Tax Saving

Tax write offs for Sellers

last minute taxing filing tips

Happy end of tax season, everyone! We get it, you’re probably just about ready to wave goodbye to anything related to taxes. While this is fine for most Americans out there, quite a few should wait before they forget about taxes. People who are planning on selling their homes in the next several months, or have just recently sold their homes, should start preparing their tax plans now since there are several write offs in place that can save them quite a lot of money if they go about the process properly. For those who are planning on selling your homes soon, follow these tax tips so that you can maximize your 2019 return.

Understand exclusions

There is a major tax exclusion in place that benefits just about anyone who sells a house with only a few caveats. The first is that you must have lived in the house for two or more years within five years before you sell it. Second, you can’t have used this same exclusion on another property you sold within the past two years. Easy enough, right? Now here’s the exclusion.

Sellers don’t have to pay taxes on the first $250,000 of the sale if they’re filing as single, and don’t have to pay taxes on the first $500,000 of the sale if they file jointly. This is a fairly major tax break given the fact that the median cost of a home in the United States lies at around $200,000.

What if you don’t meet the requirements?

Luckily, the exclusion isn’t all-or-nothing in the regard that if you lived in the house for under two years, you may still be eligible for a portion of it. If you have a legitimate reason for why you had to sell the home so quickly, like job loss, deployment, or illness, then you may only have to pay taxes proportionate to how long you’ve lived there. For instance, if you’ve lived there for a year, and you’re filing as single, then you’d have to pay taxes on anything over $125,000 (half of $250,000), since one year is half of two years.


Other write offs to look out for

In addition to this exclusion, which is already pretty substantial, there are several tax write offs for sellers that can work in your favor!


  • Real estate agent commission: Real estate agents make money off of the commision from the sale, which you can normally write off when filing!
  • Closing costs: If you hired a titling company to assist with the closing, the associated costs count as a write-off.
  • Advertising: If you paid money to advertise that your home was on the market, you can write those expenses off!


In the rare case that you decided to go the seller financing route, or directly lending to the person who is purchasing your house, you may be eligible for several more tax benefits, so be sure to consult with a financial advisor if you go this route.

Finance Wand exists to help you understand finances and benefit from this knowledge! Whether you’re selling your home or not, we suggest you stay on top off all things tax related. It’ll only help you in the long run.

Know the Usage of E-Filing Income Tax Return


Filing income tax return is as important as paying your income tax. E-filing your income tax return is one of the best ways to have an authentic proof of your income. Moreover, regularly filing ITR also helps you create a good record with the Income Tax Department of India.

It is a must-do task for every individual to pay their income tax and file income tax return within the provided time every financial year. By doing this you can avoid the stress and embarrassment of receiving notices issued by the Income Tax Department of India.

Besides this, being tax-compliant has other benefits, like if you want to take a loan -for a vehicle, a house, higher education, etc.- then you will have to provide the receipts of your income tax return to process the loan. In case, you haven’t filed your ITR for 3 continuous years then the bank will not provide a loan.

Apart from this, a delay while e-filing income tax return can create many other problems too. According to the Income Tax Act of India, the basic limit of exemptions provided is Rs 2,50,000, for senior citizens the exemption limit is Rs 3,00,000, and for very senior citizens Rs 5,00,000 is the maximum limit of exemption. Thus, if one’s income is higher than these limits then it is mandatory for them to file income tax return. With the help of online income tax filing process, one can file ITR in a very simple and hassle-free way.

E filing Income tax return is very important and is beneficial in many different ways. Further, in this article, we have given some insight on some of the benefits of filing income tax return.

Tax Refund-

Many organizations deduct tax at source (TDS) on the salary earned by the employees. The tax deducted at source often exceeds one’s tax liability and the employee can avail tax refund on it. But, without filing their income tax returns, the employees won’t be able to receive the tax refund. And, without a proof of your income tax return, the income tax department will not be able to process the tax refund. So, it is very important to e-file ITR in order to avail your refund.

To Get Loans-

As mentioned above, filing income tax return helps an individual to take loans as all major banks ask for a copy of income tax return while giving a loan to any individual. The State Bank of India asks loan applicants for either a recent salary slip which has all the deduction, TDS / IT form 16, or a copy of the last two financial years’ ITR. Moreover, showing an ITR receipt copy is also helpful if the application of the loan is rejected or if an individual is not getting the required amount of loan.

