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Personal Finance


Inflation Widens Tax Brackets & Changes Benefits

Adjustments for inflation announced Friday by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will increase personal exemptions and deductions, widen tax brackets and allow individuals to make larger tax-free gifts in 2006.

Reverse Mortgages in the Wake of Hurricane Disaster

Marketwatch reports that mortgage servicers are continuing to pay borrowers on their reverse mortgages but how long will they be able to say that in the face of the destruction in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? While these servicers pay out mortgage payments, they are holding their breath to see how the insurance coverage paid by borrowers respond to the disaster.The operative question is if the value of the reverse mortgage is based on the home that might have been destroyed in the storms or resulting destruction.

Making Contributions to Foreign Charities

“Charity begins at home” is a popular phrase often used to encourage donations to local charities. But for a nation nearly 1 million people immigrated to and more than half a million new American citizens were naturalized in 2004 alone, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics, home may not always be the United States. Even Americans who are born here may have strong connections to other countries or feel compelled to contribute to foreign charities in the wake of such disasters as tsunamis and earthquakes.
Community News

Public Sets High Standards for Nonprofits

Two recent surveys of perceptions of nonprofits, conducted before Hurricane Katrina, suggest some skepticism among donors and the public at large about large national charitable organizations. One survey, The Charitable Impulse, conducted by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research organization, surveyed two distinct groups.

Florida to Launch Model Medicaid Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced their approval for Florida to launch an “unprecedented demonstration” Medicaid program starting in July 2006 reports the Senior Journal. The program will be phased in starting in Broward (Fort Lauderdale) and Duval (Jacksonville) counties with a statewide implementation to follow.
Community News

Measuring Non-Profit Performance -- Self-Review & Charity Monitors

Member charities of the United Way of the Coastal Empire (Georgia) are receiving visits from volunteer internal inspectors during their fall campaigns, reports. Denise Oberlin, an inspector, accompanied Patti Lyons on a food delivery for Senior Citizen’s Inc. and was told that three out of four of the people served by the Agency were below the poverty level. Lyons also told Ms.

Employees to Mull New Trade-offs in 2006 Health Care Options

An array of new health care benefits have become available that may help employees plan for ever-increasing medical costs.Advertisement

IRS Grants Tax Favored Treatment for Early Distribution of Retirement Funds

Taxpayers who suffered losses resulting from Hurricane Katrina are being advised by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to be aware of recent changes in tax law providing for tax-favored withdrawals, reconstitutions and loans from certain retirement plans.Advertisement
Community News

Credit Abuse Resistance Education Program

The effects of new bankruptcy law have received considerable attention lately. Just as important, however, is educating people, especially young people, how to avoid bankruptcy. The Credit Abuse Resistance Education or C.A.R.E. Program is a national program founded by the U.S.

Resource Round-up: Bankruptcy Resources

Whenever a law is overhauled, there are changes to be explored and understood. Few changes, however, are as sweeping as those found in the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Deductions for Casualty Losses Offer Big Tax Benefits to Katrina Victims

Katrina victims who claim personal or business casualty losses may be entitled to large refunds on their original 2004 and 2005 returns or by filing an amended 2004 return.Advertisement

Social Security Increase Runs Short

The Social Security Administration announced a 4.1 percent cost of living adjustment for more than 52 million retired and disabled recipients last week. Checks will increase an average of $39 starting in January. This is the largest increase since the 5.4 percent advance in 1991. Last year’s increase was 2.7 percent.

Tax Filing Deadline Is Today

October 17 is the deadline for taxpayers who received an additional extension in August to file their 2004 federal income tax returns. Taxpayers in Presidentially-declared disaster areas including those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as well as an August tornado in Campbell County, Wyoming, have been granted additional time to file.

Record Numbers File for Personal Bankruptcy

Preliminary estimates report 200,000 personal bankruptcy filings during the final week before the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 becomes effective on October 17, according to Lundquist Consulting, a company that compiles bankruptcy statistics, MarketWatch reports.

Companies Combating ID Thefts while Consumers Check Credit Reports

Lost or stolen credit cards still account for a large percentage of identity thefts as do scams such as credit-card skimmers used at restaurants and ATMs, says Chris Thoms, chief risk officer at MasterCard International, according to These thefts can result from the consumer’s behavior. But well-publicized breaches of giant data systems like ChoicePoint, Bank of America and CardSystems Solutions could potentially affect 56.3 million people, MarketWatch reports.

New Tools Solve Complicated Requirements for Funds & Individual Investors

GainsKeeper®, part of Wolters Kluwer Corporate & Financial Services division, addes new tax reporting tools to its three industry-leading tax lot accounting suites – GKAdvisor™ used by funds, GKBrokerage™ for shareholders, and FundTax™ used by individual investors – in September.“Our tax lot accounting suites offer an automated solution designed to calculate key fund and investor figures, allowing both professionals and individual investors to spend significantly less time compiling and attempting to make calculations based on tax- relevant date,” Sanjeev Doss, GainsKeeper di

529 College Savings Plans Post Mediocre Returns

In an effort to prepare for the college costs and take advantage of potential tax savings, many American families are enrolling in state-sponsored prepaid tuition and college savings 529 plans. But 529 plans have not performed well in many states due to lackluster investment returns and relatively high fees, the LA Times reports. The most successful of California’s Golden State Scholarshare funds has been the guaranteed option – much like a savings account – which has paid 4.29 percent per year for five years.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans Rolling Out This Week

Beginning this week, Medicare beneficiaries should expect to receive mailings, emails and calls from telemarketers representing private insurers and health care companies, marketing their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. In California, Medicare enrollees will choose from 47 stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, including the 10 approved national plans, and another 113 Medicare Advantage Plans, reports.

CCH Capital Helps IRS Accurately Verify Investment Income

Have you ever wondered how the Internal Revenues Service (IRS) verifies the investment income reported by taxpayers on their returns? As of last week, the IRS will use the CCH® Capital Changes online database to conduct research, verify taxpayer returns or pursue audits of returns.CCH Capital Changes database contains information on more than 100,000 companies spanning more than 100 years and is considered the tax authority for accurate basis tracking and related tax issues involving equities in the U.S. and world capital market.

More College Savings: Textbook Deduction Proposed & Unclaimed Tuition Credits Found

After paying the steep costs of tuition, parents and students in American colleges face “shockingly high costs for textbooks in class after class, at school after school,” said Senator Charles Schumer of New York. Schumer has proposed making up to $1,000 of textbook costs tax deductible, his office announced. In addition, Senator Schumer is proposing a national textbook rental program, Newsday reports. Congress would offer $25,000 grants to colleges to conduct feasibility studies to see if a rental program would work for them.


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