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Taxes

Jan 29, 2019 No one likes paying taxes. Having money taken out of your paycheck is one of the most dreaded aspects of entering the workforce. While most of us pay federal income taxes, the taxes we pay at the state and local levels vary depending on where we live. In fact, seven states have no personal  income tax and two states tax dividends and investment income but not wages. Read More...

Jan 24, 2019 Under the tax reform bill that passed into law at the end of 2017, the personal exemption was eliminated. This means you cannot claim it on your 2018 taxes, which you file in early 2019. So the following information on the personal exemption only applies if you are filing a return for a tax year that was 2017 or earlier. Read on to learn more about what a personal exemption is and whether or not you can claim one on your tax return. Read More...

Feb 07, 2018 The NFL salary cap (which limits how much teams can spend on players) has risen from $40 million in 1996 to $155 million in 2016. This means NFL salaries have increased by almost 400% over the past 20 years. To put that in perspective, median incomes in the U.S. rose 12.5% from $24,500 in 2005 to $27,600 in 2015, according to Census Bureau data. While the pay packages are available for public viewing, most people probably don't know how much NFL players pay in taxes. SmartAsset used our income tax calculator to investigate how much the highest-paid players in the NFL pay in taxes. Read More...

Apr 14, 2017 Paying taxes is a fact of life for most Americans. Whether you work for a business from 9 to 5 or you're self-employed, you're expected to turn over a portion of your pay to Uncle Sam. There are many different kinds of income, but not all of them can be taxed. Read on for an explanation of what taxable income is and a rundown of what's taxable and what's not. Read More...

Mar 26, 2018 Filing taxes for the first time can be nerve-racking. But being organized can relieve some of your stress. Knowing what paperwork and materials you'll need is a good place to start, especially if you're concerned about leaving out a key piece of information. If you're preparing to fill out your tax return, here's a breakdown of the documents you'll need to gather. Read More...

Mar 26, 2018 It's tax time and if you're self-employed, you'll need to plan ahead. What you do between now and the April tax filing deadline can have a significant impact on the amount of income tax you owe. If you work for yourself, here are some important moves that you'll need to make to reduce your tax bill. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Your tax filing status helps determine how much tax you owe and what kinds of credits you're eligible for. Experiencing certain changes in your life can have a significant impact on your tax liability. So it's important to take that into consideration before filing your tax return. If you're preparing for tax season, here's a rundown of major life events that could change your filing status. Read More...

Feb 01, 2019 Claiming tax credits and deductions can reduce the size of your income tax bill or increase the size of your refund check. But not all tax breaks last forever. A few tax benefits were on the chopping block at the end of 2017 simply because Congress considered letting them expire. The new tax plan passed in late 2017 by Trump and Congressional Republicans, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), also eliminated some tax breaks for the 2018 tax year. Here's a look at some of the tax breaks that you won't be able to claim when you file your 2018 taxes in early 2019. Read More...

Mar 26, 2018 Tax season is right around the corner and if you're filing taxes for the first time, it's best to know what to expect. While you don't have to memorize hundreds of pages of tax code, at the very least you'll need to understand the basics. After all, even a simple mistake could trigger an IRS audit. Here are five mistakes that you don't want to make if you're preparing to submit your first tax return. Read More...

Dec 29, 2016 As you prepare for the new year, it doesn't hurt to do some last-minute financial housekeeping. If you're in your 20s or 30s, making certain tax moves before the end of 2016 could potentially lower your tax bill or fatten your refund check. If you're part of the millennial generation, here are some important steps to take before tax season officially begins. Read More...

Feb 02, 2018 Getting a professional to do your taxes doesn't always come cheap. In 2014, the average tax prep fee for filing Form 1040, a state tax return and a Schedule A form was $273, according to the National Society of Accountants. Tax filers can save money by doing their own taxes. But it's important to avoid making careless mistakes. If you're preparing to do your taxes at home, here are five tips to consider. Read More...

Feb 21, 2018 During the holidays, your tax bill is probably the last thing on your mind. But giving it some thought might be a good idea. The decisions you make now can determine how much you owe Uncle Sam in April. If you can squeeze in some free time between your holiday shopping trips and end-of-year parties, here are five steps you can take to lessen your tax bite. Read More...

Dec 07, 2016 The average American spent more than $800 during the 2015 holiday shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation. Total holiday sales for the year reached $626.1 billion, a 3% increase since 2014. A recent survey from the trade association says that this year, the average consumer plans to spend $935.58 over the course of the holiday season. Read More...

Mar 09, 2017 Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 480,000 people die each year from smoking-related deaths, costing an estimated $300 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse estimates that 88,000 people die per year in the U.S. from alcohol-related causes. In order to limit consumption of these two leading causes of death, state and federal governments place taxes on them. Read on for more on the effect of these so-called " sin taxes." Read More...

Nov 18, 2016 Have you ever wondered how city governments pay for big infrastructure projects? One method is called tax increment financing. Essentially, it means banking on the increase in property tax revenue that will result when the project is finished. The government can "fund" a project by pointing to the revenue the project will generate once it's complete. Read More...

May 21, 2018 Thinking of moving to Tennessee? You can head to a vibrant city like Memphis or Nashville, or opt for a quiet life in the Appalachian Mountains. Tennessee offers a rich culture, natural beauty and a low cost of living. Are you convinced? Here are 15 things to know before moving to Tennessee.  Read More...

Nov 16, 2018 If you're considering making the transition from renter to homeowner, you may be wondering if property taxes on your home will be unaffordably high. If so, it may comfort you to know that homestead tax exemptions can help you shoulder the burden of your annual property tax bills. Forty-six states offer these homestead tax breaks to residents.  Read More...

Nov 16, 2018 If you own a home, you're no stranger to property taxes. There are property tax breaks for seniors, people with disabilities and other protected classes, but did you know that there are agricultural tax exemptions, too? If some of your land can be classified as farmland, you could reap significant tax savings. Learn some handy tips below, and if you're looking for a professional to help guide you through the ins and outs of agricultural tax exemptions, head over to SmartAsset's financial advisor matching tool to get paired with a financial expert who can meet your particular needs.  Read More...

Nov 14, 2016 A tax amnesty is an opportunity for people who owe back taxes to pay some or all of what they owe, often with some penalties and interest waived. In the U.S., tax amnesty often takes the form of a certain window during which state governments allow delinquent taxpayers to come in from the cold. At the federal level, the government may offer tax amnesty for U.S. companies repatriating profits.  Read More...

Nov 10, 2016 What's the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion? One is legal and the other is not. Tax avoidance means using the legal means available to you to decrease your tax liability. Those means include deductions, credits and tax-advantage accounts. Tax evasion, on the other hand, means taking illegal steps to shrink or eliminate your tax liability.  Read More...

Nov 09, 2016 The Internal Revenue Service recently released details about its new private debt collection program. The program will transfer taxpayers’ inactive IRS debts to one of four private collection agencies beginning in spring 2017. So what does this mean for anyone who  owes taxes? We'll explain what the private debt collection program is and how it will work going forward. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 Taking higher education classes, whether in pursuit of a degree or to acquire additional professional skills, is something the government wants to encourage. To that end, the IRS offers tax credits for post-secondary education expenses. Two of those credits, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit, can be claimed on IRS Form 8863. Read More...

Feb 02, 2018 Did you make a mistake on your income tax return? Don't sweat it - it happens. Whether you forgot about a tax deduction or credit or you need to include additional sources of income, you can fix those errors by filing an amended tax return. You’ll do this by completing IRS Form 1040X. Here’s our guide to understanding and filling out that tax form. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 If you're designated the executor of someone's estate, you may need to file Form 1041 to declare the income from that person's estate (or hire someone to file the form for you). Form 1041 isn't a substitute for Form 1040, though. Confused? We don't blame you. Let us walk you through IRS Form 1041, the U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts.   Read More...

