Taxes Column


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Tax breaks for teachers and others getting the ax next year

Teacher tax credits and others will disappear next year.Which tax breaks have you become accustomed to? Over time, even many  tax breaks that are written to be temporary from the get-go start to feel like they will be around forever. As a result, it’s often a shock when these tax breaks disappear rather abruptly. In fact, it often feels like a tax increase when these breaks expire. If you’re not paying attention for tax planning purposes, such changes can mean a large — and unexpected — tax bill.

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2013 IRS tax brackets

Tax BracketsIt’s been almost a year since the fiscal cliff deal that changed up the tax code, and for those preparing their taxes now, the results were mostly a big “meh”. Unless you earn more than $400,000 as a single filer or $450,000 as a married filing jointly, your taxes will remain the same for the near future. The Bush era tax cuts were extended for income levels under that threshold and there was a five year extension of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Earned Income Tax Credit.

Below, you’ll see what the official 2013 IRS tax brackets will be as well as the “pre-fiscal cliff” predictions. I kept them just for history’s sake, I find that it’s useful to see what could’ve been as well as what actually is because it can help us understand what the future might bring.

If you’re looking for the 2012 tax brackets, you can find them at here.

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Live and work overseas? Don’t forget to pay U.S. taxes

Working overseas can make your U.S. taxes difficultA few years ago, I worked for a company based in Taiwan. Whenever I received a check from this company, taxes paid to Taiwan were deducted. Then, during tax time in the United States, I was required to report that income, even though it was earned working for a foreign company. The good news is that I received a tax credit for the money paid to Taiwan’s government.

My situation was fairly straightforward; I lived in the United States and the income from the foreign company wasn’t very large. Others face a more daunting situation related to their residency in a foreign country.


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How the IRS ruling affects same-sex couples’ taxes

Gay pride 013 - Marche des fiertés Toulouse 2011.jpgThe recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the federal government has to recognize gay marriage is impacting a number of people, as well as policies.

Among the policies that are being affected by the DOMA ruling are tax policies. Immediately after the ruling came down, there were questions about how the IRS would handle same-sex marriages at tax time. Recently, though, the IRS ruled on how it will proceed.


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 Taxes, The Home 
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The mortgage tax deduction: beyond the hype

House and Money on ScalesOne of the benefits of homeownership that many of us hear about is the mortgage interest tax deduction. After all, how many loans out there provide you with a tax deduction for the interest that you pay? (Student loans and business loans, as well as mortgages.)

But are you really benefiting from the mortgage tax deduction? And is it really something that has a big impact on your finances? As with most matters of personal finance, the answer depends on your own personal situation.


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IRS Robo-Audits: Could Your Spending Be Part of the Tax Equation?

Internal Revenue ServiceOne of the issues that has been seeing a lot of interest lately is the way the IRS enforces tax compliance. While there has been an uptick in the number of wealthy taxpayers that are audited, the reality is that low income and middle income filers are being audited as well.

Additionally, there are indications that the latest attempts by the IRS to catch tax dodgers with the help of robo-auditing are likely to catch those a located a little lower on the income totem pole. Not only that, but spending habits could also play a role in tax audits going forward.


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TurboTax Class Action Settlement for Refund Processing Service

IntuitIt’s not every day you see a class action settlement involving a tax preparer and not a refund anticipation loan, but today we have out. Intuit has settled a lawsuit associated with the extra fee they charge when they collect the preparation fee a certain way (it’s the “Smith et al. v. Intuit, Inc., Case No. 5:12-cv-00222″ lawsuit). If you did your taxes between January 12th, 2008 and May 28th, 2013 and opted to have your preparation fees taken out of your tax return, you may be eligible for a piece of a $6.55 million settlement. When you paid for your tax preparation with a checking account, there was no extra fee. If you paid for it from your return, using the Refund Processing Service, there was a $29.95 fee. Someone sued and the result is a settlement fund.

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Does Your State Tax Your Sins?

Smoking in copenhagenWith a slow economy, many states are looking for ways to raise more money. In order to boost their revenue, some states have been raising their so-called sin taxes.

Sin taxes have been around for a long time — since before the last recession — but they are getting more attention lately as the list of “sins” gets longer, and more expensive, for those who engage in them.

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