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Your home isn't just your castle; it is also a source of tax deductions. Yet, every year, Americans let these potential tax deductions pass by, not realizing how to take advantage of them. Complicating matters, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has made major changes to the tax breaks that every homeowner should know.

IRS Publication 530, titled "Tax Information for Homeowners", can fill you in on the deductions that are available to you for the 2018 tax year. Several of the most important tax benefits are listed below.

  • Mortgage Interest – This should be the largest home-related tax deduction that is available to you. If you bought your home before December 15, 2017, you can deduct interest payments on either primary or secondary homes, up to the limit of $1 million in collective mortgage debt if married and filing jointly, or...

Understanding The Tax Benefits Of A Mortgage

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By Andrea Woroch

There's nothing more rewarding than starting your own business. Opening the front door of a shop for the first time, launching a new product or watching your problem-solving solution take flight can be life altering. However, regardless of your business idea or efficiency of execution, there's one certainty – it won't be easy.

A handful of serial entrepreneurs have enough funding and financial security where they don't need supplemental income during the building stages. They're the lucky ones. For everyone else, the long hours of payless labor mean you're either burning through your life savings or doing everything you can to keep the lights on – and the dream alive.

Of course, traditional jobs and part-time work are options. However, rigid schedules often mean entrepreneurial projects come second, slowing an already arduous proc...

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On-Demand, In Court

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One of the most controversial provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was the limit it placed on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. The TCJA capped the deduction on combined payments for state and local property, sales, and income taxes at $10,000 beginning in the 2018 tax year.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the SALT deduction cost the government $100.9 billion in potential 2017 tax revenue. SALT deduction costs are estimated to drop to $36.6 billion in 2018. It's a large part of the tax revenue increase that paid for the corresponding tax cuts.

Many taxpayers won't be affected by the SALT changes. However, people in states with high taxes and high property values can easily reach $10,000 from either property taxes or state taxes alone.

How do you know if you'll be affected? Check Schedule A on last year's tax return. If you entered more than $10,000 on line 5d and your tax status hasn't significantly changed, you'll prob...

How the Tax Cut Bill Is Raising Your State Taxes

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The Shutdown's Housing Market Woes

It's a great time to buy a home, and you're ready. You've saved up a suitable down payment, found a home, and settled on a lender. As an added bonus, interest rates are at their lowest point in the last nine months – despite the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes.

There's only one problem. The government shutdown has created obstacles to your mortgage – maybe in ways you hadn't considered.

Loan Roadblocks

The shutdown effect is obvious if you're a government worker suddenly trying to buy a home with IOU's – but, otherwise, why would your mortgage application be affected? It may depend on the type of loan you're seeking.

USDA loans, popular in rural areas, are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With the USDA shut down (at least as of this writing), no new applications are being accepted and scheduled loan closings have been put on hold. Homebuyers caught in the middle are be...

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Baked goods can take some time to prepare. But as many baking enthusiasts know, the results are well worth the effort. Such is the case with the following recipe for “Pistachio Honey Rolls” from Marguerite Marceau Henderson’s “Small Sweet Treats” (Gibbs Smith).

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With your holiday decorations stashed away and resolutions for a less-cluttered home in mind, January is an excellent time of year to clean up the bathroom. While it can be a challenge to keep this small but mighty room in top shape, going for a sleek, functional look can help. If you’re ready to update your bathroom routine, consider the following high-tech appliances and modern decor.

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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...

What Is My IRS Pin?

Tax Identity Theft

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Did you have a happy New Year? We certainly hope so. Now it's time to get back to regular routines and take care of January chores, including gathering your tax information.

The 2019 Tax Season Begins on January 28

Despite the partial government shutdown, the IRS announced that the 2019 tax season will begin on January 28th. The beginning of tax season marks the first day that the IRS will accept individual electronic returns and start processing traditional paper returns.

Soon, you and more than 150 million of your fellow Americans will be sifting through tax information and preparing returns — or have them prepared for you. In 2017, tax preparers filed almost 78.6 million electronic returns. In 2018, the industry employed 292,257 tax practitioners in 121,721 businesses and created $10 billion in revenue. Expect tax preparers ...

Are You Ready for the 2018 Tax Season?

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IRS2Go 101

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Is it tax time already? You may not want to admit it, but tax time starts well before the filing deadline. Your important tax forms start arriving in the mail in January. If you simply let them accumulate in a pile, it will be April before you realize it, and you will be scrambling around, attempting to do your taxes at the last moment. Woe unto you if you realize at the last minute that one of your important tax forms is nowhere to be found.