Jan 23, 2018 If you ever need ton resolve an issue with the IRS, whether or not it's related to your federal income taxes, you will need to contact the IRS. That can be intimidating. You may not feel like you know enough about the U.S. tax code to file a complaint or challenge a penalty. Luckily, if you feel this way, there's something you can do about it. If you'd rather have a lawyer or a tax preparer talk to the IRS, you can complete Form 2848. Here's our guide to understanding that form. Read More...

Feb 02, 2018 Many businesses don't make any money, particularly during their first year of operation. When this happens, the IRS provides business owners with some tax relief in the form of something called a net operating loss (NOL). If you're not sure what a NOL is or you don't know how to make the most of it, read on. We'll tell you everything you need to know about it. Read More...

Oct 27, 2016 If you've invested in a foreign market or you've opened an offshore account, you may need to report your assets to the federal government. That means you might have to complete IRS Form 8938 every year when you file taxes. If you're not sure whether you need this form or you need help filling it out, here's everything you need to know about it. Read More...

Feb 19, 2019 Thanks to advances in technology, filing taxes isn't nearly as complicated as it once was. Today, many tax filers complete their tax returns online or through apps. The IRS released its own mobile app in 2011. While you can't use it to submit your tax forms, the IRS2Go app can make the tax-filing process easier to navigate. Read on as we explain how the app works. Read More...

Jan 23, 2019 Hiring someone to care for your loved one so you can continue working is a common practice in the U.S. If a child, spouse or other household member requires care and you couldn't provide the care without quitting your job, you're not alone. You may also be eligible for a tax credit to defray the expenses associated with that care.  Read More...

Jan 23, 2019 Starting a business can be expensive. You'll likely have to cover the cost of a building or office space, equipment, utilities and legal and accounting fees. Fortunately, business owners can recoup some of the money they've spent by deducting expenses on their federal income tax returns. While you can't write off the total cost of any property you've invested in (at least after your first year of operation), you can get an annual tax break for depreciation and amortization by filing Form 4562. Read More...

Oct 19, 2016 IRS Form 2106 (Employee Business Expenses) is the form that lets you deduct business expenses you incurred during the tax year. So if you traveled for work or otherwise spent your own money on business costs, you can deduct a portion of those expenses from your taxable income. This can be a great income tax break for freelancers and other self-employed people and those who travel a lot for work. Here's how Form 2106 works.  Read More...

Jan 23, 2019 When you don't have access to an employer-sponsored retirement account - like a 401(k) or a 403(b) - you can save for retirement by opening an IRA. Your contributions may be tax-deductible, meaning you can use them to lower your income tax bill. If you want are getting a tax break for IRA contributions, you will receive IRS Form 5498. Never heard of it? Here's what you need to know. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 We all know that the cost of higher education is steep and getting steeper. If you're not relying solely on student loans or grants and are instead paying some of your own money toward tuition and fees, you may be able to deduct those expenses from your income taxes. To do so, you would use IRS Form 8917. Read More...

Jan 23, 2019 Meeting deadlines can be tough, especially when you have a lot on your plate. If you won't have time to file your taxes by April, you don't have to worry about the IRS coming after you. As long as you apply for a tax extension, you'll have some extra time to submit your income tax return. Here's our guide to Form 4868, the tax document you'll need to file for an automatic extension. Read More...

May 21, 2018 Representation in civil lawsuits doesn't come cheap. In the best-case scenario you'll be awarded money at the end of either a trial or a settlement process. But before you blow your settlement, keep in mind that it may be taxable income in the eyes of the IRS. Here's what you should know about taxes on lawsuit settlements.  Read More...

Sep 14, 2016 If you have a pension, you're one of the lucky ones. Defined benefit retirement plans like pensions are increasingly rare, having been largely replaced by defined contribution plans like the 401(k). But drawing on your pension income when you hit retirement isn't a free ride. Some or all of that pension will be taxable. Here's how it works.  Read More...

Sep 13, 2016 Convincing politicians on both sides of the aisle to agree on anything can be a daunting task. Conservatives and liberals have opposing viewpoints on everything from immigration to healthcare and trying to find common ground usually isn't easy. But once in a blue moon, Democrats and Republicans come across an issue that they both can rally around. Here are three economic ideas that members of both political parties support. Read More...

Jul 19, 2019 Donald Trump recently unveiled his tax reform plan for the country and announced that he wants to get rid of the estate tax by 2024. While the prospect of paying fewer taxes probably excites you, the truth is that only a handful of American estates (fewer than 1%) actually pay the federal estate tax. In other words, if the estate tax disappeared, it most likely wouldn't affect you at all. Read More...

Jul 09, 2018 Sin taxes are meant to dissuade people from participating in activities considered harmful to their health and well-being. Places around the country tax consumers for buying things like tobacco and alcohol and many people have debated whether it's necessary to levy a tax on soft drinks, too. If you're not sure how you feel about soda taxes, read on to learn more about this controversial issue. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 If you've ever taken a look at your pay stubs you've probably noticed your employer's tax withholding. Based on the W-4 form that you submit when you start a new job or your tax situation changes, your employer will withhold federal and state (if applicable) income taxes from your pay. But if you start a job half-way through the year, you might benefit from the part-year tax withholding method. Read More...

Mar 26, 2018 Living outside of the country can be a rewarding and eye-opening experience. But it doesn't automatically exempt you from paying taxes, even if you haven't set foot on U.S. soil for months. Filing taxes can be tricky for the average American, so for someone who has to work around a foreign tax code, the process can be downright mind-boggling. For anyone who's working or living abroad, here are five tips that'll help you survive tax season. Read More...

Apr 05, 2016 The words " tax audit" are enough to send a shiver down anyone's spine, but some taxpayers are more likely to be subjected to the scrutiny of the IRS than others. If you're pulling in a salary that's in the seven-figure range, you could be a bigger target than the average Joe or Jane. The IRS recently released audit figures from fiscal year 2015 and there are a few trends that may be worrisome to millionaires. Read More...

Jul 05, 2017 Being self-employed can be a dream if you want more flexibility and control over your work hours. On the other hand, it can turn into a nightmare once tax time rolls around. Filing taxes when you run your own business can be a bit more complicated than filing a personal return. If you're a self-employed tax filer, here are some expensive tax errors you don't want to make. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Filing taxes can be stressful. When the IRS opts to take a closer look at your tax return, that can only increase your anxiety level. Getting your return flagged for review doesn't mean you'll be audited, but it can raise the odds that Uncle Sam will conclude that the numbers don't add up. It helps to understand why returns are flagged and what reviews involve.  Read More...

Mar 21, 2016 Buying a home is a major financial feat and once you make an offer on a home, the real work of filling out the loan application begins. Lenders will ask for copies of your tax returns, which they'll use to verify your income and determine what kind of loan you qualify for. If you're preparing to buy a home, there are tax strategies you can use to make yourself more attractive to lenders. Read More...

Aug 23, 2019 The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have healthcare coverage. Unless you don't have to file taxes or you qualify for an exemption, you'll likely get stuck paying a penalty called the individual shared responsibility payment if you don't have health insurance. You could also be on the hook for paying the fine if your health insurance isn't considered minimum essential coverage. We'll explain what this government standard means and how you can meet it. Read More...

Mar 14, 2016 Having a hobby can be a great way to unwind, but a hobby can take on an entirely new dimension if you can make money while you're at it. That's because any money your side hustle brings in may be considered taxable income. If you're thinking of turning a part-time passion into a full-time business, here's how it might change your tax filing status and your income tax bill. Read More...

