Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where do refunds come from?

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Where do refunds come from?  Good question!
Cori at Convenient Tax Service put together a list of questions she gets asked most often about taxes.  Here are the Top Ten tax questions answered!

What should I claim at work? Form W-4 is the form where you instruct your employer what to withhold on your paycheck for Federal and State income taxes. The “right” withholding depends on several factors but a general rule of thumb is to start with your tax filing status and number of children.

Once you indicate the filing status “single” or “married”, if you would like a higher refund at the end of the year claim less exemptions. If you want a lower refund claim more. Note: If you are married you need to coordinate your W-4 with that of your spouse to be sure you are not “double claiming” the same number of exemptions or you may find yourself under withheld and in a balance due situation when it comes in making out your tax return.

What to withhold is an art more than a science in the sense that there are many factors that affect whether you get money at the end of the year. Whatever changes you make, we recommend making small changes and seeing if you like the outcome when it comes to your bottom line taxes.

What is the difference between a 1040, 1040A and a 1040EZ. As a general rule, if you own a home, a business or rental property you will need to file the 1040 or “long form.” The 1040EZ is strictly to be used by taxpayers with only W-2 income and no dependents. The 1040A is for everyone in the middle.

The best advice is that if you are unsure which form is for you, go for the 1040. There are more “lines” to ignore but it will help to be sure you catch any deductions you may be entitled to but aren’t aware of already.

What State form goes with the Federal? The State of Wisconsin designed their State forms to fit perfectly with the corresponding Federal forms. For example, taxpayers filing a 1040 or “long form” should be careful to use the WI1. Why does it matter? If you don’t use the right form you will not be able to claim credits on the State that correspond to specific lines on the proper Federal form. 1040A uses the WIA and 1040EZ should use WIEZ.

Save money by using Goodwill online donation chart to maximize your contributions. Charitable donations are still a very important tax write off when utilized according to the IRS guidelines. Typically they are only the most valuable to taxpayer who also itemize their deductions, but it is a good habit to get into keeping track of this deduction. The value of non-cash items such as clothing, toys, furniture, etc. – the type of stuff you drop off at Goodwill and get a slip for – are able to be deducted from your taxable income in certain circumstances. To put a value on these items go to Goodwill.com and download a free Donation Value Guide to help give a value to the items you give away.

I am married, should I file married or separate? Generally speaking, Married Filing Separate or MFS tax status is not the same as filing as a single person. For most couples, the tax code is set up to favor Married Filing Joint or MFJ over MFS. In fact, many of the credits are cut in half or even eliminated when a couple files MFS.

It is worth noting that for some taxpayers this filing status makes sense to protect one spouse from the tax debt of the other spouse. This requires analysis and further discussion.

I got married late in the year, do I file as Single or Married Filing Joint? The IRS (and State) consider your marital status on December 31, 20xx as your status for the year. Even if you married on the last day of the year you are only able to file as either Married Filing Joint or Married Filing Separate (which is in general a “penalty status” in that you lose key deductions). Exceptions apply for couples living apart for the last 6 months of the year.

How can I get the most money back on taxes? The money you receive as a refund is determined by several factors including number of dependents, whether or not you own a home and number of credits such as education, child care, etc. that you can claim. A general rule of thumb for all taxpayers, though is that the less an employee claims on the W-4, the more they will receive back as a refund on their taxes.

Note: If you want a higher refund but don’t want to make big changes to your paycheck, file a new W-4 with your payroll department and request an additional $10 - $30 bucks taken out of your check. It won’t “hurt” all the much in small increments but will add up over the year. Think of using the IRS as a “forced savings” plan – with no interest, of course.

What is my tax bracket? The questions really should be “what are my tax brackets” since the IRS taxes our income on a graduated basis – meaning a portion of our income is taxed at 10% up to a certain amount (depending on filing status) and then it “goes into” the next bracket of 15%. The biggest tax jump is from a tax of 15% to the next tier of 25%. Your “tax bracket” technically refers to the top number of tax you pay on your income – either 0%, 10%, 15% or 25%. For some taxpayers 28% or more but most taxpayers tap out between 15% & 25%.

How do I pay less tax? How much you pay in taxes has many factors including marital status, number of dependents, whether or not you own a home and the credits you can claim. In general terms, the two best ways to maximize your refund (by paying less tax) is to maximize your deferred compensation options (if you have it) through your employee to lower your actual taxable income and by taking full advantage of the Schedule A Itemized Deduction form.

Deferred Compensation: Deferring your income to a time when you are in a lower tax bracket (ie: when you are retired) can save 10% - 25% or more on every dollar you can without now. In addition that money grows tax free.

