Year-end money moves Feed

Ho! Ho! Ho! Holy Moly! It's December already! The song is wrong, or at least incomplete. It may well be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the busiest. I don't know about you, but busy and wonderful isn't always (or usually) a good convergence. Unfortunately, there's very little we can do about it this year, especially since Thanksgiving fell late in November. Things right now are even more crunched, what with more shopping, holiday parties, and getting ready to visit relatives or host them at your home, all the while trying to shoehorn in some work.... Read more →

Here we are, into the final two months of the year. That means much of our time will be spent thinking about getting ready for cold weather, use-or-lose vacation days and the rapidly approaching holidays. But we also need to think about taxes. November is the perfect month to take some steps so that you don't have to deal with tax turkeys at filing time. Wild turkeys photo by Yathin S. Krishnappa via Wikimedia Vote! Many folks will get a direct say on their states' tax policies when they vote tomorrow, Nov. 4. Among the almost 150 ballot questions across... Read more →

The 2013 tax year is finally over. That means it's time to turn your tax thoughts to moves you can make to reduce your 2014 tax bill. A good starting point for any tax planning is with the basics, such as knowing what your tax bill likely will be. While there are a lot of variables that come into play, you can get a general idea by checking out the annual tax brackets. We're still waiting for Congress to finalize many 2014 tax laws, but the seven ordinary income tax rates are the same, starting at 10 percent and topping... Read more →

East Coast taxpayers have about half a day of 2013 left. West Coasters get a few more hours. But regardless of where you live, time is rapidly winding down as far as tax moves you can make to reduce your final 2013 tax bill. Hopefully, you checked out the many year-end tax options when I wrote about them in late November for (or saw it when it was picked up by ABC News) or blogged about them on Dec. 1. Or maybe you checked the right column's December Tax Moves running calendar. If so, thanks for reading and good... Read more →

Homeownership tax breaks to take in December

Is there any popular holiday tune more beloved than The Christmas Song? Its title alone -- THE Christmas Song, not just A Christmas Song or Some Christmas Song -- gives it predominance in the Christmas carol collection. And the prominence is well deserved, especially Nat King Cole's rendition of Mel Torme's classic. It is simply superb. Cole's inimitable voice makes this the quintessential Christmas at home song. We've got a roaring fireplace (mmm, toasty chestnuts!), mom and dad snuggling (remember the mistletoe mention) and the kiddos finally settled in for the night awaiting St. Nick and his flying reindeer. All... Read more →

Donating appreciated assets to your favorite charity

Economic wonks have gathered in Washington, D.C., or if they can't travel to the nation's capital, around their video screens and/or television business news channels. The reason? Today marks the beginning of the final Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year. The Federal Reserve members will issue a statement on their decisions tomorrow afternoon. We all know what that means. The stock market will be, at best, erratic while the Fed folks are in session. Investors are nervously anticipating any indication as to exactly when the Fed will dial back its monetary stimulus. In early trading today, stocks... Read more →

Tax and other fun at deductible office holiday parties

'Tis the season to be jolly, but not too jolly at, as the song goes, the annual office Christmas party hop. OK, Brenda Lee doesn't specify "office" party when she sings Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, but that song is a standard at almost every holiday gathering of workers. And you want to make sure that you make the right impression on the boss who's gone to the trouble to throw the soiree. Of course, as today's second Christmas Tax Tip Tune notes, your employer also gets some help from Uncle Sam in staging the seasonal shindig. Fully deductible office... Read more →

Christmas is less than two weeks away. I must admit that the holiday has sneaked up on me this year, but I'm finally getting into the spirit. And as a tax geek, that means that some -- OK, a lot -- of the holiday trappings remind me of taxes. Take, for example, Christmas carols. Listening to them at a holiday party this past weekend naturally brought to mind some tax provisions. That's right. This is just the kind of thing the hubby lives with, even at this special time of year. You can send your words of sympathy for him... Read more →

It's finally here! Everyone's favorite month. The final 31 days in which you can take steps to reduce your 2013 tax bill. What? You thought I was talking about Christmas? C'mon! If you've been reading the ol' blog for the last eight years, you know I started my tax musings by referring to any consideration of taxes as the most wonderful time of the year. And while taxes must share at least 25 of December's days with the big annual gift-giving event, this final month of the year is a great time to give yourself a smaller tax bill. So... Read more →

Did you buy Twitter stock today when the Internet company went public? Neither did I. I am hoping, though, that the tech mutual fund I own did pick up some shares. And I hope the Twitter folks are successful, not only because of my possible future earnings potential, but because the 140-character online connector is my favorite of the social media offerings -- despite this very long sentence and my overall tendency toward lengthy blog posts! (BTW, I'm @taxtweet.) Today's stock market twittering attention got me thinking about an annual year-end tax-planning rite, the evaluation of portfolios. In most cases,... Read more →

