3 Tax Tips for Deducting Your Educational Expenses

3 Tax Tips for Deducting Your Educational Expenses

If you have taken classes or online courses, remember to deduct them on your taxes! Here are three tips for deducting educational expenses

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Hello, I notice that a lot of women on TheOdysseyOnline.com are full or part-time students, or taking educational classes online. So, I'm here with some helpful information about what education expenses are tax deductible this tax season.

If you or your spouse are currently a student, or if you can claim a dependent who is, here are a few ways to reduce your taxable income:

1. Take the Tuition and Fees Deduction

The tuition and fees deduction for qualified education expenses can reduce your taxable income by up to $4,000, even if you don't itemize your deductions. You likely qualify unless you're above the IRS's income threshold, ($65k as of this year) or if you are married and file separately.

How much you can deduct will be based on your modified adjusted gross income, also known as your "MAGI." If you use a top brand tax software, they can help determine if you're eligible and calculate how much you can deduct.

2. Deduct Courses You Take for An Employer or Government Agency

If you're taking courses because your employer or a government agency requires it, you may also consider taking a deduction, although you'll need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A. You can only deduct the amount that exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income.

So if 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $1000, and you paid $1500 for courses, you can claim $500 as a deduction.

You can claim the deduction whether you pay using personal funds or student loans.

Also, as a student you may even receive a service code from your school to use for a discount or even free download of tax software.

3. Deduct Courses You Take to "Maintain or Improve Skills" Needed for Your Work

You may be able to deduct courses you take that maintain or improve skills needed for your work.

For example: If you are a freelance web designer, you can deduct courses you take to keep up with the latest changes in web development, design, and SEO. If you study finance or economics, then something like a WSJ subscription might be a potential deduction. This could also include online courses, or premium site memberships.

OK, unfortunately it's already tax season, so for anyone taking classes or online courses relevant to their income, I hope that's helpful info! If you have questions about specifics, be sure to consult a qualified professional or check out the vast resources online through sites like TurboTax, H&R; Block, or of course, the IRS! (blech!)

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To The Person Feeling Like They're Losing Their Hometown Friends

Don't fret to much, if they are truly your best friends, you aren't gonna lose them.

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When you grow up and leave home to go to college or whatever your plans are after high school, you and your hometown best friends promise to make time for each other. You promise to always get together over breaks and to visit each other if you aren't going to the same schools or living in the same town.

But you realize over time that maybe those promises aren't gonna be kept.

Life gets complicated. School starts to become harder and harder, there are extracurriculars and work, and trying to figure out the rest of your lives; things start to get in the way. Visiting starts to happen less and less, getting together over breaks gets more complicated, you try to stay in contact but the hours in the day seem to get shorter and shorter. There are too many things that you have to accomplish in one day that it's difficult to know if you can even get together.

You start to ask yourself "Am I losing my closest friends?"

And the answer to that question is no, your lives are changing and things are starting to become real but they will always be there. Just because you don't talk all the time or you go a few months without seeing each other, they are still your friends. They will always care and always be there. Don't stress about it too much, they are always gonna be there, it's just that your lives are pulling all of you in different directions and it can get hard to keep up with everyone because you are all so busy.

You are growing up but you're not necessarily growing apart!

If they are truly your best friends they will always be there, and you there for them. As time goes on, your lives will continue to change but you are always gonna be friends. Just know that they are there when you need them, and when you do get to see each other, it's like nothing has changed and you pick up right where you left off. Your friendship is important to all of you. Don't let a little bit of silence or a busy life cause problems. You haven't lost them, trust me, you all are just figuring out life. Don't take it personally when you don't talk for a while.

"Amigas, Cheetahs, Friends for life" — Cheetah Girls

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Women: 5 Tips for Starting a Successful Retail Business

Even though a lot of business has shifted to online stores, you can still succeed in retail with an actual store.

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Tips for Starting a Successful Retail Business: A retail business can be any size and can sell just about anything; from cupcakes to prom gowns. If retailers and wholesalers expect to succeed, however, they need products that consumers want, as well as a great location, a strategy for success, loyal customers, and well-trained employees. No matter what type or size of retail business you are running, you need a good plan in place. Below are five tips to help you start your business off on the right foot.

1. Do Your Research (Then, Research Some More!)

I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "failing to plan is planning to fail."

Even if you think your product idea is the best, do your research. Before you launch your retail business, be sure that there is a need or want for your product in the market. See how the local competition is doing. Think of something that will make your shop unique from theirs, and expand on the market instead of just copying what others already have done. Target the right audience by understanding who is interested in your products, and gear your advertisements toward that group.

2. Create a Solid Business Plan

So, you thought of a million dollar idea while you were waiting in line at Starbucks? Now you need to take a deep breath and create a good business plan (how?) before you start. You need to declare goals and describe how you plan to achieve those goals. Your program should be detailed, covering all areas of the business, including employee training techniques, advertising strategies, funding options, and product lines. Knowing what you are going to do and how you are going to do it will put you on the right track and keep you there.

3. Have a Great Advertising Campaign

You may have the best product in town, but if people do not know you exist, your business will fail. You have to create a strong advertising campaign that will build your brand. Use online methods as well as offline techniques to get your brand recognized. Social media networks, websites, and search engine optimization are useful and affordable online techniques. Offline methods should include a good location, a clear and visible sign, and local advertising methods.

Also, don't forget low-tech and free methods of marketing. Even though you might be focusing a lot of your budget on online and print ads, don't forget old standbys like business cards which have survived the test of time! (You can find high-quality inexpensive ones online from companies like Moo.com and Vistaprint. Oh, and don't forget to always use a coupon!)

4. Understand the Importance of Repeat Customers

Getting new customers can be expensive, so don't lose them! Keeping a customer is much more affordable than trying to obtain a new one, and repeat customers also tend to spend more money. Make sure you have high standards for customer service standards so that you can retain your current clients. Create incentive programs to keep them coming back to your shop; start a newsletter to stay in touch with them and inform them about new products or specials.

5. Train Your Employees Well

Don't you hate it when you walk into a store and some uninspired college kid is behind the counter texting?

Behind every great business are great employees. Take the time to hire only the most capable individuals, and then take the time to train them to your standards. Employee training is a huge part of your business's success. If you want to stay on track with your business plan, make sure you train your employees properly. Conduct monthly performance reviews and reward those who deserve it. Incentive programs for your employees can not only make them work harder, but also make your business more successful.

6. Retail Business = Potential Tax Deductions!

So, if you have a retail business or are in the process of opening one, you know that there are tons of unexpected expenses. Well, the silver lining is that every one of those expenses could be a deduction come tax season! If you have a retail business, make sure you use a good CPA or software specifically for the self-employed from one of the top two brands of tax software. (You can find discounts for both hr block & turbotax self-employed online) Remember, trying to save $50 doing your taxes the cheapest way might cost you hundreds or even thousands on your tax refund, so use the appropriate version with all of the features you need.

Every business needs a plan to succeed, including having the right steps in place and using the correct methods to reach your goals. Do not assume that having a good product will bring in the profits you need; there is much more to running a profitable business. Plan out your business's every move, and carefully carry out the steps you have created for a successful and profitable business.

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