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December 2007

Bad news for those who owe, too

The 2008 filing season is shaping up to be a very costly tax season for all taxpayers. All you folks expecting a refund on your 2007 return already know that you're going to have to wait a little longer for your tax cash, thanks to Congressional maneuvering over the AMT (the sad, sorry details are blogged about here and here). Now there's equally disconcerting news for taxpayers who owe. It's bad enough when you have to hand over money to Uncle Sam. Well, now he wants your cash even more quickly. Big surprise ... Not! The IRS reportedly is reducing... Read more →

Tax evasion plea is latest in Yankees' list of woes

Things haven't been going so good lately for the Yankees. First, there's the Red Sox. 'Nuff said. On the heels of watching their biggest rivals win another World Series, the baseball team had to deal with the A-Rod melodrama. Then the Mitchell Report cites two prominent NYY pitchers, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, as users of performance enhancing drugs that Major League Baseball had deemed illegal. Pettitte admitted to limited use of human growth hormone (HGH), saying it was to treat an elbow injury. The Rocket has remained defiant in denying he ever used steroids. And now comes word that... Read more →

12 money tips from Christmas 'experts'

Christmas is a week away. Have you made your list, checked it twice? Got enough egg nog? Prepared the house for visitors or made plans to get away? No, not to escape from those heading your way, but to be a house guest yourself! Well, time is short; just seven shopping days left! But it's still possible to get it all done, especially if you heed the words of Christmas experts. And with that, I resort to some shameless self-promotion. I wrote a story for Bankrate last year that looked at what we could learn from folks who know this... Read more →

Tax Carnival #26: Stocking Stuffers

Christmas is just eight days away. That means it's time for our annual Stocking Stuffers edition of the Carnival of Taxes. This year, we have 10 tips to fill the tax socks hung with care. It's a smaller than usual Carnival, but given the craziness of the season, that's understandable. Also, because I was traveling last week, I didn't get a chance to nag remind folks to send in submissions. Muchas mea culpas. I'll be a better nagger reminder next time. But, as many of us have learned over the years, sometimes it's those smaller packages that hold the best... Read more →

IRS has money … for another week

Well, we taxpayers can breather easier, for a little while at least. The House last week approved a temporary funding measure that will keep the federal government -- including the IRS -- operating at current levels through next Friday. The continuing resolution provides money for the tax agency and other offices on a pro-rata basis at fiscal year 2008 funding levels through Dec. 21. Lawmakers (among others) are hopeful that they can resolve spending differences and craft an omnibus appropriations bill this coming week that will keep Dubya's veto pen in his pocket. House Appropriation Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wisc.,... Read more →

Military tax relief approved by Senate

Here goes with the first of some promised catch-up on tax items that got pushed to the side while I was out of town last week. On Dec. 12, the Senate approved a $1.2 billion measure to provide tax relief for servicemen and women. The Defenders of Freedom Tax Relief Bill of 2007 (S. 1593), however, differs from H.R. 3997, a similar House-approved measure. So that means the Senate version goes back across Capitol Hill for reconciliation before it can be sent to Dubya for his signature. S. 1593, includes: A permanent allowance for soldiers to count their nontaxable combat... Read more →

Thoughts on travel

I cannot even begin to tell you how good it feels to be home! Later today, I'm going to sort through my e-mail, thumb through the stack of newspapers that the hubby held for me and do a little Web surfing. Afterward, I'll be posting on tax and financial tidbits that slipped by me as I was concentrating on Taxpayer Advocacy Panel topics last week. I realize that some of the coming notifications might not be news to you, but it will definitely help me get my brain back in normal (insert your own joke here) operational mode. Right now,... Read more →

Year-end Money Moves
Part 5: Taking care of details

After you finish cleaning up your house in preparation for all the holiday visitors heading your way, it's also a good time to take care of some financial housekeeping. Today, Part 5 of our Year-end Money Moves looks at ways to take care of necessary financial details. Completing these tasks before the end of the year, and updating them at least annually, will help you stay on top of your money. And knowing what you have will help you maximize it. Get organized I admit it. I've neglected this for the last 11½ months. I have all my monthly bank,... Read more →

AMT, take three

Here in D.C., the word from IRS folks who've been talking with us at the annual Taxpayer Advocacy Panel meeting is that next week is make or break for the AMT patch. If legislation to keep millions -- estimates range from 20 to 25 million taxpayers -- isn't okayed by next Friday, Dec. 21, then the 2008 filing season will be disrupted on a scale heretofore unseen. (Previous blog on this possibility here.) I'm sure all y'all dedicated tax geeks have been diligently maintaining the great AMT patch watch. In November, the House approved a version. The Senate passed a... Read more →

Year-end Money Moves
Part 4: Giving

This holiday season, giving can produce a nice payoff, both personally and financially. It's a well-known tax fact that directing some of your gifts to those less fortunate can help you reduce your upcoming IRS bill. But you also can literally share your wealth with family and friends without triggering any gift tax. And some folks might find that they can give others appreciated assets that then can be cashed in without any tax consequences. We'll look at those, and other strategies, in today's Part 4, Giving, of our series on Year-end Money Moves. If you want to review the... Read more →

