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The last few years have been difficult ones for the IRS with respect to security issues, and the agency is determined to improve security during this year's filing. Electronic filing is particularly vulnerable because of the speed of the process — it is a favorite method among thieves who steal information from taxpayers and file fraudulent tax returns in their name.

As Bankrate.com Senior VP and 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." Protect your credit – protect your identity – protect yourself with a Tax Identity Theft

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MoneyTips

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...

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Taxpayers tend to shy away from taking the home office deduction, assuming that they will be targeted for increased scrutiny from the IRS. That is certainly possible, especially if your deductions are unusually large – but if you truly were entitled to the deduction, why wouldn't you take it?

You may feel that you have less incentive to itemize as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did away with many itemized deductions and nearly doubled the standard deduction. However, many self-employment deductions remain in place.

Assuming you reviewed IRS Publication 587, "Business Use of Your Home," and determined that you qualify, what are the home office expenses you can write off? They are covered in IRS Form 8829, "

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MoneyTips

Few things are more frightening than opening your mailbox and finding a letter from the Internal Revenue Service. You may wrack your brain wondering what you've done to receive an IRS notice. But there’s no need to pretend it didn't arrive or go on the lam.

Relax. The IRS sends out millions of letters each year for a variety of reasons. An IRS letter does not necessarily carry bad news – and if it does, ignoring it is not going to make the situation any better. Take a deep breath, resist the urge to panic, and follow these tips to help you get past your initial shock.

1. Read the Letter Promptly – Putting off opening the letter won't help you, and delaying can even cause you harm. In many cases, the IRS is simply seeking more information or clarification of some aspect of your tax return, which makes it time-sensitive by definition.

2. Check for Incorrect Information – Review the notice for any errors such as a misspel...

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