The Internal revenue Service says that it has found about 2 million fraudulent tax returns from last year. That spike, among other reasons, is making it difficult for the federal tax agency to keep up.
Taxpayer Advocate report
According to a mid-year report to Congress from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the IRS fraud detection system has rooted out roughly a million fraudulent returns from last year. That is an increase of about 72 percent from 2010. A second million fraudulent returns were voided before they even made it to processing.
The TAS is an arm of the IRS concerned with taxpayer advocacy, headed [...]
In a decision that will have ramifications for every consumer, the Supreme Court Thursday upheld the individual insurance requirement of the Affordable Car Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
Provision deemed constitutional
The question of the constitutionality of the provision requiring all Americans to acquire health insurance or pay a penalty has been a barricade to its implementation. Now the overhaul of the American healthcare system can move forward.
More than 30 million people are unable to afford healthcare in America today. The Affordable Care Act seeks to rectify that problem.
The narrow decision was five to four, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts surprising [...]
More than half the states in the nation have what are called “filial support” laws, which makes people responsible for their parents’ long term medical care bills. The effect is that a large number of people are getting stuck with insurmountable debts and lawsuits.
New definition of family values in filial support laws
Regardless of ethical implications, people often are obligated to pay a parents’ debts after their death. In fact, anyone whose parents receive some sort of care in their old age in 29 states, according to the Wall Street Journal, can be on the hook for their care, due to [...]
Congress is currently in the midst of an effort to keep federally subsidized student loan rates from doubling when legislation expires soon. A likely casualty is the student loan grace period, when interest isn’t assessed and payments don’t have to be made for the first six months past graduation.
Barely mentioned student loan grace period could be jettisoned
It’s well known that interest rates on federally subsidized student loans, or subsidized Stafford loans in the technical literature, are set to double. Legislation passed several years ago capped interest on the loans at 3.4 percent. That legislation will expire on July 1. Without [...]
Eating out is a luxury that not everyone can afford, at least not for fine dining. The expense of appetizers, drinks and food can add up quickly. Thankfully, there are some frugal dining techniques to help you minimize the financial damage. Eating out will never be the same again.
Order less food
This may seem obvious, not everyone is listening, considering just how much of an epidemic obesity has become. Even if you’re hungry, don’t make dinner a multifaceted war on your waistline. Soup, appetizer, salad, tapas and whatever else comes before the meal is simply food that you can do without. [...]
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has prepared a report for Congress over the state of reverse mortgages in the country. The CFPB is concerned about reverse mortgages having a harmful effect on seniors who borrow them against the equity in their homes during retirement.
High default rate worries CFPB about reverse mortgages
Reverse mortgages allow retirees or soon-to-be retirees to realize a benefit of the equity they hold in a home, one of the few ways one can do so. Only available to those 62 years of age or older, they are essentially loans against the value of the property, according to [...]
The expiration date that appears on packaged food is confusing to some people, largely due to the words used, such as “Best Before,” “Sell By” or “Use By.” Is food still safe to eat on that date, or slightly after that date? Let’s put our food safety hats on and think about saving money by understanding what that expiration date means.
Expiration date is a quality – not safety – measure
The expiration date on a package of food means something different, depending upon the phrase that accompanies the date. None of the possible phrases refer to a point past which food [...]
There seems little doubt that the housing market is gaining ground, even as the job market continues to stumble. The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that the number of contracts signed to buy previously occupied homes in May matched the two-year high seen in March.
Matches March 2-year high
The NAR said its Pending Home Sales Index rose 5.9 percent in May, matching March’s two-year high of 101.1. A reading of 100 is considered healthy.
May’s rise was also the largest monthly increase seen on the Index since last October. April’s drop to 9.5 percent appears to have been a momentary fluke.
Payday loans are one of the most controversial financial products available, despite being much a smaller business than credit cards. However, a growing number of large and small banks are offering payday loans.
