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Slideshow of the Fiscal Cliff Resolution

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How I Estimate My Taxes Without Preparing the Whole Return

You may have a ballpark idea of how much income you have. Or, how much money you will make next year. Perhaps you need to just get an idea of what your tax situation is likely to be quickly and easily. Taxes PhD Tax Estimator will accurately calculate Form 1040 components without all the clutter of standard income tax software.

The aim: to understand your tax situation in as few steps as possible and see how changes will affect you going forward. This productivity tool will aid in:

  • Predicting a refund or balance due amount
  • Calculating accurate estimated tax payments
  • Revealing the impact of deductions and credits
  • Adjusting withholding amounts


Taxes PhD is also available on Android smartphones.

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Everything Can Always be Made Better

Innovation doesn’t stop once we become experts. Becoming an expert can have serious consequences if you’re not careful. When you rely on your expertise, it’s easy to become complacent. And resistant to change.

No matter what level you achieve you should always be questioning yourself. Is the way you’ve always done something still the best? Often times. the ultimate solution for continued success lies on something far outside our circle of competence. For example, industries become outdated. A better typewriter, for example, will not achieve anything when the world is shifting to computers. The same can now be said for traditional desktop PC’s because the market is shifting to laptops and mobile.

Indeed, it’s important to continuously be studying your closest competitors. That said, disruptive technologies can affect your business even when they’re outside your industry. This is how Apple became a dominant force in the music industry. Samsung, being a large conglomerate, has become a leader in mobile computing through manufacturing Android phones. Traditional computer manufacturers including Dell and HP could have been big players in mobile.

A disruptive technology is generally a breakthrough that causes a revolution within an industry. This causes many new entrants to strike it rich while many established businesses go bankrupt. As stated earlier, this breakthrough often comes from companies that were outside of the industry being disrupted. Or, they had not traditionally been a direct competitor.

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Choosing the Right Type of Investment Property

The properties that make the best rentals generally fall just below the typical median priced home. There are several reasons for this. For starters, this is a home in which the typical renter can afford. By simply being available to a bigger group of people, this will keep vacancy loss costs lower. In addition, most renters will be able to afford their payments and remain in the home longer.

The bigger the home, the more attractive it is to another buyer rather than a renter. Despite having better resale value, more expensive homes don’t necessarily make a good income property. Since most people who live in these home prefer being home owners, they are less likely to renew their lease.

Another big problem with more expensive homes is that there are more costs involved. They tend to be larger and contain more fixtures. They tend to consist of more repairs and maintenance. This is especially the case each time a tenant moves out. If you get an irresponsible tenant, they can do considerable damage. It’s not unheard of to have to pump thousands of dollars into the property after evicting a bad tenant.

It can often be a challenge to balance rental value with resale value. Cheaper homes do not appreciate as much and don’t sell as fast. This is partly because it appeals more to other investors than other home owners. Obviously, another investor is likely to be bargain hunting. Many investors will pass until they find the perfect deal. Since they will not be living in the property themselves, an investor will treat a property as a commodity.

Condos and townhouses are at the opposite end of the spectrum from expensive homes. They typically offer good cash flow. However, being able to sell a property in a weak market is very difficult. Banks and lenders don’t want to finance them. Also, the price is so low that the fixed costs of financing (if you can get it) are so high in relation to the property that is generally isn’t worth it. For an investor who has cash and is just looking for cash flow, condos can be a great investment. Despite the obvious drawbacks, they have far less costs regarding repairs and maintenance between tenants.

That being said, the type of property you choose to invest in matters greatly. Most investors should seek a balance by choosing properties that are good quality that still make good rentals. This is where you stand to make money on rental income as well as long term price appreciation.

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Narrowing Your Focus to Find the Right Location

When you narrow your focus, you are better equipped on finding yourself the best possible deal. When buying a home, you can use this strategy by focusing on a specific neighborhood.

If you’re new to a city, it’s wise to take some time to know what area you want to live in. Once you’ve done this, you can narrow your focus to a specific area. This has several benefits. First, you become an expert quickly. You become more aware of trends that affect the area. You also have a good understanding of what type of home you like. You also know approximately how much each house is worth. When you establish a degree of familiarity, you are better able to make an informed decision.

A home in a good location will always be worth more than a home in a mediocre area. This isn’t solely dependent on the neighborhood. It also depends on the street and the property that surrounds it. Generally, you should trust your intuition when selecting a location. If a property is available for an attractive price, but it doesn’t feel right, you should pass on it. Even if it’s available for a great price, it’s probably not something you would be happy with. This is why narrowing your criteria is critical. It can save you from making a mistake and settling for less than what you originally wanted.

As mentioned earlier, specific streets and lots do matter. Very few people like being on a busy street. In addition, it’s preferable to have trees and good landscaping. This is especially important in a desert environment.

Zoning is another important element of finding the right location. It can make a huge difference in the future of that location and neighborhood. School zoning is another factor that can add or subtract value from a location. Be sure to do your homework by researching the reputation of the schools your neighborhood is zoned for. These are all factors that matter and will make an enormous difference in the long run. If you have strict criteria and never bend on your requirements, you will find a home that you’ll be happy with.

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Tough Economic Times Call for More Liquidity

Liquidity is one of the most important factors when deciding on how to manage your financial assets. Tough economic times are usually temporary. During times like these, you should err on the side of caution and have plenty of liquid and non-volatile assets. This does not mean you need to turn into a gold bug. However, when deciding to pay down your mortgage, think twice. Should you need access to that money within 5 years, you should find a more liquid investment for your capital instead and keep making the minimum monthly payments.

The equity in your home is not liquid. This means that you simply cannot withdraw and use it anytime as if it were money in the bank. You must plan for the unexpected. You should always maintain some liquidity because there will inevitably be times in which you need cash fast.

There was a time where people believed that equity was almost equal to cash. In a healthy market, you would indeed be able to refinance or sell quickly to extract your equity. This is not the case anymore. It is much harder to quality for a refinance even if you have positive equity. Your credit must be very good and you need to prove your income has been steady for the last few years. In the current environment, you cannot assume that all of your home equity is readily accessible.

When the economic environment is good, people seldom need cash. And cash is much easier to borrow. This is especially the case when asset prices are rising. When the economy is contracting or at stall speed, it is a different story. Lending will often seize up and the capacity you had to borrow will also be gone. Most people take this for granted during the good times.

The harder times generally present the best opportunities. The real catch is that they are difficult to take advantage of. For example, real estate is a great buy in many regions today. At the same time, how many people can afford it right now? How many people are lendable especially for investment purposes? So, despite the enormous opportunities that exist, they are out of reach for many. The statement that bear markets present great opportunities for investors is only a half truth. This is only true to either a new investor or an investor that is buying that asset class with no prior holdings of it. This also assumes that you both have the ability to recognize the opportunity and the means to be able to afford it.

A cynic usually says that a bank will only lend you money when you can prove you don’t need it. This has been quite true at times.

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Housing Becoming an Attractive Long-Term Buy

In many areas, the costs associated with buying have now become cheaper than renting. Some places, notably Las Vegas, still have a ways to go before the market reaches a bottom. This is because there is still a considerable shadow inventory and many homeowners that are underwater. Video Link:

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