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 [...]
From time to time, taxpayers attempt to use their pets as dependents in order to reduce taxes. No matter how close you are to your pet or how much you consider him or her a part of the family, this is a big no-no and it will likely get you audited. However, there are some situations in which you can take tax deductions for animals.
IRS recognizes service and business animals
Tax-planning professor Rhea Friedman recently spoke to CNN on the matter. She said taxpayers need to guided by two general principles when considering these deductions:
1) Food, vet bills and other pet-related [...]
Giving gifts to charity is a great way to assist those in need and give yourself a nice break in the form of tax deductions. There are many everyday ways to make your charitable donations count, from goods to cash. Here are a few ideas you can use for next year’s tax return.
Sponsor yourself or a friend in a charity event
Each year, there are countless runs, walks and rides that benefit charities. By sponsoring a participant, whether it is yourself, a friend or a complete stranger, you can show support for a worthy cause and give yourself another tax deduction. [...]
Tax season is approaching with all its usual fanfare, grumbling and deadbeats. Many of those tax-dodgers will no doubt say the economy is to blame for their tax shortcomings. But what about the celebrities listed below? Surely they can afford to pay up. The red carpet is filling up with celebrity tax-cheats. Paparazzi take notice as we spotlight five.
The Academy Award-winning star of “Leaving Las Vegas” has been in hot water with the IRS since 2002. Nicholas Cage blames his former manager Samuel Levine, whom he sued for $20 million for investments that, in Cage’s words, sent him “down [...]
Tax season is here, and with it comes the yearly question of whether you should hire a tax professional to prepare and file the forms for you. Even if your tax preparation is a relatively simple affair, consider employing a qualified tax preparer. Not only does such commerce stimulate the economy, there are at least three key reasons why hiring a tax professional is a capital idea.
Focus on saving money now
While it may seem as though working with a tax professional such as a certified public accountant will take the taxpayer as much time as if they’d simply prepared and [...]
You don’t want to attract the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, unless you’re an IRS employee seeking a promotion. Most taxpayers find the IRS’s special brand of attention – the tax audit – to be very unpleasant. In order to avoid such unpleasantness, it’s worth knowing what trips the IRS trigger.
Even policy changes won’t save you
In 1998, the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act prompted the agency to focus more on taxpayer rights and less on being a collection machine. While this decreased the number of annual tax audits, it didn’t eliminated them entirely. The kinder, gentler IRS is looking [...]
Job hunters who have been out of work for months and are watching their nest egg fly out the window may actually be able to catch a break in April. Out of-work job hunters can take a whole slew of tax deductions unavailable to the steadily employed.
Most job hunt expenses deductible
Unemployed job-seekers can deduct most of the expenses associated with looking for work that exceed 2 percent of their adjusted gross income. That includes printing, phone calls, career counseling and hiring job agents — even travel expenses if they help get you to an interview. And for those whose lack [...]