A vacation would be fun, but you'll get more bang for your buck if you invest in energy-saving improvements or maybe even a new car.
This post is by Jonnelle Marte of MarketWatch.
Despite the late start to this year’s tax season, refund checks are already rolling in. About 75% of taxpayers are expected to receive refunds this year, according to estimates from the Internal Revenue Service, with the average check about $3,000. And as this winter windfall arrives, Americans wrestle with competing desires to spend, save or invest the cash.
Many people say they are being responsible with their refunds: 42% plan to use the money to pay down debt and cover bills and 25% plan to save it, according to a 2012 survey by TurboTax.
Others are splurging: 15% of taxpayers plan to treat themselves to a vacation or shopping. But advisers say that even if you’ve done everything right -- you have an emergency fund, no debt and are maxing out your retirement account contributions -- you might want to reconsider spending the refund on a 70-inch TV or a cruise. Here are some of their suggestions.
Some employees have until March 15 to use up all the money in their flexible spending accounts. Here are some quick ways to use it so you don't lose it.
This post is by Kimberly Lankford of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine.
You can use the FSA money for yourself, your spouse or any dependents (including adult children up to age 26, even if they aren’t included on your health insurance policy).
New laws require firms to report the 'cost basis' of stocks and other investments when they are sold. You should make sure the numbers on your 1099-B are correct.
This post is by Laura Saunders of The Wall Street Journal.
If so, read this before you file your 2012 tax return.
This is the second year investment firms have had to report to the Internal Revenue Service the "cost basis" of certain assets sold by clients.
If you're filling out your own tax return, here are some terms you need to know to get the deductions to which you're entitled and cut your tax bill.
This post is by Lisa Greene-Lewis at U.S. News and World Report.
It’s officially tax season, and even if you’re using tax software to make preparing your taxes easier, you may still want to know what some of the common tax terms flying around mean. Here is a handy glossary:
1040: The official income tax return form printed and distributed by the IRS. There are three versions of the tax form: 1040 (if you’re self-employed and/or have itemized deductions), 1040EZ (for single and joint filers with no dependents) and 1040A (you must have taxable income of $100,000 or less and claim the standard deduction).
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI): Your gross income, minus specific adjustments to income, such as contributions made to a traditional individual retirement account or for student loan interest payments. Your AGI directly influences your eligibility to claim many available tax deductions and credits.
Start by estimating what you'll owe in federal and state taxes and setting that money aside. Then look at potential deductions.
This post is by Steve Rosenbush of The Wall Street Journal.
One of the pains of being self-employed is handling your own taxes, which means regularly setting aside the money you think you'll owe to the IRS and your state. But how do you figure out how much that will be?
It's the kind of thing salaried employees take for granted. But freelance workers and other sole proprietors have to be their own payroll department.
After paying expenses for your children all year, be sure to claim all the tax deductions and credits to which you're entitled.
This post is by Leah Ingram of Living on the Cheap.
The year our daughter Jane was born, my husband and I almost forgot to claim her on our taxes. She was a newborn, our accountant hadn’t seen us in a year -- so she’d never seen me pregnant -- and our tax appointments never involved chitchat, so the fact that we’d become parents wasn’t part of the conversation.
Luckily, we somehow remembered. Plus, because we’d been smart enough to apply for Jane’s Social Security number while she was still in the hospital after the birth, we were able to use it for the Child Tax Credit.
If you’re not claiming all the tax benefits you’re entitled to as a parent, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars in credits and deductions every year. Here are nine tax benefits that parents should remember to claim on their returns.
The IRS says it is nearly ready to accept returns with forms that required revision. But the date to start filing is still not set.
This post is by Tom Herman of The Wall Street Journal.
But procrastinators, beware. That excuse will soon disappear.
In early March, the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting certain types of returns, such as those claiming adoption expenses, that it hasn't been able to process. The IRS website has a list of the forms that can't be processed until the first week of March. An IRS spokesman says a specific date is "still to be announced.”
Most taxpayers could file as of Jan. 30. But others couldn't because the IRS was working on updating its forms and completing the "programming and testing of its processing systems" in the wake of tax-law changes enacted early this year. That law included many changes that affected returns for last year.
Most respondents say personal integrity keeps them honest, while 63% say they fear an audit. Nearly two-thirds of respondents think the IRS needs a bigger budget.
This post is by Stephen Ohlemacher of The Associated Press.
With tax season in full swing, a new poll says an overwhelming majority of adults don't believe it is ever OK to cheat on their income taxes, with most citing personal integrity as a reason to be truthful.
When asked how much, if any, is an acceptable amount to cheat on your income taxes, 87% of respondents said, "not at all." Only 11% said, "a little here and there" or "as much as possible."
Ninety-five percent said personal integrity influences them to report their taxes honestly, while 63% said fear of an audit did. Only 41% said they are honest because they believe their neighbors are, too.
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