Year-end money moves Feed

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 →

Tax loss harvesting season

Sure it's the season to be jolly, but that's sometimes hard when your portfolio has taken a beating. But you might be a bit more joyful when you file your tax return next year if you take advantage of those tax losses by the end of the year. By selling stocks or other capital assets that have lost value, you can use those amounts to offset any capital gains you might have made this tax year on more successful ventures. And taking advantage of tax loss harvesting is today's Weekly Tax Tip. But, you say, when you followed year-end investment... Read more →

Year-end tax moves for small businesses

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some moves to make regarding your taxes, investments, retirement, gifting and general financial details by Dec. 31. I soon heard from readers asking for some moves to consider this month in connection with their small businesses. I'm glad all y'all asked! Since I focus on individual, not business taxes, I asked for some year-end suggestions from more businesses-oriented folks. Small Business Tax Strategies recommends that business owners: Stock your shelves. If you buy everyday supplies for your business during the last shopping week of the year you can deduct the expenses on your... Read more →

The watchwords in real estate are location, location, location. The personal financial world has its own triplicate mantra: details, details, details. Sure, you were meticulous in making your year-end tax, investing, retirement and giving moves. But there's still some financial housekeeping left. Get organized You have all your financial documents, but are they easily accessible? I'll admit that I too often tend to let things stack up in my email inbox or, when they're in paper form, on the floor next to my filing cabinet. That means I have to sort through the stack when I need a document or... Read more →

This time of year everyone is thinking of giving and getting. For tax-savvy folks, the goal is to be generous to everyone except the Internal Revenue Service. Follow the rules Most charitable gifts are fully deductible, as long as you follow the donation rules. First, you must itemize to deduct your charitable gifts. Next, make sure the organization to which you are about to give meets IRS qualifications. Ask the group about its tax-exempt status. If it can't or won't provide you information, find another charity. You also can check IRS Publication 78, which lets you search online, for your... Read more →

Welcome to December! Are you ready for the holidays? Me neither. How about taxes? That's OK. I don't blame you for putting tax tasks at the bottom of your to-do list. But you shouldn't ignore them completely. There are some things you can do in the next 30 or so days to help cut your 2011 tax bill. Start with everybody's favorite task: filling out your 1040. Wait! Don't go! You don't have to do it for real right now. But a mock tax return with the major entries, or good estimates of the amounts, will help you find out... Read more →

This is always my favorite part of the annual Year-end Money Moves series: the look at moves to make by Dec. 31 to help improve your retirement outlook. Yes, I love my job. But I hate working. So I want to do all I can now so that I can quit writing for money and start writing more for me (and the hubby and my mother, who'll always read my scribblings!). The guiding principle of reaching a retirement that you want is save, save and save some more now. And Uncle Sam does his part to get you to do... Read more →

It's been a challenging year for investors. In today's second installment of the 2011 edition of Year-end Money Moves, we look at some actions that you should consider before the end of the year. They also could help take some of the unnecessary year-round thrills out of investing. As noted in first segment of this year's series, many investment moves also have tax considerations. But don't let the tax components be the major determinant of your investment moves. Do what's best for you and your portfolio, both now and throughout the year, based on your personal financial situation and your... Read more →

I know, I know. I've been fixating on year-end tax moves of late. But this is, after all, a tax blog. And 2011 is almost over. So please indulge me as I hit the tax high notes one more time to kick off the annual Year-end Money Moves series, now in its fifth year. As is tradition, I'm beginning with eveyone's favorite topic, taxes! Then the next four days of this week will offer year-end tips on investment, retirement and charitable giving moves, finishing up on Friday with some general financial housekeeping details. As all y'all already know from your... Read more →

Time to make some year-end tax moves

Had your fill of turkey? Enough already with family bonding? Take a break and check out some tax moves you can make by Dec. 31 to help cut your 2011 tax bill. It's this week's Weekly Tax Tip and yes, it's a couple of days late because of Thanksgiving preparations. But there's still plenty of time to sell stocks that have lost value so you can offset any capital gains. If you have more losses than gains, you can use up to $3,000 of your losses to reduce your ordinary income. Gifts to your favorite charity can be deducted on... Read more →

NOTE ABOUT THIS POST'S TAX YEAR REFERENCES: Although this post was written more than a year ago and specifically cites the 2010 tax year, the Internal Revenue Code rules on volunteering are still in effect for the 2011 and 2012 tax years (and until Congress changes them) as described below. If/when they change, I'll let you know with a new post. Thanks. Kay (1/15/12) This is the last day to make a charitable contribution if you want to deduct it on your 2010 tax return. If you're dropping off actual goods, you have a few things to remember. Get them... Read more →

Tax moves to make today!

Although the last day of 2010 isn't until tomorrow, many businesses and government offices will be closed Friday, Dec. 31. That means you've just got today to make some last minute tax moves. Here are some suggestions. Sell your investment losers: Need some capital losses to offset capital gains? Call your broker now and dump those dogs. Not only could they wipe out any taxable 2010 profits, up to $3,000 in excess losses can be used to reduce your regular taxable income. Even if you didn't sell any assets for a profit this year, if you have mutual funds, you... Read more →

OK, you've made your tax, investment, retirement and giving moves for 2010. Now what? There's still some financial housekeeping left. These tasks, which will help you stay on top of your money and taxes are highlighted here in part five of Don't Mess With Taxes' fourth annual Year-end Money Moves series. Get organized It does you no good to have information if you can't easily get to it. If your finances and simply stacked up on your desk (or, as I tend to do, on your floor), now's the time to get those documents in some sort of order. I'm... Read more →