IRS revises overseas tax rules
The Internal Revenue Service is easing up on its overseas crackdown, says Brian Knowlton at The New York Times. The agency has been aggressively pursuing overseas tax cheats, but criticism that its methods "had disproportionately hurt small taxpayers guilty of innocent oversights" has forced the service to revise some of its rules. Among the changes is an expansion of the voluntary disclosure program, removing the existing $1,500 limit on unpaid taxes and empowering the IRS to determine whether or not the taxpayer's "failure to file previously was 'non-willful.'" Those deemed to have complied will be spared any penalties, but "anyone remaining out of compliance" could face penalties of up to 50 percent of the taxes due, nearly double the current rate of 27 percent.
Don't waste a dime on old tech
If you're looking to save money, start by ditching obsolete technology, says AnnaMaria Andriotis at Market Watch. Your pay-TV subscription should be the first thing to go. More and more consumers are cutting the cable and switching to services like Hulu and Netflix, "which provide much of the same programming at a fraction of the price." Landlines are out, too, with many users switching full time to cellphones and video-chatting services like Skype. For drivers, rather than paying $300 for a new GPS, many are relying on free map apps instead. And don't bother with a "point and shoot" camera now that smartphones are "quickly catching up" in terms of photo quality.
The rules for rewards cards
Don't forfeit your rewards, says Michele Lerner at Daily Finance. According to a new study from CardHub, "while credit card companies provide about $48 billion in rewards each year, about one third of those rewards are never redeemed." Some of that money is left behind by forgetful consumers, but the shortfall also has to do with the limits on how rewards can be redeemed. Common requirements include minimum spending thresholds and clauses that cause points to expire after a missed payment. If you're shopping for a new card, remember that cash-back rewards are still best, since they "have the bonus of letting you use your rewards to pay your bill." Lastly, be wary of deals that offer big sign-on bonuses and low introductory rates. The savings today could cost you rewards points down the road if you ever miss a payment.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
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- The week's best photojournalism
- 10 things you need to know today: December 20, 2014
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
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