To Carry Capital Losses Forward-

Capital losses in a fiscal year are adjusted against capital gains made in the subsequent years. If you don’t file your income tax return, you will be unable to carry over any short term and long term losses. A long-term loss can be carried over for the next consecutive eight years. In a financial year, the long term capital losses can only be adjusted against long-term capital gains. Contrary to this, short-term capital loss can be adjusted alongside both short as well as long-term capital gain.

Processing One’s Visa-

If a person wants to apply for a visa to travel overseas, then he/she is required to showcase the ITR receipts of the last few years to the foreign consulates during the visa interview. The income tax return receipt legitimizes the individual’s source of income in India and strengthens the case for visa approval. While traveling abroad either for business or leisure trip it is always suggested by experts to keep the income-related proof at hand, along with one’s salary slip, ITR receipt and Form 16. In most cases, the requirement of income tax proof is specified by the consulates.

Purchasing a High Life Cover

In today’s day and age, buying a high life coverage, be it of Rs. 50 lakh or Rs. 1 crore has become very common. However, in order to avail a life coverage so high, one needs to verify the annual ITR documents. Almost all the major life insurance providers, especially LIC, ask for a receipt of one’s ITR if an individual wants to buy a term insurance policy with Rs 50 lakh or more as the sum assured.


All self-employed individuals like consultants, businessmen, and partners of a firm do not use form 16. Thus, the receipt of Income Tax Return becomes much more important and a valuable document for them, under the condition that their yearly income exceeds the basic deduction limit of Rs 2.50 lakh.
For all types of financial transactions, income tax return receipt is the only income proof and tax payment for the self-employed.

Wrapping it up!!

Don’t wait until the last minute to file your online income tax return. Even if you think that you will not face any difficulty filing income tax return in the last moment, you can make silly mistakes and can miss important information. So, as you pay your income tax regularly, you should file your income tax return before the completion of the financial year.

Tax tips and advices from Sallie Mae for 2017 financial year

We are pretty aware of the fact that the tax season is already in full swing and the nation’s planning, saving and paying-for-college company, Sallie Mae now advises students and their families to investigate the often-overlooked tax credits of higher education. There are several educational deductions and tax credits which are available to recuperate the costs of college expenses like fees, tuition costs and interest which are accrued through student loans. The ultimate goal is to comprehend what is available, what determines eligibility and to take the right steps to make sure no money is left on the table.

The easy-to-follow flowchart of Sallie Mae can assist students and their families to determine the eligibility criteria for different tax credits and tax deductions. Check out what you may get.

? Student loan interest deduction: The students who borrow education loans can be eligible to up to $2,500 in student loan interest deductions to avoid paying tax on their income. This feature is available for both federal and private student loans which are in repayment. Single filers can get a modified adjusted gross income of less than $80,000 and those who have a gross income less than $160,000 can also qualify for deduction.

? The American Opportunity Credit: The eligible tax payers can qualify for maximum annual credit of $2500 for every student for the initial 4 years of high education. However, for you to be eligible, you have to be enrolled for around half the time in any degree course or other educational course. You can apply for the credit to course-related books and other supplies besides fees and tuition costs. The married filers with adjusted gross income of $160,000 will be eligible for full-credit.

? Fees and tuition deduction: Families and students can claim up to $4,000 in costs for higher education to avoid income subject to tax. This is a deduction which has been taken as an adjustment to income and after this the person doesn’t need to itemize other deductions. Families can claim a single credit for the same student in a single year and they can’t take both deduction and credit in the similar year.

? Lifetime learning credit: The eligible taxpayers can qualify till $2,000 per tax return to be able to pay for graduate, undergraduate and professional degree courses including those that have been designed to boost job seeking skills. There isn’t any limit on the total number of years a person can claim this credit. It is available to taxpayers with modified adjusted gross of less than $65,000 or jointly $1,31,000. The amount of credit is reduced for single filers.

There is more information available on education tax credits and that is available through Internal Revenue Service Publication 970, tax benefits for education or through personal tax advisor. As long as paying for college is concerned, Sallie Mae advises families to first maximise money which doesn’t need to be repaid like grants and scholarships, then explore federal loans and then consider private educational loan.