Today, our Year-end Money Moves feature focuses on things you should do now to enhance your retirement earnings. This is Part 3 of our week-long series. Part 1 covered tax tasks; Part 2 looked at investments. As noted in the investment category, many of these retirement strategies have a tax component. And now, since none of us is getting any younger, let's get to our retirement year-end moves. Contribute to your company plan I don't know about you, but I can't wait until I don't have to work. The more I boost my retirement savings, the sooner that day will... Read more →

Personal Finance Carnival #130

The Carnival of Personal Finance #130 is now now up at Money $mart Life. Since there's so much good financial information on the carnival, M$L offers his editor picks in an introductory audio file. You can listen while you scroll through the many offerings. A couple of my favorites: Five financial goals for life, not just for the coming year, from My Dollar Plan. Confessions of a credit card junkie from BankerGirl. She has a problem with easy credit, but is working to overcome the addiction. My item on aspirational investing also made the cut. If you get a chance... Read more →

Year-end Money Moves
Part 2: Investments

Welcome to Part 2 of this week's special series on Year-end Money Moves. We began yesterday with a look at some things you can do in these last couple of weeks of the year to cut your upcoming tax bill. Today, we examine some investment actions to consider -- or, in one case, avoid -- by Dec. 31. As mentioned when we started this series, you'll see that several of these investment moves also have tax considerations. Rebalance your portfolio Any investor knows the importance of balance. Some folks obsess about their assets, checking values daily (or more) and are... Read more →

Real estate news roundup

Before heading off to a full day of Taxpayer Advocacy Panel sessions here in drizzly D.C., I buzzed through my e-mail alerts and found these real estate articles that y'all might find of interest, consternation or consideration. We start north of the border, where a new Canadian report says that energy efficiency actually is counterproductive, leading to more, not less, energy consumption. Jim Adair in Realty Times says that the finding is not new: "Back around 1980, about the time that Canada's R-2000 standard for super energy efficient homes was being introduced in response to the 'energy crisis' of the... Read more →

Year-end Money Moves
Part 1: Taxes

December's days are dwindling, but there's still enough time to make some last-minute moves that could save or make you money. So this week here at the ol' blog we're posting a five-part series on Year-end Money Moves. Monday through Friday, we'll look at some key financial tasks to complete by Dec. 31. Today's topic is taxes. We'll examine investment, retirement and giving year-end strategies on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. And we'll wrap up the series Friday with end-of-year tasks to help you tie up financial details. Some of the strategies cross boundaries. For example, selling assets that have... Read more →

TAP dancing to D.C.

A quick note as I finish packing. Yep, packing. Not to head to a family Christmas gathering, but rather off on a tax-inspired trip. In few hours I'll be in Washington, D.C., for the annual meeting of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel. This is my second such get-together, and as a veteran, I'm more involved in the program. In fact, I have two presentations -- brief ones, thank goodness! -- to give. I'm more jazzed, though, about meeting the new members. Area 5, the region that includes Texas, has six new panelists, with half of them from the Lone Star State.... Read more →

Tax denial = second-class country

In a column sure to spark debate, not to mention some arguments around many holiday dinner tables, Robert H Frank writes in today's New York Times that Americans' "inability to talk sensibly about taxes" has helped nudge the United States "toward second-class status in the world economy." Nobody likes paying taxes. And none of us wants to pay more than our fair share. But the single-minded and wrong-headed idea that we can do without them is doing us, individually and collectively, no good. Economically, our growing debt has helped devalue the dollar. Socially, few of us are willing to have... Read more →

Automotive tax-o-rama

A lot's been happening in the auto/tax area of late and my notes have been piling up, so I've decided to put them all -- the energy bill, standard mileage deduction amounts and the latest on the hybrid tax credit -- in this one auto tax-o-rama item. This'll be long, so let's get started. First, the energy bill. The House approved a measure that would (1) create a national renewable electricity standard, (2) raise $21 billion in taxes, primarily from repealing oil company tax breaks, and (3) require automakers to raise average fuel economy standards. The current corporate average fuel... Read more →

Office holiday party etiquette

Holiday party invitations have been showing up in my e-mail. A few are personal, but most are work related -- clients who are having get-togethers, professional associations hosting happy hours, trade groups trying to spend up that entertainment line item so they'll get the same budget amount next year. I'm going to most. A few I really want to attend. Others, as a small businesswoman, I need to attend. Note to any of you hosts out there who are reading this: You know that your event is one that I really, really want to be at! I couldn't always say... Read more →

Aspirational investing

Are you counting on your investments making you rich one day? Let folks who already are in the top tax bracket help you get there, too. That's the idea behind the Living Large Index, which is comprised of stocks of businesses that cater to affluent consumers. It was created by Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup’s chief United States equity strategist, who believes that profits and share prices of luxury goods makers, higher-end retailers and travel and entertainment companies should hold up even if businesses serving them suffer from difficult economic conditions. The reasoning, according to a story on the Living Large Index... Read more →