Friday’s need-to-know money news

indexToday’s top story: The lies we tell to save a little money. Also in the news: The danger of confusing personal and business expenses on your taxes, how $1,000 invested at birth could be a game changer, and five changes you need to know about this year’s taxes.

Survey: Men, Students, Parents Among Those Most Likely to Say Money Lies Are OK
The lies we tell to save a little cash.

Confusing Personal With Business On Your Taxes Can Mean IRS Penalties Or Jail
Be careful where you list those deductions.

How $1,000 Invested at Birth Could Change Everything
Could “KidSave” accounts be the answer to retirement nest eggs?

5 Changes You Must Know About Before Filing Your Taxes This Year
More than just the filing date has changed.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

hidden-fees1Today’s top story: Why personal loans with no credit checks are a very bad idea. Also in the news: What business expenses are tax-deductible, free apps to track your spending, and when it makes sense to hire a tax preparer.

Personal Loans With No Credit Check: A Very Bad Idea
If it seems too good to be true, it is.

What Business Expenses Are Tax-Deductible?
What small business owners need to know.

12 Free Apps To Track Your Spending And How To Pick The Best One For You
Tracking at your fingertips.

12 Times When It Makes Sense to Hire a Tax Preparer
When it’s time to call in the big guns.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

refundToday’s top story: How to get your bank to fix a credit card error. Also in the news: How to overcome money anxiety, 12 odd tax deductions that could save you money, and a new government crackdown on aggressive debt collectors.

How Do I Get My Bank to Fix a Credit Card Error?
Be prepared to be patient.

The First Step to Overcoming Money Anxiety Is Facing Your Own Finances
Taking that first step.

Could these 12 odd tax deductions save you money?
Some of these mught surprise you.

The Government Cracks Down on More Debt Collectors
No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

132417463Today’s top story: 9 states where you can freeze your credit for free. Also in the news: Giving your grown kids the gift of money smarts, tax deductions that could lead to an audit, and why an FSA is a great investment.

9 States Where You Can Freeze Your Credit for Free
Protecting yourself from identity theft.

How To Give Your Grown Kid The Holiday Gift Of Money Smarts
It’s never too late.

These 3 tax deductions could lead to an IRS audit
Reducing the odds.

If You’re Not Using Your FSA, You’re Missing Out on a Great Investment
A great way to stretch your money.

‘Tis the Season for These 7 Tax-Saving Strategies
Time’s running out.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Important financial steps to take before the end of the year. Also in the news: Alternatives to gifting a housing down payments to your kids, making your holiday donations pay off, and how to pay for college without student loans.

Critical List: Key Financial Steps to Take Before Year End
Tick tock.

Options for Parents Helping Adult Kids Buy a Home
Alternatives to gifting a down payment.

3 Tips to Make Your Holiday Donations Pay Off
Time for end-of-the-year giving.

7 Ways to Pay For College Without Student Loans
Taking an unconventional route.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

images (1)Today’s top story: Money milestones to hit while you’re in your 40s. Also in the news: Post-divorce tax deductions, tricks to boost your credit score, and signs you aren’t ready to combine finances with your partner.

Five money milestones to hit while you’re in your 40s
Prepping the road to retirement.

The Tax Deductions You May Qualify for After a Divorce
Maximizing your deductions.

Boost Your Credit Score With This Great Little Trick
Tips to nudge your credit score in the right direction.

5 Signs You Aren’t Ready to Combine Finances with Your Partner
Don’t ignore the warning signs.

Should You Put Your Kids In Debt To Teach Them A Lesson?
Debt as a teaching tool.

Q&A: Tuition gifts and tax breaks

Dear Liz: You recently answered questions about tax breaks for college education expenses. We are contributing $20,000 to our grandson’s college education yearly. He is not our dependent. We are senior citizens with a gross income of about $110,000. Is there any deduction for this expenditure that we might qualify for?

Answer: Your grandson is a lucky young man. Since he’s not your dependent, though, you can’t take any of the available education tax credits or deductions.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry about filing gift tax returns. Each person is allowed to give any other person up to a certain limit each year without triggering the need to file such returns.

This amount, called the annual gift exclusion, is $14,000 this year. Together, you and your spouse could gift up to $30,000 to one person. You wouldn’t actually owe gift taxes until the amounts exceeding this annual exclusion totaled $10.86 million as a couple.

Even if you were giving more than $30,000, there would be a way to avoid filing gift tax returns, and that’s to pay the college directly. Amounts you pay directly to a college or to medical provider are exempt from the limits.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

imagesToday’s top story: How some of your back-to-school expenses could be tax deductible. Also in the news: Paying taxes on free credit monitoring, money saving tips for when you’re earning minimum wage, and ten financial vocabulary terms you absolutely need to know.

Some Back-to-School Expenses Could Be Tax-Deductible
Back-to-school expenses could be a little less painful.

Data Breach Victims: Will You Have to Pay Taxes on Free Credit Monitoring?
Double the insult?

3 Money-Saving Tips When You’re Earning Minimum Wage
Making your money last longer.

10 financial vocabulary terms you should know
There will be a quiz!

Q&A: IRA contributions and tax deductions

Dear Liz: I am changing jobs because of a layoff. I contributed to my former employer’s 401(k) to the extent possible. My new employer also offers a 401(k), but I won’t be eligible for a year.

I want to use an IRA in the meantime. I do not understand how I should answer the question on the tax form about whether my employer offers a retirement plan when I am determining how much of my IRA contribution I can deduct. My employer does, obviously, but I can’t participate yet. Advice, please?

Answer: You’re smart to continue your retirement savings while you wait to become eligible for the new employer’s 401(k). Missing even one year of contributions could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in lost retirement income.

When you’re not covered by an employer plan, all of your contribution to an IRA is typically deductible.

When you are covered, your contribution’s deductibility is subject to income limits. In 2015, the ability to deduct an IRA contribution phases out between modified adjusted gross incomes of $61,000 to $71,000 for singles and $98,000 to $118,000 for married couples filing jointly.

To be considered covered by an employer plan, you have to be an active participant, said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. That means money has to be put into your account by you or your employer or both.

Here’s the twist: You’re considered covered for the whole tax year if you participated in a plan during any part of that year. So the IRS will consider you an active participant for 2015 because you were contributing to your former employer’s plan for part of this year.

If you start contributing to your new employer’s plan when you become eligible next year, you’ll be considered covered for 2016 as well.

You could decide not to contribute to the new employer’s plan until 2017 to preserve your IRA’s deductibility, but it probably makes more sense to start contributing to the new plan to get both the tax break and any match.

If your contribution to an IRA isn’t deductible, consider making a contribution to a Roth IRA instead.

In retirement, withdrawals from a regular IRA will be subject to income taxes while withdrawals from a Roth IRA will be tax free. In 2015, your ability to contribute to a Roth phases out between modified gross incomes of $116,000 to $131,000 if you’re single and $183,000 to $193,000 if you’re married.