Special rules apply to charitable donations for Haiti relief efforts:
If you make a qualified charitable contribution after January 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, for relief efforts associated with the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, you can treat the contribution as if it were made on December 31, 2009. As a result, if you itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, you can elect to claim the deduction for the Haitian relief contribution on your 2009 federal income tax return. To qualify, the contribution must be made in cash. To facilitate charitable donations made via text messages, a telephone bill showing the name of the organization, and the date and amount of the contribution, will satisfy charitable deduction recordkeeping requirements.
Time running out for first-time homebuyer's tax credit:
If you're in the market for a new home and hope to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, you'll need to purchase a principal residence before May 1, 2010 (or before July 1, 2010 if you enter into a written binding contract prior to May 1, 2010). If you--and your spouse, if you're married--did not own any other principal residence during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase, the credit is worth up to $8,000 ($4,000 if you're married and file separate returns). If you--and your spouse, if you're married--have maintained the same principal residence for at least five consecutive years in the eight-year period ending at the time you purchase a new principal residence, the credit is worth up to $6,500 ($3,250if you're married and file separate returns).
The credit is reduced if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds $125,000 ($225,000 if married filing a joint return) and is completely eliminated if your MAGI reaches $145,000 ($245,000 if married filing a joint return). You can't claim the first-time homebuyer tax credit if the purchase price of your principal residence exceeds $800,000. Other limitations and provisions also apply.
President's proposed 2011 budget offers Congress multiple initiatives:
The proposed 2011 budget submitted by President Obama offers multiple new initiatives, including several small business tax incentives, provisions intended to promote college affordability, and tax benefits targeting the middle class. The budget that ultimately emerges from Congress will likely differ significantly from that proposed by the President, but the proposed budget is valuable in that it provides a framework for discussion over the next few months. The proposed budget includes:
For businesses -- A new tax credit of $5,000 for each new hire made by an employer, a one-year extension of 2009 bonus depreciation and Section 179 expensing limits, and requirements for employers who do not offer retirement plans to implement automatic IRAs for employees.
For students -- Expanded Pell Grant limits, a permanent American Opportunity tax credit, and a proposal to strengthen income-based repayment plans for student loans (overburdened borrowers would pay only 10% of discretionary income in loan payments and remaining debt would be forgiven after 20 years).
For individual taxpayers -- A return of the top two marginal tax rates to 39.6% and 36% in 2011, and an expanded 28% tax bracket; a permanent extension of the current 0% and 15% rates on long-term capital gain, with a new 20% rate for higher-income individuals; permanent extension of the federal estate tax and the alternative minimum tax (AMT) rules and exemption amounts, at 2009 levels.
New credit card provisions effective this week:
The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 included several provisions that became effective on February 22, 2010. Some of these changes could affect you:
Credit card companies are prohibited from increasing annual percentage rates (APRs) that apply to existing balances unless (1) the index on which the rate is based changes, (2) the APR was a promotional rate that has expired, (3) you failed to comply with a hardship workout plan, or (4) you're more than 60 days past due on the account; if an increase in APR is the result of you falling 60 days past due on the account, the rate will be restored to what it was before the increase if you make timely minimum payments for six months.
If different APRs apply to separate portions of an outstanding balance, the amount of any payment beyond the minimum payment due must be applied to the portion of the balance with the highest APR.
If you're under age 21, you won't be able to get credit unless you have a cosigner over age 21 or can demonstrate an ability to repay the debt
You can't be charged an over-the-limit fee unless you authorize the credit card company to complete the transaction that causes the balance to exceed your credit limit.
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