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Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

IRS Home Office Tax Deduction – Rules & Calculator

By Kira Botkin

home officeIf you own a small business or do freelance work from home, you can get a nice self-employment tax break by using the home office deduction.

Simply put, the home office deduction allows you to deduct a portion of the cost of running your home as a business expense, proportional to the amount of your home you use for business. You can also take this deduction if you have been asked to work at home by your employer.

This can save you a lot of money if done properly – but you need to be careful, as it is one of the most commonly abused tax deductions.

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IRS Tax Evasion Fraud Definition & Penalties – What Happens If You Don’t File or Pay Your Taxes?

By Kira Botkin

man surprised tax formsAdmit it. At some point during tax prep – filling in one too many data fields or just finding out the final total you owe to Uncle Sam – a dangerous thought crosses your mind: What if I just don’t file?

While most people resist the urge to simply skip out filing taxes, what happens if you can’t pay your taxes, or if you just don’t file at all?

Here are some of the details on tax evasion, including some of the penalties involved, as well as what you can do to prevent a sticky situation even if you can’t afford to pay.

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4 Job-Related & Job Search Expenses That Are Tax Deductible

By Kira Botkin

careers peopleIf you are an employee and spend your own money on business travel, or are presently searching for work, you may be able to deduct work-related expenses on your taxes. These expenditures can add up greatly over time, but by being aware of which expenses provide tax advantages, you can greatly offset their cost. Knowing which expenses you can deduct under what circumstances can help maximize your refund or reduce the amount of tax you owe.

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Retirement Savings Contribution Credit – Get a Tax Credit Just for Saving

By Kira Botkin

retirement savingsUncle Sam wants you to save for retirement. However, saving for retirement can be difficult, especially if your income isn’t very high. The saver’s credit – in IRS parlance, the “Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions” – can help by giving you up to a $1,000 non-refundable tax credit.

To take advantage of this credit, you need to make a contribution to a traditional or Roth IRA by April 15, 2014, or have contributed to your 401k (or similar workplace retirement arrangement) by December 31, 2013. In addition, you must meet the income restrictions for your filing status and other requirements as well.

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Tax Deductible Job Relocation Moving Expenses

By Kira Botkin

movingDid you recently move for a new job? If so, you may be able to claim your moving expenses as a tax deduction. After all, the cost to move can be quite high, especially when you factor in labor, the cost of a truck, gas, or hiring a moving company outright. Taking this tax deduction allows you to offset the high cost to move by reducing your tax bill.

In order to qualify for the deduction, make sure you meet the following requirements and fill out Form 3903.

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Married Filing Taxes Jointly vs. Married Filing Separately – Which Is Better?

By Kira Botkin

married couple computer taxesOnce per year, married couples have the option to get a short, amicable separation – at least, as far as the IRS is concerned. If you’re married, you have a decision to make when tax time rolls around: Should you file jointly or separately?

Choosing a filing status does not reflect upon your marriage – it’s about making the best decision for your financial situation. Since each method of tax filing has its own set of benefits, you may find that filing separately benefits both you and your spouse more than filing jointly, or the other way around.

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IRS Tax Form 1099-DIV – How Are Dividends Taxed?

By Kira Botkin

1099 div formMany investors choose to invest in dividend-bearing stocks, or mutual funds focusing on dividend payers, as part of their portfolio. And those dividends can pay off in a major way. Investing in dividend-bearing stocks can be a great choice for investors who are thinking long-term. You may receive dividends in stock or cash, and you can frequently reinvest cash dividends to buy more stock. Depending upon how you receive dividends, you may need to plan ahead for tax day. Specifically, it is important to understand the different types of dividends, what you can expect as far as paying taxes on them, and how to read the 1099-DIV tax form so you’re adequately prepared.

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Box 12 Codes on Tax Form W-2 Explained

By Kira Botkin

w2 form penBelow is the explanation of the Box 12 Codes on the W-2 tax form.

A – Any uncollected Social Security tax or RRTA tax on tips. You’ll include this amount in your total tax liability on your Form 1040.

B – Any uncollected Medicare tax on tips. You’ll include this amount in your total tax liability on Form 1040.

