Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Apr 1, 2011
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Day trading is a waste of money, says tax court


Still day trading? You might as well roll your dollars into a fat cigar and smoke them. That’s not a comment on your investment prowess, it’s the official position of the U.S. Tax Court.

Here’s the backstory: A taxpayer named Larry Tucker filed tax returns for 2000, 2001 and 2002 on April 15, 2003, but didn’t pay his taxes. By 2004, he owed $23,263 and, facing a tax lien, asked the Internal Revenue Service to accept an “offer in compromise.” (That’s a technical term for the deal the IRS will cut with a taxpayer who can afford to pay part of his bill, but not all of his bill.) But the IRS is permitted to reject those compromises if it decides the taxpayer has been wasting or consuming money that could have otherwise been used to pay taxes.

Mar 31, 2011
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Tax obsessed? There’s an app for that


Are you so into tax season that you hate to be away from your tax forms? Maybe you’ve got questions about your return that you’d like to be answering while you’re on your way to work, or out at dinner with your friends.

If you’ve got a smart phone, you’ve got an answer. Here are some tax apps for this tax season.

Mar 30, 2011

Stern Advice: Opening day of financial aid season

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – This is the week most colleges send out their financial aid award letters.

Enterprising students and parents will consider those packages a first offer. They will spend the month of April trying to cut a better deal before they decide, by May 1, where to send their sons, daughters and dollars.

Mar 28, 2011
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Take Social Security now or later? Answer not so simple


It’s a no brainer that your retirement will be better funded if you delay it. Work longer, and you (1) earn more money; (2) reduce the number of retirement years you have to cover; and (3) boost your Social Security benefits doubly, by delaying them (unclaimed, they’ll grow roughly 7.25 percent a year), and by adding new earnings to the formula by which they are calculated.

But here’s a question that’s far tougher: What if you can’t work longer, because you lost your job when you were 59 or 60? Should you start taking Social Security as early as possible (when you are 62) or defer it as long as you can?

Mar 25, 2011

Consumer for Sale: Companies pay big bucks for you!

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) – Consumers may be worth a
lot more than they realize.

You may feel worthless if you have just received shabby
treatment from a retailer, bank or utility. But a look at how
much you have been traded for in a Wall Street deal might make
you feel more valuable — though perhaps not much happier.

Mar 25, 2011
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Linkapalooza! The 21 best websites for tax help


It’s tax season. Of course, you’ve got questions. And not just “why do I have to fill out these annoying forms in the middle of spring?” If you’re doing your taxes, you’re probably wondering about all kinds of things, like (1) was there a stimulus credit in 2010? and (2) Can I deduct the points on my last refinance? and (3) Where did I put that receipt for all the books I donated? and (4) Why isn’t my accountant answering the phone at 2 a.m.?

Happily, answers to at least half of those questions are only a click away. Welcome to Linkapalooza! (The tax season version.) Here are 21 of the best websites to get you through tax season.

Mar 23, 2011

Stern Advice: Tax breaks, matches can boost charitable gifts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Perhaps you have opened your wallet to help the afflicted in Japan — and before that, Haiti, and New Orleans. And you’ve donated money to your church, the local homeless shelter, symphony and the Boy Scouts.

Now what? First, keep it up. Americans give away more than $300 billion a year and that generosity helps in immeasurable ways.

Mar 21, 2011
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Taxes: When it pays to procrastinate


Yes, tax returns are due in less than a month. But who’s got the time to deal with that?

Certainly not Bob Meighan, vice president at TurboTax. He’s too busy dealing with tax season to actually fill in his own forms. “There’s a chance I’ll file by April 18″ when returns are due this year, he says. “I’m a procrastinator.” He often files an extension and slips his taxes in on the last possible day, with extensions, which is October 17 this year.

Mar 16, 2011

Dividend paying stocks — ready for a comeback

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Dividend investors may be about to have their day.

Stalled by recession and regulation, company cash machines are now primed to start paying out more to shareholders.

The signal event in the dividend revival will come sometime soon, perhaps within weeks, when the Federal Reserve gives banks the green light to resume dividends. The banks have been working under restraints that date to the Fed’s bailouts of 2008.

Mar 16, 2011
via Reuters Money

What if you can’t pay your taxes?


Getting to the end of your 1040 form and finding a balance due isn’t fun, though at least you can pat yourself on the back for not having made a free loan to the U.S. Treasury. But knowing that you don’t have the money to pay that bill can make you really miserable.

Here’s are seven ways to keep the payments — and the misery — to a minimum.

    • About Linda

      "Linda Stern is an award-winning personal finance journalist who loves to write about how the big picture affects your pocketbook. A former contributing editor at Newsweek magazine and a long-time Reuters columnist, Stern covers everything from credit cards to retirement planning to investing. As a Washington-based correspondent, she sneaks in as much tax and economic policy as her editors will allow. She tweets at And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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