9 Commonly Forgotten Tax Deductions, by Gobankingrates.com

It is that time of year again. Now that the ball has dropped on 2011, it’s time to celebrate the beginning of tax season. In order to help get you organized and prepared for the grueling task of filing your taxes, here are some tax deductions that are often overlooked. By taking advantage of them, you have the potential to save hundreds or thousands of dollars.

1. Sales and Income Tax Many filers forget to include state sales and income tax as deductions. If you live in a state that doesn’t impose an income tax, adding up all the tax you’ve paid on personal and household items can really mount up. On the other hand, if your state does have an income tax, it’s usually a better strategy to claim that as a deduction for more savings unless you made some high-ticket purchases such as a car or boat.

2. Dividends If your investments have earned you a return this year, you can save money if you take advantage of special tax breaks. If you reinvest your dividends to purchase more shares rather than taking the income they’ve generated, you’ve reduced your current tax liability. This is one deduction a lot of investors miss.

3. Demutualization If your insurance company switched its status from being a mutual insurer and began offering stock to stockholders, this process of demutualization will save you money if you sold your shares based on what the share were worth when they were distributed to you as a former policyholder.

4. Charitable Donations Out-of-pocket charitable contributions are often overlooked, especially if they were in the form of many small donations rather than a few large ones. If you’ve covered the cost of postage, baked cookies for fundraisers or given rides to the clients of nonprofit organizations, save your receipts. If they total more than $250, you can deduct the amount if you have documentation from your favorite nonprofit. If you provided rides or did other significant driving, claim 14 cents per mile for this deduction.

5. Childcare If you’re a working parent and your kids spend part of the day with a sitter or in child care, claim those expenses as a tax credit. If you have childcare reimbursement through your place of work, you can easily overlook the additional costs you incur beyond the $5,000 or $6,000 allocated by these accounts. Don’t miss out on significant savings; save the receipts for sitters and after-school care. If your children are older and in college, don’t forget to deduct the interest you’ve paid on their student loans throughout the year.

6. Job Search Job losses and career changes aren’t all bad. If you were looking for a job in your previous field; had business cards printed; mailed out resumes; drove to an interview; paid for meals, lodging, and parking for an overnight trip or paid for advertising or employment agency fees, you can deduct those costs up to 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

If you are a first-time job seeker, you can’t claim those deductions, but you can claim your moving expenses if the new job is more than 50 miles from your old place of residence. You can claim the costs of moving your belongings to the new site, plus 16.5 cents for driving your vehicle there as well as parking and toll fees.

7. Mortgage Interest and Remodeling If you’re a homeowner, you’re luck continues. If you remodeled your existing home, deduct state sales tax for building materials if you’re itemizing. If you bought your house, be sure to claim the interest paid on the points on your mortgage. If you’ve refinanced, you have to distribute the points interest over the life of the mortgage. If you’ve made your home more energy-efficient, you can get a 30 percent credit of the purchase price, up to $1,500.

8. Military Travel If you are a member of the National Guard or are a military reservist, part of your travel expenses for attending meetings or drills more than 100 miles from home and overnight stay are deductible even if you don’t itemize. You can write off all your lodging cost and half your meal expenses, as well as mileage and tolls if you drove your own vehicle. Mileage is reimbursed at 50 cents per mile.

9. Self-Employment With widespread job loss, many Americans have switched to self-employment. This freedom comes at a price. These workers not only have to buy their own health insurance, they also pay a hefty self-employment tax. Make sure to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums you pay for yourself and your family. This reduces your self-employment tax. You’re going to have to dig a bit through Schedule SE. Your health insurance figure from Line 29 is subtracted from your calculated self-employment tax on Line 3.

What other commonly overlooked tax deductions can you think of?

This article was written by Bob who runs ChristianPF.com, a personal finance blog tackling the topic using Biblical principles.

Tens of thousands lose stimulus-subsidized jobs, Tami Luhby, Money.cnn.com

Tens of thousands of low-income workers lost their jobs Thursday as a stimulus-subsidized employment program came to an end.

About a quarter of a million people in 37 states were placed in short-term jobs thanks to a $5 billion boost to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. States used about $1 billion to provide subsidized employment, with the remaining funds going to cash grants, food programs, housing assistance and other aid.

About half the jobs were summer employment for youth and the rest were for disadvantaged parents. Each state configured its initiative differently. Some covered all the workers’ wages for a few months, while others paid for a portion of their salary.

With the program expiring, many of the adults have been told not to report to work anymore. And it won’t be easy for them to find a new position at time when the unemployment rate continues to hover at 9.6%

“They are just joining the millions of other people looking for permanent work,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, an advocacy group known as CLASP.

The TANF jobs initiative was one of several stimulus initiatives that ended Thursday. Also running out are a $2 billion subsidized child care program and a $2.1 billion boost for Head Start, an early learning program for needy children.

Limping along

State officials and advocacy groups have been lobbying Congress to extend the jobs program and other Recovery Act measures, but federal lawmakers have shown little appetite to do so.

A handful of states will continue to operate the programs for another few months, but most of those will be downsized considerably.

Illinois announced earlier this week that it will continue the program with state funds for up to two months in hopes that Congress will provide more money for it. The state has placed more than 26,000 workers at more than 5,000 private, non-profit and government employers.

“The best way to make our economy stronger is to put people to work,” said Gov. Pat Quinn. “It is good for families, small business owners and businesses.”

The TANF jobs program is among the few stimulus initiatives that have been embraced by Republican governors. Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, who headed the Republican National Committee in the mid-1990s, praised the effort.

The “program will provide much-needed aid during this recession by enabling businesses to hire new workers, thus enhancing the economic engines of our local communities,” Barbour said when the initiative launched last year.

South Carolina, Texas and Minnesota — all headed by Republican governors — plan to continue their programs either in a smaller form or for a few months, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Wealthbridge Mortgage Corp. – Retail – Agency, FHA/VA

The Portland Business Journalyesterday reported thatWealthbridge Mortgage Corp.(view snapshot) had let go of 16 workers and would “lay off the remainder of its 109-member staff” as of 2010-10-15 based on a recent filing with Oregon under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

“Wealthbridge Mortgage Corp. intends to close its business and permanently lay off employees due to unforeseen circumstances outside of the company’s control and its inability to obtain the necessary capital to remain in business,” President Scott Everett said in a letter to local and state officials.

Based in Beaverton, OR, the company had changed its name to Wealthbridge Mortgage from Gateway Financial Services at the beginning of 2008. Information given to us at the time implied the company had been hit with a lot of repurchases due to first payment defaults, although we did not see any evidence to support the allegation. An inside source reported a large number of LO’s and telemarketing staff were let go in the early months of 2008 as a result of the alleged buybacks, along with a handful of managers.

The company originated an average of $16.62 million per month in residential mortgage loans during 2008, down from the previous year’s average volume of nearly $20 million per month.

Cited most recently as the reason for the company’s “collapse” was the failure by Delaware investment firm Venn Capital Group Holdings LLC to close a deal to purchase the company on 2010-09-20. Branch offices in MN and NV will also be closed.

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