What if you could take this year’s tax refund, spend every dime, then get it all back, plus 30%? Impossible? Not at all.
Last year I wrote an article called Transform Last Year’s Tax Refund Into Next Year’s Tax Credit. That story was about how I invested my tax refund in a $5,000 high-efficiency central air conditioner: something that generated a cool $1,500 tax credit.
It's not often that we get lump sums of cash, and the temptation is great to do the wrong thing. Here's a quick checklist.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average American's refund for tax year 2010 is about $3,000, a slight increase over the previous year.
But whatever you're expecting, there are smart things you can do with it, as well as things that aren't so smart. Here are some dumb things, along with some advice on how to check on the progress of your refund if you've yet to receive it.
Obama wants to increase the IRS budget and bring in more revenue, but GOP wants to cut the agency's budget.
This article is by Stephen Ohlemacher of The Associated Press.
Every dollar the Internal Revenue Service spends for audits, liens and seizing property from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good the Obama administration wants to boost the agency's budget.
House Republicans, seeing the heavy hand of a too-big government, beg to differ. They've already voted to cut the IRS budget by $600 million this year and want bigger cuts in 2012.
The IRS has dramatically increased its pursuit of tax cheats in the past decade: Audits are up, property liens are up and asset seizures are way up. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress see stepped up enforcement as a good way to narrow the nation's staggering budget deficit without raising tax rates or cutting popular spending programs.
The costs of alcohol and drug abuse treatment are allowed as write-off for taxpayers who meet the medical deduction threshold.
Charlie Sheen, star of the popular CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, continues to speak out from what has been described as at-home rehab.
Two pieces of advice:
Second, check into a real rehab facility and stick with the program. It will help you clean up your act sooner.
Some of the costs might even be tax deductible.
Stars and wannabes will owe taxes on lavish gifts handed out in Oscar VIP suites.
The Academy Awards were presented Sunday night. You know what that means.
These bags -- sometimes actual totes, other times just a general reference to the loot -- represent a tradition of giving goodies to people who don't really need it. The giving of gifts to awards show presenters and other participants began in the 1970s and over the years became an increasingly lavish tradition.
In 2006 the tax man got involved. That year, the IRS decreed that the goody bags were not actual gifts, but rather compensation and that the recipients would owe taxes on the value of the items handed out at awards shows.
New Yorker combats rising 'sin taxes' by growing tobacco in her Brooklyn yard.
Sin taxes have always been a popular way to raise money.
They tend to adversely affect a relatively small group, which makes the legislators enacting the taxes, and the majority of folks who don't have to pay them, more comfortable.
They are usually presented as "it's for everyone's good" campaigns. The catastrophic results of the sin are emphasized and at least part of the new tax money is targeted to programs tied to the specific bad habit.
That's the case with cigarettes. When tobacco taxes are hiked, the health dangers to both smokers and breathing bystanders are regularly cited. And the tax money typically goes to fund some sort of health-related program.
In the short term, a tobacco tax hike can cause state revenue problems. The National Conference of State Legislatures says that such tax increases can result in stockpiling of cigarettes prior to the implementation of the tax, producing a temporary drop in sales immediately following the tax increase.
And at least one New York woman has gone beyond simply stockpiling cartons.
In Audrey Silk's backyard, along with the rose bushes, geraniums and impatiens, are 100 tobacco plants in gardening buckets. She dries the leaves in her Brooklyn home's basement.
Agency says it will file fewer liens and make it easier for businesses to pay on installment plans.
This article is by Stephen Ohlemacher of The Associated Press.
The Internal Revenue Service says it's trying to help people who are struggling to pay delinquent tax bills, so it's reducing the number of property liens and easing rules for small businesses to enter into installment agreements.
As the economy has soured, the agency has filed an increasing number of liens on property owned by delinquent taxpayers. The IRS filed nearly 1.1 million liens in the budget year that ended in September, compared with 426,000 in 2001.
The steps announced Thursday will double the amount of back taxes a person can owe before facing a possible lien. Previously, taxpayers who owed at least $5,000 and ignored numerous IRS notices would get an automatic lien placed on their property. Under the new policy, the threshold is increased to $10,000.
Credit Suisse employees indicted as part of U.S. crackdown on offshore banks that help Americans hide assets.
This article is by Matthew Barakat of The Associated Press.
Four bankers with Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group were indicted Wednesday on conspiracy charges, accused of helping U.S. taxpayers hide as much as $3 billion in assets from the IRS.
Arrest warrants have been issued for all four, who are believed to be in Switzerland: Marco Parenti Adami, Emanuel Agustoni, Michele Bergantino and Roger Schaerer. All are Swiss citizens except for Adami, who is Italian.
Prosecutors allege in the indictment that the conspiracy goes back as far as 1953. The indictment alleges that as of late 2008 Credit Suisse was maintaining thousands of secret accounts for U.S. customers with as much as $3 billion in assets.
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