moneyI recently received my W-2 form from my employer and it held a bit of nice news. Working in concert with my employer I managed to shield about $3,000 of my income from being taxed. Through various changes in the tax code made during the Bush administration, we can now have a number of different payouts made with pretax dollars. My employer puts these savings under a heading called a "cafeteria plan." Here's how it helped me to reduce my tax bill.

My employer takes the deduction for my health insurance premium pretax. That's $49 per week untaxed. My employer-provided life insurance premium is paid pretax. That's another $4 untaxed. My company-sponsored IRA account gets $5 per week untaxed, as well as the untaxed contributions which my employer makes to my IRA, out of the goodness of their hearts.

There are other payments which you can make with pretax dollars also. Consult with your employer to see if they enable these types of benefits. As far as I know, the law doesn't require employers to provide these options but many employers do because they can improve workforce morale. It might also be advisable to consult with a tax preparation professional regarding the long term effects and conditions of these types of benefits. Pretax deposits to IRA accounts can later become taxable if you access them before you reach certain age thresholds.

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TurboTax Articles

Cities with the Lowest Tax Rates

The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.

Cities with the Highest Tax Rates

Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.

Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions

Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.

A Freelancer's Guide to Taxes

Freelancing certainly has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time. The Internal Revenue Service considers freelancers to be self-employed, so if you earn income as a freelancer you must file your taxes as a business owner. While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you'll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. Here are things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes.

Tax Deductions for Voluntary Interest Payments on Student Loans

Most taxpayers who pay interest on student loans can take a tax deduction for the expense ? and you can do this regardless of whether you itemize tax deductions on your return. The rules for claiming the deduction are the same whether the interest payments were required or voluntary.

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