Small bank payday loans equally court controversy
Payday loans are one of the most controversial forms of credit, as the loans are said to be mostly targeted to and borrowed by the working poor. High interest rates are also a frequent target, as a payday loan can technically carry interest of several hundred percent when expressed as annualized interest. However, the loans are usually have a term of only [...]
Comedian Louis CK (aka Louis Szekely) is the current king of stand-up comedy, and as king, he can decide how his media empire is run. His most recent move has been to take control of ticket sales to his comedy shows by requiring those interested to buy them through his personal website, reports Wired. This calculated effort to thwart ticket scalpers and save fans from ticket outlet markup has proven to be a popular move among fans, but not so much among ticket sellers.
Embracing creative control
In a tradition that too few artists have deigned to follow, Louis CK has taken [...]
The cost of doctors and medications gets a lot of attention but another sector of health care, namely dental care, is largely ignored. The cost of dental care is considerable, as up to 100 million people, fully one-third of the nation, can’t afford it.
A real kick in the teeth
One of the most important aspects of health care is one that goes often unpublicized, for whatever reason, which is one’s teeth. Dentists certainly aren’t glamorized and the dental care industry has largely been ignored in efforts to overhaul health care.
However, dental care is much more expensive than routine medical care. Insurers [...]
There are a few ways to get a great deal on real estate, one method of which is to buy foreclosed houses or houses in probate after the owner passes away. Another way, which is much more chilling, is to buy “murder houses,” where an occupant met a tragic end.
Macabre but economical
In the novel “Lullaby,” by “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk, a main character is a real estate agent who makes a lucrative living selling houses where previous occupant had died and whose spirits were haunting the residence. Unsuspecting buyers get chased out by said apparitions and re-sell the home, [...]
Popular online travel booking website Orbitz bills itself as being a cheap way for consumers to make bargain travel plans from the comfort of home. However, Mac computer users have found that their travel plans are coming at a premium when compared with PC users. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mac users who look to book hotel stays via Orbitz are paying as much as 30 percent more per night, sometimes for very similar accommodations.
Orbitz and the Apple tax?
Reports from various sources indicate that Orbitz searches on Mac computers are beginning to direct users to different hotels than PC [...]
Nineteen of the 20 cities tracked by the monthly Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index saw price increases from March to April, as the housing market continues its sluggish crawl to recovery. The poor job market, however, hinders further economic growth.
Rising monthly index
That largest home price increase was in and Phoenix, where homes rose by 2.3 percent from March to April. San Francisco and Washington showed the next-largest price increases. Detroit was the only major market covered in the index that posted a price drop. Its prices fell by 2.1 percent.
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, overseer of Fannie [...]
The Department of Education has placed for-profit educational institutions on warning. Too many students from these institutions are finding it hard to pay off their student loans, says the federal agency. If the situation does not reverse, those schools could lose access to federal student aid.
The gainful employment rule
The U.S. Education Department said Tuesday that students in 193 programs at 93 institutions — that is five percent of all for-profit career training programs — have failed to meet all the standards set by the 2011 “gainful employment” rule. The rule pertains to the programs ensuring graduates will find work and [...]
Employers tend to love the unpaid internship, particularly when the applicant is desperate to earn a paid position. Unpaid labor scrambling to please is the best kind of slavery our modern recession can create. For some – particularly college students – an internship is unavoidable if one is going to have any contact with the working world whatsoever. Here’s how to get an internship, along with some internship tips for parlaying it into a (rightly) paid position.
Internships do benefit the intern
Companies that believe in giving potential employees a trial run with no pay or minimal pay aren’t entirely exploitative. The [...]
Tax time has come and gone in 2012 for most of us, but it’s never a bad time to learn more. This is particularly true if you earn a raise at work during the year, as you may be in a new tax bracket. Here’s some background on the various tax brackets that the IRS certainly knows. You should know it, too.
Tax bracket basics
The tax bracket in which you the taxpayer falls is based upon your taxable income, rather than annual salary. Your bracket is also highly dependent upon your filing status with the IRS, whether it is single, married, [...]