What is the AMT and Who Pays It?

I really strive to explain complex topics in a straightforward way.  But the AMT is a toughie. Our “main” tax code is complicated enough.  But there is actually a second set of tax rules: the Alternative Minimum Tax rules. What is the AMT? The Alternative Minimum Tax...

The Difference between Marginal and Average Tax Rates

You may have heard that the income tax rate on the highest earners is now 39.6%. Wow, does that mean if we make $500,000 we’ll pay $198,000 in federal income tax? Well, no. The rates you hear on the news are the top marginal tax rates.  Tax payers are divided into tax...

Should You Get Help to File Your Taxes?

Tax time is officially here.  But how should you get it done?  Should you do it yourself or hire outside help? I have mixed feelings on this issue. On the one hand, I believe that it is empowering to do your own taxes.  It seems intimidating at first, which makes it...

The Reason to Itemize Your Taxes (Or Not)

This is the second post in my “Taxes for Your Family” series. Back when you were a young and fancy-free, your taxes were simple as pie. You probably rented a place to live (or these days, lived with your parents), had no kids, and didn’t make that much money anyway....