Whenever I have a tax related question, my first call is to my business accountant and, in the event they don’t know, my second call (or email) is to Kay Bell, of the tax blog Don’t Mess With Taxes . A quick peek at her bio  reveals pretty much everything you need to know – she’s has a strong background in journalism and an even stronger fascination with taxes. Her name may even be familiar, as she’s penned plenty of articles on the subject of taxes. Her forte? “Translating difficult subject matter into lively, readable copy.” That’s exactly what you’ll get out of her first book, The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes .
The book is a collection of 52 Truths, from whether you have to file a tax return to a discussion about tax credits versus tax deductions, from investment related taxes to compliance and audits. It even includes two truths about special tax situations for Americans living abroad and tax help during disasters. You can see a full list of the fifty-two truths just by looking at the Amazon.com page about the book . Each of one of the truths is explained in detail and in plain language, so you can save money and understand why you’re saving money.
Why would you need a book like this if you have your taxes done by a professional or software? Easy, the tax code is enormous and complicated. The software can’t possible ask every single question, but Kay can and she can answer them too. Let’s look at one common problem that I’m almost certain is never asked by software – how do you recoup expenses you incur as a result of your job that aren’t reimbursed by your company? (it’s Truth 26: Recouping employee business expenses)
I won’t go into the details of how you recoup it but Kay explains the eligibility rules (you must itemize, the costs must exceed 2% of your AGI), which costs are eligible (must be ordinary and necessary, though commuting from home to work does not count), how you must document the expenses, and even has a little discussion about home office deductions. She completely demystifies the topic in a handful of pages and at no point was I, a notice with respect to taxes, confused.
I’m a little biased though, I like Kay and I like her writing style. I find her blog entertaining and informative so I came into the process of reviewing her new book with rose-colored glasses. If you’re considering this book, check out some other reviews online to get a better idea or pick it up from the bookstore and flip through it to see if it’s a good fit for you.