Debt is how our nation got into its current economic predicament. Once upon a time, credit was readily available and easy to get. Many of us became over-extended, never dreaming that the gravy train would slow down and make it hard to catch up again. But catch up we must, or sink deeper. Here are some not-so-wise strategies to avoid. Many who have tried them have ended up spending more in the long run.
If you are only making minimal payments on your lines of credit, you are increasing your debt. The interest will continue to rise until it sucks [...]
Grave robbing has traditionally been the option of very desperate criminals with exceptionally low scruples. In the novel and movie “True Grit,” a frontier dentist tries to make a deal with passersby for the ownership of a dead body. The dead have always had some value for those willing to plumb low enough to get it. Today, the dead are worth more than ever. A recent study says that more than 2 million dead people have their identities stolen on a yearly basis, and that is just in the U.S.
2.4 million deceased victims
According to a new report from ID Analytics, [...]
Many children don’t receive a proper financial education at home. As we have seen, many parents are woefully uneducated themselves in basic money management skills. That leaves the schools to save us from becoming a nation of the financially illiterate. However, most schools are not making it a curriculum priority.
Trend slowing down
A 2011 report by the Council for Economic Education showed that, while there had been a trend toward more personal finance education in schools, that “trend is now slowing, and in some cases, it’s moving backward.”
Jump$tart conducts its survey once every two years. The previous study, conducted in 2008 [...]
Some parents teach personal finances to their children at home. However, most do not. Only a handful of states require personal finance education in high schools at this time. So where do most children learn about money? Usually, the evidence suggests, they learn about it on their own in real-life trials by fire. Those who do start their financial lives with a solid foundation of personal finance information tend to be much more successful throughout their economic lives.
Now more important than ever
According to CNN, having a working understanding of basic personal fiances is more important than ever now. The economy [...]
It has been nearly a week since 2011 income tax returns were due. Many tax payers may be wondering which records need to be saved and which ones can be shredded.
Keep old returns
According to Kiplinger magazine, keeping old returns is imperative. They contain information on your background that can be useful for mortgage applications, applying for disability and a variety of other situations. They can be also be very useful when filing your taxes next year. If storage is an issue, they can be be kept on a disk or other forms of digital storage, such as an online service [...]
Tax refunds are on their way to many U.S. taxpayers. Along with a tax return comes the annual decision on what to do with your tax refund. The average refund for the 2012 filing season is $2,899, according to the IRS, $100 less than in 2011. In case you’ve forgotten, here are some sound ideas.
Make green improvements to your home
Home improvement is a never-ending process. Why not apply your tax refund to the type of energy-efficient fixes that can save you money in the long term? Green home improvement can make a difference on next year’s taxes, and such projects [...]
When considering mortgage refinancing, it is important to know what factors can affect the refinance rate. Each factor can have as much as a full percentage point’s difference in the new mortgage rate, according to various mortgage experts. Armed with knowledge, you can approach your own mortgage refinancing with greater confidence.
Advertisements typically reflect points
As anyone who has looked into refinancing a mortgage knows, banks compete for business by advertising low mortgage refinancing rates. However, what many people don’t know is the fine print in this scenario. According to Pat Cunningham of Home Savings and Trust Mortgage of Fairfax, Va., those [...]
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” A study released this week combines the two in a far more tangible way than Franklin ever could have guessed. The study shows a spike in traffic deaths on each of the last 30 tax days.
Spike in each of the last 30 years
According to an article published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for each of the last 30 years, traffic death numbers rose by an average of 6 percent on tax filing day. For a control, the tax day numbers were compared [...]
State tax codes don’t make for a riveting read, but there are hidden chestnuts that are sure to please. Here are a few strange state taxes, presented for taxpayers who can use a bit of a laugh. See if your state’s tax laws are opportunistic or hopelessly arcane!
Bagels and dogs, salt and arrows
The dizzying array of items that are taxed in various states is both amusing and bewildering. It could involve labor (such as the tax on sliced bagels in New York), controlled substances, pets or tattoos. Even everyday substances like salt can be a sticking point for state tax [...]
Taxes and the lottery have both been prominent in the financial news recently. A recent story touched on both. A man was indicted Wednesday for trying to hide lottery winnings from the IRS, proving, once again, that tax evasion is a risky proposition at best, and a bad idea for sure.
Man failed to report lottery income
Sherman W. Friend, a 69-year-old man from McClellandtown, Pa., was indicted before a grand jury April 4 for hiding about $481,000 in lottery winnings from the IRS.
The IRS estimates he evaded paying about $132,000 in income taxes between 2009 and 2010. According to the indictment, [...]
Many states are starting to crack down on businesses that use so-called “tax zapper” programs to keep two sets of books by simply inserting a flash drive into the cash register. States say the programs cost them billions in unreported taxes.
Illegal in five states now
Florida, Georgia, Maine, Utah and West Virginia have all enacted legislation to make it illegal to use the tax-cheating programs. New York, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana and Oklahoma all have bills pending targeting tax zappers. Lawmakers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Alabama, meanwhile, are discussing drafting similar measures.
Maine’s legislation was signed into law in March. There, business owners [...]
According to Wall Street Journal, a large number of human resource departments and job recruiters keep unofficial blacklists, sometimes called “do not hire” lists, that record the names of individuals considered to be undesirable employees. These dark spots can be very difficult to remove from a job history.
Can stick with a job-seeker for years
These lists can follow a job hunter for years, excluding them from getting jobs. Since the lists are “unofficial” and often denied, it is often very difficult to determine where and why the blacklisting began. This situation can also make it very difficult to remove a name, [...]
Sunday, thousands of mustachioed men and their supporters marched on Washington in solidarity for a tax break for mustache-grooming supplies. But was the “million mustache march” a real event or a hoax? Should clean-shaven male taxpayers ‘stache up now to reduce their taxes in the current year? Should some female taxpayers forgo electrolysis?
The ‘STACHE Act
Late last month the American Mustache Institute announced the Million Mustache March for April 1, designed to pressure Congress to give its support to the Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses, or the “‘STACHE Act.”
Under the act — authored by John Yeutter, a professor of tax [...]
According to a report from the Internal Revenue Service last week, nearly twice as many millionaires were targeted for tax audits in 2011 as in 2010. That’s right the IRS audits millionaires often
Number of all audits about the same
The overall audit rate in 2011 remained nearly unchanged at 1.1 percent of all taxpayers. Not so, however, for taxpayers who earned between $1 million and $5 million over the year. Twelve percent of taxpayers in those brackets were audited, a five percent leap from 2010.
Higher the income, greater the increase
According to the IRS data, the audit rate increase rose with annual [...]