What the experts say
IRS tightens overseas account rules
“The Internal Revenue Service is winding down its program to entice wealthy Americans who hid money offshore to come forward and take an amnesty deal,” said Lynnley Browning in Bloomberg.com. The agency will shutter its “voluntary disclosure” program at the end of September. That’s not to say that if you’re dodging taxes through offshore banks you’re “off the hook.” The IRS now has “more advanced tools to ferret out tax cheats, including data provided by Switzerland, Israel, and other offshore jurisdictions.” Since the voluntary program began in 2009, 56,000 U.S. taxpayers have disclosed offshore accounts to avoid prosecution, coughing up $11.1 billion in back taxes, interest, and “often hefty” penalties.
Unemployment benefits for gig workers
“Gig workers between jobs shouldn’t assume they’re ineligible for unemployment,” said Annie Nova in CNBC.com. Unemployment insurance is intended as a safety net to help people while they are between jobs. Yet a sizable number of out-of-work Americans are unnecessarily missing out. Benefits are generally available to anyone who loses a job “through no fault of their own.” But there’s a catch: “You have to apply.” For independent contractors, this is particularly important. People often assume that for wages to count toward unemployment insurance, “you need to be in an employee/employer relationship,” and that self-employed and independent contractors are ineligible. Many workers are misclassified as contractors, when they’re really employees. If you believe that’s your situation, apply to your state’s unemployment agency, and they will determine your eligibility.
Savings for wedding guests
Hosting a wedding is expensive. “But so is attending one,” said Stephanie Cain in The New York Times. The average wedding guest forked out $900 in 2016 on expenses such as gifts, outfits, babysitters, and hotel rooms. The price can be even steeper for a destination wedding. But there are ways to cut costs “without ruffling etiquette feathers or looking cheap.” RSVP’ing ahead of time will help with those aforementioned travel costs. The hotel may also extend the room block rate beyond the wedding, so you might be able to tack on some vacation time. Attire, another potentially expensive headache, can be rented, and so can accessories such as jewelry. And consider pooling your cash with other guests to get a “larger, more substantial gift.”