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Your money Q&A: Can I deduct sales tax this year?


Will state sales tax be deductible this year? I just purchased a car and I want to know if I should tell my accountant? – Richard Abajian, Boca Raton

As of now, the answer is no. But that could change. So hold on to those receipts.

Here’s the issue: Taxpayers who itemize can take a deduction for state sales taxes or for state income taxes. In Florida, where there is no income tax, about one in four returns take the sales tax deduction.

The sales tax deduction officially expired in 2009, meaning you can’t use it on this year’s tax return, but Congress has extended this provision in the past. It still has time to give it another year before 2010 is over.

If the deduction survives, here’s how you use it: You can claim a deduction from a table that the IRS computes on average sales taxes for various income groups. Or, you can save your receipts and deduct what you actually paid. The third option: Use the average from the table and add to it sales taxes on major purchases, such as cars or boats.

That would be your best bet. So keep watching and hope Congress acts.
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Need help with a money problem?
Columnist Harriet Johnson Brackey is working with South Florida financial advisors to get answers. Submit your questions at SunSentinel.com/moneyquestion or call 954-356-4628. To see previous questions, visit SunSentinel.com/PersonalFinanceQandA


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Citing a February U.S. Treasury Department report, Ms. Freeman's court filings said Bank of America and its loan-servicing subsidiaries had provided permanent loan modifications to only 1.2 percent -- or 12,761 -- of the more than 1 million HAMP-eligible loans in their servicing portfolio. At the time of the report, trial periods had been started on less than 238,000 of the 1.07 million HAMP-eligible loans.

Those documents said servicers receive $1,000 for each HAMP modification; however, it typically is more profitable for them to foreclose rather than modify loans.

The $75 billion HAMP program was established last year in the wake of the staggering financial and housing-market collapse. Backed largely by federal bailout money, it provides incentives to participating mortgage loan servicers to restructure struggling homeowners' mortgages.

The goal is to let homeowners keep their residences while paying off their mortgage at a reduced monthly rate.

More than 50,000 foreclosures have been filed in New York state in each of the last three years, said court papers.

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/11/west_brighton_woman_says_bank.html


More Fed Shenanigans: TILA


In short, what this means is that if the bank violated black-letter law in making a loan to you the change would require you to pay off the entire principal before you could assert your rights and remedies.

This is like requiring someone who was robbed to somehow come up with the money to repay the owner of the property that was stolen before the robber can be held to account for his criminal act.

Yeah.

No wonder The Fed doesn't want this one out in the public eye.


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About the author
You've got the job of managing your money. No one in school taught you how. But you and I, we can teach each other, how to handle it, how to save for retirement, how to make money last, how to educate the kids, how to make a budget work. The conversations I have with my readers are fun. Money's important, but discussing it does not have to be boring.

Harriet Johnson Brackey Harriet Johnson Brackey, the personal finance columnist for the Sun Sentinel, is an award-winning business reporter. Her columns for 2008 were named "The Best in the Business," a national award chosen by her colleagues at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Brackey has worked at Business Week magazine and at USA TODAY, where she was a founder and part of the original staff of the Money section at the country's first national newspaper. After nearly 11 years there - spent covering the 1980s bull market, the insider trading scandals, the 1987 crash - Brackey left Washington, D.C., and came to The Miami Herald. She spent the next decade writing a column about personal finance that chronicled the stock market's Internet boom and bust, as well as the popular Money Makeover features.

Brackey also has done commentaries for Marketplace Money, which airs on National Public Radio and The Nightly Business Report which is broadcast on more than 250 PBS television stations nationwide. She also has been a radio guest on WLRN’s Miami Herald News.
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