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20 Answers by Tax Advisors
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
Can The IRS Revoke My Passport?
A: If you have seriously delinquent tax debt, IRC § 7345 authorizes the IRS to certify that debt to the State Department for action. The State Department generally will not issue a passport to you after receiving certification from the IRS.

Upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny your passport application and/or may revoke your current passport. If your passport application is denied or your passport revoked and you are overseas, the State Department may issue you a limited validity passport good only for direct return to the United States.

Seriously delinquent tax debt is an individual's unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $50,000 (including interest and penalties).
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
When can I file my 2017 tax returns?
A: The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 29, with nearly 155 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2018. The nation’s tax deadline will be April 17 this year – so taxpayers will have two additional days to file beyond April 15.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
Can I claim child tax credit for my son born on December 31?
A: It does not matter when during the year your baby was born; you can claim the child as a dependent, and qualify for the Child Tax Credit (CTC), beginning with that year's taxes.

Q: Finance, Tax Planning
Which washer/dryer will qualify for an energy-efficient tax credit?
A: There are many Energy Star products on the market but many of them do not qualify for the federal tax credit. They will cut your energy bill, but they do not qualify for the energy-efficient tax credit. Unfortunately washers and dryers are not eligible for this tax credit. Refrigerators, ovens, ceiling fans, room air conditioners and light fixtures do not qualify either.

Exterior window (including skylights), exterior doors and/or water heaters DO qualify for energy-efficient tax credits.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning

I am a Tunisian national on J1 Visa in the US. However, I have never paid taxes in Tunisia. I did my PhD and was working in France for 5 years paying taxes there. I got my visa in France. Is my tax residency France or is it Tunisia? Because if I claim it to be Tunisia, there is no two years tax treaty. If it's France, what documents I need to claim the tax refund?
A: Tax treaties are based on tax residency (country where you last paid income tax before arriving to the U.S.) not nationality or country of citizenship. For that reason you do qualify for exemptions provided by tax treaty between France and the United States. As J-1 visa holder you are exempt from filling/paying FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes. Above mentioned tax treaty will also exempt you from paying federal taxes as well. Many of the individual states require state income taxes to be withheld on this income. California is one of them. US/France tax treaty & federal tax exemption: • Teaching or Research: 2-year exemption & no income limitation • Studying or Training: 5-year exemption & $5,000/year income limitation (first $5,000 is reported on form 1042-S and the rest on form W-2)
Q: Finance, Retirement Planning
If I participate in my employer's 401K plan, can I also set up a SEP-IRA for my self-employment income?
A: Yes, a SEP plan can be set up for your business even if you participate in another employer's retirement plan.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What are the tax changes I need to know about when filing my individual return for 2012?
A: Cost-basis reporting by brokers – If you are an investor, the IRS will receive a revised Form 1099-B from your broker that now records the basis of transactions during the year. You should also receive a copy of that form. The IRS will check to see that this information matches the basis reported on your return. Additionally, these transactions will now be reported on the new Form 8949, rather than directly on Schedule D.
Q: Business, Bus.-General
How long should you keep your business records?
A: You should keep copies of your filed tax returns indefinitely. For many tax payers it would be sufficient to keep expense records for three years. In very special situations (claiming a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction) records should be kept for 7 years.
Q: Finance, Personal Finance
What are some smart ways to save money on gas?
A: Do not haul around extra weight in your trunk. Also, take off the car’s roof rack if you are not using it regularly.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What states do not have income and/or sales tax?
A: Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, Texas, Wyoming, and Florida do not have income state taxes.

Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon do not have sales taxes.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
I have received Form 5498. Do I have to include it in my tax return?
A: Form 5498 is for informational purposes only and it should not to be filed with your tax return. It reports regular and rollover contributions on Individual Retirement Accounts (Traditional IRA or Roth IRA), as well as Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) plans.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
Is SSI (Supplemental Security Income) taxable?
A: SSI benefits are NOT taxable. The IRS Publication 907 states:

“Supplemental security income (SSI) payments - Social security benefits do not include SSI payments, which are not taxable. Do not include these payments in your income.”
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
To my peers, Since schedule A's will be delayed, What are you doing and what are you telling taxpayers?
A: We have received this notice from our software company: “The IRS asks that you do not file these returns until the prescribed start date (yet to be determined). Stockpiling rules do not apply to these returns.”
A: We just tell them like it is: “Due to a late tax law changes the IRS is not ready to accept certain returns before second part of February. Your return will be e-filed as soon as the IRS is ready to process them.”
A: This afternoon, the IRS announced plans for a February 14, 2011 start date to process tax returns that were delayed as a result of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. The IRS will begin the processing of both paper and e-filed returns that contain itemized deductions on Schedule A, tuition and fees deduction on Form 8917, and the educator expenses deduction.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What is "IRS 8b Payout"?
A: Simply it is an investment in Municipal Bonds. By default they have federal tax exemption status claimed on line 8b of federal 1040 tax form. In some cases (for example if you buy your in-state bonds) “munis” might have state tax exemption as well. For this reason municipal bonds are often referred as “double-exempt bonds.”
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What surrogacy expenses can I deduct on my tax return? How about payments and expenses for egg donor?
A: Section 213(a) of the Internal Revenue Code released on May 2, 2003 says:
“Expenses preparatory to the performance of a procedure that qualifies as medical care that are directly related to the procedure may also constitute medical care for purposes of § 213. For example, Rev. Rul. 68-452, 1968-2 C.B. 111, holds that surgical, hospital, and transportation expenses incurred by a donor in connection with donating a kidney to the taxpayer are deductible medical expenses of the taxpayer-recipient for the years in which the taxpayer pays them, subject to the limits of § 213. Similarly, expenses the taxpayer pays to obtain an egg donor, including the donor’s expenses, are directly related and preparatory to the taxpayer’s medical expenses and are deductible by the taxpayer in the year paid.

You have represented that you will pay the fee to the donor, the fee to the agency that procured the donor, the donor’s medical and psychological testing expenses, the insurance for post-procedure medical or psychological assistance to the donor, and the cost of the legal contract between you and the donor, in order to enable you to obtain a donated egg for implantation into your body. Because these costs are preparatory to the performance of your own medical procedure, the expenses are medical care for purposes of § 213.”

Read more at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-wd/0318017.pdf
Q: Finance, Home Loans
I understand the first-time home buyer credit has been extended to April 2010. Does anyone know what kind of changes have been made in order for me to qualify?
A: Quick reference to all 3 credits: First-time Homebuyer Credit Comparison Chart.
Q: Technology, Internet
Should we have a la carte Cable TV pricing?
A: That is a great idea but in reality it would not work. Prices that networks charge cable companies are based on number of subscriber (currently all of their subscribers). If only 25% of those subscribers sign up for a certain channel, you can expect that networks will increase their fees. The end results will be that current cable bundles will cost as much as only a dozen of à la carte channels. So we “the consumers” loose again. With à la carte Cable TV pricing, you can only save money if you subscribe for just a few channels.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
I always get so much money back at the end of the year, almost $4,000. I would rather have some of that in my check each week, how much should I claim on my taxes?

I am a single mother, I own a condo where only my 4 year old son and I live. I make just under 30,000 a year. I am also a half-time student in college. Not sure what else you need to know to help me with this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated
A: On your W4 claim 2 allowances.
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