I am a 25 year old sales rep who made 40k gross last year as an employee of a major lighting company. This year I predict a major jump in earnings as I have already made 65k as of 10-31-01. My income should be about 77k and I'm not sure if there is anything I can do to reduce the amount Uncle Sam will be taking from me. Last year I filed using an accountant for state and federal. I got back about 1,000. I live at home, go to school part-time and have no dependents. I am not married. Is there anything anyone can suggest that I do to lower my taxes? For the last 6 years I have gotten money back so I assume my company is taking out more then enough in taxes to cover me by years end. Please help. P8NT
Hi - Especially if you are planning on buying a home, I would highly recommend investing in Quicken 2002 or another financial tracking program. It has a great way to help you keep an eye on how much you might receive or have to pay in terms of a tax refund. Also, I'd highly recommend the investment in TurboTax Deluxe to help you understand how to do your own taxes. (these 2 programs come bundled together at a discount and you can find them at costco or online at Quicken's web site)The reason, is that, especially if you are going to be buying a home, it really makes sense for you to learn about your tax issues in advance. Go ahead and pay for the accountant to do your taxes again, if it makes you feel more comfortable, but the more you understand what he/she is doing the better decisions you will be able to make throughout the year.(I'm sure others will be able to give more tactical advice, too)
Is there anything anyone can suggest that I do to lower my taxes? Make less money.This is not as flip as you may think. You seem to be really bummed about an almost 100% increase in income over a year ago. Child, you need to get your head on straight.There is no such thing as a 100% tax bracket, so for every additional dollar you make, you'll have more money in your pocket, after taxes, than you had before. Likewise, after every dollar of deduction against taxable income, you'll have less money in your pocket, after taxes, than you had before the deduction. IOW, more income means more taxes, and so what?All that said, you should be investing in your future. Make sure you're funding your retirement accounts to the max. When you're young is a good time to do without, since you're used to it. Socked away in a retirement account, those funds have years to grow tax free so you can live off them when you no longer can or want to work. Likewise, if you decide to buy a home, the tax advantages will lower your after tax cost of housing.Procreation is the biggest tax break going. Don't be surprised, though, when you wind up with lots less money in your pocket, even after the tax breaks.Phil Marti
Is there anything anyone can suggest that I do to lower my taxes? <Make less money.This is not as flip as you may think. You seem to be really bummed about an almost 100% increase in income over a year ago. Child, you need to get your head on straight.> Dearest Phil,I take offense to being called a "child", not because I am defensive or still in some type of rebellious stage but because I believe I have the right to be treated with the same amount of respect and consideration as you would address a fellow coligue or friend. You may be my senior in age but age is attitude and from your post it would seem you need to improve yours. My head is on straight as far as I'm concerned. I am 25, debt free and successful in many areas of my life. <All that said, you should be investing in your future.>Who's to say I'm not? I started a ROTH IRA years before most people I know knew what one was. I have funded that to the max (2,000) every year since it started. I have a pension at work that is second to none. I have over 70,000 in the market, diverified and increasing with my rate of savings which blows away the mean rate of savings for the average american. (.05) I have spent the last 2 years saving my 20% plus closing to purchase a luxury townhome some people can't afford to live in with two incomes. I read and try to learn as much as can from people with more knowledge and experience than I have. That's why I'm here.<IOW, more income means more taxes, and so what?>Gee Phil, most people I know are interested in lowering their taxable income. All that being said, thanks for your post even though I still feel it might have done more for your ego then my savings. P8NT
p8ntbal said:Dearest Phil,I take offense to being called a "child", not because I am defensive or still in some type of rebellious stage but because I believe I have the right to be treated with the same amount of respect and consideration as you would address a fellow coligue or friend. You may be my senior in age but age is attitude and from your post it would seem you need to improve yours.P8ntbal, I think you need to calm down. If "age is attitude" as you say, then you have indicated to me that you are really perhaps 12 or 13.Maybe it's just me, but I read Phil's reply to you as being lighthearted and rather general in his advice, being that you had given very few details as to your financial situation. For example, the use of the word "child" was not meant as a literal, but was (as I interpreted it) meant in a joking nature. But maybe it's just because I'm a Southerner that I understood this little colloquialism (kind of like the way I am not offended if a female friend, young or old, calls me "girl").As for the rest of your post where you describe your wealth, well, perhaps if you had originally indicted this then Phil could have given advice a little more specific to your situation. Don't be mad at him for suggesting that you "should be investing in your future" -- he (and none of the other readers of your original post) had any idea that you were.I think you need to realize that by posting a question, you are not automatically entitled to any replies of information -- rather, it is something of a "gift" for people to offer their advice. To slam Phil's advice the way you did was pretty rude. And to end on such a sarcastic note ( Gee Phil, most people I know are interested in lowering their taxable income. ) really doesn't encourage other people to want to help you.I think you also need to realize that to get respect, you need to give it. Your reply smacks of immaturity. Do you disagree? Then prove me wrong with more intelligent replies to the people who are only trying to help you.klr
