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, …

End the Year With These Fabulous Freebies

Some fabulous freebies to end the year with and ring in 2014: Free Video From Santa: Hurry! Time is running out to send the kids a personalized video from Santa via this website. If’ you’ve already sent out your Christmas cards, remember it for next year. Free 2014 Calendar: Click on the link for these free, downloadable calendars. You can customize them to meet your needs and track your schedule. Free Financial Planning Tools: Several websites like Mint, Bankrate and AARP offer free calculators …

Early Tax Filers Will Have to Wait for Refunds

Early 2013 tax filers expecting a refund will have to wait a bit next year. The IRS says it’s starting the 2014 tax season 10 days later than usual, on Jan. 31, as a consequence of the federal government shutdown in October. The 16-day closure curtailed most government operations and delayed the IRS from updating its processing systems for the new tax season. “The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems …

They Found $1 Million in Their Trash

Joseph and Joanne Zagami of North Attleborough, Mass., have won $1 million on a lottery ticket that they fished out of their trash after mistakenly throwing it away, the Associated Press reports. After buying the $5 scratch-off ticket from a supermarket vending machine, the state lottery commission says, the Zagamis dropped it into one of their grocery bags and then forgot about it. >> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages. following day, when the Zagamis realized that neither of …

Looking beyond Medicare lifetime taxes and benefits

You may have seen the reports (2012 update and Alternative Assumptions) by Eugene Steuerle and Caleb Quakenbush from the Urban Institute showing lifetime taxes paid and benefits received from Social Security and Medicare. The authors estimate that an average male who earns the average wage during his working years and turns 65 in 2020 will pay $77,000 in Medicare taxes and receive $232,000 in Medicare benefits. These numbers vary by gender, marital status, age, and year in which the person …

Taxes on Social Security, Prescription Drugs, Food?

Tax reform proposals are bubbling up in a number of states across the country as elected officials look for ways to stimulate the state’s economy or revamp outdated tax codes. Sometimes, however, a key element gets lost in the debate: what’s fair. Right now, in North Carolina, state leaders are working on a variety of proposals that would force North Carolinians to pay new taxes on the things they count on most, including the basics of everyday living. One Senate …