If you itemize your deductions and you're like me, you will spend the waning days of the year looking over expenses and seeing how much more you need to spend. Wait, you say. You are spending more at the time of year when budgets are already stretched thanks to all the presents on your list? Yes, I am. And it might be a good idea for you too. That's the ninth Reindeer Year-end Tax Games Tip of 2012 from Rudolph, Santa's glowing team leader. As the one who's head of the sleigh bunch, Rudolph says bunch your expenses. Vintage Rudolph... Read more →

Unless you're a couple of tax professionals, the Internal Revenue Code probably had very little to do with your courtship. But the truth is, taxes can be a big part of every relationship. For most of us (and soon maybe more of us after the Supreme Court hears an estate-tax related same-sex marriage case), our tax laws have an effect on us once our relationships move to the "I do" phase. That's why Santa's romantically-named reindeer Cupid reminds us that our marital status on Dec. 31 determines our filing status for the whole tax year. These wise words are Reindeer... Read more →

One of the first songs any Texas child learns begins, "The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas." The Hobby-Eberly Telescope is surrounded by star trails centered on Polaris, the North Star. Credit: Frank Cianciolo/McDonald Observatory. Of course, growing up in West Texas, I knew the stars also were pretty darn bright in those skies that are far from the heart of the Lone Star State and big city lights. And all those years of watching the heavens from our backyard on hot summer nights made visiting nearby McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains... Read more →

December is definitely the season for giving. And tax-related gift are the focus of the fourth installment of Reindeer Year-end Tax Tip Games 2012. Vixen, the reindeer who definitely personifies Merriam-Webster's third definition, has received her share of presents over the years. So it's fitting that she's suggesting that folks concerned about possible estate tax implications take advantage of that law's gift tax exemption this year. Right now, the estate tax exclusion (that's the value of an estate that escapes taxation) and unified lifetime gift exemption (that's the amount of your estate you can give away to others while you're... Read more →

Pay no tax before it's time. That old tax axiom generally is good advice. But not necessarily this year. That's why Prancer, one of Santa's trusty sleigh pullers, says higher income folks should consider springing into action before the end of 2012 and selling appreciated assets. Today's post from Prancer is the third installment of Reindeer Year-end Tax Tip Games 2012. Reindeer decoration photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr Creative Commons Dasher and Dancer offered their advice earlier. Each day through Friday, Dec. 21, each of Santa's trusty transportation team will provide a year-end tax tip. Tax move turnaround: The... Read more →

Welcome back to reindeer year-end tax tip games 2012. Today's holiday themed tax tip (number two of nine) is coming to us from Dancer, who knows that most of us do some pretty fancy footwork when it comes to meeting our annual tax obligations. And as one of Santa's long-time employees, Dancer also knows that you've got tons of stuff to do right now. But our antlered friend says you need to add another task to your December list: Fill out a mock 2012 tax return. Wait! Come back! Dancer and I promise this isn't as tedious as it sounds.... Read more →

Christmas is less than two weeks away, so Santa and his elves are working furiously to make every boy's and girl's dreams come true. But his trusty reindeer get to cool their heels in their North Pole barn until Dec. 24. Reindeer barn image courtesy That means they still have some time on their hands hooves. So they've graciously agreed to help deliver year-end tax tips that could save you some money. That is exactly the kind of present every taxpayer wants! Each of Santa's sleigh-pulling crew will offer a tip, beginning today and wrapping up on Friday, Dec.... Read more →

Taxes were a big topic as 2011 wrapped up. Most of us were looking for ways to pay less when we file next year. Others were concerned that those who can afford it aren't paying enough. Although 2011, most of the 6 easy year-end tax moves that I discussed last week at my other tax blog can be applied in 2012, too. The tax credit for home energy improvements and the itemized tax deduction for state and local sales taxes officially ended on Dec. 31, 2011. But Congress might reinstate them for the coming year. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, there will... Read more →

I love my Chevy Cavalier. Carlos -- yes, a la Stephen King, we name our vehicles and Carlos is what I call my current auto, at least when he's running well; he's got some other less printable monikers when he occasionally acts up -- has been a reliable ride for almost a dozen years. He did a great job taking me from South Florida back home to Texas. The hubby drove Michael, our SUV, as we formed our mini-convoy back to the Lone Star State in 2005. And Carlos ferried my cousin and me on our "recapture our youth" tour... Read more →

There's still time to make financial moves that could save you some much-needed cash, as well as reduce your 2011 tax bill. So in these last few days of the year, check out the year-end suggestions on ways to: Cut your taxes, Shape up your investments, Ramp up your retirement savings, Maximize your giving, Improve your small business, and Deal with general financial details. You've got four days until Dec. 31, so hurry! Read more →