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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 14:18

Taxing reading

Written by Anne Powelson

Midsummer is upon us, and perhaps you've grown tired of frothy summer fare about spies, zombies and fashion models. If you're ready for a change of pace, here are three books related to U.S. taxation. Not a single one tells you how to fill out a form, but each is intriguing.

Charles O. Rossotti was the IRS Commissioner from 1997 to 2002. His book is 'Many Unhappy Returns: One Man's Quest to Turn Around the Most Unpopular Organization in America,' published in 2005 by Harvard Business School Press. Rossetti was instrumental in overhauling IRS procedures giving taxpayers more rights. It's nice to read about a time when the IRS was becoming more responsive to taxpayers, and how Rossetti hoped for future simplification of the tax code.

Wednesday, 06 August 2014 10:53

Back to school shopping

Written by Marion Syversen

Everyone is facing the same joy and dread of back to school and all the joys and hassles that accompany this time of transition.

One of the tasks for this time of year is preparing the wee ones with proper clothing and needed additional materials. This could mean anything from technology to undies. If you are running out of creative ways to stretch your budget, maybe these ideas will help.

  1. 1.) Take an inventory - Set aside an appropriate amount of time to completely look through what the kids have: clothes, shoes, boots, outwear, paper, notebooks, pencils, everything. (You may want to properly prepare by pouring yourself a cold adult beverage.) Another way to tackle this job with energy may be to enlist a buddy to work with you. If they help you, you'll go to their house and perform the same task so neither of you has to swim alone.
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 22:30

People on the Move

Written by Anne Powelson

Spring is moving time, as evidenced by vehicles jammed with possessions. I saw one pickup piled three layers high: first boxes, then a canoe, and on top, two sections of a green sofa. Now, I hope they weren't headed very far, but maybe you, or someone you know, is.

If you move over 50 miles for business reasons, your move may be deductible. This is true even if you are moving to take your first job or to return to work after not working for a significant period. Moving can even be deductible for self-employed people.

Tuesday, 03 June 2014 21:28

And the survey says

Written by Marion Syversen

We love a good story. We like hearing the stories of other people's lives, their heroics and their scandals.

I don't have a really great story for you this month, but I have surveys! I recently read the results of a couple of surveys about high net-worth investors that I thought would pique your interest. What are the rich doing and how are they feeling?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 22:22

Home sales and yard sales

Written by Anne Powelson

Spring is in the air and signs are on the lawns. But can a yard sale or a home sale impact your taxes?

First, let's talk about yard sales. Yard sales rarely create taxable income. Not because the government is generous - even found money is taxable but for a different reason. Yard sales are sales of personal goods, items you bought or were gifted. You are selling these items for less than you paid for them. Therefore, there is no gain to report, and a loss on personal use items is not allowed.

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 22:01

Graduates! Lend me your ear!

Written by Marion Syversen

You've spent years getting this shiny new degree, and now you have completed the thing towards which you have striven. Congratulations! Planning is not done, though, because now you are getting to start your beautiful adult life. We all want it to go well for you. Here are some tips to make your finances beautiful.

Budget Don't see a budget as a restriction. See it as FREEDOM! With a budget, YOU control your money life, instead of it dragging you from one crisis to another, with too much spending in the middle. Your life without a budget becomes crisis, overspending, crisis. Kind of like a crisis sandwich. Not very tasty. A budget is a roadmap of where your money goes. And if you have even a very simple budget, you can plan how to make the most of your cash making your life the happiest by planning your future and taking care of the past. 

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 22:41

Your fresh start

Written by Marion Syversen

I've had a few folks in my office recently discussing their budgets and one of the common problems is debt - being overwhelmed about it, not knowing how to tackle it. If you are feeling the same way, or just want to be renewed in your determination to make progress, here are some tips.

Understand the situation There is no need for fancy software or mad technical skills to grab hold of your money situation. All you need is a pad, a pen and the bills. Write the lender's name, the balance due and keep a list of minimum payments. If because of divorce or other life transitions you aren't sure if you are receiving all your bills - and you want to FULLY understand your debt situation get a copy of your credit report, for free, at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Open enrollment for individual insurance at Healthcare.gov is scheduled to close at the end of March. So now is a good time for a few reminders regarding the Affordable Care Act.

1.  There is NO penalty being assessed on current tax returns. I am still hearing of people afraid to do their 2013 taxes because they think they will need to pay a penalty. The mandate for individual health insurance begins in 2014. Penalties (also called the individual shared responsibility payment) are scheduled to begin in 2015 when the 2014 taxes are filed.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 17:43

What to expect with an advisor

Written by Marion Syversen

The sweetest people come into my office. They are smart and kind, and they are trying hard to do well in their lives and in how they manage their money.

But they worry. They worry that I will think they aren't smart because they don't know the 'lingo' of investments. They worry that I will talk over their heads. And they worry that I might conclude that they are doing everything wrong.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 18:08

Got student loans? Don't miss this credit in 2014

Written by Anne Powelson

Student loans are a common way to fund a college education; the average student loan debt for Maine's class of 2012 was $29,252. Wouldn't it be great if there was a program rewarding recent Maine graduates who are paying off student loans? Well there is - the Maine Opportunity Credit. This year it's better than ever.

What is the Maine Opportunity Credit? Maine Opportunity Credit is a credit on your Maine return, reimbursing you for student loan payments made. That's right, reimbursement of the entire student loan payment, not just the interest.

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