How many forms should you expect? That depends on your situation, but anything that contributes to your income or makes adjustments to your taxable income will require documentation. Primary forms include:

  • W-2s – Everyone that you have worked for as a direct employee owes you a W-2 form to show all monies paid to you and taxes withheld.

  • 1099s – 1099s cover all income from sources...

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How would you handle $4 trillion of debt? Hopefully, you'll never have to answer that question – but America's total outstanding non-mortgage consumer debt is nearing the $4 trillion mark. (Add mortgage debt, and our total consumer debt tops $13.5 trillion.)

According to Federal Reserve data as of October 2018, non-mortgage consumer debt was just over $3.96 trillion and is on pace to break the $4 trillion mark before year's end. This debt includes revolving debt like credit cards ($1.037 trillion) and non-revolving debt including auto loans, student loans, and personal loans ($2.926 trillion).

LendingTree highlights the rise in consumer debt in their November 2018 debt report. Using Federal Reserve data, the report finds that our consumer debt has quadrupled over the last 24 years.

We passed the $3-trillion mark in 2013, and we've added $1 trillion to that in the subsequent five years. In contrast, it took us ten years to go from $2 trillion to $3 trill...

Card Balances Drop While Consumer Credit Growth Slows

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You want to be an energy saver and are interested in going green as much as possible through new energy efficient appliances, home modifications, and perhaps even building a brand new energy-efficient home. Every level of the U.S. government also wants you to be an energy saver, and is willing to back it up with programs and tax incentives that encourage energy-saving efforts.

Tax Incentive for Energy Efficiency

These tax incentives are not just for individuals. Businesses can also reap tax benefits while helping to save the environment. Applied over a large scale, these credits can save thousands of dollars and make a real difference to your business's bottom line.

How do you find these tax-saving programs? The Internal Revenue Service has information for federal tax incentives, such as those in the What are Exemptions, Deductions and Credits?

Education Tax Savings

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Santa was not so kind to your friends and relatives this year, so you felt the need to fill the gap. You overspent on holiday gifts, and now you are stuck with a significant amount of holiday debt. Gratitude from gift recipients is a great feeling, but gratitude is not going to pay off your MasterCard bill. If it's any comfort, you're not alone; according to one report, Americans racked up an average of $1,230 in debt last holiday season.

What do you do? Start with the classic bit of advice – "if you are in a hole, stop digging." Recognize that you overspent, and freeze your spending until you can take the following steps.

How to Reduce Holiday Debt

  1. Assess the Situation and Rebalance the Budget – Face up to your debt and total up the damage. Rebalance your budget to account for this new debt, and look for any budgeted spending that you can temporarily drop. You will need to eat out less often and delay other discretionary spendi...

Now Is When People Fall Behind On Bills

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The reborn 2020 Aviator has had enough of being simply a wing-man for the Ford Explorer. Mothership Lincoln, with this all-new edition, has gone to great lengths to ensure that Aviator earns its wings.

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What do you do with debts that have unfavorable interest rates or difficult payment terms? If you can, consolidate them into one debt stream with more favorable terms. Balance transfer credit cards exist for this purpose, but personal loans may be an even better alternative.

November 2018 data from LendingTree shows that over two-thirds of all personal loan inquiries are for debt consolidation (37%) or credit card refinancing (31%). Personal loans generally offer lower interest rates for equivalent credit profiles, and consumers are taking advantage of the difference.

The lowest average annual percentage rate (APR) for all credit cards is 17.15% according to CreditCards.com, and balance transfer cards aren't much better at a 16.33% average lowest APR offer. According to LendingTree, borrowers with excellent credit averaged 9.62% APR on pers...

How To Get A Personal Loan Online

Personal Loans Are Fastest-Growing Consumer Debt

Video: What Is Debt Consolidation?

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Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 53 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency discussed life and work aboard the orbital complex in a pair of in-flight interviews Sept. 20 with KSTP-TV, Minneapolis and the Associate…

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Each Friday one of the 100+ tasty video recipes from the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program is featured on the Mayo Clinic News Network, just in time for you to try at the weekend. You can also have the recipes delivered via the Mayo Clinic App.

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Prevention and testing are two ways Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says could help the nation's staggering rates of sexually transmitted infection. A recent report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that reported cases of STIs are at an u…