Recent Divine Discussions

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Interesting Articles to Read

Here is some interesting articles that I found this weekend. Check them out. Remember, knowledge is key.

- All that money you've lost — where did it go?

- Decoding the Lingo of the Financial Crisis

- Don't panic!, and other words of wisdom from market vets


"Finally, I'll leave you with this gem from Nick Perry. "Take everyone, including me, with a grain of salt," he asserts. "This is just simple common sense. The advice given out in the media may come from a great source and be perfectly valid. However, you need to make sure it fits with your goals and risk tolerances."

- So the guy in charge of spending the $700 billion used to be a rocket scientist?! Great....

- A rare silver lining amid the chaos? Who would have ever thought that this was the way to lower gas prices.....

- CDs seem to be the way to go at the moment. Check out the top 100 high yield rates for 1 year cds

- Bailout goodies beyond Wall Street

by Kay Bell

Good news, taxpayers! Congress has adjourned!

Better news, taxpayers! Some popular tax breaks that affect those of us living far from Wall Street were included in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, otherwise known as the bailout bill.

While many folks are upset with the special provisions included in the bill, they also might be happy about some of them.

AMT patched: The alternative minimum tax, that nasty parallel tax that produces larger tax bills for millions of folks, was once again patched as part of the bailout package.

The biggest problem with the AMT is that it's not indexed for inflation. So Congress effectively took around 21 million folks off the AMT rolls by increasing the tax's 2008 exemption amounts to $46,200 for individuals and $69,950 for married filing jointly filers.

Extenders OK 'd: The extenders, those tax breaks that are reauthorized temporarily by lawmakers, were part of the package.

That means if you want to deduct your state and local sales taxes instead of state income taxes, you can. This tax break for itemizers goes through 2009.

Also extended for two years are the above-the-line tax breaks for tuition and fees and for some of the costs incurred by teachers and other educators who buy supplies for their classrooms. These adjustments can be claimed directly on Form 1040 or 1040A, meaning you don't have to itemize to get the benefits.

Special tax situations: The standard deduction for real property taxes for nonitemizers, up to $500 for single homeowners and $1,000 for married couples filing jointly, is now in effect through 2009.

And older IRA owners can once again directly roll distributions from those accounts to a qualified charity. This means they won't owe tax on the money that's transferred to the nonprofit. This donation option also goes through 2009.

Energy considerations: The energy portion of the new law includes renewed and expanded tax breaks for residential solar, wind and geothermal power. But most folks will take advantage of the easier-to-complete energy home improvements, such as adding insulation to walls and attics or putting in new thermal windows and doors. Even window film counts.

These home improvement tax breaks were part of the 2005 energy bill and expired at the end of 2007. Now they're back and good through 2009. That gives you this and next tax year to fix up the old homestead with some financial assistance from Uncle Sam.

Driving down fossil fuel usage: A couple of transportation tax and energy benefits also were part of the package.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles aren't widely available yet, but Capitol Hill wanted to make sure that when they are, we have a tax incentive to buy them. Not surprisingly, this vehicular credit is set up much the same way as the hybrid one. That means there's no one tax break.

The tax break starts with a base credit of $2,500 then adds additional tax break amounts based on the vehicle's battery pack capacity. The maximum credit could amount to of $7,500 for light-duty vehicles; that's most of us. It goes to $10,000 for vehicles with gross vehicle weights of more than 10,000 but less than 14,000 pounds, $12,500 for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 14,000 but less than 26,000 pounds and $15,000 for any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds.

And again like the hybrid tax break, the electric vehicle credit will phase out based on how many of the autos are sold.

Folks who rely on their bicycles to get to work also get a bit of break, but not for a few months.

Tax law already allows companies to provide workers with tax-free transportation fringe benefits, such as transit passes. This benefit will be extended to employees who commute by bicycle. Companies can start offering the new benefit of $20 per month on Jan. 1, 2009.

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