Education Feed

I count my blessings every single day. It takes a while because the list of things to be thankful for is long. One item on my good life inventory is that the hubby and I, aside from our mortgage, are debt free. Part of the reason for our relative financial freedom is planning and discipline. But I must admit another factor is sheer luck. Both the hubby and I grew up in a time when college costs, at least at public, state-supported schools, weren't out of control. The joys of al fresco learning via On Campus Market/OCM.com blog Our parents,... Read more →


The school year is winding down across most of the United States, but by the time classes resume in the fall, students and their parents could have some added help in paying for college costs. Students at the University of California at Berkeley, courtesy John Morgan via Flickr Creative Commons. On April 26, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved S. 335, a bill that would expand the popular 529 savings plans. The accounts, named after the section of the tax code authorizing them, allow families to save money that grows tax-free. The money can be withdrawn, again with no tax... Read more →


Tax deductions, whether itemized or above-the-line, and tax credits can save you money, but they do so in different ways. A deduction lowers the amount of your income on which tax is figured. Less income generally means a lower tax bill. A credit, however, is an even better tax reduction tool. Credits are claimed once you figure your tax liability and they then reduce what you owe Uncle Sam dollar for dollar. That means a $1,000 tax credit could cut your $2,000 tax bill in half. Even better, a few tax credits are refundable. As the name indicates, these credits... Read more →


In an effort to speed up things for folks visiting some Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs), the agency began on Feb. 23 offering appointments. You can set up a specific time -- the links below will offer details -- to talk with an IRS rep if you're in: Atlanta, Georgia (Atlanta-Woodcock) Austin, Texas Birmingham, Alabama Chicago, Illinois (Dearborn) Denver, Colorado Fresno, California Hartford, Connecticut Plantation, Florida San Antonio, Texas Seattle, Washington This is only a test in those 10 locations. But if it works, the appointment option could be expanded. Overall, the IRS has more than 350 walk-in... Read more →


The official name of the politically volatile health care reform law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That's usually shortened to the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. And it's popularly known as Obamacare. That nickname came from opponents of the president's first-term legislative landmark. Later, however, ACA advocates, including the commander in chief himself, embraced the moniker. Bothered by Bush tax cuts name: Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, found his name appended to the tax laws he ushered through in his first term, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and Jobs and Growth... Read more →


Busy week, busy weekend, so I'm cutting right to the chase as to last week at my other tax blog. The first topic was the growth of tax-related identity theft. As I note in the post, the best defense against someone using your tax data to file for a fake refund is to not fall for crooks seeking that data. But it still happens, even to the most careful taxpayers. The IRS has programs in place to help victimized taxpayers get their rightful refunds. The tax agency issues identity protection personal identification numbers, or IP PINs, to the real filers.... Read more →


It's Tuesday, but to borrow a phrase and concept popular on the Internet, it sure feels like Throwback Tax Thursday. The reason? The preview of the topics that President Obama plans to address in tonight's State of the Union Address includes some tax provisions that used to be in the Internal Revenue Code. The one that caught my eye is a tax break that's near to my heart, and I mean that in the romantic sense. The hubby and I married in 1982 in part because by waiting until that year, we started off as husband and wife with a... Read more →


Are you frantically trying to finish your 1040 by the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline? Yes, it is just a week away, so you need to get to work. But don't be in such a hurry that you miss out on some tax breaks. There are lots of ways to reduce your tax bill, as this week's Weekly Tax Tip highlights. Some of the 10 often overlooked tax breaks are for itemizers only. Others can be claimed by any filer. Philanthropic filers should double-check their contribution records. You don't want to miss out on Schedule A deductions for noncash charitable... Read more →


Taxes and politics are inextricably linked. Raising them, or even saying you might think about doing so, generally dooms campaigns. Lowering them, of course, is seen as a political plus. And actually giving people real tax money back goes a long way toward a ballot box win. At least that's what some New York incumbents no doubt are hoping happens this election year. Family tax credit rebates: Millions of Empire State residents soon will be $350 richer. Tax rebate checks for that amount are going out this week to New Yorkers who, among other things, had a child younger than... Read more →


It's the Tuesday after the long Labor Day holiday weekend, so you knew it had to happen. Tuesday apparently was so jazzed about getting to start the work week, it did its best Monday impression, piling on early in this already shortened week. Specifically, while trying to catch up after three days off, I had to spend a couple of hours dealing with family issues. Before my friends and sympathetic readers freak out, not to worry. It wasn't an emergency, medical or otherwise. My mom just needed some help taking care of some stuff sooner rather than later. As other... Read more →


