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Taxes

Where Your Federal Tax Money Goes

by Luke Landes

Thanks to an organization called Third Way, American taxpayers can get a good, detailed look at how much of a typical tax bill is destined for any particular government program. Third Way is a progressive think-tank, and they studied the federal budget to provide an itemized tax receipt for the typical taxpayer. Here is their ... Continue reading this article…

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Tax Rate Comparison: Extend the Tax Cuts?

by Luke Landes

The government is currently tackling the question of whether to extend or end the Bush era tax cuts, and to what extent to do so. President Obama would like to end the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Many Republicans want to make Bush’s tax cuts “permanent.” (Let’s all agree that there is no such ... Continue reading this article…

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I’m Tired of This IRS Installment Agreement

by Smithee

Now that I’ve finally gotten my credit card balances down to zero, I’ve been trying to figure out the best use of the extra money I’ll have in my checking account. Options include: make extra car payments, put it in a savings account, put it in a mutual fund, make extra house payments, make impulse ... Continue reading this article…

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Making Work Pay Tax Credit Extension

by Luke Landes

The 2009 economic stimulus, usually called the Making Work Pay tax credit, provided slightly bigger paychecks for the middle class throughout part of 2009 and all of 2010. This benefit is in danger of expiring if Congress does not act to extend or renew the credit. This stimulus took a different form than those previous. ... Continue reading this article…

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George Steinbrenner’s Heirs Inherit $1 Billion Tax Free

by Luke Landes

Whether or not you believe the New York Yankees have seen successful years because of or in spite of the team’s fabled owner, George Steinbrenner, you have to admit he has good, though of course unfortunate, timing. If the tax laws don’t change, or if they do change but are not deemed retroactive, through his ... Continue reading this article…

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Home Buyer Tax Credit Extension

by Luke Landes

Good news, everyone. The home buyer tax credit extension, after failing in the Senate last week, was finally passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week and the Senate late last night. The bill that includes the extension has been signed into law by President Obama on Friday, July 2. Originally, before the extension, ... Continue reading this article…

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Home Buyer Tax Credit Fraud

by Luke Landes

The problem with widely publicized tax credits like the home buyer tax credit is that people who don’t qualify — and know they don’t qualify — will apply for the credit. Many of these taxpayers, perhaps assisted by their tax preparers with or without their knowledge, will successfully convince the IRS to provide the tax ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Avoid Estate Taxes: It’s Easy This Year

by Luke Landes

In most years, only 0.3 percent of those who pass their estates to heirs upon their death end up leaving those heirs with a tax bill. Thanks to exceptions, credits, and thresholds, even the very wealthy can avoid the estate tax. This year is a special year, however. As of today and unless the law ... Continue reading this article…

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Contact a Taxpayer Advocate to Help Resolve Tax Issues

by Luke Landes

A year ago, the first-time home buyer credit was still rather new, and the IRS began allowing taxpayers to amend their 2008 tax returns to receive the credit early. At that time, if documentation was in order, it took about six weeks to receive a check for the $8,000 credit. That didn’t last long. Within ... Continue reading this article…

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Exclusive Video: Bob Meighan Answers Our Tax Questions

by Luke Landes

There are only twenty-four hours left to file tax returns in the United States or file for a six-month extension. Bob Meighan, CPA and Vice President of TurboTax offered to answer Consumerism Commentary readers’ questions about filing taxes as the last minute. The good news is that even with less than a day left, you ... Continue reading this article…

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Would You Rather Receive a Refund or Owe More Taxes?

by Luke Landes

If you haven’t noticed, it’s tax time. I have noticed, not only because of the relentless emails I receive reminding me of this grand celebration, but also due to people I interact with. As those I know complete their tax returns, I observe the joyfulness they exude as they realize they’ll be receiving a refund ... Continue reading this article…

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The American Opportunity Tax Credit

by Luke Landes

Last week I offered some last-minute tax filing tips, and the IRS deadline is looming. I’m happy to tackle tax questions, and Consumerism Commentary reader Eric has one. Eric was a full-time student through May 2009, and he, like many former students, is dealing with the cost of a college education. Eric is looking for ... Continue reading this article…

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The White House’s Tax Filing Tips

by Smithee

In the past 14 months, we’ve covered many of the ways the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act might affect your household finances, including home buyer tax credits and energy efficiency tax credits. If you still haven’t yet found the time to file your taxes, or if you’re the sort of person who makes it a ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund: Federal and State

by Luke Landes

I am still waiting for the second tax refund the IRS owes me after I filed an amended tax return for 2008. Additionally, the State of New Jersey decided to count my business income twice after I filed an amended tax return, so that refund has been delayed as well. The first tax refunds after ... Continue reading this article…

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Tax Refund: Spend It, Save It, or What?

by Kelly Whalen

This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, Consumerism Commentary staff writer who attended Toy Fair this week in New York City. Should you be one of the millions of Americans (nearly 75 percent) who receives a tax refund this year, you may be making all sorts of plans for your money. Some people will plan to ... Continue reading this article…

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70 Percent Discount Off H&R Block At Home (Formerly TaxCut)

by Luke Landes

February 15, 2010 update: The sale mentioned below is now over. Stay tuned for new sale announcements. Starting today and ending Sunday, February 14, 2010, H&R Block is offering a discount of up to 70 percent off the regular prices for the company’s online do-it-yourself tax filing software, At Home (formerly TaxCut). I consider H&R Block ... Continue reading this article…

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Still Waiting For My Tax Refund

by Luke Landes

Last year, I began working with a tax accountant. We reviewed how I filed my income tax returns for 2007 and 2008 and determined that filing differently would have saved me about $15,000 overall. In November, I filed amended income tax returns (1040X) for 2007 and 2008. I received a refund for my 2007 return ... Continue reading this article…

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IRS Will Force Businesses to Disclose Borderline Tax Shelters

by Luke Landes

Starting in 2011 or later, the IRS will be requiring businesses to volunteer more information about their tax avoidance practices and transactions. I use the word “volunteer” loosely. Currently, businesses and even savvy individual taxpayers do all that is possible to reduce the amount of tax owed to the government, even to the point at ... Continue reading this article…

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In Detail: How to Claim the New Home Buyer Tax Credit on 2009 Tax Returns

by Luke Landes

In November of last year, President Obama and Congress expanded the home buyer tax credit to cover more people who have purchased houses in 2009 and 2010 and to further stimulate the real estate industry. Earlier this month, the IRS released an updated tax form to include the new rules. If you want to claim ... Continue reading this article…

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American Express Membership Rewards Points Can Be Used to Pay Taxes

by Luke Landes

American Express offers a point-based rewards system called “Membership Rewards” to those qualify for and use their credit or charge cards. Points generally benefit only cardholders who pay their bill in full every month, so any accumulation of benefits does not first need to offset interest or late fee charges. With American Express, these points ... Continue reading this article…

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