One Nation One Tax, GST – Who goes up and what went down!


Goods and Services Tax

After the passage of the GST Bills last week in the Lok Sabha, the biggest tax reform in India, Goods and Services Tax is all ready to come to light very soon. This is touted to be a reform which would possibly reduce transaction costs of business by creating a single nationwide market, which GST is anticipated to offer. One Nation, One Tax as the tagline of GST goes, this tax slab is meant for bolstering economic growth.

Prospects of GST will increase Gross Domestic Product by 2%, at least for the short term and it may emerge as a mixed bag for common men. While the majority of the services might turn out to be costlier than before, it may even be a jumble for various goods. In the long run, GST will have a favorable impact on the majority of the sectors in the Indian economy. Let’s take a look at the predicted impact of GST on the pocket of a layman.

Few services which will become costlier

A layman should, until the time the industries don’t pass the benefit of increased credits, the budget for few increased pocket pricking on few essential devices like:

  • Mobile bills
  • Investment management and banking services
  • Renewal premium for life insurance policies
  • Basic luxuries for common like DTH services, Wi-Fi and online ticket booking can also become more expensive

Prices of these services will also possibly increase:

In the backdrop of current exemptions subsiding, there are many essential services which can cost you an arm and a leg under the new regime of GST. For instance, the present exemptions will be discontinued.

  • Health care
  • Residential rent
  • School fees
  • Courier services
  • Commuting by rail or metro will also become costlier

Services to get cheaper in majority of the states

  • As entertainment taxes get included in GST, prices of movie tickets and theatrical performances can become cheaper in majority of the states
  • Dining in hotels and restaurants can also soon become wallet-friendly in majority of the states

Essential goods and specific categories of vehicle will be cheaper

In terms of goods, a lower rate will be prescribed for necessary goods, GST is expected to improve the house economics as a whole. Under the GST regime, depending on the present supply chain arrangement can become cheaper:

  • Entry-level sedan
  • Two-wheelers
  • Luxury of premium cars and SUVs

Sin goods and aerated drinks prices will probably jump

The government aligned with its negative outlook as it proposed higher taxes on sin goods which definitely includes cigarettes, aerated drinks, and other tobacco products. An even higher rate of 40% is proposed on aerated drinks and the same can be witnessed in the increase in prices.

While the above predictions are mostly based on the information that is released, we have to wait for the final fitment structure to be released by the government where it sets categorized rates on different goods.


How President Trump’s Tax Cuts Could Affect the Stock Market

Stock MarketThe 45th President of the United States, DonaldJ. Trump, famously said he would do “great things” during his first 100 days in office. A major fiscal policy announcement was therefore widely anticipated before the end of this critical initial period for the new administration.

On Wednesday, April 26th, President Trump announced his plan for tax cuts, but uncertainty remains as to how he plans to balance the books. Of course, congressional approval is needed before the plan can be enacted, but with the largest Republican majority in almost 90 years, the President should be able to achieve this signature reform.

Investors and brokers such as always need to be prepared for major political and economic announcements, since they can often increase market volatility. The prices of key commodities, indices, and currency pairs are often strongly affected by these kinds of events, and traders should be ready to calculate how public opinion can drive market movements.

When trading stocks or ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds), which track the overall worth of a stock index, it’s important to monitor the strength of the economy as a whole. President Trump’s tax cuts are clearly designed to have a major impacton the U.S. economy by making it easier to start small businesses, traditionally seen as the backbone of the country.

The President’s tax cuts are also designed to boost employment by large corporations. Reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% is intended to encourage labour force participation, which could then generate incentives for foreign companies to do more business in the United States, benefiting the American economy.The idea is to create a ‘virtuous circle,’ whereby companies make more money because they are paying less in taxes, spurring investors to put more money into the stock market.

President Trump also spoke about lowering dividend and capital gains taxes to 20%. This would make stocks more attractive to traders, who might then invest more money in the markets.

If bothCongress and the Senate approve the plan, it would be widely seen as a blessing for those with extensive stock portfolios. However, the long-term effect might be to widen the American trade deficit and drive up interest rates, which would then negatively impact the markets.

