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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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How My Accountant Saved Me $15,000

by Luke Landes

It seems I have paid the government more than what was necessary over the past few years. When I first started earning money outside of my primary employer in 2004 or 2005, I assumed it would make the most sense to simply claim that income as self-employment income on Schedule C of the standard 1040 ... Continue reading this article…

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Bonuses Could Be Taxed at a Rate of 50%

by Luke Landes

Last week I mentioned France would be seeing a new but insignificant tax on carbon emissions and considered the possibilities, including possible reactions, if a similar tax was initiated here in the United States. Both political sides are criticizing this tax and it’s not expected to be effective in terms of its goal of encouraging ... Continue reading this article…

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France Introduces Carbon Tax of $25 Per Metric Ton

by Luke Landes

President Nicolas Sarcozy of France revealed his plans for working to reduce his country’s carbon dioxide emissions. For each taxpayer’s metric ton of carbon dioxide emission due to use of oil, gas, or coal, the government will charge that taxpayer a fee of €17 (roughly $25). This rate would rise over time. Other energy use, ... Continue reading this article…

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Enforcing Tax Laws Works. Go Figure.

by Smithee

Earlier this Fall, the IRS was offering an amnesty program for offshore tax cheats to come forward and admit their wrongdoing, thereby getting a more lenient punishment. Nearly 15,000 Americans who knew they were cheating came forward and admitted their bad behavior. From Reuters: While IRS officials were still analyzing the amount of offshore assets ... Continue reading this article…

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Changes in Estate Tax Law Affect When People Die

by Luke Landes

Between March 1917 and January 1984, there have been thirteen major changes in the rules for the estate tax, a tax paid by heirs for wealth inherited. Of these thirteen changes, eight were tax increases and five were tax decreases. In 2001, A study by the University of British Columbia and the University of Michigan ... Continue reading this article…

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2010 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates

by Luke Landes

Thanks to a low level of inflation, there won’t be too many changes to tax brackets and the standard deduction in 2010. I’ll keep this updated if the IRS decides to set the rates differently than outlined in this prediction, but chances are these will be the official brackets. Remember that if you are “in ... Continue reading this article…

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Are You One of the 4400 (Tax Evaders)?

by Smithee

Every so often I come across a news story that’s more enjoyable to read when I add a vindictive “ha ha ha ha ha” after each sentence. For example: Rich Americans who have evaded taxes by hiding foreign holdings have about a week to turn themselves in to an Internal Revenue Service amnesty program or ... Continue reading this article…

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Receiving the First Time Homebuyer Credit

by Luke Landes

Although receiving the first-time homebuyer tax credit initially took six weeks to receive, many customers have had problems receiving their credit from the IRS. As evidenced by the six hundred comments below, many have not been thrilled with the process, even those who filed the paperwork correctly and legitimately should receive the credit. For those ... Continue reading this article…

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How to File an Amended Income Tax Return (Form 1040X)

by Luke Landes

This article refers to an earlier version of Form 1040X. Some instructions may be slightly different depending on the form revision the IRS now has available. If you have filed your taxes for the most recent year but would like to take advantage of a new credit, such as the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax ... Continue reading this article…

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2009 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates

by Luke Landes

Marginal tax rates are one of the most misunderstood financial concepts, and I intend to write more about this in the future. This misunderstanding occasionally leads people to mistakenly believe that earning $1 over the barrier into the next tax level would result in a significantly higher tax bill because all income would be taxed ... Continue reading this article…

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Basics of the Fair Tax

by Smithee

Now that Tax Day has come and gone again, and anger is subsiding, let’s spend some time thinking about what a better system might look like. Have you heard of the “Fair Tax” proposal? I may be late to the knowledge party (Flexo mentioned it briefly in December 2007 when comparing presiential candidates’ ideas), and ... Continue reading this article…

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Basics of 2009 Energy Efficient Tax Credits

by Smithee

As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (see our roundup of ways to take advantage), 2009 and 2010 are good years to make some of the “green” home improvements you may’ve been considering. I’ve had a little trouble, however, navigating and understanding the many tables and footnotes, so I’m condensing ... Continue reading this article…

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Tax Tips for Procrastinators, Lazy People, and Late Filers

by Luke Landes

According to TurboTax, New York City is the third worst city in terms of procrastination. I can identify with this; I am one of the world’s worst procrastinators, a level I’ve accomplished through lots of practice. This year, I filed my taxes in the middle of March, the earliest I have ever completed the process. ... Continue reading this article…

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Watch Out for the Making Work Pay Credit (2009 Economic Stimulus)

by Luke Landes

Smithee has been keeping me up-to-date with a major part of the 2009 economic stimulus, the $400 for individuals or $800 for couples tax credit. Here are some things to keep in mind about this stimulus going into effect today, called the “Making Work Pay” credit in the law that established it. Smithee says the ... Continue reading this article…

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