Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
IRS to stall some tax refunds
"Some people may wait a little longer for their tax refunds next spring," said Darla Mercado at CNBC. Households that file early and claim the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit won't receive their refunds until after Feb. 15 because of a new anti-fraud regulation that takes effect in 2017. The rule gives the IRS "more time to sniff out phony returns and prevent refunds from going to scammers." But that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep filing early. Thieves rush to submit fake returns before actual taxpayers file documents. The two popular tax credits are among the most attractive to scammers, because they often result in a sizable refund.
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Help with at-home care
Dependent-care flexible spending accounts "aren't just for children," said Kimberly Lankford at Kiplinger. "You can also use the money tax-free to cover care for other dependents while you work," such as an elderly parent. To qualify, the person must live with you and either be considered your dependent for tax purposes or receive more than 50 percent of his or her support from you during the year. They must also be mentally or physically incapable of self-care, "which the IRS defines as someone who cannot dress, clean, or feed themselves because of physical or mental impairments." You and your spouse can contribute a total of up to $5,000 annually to a dependent-care FSA.
Employers and your credit history
Despite what you may have heard, a low credit score won't cost you a job offer, said Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post. When employers request an applicant's credit history, what they receive is actually a "dressed down" version of the record used by lenders. That report does not include your credit score. The employer report usually includes public-record information on bankruptcies, liens, and judgments, but excludes a person's age and account numbers. Additionally, if an employment credit report contributes to any decision that negatively affects you, "federal law requires the company to give you a copy of the report along with a written description of your rights."
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