May 21, 2018 Have you been to the zoo lately? If so, you may have found yourself wondering, "How do zoos make money?" Or maybe you've always been curious about how zoos get their hands on the animals their collections contain. Let's take a closer look at the economics of zoos, how they make money and what the future has in store for the zoo. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Paying off your student loans can be a real pain. Whether you have a standard repayment plan or you've signed up for an income-based repayment program, it's best to get rid of your student debt to avoid facing some steep consequences. While you probably aren't thinking about taxes when you're making your monthly payments, there are certain tax rules that affect student loan borrowers. Check out five that can either help or hurt you during tax season. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 If you're anticipating a tax refund, you need to be on the lookout for identity thieves. Tax-related identity theft has become a huge problem for the IRS and consumers are encouraged to be vigilant when filing their returns. If you haven't done your taxes yet, here are some things you can do to make sure your refund doesn't end up in someone else's bank account. Read More...

Jan 23, 2019 IRS Form 8962 lets you claim the Premium Tax Credit to recoup some of the money you spent on Marketplace health insurance premiums. It can be a great tax trick for any eligible filer who spent heavily on premiums and wants to save on income taxes. But if you received too much money in advance premium credits, Form 8962 may tell you that you owe the IRS.  Read More...

Mar 01, 2016 In addition to your W-2 form, you might need access to other documents in order to complete your income tax return. If you have health insurance, for example, you may need a copy of Form 1095-B. Beginning in tax year 2015, it's one of three mandatory forms used to indicate who's complying with the Affordable Care Act's required minimum essential coverage. Find out what's on Form 1095-B and whether you need it to file your taxes. Read More...

Mar 26, 2018 Since 2013, Americans have been able to sign up for health insurance through the government's health insurance Marketplace. Almost everyone who has opted to purchase medical insurance through the healthcare exchanges should receive Form 1095-A. If you expect to receive this form, you should until after you get it to file your federal income taxes. If you don't know why you need this form, read on to find out why it's necessary and what to do if yours hasn't arrived. Read More...

Feb 26, 2016 The 2012 presidential election set records for the most expensive in U.S. history, and the 2016 election is on track to break that record. Total spending on the 2016 presidential race is projected to top $10 billion. That includes spending by candidates, parties, outside groups and individuals. Let's take a closer look at the campaign finance landscape in the U.S. Read More...

Feb 26, 2016 Tax season is officially underway and if you haven't filed yet, there's still plenty of time to get it done. With a new year come updates and changes to the tax code that taxpayers need to be aware of. Some of these tax changes will affect your 2015 tax return while others may influence your tax bill for tax year 2016. Here's a rundown of what you can expect. Read More...

Feb 28, 2018 Filing your taxes and paying your tax bill are necessary chores. One thing you can't afford to do is mess up. If you fail to include all of your income on your tax return, that may be an invitation for the IRS to target you for an audit. While you're probably aware that you need to report the salary you earned from your job, that isn't the only income that's taxable. Here's a look at other kinds of income the IRS expects you to include on your return. Read More...

Mar 23, 2016 Tax season is something most people don't look forward to. And unless you're expecting to get some money back, you're probably planning to put off filing until the last possible moment. While doing your own taxes can save you money, it can backfire if you're not careful. As you gear up to get your tax return in order, here are five potentially costly tax blunders you don't want to make. Read More...

Feb 23, 2016 Filing taxes can be incredibly stressful and the process can make you feel like the government is holding a big magnifying glass over your finances. But it's possible to survive tax season and make it to April without going crazy. Check out the tips below that'll help you face your taxes head on and get them out of the way before the filing deadline arrives. Read More...

Jun 19, 2018 If you're claiming an exemption from healthcare coverage, you'll need to fill out IRS form 8965 when you do your federal income taxes. This form helps you comply with Affordable Care Act rules that require health insurance coverage for just about everyone in the country. Here's everything you need to know about the 8965 tax form and who's qualified to use it.  Read More...

May 18, 2018 A tax refund can come in handy when you need to pay down student debt or you want to pad your emergency savings. But waiting for the money to hit your bank account can be nerve-wracking. According to the IRS, most refunds are processed within 21 days. But for some unlucky taxpayers, the wait can be much longer. If you're expecting a refund this year, here are four reasons why its arrival could be delayed. Read More...

Feb 01, 2019 One of the first things you'll need to decide when you're getting ready to do your taxes is which filing status you'll use. If you have dependents, you may be eligible to file as the head of your household. That can potentially keep more money in your pocket. Not everyone can claim head of household, however, so you need to be clear on what the rules are before you file. Read More...

Mar 14, 2017 Millennials, now the largest age cohort in America, are different than prior generations in a number of ways. They are less likely to get married, for instance. 65% of present day 18-to-35-year-olds have never been married, compared to the 40% of young adults who had never said “I do” in 1980. Another key difference between millennials and prior generations is housing. Whereas in 1980 almost 44% of adults under age 35 owned their home, today that rate is just 35% (likely in part because millennials simply cannot afford to buy in many cities). Read More...

Jan 30, 2019 Every taxpayer can take the standard deduction. You may also be able to lower your income tax bill by itemizing. Itemizing your deductions will give you access to additional tax breaks. But there are also a number of deductions you can take without itemizing. Here's a breakdown. Read More...

Feb 10, 2016 Every presidential election cycle the flat tax debate reappears in Americans' political consciousness. While eight U.S. states currently have a flat tax rate, our federal income tax regime is progressive, meaning that those who make more money always pay a higher marginal tax rate. Let's take a closer look at the flat tax system and the arguments made for and against it. Read More...

Jan 04, 2017 Tax season has begun and while the April deadline seems far away, there's no time to waste. Snagging a few tax breaks can boost your refund or lower your tax bill. But you could miss out on them if you wait until the last minute to file. If you're in your 20s, here are some key tax deductions and credits to watch out for. Read More...

Jun 25, 2018 In principle, the formula is simple for employers to calculate workers' earnings. An employee's pay rate multiplied by hours worked equals the employee's gross pay. From that, an employer subtracts payroll taxes, including statutory payroll tax deductions and voluntary payroll tax deductions. The result is the employee's net pay. However, the amount of the deductions will vary between employees. Let's take a closer look at payroll tax deductions. Read More...

Nov 01, 2019 If you're reading this, chances are slim that you've ever won a lottery. Why? Because the odds of winning are just so low. In 2014, Americans spent $70.15 billion on lottery tickets alone. That's more than the total spending on music, books, sports teams, movies and video games combined, according to CNN Money. What do we get for all that money spent on the lottery? That depends.  Read More...

Jan 26, 2017 The home mortgage interest tax deduction is one of the most common deductions claimed on federal income tax returns, but that doesn’t mean most taxpayers are taking advantage of it. In fact, according to data from the Tax Foundation, only about 27% of all taxpayers deduct mortgage interest paid from their income when filing their taxes. Read More...

Jan 26, 2016 Paying taxes is one of the most burdensome parts of being self-employed and one of the trickiest parts is figuring out just how much you need to pay. Instead of having an employer taking taxes out of your paycheck, you're responsible for making estimated tax payments four times a year. If you pay less than what you owe to the IRS, you could get hit with a penalty when it's time to file your return. If you miscalculated, here's what you can do to get back on Uncle Sam's good side. Read More...

May 21, 2018 Owing any amount of money to the IRS - large or small - is a scary prospect. And ignoring the debt won't make it go away any faster. If you've completed your income tax return for the tax year and you're looking at a huge tax bill, it's best to take care of it right away. Here's a look at what you don't want to do if you're trying to avoid making the situation worse in the long run. Read More...

Jun 19, 2018 Think your landlord has it made? Just wait until you find out about the tax breaks she's eligible for. Owning a rental property certainly comes with its fair share of frustrations. When you consider what landlords stand to save on their income tax bills, however, you might want to give the job a second thought. Check out five ways property owners save during tax season. Read More...