Common Tax Problems And How To Handle Them

IRS Building - Washington, D.C.

From Flickr

Christmas is just around the corner, and that means soon we’re going to be a mere four months away from tax season. For the heads of large, multi-national corporations, this is just another period of the calendar. However, for small business owners, it’s a time where all kinds of headaches and difficulties spring up. If you’ve recently had a look at your books, you may realize that there are storm clouds on the horizon. Here are some solutions to some of the most common business tax problems.

Inability to Pay your Debt

From The Blue Diamond Gallery

You’d be surprised at the amount of business owners who make one or two bad calls in their cash flow management, and end up being simply unable to pay what they owe to the IRS. This is an exceedingly frustrating position to be in for obvious reasons, and can often be the start of various other problems that will do even more damage to your finances. If you find yourself in this position, then offering a compromise could be the answer to your tax dilemma. Here, you hire the help of a tax professional to negotiate with the IRS on your behalf, who will hopefully be able to settle your debt for considerably less than what you actually owe.

Levies and Liens

Account levies, and federal tax liens, are particularly aggressive actions that the IRS can take in order to penalize you, and then collect the sum that you owe without you having to pay the IRS directly. This tax lien will be a serious black mark on your credit score, and make it close to impossible for you to obtain any kind of loan in the future. An account levy, on the other hand, will permit the IRS to draw money directly from your financial accounts. Again, the solution to this issue will usually depend on some professional assistance and representation. Depending on certain aspects of your business’s cash flow and your personal credit history, a tax professional may be able to reverse these actions by the IRS, and outline a plan for you to address your tax debt issues.

Interest and Penalties

If you miss a tax deadline, even if it’s your first offense, you’ll immediately start to incur interest and penalties from the IRS. Therefore, if your back taxes have gone unpaid for some time, you probably would have amassed a significant amount of tax debt already. Like with any kind of debt, the longer you take to pay it off, regardless of what it takes to keep your business afloat, the larger your debt will become overall. The best solution for significant penalties and interest is what’s known as penalty abatement. Here, a negotiator or attorney will be able to reduce your penalties, and therefore grind down your overall debt significantly. If there’s been a mistake by the IRS, administrative waivers, or you can demonstrate reasonable cause to qualify for abatement, then there could be a light at the end of the tunnel!

Vital tax breaks that every first-time homebuyer should be aware of in 2017

The wallets of majority of Americans are in great shape since the Great Economic Recession. With steadier job security and higher pay, tax perks for homeowners, especially for the novices can make the entire prospect of homebuying more attractive. Homeownership is special as it offers tax breaks which renters don’t have and this is being considered as the best time to buy a home, tax-wise.


Image via Flickr

For the prospective homeowners, a house is more than an asset which can help them cut down their tax liabilities. First-time homebuyers should be aware of the credits and the housing tax deductions which can help them save thousands of dollars and waive off the homeownership costs. Though you may require a little more paperwork to claim these benefits but at the end of the day the savings that you make is worth the effort. Irrespective of whether you bought your home for the first time or you’re planning to do so in the coming year, here are some tax breaks to retain more money in your wallets.

? Mortgage payment interest deduction

Perhaps the biggest tax break which you can get after purchasing a home is the mortgage interest deduction. This is a deduction which covers interest which is paid up to $1 million worth of mortgage loans and this is of particular benefit to borrowers who are new with their mortgages as they have to pay more interest rate initially. As the way in which loan amortization works, the initial payments will be towards highest ratio of interest to principal and hence you will receive a major part of the tax benefit then and there. However remember that the homeowner will have to file an itemized tax return to claim the mortgage interest payment deduction.

? Mortgage Points Deduction

This is not only the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage every month that qualifies for a tax deduction. Majority of the homeowners miss out on the deduction of points which are paid to secure a home loan. Mortgage points are prepaid interest which qualifies the borrower for a low rate throughout the life of the loan. Since it is a payment against interest, it qualifies for itemized deductions.