Ways to pay for college get lots of attention. But if your kids are younger, there's also a tax-saving way to pay for the many educational expenses that pop up during grades K-12. With a Coverdell Education Savings Account, or ESA, you can put up to $2,000 a year into a separate account for each kid. The accounts are established by an adult, with the child named as the account's beneficiary. Coverdell ESAs, renamed for the late U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell who championed the savings option, used to be called education IRAs. That original appellation was in large part because... Read more →


If school hasn't started in your area yet, it soon will. For many families, classes resume at college. And with higher education costs going up every year, students and their parents who help foot most of or the entire school bill are always on the lookout for any available assistance. Students enjoying being back at the College of DuPage Glen Ellyn, Illinois, campus. Photo courtesy College of DuPage Newsroom via Flickr. Uncle Sam is among those who can help. As this week's Weekly Tax Tip details, there are several education-related tax breaks to help with almost every school situation. They... Read more →


Welcome to August. Summer is winding down, but that doesn't mean you get to slow down. In some locations school will start this month. Or you might have 30 or so days before you have to start packing lunches and making sure the kids get to the bus stop on time. Maybe you're planning one final summer trip. Or you're staying home, just chilling out. However you plan to spend these Dog Days of summer, you also should make some time for some August Tax Moves that could help cut your tax bill. Tax-free shopping: The month started with tax... Read more →


School is out for the summer, but education remains the hot topic. Starbucks earlier this month announced a partnership with Arizona State University under with the beverage company will cover the tuition costs for its workers who take ASU online classes. And this past week both the House and Senate tax-writing committees examine ways that the Internal Revenue Code could better help students -- and their families -- foot the ever-growing higher education costs. Just as college expenses keep increasing, so do tax breaks to help cover them. The Senate Finance Committee conducted a hearing June 24 on, in Chairman... Read more →


Managing a coffee shop is a fine job that many people would be glad to have. But kudos to Starbucks for acknowledging that not all its employees want to stay with the company for their entire working careers. Some baristas are working at the popular coffee and tea seller while they complete their studies so they can move on to other fields. And Starbucks is helping them. Starbucks this week announced that it has partnered with Arizona State University to offer the beverage company's workers a new educational benefit. Starbucks will cover the tuition costs for its workers who take... Read more →


Tax credits are great tax breaks. They apply after you figure what you owe Uncle Sam and help reduce your tax bill dollar-for-dollar. Refundable tax credits are even better. As the name indicates, they can eliminate any tax you owe and any excess credit is sent to you as a refund. From an eligible taxpayer's perspective, the answer to the question about refundable credits' worth is a hearty, "Definitely!" But from a wider point of view, many argue that refundable tax credits are not the best or most efficient way to provide economic assistance to folks who qualify for the... Read more →


What child tax breaks are these?

The birth of Jesus is one of the most well-known stories. For Christians, it is, as the saying goes, the reason for the season. But even many non-believers are moved by the tale of the birth of a child in stable, with a manger serving as his crib. One of the most beautiful renditions of those humble circumstances is in What Child is This? It was a tough call, but that song barely beat out Away in a Manger for the final spot on the 2013 Christmas Tax Tip Tunes play list. Both songs celebrate the birth of a child.... Read more →


It's finally here! Everyone's favorite month. The final 31 days in which you can take steps to reduce your 2013 tax bill. What? You thought I was talking about Christmas? C'mon! If you've been reading the ol' blog for the last eight years, you know I started my tax musings by referring to any consideration of taxes as the most wonderful time of the year. And while taxes must share at least 25 of December's days with the big annual gift-giving event, this final month of the year is a great time to give yourself a smaller tax bill. So... Read more →


Jimi Clark, owner of the St. Louis Mo' Money Taxes franchise, has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for falsely claiming educational tax credits on 47 returns. Clark pleaded guilty to the charge back in July. The total loss to the U.S. Treasury due to Clark fraudulently claiming the American Opportunity educational tax credit was more than $50,000. Now I realize that 50K is not a lot in the grand scheme of tax fraud. It's nowhere near the $9 million that another tax crook pleaded guilty to perpetrating last week. Neither is 20 months an exorbitant prison term. But... Read more →


School's back in session! So are the expenses. But your favorite relative, Uncle Sam, might be able to help. There are many tax breaks that can help students, and their parents, cover education costs. The options are this week's Weekly Tax Tip. Savings plans: There are two tax-advantaged educational savings plans. A 529 plan is an increasingly popular way to pay for college costs. A recent study by education loan provider Sallie Mae found that 17 percent of families last year tapped 529 funds, the highest percentage since the study began in 2008. The numerical name of this educational savings... Read more →