-duty military member, I know that preparing and filing your tax return can be a nightmare. Regardless of…

  • Do credit card rewards count as taxable income? (23 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Over the past 12 months, I have used credit card rewards to finance the bulk of our trips to Jamaica, Las Vegas, Denver, New Orleans, London, Paris, and St. Maarten. And in the process, I’ve also cashed in a five-figure sum of hotel loyalty points, airline miles and cash-back rewards. Of course, I blame part of this on my love of family travel, but it also has…

  • Ask the Readers: Will you find other options besides Turbo Tax this year? (73 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Tax season is fast approaching and, if you are among the diligent, chances are you have already started your annual tax preparation. Close to 40 percent of all Americans use software to do their tax preparation on their own computers, according to the National Retail Foundation; and TurboTax (sold by Intuit, and maker of the ever-popular Quicken and QuickBooks products) is the most popular of the…

  • Ask the readers: Should we get married sooner to lower our taxes? (61 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 your finances separate or merge them together? Will you add each other onto your existing bank accounts or close them…

  • I was audited by the IRS! (43 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 — I was young, and my father died long ago — but I do remember how he fumed and fussed…

  • Homeowners: Could this save you thousands in just a few hours? (33 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 the stuff that’s kind of a drag to pay for in the first place. Well, as a new homeowner, I’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Charitable Giving? (220 comments)

    The deeper I get into the third stage of personal finance, the more I think about my responsibilities to help others who are in need. For years, Get Rich Slowly readers have been encouraging me to contribute to charity, but I’ve always been reluctant to do so. This wasn’t part of my family culture as a boy (we were the ones in need), so it’s been a struggle to come to terms with it as…

  • Dollar Coins: Or, In Other Words, a New Tax (155 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. “You need 75 more cents!” the woman at our favorite burger joint, Little Big Burger, said brightly after I sent my 9-year-old to order another serving of truffle oil fries with all the change I could find in my bag. Thankfully, I knew I’d sent enough money: I’d stashed a dollar coin in my bag, saving the Abraham Lincoln because, well, Lincoln. These fries were just good…

  • How to spend a tax refund (149 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Hey, average American, what are you planning to do with the almost-$3,000 tax refund (according to 2013 data) you are about to receive? Depending on which stage of personal finance describes your current financial situation, your tax refund can help you along if you plan carefully. So let’s start with useful ideas for spending your tax refund for those in the first stage of personal finance and…

  • Getting The Most From Your Charitable Deductions (40 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 help sort it all out, I talked to Kelly Erb, (a.k.a. Taxgirl), and Kay Bell (of Don’t Mess With Taxes)….

  • 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 month away. I can understand the reluctance to get going. I had most of my documents in one file, but…

  • Tax prep costs: How much will it cost to get your taxes done? (Updated for TY 2015!) (96 comments)
    This article is by contributor Richard Barrington.

    When it comes to tax preparation, distinguishing between cost and value is a crucial question. The cost can vary from nothing for doing it yourself on up to hundreds of dollars for professional tax preparation. To judge the value correctly, though, those costs have to be weighed against the results you get, including what could go wrong if you choose the wrong approach. To help you weigh…

  • 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 a great deal because we’re sticking it to the man. Maybe the tax deduction tricks us into thinking we’re getting…

  • How to “Cheat” on Your Taxes — Legally (51 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 season. That time of year where people grouse about the greedy government. Some folks are so in need that they…

  • 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 and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Many companies offer free or paid…

  • How to check your federal IRS tax refund status (48 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    April 15th may be a few weeks away, but I’m guessing some of you have already filed your tax return. We, as a matter of fact, just finished our tax return last week. For the second year in a row, we are getting a small refund. (As an aside, we have a large nonrefundable tax credit that is taunting me. Our tax liability wasn’t high enough…

  • 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, and in the end wrote two articles: Understanding the federal budget The truth about taxes I didn’t have any political…

  • 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 and our tax system, I recently spent twelve hours researching a variety of tax topics. From my research came two…

  • 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 matter to you?” As might be expected, his readers responded with passionate comments from both sides of the political spectrum….

  • 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 my accountant) was the concept of marginal tax rates. Although I was mortified to have let such a blatant error…

  • Why You Shouldn’t Keep a Mortgage Just for the Tax Deduction (108 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 the offending section, not out of any attempt at revisionism, but out of interest in accuracy. Please let me know…

  • 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 tax credit, as do single taxpayers with incomes below $75,000. (Those with higher incomes may be eligible for a partial…

  • 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 to. This year, I’ve heard a lot of talk about the Alternative Minimum Tax (or AMT). Every time I begin…

  • 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: does it do me any good to save the receipts, or is having the data good enough? [...] I’ve never…