? Mortgage credit certification

The Mortgage Credit Certification Program can offer yet another opportunity for the first-time homebuyers to get tax perks on their mortgage interest. As per the IRS, this program has been introduced with the aim of helping low-income individuals afford home loans. This is not like a deduction which reduces your taxable income. This credit directly counts against the tax bill that you owe and lowers whatever amount is taxable. This is a cool program indeed but at the same time it is not much known among the prospective homebuyers. In order to grab this credit, you would require qualifying for Mortgage Credit Certificate by either your local or state government.

? Real Estate Tax Deduction

Taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Schedule A are even eligible for deducting real estate taxes that are paid on their primary and secondary residences. There are certified financial planners who say that you can also deduct real estate taxes, provided you pay them within the year on which you file them. One more thing is that the tax that you pay should be for a home that you own as you can’t claim taxes which are paid on a property belonging to someone else.

Owning a home of your own is definitely a huge part of the American dream. Almost all Americans nurture the dream of owning their own home, no matter how costly the affair may be. Fortunately, the IRS still has several homeowner tax benefits which assist families in buying a home with ease.


FutureAdvisor gives you an edge over your investment advisor – Know how

Setting up your brokerage account and paying for your retirement plan may seem quite challenging at times. It’s often not feasible to consult a financial advisor, although you may find it hard to tackle the situation. FutureAdvisor is a brand new site that comes with an efficient wealth management platform for you. Unlike all online wealth management tools that you come across, it doesn’t charge you with anything upfront.

All of your financial complexities can be addressed by this website once you link accounts that are attached with your wallet. Such complexities may arise out of your inability to identify funds that aren’t performing well or finding how much you’re bearing in terms of brokerage fees. By keeping an eye on your long-term investments and other associated transactions, this platform makes it easier for you to handle a number of things.

Why use FutureAdvisor?


All investment accounts that you possess can be linked with the wealth management tool provided by FutureAdvisor. Your time horizon and risk tolerance are a few important factors that you need to submit while registering with this website. You may also manually report investments or cash holdings to be evaluated, including your 401(k) accounts. This way, all your holdings may be considered by FutureAdvisor when generating your free personalized portfolio recommendations.

Their managed service includes tax loss harvesting, automatic rebalancing, and access to a human financial advisor.  They also assist with opening new accounts or transferring existing accounts, taxable or retirement, to one of their brokerage partners, Fidelity or TD Ameritrade.  The best part is that your managed accounts always remain in your name and if you decide to cancel their service, they simply remove their ability to manage your accounts.  No liquidating, no fees, no hassles.

What happens when you register with FutureAdvisor?

Your risk profile and your current investments are considered by FutureAdvisor who develops custom recommendations after you’ve registered with their service. Your portfolio is analyzed by this site after taking into consideration a few other factors like your other investments, risk tolerance and age. When it’s time for you to pull things up to a new high, the site sends alerts on the basis of your portfolio.

Most users of FutureAdvisor don’t need to stretch it any further. In case you require more guidance due to a complex portfolio, you may sign up for their plan that’s based on a fee.

FutureAdvisor monitors your portfolio 24×7, will automatically rebalance as markets fluctuate and provides you access to a financial advisor. You may call your financial advisor as often as you like to discuss any concerns, monetary needs, performance, strategy, etc.  They don’t charge anything for providing professional advice and they only charge 0.5% of all managed assets for investment management.

FutureAdvisor is certainly a better option when:

You choose automated harvesting of tax-loss without even $100K in your account. Such service is usually provided to accounts showing $100K or more.

You wish balance your portfolio for all accounts instead of just those that are managed by the automated advisor. Only the managed accounts can be aggregated by Wealthfront. FutureAdvisor remains accountable for holdings in plans that are sponsored by the employee, while balancing via accounts that are managed directly.

You Wish to DIY. You may avail the FutureAdvisor services for free regardless of the balance that you have in your account. It will help you to execute trades that are suggested for you. The competitors of FutureAdvisor don’t allow their users to opt out of their suggestions.

Regardless of whether the investors want the FutureAdvisor software to execute its suggestions on their behalf or they choose to execute it on their own, the software has some quality suggestions for all investors. FutureAdvisor empathizes with all investors that follow a predetermined budget. You must explore this option if you need simple execution and cost-effective investment advice.