Phil is one of the most thoughtful, generous people I've come across in a long time (there are a lot of pros on this board who cannot be thanked enough for their reliable, free advice).I, who am not a tax pro by any means, also get tired of generic "how do I avoid taxes?" questions, and if Phil came across as rude, that's because he is even more tired.I would think right now people would understand that taxes actually get used for something, even if we all can come up with examples of waste. Many of us have been paying taxes for a long time, taking what reductions and deductions we can, without trying to find some angle to avoid paying what others of our incomes pay.My wife (I don't know why) just opened some junk mail letter from some local (I think legitimate) outfit claiming to specialize in tax reduction financial advice. Although I'm sure there a people who need help strategizing, the way it was worded made me see red. If they talked about tax-optimizing your finances, that would be fine.For normal people with salaries, commissions, simple bonuses, there are only a few options for tax-optimization: there's maximizing your retirement tax-deferred reductions and maximizing your Roth or traditional IRA contributions. There's home ownership vs. renting, though home ownership creates lots of extra expenses that need to temper our enthusiasm for the tax savings. There's making sure you take advantage of your legal deductions, though as Phil points out, if you give to charity, you'll get less back in taxes than you gave, so your reasons for giving are not to reduce taxes. Finally, what a lot of people don't think about, there's strategizing your portfolio (assuming you have the sense to diversify) so your tax generating investments are disproportionately in your retirement accounts and your low tax investments are disproportionately in you regular accounts (making sure you have plenty of safe money in your regular accounts to survive bear markets).None of this is finding a scheme for avoiding taxes: it's just trying to optimize within the rules.
I am in the same boat, with a huge jump in income this year. (Happy dance!) I found the Paycheck City site to be helpful. The W-4 Assistant helped me find out ahead of time that I was going to be "under-withheld", and allowed me to make adjustments now, rather than having a cruel surprise when I did my taxes. An accountant verified that the site gave me correct information.http://www.paycheckcity.comAnd everyone else is right. Lighten up. =)Thanks!Joe
Play nice, kids.Its sad to see so much squabbling going in these public forums, and the general level of civility and politeness seems to have greatly decreased in the past couple of months. Lets try to give each other the benefit of doubt before posting or responding with sharp words. Lets stop the fussin' and the feudin'.
Play nice, kids.Its sad to see so much squabbling going in these public forums, and the general level of civility and politeness seems to have greatly decreased in the past couple of months. Lets try to give each other the benefit of doubt before posting or responding with sharp words. Lets stop the fussin' and the feudin'.You're right. Can you tell I mostly lurk at the LBYM board? :)My apologies to the board and p8ntbal for my disruption. I just don't like to see people get yelled at for giving a friendly, helpful response.(going back to lurking and learning mode),klr105
Hey, "child", now's the time for you to get 99% smarter than all your contemporaries. :) Then you won't care what anyone calls you.What sort of retirement plan, if any, do you have through your work? Any matching? Or are you a 1099 sort of young'un?If you don't need this money right away, now's the time to stash max away in a tax-deferred account of some sort. I highly recommend the fools school section on retirement. If you can't stash money through your employer, then you can probably open a SIMPLE or SEP IRA (I forget which one is opened by the individual and which one is opened by the employer) as well as a traditional or Roth IRA. Read through the info for a quick review, if you haven't read it recently. You can use a Roth as sort of an emergency fund, since the after tax contributions (although not the earnings) can be withdrawn before age 60 without penalty. Also, the other IRAs offer the ability to withdraw the money before age 60 without penalty (although WITH income tax) for first time home buyers, some educational stuff, etc. Again, look through the particular exceptions with an eye toward what you might need this money for in the future, or whether you want to stash it away for retirement.And if you're going to do this sort of barn-burning work at a young age, I'd recommend you hang out around the Retire Early board and take a look at rule 72t withdrawals from IRAs. 72t gives you a way to use that IRA money before age 60 -- won't go into the details here, but I think you'd find it useful info. Look at the Retire Early board FAQ.Do I remember correctly that you're living at home? Do you need a home office? Perhaps pay rent to the parents for a home office while deducting it from your income? Any chance you can incorporate?Sit down with a good, aggressive tax planner. Starting at your age, with this sort of record, you've got a good shot at retiring early when you're still just a "child." :) Your goal should be to stash max away tax-deferred or for tax-free growth, while also saving for your eventual house/family/station wagon/SUV lifestyle.Hope that helps.Cyn
