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9 Tax Deductions That Are Gone In 2018 (And What To Claim Instead)




The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed in December 2017, involved some of the most sweeping changes to the U.S. tax system in more than 30 years. And Americans will experience the effects of those changes when they file taxes for 2018.

“Many itemized deductions … will be capped, eliminated or otherwise diluted in power,” said Ben Flood, a certified financial planner and vice president of Bigelow Investment Advisors. “Offsetting this for many tax filers is the fact that the standard deduction is significantly higher.”

How much higher? Nearly double what it was in 2017: $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families.

That means it will be a lot tougher to qualify to itemize deductions. Those who do will find many differences in what they can claim. Here’s a look at the deductions you won’t be able to claim on your 2018 taxes ― and what you can do instead.

9 Tax Write-Offs You Can’t Claim Anymore

A personal exemption is a sum of money you can deduct for yourself and any dependents from your taxable income. The personal exemption was worth $4,050 in 2017. A family of four, for example, would have received $16,200 in exemptions last year.

“Now, personal exemptions are no longer in play,” said Christina Taylor, head of tax operations at Credit Karma Tax. “This could have a substantial impact on refunds for larger families.”

2. Casualty and theft losses

Prior to the latest tax bill, victims of fires, earthquakes, floods or similar natural disasters who experienced uninsured losses greater than 10 percent of their adjusted gross income could deduct a portion of those losses from their taxable income.

Now? “You’ll only be able to claim them if they were a result of a federally declared disaster,” Taylor said. Those designations are made on a county basis, which means some areas could be declared official disaster zones, while others could not.

3. Unlimited SALT deductions

The new tax law reduced the amount taxpayers can claim for taxes paid to agencies that are not the IRS, according to Arthur Rosatti, an attorney with Ashley F. Morgan Law. These are typically called SALT, or state and local taxes.

“There is now a $10,000 cap on all state income taxes, personal property taxes, sales tax and local taxes,” he said. Prior to 2018, there was no cap. “This will hit individuals who are higher income and live in states with income tax the most,” Rosatti said.

4. Mortgage interest above $750,000

Homeowners previously were able to write off the interest on mortgages up to $1 million. Under the new tax law, however, the cap has been reduced to $750,000 in qualified residence loans. According to the IRS, that limit applies to the combined amount of loans you use to buy, build or “substantially improve” your primary or second home.

The good news is this change only applies to new homeowners, according to Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting. “The $1 million cap still applies to homeowners who took out a mortgage before December 15, 2017,” he said. “New homeowners can take this deduction on mortgages up to $750,000.”

5. Unrestricted home equity loan interest deduction

Before the new tax law, homeowners could deduct interest paid on a home equity loan or line, or credit of up to $100,000, regardless of how the funds were used. For example, if a homeowner used a home equity loan to pay off credit card debt, they’d receive a tax break on the interest paid.

“In 2018, unless that taxpayer used the borrowed funds to buy, build or substantially improve either their primary home or a second home, the interest is not deductible,” said Shan-Nel D. Simmons, a former IRS revenue agent and owner of Nel’s Tax Help.

Taxpayers previously could deduct certain moving expenses related to relocating for a new job, Zimmelman said. This was an “above-the-line” deduction, meaning it could be claimed even if the taxpayer didn’t itemize.

“Now the only people who can take this deduction are military service members moving for assignment,” Zimmelman said.

In the past, if a taxpayer’s job required certain purchases in order for an employee to perform their job and the employer was unable or unwilling to reimburse the employee, those expenses were tax deductible. For example, employees could deduct mileage driven for work purposes (not commuting), uniforms, tools, union dues and more as long as they met the 2 percent rule for miscellaneous deductions.

However, beginning in 2018, “employees will not be allowed to deduct out-of-pocket work expenses they pay to do their job,” Simmons said. This deduction, along with other miscellaneous deductions, is suspended through 2025.

Prior to 2018, fees related to tax preparation could also be combined with other miscellaneous deductions that exceeded 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. This deduction has been suspended through 2025, according to Taylor.

9. Other miscellaneous expenses

Many other miscellaneous deductions are off the table for 2018. Also included in this bunch are expenses related to investment fees, legal fees, home office use and alimony for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018. These deductions will be reinstated in 2026 unless Congress votes to extend the current rule.

5 Valuable Deductions And Credits You Can Still Claim

Though it seems like taxpayers lost many important deductions for the 2018 tax year, the increased standard deduction could help take the sting out of losing those benefits, Flood said.

Plus, there are several valuable tax write-offs, some of which were previously on the tax bill’s chopping block, that remain for 2018. Those include:

Families might be able to offset some of the personal exemption loss with the revised Child Tax Credit, which is now worth up to $2,000 in 2018. “Congress also raised the income threshold to $200,000 (for single filers) before the credit starts to phase out,” Rosatti said. “The new law is also giving a $500 credit for qualifying dependents who are not children.”

