Taxes Column


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What’s Next for the AMT?

AMTRecently, politicians agreed to a partial “fiscal cliff” fix. The portion that has been agreed to was the tax portion, while the spending portion of the fiscal cliff will be attacked in a couple of months, along with what is sure to be a knock-down, drag-out fight over the debt ceiling.

But, for now, there is a tax deal, and it includes the first-ever permanent patch for the alternative minimum tax (AMT).

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Same-Sex Couples Look for DOMA Ruling that Could Result in Big Tax Refunds

DOMA and TaxesSince 1996, when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law, same-sex couples have been unable to take advantage of federal couples’ benefits, and they have been unable to file their federal taxes jointly. Even if they live in states where civil unions and marriages are allowed for same-sex couples, the federal filing status and benefits just aren’t there.

But that could change if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear arguments against DOMA, and then strikes the law down as unconstitutional. Those hoping to see DOMA struck down are fighting the law based on a couple of grounds: equal protection (Amendment 14), and the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Article IV, Section 1).

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Fiscal Cliff Issues Complicate Year End Tax Moves

Taxes CalculatorsNormally around this time, you usually see a lot of financial publications write about year end tax moves. It’s a common topic and one that’s worth reviewing every year because our tax laws change and what you should be doing year to year might need some adjustment.

This year, it’s a lot trickier than it’s ever been because of the fiscal cliff.

The basic premise behind all year end tax moves is that you should accelerate expenses and delay income. You won’t owe taxes on income you collect on January 1st, 2013 until you do your taxes the following year. You can claim expenses you pay on or before December 31st, 2012 when you file your taxes next year. By claiming deductible expenses early, you reduce your taxable income. By delaying and deferring income, you reduce your taxable income.

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Are You Ready for the New Medicare Tax?

Health CareAfter much wrangling and hand-wringing, and even a review by the Supreme Court, it’s time for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to continue following its timeline. The provisions of the PPACA (also called “Obamacare” informally) were laid out to take place over time, and not all at once. However, there are some changes coming in 2013 that will really start having an impact.

One of these changes is the addition of a Medicare tax. No matter what you think about the healthcare law, it’s been ruled Constitutional in all but one provision, and the Medicare tax is coming.

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How Much Will the Payroll Tax Cut Cost You?

My first pay chequeA couple of years ago, in an effort to stimulate the economy, Congress passed a payroll tax cut. Even though the tax cut was set to expire at the end of last year, an extension means that the payroll tax cut is good through the end of 2012.

As the end of the year approaches, it is clear that the situation is about to come to a head. Hardly anyone is talking about the upcoming expiration of the payroll tax cut, which reduced the employee side of the FICA/Social Security tax to 4.2% from 6.2%. For many people, that didn’t make a huge difference in a paycheck. For example, someone making $50,000 a year has been saving about $1,000 a year. On average, that amounts to slightly more than $19 per week.

Many workers probably don’t even realize that they are enjoying a tax break right now, and that means that it will come as something of a shock come 2013 when the paycheck is a little bit lower.

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Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Taxes

TaxesOne of the biggest issues of the presidential campaign is taxes. Even though the economy seems to be one of the main focuses of the election, the reality is that voters really want to know how their bottom lines will be affected.

While each candidate has released some of their ideas for tax plans, the truth is that  for any of them to work, they have to get through Congress. However, learning a little bit more about the competing tax plans can provide an idea of the philosophy driving each candidate.

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Official 2014 IRS Tax Brackets (Marginal Tax Brackets)

Tax BracketsEvery year the IRS has to adjust its income tax brackets to account for the slow and steady creep of inflation. Because official measures of inflation slowed to a crawl for much of 2013, the 2014 tax brackets look pretty similar to last year’s.

This year’s federal tax brackets reflect the results of a compromise deal to extend most of the Bush tax cuts that was enacted in January of 2013. While tax rates remained flat for most taxpayers, those earning more than $406,750 for single filers or $457,600 for married couples filing jointly will now find themselves in the highest tax bracket of 39.6 percent.

If you’re looking for the 2013 tax brackets, that is, the brackets that will be in effect when you file your taxes, you can find them at here.

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5 Summertime Tax Moves

TaxesMost of us think of tax time as the time from the end of December through the middle of April. And, while this is the time of year that everyone really starts thinking about gathering documents, and figuring what they owe (or what refund is coming), the truth is that you’re better off keeping things organized throughout the year. It means less work and bother later on.

On top of that, organizing your taxes throughout the year can help keep you on track for better tax efficiency. As summertime draws to a close, now is a great time to make a few tax moves to set you on the right path:
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