<I think you also need to realize that to get respect, you need to give it. Your reply smacks of immaturity. Do you disagree? Then prove me wrong with more intelligent replies to the people who are only trying to help you.> I am not too proud to apologize when I am wrong but the bottom line is I was sort of offended. I came to this message board for advice not to start a war. Since I have never had contact with "PHIL" or seen any of his posts maybe it was his intention to be light-hearted about his wording. Still, the words, "CHILD you need to get your head on straight", isn't something I would post to complete stranger when they were looking for help. I don't expect that anyone is obligated to help or even respond to my posts. My thanks to everyone who did and I have followed some links and am taking steps to further my goals. P8NT
I agree with p8ntball. I posted a question some time ago on this board and had the same experience: a non-respectful reply to a question I meant seriously. I haven't been back to this board until now. PMarti has many supporters but I suggest less "humor" because of the real chance for misinterpretation. I am not a humorless person and I don't think the author of the question is either. We ask a simple question and hope for an answer that doesn't demean our asking it to the point that we leave. If there was more respect for each other the world would be a safer place. And we would be laughing more.rehobothfool
rehobothfool said:I agree with p8ntball. I posted a question some time ago on this board and had the same experience: a non-respectful reply to a question I meant seriously. I haven't been back to this board until now. PMarti has many supporters but I suggest less "humor" because of the real chance for misinterpretation. I am not a humorless person and I don't think the author of the question is either. We ask a simple question and hope for an answer that doesn't demean our asking it to the point that we leave. If there was more respect for each other the world would be a safer place. And we would be laughing more.OK, I'll bite.I mean, sorry to beat this dead horse, but I feel the need to respond to this because I thought it was really sad that rehobothfool had such a bad experience that he or she would leave a board. Rehobothfool, I do not know the reply to which you refer in your case; I only know the situation with p8ntbal. I totally agree that these boards should be a place where people can be treated with mutual respect. And I am sad that anyone would feel so demeaned that they had to leave.But in this situation, I really don't see where p8ntbal was demeaned or disrespected by Phil. When I look at Phil's post, I see maybe two places where he was joking around (at the very beginning and end) and perhaps this could be misinterpreted; the rest of the post was the "business as usual" approach you suggest. Example:Make less money.This is not as flip as you may think. You seem to be really bummed about an almost 100% increase in income over a year ago. Child, you need to get your head on straight.My interpretation: "Wow, p8ntbal, you're doing really well, especially for someone so early in their career! Yes, you're paying a lot more in taxes this year, but I suggest you look at the big picture: you're also bringing home a lot more money this year over last."Procreation is the biggest tax break going. Don't be surprised, though, when you wind up with lots less money in your pocket, even after the tax breaks.My interpretation: "P8ntbal, other than the suggestions I've already made, you're just going to have to wait until you get some more tax deductions in the form of children. However, as much as it costs to raise kids these days, I don't know how much that tax deduction is really going to net for you!"Again, I really don't see any malicious intents to demean here. Obviously, I am not Phil so perhaps he did have a malicious intent. But if you read through any of the other tons of helpful posts he has made, then I think you would see that this isn't possible.Frankly, I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that the subject of taxes is a very dry one. I personally appreciate any attempts to "lighten up" the mood with a joking style here and there. In my outlook on life, I try to give people the benefit of a doubt unless they give me reason to feel otherwise. I think that in reading posts to a message board, where you can't pick up on any body language or inflection of speech, you need to assume that no one is out to demean you or insult you personally.Respectfully yours, klr
I've silently followed this thread and will now offer a couple of valedictory, I hope, comments.p8ntbal, I'm sorry my use of "child" set you off. No offense was meant, but obviously offense was taken, and I'm sorry. The use of this word was part Southern affect and mostly a reference to the inferred panic at the thought of "omigod, I'm making more money and paying more taxes!" not a reference to your age. Heck, on a rainy day my left knee makes me think everyone in the world is younger than I.I hope the overall point of my response wasn't lost: if you make more money you will pay more taxes. Personally, I'd love to have a through-the-roof tax bill, because it would mean that I was rolling in money.A couple of things I left out of my original response. One was the excellent advice given by Lokicious to keep investments which produce current ordinary income in tax-deferred retirement accounts while keeping investments which will (we hope) produce long-term capital gains in your taxable account. The other was to watch out for what I call "taxphobia."I'm not saying that this applies