Taxpayers who do itemize can still deduct qualifying charitable donations. The deduction is limited to 60 percent of adjusted gross income for cash gifts ― up from 50 percent in previous years. Any amount in excess of that can be carried forward up to five years.

3. Student loan interest deduction

Another above-the-line deduction available to student loan borrowers is a deduction on the interest paid. Borrowers can deduct of up to $2,500 in interest per year. The deduction begins to phase out for borrowers with an adjusted gross income over $65,000 and caps at $80,000.

4. Contributions to IRAs and HSAs

If you contribute to a tax-advantaged savings plan, such as an individual retirement account or health savings account, those contributions are still eligible for the same tax benefits.

5. Self-employed expenses

Though the miscellaneous deductions outlined above have been suspended through 2025 for regular employees, self-employed workers can still write-off qualifying work-related expenses. Deductions such as self-employment taxes, insurance premiums and yes ― a home office ― can be claimed using the Schedule C form.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity





Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard





Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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How To See What Facebook, Google, And Twitter Know About You





Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants you to know that your data is important to his company. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Thursday evening, Zuckerberg laid out why Facebook collects data to use for advertisements, and how it lets you control that information.

The op-ed is meant to explain how and why Facebook collects information about its users: It lets the company sell ads and keeps the service free to consumers.

Zuckerberg’s op-ed comes at an important moment. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 74 percent of Facebook users said they had no idea that the company categorizes their interests based on their actions on the social network.

Facebook isn’t the only company that creates these kinds categorizations. Google and Twitter follow the same formula. Thankfully, the three companies also offer you a means to see how these services view you, and let you opt out of having your data used at all.

How Facebook follows you

If you’re a Facebook user and want to see what the company thinks it knows about you, follow these instructions:

From your desktop, navigate to and click the arrow in the top right corner of the screen. Select “Settings” from the dropdown menu and click “Ads” toward the bottom left of the screen.

From there you’ll be taken to the “Your Ad Preferences” page where you can see interests and advertisers associated with your account. Click on the “Your Information” tab and then select “Your Categories.”

These are the categories Facebook believes best match you. It can include your marital status, whether you use Gmail, if you travel frequently, the type of devices you use to access Facebook, and more. Using my profile and habits, Facebook was able to determine I’m a technology early adopter, that I am a commuter, that I recently changed my smartphone, and that I’m a gamer.

None of that is exactly top-secret information. I assumed Facebook knew at least that much about me if not more.

If you’re so inclined, you can delete these categories by clicking the “X” icon in the top right corner of each category box. You can also turn off custom ads by clicking the “Ad Settings” tab and changing “Allowed” to “Not Allowed” under the “Ads based on data from providers” and “Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere.”

You can also ensure that Facebook doesn’t use your social actions in any ads. For example, if you like a page for a movie, your friends may see ads for the movie indicating that you liked it. To turn that feature off, click “Ads that include your social actions” and change the dialogue to “No one.”

Checking your Google account

Like Facebook, Google assigns you with specific categories it believes align with your interests. But Google’s list is far more comprehensive than Facebook’s, ensuring it shows the most pertinent ads. Google also has the ability to scoop up information from you from a whole host of services ranging from your search history to the YouTube videos you watch and locations you look for in Google Maps.

To see how Google categorizes you, navigate to Gmail in your browser, click on your account image in the upper right corner of the screen and select “Google Account.” Choose “Data and personalization” on the left rail, scroll down to “Ad Personalization” and click “Go to ad settings.”

From here you’ll be able to see every category Google believes interests you and how it reached that conclusion, whether that was through web searches or YouTube videos.

You can turn off ad personalization from the top of the screen to ensure Google doesn’t use your information for ads, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still track what you do. To turn that off, you’ll need to go back to your Google account homepage and select “Data and personalization” from the left rail.

Scroll down to “Activity controls” and choose “Manage your activity controls.” This is where you can see the kind of detailed information Google has saved about you, including where you’ve been around the world, what Google Docs you’ve accessed, and which voice searches you’ve performed.

It gets to be a little creepy when you realize how far back all of this information goes. I haven’t been to Germany in almost six years, but Google still has that data.

If you don’t want Google to collect this kind of information, you can turn off each setting by adjusting the slider next to each category.

Twitter’s data tracking

As with any other free social network, Twitter collects on its users. To see what Twitter has on you, log into your account on your desktop, click your profile icon in the top right corner of the screen, select “Settings and privacy,” and then click “Your Twitter data.”

Scroll down to “Interest and ads data” and choose “See all.” You’ll then see a list of the inferred interests Twitter has matched to your account.

If you want to ensure Twitter doesn’t collect such data, you can disable the app’s controls by clicking on your profile icon, selecting “Settings and privacy” and clicking “Privacy and safety.”

Scroll to “Personalization and Data” and click “Edit.” From here you can choose to individually disable how Twitter uses your data, or simply turn the features off completely.

Email Daniel Howley at; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley. Follow Yahoo Finance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and

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