The Schedule A Itemized Deductions for charitable deductions are often “underutilized” in the sense that many taxpayers are more generous during the year in donating cash and non cash items without tracking. It is important to follow IRS guidelines for donations but taxpayers who itemize can save 10% – 25% on every dollar of value they donate. It may be an incremental but important deduction.

Can I claim my child once they are over 18? One of the most misunderstood deductions is oddly enough one of the most frequently used – especially when children reach the ages or 17 – 20 or so. Generally speaking, your child can be on your tax return as your dependent up until the year they turn 19 (whatever their age is on December 31, 20xx) unless they are a full time student for at least one half of the year. If they are a student they can be considered as a deduction until the year they turn 24 (again, whatever their age on December 31, 20xx). You can still claim a child who is over 19 if they are either permanently and totally disabled or have very low income.

If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to Cori at Convenient Tax Services for a very affordable, convenient, and friendly experience!

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Save 10% on a Bed & Breakfast Gift Card!

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Save 10% + Get Free Godiva Chocolates!

If you would like to plan a romantic getaway you might want to consider a Bed & Breakfast!  You don't have to go far there are a number right in the Milwaukee Area! Check out the Brumder Mansion or Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfasts both located in Milwaukee!  I did not know those were Bed & Breakfasts.  Also check out Washington House Inn in Cedarburg or The Inn at Pine Terrace in Oconomowoc.  They would all be a great choice.  I really want to stay at a Bed & Breakfast.  I keep hinting. :)
Check out the deals you can get from BedandBreakfast.com.


 Valentine's Day Gift Card Sale* Promo code: BBLOVE10
* $200 minimum purchase
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                                                    * Expires on February 14, 2012


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NEW COUPONS!!! M&M's, Clearasil and Schick Extreme!

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Join the American Family Community and you could win $50,000

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American Family

Still paying off your holiday bills?  Join the American Family Community and be entered to win the $50,000 cash sweepstakes. 

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Turbo Tax Federal Edition FREE

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TurboTax - Do your taxes for Free
It's tax time again!  Try TurboTax Federal Free Edition for FREE! It’s easy to E-file and direct deposit for you FASTEST refund.

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P.F. Chang's: FREE Lettuce Wraps

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Head over and sign up for P.F. Chang’s Warrior Rewards email list.  You will get a coupon for a free order of Lettuce wraps sent to your inbox (may take up to 24 hours for the email to go through).
I love the Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang's...I could make a meal out of just that!

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RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles Coming to the Milwaukee Theatre 3/1

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The internationally-acclaimed Beatles concert, RAIN –  A Tribute To The Beatles, returns to the Milwaukee Theatre for one show only on Thursday, March 1, at 7:30 P.M. Tickets for “RAIN –  A Tribute To The Beatles” are on sale now.

As “the next best thing to seeing The Beatles!” (Associated Press), RAIN performs the full range of The Beatles' discography live onstage, including the most complex and challenging songs that The Beatles themselves recorded in the studio but never performed for an audience. Together longer than The Beatles, RAIN has mastered every song, gesture and nuance of the legendary foursome, delivering a totally live, note-for-note performance that is as infectious as it is transporting. From the early hits to later classics (I Want To Hold Your Hand, Hard Day’s Night, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Let It Be, Come Together, Hey Jude and more), this adoring tribute will take you back to a time when all you needed was love, and a little help from your friends!

Tickets are $75, $63, $48 and $33 (including facility fee) and can be purchased at the Milwaukee Theatre box office at 500 W. Kilbourn Ave. (open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), via ticketmaster.com or by charge at 1-800-745-3000. Convenience fees may apply.

For more information about RAIN – a Tribute to the Beatles, please visit here!


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Disney Store: PJ Pals as low as $5.99

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Head over to Disney Store because right now they are having a great sale on PJ Pals!  You can score PJ Pals for boys and girls for only $5.99!  I love these Marvel Superheroes one and I know my sons will, too!  These would make great Easter basket fillers!  Just type in "PJ Pals" in the search box in order to find the selection!

Use code SHIPTODAY to get FREE shipping over $75.00!

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The Body Shop (THIS ENDS SOON!), Paint Your Own Pottery, Horseback Riding and Bowling!

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$10 for $20 to spend at The Body Shop!   (You will need to look at the bottom of the page.)
I bought this!!!  I love their fragrances. :)
I will be heading to Mayfair soon. :)

You can also still get...
$10 for $20 worth of Paint your own pottery at Just Kiln' Time
$40 for two horse back riding lessons or four lessons and a USPA Membership for $115
$20 for two games of bowling and shoe rental for up to 4 people ($40 value) at Olympic Lanes


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Check out the Silly Souls children's clothing on Totsy...

