Education Feed

Saving soon and often for your or your children's college education is critical. But just as important as putting away higher education money is knowing when to take out that college fund cash. 529 plan benefits, possible pitfalls: This is especially true of the tax-favored 529 plans that states offer. Your deposits to a 529 plan are not tax deductible, but the funds grow tax-free. And when you or your child withdraws the money, there's no tax bill as long as you use the funds to pay for qualifying college costs. Withdrawing 529 money, however, is not as simple as... Read more →


New York City handed out more than $59 million in residential tax breaks to thousands of deceased individuals and corporations between fiscal years 2011 and 2017. The improper tax benefits were supposed to go as property tax exemptions for senior citizens, according to an audit by the New York City comptroller's office. Around $36 million in tax revenue was lost when the city granted more than 3,000 Senior Citizen Homeowners' Exemptions (SCHE) to older property owners who had died, according to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. The same properties, Stringer said during a July 7 press conference announcing the audit findings,... Read more →


Work-related moving expenses are tax deductible. You don't even have to itemize. The claim is made as one of the adjustments to income, generally referred to as an above-the-line deduction, right on the long Form 1040. Vintage moving van | Alden Jewell via Flickr But don't think just because this is a relative easy tax write-off that the Internal Revenue Service will just give the claim a cursory glance. IRS examiners will be looking. Just as Giliard Schwartz. A really big move: The San Antonio, Texas, woman claimed $330,000 in moving expenses on her 2012 tax return. Instead of that... Read more →


Uh oh! The Internal Revenue Service has filed a lawsuit against me for unpaid taxes! Uh no. The call I got today was just another sad attempt to scam me into calling the crooks and giving them personal information or, more likely, sending them a prepaid debit card to cover my fake tax bill. This pervasive and persistent telephone tax scam, as today's message -- my fifth so far this year; haven't the criminals realized by now that I'm a total tax deadbeat?! -- is still making the rounds. Ignore it. But some con artists do tweak their schemes in... Read more →


One way to survive working on your tax return with a deadline looming -- April 18 this year -- is to make sure you don't make any easily avoidable filing mistakes. Similarly, you don't want to overlook any tax breaks. I guess that technically omitting a tax claim could be considered a mistake, but for the sake of keeping things clear -- and for providing an added blog post topic! -- I've separated them. Searching for tax breaks? Below are 18. (James Corden GIF via CBS.com/Corden) And to save you time in your search for ways to cut your tax... Read more →


During this presidential primary season, the cost of higher education has been a major campaign issue, especially on the Democratic side. Taking a study break. "University Life 159" by Francisco Osorio via Flickr. Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing free college for all. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a plan for debt-free college. Business Insider has a side-by-side comparison of Sanders' College for All Act and Clinton's New College Compact. But until Clinton or Sanders is elected, students and their families will have to rely on existing educational tax breaks. Comparing current education tax benefits: The most popular are... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's not just a catchy tune. It's President Barack Obama's philosophy regarding his eighth and final fiscal year budget blueprint. Click image to watch American Authors' hit "Go Big or Go Home" via YouTube. Even when Congress and Commander in Chief get along, getting everything in an administration's annual budget is tough. When things are outright hostile like now -- in an unprecedented move, both the House and Senate budget committees, headed by Republicans, announced they won't hold hearings on Obama's proposal -- the chances of a lame-duck president getting what he wants fiscally is... Read more →


One Colorado county is looking to change the traditional linkage of college kids and pot. At a story/suspected crime scene in my first post-college reporter job, smoking Marlboro Lights, not marijuana! Starting in 2017, Pueblo County high school graduates will be eligible for college scholarships funded by money from the local marijuana tax. Wisdom thanks to weed taxes: On Nov. 3, around 60 percent of voters in this county south of Colorado Springs approved a ballot measure that will gradually increase taxes on marijuana growers. The county pot tax rate will top out at 5 percent by 2020. Pueblo County... Read more →


It's almost time for school to start. For college students, or their parents, that means it's also almost time to start emptying out bank accounts. OK, maybe you don't have to liquidate all your assets to go to college nowadays, but it is expensive. Tuition is, of course, a major outlay. And most folks now pay for their continuing education by taking out loans. A lot of loans. New York Federal Reserve figures show that student debt hit $1.2 trillion in the first quarter of 2015. School-related money is owed by about 43 million Americans. That's why the ever-escalating cost... Read more →


2015 was supposed to be the year of tax reform, specifically simplification of our complicated tax code. Instead, Congress has been tucking tax provisions into recently enacted pieces of non-tax legislation. The most recent was the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, popularly referred to as the short-term highway funding bill. That measure, signed into law on July 31, contains several new tax provisions, including changed filing deadlines, additional information reporting rules for mortgages and more time for the Internal Revenue Service to audit certain types of underreported income. But a month earlier when a... Read more →