Feb 01, 2019 If you have young children or other dependents, there is a good chance you qualify for the Child Tax Credit. This credit reduces your federal income tax bill by up to $2,000 per child for the 2018 tax year (what you file in early 2019). If you've claimed the credit before, there are some notable changes that could affect your 2018 taxes. These changes, which result from the tax plan that President Trump signed in December 2017, include a higher limit amount and new requirements for your child to qualify. Read More...

Jan 20, 2016 Renewable energy has been gaining steam in recent years. Windmills are popping up on ridges and in fields throughout the country, and solar panels are covering more roofs every day. From 2008 to 2013, the total energy produced by renewable sources increased by more than 25%, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Read More...

Jul 29, 2019 Federal income taxes are unavoidable, but you can do certain things to affect the size of your income tax bill and how much your employer withholds from your paychecks. One of the biggest things you can do is adjust the number of allowances you claim on your W-4. The ideal number of allowances for you depends on your individual situation. If you're unsure how many to claim, this guide will help you decide. Read More...

Feb 02, 2018 Filing your taxes for the first time can be intimidating, and there's not much room for error. Even a seemingly simple mistake could bump up your income tax bill or shortchange your refund. In the worst case scenario, a tax-filing flub could lead to an audit. If you'll be prepping your tax return for the first time this April, here are the most common missteps you'll need to watch out for. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Like a tax credit, a tax deduction is a type of tax break. It reduces the amount of money you owe Uncle Sam. Tax deductions lower your tax burden by lowering your taxable income and you can either claim the standard deduction or itemize your deductions when you file. For tax year 2018 (what you file in early 2019) the standard deduction is $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers. This is a big increase from the previous year because of the changes from the Republican tax plan that President Trump signed in late 2017. If you're unfamiliar with the standard deduction, continue reading.… Read More...

Jan 13, 2016 Tax season is upon us. While we all dread doing our taxes, for many Americans there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel: a tax refund. Not everyone gets one, and the refund itself is money that you as a taxpayer have technically overpaid during the course of the year. Nonetheless, it feels good to receive that check and many people make big plans for their refund money.  Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 There are several good reasons to consider filing your own tax return. It can be cheaper than putting everything in the hands of a professional. You'll learn how to lower your tax bill and you'll be able to crunch the numbers in the comfort of your own home. If you'd prefer a DIY approach at tax time, taking the following steps can make the process go more smoothly. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 Before you know it, tax season will be here again. If you've made a couple of mistakes on your tax forms in previous years or you've had to file for an extension on more than one occasion, this is the perfect time to right those wrongs. We'll tell you exactly what you need to remember to do (and what you'll need to avoid doing) before the April tax filing deadline. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 If you were unhappy with last year's income tax bill, there are several ways to reduce your overall tax burden before April 15 arrives. You can try to qualify for as many tax deductions and exemptions as possible. Or, you can find out if you're eligible to receive a tax credit. If you're unfamiliar with the kinds of credits that are available to taxpayers, our guide will fill you in. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 We all know that the salary we negotiate is not the same as our take-home pay. Between benefits, retirement contributions and taxes, the difference can be quite substantial. In America, federal and often state and local governments collect income taxes. Understanding which factors affect how much income tax you have to pay can help you make more informed decisions. Read More...

Jun 06, 2018 On March 1, 1872 Congress voted to establish Yellowstone National Park, the first national park. Today, there are over 400 national parks and over 20,000 National Park Service employees. Want to know more about these parks, how they're funded and how the economics of national parks affects local communities? You're in the right place.  Read More...

Mar 25, 2017 Investing in securities can yield big returns but adding on to your wealth can potentially drive up your tax bill too. Cashing in on as many tax breaks and tax deductions as possible can minimize the financial hit. There are a number of tax loopholes that benefit wealthy investors, so if you happen to fall into that category, here are some examples that can help you save big. Read More...

Dec 14, 2015 With the year winding down, it's time to cash in on any last-minute tax breaks you can snag. If you normally itemize your deductions each year, it's a good idea to make a donation to your favorite charity. But there are certain rules you'll have to follow when you're making your year-end donations. That's why it's important to watch out for these pitfalls that could cost you a deduction. Read More...

Dec 11, 2015 As you head into the end of the year, it'll be easy to get bogged down while shopping for gifts and planning holiday parties. But it's a good idea to take time to do a bit of financial housekeeping as well. If you haven't added any of these financial moves to your holiday to-do list, tackling them now can ensure that you're on the right track when January rolls around. Read More...

Dec 02, 2015 Shopping season is upon us. For some holiday shopping is a chore and a headache, synonymous with long lines and baffling return policies. Well good news for the Grinches: the rise of online retailers like Amazon and Jet.com means you can take care of your gift purchases from the comfort of your couch, with a credit card and a computer. Read More...

Feb 02, 2018 Whether you've been filing taxes for years or this season will be the first time you're submitting your own tax return, there might be some tax-related concepts that you tend to mix up. It can happen to the best of us, so there's no need to be embarrassed. In case you need the reminder, here are 10 terms you'll find on tax forms that you won't want to jumble. Read More...

Nov 06, 2015 Did you know that there's a way to deduct up to half of your income at tax time? But there's a catch: You have to make a cash donation to a qualified charity. If you donate shares or other non-cash assets, you can deduct up to 30% of your income. If you have plenty of money to spare and you're worried about getting a hefty tax bill, you may want to consider a donor-advised fund. Read More...

Jan 23, 2017 Professional football players lead enviable lives. The pro athletes on an NFL roster make a minimum of $435,000 per year, approximately 10 times the U.S. median income. The top earners get paid over $20 million per year. While that income guarantees a certain level of financial security and material comfort, there’s at least one day of the year that NFL players don’t get to enjoy: tax day. Read More...

Jan 12, 2016 A number of issues stand out as hot topics in the 2016 presidential race, including immigration reform, healthcare and taxes. Even members of the same political party have varying opinions on how to address these concerns. So how would the candidates revise the nation's tax code? To answer that question, we compared the tax proposals outlined by the three highest-polling Republican and Democratic candidates. Read More...

Jan 28, 2019 If you filed an extension on your taxes in April, it's time to pay up. October 15, 2019 is the cutoff date for finalizing your return and you don't want to wait around until the last minute to get your paperwork in order. If you put off filing, here's what you need to do now to be ready for the October deadline. Read More...

Jan 12, 2016 Every year at tax time you'll pay federal income taxes, state taxes and local taxes. Some states are known for being more tax-friendly than others. Maybe you don't mind paying higher taxes if it means safer streets, better schools and more modern infrastructure. Still, if you're planning to move or buy a home, consider the impact of state taxes.  Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 Filling out your tax forms isn't an ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Whether you fill them out long-hand, use tax preparation software or enlist the help of a tax accountant, you're going to need to spend some time gathering documents and providing the IRS with the information it needs.  Read More...

Feb 20, 2019 Tax season can be stressful. But for many taxpayers, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a tax refund. Indeed, many people even depend on their annual refund, using the windfall for everything from making an extra  mortgage payment to saving for retirement. If you've ever had serious questions about how tax refunds work, we'll fill you in on what you might not know. Read More...

Jan 23, 2019 Every April we have to go through filing federal income taxes, on our own or with the help of a tax accountant. Unless you happen to be a tax policy wonk, you probably don't dwell too much on the theory and practice of taxation. But while America's tax code is notoriously complex, taxes break down into discrete categories that are easy to understand. Read More...