to p8ntbal, but there are people so obsessed with paying less tax that they fall prey to one of the countless schemes and scams that are running around. Some are free, some cost you a bundle, and all get you in hot water with the IRS. Even though our mothers told us that if it sounds too good to be true it is, each of us is probably greedy enough to be tempted at one time or another. When that temptation strikes with respect to taxes, www.quatloos.com is an excellent debunking source.I'm so sorry to hear that rehobothfool is still upset about our encounter. She thought I dissed her because she's a woman when I was less than gentle in responce to her saying, in message 50607, "I found out that you can't fund a regular IRA AND a SIMPLE IRA in the same year." I may have been having a bad day--I doubt it--but if I had a nickel in my pocket for every time in the last 30 years that I've had to disabuse people of "facts" that had to be true because "_____ told me," I'd also have a hernia.For those who like my way of putting things, it's not likely to change until I'm drooling on myself, which could be any day. For those who don't like it, that's why God and the Fool invented the little frowny face next to the author's name on every post. Click it and poof, the author's offending words disappear from your view.Phil Marti
<I posted a question some time ago on this board and had the same experience: a non-respectful reply to a question I meant seriously. I haven't been back to this board until now. PMarti has many supporters but I suggest less "humor" because of the real chance for misinterpretation. I am not a humorless person and I don't think the author of the question is either. We ask a simple question and hope for an answer that doesn't demean our asking it to the point that we leave.>I have said many times before that it is better to ask a question than not to ask it. However, when one is looking to have their question answered seriously you need to provide enough specifics to place it in context. In the followup to the original post a lot of detail was provided that could have altered the tone and content of the responses. My take on the original question was: "woe is me; my salary has doubled and I am paying more in taxes; what do I do?" "How can I pay less in taxes?" is a question that by itself reminds me of the "when will the stock split?" questions that often appeared on stock message boards a couple of years ago. Both are superficial questions that often generate superficial answers. Your question can be a great question if you lay out your personal situation ie: married or divorced, age, kids or no kids, elderly parents, healthcare issues, stress levels, 401k match status, mortgage status, emergency fund status, timing of future bonuses, options, whether or not you live below your means, whether or not you desire to retire early, etc.). Any one of these variables can alter the responses that you could get. Obviously the more input you give, the more useful the responses can be. If one wants any board to provide them with well thought out and reasoned responses, they should make sure to invest an equal amount of time thinking their question through before placing fingers to the keyboard. Phil and the other pros on this board answer countless questions with both honesty and humor on a daily basis. I find this to be true even if the question has been asked many times before. Sometimes a poster might get upset because the answer they get contradicts the "somebody told me..." advice they had been incorrectly given before coming here. Other posters may get upset because they have already taken an action that cannot be reversed by the time they came here to ask their question. The goal here is to enable people to take FOOLISH actions rather than foolish ones. BRG
Oh, shut the !@#$ up.What's this tongue doing in my cheek?Joe
WOW what a thread! I couldn't imagine what profound knowledge was generating all the recommendations! I was impressed with the answers that are sandwiched inbetween the debates and rebuttals. But saddened by the flaring of tempers and misunderstandings.I just want to add that we don't realize how much 9/11/2001 has affected us all. Subconsciously every one of us is coping the best we can. Humor is probably one of the best coping techniques and Phil has one of the best sense of humors I have ever seen in the written word.It's easy to think that something is coming across one way - but when it's read, there is definitely some loss in the translation unless you know the source. Please don't stay away from this or any other board because someone didn't interpret your question properly. As one of the tax pros on this board, I also get frustrated by the repeated questions. But one tries to answer as professionally as possible. But we're all human and some times we read it wrong. A vague question will yield a vague or flippant answer if the question comes across as not serious in intent.As one poster stated, if you'll just remember we don't know what your total circumstances are when you just give us the meat of your problem. Tax people are not unlike doctors, we need to know not only where it hurts, but what else is happening around you to give you the right perscription for tax savings. We tax pros are volunteers here. I might have something better to do, but I learn what tax problems are the hot topics out there from the posters who ask the questions. So I get something out this board when I research answers for you folks. Everyone benefits. Don't let one embarassing experience deter you from coming back and asking other questions. I've looked around on the net. TMF has the best boards for tax and other topics. That's why I contribute to this board. Just make sure you provide enough other info so we can give you the best advice. Best wishes to all.
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