Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Home-related tax deductions you shouldn’t overlook. Also in the news: What to do if you’re behind on your health insurance premiums, the benefits to itemizing your taxes, and secrets to getting the best deal on a new car.

4 Home-Related Tax Deductions You Shouldn’t Overlook
Every deduction helps.

Behind on Health Insurance Premiums? Here’s What to Do
Act quickly.

Is itemizing your taxes worth the hassle?
You could be leaving money on the table.

20 secrets to getting the best deal on a new car
Don’t get taken for a ride.

Q&A: Tax break for helping out son

Dear Liz: Our son bought a house and lost his job two months after the purchase. We have helped him stay afloat. Thankfully he has a new job. We don’t expect to get the money back — he is still trying to get out from under — but we have given him close to $10,000. Can we claim this as a “gift” to him on our income taxes?

Answer:
The IRS doesn’t view money given to family members as a charitable donation. In other words, there’s no tax break for bailing out your kids.

If you’re so wealthy that estate taxes might be an issue — which means estates worth more than $5.45 million a person in 2016 — then you might be concerned about gift tax rules. You’re allowed to give a certain amount to any person annually without having to file a gift tax return. In 2015 and 2016, that amount is $14,000, so you and your wife together could give up to $28,000 to your son without needing to file a gift tax return. It’s only when the total value of gifts over this annual exclusion hit $5.45 million that you’d have to worry about paying gift taxes. Clearly, this isn’t an issue for most families.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Pile of Credit CardsToday’s top story: The best credit card tips for March. Also in the news: Two smart paths for student loan borrowers, a 401(k) mistake to avoid, and how to get a tax deduction for supporting your child’s school.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for March 2016
Head into spring by maximizing your rewards.

The Road to Being Debt-Free: Two Smart Paths for Student Loan Borrowers
Income-driven repayment plans could make your life much easier.

You could be making this 401(k) mistake
Don’t cheat yourself out of money.

How To Get A Tax Deduction For Supporting Your Child’s School
Those routine school donations can go a long way.

Q&A: Taking a mortgage for the tax deduction

Dear Liz: My wife and I are both 66 and in good health. Currently we have about $1.2 million in IRAs. We’re receiving about $80,000 a year from a pension and $110,000 in salary. We have been aggressive about reducing any lingering debt. So we think we are in good shape for me to retire within the next year or so. If we decide to stay in our home rather than move, we will need to make some significant repairs and improvements. We were thinking of taking out a $200,000 mortgage to pay off our last remaining debt ($50,000 on a home equity line of credit) and fund the renovations. This would give us a better tax deduction and not incur the high taxes we would pay by making an IRA withdrawal. Our grown children have expressed no interest in the home after we die, so it probably would be put up for sale at that time. Does this seem like a reasonable approach if we choose to go that route? Anything we haven’t considered?

Answer: Considering the tax implications of financial moves is smart, but you shouldn’t make decisions solely on that basis. You especially shouldn’t take on mortgage debt just for the tax deduction. The tax benefit is limited to your bracket, so for every dollar in mortgage interest you pay you would get at best a federal tax benefit worth 39.6 cents. State income tax deductions might boost that amount, but you’d still be paying out more than you get back in tax benefits. You also would be locking yourself into debt payments at a time in life when most people prefer the flexibility of being debt-free.

If you’re comfortable having a mortgage in retirement, though, you might want to consider a reverse mortgage. Although once considered expensive loans of last resort for people who were running out of money in retirement, changes in the federal reverse mortgage program caused financial planners to reassess the no-payment loans as a potential wealth management tool. The idea is that homeowners could tap the reverse mortgage for funds, especially in bad markets, instead of depleting their retirement accounts.
Reverse mortgages are complex, though. The upfront and ongoing costs can be significant. Because you don’t make payments on the money you borrow, your debt grows over time and reduces the amount your heirs might get once the home is sold. You’d be smart to find a savvy, fee-only financial advisor to assess your situation and walk you through your options.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Getting the biggest tax write-offs for your home office. Also in the news: What you should ask a potential financial advisor, the cold realities of identity theft, and smarter ways to give to charity. Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

Get The Biggest Tax Write-Off For Your Home Office
There are new tax rules this year for those who work at home.

10 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor
What you need to know about your potential advisor.

Can You Do Anything to Prevent Identity Theft?
You can’t stop identity theft. You can only hope to contain it.

Smarter Ways to Give to Charity
Creating a charitable giving plan can help you avoid the end-of-the-year rush.

How To File Your Child’s First Income Tax Return
A financial rite of passage.