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Archive for 'Law and Politics' Category

Federal income tax filing: 5 common mistakes -- and what they can cost you

Published 2/5/11  (Modified 3/22/11)

Federal income tax filing: 5 common mistakes -- and what they can cost you By Peter Andrew

Long before he became a cop, Kevin was my best friend. So when he joined the police, it seemed natural that I'd often join him and his colleagues for an after-work drink. They were a great bunch, and I really enjoyed the time I spent with them. But as they told their job-related stories, I'd frequently think to myself how much I enjoyed being their friend, and how little I'd like to meet them professionally.

I don't know any IRS agents, but I suspect that the same would apply. They're probably charming people socially, but you really, really don't want to spend time with them when they're working.

Luckily, there are simple things you can do when filing your federal income tax return that can help you avoid finding out whether I'm right.

Beware of these 5 common mistakes to avoid Tax Trouble

Here are five common mistakes routinely made on taxes, and how they can be avoided:

  1. You didn't double check

    Among the most common federal income tax filing mistakes are some that are so embarrassingly elementary that you wouldn't want to admit to them outside a confessional. So, before mailing your return, ask yourself these three questions:

    • Have I signed and dated the form?
    • Have I entered and triple-checked my social security number?
    • Have I attached Copy B of the W-2 form(s) my employer(s) sent me?
  2. You got the math wrong

    According to the IRS, the most common mistake of all is people making basic errors in their arithmetic. You can

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What an Internet Tax means to you

Published 1/31/11  (Modified 3/22/11)

What an Internet Tax means to you By MoneyBlueBook

I recently bought a laptop over the Internet. Shopping online, I found a great price and I didn't have to drive around to different stores to compare products and features. But is it fair that I didn't have to pay any sales tax because I bought the laptop online?

Retailers say the playing field should be leveled out with an Internet sales tax that would be collected at the point of purchase. Now I am not fan of paying more taxes, but the thought of helping put a local company out of business because I like to shop in my pajamas doesn't sit well with me either.

Taxing e-commerce

During President's Clinton administration, the Internet Tax Freedom Act was signed into law to protect commercial aspects of the Internet. The law prohibits federal, state and local governments from taxing access to the Internet or adding taxes that would limit Internet usage. The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) has now been renewed through Nov. 1, 2014, but the law does not address the collection of sales tax. So a few states have made it mandatory for online retailers to charge a sales tax, while a few others left the burden on the consumer to self-report their sales tax.

The latest twist is that some states have now decided that large retailers like Amazon or Overstock should be forced to collect sales tax even

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Federal tax-relief bill gives many a pay raise

Published 1/19/11  (Modified 3/9/11)

Federal tax-relief bill gives many a pay raise By Jim Sloan

The media made it sound like the tax relief law passed late last year was designed to make a lot of older, rich taxpayers happy with new tax deductions and more favorable federal tax brackets.

But in reality, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 contained a lot of new and extended tax deductions and benefits for those of us just starting out with our careers and businesses.

For starters, the new law included a payroll tax cut on our federal income tax that will put about $112 billion back into the paychecks of some 155 million workers. Any employee who pays into Social Security will see their portion of FICA federal income tax drop from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.

For the average worker, that translates into a monthly pay increase of about $83 a month. If you have been receiving the Making Work Pay tax credit, which expired at the end of 2010, your raise will be more along the lines of $50 a month. If you earn more than $95,000 a year and weren't eligible for the Making Work Pay credit, you'll get the full 2 percentage point cut from your federal income tax, or nearly $2,000 over the course of the year.

Helping parents, college students

Another important portion of the law was the extension of emergency unemployment benefits for another 13 months. That alone gives an estimated 7 million workers a little breathing

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New Credit Card Rules and Regulations - The Good and The Bad

Published 12/25/08  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Note: The New Credit Card Rules Do Not Go Into Effect Until July 1, 2010

These days, it seems like whenever there's a good thing going or some attractive opportunity for pecuniary gain or profit, the masses ultimately swarm the offer like locusts until they've completely ruined it for everyone else. This is how I feel about credit cards and the credit card industry. Credit card rewards and interest free balance transfers were once the easiest ways to make some free money on the side, but now that the Feds have enacted the new credit card law, all of that's about to change.

As a big proponent of credit card use and an eager partaker of reward credit cards, balance transfer deals, and credit card arbitrage, I've been taking advantage of all that they've had to offer for some time now. Over many years, I've applied for and been approved for more than 25 credit cards. I've owned, carried, and used most of the major credit cards from Capital One, Bank of America, Citibank, Advanta, Discover Card, to American Express. Throughout college and into adult hood, I've used my squadron of credit cards to earn more than $10,000 worth of cash back rewards, redeemed point rewards for countless free gift cards, and accrued more than $15,000 of interest profit from balance transfer arbitrage. At its peak, I was carrying more than $100,000 in total credit card balances at one time, taking advantage of 0% APR credit card funds deposited into ahigh yield savings account

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My Vote Does Not Matter Because I Do Not Live In A Swing State

Published 11/5/08  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Well I voted. No one can blame me for not making sure my voice was heard. But yet I remain somewhat jaded and cynical at the fact that when all is said and done, my vote ultimately won't do much to affect the outcome of election results.

Every 4 years it's the same routine. I head to my designated voting station and pull the lever, poke the appropriate dot, or press the desired digital touch screen button to make my mark as a citizen of this great country. Unfortunately, any excitement or exuberance I may have in exercising my constitutional responsibility to participate in the political process is greatly tempered by the fact that I know my vote in all actuality counts for very little. It's not because my vote is only one out millions that will ultimately be cast that makes the relative unimportance of my single vote seem so sobering. It's the fact that I know with near definitive certainty that no matter which way I cast my vote, whether I vote for John McCain of the Republican Party, or whether I vote for Barack Obama of the Democratic Party, my home state of Maryland, a solid blue state as blue states go, will ultimately pass on all of its electoral college votes for the Democratic candidate no matter what. Such is the dilemma and troubling aspect of living in a state with such thoroughly entrenched political and social views, and in a country where Presidential elections are decided based on an electoral college

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Memorial Day 2008 - Support Our Military Troops and Veterans

Published 5/26/08  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Well it's the long Memorial Day weekend again. Not only is this annual occasion significant to me because it always occurs around the same time as my birthday, it's also one of the important federal holidays set aside by our United States government to honor those men and women of past and present who laid down their lives during the course of their great service to our country. As the grand puba of all knowledge, the great Wikipedia notes that Memorial Day was originally enacted to honor the northern Union soldiers after the American Civil War but has been enlarged to cover all American military casualties of any war or military action.

This post today is not meant to be a political statement. In fact, I hold rather neutral opinions about the U.S. government's positions and the U.S. military's actions in the ongoing war in the Middle East. I'm neither supportive, nor am I really against it. I'm not a military strategist, nor am I a foreign policy buff. While I watch and follow CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, and have developed my own viewpoints like any other guy, I don't claim to know the answers. So I leave the big foreign policy and homeland defense decisions to the elected bigwigs in Washington D.C. While my foreign policy views are both non committal and neutral, when it comes to supporting our patriotic troops, I'm in it 100%. I think they deserve our full support and admiration, and that includes past veterans, present troops coming back home,

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