2009 Money moves: Decrease your real estate taxes

Real estate taxes hit many taxpayers hard. The basis for your real estate taxes is the value of your home. A home with a higher value means higher property taxes.

Sounds simple, right? Well only if your property is assigned the correct value. Municipalities typically use some variant of "market value" when assigning a value to your home. Sometimes it's supposed to reflect actual market value. Other times it is supposed to be a certain percentage of market value.

As real estate values were rising, so were real estate tax assessments and the associated property taxes due. Now that the value of real estate has dropped dramatically in some areas, the assessments on properties are often no longer accurate. That means taxpayers are paying too much in property taxes.

Check with your municipality on when you can challenge your assessment. When you are next able to, file the appropriate paperwork. Be prepared, however, to prove to the assessor's office that your real estate has a lower value. You can do that by comparing it to similar properties that have recently sold in your neighborhood, the assessments of like properties near yours, or a recent appraisal of your property.

Getting a proper value assigned to your house can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. A little homework on property values can go a long way toward putting more money in your pocket.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

A Tax Filing Factsheet for eBay Sellers

You can find almost anything for sale on eBay, from a piece of fine art to clippings of Justin Bieber’s hair. So it's no surprise that the IRS doesn't view all sellers alike in the online marketplace. You may not have to pay tax at all if you are essentially hosting an online garage sale, but if you run your eBay account more like a business, you should be reporting your sales to the IRS.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Video: The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Explained

Originally created to make sure the wealthy paid taxes even after using tax breaks and loopholes, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) has never been updated and continues to impact middle class Americans more and more each year as a result of inflation. To compensate for inflation, the AMT now includes an exemption amount. This exemption is indexed for inflation so it changes every year.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Should You and Your Spouse File Taxes Jointly or Separately?

Married couples have the option to file jointly or separately on their federal income tax returns. The IRS strongly encourages most couples to file joint tax returns by extending several tax breaks to those who file together. In the vast majority of cases, it's best for married couples to file jointly, but there may be a few instances when it's better to submit separate returns.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Tax Tips for New College Graduates

Before you climb that first rung of the career ladder, there are some basic rules to understand about income taxes. Think of it as Taxes 101.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com
Read Full Story