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Finance

Dollars and Sense

Four quick things every citizen should know from Governor Rick Snyder's new Dollars & Sense: How State and Local Governments in Michigan Spend Your Money guide to the public's checkbook. State Treasurer Andy Dillon says Lansing is about to experience "shock therapy."

Free Tax Prep This Friday

The United Way of Southeastern Michigan is hosting free tax preparation services at two Detroit and one Taylor locations for those who earn less than $48,000 a year. Details are available on the United Way site.

Tax Forms

The IRS and the Michigan Department of the Treasury have announced that they will no longer mail paper income tax packages to individual and business taxpayers. These tax packages contained the forms, schedules and instructions for filing a paper income tax return. They are taking this step because of the continued growth in electronic filing and the availability of free options to taxpayers, as well as to help reduce costs.

Because forms are so readily-available online, the Canton Public Library will severely limit the number of tax forms we provide in paper format and encourage patrons to print forms from the IRS and Michigan sites at home or in the library for a cost of $.10 per page. Instruction booklets will be provided for use in the library only.

For further information about forms you may contact:
Federal [website] or by phone at 1-800-829-3676 after January 10
State [website] or (517) 636-4486

Living Large on Less

Living large on less: a guide to saving without sacrifice by Christina Spence — Just about everyone is doing more with less these days, and this book is a great guide to many aspects of balancing one's personal budget and making the most of the dollars we do have. One of the most important steps here is to make a budget that actually works for you. You can use spreadsheets, personal finance software, or an online service like Mint.com to track your spending and make some of the adjustments suggested here. The ideas range from quick fixes to challenges that offer a trial run at a larger change.

Late Changes in Tax Law Delay Tax Season for Some

The start of the 2011 filing season will begin in January for the majority of taxpayers. However, last minute changes in the law mean that the IRS will need to reprogram its processing systems for three provisions that were extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that became law on Dec. 17. Only three specific categories of taxpayers are affected by this:
  • Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A
  • Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction
  • Taxpayers claiming the Educator Expense Deduction
The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the late tax law changes.

U.S. News & World Report

The Dec/2010 issue of U.S. News contains 50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2011. Articles concerning your health, money, career, mind and the world are included. Please note this will be the last issue of U.S. News & World Report. This magazine will no longer be published as a print or digital replica magazine. The U.S. Media group will continue to publish the usnews.com website.

Kiplinger Retirement Report

If you and your family haven't discussed the future consequences of a longer lifespan, the Oct/2010 issue of KRR can offer several informative comments this often-confusing subject can present. The Kiplinger Retirement Report is published monthly and appears in print form on the CPL Adult magazine shelve.

Estate Planning with the Canton Community Foundation

The experts from the Canton Community Foundation will share their expertise on estate planning. Topics covered will include estate taxes and charitable gift annuities. Join us on Thursday, October 14 at 7:00PM in the Community Room to start your plan today!

Free Reverse Mortgage Seminar

If you are a homeowner, age 62 years or older, and own your home outright or could pay off the remaining balance with reverse mortgage proceeds, don't miss this opportunity to meet with certified reverse mortgage consultant Stephen Bartus. Mr. Bartus from Wells Fargo will explain how you can convert the equity in your home into tax-free proceeds, proceeds that can be used to meet expenses, cover healthcare costs or remodel your home. Join us Tuesday September 14th at 2:00PM in the Library Community Room to explore your options. No registration required.

Math Can Help You Be Anything!

Kids, do you want to be a scientist, game designer, sportscaster, or chef when you grow up? How about an engineer, meteorologist, or inventor? If you have ever thought about any of these careers, check out Math Apprentice to see why math is the basis for so many careers. Play any of these cool games, and let math help you become anything you want to be!

Scam Alert: Medicare Part D Rx Scam

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) today warned citizens about recent reports of scam artists contacting seniors in an attempt to obtain personal information by asking them to reveal Medicare, Social Security or bank account numbers, or pay a fee to receive a $250 Medicare rebate check.

The DHHS and OSA are urging Medicare beneficiaries not to provide personal information to anyone representing themselves as a "Medicare" or "government" worker if contacted by phone, mail, or in person in exchange for a $250 Medicare rebate check. These one-time rebates are automatically mailed to Medicare recipients when they reach the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, also known as the 'donut hole.'

For further information, call the national Medicare office at (800) 633-4227. In Michigan, call MMAP at (800) 803-7174.

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide

Is it possible to be green and raise a baby at the same time? According to The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-To-Earth Ways For Parents To Save Money and the Planet, it is! This book will provide you with tips on shopping green, using cloth diapers, making homemade baby food, and determining how much baby gear you really need. Check this book out and discover that babies can be easier on your wallet (and planet) than you think.

Education Tax Credits

As the April 15th Tax Deadline fast approaches don’t forget about the American Opportunity Credit. This credit which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act modifies existing education credits and makes them available to a broader range of taxpayers. It also adds required course materials to the list of qualifying expenses and allows the credit to be claimed for four post-secondary education years instead of two. Many of those eligible will qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. For more information visit IRS.gov.

Roth IRA Conversion

Gentlemen from UBS will help us through the new rules associated with IRAs and the conversion of them to Roth IRAs. Let's get prepared for our financial futures on Thursday, March 11 at 7:00PM in the Community Room. Come prepared with questions and Matt and Phil will have the answers!

Sweet Frugality

Here are some great sites for frugal advice - all available in your feed reader: Also, some books here in CPL's collection:

The complete Tightwad gazette : promoting thrift as a viable alternative lifestyle by Amy Dacyczyn, a.k.a. The Frugal Zealot

Suddenly Frugal : How to Happier & Healthier for Less by Leah Ingram

Chef on a shoestring : more than 120 delicious, easy-on-the-budget recipes from America's best chefs by Andrew Freidman

Tax Time Tips from H & R Block

Working on your tax returns? Don't submit your return until you attend this free program on February 11, 7:00-8:30PM offered through a partnership with H & R Block. Learn how unemployment benefits, health insurance subsidies, first-time home buyer credit, new vehicle purchase and home improvements can impact your tax return. Make sure you are claiming all the right things and getting the full benefit of the American Re-Investment and Recovery Act. No registration required. There will be a question and answer session following the program.

Retire Online

You can now apply for your Social Security retirement benefits online. In most cases, once your application is submitted, there are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed. You can view a demo of the application to help you with the process. You can also estimate your retirement benefits online.

How to Invest for Your Retirement

No matter what your age, you would like to be able to retire comfortably some day. You need to learn how to set up objectives, plan the moves, and follow through. Perhaps the retirement guides by Morningstar Library Services are helpful to you. There are three guides for the three distinct age groups: Tips abound in all three.

Show Me the Money! Keeping track of your hard earned money

Do you often find yourself with more month left than money? Does your budget look good on paper but frequently doesn't work in reality? In these uncertain economic times it is more important than ever to know how to budget your money and to keep track of expenses. Money tracking software programs have been available for many years but now there are websites that perform the same functions at no cost. Sites such as www.feedthepig.com and www.networthiq.com can help you keep track of your expenses and stay on budget.

Free Credit Reports

Once every 12 months, you can request for a copy of your credit report from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian & TransUnion. You can log on to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your free copy. It's quick, easy and secure!