Feb 07, 2019 Form 1040 is the base tax form that all filers must use when they file federal income taxes. There were multiple versions of the 1040 in the past but they were consolidated into one version for the 2018 tax year. Those are the taxes you need to file by April 15, 2019. Depending on your tax situation, you may also need to attach other forms or schedules to your 1040. This allows you to do things like claim specific deductions or to report certain types of income. Read on for a closer look at the 1040 and what you need to do in order to use it. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 Update for 2018 Tax Year: President Trump signed a new tax plan into law in December 2017. The new law consolidated the forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ into one redesigned  Form 1040 that all filers can use. For your 2018 taxes, which you file in early 2019, you will use this new 1040. That means you can no longer use the 1040A unless you are filing a return for tax year 2017 or earlier. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 In limited liability companies (LLCs), a single person usually isn't fully responsible for company debts. Like other business owners, you'll have to pay taxes if you're a member of this type of entity. LLCs are taxed differently depending on whether they're classified as partnerships, sole proprietorships or corporations. Read More...

Jan 18, 2019 Form W-4, officially titled Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, is a common and very important tax form. It helps your employer know how much federal income tax to withhold from your paychecks. That means the information you put on your W-4 directly impacts the size of your paychecks. The following guide will take you step by step through the process of filling out your W-4. Read More...

May 13, 2019 The estate tax is a tax levied on large estates when assets pass from the decedent to beneficiaries. There is a federal estate tax, and several states have their own estate taxes. In either case, the tax only applies to estates over a certain size. If you're very wealthy, you've probably started thinking about the estate tax already. But even if you're not among the 1%, you might still find your estate subject to the tax, so it pays to know the details.  Read More...

Aug 24, 2015 Filing taxes is a predictable source of stress for many Americans. Technology has made the process easier but the tax code still has thorny complications. If your income is very low you may not have to file tax returns, but then you'd be missing out on possible credits and a refund. The key to a stress-free tax season? Start the process early and don't wait until the last minute. Read More...

Jan 23, 2019 Update for 2018 Tax Year: In late 2017, President Trump signed a new tax plan into law. This new law consolidated the forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ into a single redesigned  Form 1040 that all filers can use. For your 2018 taxes, which you file in early 2019, you will use this new 1040. That means you can no longer use the 1040EZ unless you are filing a return for tax year 2017 or earlier. Read More...

Aug 07, 2018 Along with the independence of owning your own business comes a greater level of responsibility. One of those responsibilities is paying business taxes. The business taxes you file will depend on whether the business is a sole proprietorship or whether it has corporation status. Many business owners find that hiring tax help is a worthwhile investment. In the early stages, though, it can help to know how to DIY.  Read More...

Feb 01, 2019 One of the most important tax forms is the W-2. Unlike many tax forms, most individuals taxpayers won't need to fill this one out themselves. Rather, employers fill out W-2 forms for their employees. If you're an employer who doesn't know how to fill out a W-2 form, or you're not sure whether your employees need one, we've got the lowdown on everything you need to know. Read More...

Jan 18, 2018 The issue of corporate tax rates is a subject of intense political debate. It's worth noting, however, that the share of businesses actually paying corporate tax has declined in recent decades. A lot of the enterprises we consider businesses and corporations don't actually file a corporate tax return. Instead, their profits get filtered through the individual income taxes of the business owner or owners. This trend may change though because the Republican tax plan passed in late 2017 will lower the corporate tax rate to nearly half of its 2017 level. Read More...

Nov 16, 2018 There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to say goodbye to a family member or friend. If you were close with the person who passed on, you might discover that they've left you something in their last will and testament. Before you officially take over your mother's house or claim her jewelry, however, there's one more thing you might have to worry about: an inheritance tax on your new assets.  Read More...

Jul 09, 2018 Accidents happen. In the mad rush to file taxes every spring, it's easy for filers to get mixed up and file incorrect tax returns. If you under-report your income or you realize you missed out on claiming tax credits and deductions, don't worry. As long as you file amended tax returns, you'll be just fine. Filing amended returns isn't as difficult as you might think.  Read More...

Jan 30, 2019 The United States has a complicated tax code. Whenever you have something that complex, it's bound to have some loopholes in it. The question of whether to close those loopholes pops up in election cycles from time to time. Because every loophole helps someone to save money on their income taxes, it's always an uphill battle to eliminate them. Let's explore some of the biggest loopholes in America's tax system. Read More...

Mar 01, 2018 If your income is particularly low one year, you may not need to file federal income taxes at all. You can save yourself the time and hassle of filling out your tax returns. The income threshold for determining whether you need to file taxes varies based on several factors, such as whether someone claims you as their dependent, whether the income you received is earned or unearned and whether you are blind.  Read More...

Sep 03, 2019 These days, the government works to lift folks out of poverty by means of subsidized housing, grants, tax deductions, tax credits and hundreds of programs targeting different needs. Some economists and tax policy wonks have questioned the need - and the efficacy - of all these targeted efforts. Why not just give money to people who need it, they ask. One way of doing so would be to implement a Negative Income Tax.  Read More...

Jul 05, 2018 Special consumption taxes on alcohol, tobacco products and sugary drinks all fall under the heading of a "sin tax." We're guessing that relatively few Americans think of drinking, smoking and consuming soda as really sinful, but these special taxes regulate behavior we find unhealthy or distasteful. Sin taxes are useful sources of revenue for state governments.  Read More...

Jun 11, 2018 The first thing you should know about the various 1099 forms is that if you're a worker you don't fill them out yourself. The person who is paying you or administering your investment account will send you a 1099. It's one of the good kinds of tax forms - the kind you don't have to struggle with. Look for the forms in January. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 The start of the back-to-school season is weeks away, but now's the time for parents to prepare for it. If you're sending a student off to college this year, there are a number of tax benefits you may be able to take advantage of. Claiming these credits and deductions could result in a lower bill when it's time to file your returns. Read More...

Jan 28, 2016 Failure to keep up with your tax liabilities can lead to what's called a tax levy. With a tax levy, the IRS confiscates assets of yours such as the money in your savings account or a portion of your wages. Of course, an IRS levy doesn't happen overnight. You'll get notices of overdue taxes and have a chance to prevent a levy.  Read More...

May 21, 2018 The term "tax liability" describes the amount of money owed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of each tax year. Many Americans make reducing their tax liability a goal by chasing deductions and tweaking their filing strategy. If you want to know the answer to the question "Do I have tax liability?" you'll have to compare your income to the deductions, exemptions and credits for which you're eligible. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 When you're working for an employer, it's their responsibility to make sure that state and federal taxes are taken out of your paychecks. On the other hand, if you're an independent contractor or you own a business, the burden of making sure Uncle Sam gets paid falls squarely in your lap. Skipping out on your quarterly tax payments can land you in hot water, so if you're not sure if you're required to pay them, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Sep 17, 2018 If you've ever looked at your earnings statement from a job, you have likely noticed some tax withholding. As part of your overall payroll taxes, the federal government requires employers to collect the FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) tax. The FICA tax includes two separate taxes. Social Security taxes fund Social Security benefits and the Medicare tax goes to pay for the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) that you'll get when you're a senior. Below we'll take a closer look at what Medicare taxes are and how they benefit you. And if you'd like the help of an expert one-on-one, head over to Read More...

Jan 25, 2019 Tax deductions reduce your taxable income and, in the process, reduce your tax liability. Sounds great, right? We all know about the big deductions like the mortgage interest tax deduction. Maybe you're already in the habit of deducting the basics like charitable donations but you have a nagging feeling that you could be doing better. Maybe you're wondering whether you should itemize or take the standard deduction. Here's our break-down of tax deductions. Read More...

Sep 14, 2018 A tax shelter is a place to put your money where it will be safe from the long arm of the Tax Man. Many people think of tax shelters negatively, but they are completely legal and legitimate ways to decrease your taxable income. Common examples of tax shelters are home equity and 401(k) accounts. A tax shelter is different from a tax haven, which is a place outside of the country where people can stash money in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Here's our guide to tax shelters. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 If you're enrolled in a high deductible health insurance plan, you might have access to a health savings account. It's designed to help you save money towards the cost of future medical expenses, but it can also double as a retirement account. An HSA comes with lots of tax advantages and if you're not contributing to one, here's what you could be missing out on. Read More...