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There are some great deals on Totsy.  I really like the Silly Souls store, I think this onesie is a hoot.  It would be cute for a baby shower. :)  It is only $6.75!
Check out the other great deals too!


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Boboli - Original Pizza Crust Review...check out my delicious pizza...

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Betsy and I received a Boboli Original Pizza Crust in the mail to try out.


We have had them on several occasions, and decided to go with one of our favorite pizza combinations, Chicken Bacon Ranch.  Here is what you will need.


Begin by preheating your oven to 450 degrees.  Remove the crust from the package, I have always found them to be soft and ready for baking.


Spread as much of the ranch dressing over the crust as you would like.  Evening it out with a spoon.


Then add as much cheese as you want, making sure the cover the dressing.


Then add your pizza toppings, here is Betsy doing just that.


And look at what a good job she did, I think she might have a future in this.


Then put your pizza right on the oven rack and bake for 8-10 minutes, watching for the cheese to melt and the crust to turn golden brown.


Then just slice and enjoy.

The crust always turns out crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and is always delicious.  I highly recommend them as a dinner option.

Boboli has many different crust options, including thin, wheat, and personal sized.  Making pizza at home is easy and fun, and Boboli makes it even easier.  Also, homemade pizza can be a great way to involve any kiddos you may have in the dinner making process.

I hope you give them a try.

Thanks for reading.

-Mr. Betsy


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Victorious​: The Complete Second Season -- 2-Disc DVD Available Exclusivel​y at Target on March 18, 2012

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Tori Vega and the students at Hollywood Arts High School shine even brighter in Victorious: The Complete Second Season. This set includes all 12 episodes from the second season of Nickelodeon’s hit live-action series Victorious.  Adventures include the gang re-auditioning for their spots at Hollywood Arts, getting ready for prom, a Ke$ha concert and driving a giant cupcake through the streets.  Plus, there’s more music, drama and hilarious behind-the-scenes bloopers included on the DVD!  Also for a limited time, receive $1-Off Nickelodeon Gak or Floam with the purchase of Victorious: The Complete Second Season DVD. Created by Nickelodeon Home Entertainment and distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment, Victorious: The Complete Second Season hits shelves exclusively at Target on March 18, 2012, for the suggested retail price of $19.99.

Victorious is created and executive-produced by Dan Schneider, who also created other Nickelodeon hits like iCarly, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, The Amanda Show and Kenan and Kel. The show follows teenager Tori Vega (Victoria Justice) who attends the prestigious performing arts high school, Hollywood Arts.  From her first day at the school, however, Tori feels out of place among the amazingly talented students,especially mean diva Jade (Elizabeth Gillies, Broadway's 13).  But with the help of her older sister Trina (Daniella Monet, A Fairly Odd Movie, Nancy Drew) and new friends including the musically gifted Andre (Leon Thomas III, August Rush,Broadway's The Lion King, iCarly), brooding bad boy Beck (Avan Jogia, Spectacular!), eccentric Cat (Ariana Grande, Broadway's 13) and lovable but psychologically scrambled ventriloquist Robbie (Matthew Bennett).  Tori realizes that she was born to perform and that entertaining people not only makes her happy but may change her life.  The series, a co-production with Sony Music, features original songs performed by Justice and the ensemble cast.  Since its launch in April 2010, Victorious has been the number-one program in its timeslot on all TV with kids 6-11, tweens 9-14, and teens 12-17, reaching 23.0 million kids, 15.3 million tweens, and 12.3 million teens each quarter.

My daughter, who is six, LOVES this show and we can't wait for the second season to come out...can you say mommy and daughter snuggle sessions?  Looking forward to snuggling and watching the second season with my sweet girl!

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.75 off one Dean's Heat 'n Eat Dip

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This stuff is good!  I tried the cheese and jalapeno.  My husband is not a bean fan.  We served it when we had some family over.  We served it with tortilla chips.  It is not super spicy, I really liked it.  When you double this .75 coupon the dip will be very inexpensive!


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Check out these coupons for Hormel Chili and Zatarain's...

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.50 off three Zatarain's Rice or Pasta Mixes
We like the jambalaya, just add some andouille sausage and you are set!



.55 off two Hormel Chili products
My husband is not a bean fan so we like the "no beans".  It is great with melted cheese and some corn or tortilla chips!


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