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 …

Fa La La or Fraud? Sneakiest Holiday Scams

The toppers to scams that prey on holiday shoppers: Watch out for these sneaky seasonal ploys that continue to prove their success at getting a quick buck or sneaking malware onto devices for longer-lasting fraud. Bogus Charities The season of giving is a peak time for taking. Top cons aimed at older donors allege help for police, firefighters, veterans and children, so be on guard for phone calls with heartstring-pulling scripts. Also beware of sound-alike organizations of well-recognized legitimate charities, such as …

Why More Americans Are Voting Early

President Barack Obama voted in his former Chicago neighborhood on October 20 — more than two weeks before Election Day. “I’m so glad I can early-vote,” he said as he cast his ballot. “It’s so exciting. I love voting.” More than 2.6 million American already have joined him, according to official data. Election Day, in fact, has become Election Month. Political campaigns remain in full swing across the nation. Candidates continue to debate each other and run costly advertising campaigns. …

8 Year-End Tax Moves to Make Now

As we enter the home stretch of 2014, it’s time to consider some tax moves. Here are a few you might want to consider: 1. Give to charity. For those who itemize, making a charitable contribution could lower your taxes. Rather than just giving cash, consider giving your most highly appreciated securities. You usually will get a deduction equal to the full value of the securities and will not have to pay a capital gains tax. 2. Max out your 401(k). …

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Wisconsin Voter ID Law

A three-judge federal appeals court panel has unanimously upheld Wisconsin’s controversial voter ID law, which had been the focus of earlier conflicting federal and state court rulings. >> AARP Voter Education Guide The order from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, handed down on Sept. 12 just a few hours after the judges heard arguments in the case, found that Wisconsins law was “materially identical” to an Indiana photo ID law that the Supreme Court upheld in 2008. The judges …

Supporting Seniors, Family Caregivers: Where Does Your State Rank?

My sister always says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  I was reminded of this adage when I heard Loren Colman, Minnesota assistant commissioner of continuing care, explain how Minnesota is consistently ranked at the top of the nation when it comes to providing support for seniors and their family caregivers. “We planned,” he said.  Indeed, Minnesota developed a plan decades ago to transform the way the state would deliver long-term care services to older residents in their …