Year End Tax Saving Tips for Tax Year 2011

So folks, we are down to the wire, we are 2 weeks from the end of the year, and maybe saving on your income taxes is not foremost on your mind, there are probably thoughts of family, holiday dinners, gift giving - as it should be, but you may also want to devote some time to make sure that you have taken steps to reduce your tax liability as much as you can, of course, legally.  As a reader of this personal finance blog over the years, you are familiar with the year-end reminders to do all you can to legally reduce your tax liability.   This year I am going to point you to a number of columns with that information. 

Sandra Block in a USA Today column talks about - weatherization, college tuition credits, deferring income, accelerating deductions, charitable contributions and taking advantage of sales tax particularly if you are in a state with no state income tax.
To see which consumer energy efficiency credits apply for the tax year 2011, click here.

Here is an article on CBS Money Watch which talks about the mortgage insurance deduction, enhanced adoption credits, educator expenses adjustment, plus 9 other tax tips.
"The TaxLady" blog has some tax tips on vehicles here.

Bill Lynott, freelance writer, gives some additional advice on saving on your taxes here and there is also a link to Part 1 of his post.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has these tax saving tips for small businesses, and YAHOO Finance also has these small business tips.

If you are a small business owner and thinking of starting a 401K for your business, Stuart Robertson in a Forbes article has some ideas here
Rande Spiegelman, Vice President of Financial Planning, Schwab Center for Financial Research has a host of tips that could apply to you here, from double checking your income records,  tax-preferred education savings programs, to ways to gift without incurring the gift tax.

I quote directly from Rande here, because it is also my belief and practice, " After you decide what to do this year, resolve to make financial planning a year-round exercise going forward (you've probably got better things to do around the holidays). That way, it'll be easier to check your progress, update your plan and, if necessary, take action long before the ball falls in Times Square on New Year's Eve."
And remember as you locate your documentation to support your tax deductions, start cleaning out and archiving your 2011 information and set up your folders for 2012 - this way you will start the year off right, yep, I know, you say you will every year, this year you are actually going to do it, yeah!!!  

Season's Greetings and a Prosperous New Year to everyone. 


The Debt Ceiling Explained

Confused about the debate about the Debt Ceiling and the Deficit here's a simplified explanation brought to you by the University of Texas at Austin's McComb's School of Business.   

My intention was to simply place this over-simplified explanation for readers who wanted to understand the basics - but I started to browse the comments and so here's a link to the reference "article" itself as the comments section has a number of other references and links, because try as one might it seems impossible for folks not to get political and animated about an issue that fuels so much passion, and obviously it gives additional perspective.  


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Hi everyone, if you have been wondering about what the "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau" does, sharing a quick link .     


Financial Literacy and Financial Capability Summer Workshop

You may not always agree with Alan Greenspan, but you probably will agree with this quote of his "No matter who you are, making informed decisions about what you do with your money will help build a more stable financial future for you and your family." 

Financial skills last a lifetime, so giving your child the gift of financial intelligence and financial capability is something your child will forever be grateful for.

Join us this summer at the Greenhill School in Addison,Texas' Summer on the Hill program, we will be holding a week long Summer Workshop - "Money Management for Teens" starting on July 25th.  To register, call 972-628-5490.   Tell your friends.

Money Management for Teens - Summer Workshop - July 25th - 29th, 2011

This compelling and fun program gives students the financial tools to develop their personal philosophy about money and establish money management skills early, a skill particularly indispensable in today’s economy.

Using interactive group activities, we’ll explore the money cycle, how to set smart financial goals and achieve them, why spending plans are important, how career decisions affect your earning potential, the part philanthropy can play in your financial life, and the fundamentals of credit, debit, debt, taxes, banking tools, earning, and spending. These are fundamental principles students can rely on throughout their financial lives.

Join us this summer - Call 972-628-5490 - Course ID: MONEYM


Didn't file an income tax return because you can't find your tax information?

If you still didn't file an income tax return by yesterday (April 18th) the extended filing deadline, because you've moved recently and can't find your documents, or just can't find your tax documents because they are probably hiding under that pile of papers on your desk, why wait any longer - start contacting the companies that report your income (your job, unemployment agencies, brokerage houses etc.) to send you out another copy.   It will take some time, so take action.

Tax Tip: Late filing penalty

Did you know that the penalty for filing late is usually 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a return is late. This penalty will not exceed 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.   Filing an extension by the due date (this year April 18th) avoids this late filing penalty.   Remember though, the extension to file is not an extension to pay.

No need to pay that penalty if you can avoid it by filing an extension for free.


Troops Overcharged on their Mortgages

Imagine being a member of our military, putting yourself in harms way.   You cannot give full focus to your own safety and the safety of the country that you are fighting for, because your focus is divided on financial  institutions that disregard the rules that allows your mortgage interest rates to be lowered while you are deployed.   Your family at home has to deal with this ad nauseam.

No one wants to be overcharged on their mortgage, but when over 4000 troops are being overcharged and others are being unfairly foreclosed on, while serving to protect our freedom, you have to give pause.
Watch Lisa Myers' NBC News report on this issue and if you are so inclined lend your support to the cause  here .

A Powerful Tool for Setting Your Goals Financial or Otherwise

Hello everyone,

January is behind us and for many of us, so are many of those over exuberant New Year Resolutions, that some of us made. Well I spent yesterday at my annual planning session of Me, Inc. using a tool that I have used on an off for almost twenty years. A tool that is very powerful when you actually put it to use. Many years ago a mentor of mine shared this powerful tool with me, so as my New Year’s gift to you, I thought I would share this with you…and hope that you are able to reap the rewards that I have.
"No matter who you are, making informed decisions about what you do with your money, will help build a more stable financial future for you and your family." Alan Greenspan