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…

4 Out Of 5 Americans Lie For Money

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Have you ever lied for financial gain? The odds are strong that you’ve done it at least once. According to a new study from finder.com, almost 4 out of 5 Americans have admitted to lying for some type of financial gain – and many don’t feel guilty about their lies.

Over 2,000 U.S. adults were asked if they had committed any of the financial lies presented in a list, from the illegal to the merely unethical. A surprising 78% of respondents admitted to at least one of the transgressions. Assuming a random sample, the study implies that almost 193 million American adults have lied for financial gain at some point in their lives.

Over half of respondents had lied in two specific areas – pocketing found money that wasn’t theirs (56%) and accepting an undercharge or excess change without bringing it to a seller’s attention (52%).

Close to one-third of respondents lied about

Mortgage Deduction Claims Will Drop More Than 50%

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Who wants simpler taxes? Most of us do, assuming we also keep more money in the process.

Starting in 2018, homeowners are more likely to have simpler tax returns – but they may need to make similar tax calculations to ensure a lower tax bill.

Tax simplification was part of the pitch to sell the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) to the American public. To help achieve this goal, Congress raised standard deductions and reduced or eliminated several itemized deductions with the TCJA to encourage filers to take the standard deduction. Taxes are much simpler if you don’t itemize, and there’s no reason to itemize if your standard deduction is greater than your collective itemized deductions.

The TCJA raised the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly to $24,000 (almost double the previous deduction of $12,700). The standard deduction for single filers rose…

Your Unpaid Student Loan Could Cost You Your Tax Refund

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You anticipated a large refund on your taxes to pay off some bills and put some money away in a rainy-day fund. Unfortunately, the money never showed up. What happened?

Your refund may have gone toward an unpaid bill selected by the government – your unpaid student loan.

Your federal student loan is considered to be in default if you haven’t made a payment in 270 days. When that happens, the federal government has the right to claim your tax refund as payment against the debt, in a process known as an administrative offset. In essence, the government isn’t giving any tax refunds back to you if you aren’t attempting to repay what you already owe the government.

If you’ve lost a tax refund to an offset, you aren’t alone. Student loan default rates are near 11%, giving the government plenty of offset targets. In fiscal 2017, the Treasury Department executed $2.6 billion in tax refund offsets on approximately 1.3 million