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Taxes


  • The High Cost of Summer (0 comment)

    “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” And for many parents, no more child care for eight hours a day. Summertime — every child’s dream season — can be every working parent’s nightmare. Think about it: From late August or early September through mid-June, working parents have the luxury of public education to make sure their children are cared for, watched over, intellectually stimulated and exercised. Yes, it’s education. Yes, your…

  • 10 ways to maximize your end-of-year finances (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Oh, 2015, where did you go? It seems only moments ago it was time for New Year’s resolutions, and now here we are again. With only a month left before another year is behind us, you may be wondering how best to maximize this year’s finances. Well, look no further! 1. Prepare for taxes. Hopefully, you’ve already started to put the year-end tax-planning 2015 checklist to…

  • Student loan repayment and the ethics of personal finance (12 comments)

    [This is the third installment in a series examining repaying student loans. Part I was a best practices guide for repaying student loans. Part II discussed an alternative payment plan, Revised Pay As You Earn or REPAYE.]

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Quick Links How is AGI determined? How can I lower my AGI? Is it ethical to artificially lower my AGI? Is it smart to artificially lower my AGI? In…

  • 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 best (and worst) states for saving money and getting ahead 2015 (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Megan Wells.

    Looking to save versus spend? Eager to sock money away not just for a rainy day but potentially for stormy months, even years, ahead? Consider heading to the Heartland. The Midwest is home to some of the very best places to save money and get ahead in the U.S., according to a new analysis by Get Rich Slowly. To find out which parts of the U.S….

  • 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…

  • Best tips for managing money as an expat (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Ryan Takach.

    Have you ever considered taking an overseas assignment? Getting to see the world — while earning a steady paycheck and gaining valuable work experience — is a dream for many adventurous workers. Accepting an expatriate assignment was also one of the best career decisions I ever made — but it required some serious financial preparation and thought. If you are pursuing an expat assignment, hopefully you…

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

    As an active-duty military member, preparing and filing your tax return can be a nightmare. Regardless of your duties or where you’re stationed, tax season will cause you to stop what you’re doing to complete this important task. However, Uncle Sam has taken into account your unique lifestyle with special tax laws. These include the extension of deadlines for filing and paying taxes while on active duty in a combat zone. But did you know…

  • 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)
    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 tax-prep software products in use today.

    TurboTax has…

  • Financial benefits of solar panels? Not so fast! (43 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In my homeownership and priorities progress report in September, I mentioned that Jake and I were considering getting solar panels installed on our new house. Although that was our last priority, our first priority was replacing our HVAC unit. We thought there might be HVAC units that were made to be compatible with solar panels. As a result, we decided that it might make sense to investigate…

  • 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! (44 comments)

    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 for weeks as he tried to gather the paperwork and make his case to the auditor. The IRS audit experience made an impression on me. I vowed that when I got older, I wouldn’t be as messy and disorganized…

  • 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…

  • One year later: The benefits and tragedies of self-employment (79 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 funeral industry. My job certainly wasn’t perfect; but it was stable, well-paying, and sometimes fun. I also loved the people…

  • Year-End Tax Tips (26 comments)

    Right after the most wonderful time of the year comes everyone’s least favorite season: tax season. If you usually try to avoid thinking about taxes until after January 1, you may be missing out on the chance to save a little money. According to some tax experts, now is the time to take last-minute action if you want to reduce your tax bill in April. Here are seven-year-end tax tips 1. Double-check your tax withholding…

  • 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 income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Generosity is exactly this: to give that which is dearest…

  • 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? Well, it might because we at The Motley Fool invented it, and today is the first time we’re going to…

  • 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)

    “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 enough to let Lincoln go. Dollar coins are…

  • 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 topics. Previously at GRS, he shared how to find the right CD or money-market account, tips for sound saving and…

  • How to Spend a Tax Refund (149 comments)

    Hey, average American, what are you planning to do with the tax refund you are about to receive? So let’s start with useful ideas for spending your tax refund for those in the first stage of personal finance and work our way up to those who are less pinched. Depending on which stage of personal finance describes your current financial situation, your tax refund can help you along if you plan carefully. Before we go there,…

  • 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), but my guess is that you own an IRA or employer-sponsored retirement account such as a 401(k) or 403(b). Such…

  • 8 little-known facts and benefits of Roth IRA savings (105 comments)

    This is a guest post by Jeff Rose, a Certified Financial Planner. Rose is also the author of Good Financial Cents, a financial planning and investment blog. He’s also working on his book entitled Soldier of Finance, which combines his military background and financial planning experience. Most Americans want to save for retirement, but most don’t know how to start. Putting money into a savings account is ideal for short-term goals and emergency funds. But…

  • Getting The Most From Your Charitable Deductions (41 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 2016: How Much Does it Cost to Have Your Taxes Done (96 comments)

    The cost to file income taxes can fall anywhere between zero dollars — as in you do your taxes yourself and file for free — and several hundred dollars, with an average cost of $273 for using a tax preparer, less if you don’t itemize ($159), according to the most recent data available from the National Society of Accountants. To judge the value correctly, though, those costs have to be weighed against the results you get,…

  • The Truth About Tax Deductions (38 comments)

    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 a discount on buying something that we want. Or maybe the tax deduction leads us to believe…

  • How to Cheat on Your Taxes Legally (52 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 and has had a partnership with Tax Defense Network and has offered advice on how to cheat on your taxes legally to GRS readers below. 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…

  • Taking Care of Business: Expense Reimbursement (53 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 probably not endearing yourself to your company’s finance department, which relies on accurate records and timely reports from employees. It…

  • 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…

  • 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 only way I’d found to save. I’m able to save on my own now, so I no longer aim to…

  • 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…

  • 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 the entire content of Stand Up to the IRS online for free. This isn’t a general-interest tax publication — it’s…

  • 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 bond investments, so I’ve mainly used this downturn as an opportunity to buy stocks at bargain prices. There is one…

  • 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…

  • 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 Saver’s Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions is one of those: One way for low and moderate income Americans to save…

  • 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 (IRS) and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. You may access free commercial…

  • 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 of tax advice. I don’t have a best piece of tax advice. I don’t know much about taxes at all….

  • 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 IRS will mail a tax rebate check to most Americans this summer. This is an advance on the reduced taxes…

  • 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…

  • 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 would be. (This was the only way I could make myself save.) Paycheck calculator Next year my financial situation will…

  • 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 past week muttering, “I need to start my taxes,” and, “You should write an entry reminding people to start their…

  • 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 group of private sector tax software companies. Since Free File’s debut in 2003, more than 15.4 million returns have been…

  • Ten red flags that lead to IRS audits (35 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 priority to go after those who shortchange the government. These few bad seeds can spell trouble for you, even if…

  • 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…

  • Tax Refund Status (3 comments)

    Check your tax refund status easily with this simple web-based tool from the IRS. You’ll need to provide your social security number, marital status, and exact refund amount in order for your request to be processed.