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Friday, August 01, 2014

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Weekly Tax Tip

  • Use or lose your FSA money -- When it comes to medical flexible spending accounts, usually referred to as FSAs, some companies offer a grace period. A rollover option also is now available. But many FSA owners still must spend this tax-favored workplace benefit by year's end. Here are some easy and good ways to do just that. (Dec. 3, 2014)

  • Tax Tip; click pencil for all tax tip links

    Check out all the latest post-April 15 advice at Weekly Tax Tips 2014.

    You also can get a refresher of the Daily Tax Tips posted earlier this year on their respective monthly collection pages: January, February, March and April.

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End of Tax Year Countdown

  • Your 2013 tax duties are finally over. Now keep an eye on the calendar so you don't run out of time to make tax moves that can cut your 2014 IRS bill.

Time for Tax Tasks


  • monthly tax moves

  • Dec. 1: You better watch out. You better not cry over taxes. Santa's watching you and all the tax moves you make in December.

    Santa Claus watching YOU! Click his image to watch his delivery route via NORAD.
    Click image to watch
    Santa's delivery route.

    OK, maybe Santa doesn't really care about your taxes, but he does know if you're naughty or nice, so you'd better be nice when it comes to taxes!

    Dec. 2: With 2014 winding down, you can make some nice tax moves that could cut your tax bill … as long as you do so by Dec. 31.

    Dec. 5: Did you get a part-time job to earn extra cash for the holidays? If you're paid as a contractor instead of as an employee, remember that you'll be responsible for income taxes due on the money, as well as any self-employment taxes.

    Dec. 10: Does your job, either full-time or seasonal, include tips? If so and you received $20 in tips in November, use Form 4070 to report them today to your employer. And don't forget to include the value of out-of-the-ordinary tips, such as event tickets.

    Dec. 12: The stock market has been on a tear for much of 2014. But it did take some dives, too. Regardless of when you cashed out, your capital gains or losses mean you have some tax considerations. The profits you made will be taxed at, for most folks, a lower capital gains rate, but you can use your losses to reduce your taxable investment income. You also might want to sell profitable holdings in order to reset your basis.

    Dec. 16: If you itemize, take a look at your miscellaneous expenses. They must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. If you're going to fall short of that number, consider setting up a bunching strategy so that you can easily meet that and other deduction thresholds, such as the 10 percent of adjusted gross income now required before you can deduct medical expenses.

    Dec. 19: Pay tuition now for 2015 classes that will start in the first quarter of next year. That way you'll be able to use those costs to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit. It could save you up to $2,500 on your tax bill, part of it refundable.

    Dec. 22: It's Christmas week! Holiday treats! Decorations! Last-minute shopping!

    Dec. 24: Christmas Eve! Early to bed, kiddies of all ages. Santa's on his way!

    Dec. 25: Merry Christmas! Don't think about taxes today. Just enjoy the day and your family and friends.

    Dec. 26: Happy Boxing Day. This unofficial holiday on St. Stephen's Day
    is celebrated by additional giving. If you give to your favorite charity on this day or by the end of the year, you can claim the itemized deduction when you file your return next spring.

    Cash gifts are always welcome, but don't overlook more atypical charitable donations. These include such things as appreciated stock, household goods, vehicles, and materials you bought or miles you drove in service of your favorite charity. All of these instances provide a way for you claim your noncash gifts as itemized charitable deductions.

    Dec. 31: This is it. The drop-dead deadline to make most 2014 tax moves. So do a quick check.

    You paid your January mortgage early so you can deduct the loan interest in 2013. Ditto with your property taxes. And you zeroed out your medical flexible saving account (FSA).

    Great! Now go out and enjoy your New Year's Eve party.

    Small Business Tax Calendar: Important filing, deposit and record keeping dates throughout the year that your company needs to know. You also can view the full year's important business tax dates in IRS Pub. 509.

State Tax Help

  • Don't forget your state taxes!
    Forty-three states and D.C. collect personal income taxes. But even if you live in of the seven states without an income levy, you still face other state (and local) taxes.

    State Tax Departments provides links to your state's Web page. The companion page, Tax Tidbits, is the compilation of blurbs about each state's tax laws. And for more state tax news, check out all our state tax bloggings.

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  • Numbers

    Taxes are all about the numbers.
    Check out these (mostly) weekly
    By the Numbers figures.

What are you looking for?

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Kudos Et Cetera

  • Association for Women 2014 Clarion Award Winner
    National Association
    for Women in Communications
    Best Personal Blog, 2014

  • Plutus Award 2013 Award Winner
    Plutus Financial Bloggers Awards
    Best Tax Blog, 2013

  • Association for Women 2012 Clarion Award Winner
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    for Women in Communications
    Best Personal Blog, 2012

  • Plutus Award Winner
    Plutus Financial Bloggers Awards
    Best Tax Blog, 2011


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Keep Uncle Sam cranky!

  • It's no wonder Uncle Sam is not very happy here. His vault is empty. Don't Mess With Taxes aims to keep him cranky by providing tax and personal finance tips and advice that will put more money in your bank account, not the government treasury.

I gotta tell ya ...

  • AKA Disclaimer:
    I am a professional journalist who has been covering tax issues since 1999.
    I am not a professional tax preparer.
    The content on Don't Mess With Taxes is my personal opinion based on my study and understanding of tax laws, policies and regulations. It’s provided
    for your private, noncommercial, educational and informational purposes only. It’s not a recommendation or endorsement of any company or product. In other words, specifically the words in Treasury Circular 230 Notice, any U.S. tax advice on this blog is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (2) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed on this blog. That's why when it comes to filing your taxes,
    I urge you to get additional, professional, paid-for guidance from an accountant, Enrolled Agent or other qualified tax professional who is familiar with your individual tax circumstances.

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