C – If you had group term life insurance through your workplace, the premiums for any value over $50,000 become taxable income to you and are included here.

D – Contributions to a 401k or SIMPLE 401k retirement plan.

E – Contributions to a 403b retirement plan.

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State Tax Rates Comparison – Sales, Income & Social Security Tax

By Kira Botkin

percentages tax ratesThe Federal Government taxes everyone’s income according to the same scale, but each state has the ability to set different types of taxes on its citizens, including property tax, sales tax, and income tax. This means the amount of tax you’d pay if you live in Florida may be vastly different than the amount you’d pay if you live in California.

For some states, property and sales taxes are the main sources of revenue. In fact, several states don’t collect income tax at all. Depending on your long-term financial goals, you might want to consider living in such a state – or, at the very least, do your Christmas shopping in a state with no sales tax.

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4 Reasons the IRS Can Seize Your Income Tax Refund Money for Debt

By Kira Botkin

seize moneyIf you’ve recently filed your taxes and were expecting a nice fat refund check, you may be shocked if you check the tax refund status and discover that it’s no longer coming.

Believe it or not, there are several situations in which the IRS can rightfully seize your refund. Therefore, before crying foul and blaming the government for making a terrible mistake, consider whether any of the numerous reasons for tax refund seizure could apply to you.

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9 Ways to Improve Your Car’s Gas Mileage and Drive Efficiently

By Kira Botkin

efficient drivingAs gas prices remain high, improving your car’s mileage is crucial. By stretching a tank of gas further, you can reduce the amount of times you must fill up per month, which can help you stick to your budget. This is especially important for those who purchased non-efficient cars when gas was cheaper. But regardless of what car you drive, you can always use a little extra money at the end of the month, and cutting back your gas expenses is a great way to pad your bank account.

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What Is a 403b Retirement Plan – Contributions, Withdrawals & Taxes

By Kira Botkin

403bMany people know that you should contribute to a 401k account to secure an enjoyable, comfortable retirement. But if you work for a nonprofit, a state agency, or a university, your employer might offer you a 403b instead.

A 403b is very similar to a 401k: Both retirement accounts are tax-deferred, which means that you don’t have to pay taxes on the money that you deposit, though you do have to pay taxes on money when you withdraw it. Depending on how your employer sets up the accounts, you may also be able to contribute simultaneously to a Roth 403b, which allows you to contribute on an after-tax basis and avoid paying taxes on withdrawals.

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11 Factors That Affect Car Insurance Rates – How to Lower Your Costs

By Kira Botkin

car insuranceWhen shopping for car insurance, it can be tempting to reduce your rates by choosing lower amounts of coverage or by raising your deductibles. These are, of course, the two most obvious factors that affect the cost of your auto insurance.

You may not realize it, but your overall rate is also affected by many more different factors – some of which you can control, and many of which you cannot. However, knowing what affects your rate can help you make a more informed decision when purchasing insurance, and can help you know exactly what to do to lower your expenses.

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What Is a Fixed-Rate Mortgage Explained – Definition, Pros & Cons

By Kira Botkin

fixed-rate mortgageWhen shopping for a home mortgage, there are a dizzying array of options available to you. The most popular option is the fixed-rate mortgage, which offers an interest rate that does not fluctuate for the entire length of the mortgage.

With a fixed-rate mortgage, the homeowner can make the same payment each month until the mortgage is paid off. However, that predictability can come with higher closing costs, and the traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is one of the toughest mortgages to get approved for. While there are certainly disadvantages, getting a fixed-rate mortgage can make sense for some buyers.

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5 Things You Need to Start a Small Business

By Kira Botkin

small business ownerOwning your own business may seem like the epitome of the American Dream. You can be your own boss, keep your own schedule, and answer to nobody but yourself – no wonder so many people idealize being a small business owner.

However, while working for yourself can seem ideal, most people are not prepared for the amount of time, money, patience, and research that starting a business entails.

What Do I Need to Start a Business?

To determine whether starting a small business is right for you, it’s essential to know what will be required of you to start and maintain your endeavor.

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