You have one more week to pay property taxes, add energy-saving improvements, dump losing stocks and empty your FSA account.
I'm a sucker for Christmas traditions. I watch A Christmas Carol (the one with George C. Scott as a robust Scrooge is my favorite). Actual Christmas carols are on the CD player. Ages-old schlocky but sentimental ornaments adorn our tree.
And as a writer, much to the dismay of some of my editors (I'm talking about you, Dan!), 'tis the season indeed! That means hauling out holiday hooks for stories and blogs.
Last year, I apparently had more time because I did 12 separate tax tips for Christmas.
2010, however, is a bit more rushed -- thanks, Congress, for putting off the tax bill until the last minute! -- so I'm offering you 12 tax-saving tips in this one post.
States collect levies on bagels, belt buckles, cup lids and haunted houses. Balloon rides? It depends.
What are the oddest, quirkiest and downright weirdest tax laws of 2010?
According to the Onesource Tax & Accounting unit of Thomson Reuters, some of the year’s most unusual taxes include:
Tax credit for energy-saving improvements was extended, but won't be nearly as generous in 2011. That means a rush now.
Forget holiday door-buster sales. For big savings, some homeowners are actually buying themselves new doors for Christmas this year, in time to claim the government's tax credit for home energy efficiency on their income taxes.
The credit covers energy-efficient doors and windows, insulation, roofs, water heaters, biomass stoves, and heating and air-conditioning systems.
And the savings can be big: It covers 30% of the cost of improvements, and taxpayers can get a credit of up to a total $1,500 for all qualifying improvements they've made to their primary residences during 2009 and 2010.
The credit expires on Dec. 31. But buried in the bill that extends tax cuts made while President Bush was in office is also an extension of the home-energy tax credit.
The catch: Next year, that tax credit could be reduced significantly.
IRS Doghouse website lets you rate employees and vent about experiences with the agency, good and bad.
Whatever you think of the just enacted tax bill, we at least finally have some resolution to the 2010 and 2011 tax laws. Now comes the fun part: Complying with them.
I suspect the IRS will have its hands quite full in the coming months as taxpayers and tax professionals alike sort through all the retroactive and prospective law changes.
And you know what that means: Confrontations, I mean, interactions with IRS employees.
OK. I do mean confrontations. Even in the best of times, taxpayer experiences with the IRS often don't end well.
Now, however, taxpayers can do more than fume. We have an online outlet through which we can vent.
You can tell the world all about your tax tribulations and how IRS employees helped, or didn't help, you deal with them at IRS Doghouse.
Hedge-fund managers and affluent taxpayers mostly do well, but couples earning less than $40,000 may pay more taxes.
House passage of a bipartisan tax bill resolves many urgent questions weighing on individuals and businesses -- but also creates vast groups of winners and losers among them.
Because the deal left in place many tax rates that otherwise could have jumped significantly, and lowers the payroll tax for all workers by two percentage points, most individual taxpayers should come out ahead, say tax experts.
Yet some bond investors, for example, could be left poorer. Concerns over the deal's long-term fiscal effects have prompted big selloffs in U.S. Treasury securities since the deal was announced on Dec. 6. Moody's Investors Service warned on Monday that the tax deal raises the chance that it would issue a negative outlook on the U.S. government's AAA credit rating.
"It's easy to have lots of winners when you're giving up this much revenue," said Michael Graetz, a former Treasury official who is now a professor at Columbia University Law School. "But we can't finance the government by borrowing forever."
The package extends many Bush-era tax breaks, including lower rates, and cuts the Social Security payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2%.
This post is from the Associated Press.
Here are the highlights of the tax package passed by Congress late Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama. It would cost about $858 billion; most provisions, which were to expire Jan. 1, would be extended for two years, unless noted.
The package extends:
- Lower rates for taxpayers at every income level. The top rate, on taxable income above $379,150, would stay at 35%, instead of increasing to 39.6%. The bottom rate, on taxable income below $8,500 for individuals and $17,000 for married couples, would stay at 10%, instead of increasing to 15%. Cost: $186.8 billion.
Taxpayers who didn't have enough withheld because of the Making Work Pay credit will have to pay up when they file.
This post is by Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press.
About 13.4 million taxpayers may be getting unexpected tax bills because they were awarded too much money under President Barack Obama's Making Work Pay tax credit, a government audit said Thursday.
The tax credit, which expires Jan. 1, was designed to increase take-home pay by about $8 a week through new tax withholding tables. The credit was capped at $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples filing jointly.
However, the credit put millions of taxpayers at risk for not having enough taxes withheld from their paychecks, resulting in a tax bill when they file their returns, said the audit by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.
Tax deal lets homeowners continue to deduct PMI, but some will lose the right to deduct property taxes.
It's no secret that homeowners get special tax treatment under the U.S. tax code.
There are the biggies of being able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes. In case you missed them, those tax breaks are the latest (numbers 33 and 34) in the running Weekly Tax Tips for 2010 feature at Don’t Mess With Taxes.
In recent years, Congress even enhanced homeownership tax benefits a bit.
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