12 Tax Tips of Christmas Feed

Doing your taxes can be a hassle. It's a bit easier when you claim the standard deduction instead of itemizing. (Photo via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Karolina Grabowska) This weekend, many taxpayers will be working on their 2023 tax returns. They share a couple of traits in addition to simply being eager filers. The first is no surprise. They are expecting a tax refund. And second, their tax situations are relatively simple. Typically, they have only wage income that's reported on a W-2 form, and they use the standard deduction instead of itemizing. The number of individuals who claim the... Read more →

Hello New Orleans! I mean, hello Orlando! That geographic confusion reminiscent of Spinal Tap happened at day two of the Internal Revenue Service Nationwide Tax Forum in, you got it, the House of Mouse land. Yep, all of us, including presenters, are finding ourselves a bit overloaded, occasionally flummoxed and feeling a bit dislocated. Still, we're hanging in there and here. Here's an overview of my Wednesday at the final tax forum of 2014. First thing we do, let's mute all the lawyers: Thank god for tax attorneys. Really. That's not a joke or sarcastic slam. These folks definitely come... Read more →

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... Read more →

Another top 12 holiday tax countdown

Last week, I wrapped up The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas, but my dozen is far from alone. For years, Dan Meyer of Tick Marks has been evaluating tax, personal finance and accounting blogs and presenting readers with his list of 12 he finds worthy of note. I was honored to make Dan's list in 2006. And in the holiday spirit of sharing, and in order to get out as much good word about money blogging as possible, Dan doesn't double up from from year to year. This year, his fifth edition of the Twelve Blogs of Christmas includes seven... Read more →

The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas 2009

In 2009, we inaugurated a new feature, The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas. In case you missed them when they ran, from Dec. 13 through Christmas Eve, we've collected them here. Sell assets Improve your home Spend your FSA Be charitable Do a mock return Watch out for AMT issues Defer income Make house payments early Bunch your expenses Get ready to retire Buy a car Hire a pro Some of the tips have an obvious year-end appeal and one, #11, is 2009 specific. But in most other instances, the tax advice is good any time of the year. Read more →

Ta-da! We're reached the end of our tax carol! I've enjoyed all the voices that have joined this little choir and I hope you've found some good advice for this and future tax seasons. We wrap up The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas with a final suggestion: hire a tax professional. OK, don't go hire one today. You probably can't anyway, as most are likely taking a break before the 2010 filing season chaos begins. But at least evaluate your tax situation and determine whether you're going to need some help. That mock tax return you did (per tip #5... Read more →

On the 10th day of The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas, my true love gave to me early retirement. Well, to be honest, the hubby and I are still fighting over who gets to quit working first. But here's some tax advice that could help us, and you, give up the 9-to-5 sooner rather than later. Saving in this economy is hard, but the tax code provides a lot of incentives to put away some cash for your golden years. If your company offers a 401(k) plan, contribute to it, as least up to the company match percentage. And even... Read more →

Let's all sing the praises of tax-cutting techniques. We look at one in today's 12 Tax Tips of Christmas, bunching your expenses to maximize deductions. There are lots of expenses that the IRS will allow you to use as deductions against your income. However, in many cases they have a major drawback: They must total a certain percentage of your income before they can be claimed. Take medical expenses, for example. To include these as an itemized deduction on your Schedule A, you must ring up enough to exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Even with today's... Read more →

And the lovely tax break tunes continue. Today's entry from our 12 Tax Tips of Christmas focuses on your residence. Making some home-related payments now can help cut your tax bill when you file next year. Homeowners know just how valuable their monthly loan payments are at tax time. For those of us early in our mortgage paying life, most of that check goes each month to cover interest. And that interest is deductible when you itemize expenses on Schedule A. If you have a second home, the interest on that property's mortgage loan also is deductible as long as... Read more →

The days and holidays are ticking away, but there's still time for some tax tune-up. In today's sing-along of The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas we look at deferring income. The amount of tax you owe depends on your taxable income. For tax calculation purposes, there are many ways to get that base lower. Deductions, either standard, itemized or those adjustments at the end or the first page of both the 1040 and 1040A known as above-the-line deductions, are the most common way to cut taxable income. But you can simply make less money. No, I'm not joking. But neither... Read more →

If you have to pay the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, you'll be singing the blues instead of the joyous tunes of the holiday season. In today's sixth verse of The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas, we look at just what this dreaded and costly parallel tax is and how you can find out if you might face it. The AMT is a separately figured tax that eliminates many deductions and credits that filers can claim when computing their regular tax bills. By losing these breaks, they see their tax bill go up under the AMT. So who has to... Read more →

Practice makes perfect, for singers as well as taxpayers. That's why today's 12 Tax Tips of Christmas recommendation is for you do a mock tax return. I know. The thought of filling out a bunch of tax forms just for practice makes you want to run away screaming. But better to do that now -- both the form completion and the screaming -- than in April when it really counts. You can get an idea of what your 2009 tax will be by inputting as much info as you can. Use your latest paycheck stub for income and withholding data.... Read more →

The theme of the Christmas carol that inspired The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas is perfect for today's topic. In the season of giving we're looking at giving to nonprofits. In addition to just making you feel good for helping out, charitable donations can provide tax benefits for folks who itemize. Claiming these gifts on Schedule A can help you cut down on your taxable income. Less income generally means a smaller tax bill. You can give cash, which to the IRS also means charged donations. As long as you make the credit card gift by Dec. 31, even if... Read more →

Fa-la-la-la-laaaaaa! OK, that's a different song, but here at the ol' blog we're still singing about paying fewer taxes. So cue the third verse of The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas: Spend your FSA. An FSA, or flexible spending account, is a great workplace benefit. With these accounts, you put money in via automatic deposits from your paycheck. Even better, the money is taken out before payroll taxes are figured on your income, providing you a bit of tax break. There are two types of FSAs, one for child care and the other for medical expenses. The cost of child... Read more →

We still have a Christmas tax song in our heart. It's on to the second verse of The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas. #2 Improve your home: It's getting cold out there. And if your doors and windows are drafty, it's getting cold in your house, too. You can plug those household gaps with some help from Uncle Sam. Back in 2005, a comprehensive energy bill was enacted that contained provisions that offered some tax breaks for folks who made energy efficient improvements to their homes. But for the most part, the benefits were not very much and the rules... Read more →

Holidays and taxes are the perfect package, right? OK, maybe not. But with all the seasonal festivities to distract us, it's easy to put off making some tax moves that could help cut your 2009 IRS bill or reduce your 2010 tax liability. Well, Don't Mess With Taxes wants to help. No, we can't suggest the perfect gift for your mother-in-law or the right outfits for all your holiday parties. But we can provide you a daily tax tip, starting today and running through Christmas Eve. Let's get to it! #1: Sell assets: Watching an investment tank is no fun,... Read more →