May 08, 2019 Paying a federal income tax now seems so routine that it's hard to imagine a time when income taxes were controversial. The federal income tax as we know it is actually only a little over a hundred years old. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, individual income tax dollars made up 46% of federal tax revenue in 2014. That's a whole lot of money.  Read More...

Mar 23, 2017 According to the Tax Policy Center, payroll taxes made up 34% of federal tax revenue in fiscal year 2014. That's around $1 trillion. How are those taxes collected and how are they used? Glad you asked. Payroll taxes are a burden shared by employees and employers. If you've ever taken a close look at your earnings statement you'll notice that payroll taxes take a serious bite out your paycheck.  Read More...

Jan 28, 2016 A sales tax is a form of consumption tax that is collected by merchants who sell goods. The merchants then pass those taxes on to the government. Most states impose a sales tax, expressed as a percentage of the price of the taxed item. The good news is that sales tax revenue funds a lot of the stuff that makes our states tick. Plus, you can deduct the money you pay in state sales taxes from your federal income taxes.  Read More...

Jan 28, 2016 Is your home someone's workplace? You may not have thought about it, but if you hire nannies, babysitters or home health aides the answer is probably yes. The lawn company you use, where the foreman hires, directs and pays his guys? Not your employees. The people you hire directly to do work that you specify and direct in your home are your employees. You should be paying the "nanny tax" for those employees. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 You become an adult and what's your reward? You have to start paying taxes. These days, tax preparation software (like TurboTax or TaxSlayer) and tax accountants make it relatively easy to stumble through the tax-paying process every spring. But that's different from actually understanding taxes. Let us break down the basics of taxation for you. Maybe at the end you'll be excited about paying taxes (or maybe not... but at least you'll be better informed!). Read More...

Jan 28, 2016 Summer's here and for some people that usually means an uptick in spending. But that doesn't have to dampen your sunny outlook. Depending on what you're shelling out your hard-earned cash for, you may be able to score a tax break or credit when April rolls around again. Here are four common summer expenses that can reap some major benefits at tax time. Read More...

Dec 07, 2016 Tax season is over but it's never too soon to begin looking ahead to next year's return. In fact, waiting until the last minute to try and carve out some savings could mean missing out on key tax breaks. There are plenty of things you can do to minimize your taxable income throughout the year, and the more proactive you are the bigger the payoff. Read More...

Mar 01, 2018 Want to reduce your tax bill? Consider boosting your retirement savings. That way, you'll be paying your future self instead of the government. We're not advocating that you stash your money in the Cayman Islands, of course. But why pay more taxes than you need to? Instead, set yourself up for a comfortable retirement and reap the benefits when tax time rolls around. Read More...

Jun 11, 2018 Property taxes got you down? It's worth investigating exemptions, deductions and credits in your area. Even if you don't live in a property that came with a tax abatement, you might qualify for a property tax break through your local or state authorities. And who doesn't want a tax break? Read More...

Aug 16, 2018 According to the non-profit Tax Foundation, the average effective income tax rate for all U.S. households is 18.1%. That is lower than the highest marginal rate paid by most year-round workers, (at least 25% for any individual with an adjusted gross income of more than $36,901)—but it also doesn’t capture the full picture. For the typical tax payer, state and local taxes on income, purchases and real estate can be almost as burdensome as federal income tax. Read More...

Jan 25, 2019 As a general rule, you shouldn't wait until the last second to file your tax return. It helps to plan and make certain decisions ahead of time to speed up the process. For one, if you're married, you'll need to decide whether you will file a joint or separate return. Typically, a joint return is the smartest move, since you can cash in on some valuable tax breaks. But sometimes it makes more sense to file on your own. Read More...

Jan 20, 2017 A Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) gives you early access to a sum roughly equivalent to your IRS tax refund. Sounds great, right? Well, the problem with these loans is that they come with significant fees and high interest rates. Another early refund option, the Refund Anticipation Check (RAC), isn't fee-free either. Read More...

Feb 21, 2019 The deadline to file your 2018 taxes is April 15, 2019. If you think you'll need more time to get your taxes done, filing a tax extension is a must. When you file a tax extension form, the IRS gives you an additional six months to get your return in. Here are the most important things you need to know about getting a tax extension. Read More...

Mar 01, 2018 If you're like us, you're looking forward to getting a tax refund in the coming months. For some people, a refund from Uncle Sam means making a much-needed dent in debt or paying overdue bills. For those fortunate enough to have the save-or-spend choice, here are some planning tips.  Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 When it comes time to file your taxes, you'll need to comply with the Affordable Care Act. At the most basic level, that means indicating on your tax forms that you had health insurance in 2016. From there, things get a bit more complicated.  Read More...

Jan 21, 2016 Tax season is in full swing and millions of Americans are scrambling to get their returns done. If you've got all your W-2s and you've added up those deductible expenses, there's no reason to put it off until the last minute. But that's something about 20% of taxpayers do, according to the IRS. When you owe taxes, you may be tempted to drag your feet if you need time to come up with the cash. If you're getting money back, however, there are several reasons why you don't want to delay your filing. Read More...

Mar 01, 2018 You don't have to be a die-hard hippie to see the sense in adding renewable energy to your home. What stops homeowners from installing these money-saving features is often the up-front cost, but an energy tax credit can help take the sting out of that initial investment. Read More...

Mar 01, 2018 It's that time of year again when the cold temperature isn't the only thing that sends shivers down your spine. Tax season is settling in and it'll lay its icy cold grip on us from mid-January to mid-April. As tough as tax season can be, though, it's also a wonderful reminder that children are not only dependent upon us, but also dependents for us. Every year accountants, professional tax preparers and the IRS help line are confronted with questions about what it means to be a dependent, as well as what the rules are for including them on your tax return. Read More...

May 06, 2019 Financial experts recommend saving a lot of money for retirement. By one rule of thumb, you should have twice your salary saved by the time you're 40, and eight times your salary by the time you're 65.  Unfortunately, the average American paces well behind that recommendation, and  half of all Americans have no retirement savings at all. To incentivize low- and moderate-income Americans to save more, the U.S. government created the Saver's Credit. This credit provides a tax deduction for some of your IRA or ABLE account contributions, as long your income falls below a certain… Read More...

Mar 14, 2018 Faced with staggering student loan debt and a job market that's less than friendly, millennials are finding themselves putting off major life decisions longer and longer. Not only are they not rushing out to buy homes, but they're also delaying the choice to get married, citing their financial woes as the reason. While marriage brings an entirely new set of money issues to contend with, it does offer some advantages, particularly from a tax perspective. Members of the 18-to-34 crowd who are contemplating whether… Read More...

Mar 14, 2018 Like pre-tax spending on health care expenses or 401(k) matching contributions, commuter benefits are often a nice perk for employees at larger companies. They're increasingly popular, but some people are saying there's a better way to give workers a break at tax time. We explain four things you probably didn't know about commuter tax breaks.  Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 If you're part of the roughly 60% of Americans who pay someone else to prepare their tax return, then there's a good chance that you've had to make more than one visit to the preparer's office because you forgot something. Since preparing taxes happens only once a year, we've put together a little refresher to help you gather all the documents you need beforehand. Read More...

Feb 09, 2016 If you're expecting to get a big refund, tax season is probably something you look forward to each year. On the other hand, if you always end up owing Uncle Sam, then the April deadline may be a date you dread. Waiting until the last minute to file only adds to your stress, though, especially if you've got a balance due. But not filing at all can be even more problematic. There are both immediate and long-term consequences for failing to file, so if there's a chance you won't get your return in on time, here's what you can expect. Read More...