Louisiana is among the states still struggling to come up with a budget. That's always a difficult process, but it's gotten stickier in recent years. As state money troubles have grown, lawmakers have found themselves bombarded not just by constituents and in-state lobbying groups, but also pressured by folks well outside their state boundary lines. Such external political pressure has reached a new level in the Pelican State, where the state budget battle has expanded into a fight with the preeminent Washington, D.C., anti-tax organization. Tax trouble closing a budget gap: Louisiana has a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. Bobby Jindal,... Read more →


May 29 is an important if unofficial holiday if you're facing or expect one day to deal with the ever escalating costs of college. It's 529 Day. While 529 plans are nicknamed for the section of the Internal Revenue Code that authorizes them (they're officially known as qualified tuition programs), this 29th day of the fifth month is the perfect time to commemorate the many benefits of these college savings accounts. 592 plans have been around since 1996, but many folks still are unaware of them. Financial services firm Edward Jones' fourth annual 529 Plan Awareness Survey found that 66... Read more →


I count my blessings every single day. It takes a while because the list of things to be thankful for is long. One item on my good life inventory is that the hubby and I, aside from our mortgage, are debt free. Part of the reason for our relative financial freedom is planning and discipline. But I must admit another factor is sheer luck. Both the hubby and I grew up in a time when college costs, at least at public, state-supported schools, weren't out of control. The joys of al fresco learning via On Campus Market/OCM.com blog Our parents,... Read more →


The school year is winding down across most of the United States, but by the time classes resume in the fall, students and their parents could have some added help in paying for college costs. Students at the University of California at Berkeley, courtesy John Morgan via Flickr Creative Commons. On April 26, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved S. 335, a bill that would expand the popular 529 savings plans. The accounts, named after the section of the tax code authorizing them, allow families to save money that grows tax-free. The money can be withdrawn, again with no tax... Read more →


Tax deductions, whether itemized or above-the-line, and tax credits can save you money, but they do so in different ways. A deduction lowers the amount of your income on which tax is figured. Less income generally means a lower tax bill. A credit, however, is an even better tax reduction tool. Credits are claimed once you figure your tax liability and they then reduce what you owe Uncle Sam dollar for dollar. That means a $1,000 tax credit could cut your $2,000 tax bill in half. Even better, a few tax credits are refundable. As the name indicates, these credits... Read more →


In an effort to speed up things for folks visiting some Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs), the agency began on Feb. 23 offering appointments. You can set up a specific time -- the links below will offer details -- to talk with an IRS rep if you're in: Atlanta, Georgia (Atlanta-Woodcock) Austin, Texas Birmingham, Alabama Chicago, Illinois (Dearborn) Denver, Colorado Fresno, California Hartford, Connecticut Plantation, Florida San Antonio, Texas Seattle, Washington This is only a test in those 10 locations. But if it works, the appointment option could be expanded. Overall, the IRS has more than 350 walk-in... Read more →


The official name of the politically volatile health care reform law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That's usually shortened to the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. And it's popularly known as Obamacare. That nickname came from opponents of the president's first-term legislative landmark. Later, however, ACA advocates, including the commander in chief himself, embraced the moniker. Bothered by Bush tax cuts name: Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, found his name appended to the tax laws he ushered through in his first term, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and Jobs and Growth... Read more →


Busy week, busy weekend, so I'm cutting right to the chase as to last week at my other tax blog. The first topic was the growth of tax-related identity theft. As I note in the post, the best defense against someone using your tax data to file for a fake refund is to not fall for crooks seeking that data. But it still happens, even to the most careful taxpayers. The IRS has programs in place to help victimized taxpayers get their rightful refunds. The tax agency issues identity protection personal identification numbers, or IP PINs, to the real filers.... Read more →


It's Tuesday, but to borrow a phrase and concept popular on the Internet, it sure feels like Throwback Tax Thursday. The reason? The preview of the topics that President Obama plans to address in tonight's State of the Union Address includes some tax provisions that used to be in the Internal Revenue Code. The one that caught my eye is a tax break that's near to my heart, and I mean that in the romantic sense. The hubby and I married in 1982 in part because by waiting until that year, we started off as husband and wife with a... Read more →


Are you frantically trying to finish your 1040 by the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline? Yes, it is just a week away, so you need to get to work. But don't be in such a hurry that you miss out on some tax breaks. There are lots of ways to reduce your tax bill, as this week's Weekly Tax Tip highlights. Some of the 10 often overlooked tax breaks are for itemizers only. Others can be claimed by any filer. Philanthropic filers should double-check their contribution records. You don't want to miss out on Schedule A deductions for noncash charitable... Read more →