Congress Extends a Few Tax Breaks for You

So Congress wasn’t totally Scrooge-like this holiday season, as members tossed a few tax breaks to the rest of us. They passed legislation to extend a number of tax breaks that expired at the end of last year. If they hadn’t, you wouldn’t be able to take various deductions and credits when filing your 2014 tax return. >> Discussion: How do you make the most of your money? Among the key tax breaks for individuals: IRA charitable deduction. Those 70½ and older …

6 ‘Other’ Credit Card Protections

Think you’re safer paying with cash? Not always. For instance, holiday shopping means mall pickpockets are on the prowl. Despite reports of data breaches at retailers including Target, Home Depot and others, don’t shelve your credit cards just yet. Compared with debit cards, you’ll have fewer hassles and less liability should your card be used fraudulently. For certain purchases, credit cards are better than debit cards and cash because of other, lesser-known protections. These policies vary by card type and provider, so ask about your specific coverage: Extended return policies. Many retailers …

Interest Rates Are Low Until You Do the Math

I often hear that interest rates are awful and that it’s the worst time ever for retirees needing to live on fixed income. Yet when you look at after-tax, inflation-adjusted returns, a different picture emerges. Many people smile when I tell them that back in 1980 they could have earned 12 percent on a 10-year U.S. Treasury or certificate of deposit (CD). Depositing $10,000 would have returned $1,200 a year. But if a third went to taxes, that gain would …

It’s Tax Day! Don’t Forget to File

If you’re rushing to get your taxes done before today’s midnight deadline, take some comfort that you’re not alone. The Internal Revenue Service expects to receive about 35 million returns in the last week or so before the filing deadline. At this point, the time for most moves to lessen your tax bite is long over, although even on this deadline day you may have one more opportunity. It’s still possible to make a 2013 contribution to a deductible individual retirement …

IRS: Someone Will Be With You … Sometime Today

Hello, IRS? Is anyone there? That’s what you might be asking if you call the IRS with questions about your 2013 tax return. The agency says today starts one of the busiest weeks of the tax filing season for the IRS phone lines. So make yourself comfortable and settle in. You’re likely to be on hold longer than the 17.6 minutes customers waited last year to speak with someone. You think that’s bad? Some 20 million people, or 39 percent …

Need Help From the IRS? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Have tax questions or problems? You probably shouldn’t expect much in the way of help from the IRS these days, according to the latest report from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the agency. Some of the major findings: The IRS no longer helps elderly, disabled and low-income taxpayers prepare their annual returns. Ten years ago it prepared 476,000 such returns. Only 61 percent of calls to the IRS from taxpayers wanting to speak to someone were answered, …