Mar 14, 2018 Have you heard people talking about the so-called "inversions" that are costing the US government tax dollars? No, the term "inversion" doesn't refer to yoga poses in this case. Inversion is a corporate tax move, and one that has some members of Congress worried about lost revenue. Read More...

Dec 31, 2014 Estate planning requires interdisciplinary knowledge of law, tax and accounting issues. Yet the answer to the question  What makes a professional estate planner a professional? is that they get paid. This answer is not only snarky, but it also exposes a rather disturbing issue: the lack of regulation. In most places, anyone can hang a sign outside their door that says they're an estate planner, because no official license is required. There are, however, several certifications and accreditations that can help provide some legitimacy. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Lawyers may not be well-regarded by some, but the fact is, they know the law. And because of that, lawyers want you to think that you always need them when planning your estate. Their reasoning makes sense, as a DIY solution is a one-size-fits-all method that's not right for everyone, not to mention it can breed mistakes. Yet on the other hand, it's just right for some people. Read More...

May 18, 2018 When you're caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, your taxes are probably the last thing on your mind. Even though April 15th is still a few months off, that doesn't mean you can't start preparing for it now. In fact, making some key financial moves before the year is out could add up to some decent savings once it's time to file. If you're looking to shave a few bucks off your 2014 tax bill, here's what you need to do now. Read More...

Dec 21, 2017 The title of this article is actually a serious question that is too often ignored. For many, the idea of estate planning means having millions of dollars in assets that will need to be distributed. The reality, though, is that estate planning is for anyone and everyone, as each of us, regardless of how much we have, is inevitably going to die. What happens to your assets--which includes more than just your money--is what estate planning is. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 It's tax time! No, it's not April 15 th and you are not the subject of a time travel experiment gone wrong. But if you are one of the millions of taxpayers who expects to owe and wants to minimize your tax bill, or you want to maximize your refund, the time to think about taxes is before the end of the year. The fact of the matter is that once January 1 st rolls around, your accountant's hands are pretty much tied in terms of finding ways to lower your tax burden. The good news is there are things you can do now that can save you money when it's time to file. Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 April 15th is still a few months away, but it's never too early to start working on your tax strategy. For 20-somethings who are struggling to get a grip on their finances, the whole process can seem overwhelming. And if you're not sure what you're doing, it's easy to overlook a key deduction or credit that could be worth big bucks when it's time to file. There are certain things millennials need to keep in mind when prepping their returns. Here are four of the most important: Read More...

Dec 21, 2017 One of the toughest things you will do as an adult is watch as your parents deteriorate with age. Emotionally, it is taxing to watch the very people or person who cared for you as a child slowly become more and more dependent on you for support. The emotional strain can be difficult enough, but other factors, such as medical costs, deciding the best way to care for them and how their assets will be utilized in aiding with this care, can cause even more frustration. Read More...

Jan 28, 2019 Taxpayers who can't get their paperwork in order by the April filing deadline can buy themselves a little more time by requesting an extension. This gives you an additional six months to complete your return and send it off to the IRS. Oct. 15, 2019 is the cutoff date for filing if you requested an extension and it'll be here before you know it. With the tax extension deadline drawing closer, here's what you need to be aware of when you're getting your documents together. Read More...

Apr 18, 2017 Estate planning is something people tend to put off for one reason or another but it's important that you have certain documents in place to protect your interests. At the very least, you need to draft a last will and testament to spell out what should be done with your assets after you're gone. Writing a will can be pretty straightforward if you have a relatively small estate but things can get complicated if you've built up a significant amount of wealth. If you haven't gotten started on yours yet, here are the top five mistakes you'll want to avoid. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 When people think about planning their financial future, they tend to focus on things like retirement, paying down debt or saving for their child's education. Planning your estate is one of the things that often gets pushed to the backburner. There are lots of misconceptions about estate planning and if you don't have a clear understanding of how it works, you leave yourself open to some potentially expensive errors. We've put together a list of some of the most common estate planning mistakes you should avoid at all costs. Read More...

Dec 15, 2014 Planning for the future means more than just saving for retirement or adding a few bucks to your child's college fund. While it's probably the last thing you want to think about, making sure your family is financially prepared for your death is just as important. There are several elements that go into forming a solid estate plan but a last will and testament is the most basic. If you don't have a will, here are a few key points to keep in mind when making one. Read More...

Jul 29, 2015 The federal estate tax exemption is now permanently indexed for inflation. For 2014, the exemption limit is capped at $5.34 million and the highest federal tax rate an estate would have to pay is 40%. Unless you're sitting on a huge pile of cash you likely won't have to worry about federal estate taxes but you may still have to pay at the state level, depending on where you live. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 It is no secret that in this country, many working individuals are lacking when it comes to having enough savings, especially retirement savings. While this is true for Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, it is particularly true for Millennials. The past few years have been tough economically, and Millennials have been some of the hardest hit by the recession, student loan burdens and more. As the economy continues to recover Millennials need to begin looking to increasing their savings. Roth IRAs may be the best way to go for many. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Taking on a summer job is a rite of passage for many teens and it's a great way for kids to learn some financial responsibility while earning their own money. It's also an opportunity for young adults to get acquainted with what it means to have to pay taxes. Read More...

Nov 07, 2017 When it comes to planning a marriage, most people believe they will be with their future spouse for a lifetime. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While skeptics believe signing or even discussing prenuptial agreements is akin to signing a death warrant on your marriage, this is not necessarily so. Not all marriages last a lifetime, and it is important to be realistic about that because a divorce can have major consequences not only for your emotional well-being, but also on your finances. Read More...

Aug 20, 2018 After the April showers come May flowers, which means the summer wedding season will soon be in full swing. Tying the knot is an exhilarating experience but planning your nuptials can leave you feeling frazzled, especially if you're worried about going over your budget. With the average cost of a wedding hovering around $30,000 it pays to look for ways to keep your costs down. Read More...

May 27, 2015 Planning for your financial future can seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Finances can be confusing and there is a bit of a learning curve, but there are a few key things you should do if you are trying to secure your financial future. You do not have to be rich or extremely wealthy to have a secure financial future. However, you do need to pay attention to your finances and be willing to make changes when needed. Here are four things you should have to help ensure a secure financial future. Read More...

Nov 07, 2017 Benjamin Franklin once said that nothing was certain in this world except death and taxes. Even though it may be unpleasant, preparing for both of these events is important to your overall financial health. When it comes to making decisions about how you want your finances to be handled after you're gone, you can't afford to put it off. If you haven't put much thought into end-of-life planning, here are some steps you may want to take to ensure that your family is protected. Read More...

Feb 02, 2018 Hopefully by the time the April filing deadline rolls around you've already completed your tax return. But if you haven't, you'll need to act fast. Missing the cutoff date isn't necessarily the end of the world but you could end up getting hit with some hefty penalties if you don't get your return in on time. If you already owe a sizable tax bill you may find yourself digging an even deeper hole the longer you wait. Here's what you can do to minimize penalties and interest if you end up filing your taxes late. Read More...

Mar 14, 2018 Your death is probably the last thing you want to think about, but you can’t afford not to - especially when you have a family that you will be leaving behind. A wise person once said that the only thing you can count on is death and taxes and they were right. It could be right around the corner or a few decades in the future, but it is something that will get here eventually. Prep your family now for your passing and you will save them the headache and heartache later on. Read More...

Feb 28, 2018 Established in 1969, the Alternative Minimum Tax was originally intended to prevent wealthy Americans from shortchanging the federal government at tax time. Generally, taxpayers can take advantage of credits and deductions to reduce their tax liability and lower their taxable income. The Alternative Minimum Tax comes into play once your income reaches a certain limit. While the tax was permanently indexed for inflation in 2013, millions of Americans may still find themselves getting hit with the AMT this year. If you're worried you may have to pay, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Jan 02, 2015 When it comes to the causes of stress in our everyday lives, none seem to be as constant as personal finances. Our finances can be, and often are, a great source of stress for many Americans. Whether you are struggling with some form of debt, trying to figure out how to send your children to college or saving up to buy a house, there are any number of reasons to feel stressed over your finances. Read More...

