Use Your Tax Refund To Build Credit

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What do you plan to do with your tax refund? Maybe you have your eye on upgrading your phone, buying a new computer, or splurging on a long overdue vacation.

Have you considered using your tax refund to build your credit?

Granted, credit building doesn’t compare with lying on the beach enjoying the sunshine, but you’ll get long-term benefits that go beyond good memories and a tan. Last year’s federal tax refunds averaged $2,899, which could go a long way toward establishing new credit or restoring damaged credit.

If you don’t have any credit at all, your tax refund could help you get a secured credit card. Traditional credit cards require a minimum credit score, but secured credit cards usually don’t because they’re backed by a cash deposit that determines your credit limit.

By making small regular charges and paying them off on time and in full each month, you’ll b…

Should You Pay Your Taxes With A Credit Card?

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It is hard to beat the convenience of a credit card for purchases, but does that same convenience make it worth paying your taxes by credit card? It might, but that depends on several factors involving money and time. “Your credit card is usually a high-interest option, but it is an option,” explains Betterment Head of Tax Eric Bronnenkant.

Before deciding whether to put your tax bill on plastic, consider the following:

  • Fees – By law, the IRS cannot pay credit card transaction fees. As a result, credit card payments to the IRS are handled through secure third parties approved by the agency. See the IRS website for a list of the approved payment processors and their fees.

    Credit card fees are percentage-based with a minimum “convenience fee” for smaller bills ranging from $2.50 to $2.69. Percentages range from 1.87% to 1.99…

When Credit Card Debt Is Tax-Deductible

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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could deduct your credit card debt from your taxes? For most Americans, that’s just a dream that will never come true. However, some circumstances allow you to deduct some credit card debt – all related to using your card for business purposes.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the standard deduction and eliminated or reduced certain itemized deductions as part of a tax simplification effort. It’s critical for those who still itemize to take advantage of all possible deductions. Self-employed taxpayers and small business owners who rely heavily on credit cards may be able to save by taking advantage of credit-related deductions.

Credit card debt on personal purchases is not tax-deductible, thanks to the 1986 Tax Reform Act. However, three varieties of business-related credit card debt may be deductible.

Interest on credit ca…

Deduct Your Student Loans!

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Chances are that if you have student loans, you need every bit of extra cash that you can get. Did you realize that your student loans might be able to generate some cash for you?

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to save on your tax bill by deducting the interest that you pay on your student loan. The total deduction from your taxable income could be as much as $2,500. As a final bonus, you do not have to itemize to claim this deduction.

To be eligible for the deduction, your loan must meet certain qualifications. It must have been made to cover qualified education expenses as defined in IRS Publication 970, including tuition, fees, and most room and board charges. The loan cannot have come from a relative or via a qualified employer plan, and the e…

How To Avoid Being A Tax-Scam Victim

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To paraphrase the old adage, there are only three absolutes in life: death, taxes, and the rise of scams during tax season.

A major tax scam since 2013 involves phone calls by fictional IRS agents that demand immediate payment for alleged tax debts, threatening lawsuits or even jail time to those who refused to comply. The more sophisticated version of this includes spoofing a legitimate IRS phone number to fool caller-ID systems. The callers also have Social Security numbers and enough personal information to convince the taxpayer that the call is legitimate.

From October 2013 to March 2018, the Treasury Inspector General’s office identified 12,716 confirmed victims, who were swindled out of $63 million through this particular scam.

Other scammers use a carrot instead of a stick. Another significant scam claimed that consumers had been awarded a government grant for h…

How To Identify Tax Identity Theft

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Tax filing season is upon us. Soon you will be filing your paperwork and perhaps receiving a nice check — unless thieves file a return in your name first and falsely claim your refund.

Unfortunately, if a thief has your Social Security number and other relevant information, tax identity theft is very hard to prevent. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com, notes that “somebody could have your Social Security number and they could have been sitting on it for a while… you would have no idea until they go and file a bogus tax return under your Social Security number. You only find out at the point where your legitimate return gets rejected.”

While recent IRS efforts have resulted in a 57% drop in confirmed fraudulent identity theft tax returns from 2015 to 2017 and a 65% …

Tax Identity Theft

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Computers and the Internet have become mainstays in virtually every area of 21st-century American life. There are tremendous benefits and conveniences to this, of course, but there are also some downsides — such as the increased risk of identity theft that arises as we share more of our personal information online.

In fact, identity theft has been called “the crime of the 21st century,” consistently ranking at the top of the Federal Trade Commission’s list of complaints every year. While there are many ways for identity thieves to strike offline, the Internet has made it that much easier for them to steal sensitive personal information from unsuspecting and careless individuals online.

A New Kind of Identity Theft

With tax-filing season now upon us, there’s another kind of identity theft you should be watching out for: tax identity theft. In this…

Tax Identity Theft Lower But Still A Problem

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Identity thieves have many ways to steal your money – including fraudulent tax returns. They file a return in your name as early as possible to beat your legitimate return, with fake financial data designed to claim a large refund. You won’t realize this until your tax return is denied because there’s already been a return filed with your Social Security number. As Bankrate.com Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride points out, “Tax ID fraud is one of those things where somebody can have your Social Security number and they could have been sitting on it for a while, and you would have no idea until they go and file a bogus tax return under your Social Security number. You only find out at the point where your legitimate return gets rejected.”

It’s a lucrative but simple scheme – and, with more stolen identities available via large data breaches over the past few years, tax identity theft attempts have…

Can The IRS Or Student Loan Creditors Garnish My Social Security?

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By Eric Olsen, Executive Director, HELPS Nonprofit Law Firm

Federal law protects Social Security and retirement incomes from garnishment by almost all collectors. But what about the IRS and student loan debts? The IRS and public student loan lenders can and occasionally will garnish 15% of a senior’s Social Security income. There is much information on the Internet scaring seniors about this practice, but very little information discussing how a garnishment of Social Security for taxes or student loans can be prevented or stopped.

It is not the general practices of the IRS or student loan collectors to garnish other forms of retirement such as pensions or VA benefits. State tax collectors and private student loan collectors cannot garnish Social Security or seniors’ other retirement income. The IRS or a public student loan collector must notify seniors in advance by mail before garnishing their Social Security benefits. Seniors often think they have n…