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Mar 19, 2012

Making the most of college tax breaks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – It’s too bad colleges don’t offer a class in “advanced tax strategies” to all freshmen, along with those study skills, health and diversity sessions. That extra expertise would come in handy for anyone trying to sort through the profusion of education credits and deductions that can help offset college costs.

With the annual cost of board and tuition topping $50,000 at some private colleges, and expenses dramatically rising at public universities, it’s worth learning how to maximize those breaks. Here’s a brief guide:

Mar 9, 2012

Tax relief for record year of natural disasters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The recent string of tornadoes that tore through 10 states, killing dozens of people and flattening neighborhoods, capped a string of natural disasters that seems almost biblical in proportion.

In 2011, there were floods, twisters, droughts, wildfires and mudslides — a record number of federally declared disasters, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Last year FEMA issued 99 major disaster declarations, compared to the annual average of just 37 for the past 50 years — and another 29 emergency declarations.

Feb 29, 2012

Tax breaks a bright spot for job hunters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Looking for a job can be frustrating, especially now, with the unemployment rate seemingly stuck above 8 percent. There is a silver lining at tax time, though: Those job hunting costs may cut your tax bill.

Of course, where taxes are concerned, it’s never quite that simple. There are a lot of hoops to jump through before you can write off those job-hunting expenses.

Feb 24, 2012

Taking that healthcare tax deduction

NEW YORK (Reuters) – As medical costs go up and household income lags behind, more people are likely to qualify for healthcare tax deductions.

A recent Census report(here)

shows a decline in median household income; real median household income was $49,445 in 2010, 7.1 percent below its 1999 peak of $53,252.)

Feb 17, 2012

How to raid your retirement plan

NEW YORK (Reuters) – It’s a move of desperation: Raiding your retirement plan to get at the cash because life has thrown you a curve ball.

But desperate economic times may call for desperate measures; sometimes you just have to get cash from somewhere. And if that’s the case, there are some ways to get at that retirement money before age 59 ½, without paying the hefty 10 percent penalty which generally applies for touching those funds early.

Feb 15, 2012

Tax-time retirement strategies

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Putting aside a little extra money toward retirement in an individual retirement account, or IRA, would seem to be a no-brainer for the vast majority of middle-class Americans. Yet relatively few people contribute to them each year.

Although most households were eligible to make contributions to IRAs, only 14 percent of them did so in 2010, according to data from the Investment Company Institute. Just 39 percent of households own an IRA, even when you count all the IRAs created by rollovers of 401(k) assets and SEP-IRAs for the self-employed.

Feb 8, 2012

Dying tax breaks: Use them while they’re hot

Feb 8 (Reuters) – Every year, dozens of little bits of
the tax code fall by the wayside or, more typically, get
ritually renewed by Congress. This half-in, half-out nature of
the tax code frustrates accountants, individual taxpayers and
businesses, and makes rational long-term tax planning a
challenge.

Consider: A report by the Joint Committee on Taxation found
that 60 tax breaks expired at the end of 2011 (though they could
still be extended retroactively), and another 41 are slated to
disappear at the end of 2012.

Jan 27, 2012
via Tax Break

What Mitt missed on his tax forms, and why?

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Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign acknowledged to Reuters and others that his campaign is revising his federal ethics forms. They will now report more than a half-dozen offshore holdings, including income from a multimillion-dollar Swiss bank account, that was not disclosed last year.

The Romney campaign has described the issue as a minor discrepancy, and noted that all taxes owed on the overseas accounts were paid. But given the political football that overseas assets and tax disclosure have become –with the Internal Revenue Service cracking down on those who have assets abroad — that acknowledgment raises important questions.

Jan 26, 2012

The big lessons from celebrity estate wars

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Philanthropist Brooke Astor. The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. There are a few celebrities who, in death, at least in certain circles, have become as known for the litigation over their estates as for how they lived their lives. While the dollars are mind-boggling in these cases, anyone thinking about wealth transfer faces the same issues: dysfunctional families, potentially unequal positions in the family business, perhaps multiple marriages with kids from each.

We spoke with Russell Fishkind, an estate attorney and a partner in the East Coast law firm of Saul Ewing and author of “Probate Wars of the Rich and Famous: An Insider’s Guide to Estate Planning and Probate Litigation,” about what regular folks can learn from these high-profile estate battles.

Dec 22, 2011

Year-end tax planning: 5 tips for the self-employed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – There’s little time left in the year for tax planning. While most year-end tax planning stories focus on employees with tips about spending down flexible spending accounts and the like, if you’re self-employed or a small-business owner, you’ve got more options for tax planning than those who receive W-2s from their employers.

But there’s also more reason to be careful and to keep good records, as Schedule C filers have come under increasing scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service.

    • About Amy

      "Amy Feldman is an award-winning journalist and writer, specializing in business and finance. She writes a twice-monthly column on taxes for Reuters. The opinions expressed are her own."
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