Feb 28, 2018 It's tax time and for some Americans, that means ponying up a hefty chunk of change to the IRS. Thanks to some key changes, certain taxpayers could find themselves paying even more. If you're looking to shave a few bucks off what you owe, you'll need to plan your filing strategy carefully. Here are a few ways to trim your tax bill so you can hang on to more of your hard-earned cash. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 It's tax time and millions of Americans are crunching the numbers to find out whether they'll be getting a fat refund check or handing over big bucks to Uncle Sam. Owing money to the IRS isn't ideal but ignoring the situation won't make it go away. When you're strapped for cash you may be tempted to put off paying up but you're essentially digging yourself a deeper hole in the form of interest and penalties. Read More...

Mar 14, 2018 Tax season is in full swing! It marks the peak time for would-be criminals to try and dupe you out of your hard-earned cash. In an effort to protect taxpayers, the IRS releases an annual list of the top tax scams to be aware of. While tax scams can happen at any time, those included on this list are the ones that occur most frequently at tax time. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 Making sense of the federal tax code is no easy task and with so many new changes taking effect, figuring out what you owe may be even more difficult. Tackling the job yourself can save you money on tax preparation fees but it could end up costing you if you make a mistake. Hiring a professional may mean shelling out serious cash but it could be worth if you're able to lower your tax bill or fatten up your refund. It helps to understand the advantages and disadvantages of either option before you make a decision. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Tax season is underway and the IRS is hard at work processing the millions of returns being filed. While most returns will be accepted without a second glance, a select group of taxpayers will find themselves subject to closer scrutiny in the form of an audit. Read More...

Dec 22, 2016 New research shows what you already know - your family affects your finances. But specifically, your family dynamics play a big part in your retirement plans. Read More...

Dec 30, 2014 What are your beliefs on saving for retirement? Well, according to a recent study, for many Americans saving for retirement is a trick of mind over matter. We all should be well aware by now that the bulk of our retirement savings falls on our own shoulders. Long gone are the days of having a secure pension plan by your employer. Read More...

Feb 27, 2018 The tax filing deadline will be here before you know it. If you haven't started working on your return yet, you can't afford to put it off much longer. Making sense of the federal tax code can be a challenge. For many Americans, it's easier to pay a professional to crunch the numbers. If you've never hired a tax advisor before, finding someone you trust may require a little homework on your part. Here are a few tips. Read More...

Nov 12, 2017 The new year is just days away and it's time to start planning for a fiscally fit 2014. Like most people, you probably include a few financial goals when you're making your New Year's resolutions. But following through is often easier said than done. If you're ready to take control of your money, here are some key moves you'll want to make next year. Read More...

Feb 28, 2018 The Internal Revenue Service is warning of a popular scam targeting U.S. taxpayers. Every year when it's time to pay income taxes, scammers try to take advantage of the opportunity. The phone scam is widespread. It's been reported in all fifty states throughout the country aimed at taxpayers and recent immigrants. SmartAsset has the details so you don't become a victim. Read More...

Aug 18, 2015 Retirement sounds like a dream - no work and all play. The good life. But the good life may actually mean more life. A new study shows when you retire early, you may live longer. It's enough to leave us wondering how to retire at 50. Many people derive great satisfaction from their work, but there are health benefits to leaving work behind.  Read More...

Dec 23, 2014 When you are first starting out in your career, you tend to think of retirement as something far off.  In the days of our grandparents, and even some of our parents, retirement savings wasn't even an issue - many employers took care of that with company pension plans. Read More...

Jan 28, 2019 Even when it isn't April tax season, a tax deadline may still be looming. Millions of people request a six-month extension and then have to file their tax returns by mid-October. To be precise Oct. 15, 2019 is the due date to file your return for those who requested a tax return extension in April. Read More...

Jan 02, 2015 They always have special names, although not usually in the formal sense, like The House, The Country, Upstate, The Shack, Grandma's. They are more than buildings sitting on pieces of land large and small. They are collective and individual memories that mean the same thing to every member of the family. Read More...

Oct 17, 2017 Let’s start with the good news: your house has most likely increased in value over the last couple of years. While the recession knocked most property values down to early 2000s levels, most of the country has recovered and home values have increased each year. The bad news is that your property taxes probably jumped upwards as well. Fortunately, there are some actions you can take to limit the pain of rising property taxes. Read More...

Jul 18, 2019 No one likes to think about dying but when it comes to managing your finances, you have to be prepared for the inevitable. Having a solid estate plan in place can ensure that your family is taken care of after you're gone. A last will and testament and a living trust are two useful tools you can use to form your estate plan. If you don't have a lot of assets or you plan to leave everything to your spouse, a will may be enough. A living trust lets you dictate how your assets are handled before and after you die, but whether or not you need one depends on several factors. Read More...

May 20, 2015 In today’s day and age, people have much more access to information than ever before. The ease with which we can look up all sorts of data and information is astounding, and often, incomprehensible to past generations. However, given all the information available to us, right at our fingertips, it still seems that many people are confused about their personal finances. If you find yourself in this boat, just know you are not alone. Read More...

Jan 02, 2015 The past few months have been very exciting for same sex-couples. One of the most exciting occurrences was the Supreme Court’s striking down of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA. The Supreme Court’s decision made way for a number of significant advancements for same-sex couples when it comes to taxes and nursing homes or living arrangements for elderly same-sex couples. One of the main arguments for same-sex couples who were championing the legalization of marriage had to do with tax and other benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy. According to an article published by Slate by J Bryan Lowder, the U.S. Treasury announced that given the strike down of DOMA, same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes. The press release from the Treasury states, in part: Read More...

Dec 22, 2014 Here’s the thing about life insurance: you don’t really need it.  Seriously.  Whether or not you have it will have absolutely no effect on you whatsoever.  When your time comes, you will die; that we can guarantee with 100% certainty.  Once you are dead, whether or not you have life insurance will not affect you at all. Read More...

Dec 12, 2014  Are you financially prepared for death? SmartAsset has a few tips on how to avoid making some critical mistakes, and help you prepare for the inevitable. Read More...

Jan 05, 2016 In all the hubbub around getting married you might not have thought about how the change in your marital status would affect your tax bill. Once you’ve written your thank-you notes and returned from your honeymoon, you can turn your mind to practical considerations like taxes. The good news is that you've earned some new tax privileges. The bad news is that you might owe more at tax time. Here are five ways getting married affects your tax bill. Read More...

Jan 20, 2016 You may be planning to do your taxes as close to the April 18th deadline as possible. This year, the usual April 15th deadline has been pushed back to April 18th. But that's no reason to procrastinate. Here are the 5 best reasons to do your taxes early. Read More...

Jan 19, 2017 SmartAsset ran income data for players like Cam Newton and Eli Manning through our income tax calculator to estimate the tax bills paid by the NFL’s stars. Read on to find out which NFL stars are taking the biggest hit. Read More...

Feb 16, 2016 Everyone likes a nice fat tax refund check. A big tax refund can seem like a just reward for 12 months of tax withholding, not to mention taking a few hours to fill out an income tax return. But pulling out all the stops in pursuit of a bigger tax refund is probably not the best idea. Here are 5 things you shouldn’t do just to get a bigger tax refund. Read More...

Feb 23, 2016 When it comes time to elect the next president, Americans will mark their ballots after careful consideration on a range of issues. For many voters, a candidate's tax plan will be a deciding factor. Will your tax bill be higher or lower under your candidate of choice? Here’s where the candidates for the Democratic and Republican nominations stand on the issue of taxes. Read More...

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