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11 Answers by Bogie Boric
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What are the tax changes I need to know about when filing my individual return for 2012?
A: Social security stops mailing benefits statement in an effort to reduce costs, the Social Security Administration (SSA) suspended mailing annual benefits statements in April 2011. While the SSA claims that mailings will resume in 2012, paper statements will only be sent out to Americans who are age of 50 and older. Everyone else will have to visit SSA’s Online Retirement Estimator web site to access this information (www.ssa.gov/estimator).
Q: Finance, Insurance
How can I lower my auto insurance rate?
A: Take a safe driving course.
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What is the Hiring Incentives Act and how does it benefit small businesses?
A: The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act of 2010, created two new employer tax benefits to reward organizations for hiring and retaining unemployed or part-time workers.

Payroll tax exemption - provides employers with an exemption from the employer’s 6.2 percent share of social security tax on wages paid to qualifying employees, effective for wages paid from March 19, 2010 through December 31, 2010.

New hire retention credit – in addition, if the employee stays on for a full year, the business will also be eligible for a tax credit of up to $1,000.
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: Take a look at this article as well - Military homeowners benefit under latest tax-credit legislation.

Q: Technology, Internet
Should we have a la carte Cable TV pricing?
A: If you are considering reducing or completely canceling your cable TV service visit CancelCable.com to find how a combination of free HD broadcast TV and the Internet will help you save money with some alternative video platforms like Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, XBox, etc. If you go to CancelCable.com’s “Show Finder,” you will find a complete list of all the major television programs available for you to watch right now.
Q: Finance, Personal Finance
Do you have a good saving tip that you are willing to share?
A: "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like."

Will Smith
Q: Finance, Personal Finance
What is “Double-Cycle Billing” practice used by credit card companies?
A: Short answers is – the way credit card companies can make you pay more in finance charges.

Double-cycle billing is calculated based on average daily balance of your current and previous billing cycles. If you have unpaid balances in affect you are being charged interest on debt that has already been paid.

Here is an simple (and obvious ) example:

Imagine a cardholder who starts a billing cycle with zero balance, charges $1,000 on his or her credit card (on the 10th of the month) and makes a payment of $990 (on the first day of the next billing cycle). Balance of $10 is carried over to next month.

Under single-cycle billing, cardholder would be charged interest on the remaining balance of $10 (average daily balance).

Under double-cycle billing, cardholder would be charged interest on the full $1,000 from the previous month (Cycle 1) as well as, remaining balance of $10 (Cycle 2) or an average daily balance of $338.33. Again, you are being charged interest on debt that has already been paid.

If APR is 13.2%, periodic interest charges would be:

Single-cycle interest – $10 * 30 days * 0.0361643% (13.2/365) = $0.11

Double-cycle interest – $338.33 * 30 days * 0.0361643% (13.2/365) = $3.67

This practice, as well as “Universal Default” are two practices that over half of credit card companies are using (and abusing).
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What is the amount of Advanced Learn Burn Technology tax credit that I can claim for purchasing 2009 Jetta 2.0L TDI?
A: Maximum amount of credit for purchasing Jetta is $1300. This credit is only available on the first 60,000 vehicles sold before December 31, 2010. After the first 50,000 vehicles are sold, the credit begins to phase out. The Advanced Lean Burn Technology vehicle must be purchased, not leased. You must retain appropriate documents showing the purchase of the vehicle and the date of the delivery.

For additional information visit IRS web site at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=157632,00.html
Q: Finance, Tax Planning
What is Recovery Rebate Credit?
A: The recovery rebate credit is a one-time benefit for taxpayers that did not receive the full economic stimulus payment last year. You can add credit yourself to Form 1040 line 70, or let the IRS calculate it for you. This will either increase the amount of your tax refund or will lower the amount of taxes owed.
Q: Finance, Home Loans
What are mortgage (origination) points?
A: Points are an up-front fee you pay for obtaining a mortgage. Each point equals 1% of your loan amount. For example, a $300,000 mortgage with 1 points, means you have to pay $3,000. Some lenders add origination points into their quoted points while other lenders add an origination point in addition to their quoted points. You can get a no point mortgage if you are short of cash, but then the interest rate will be higher. Or you can pay more points to get a lower interest rate, which might make sense if you are planning on keeping your home for a long time.

Your origination fee (points), when buying a home or refinancing, are generally deductible on Schedule A form of your tax return. This is also the case with your mortgage interest.

Q: Finance, Personal Finance
What are some creative ways to save money?
A: You need to have a written plan. Make sure that you account for every dollar in and every dollar that goes out. As for your first idea, I would start with a savings jar. Begin by adding your pocket change.
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