Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What homeowners must remember at tax time this year. Also in the news: A GOP proposal to take student loan payments straight from your paycheck, why you might not have to pay that medical bill, and the biggest financial mistake women make.

Here’s What Homeowners Must Remember at Tax Time This Year
Learning the new tax rules.

A GOP proposal could snatch your student loan payment right from your paycheck
This could get ugly.

You Might Not Have to Pay That Medical Bill
Get ready to spend some time on the phone.

The biggest financial mistake women make? Not investing enough.
Deepening the wage gap.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The biggest financial mistake women make. Also in the news: How to find the dirt on your tax preparer, nine states where you can file your taxes after April 15th, and experts reveal who is likely to get a lower refund this tax season.

The Biggest Financial Mistake Women Make
Navigating the wage gap.

How to Find the Dirt on Your Tax Preparer
Be careful who you trust.

You Can File Taxes After April 15 in These Nine States
Is yours one of them?

Here’s who is more likely to get a lower refund this tax season, according to experts
Don’t be caught by surprise.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 things your side gig will probably do to your taxes. Also in the news: How banking apps can motivate you to save, contributing to your IRA by April 15th could lower your 2018 tax bill, and social media is making Valentine’s Day super expensive for millennials.

6 Things That Side Gig Will Probably Do to Your Taxes

How Banking Apps Can Motivate You to Save

Contributing to Your IRA by April 15 Could Lower Your 2018 Tax Bill

Social media is making Valentine’s Day super expensive for millennials

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 tips for cutting the cost of having your taxes done. Also in the news: How to find the dirt on your tax preparer, making the most of a gig economy to pay down debt, and 11 smart ways to spend your tax refund.

5 Tips for Cutting the Cost of Having Your Taxes Done
How to rein in the costs.

How to Find the Dirt on Your Tax Preparer
Don’t give your info to just anyone.

How I Ditched Debt: Making the Most of a Gig Economy
A woman pays down over $25K in three years.

11 smart ways to spend your tax refund, according to personal finance experts
Don’t think of it as a windfall.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The biggest financial mistake women make. Also in the news: 4 business credit card mistakes you can’t afford to make, 5 divorce mistakes that can cost you, and why you might owe taxes this year.

The Biggest Financial Mistake Women Make
Investing is important.

4 Business Credit Card Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make
Don’t get in over your head.

5 Divorce Mistakes That Can Cost You
No talking on Twitter.

Why You Might Owe Taxes This Year
About that tax break…

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: This winter, your credit should freeze, too. Also in the news: 5 keys to picture-perfect TV buying, when to hire someone to do your taxes, and 5 things consumers should watch out for now that the Fed hasn’t raised rates.

This Winter, Your Credit Should Freeze, Too
Protecting your personal info.

5 Keys to Picture-Perfect TV Buying
Just in time for the Big Game.

When to Hire Someone to Do Your Taxes
When Turbo Tax isn’t enough.

5 things consumers should watch for now that the Fed has NOT raised rates
Bad news for savers.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Could you live on your retirement savings for 23 years? Also in the news: How a new pilot manages $116,000+ in loans, what your tax refund will look like this year, and the top 10 colleges for financial aid.

Could You Live on Your Retirement Savings for 23 Years?
How long will your money last?

Debt Diary: How a New Pilot Manages $116,000+ in Loans
A payoff strategy.

What Your Tax Refund Will Look Like This Year
It might not be as much as you think.

The top 10 colleges for financial aid
Some colleges are quite generous.

Q&A: Independent contractors face a wealth of tax consequences

Dear Liz: My son was recently hired in his dream job, but his employer has classified him as an independent contractor rather than as an employee. This would be his first time drawing pay without all the taxes, benefits, insurance and so on taken out. I’m afraid he’s only seeing the good wage and not the flip side.

He’s a newlywed and doesn’t need his mama telling him what’s what. I thought if I sent him this “anonymous” letter that appeared in your column, that advice would be coming from you and he might just listen!

Answer: If your son doesn’t listen, that dream job could turn into a tax nightmare.

Tax pros often suggest their self-employed clients put aside half of what they earn to cover taxes and other obligations. Independent contractors have to pay both the employer and employee portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes, or roughly 15.3% instead of the 7.65% regular workers pay. That’s in addition to whatever federal, state and local income taxes he’ll owe.

He’s now required to make quarterly estimated tax payments because ours is a “pay as you go” system. Employees typically have those taxes withheld, but independent contractors must make quarterly estimated tax payments by Jan. 15, April 15, June 15 and Sept. 15. (The deadlines are moved to the following Monday if those dates fall on a weekend.) If he waits until he files his annual tax return to pay, he’ll probably owe penalties.

He also may need to register his business with his city or county and get a tax registration certificate.

If he doesn’t get health insurance through his spouse, he’ll need to find a policy, probably through an Affordable Care Act exchange. He also should save at least something for retirement. Although the self-employed have several good options for retirement savings, including SEP IRAs and solo 401(k)s, he’ll have to do without the “free money” that company 401(k) matches represent.

Business insurance may be another concern. He may need coverage to protect against lawsuits, disabilities and other potential setbacks.

Your son would be smart to hire a tax pro, such as an enrolled agent or CPA, to help him navigate this brave new-to-him world of self-employment.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What the government shutdown means for home loans. Also in the news: How to stay afloat financially during the shutdown, how Medicare premiums could be the key to itemizing your taxes, and how to start investing right now.

What the Government Shutdown Means for Home Loans
Prepare for delays.

How to Stay Afloat Financially in a Federal Shutdown
Get ready to spend some time on the phone.

How Medicare premiums could be the key to itemizing your taxes — and saving money
Your premiums could be deductable.

How (and Why) to Start Investing Right Now
The sooner the better.

It’s time to fix Social Security’s tax burden

People on Social Security need a tax break. The rest of us need to make sure they get it — for everyone’s sake.

When Congress made Social Security benefits taxable in 1983, lawmakers didn’t index the tax thresholds to inflation. They “forgot” inflation again when adding a second layer of taxation in 1993.

That means the proportion of recipients who have to pay federal income taxes on their benefits keeps increasing. Initially, only 1 in 10 Social Security recipients had to pay any federal tax. Now, it’s over half.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why this sneaky way of boosting taxes is unfair to those who have already paid their dues.