NEWS 
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New Car Sales & Excise Tax Deduction

Beater Used CarIf you bought a car between February 16, 2009 and January 1, 2010 (non-inclusive), and you paid a sales tax or excise tax, you may be able to deduct it from your income taxes. This was one of the provisions of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The car, light truck, or motorcycle has to weigh less than 8,500 pounds and you must have purchased it new. You cannot take the deduction if you purchased a used car or if you leased it and this deduction is not related to the Cash for Clunkers program. You can deduct the sales or excise tax up to the first $49,500 of the purchase price. If you live in a state without a sales tax, like Delaware, you can deduct other fees and taxes as long as they’re collected by the government on sales. Fees collected by the dealer are not deductible.

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 Taxes 
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Unemployment Benefits Are Taxable

Tax CalculatorLast year was a year to forget, especially if you were one of the many millions to lose their job. Fortunately, through various stimulus packages and other laws, unemployment benefits were extended to help people through a difficult time. Unfortunately, some of those unemployment benefits are taxable as income. :(

Fortunately, for the 2009 tax year, not every dollar is taxed. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits tax-free. After that, the remaining benefits is considered taxable income.

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 Taxes 
16
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9 Year End Tax Moves to Make by Dec. 31st

1040 Bobblehead DudeAfter last week’s Thursday post on adjusting your tax withholding, I thought that we needed a full blown post on the best year end tax moves. So who better to turn to than prolific tax expert Kay Bell, author of The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes? She was kind enough to list not one, not two, but nine tax moves you can make before the ball drops.

It’s time to make your year-end tax list and check it twice to ensure that you give yourself the gift of tax-savings. Here are 9 ways this month to help make your 2009 tax bill as small as possible.

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 Personal Finance 
45
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$250 Social Security Stimulus Check

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately about the $250 Social Security stimulus check so I thought a post would be the best way to answer all of your questions. If you’re wondering where your $250 Social Security stimulus check is, wait until June 4th before trying to contact the Social Security Administration. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 gave all social security recipients (SSI included) a one-time $250 payment, so if you are one of the 50 million individuals who get those benefits, the check is in the mail!

Who is eligible? You must be eligible for Social Security, SSI, Veterans, or Railroad Retirement benefits during November 2008, December 2008, or January 2009. If you were not eligible at that time, you will not receive the check. If you are eligible for multiple benefits, you will only receive one payment.

When and how will I receive the payment? You will get it the same way you are getting your current Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefit. If you get it by check, you’ll receive the payment as a separate check. If you get it by direct deposit, you will get it as a separate direct deposit. The government has staggered the mailing of those payments throughout May so if you haven’t received it, it’s likely in the mail or in processing. You don’t have to do anything to receive the check and the Social Security Administration will not contact you for any information.

What if it’s after June 4th and still no sign of a check or deposit? Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for the one-time economy recovery payment information page to find out who you need to contact for more information. If you just want more information, this electronic booklet about the one-time economy recovery payment is also very informative.


 Taxes 
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Make Work Pay Stimulus Tax Credit

PaycheckI’ve been getting a lot of emails about what people are calling a 2009 stimulus check, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last month. People are confused, wondering what the stimulus check is, if it’s a tax credit, who is eligible, etc. It’s a little confusing but I think I can put it all to rest.

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 Government 
164
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$8,000 First Time Homebuyer’s Credit

Are you sitting down? Do you have a pen and paper handy? Looks like the $15,000 tax credit to buy a new home has been scrapped, saving $35 billion from the stimulus package, and replaced with an extension to the $7,500 and an increase of that credit to $8,000. The $7,500 first time homebuyer tax credit was set to expire July 1st, this $8,000 provision would extend that. CNNMoney is reporting that the credit is available for those who buy a home between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 1, 2009 (source).

The cost of the extension and modest increase is pegged at around $2-3 billion. Another key provision? The repayment requirement will be nixed. That means the $7,500 15-year loan at 0% interest will now become $8,000 cash money in your pocket. I believe existing borrowers would have that loan forgiven.

Home buyers who hoped for a $15,000 tax credit to buy a new home, as promised by the Senate, will be disappointed. A proposed $35 billion credit to support home sales was jettisoned in favor of a more modest $2 billion to $3 billion provision.

The proposal would eliminate the repayment requirement in an existing tax credit for first-time home buyers, and raise the credit to $8,000 from $7,500. Congressional aides cautioned Wednesday that the credit’s size was still subject to negotiation.

Congress Strikes $789 Billion Stimulus Deal [Wall Street Journal]


 Government 
117
comments

$15,000 Homebuyer Tax Break

Update 2/12: The $15,000 provision has been replaced by an $8,000 first-time home buyer credit, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Holy schmoly… the Senate just voted and included a $15,000 tax break to homebuyers!

It was an addition that Senate Republicans wanted in order to leave “their mark” on the economic stimulus package President Obama has called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. At an estimated cost of $19 billion, the $15,000 tax credit is very much like the $7,500 tax credit given to first time homebuyers. It will be a tax credit of 10% of the value of new or existing homes, up to a $15,000 limit and everyone would be eligible, not just first-time homebuyers (defined in the previous bill as someone who hadn’t owned a home in the last three years).

From a reader:

Check out the potential big changes to this credit…increased amount to $15,00, a proposed no repayment/recapture, plus a new 5% down payment requirement. Downside is it’s not really retroactive but meant for purchases after December 31st, 2008.

Original Rules:
IRS.gov

Proposed Amendment introduced today into the economic stimulus package (two pages of Congressional record when the amendment was introduced in the Senate, February 4th, 2009):
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getpage.cgi?dbname=2009_record&page=S1493&position=all
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getpage.cgi?dbname=2009_record&page=S1494&position=all

Absolutely stunning… you almost have to buy a house now.


 Government 
15
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American Recovery & Reinvestment Plan Details

The Committee on Appropriations released an executive summary on the details of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Plan, the formal name for President Obama’s stimulus package, and it’s thirteen pages long with a decent level of detail. First I’ll list the high level overview then point out some of the things that might affect you. If you’re curious about a stimulus check, it’s not in there.

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