Alternatives to Keeping an Annuity or Structured Settlement

annuity plansAnnuities and structured settlements come into our lives in a variety of ways, not just those that are within our control. Structured settlements are usually awarded to plaintiffs before a case is taken to court. If the two parties are able to come to an agreement (and you are the plaintiff), you may find yourself with a structured settlement, a financial package awarded at intervals, to act as income and steady restitution for a wrong. Some plaintiffs receive funds in a lump sum, but most get a structured reward model. While many prefer this, others find that the small amount of funds released monthly is not enough to cover the sometimes-accelerated living expenses that accompany the time periods surrounding lawsuits. For instance, you may have sued the other party in the first place because you were injured or unable to work. You may have hospital bills and lawyer fees to consider. Just because you were awarded a settlement doesn’t mean you’re “out of the woods” yet.

Annuities are similar, but are organized with intention, long before they ever go into effect. You or a loved one will have made monthly payments for many years in order to have a lot of funds reserved for a day when you won’t be working or at least not as much. You’ll need funds to be released on a monthly basis to act like income and meet your material needs, often during retirement.

Both of these products are great, as long as your material needs are predictable and steady, and as long as they put out funds in sufficient amounts that you can at least make ends meet. But oftentimes, a need or goal will emerge in your life that costs more than you are able to afford with an annuity or structured settlement. Because you don’t want to take on expensive debt or borrow through other means, the most convenient way to finance your goal may be by selling your structured settlement or annuity.

Structured Settlement and Annuity information is available from many companies who would love to buy your product. They do this by offering you a quote that is less than the real value of your settlement or annuity. You get the convenience of a lump sum payment, and the flexibility that it offers you in your financial life. The company gets the benefit of having received a financial product worth more than they paid for it. Because they buy many, they have the further benefit of time, always able to wait for more payments to emerge.

There are obvious pros and cons to this arrangement, as well as regulations for how the transaction may occur. You are not allowed to sell a structured settlement or annuity for just any reason. The sale has to benefit your financial life in specific ways, like increasing your earning potential by allowing you to further your education, funding the down payment on a new house, or paying off a high interest debt. You’ll want to talk to your financial professional about alternatives to the sale of your structured settlement or annuity, and to see if this model is right for you. But if it is, the sale should be able to benefit your life in meaningful ways.

5 Tips for Filing Your Own Taxes

Tax season is here again and everyone is being faced with the grueling task of getting their taxes done on time. This is a task that many people dread every single year, but of course, everyone also looks forward to their return. This time of year, the question often comes up whether or not to do your own taxes. More often than ever before, people are choosing to do their own taxes this year.

There are a lot of reasons a person might to choose to file their own taxes. There are a lot of benefits to doing one’s own taxes in addition to saving money. So many simple tools like e-filing with TurboTax have allowed people to get bigger returns and avoid waiting in line for someone to help them with their tax prep. However, filing taxes alone for the first time can be a scary experience for anyone. Here are five tips to help first-timers file their own taxes.

5 Tips for Filing Your Own TaxesCollect all the right forms first

Finding all the necessary forms for taxes is half the battle. People who have a lot of different forms of income or have made a lot of purchases that will count as deductions may need to take some extra time to make sure they have all the right documentation. These documents will give them all the information that they need for their taxes, making the rest of the process a breeze.

Do not leave out any deductions

Deductions are what get people the biggest returns and make doing taxes that much more rewarding. Everyone should search high and low to make sure they do not leave out any deductions. The best part about using software like TurboTax is that it will help anyone find all the deductions that they may not have thought of on their own. This can range from equipment purchased for a business to charity donations.

Assets can change a lot

In addition to normal deductions, a person’s assets can change a lot about how big their return is. Everyone should make sure that not only all of their assets are listed in their tax reports, but also that those assets have been listed correctly. Making a mistake here could mean a much smaller return or even more taxes to pay.

Have another set of eyes check it over

For people who are filing their taxes alone for the first time, it might be a good idea to have someone else look over them before submitting it. TurboTax software often will do double checks for people, but having another look by someone is beneficial to make sure everything was entered in correctly, so that a person does not make the same mistakes the next year.

Get an extension when needed

Because doing taxes alone can be a big task for the first time, it might be necessary for some people to get an extension on their due date for the first year. Extensions can be applied for to help people make sure they have done everything correctly to get the best end result.


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