Don't get discouraged by the mountains of information out there. According to the IRS, 20% of American tax payers miss out on a tax break worth up to $6,269. Now that is something to think about.
If they wanted to fix this, I think they could. Couldn't you just put every single tax program into a system, then have someone enter in all their info and answer a load of questions, and have that spit out all the programs they qualify for come tax season?
I suppose tax software programs claim to be able to do this already. But it irritates me that you have to a pro just to hopefully get every program that should be coming your way. I say again, this shouldn't be so complicated that its it's own industry. That's the definition of a cottage industry.
Good advice. Asking a lot of questions is the best way to go. The less lenders are willing to share and answer freely, the more likely you will be paying crazy high fees and % interest rates that you won't realistically be able to even afford.
Here's a great resource for SNAP benefits. It shows all 50 states and how much they offer in total benefits, benefits per person/month, benefits per household, persons and households participating, and several ways to filter information.
Compare SNAP Participation and Benefits
They should just focus audits on the top earners in the country that pay little to no taxes. Like corporations. Sure, cut funding. Why not. :) Just make it more targeted. (I just don't want to ever have to deal with it)
Every state gets a block grant from the government, to spend on a host of welfare programs, for families in need. Decided to look at my state's spending pie chart out of curiosity (Texas), then realized that every state spends wildly different. I suppose this is a good thing, as states can decide to allocate funds by their individual state's needs.
But thought it worth noting all the same, if anyone here wants to check out how their state invests in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and MOE (Maintenance of effort), use this state by state spending guide.
To be more clear, we are talking about these programs and services (minus the admin and systems costs):
- Pre-Kindergarten/Head Start
- Home Visiting
- Child Welfare Services
- Supportive Services
- Services for Children and Youth
- Assessment/Service Provision
- Basic Assistance
- Work, Education, and Training Activities
- Work Supports
- Child Care (Assistance and Non-Assistance)
- Financial Education and Asset Development
- Refundable Earned Income Tax Credits
- Non-EITC Refundable State Tax Credits
- Non-Recurrent Short Term Benefits
- Prevention of Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancies
- Fatherhood and Two-Parent Family Formation and Maintenance Programs
Not a good idea. But it does make me realize even further just how inadequate the IRS is at handling everyone's taxes. The IRS is very bogged down, and far too complicated. Unfortunately it's the perfect example of government doing a job worse than the private sector.
That said, simply passing on the debt is not making use of the private sector for efficiency. No, instead its making the government more money, and getting outside parties to do their dirty work for them.
Just read this article on the Motley Fool:
The Biggest Social Security Change in 2017 That's Not Being Advertised
Here's the exert of note:
Beginning in 2017, brand-new retirees who can enroll for Social Security benefits, but were born in 1955, won't reach their full retirement age until age 66 years and 2 months. Starting this year and in each successive year thereafter through 2022, the full retirement age will increase by two months to account for lengthening life expectancies, as outlined by the Social Security Amendments of 1983. This will culminate in a full retirement age of 67 years for those born in 1960 or after.
So this had me wondering if this was really new information, or if Motely Fool was just reporting on a well known fact, but packaging it as 'news'. Seems it is new. Officially in 2017, full retirement ages are changing for everyone born after 1937. The above quote is completely accurate. And if you are wanting more detailed and official info, here's what I found about ALL the changes to Social Security and full retirement age changes for 2017 onward:
2017 Brings New Changes to Full Retirement Age. Here's a blog SSA wrote about the changes to full retirement age, starting in Jan of 2017, for starters. It's a quick read.
Retirement Planner: Full Retirement Age. This is from the Social Security official website. It breaks down everything you need to know about retirement ages based on your DOB, as well as calculators and what happens to your SS benefits if you claim early vs on time vs late, age wise.
2017 Social Security Changes Fact Sheet. Everything the SSA changed about benefits, including COLA (cost-of-living slight increase), tax rates, taxable earnings increase, coverage amounts, disability thresholds, and payout examples after changes.
The Commonwealth Fund published this research paper called 'U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective'. It makes you really, really think about what the U.S. spends vs what it actually gets on healthcare overall as a country. The numbers and findings are staggering to be honest. And pretty disheartening. A serious and fundamental change is desperately needed here.
They compare many key metrics to 13 other 'high-income' countries, being:
Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The most salient point made - The United States spends far and away the most on healthcare vs any of these countries. And their findings show that we get considerably less for spending by far the most, as a country.
Check out this graph of what countries spend on healthcare, as a % of their GDP:
And we don't even have universal healthcare, just a patchwork system of programs to help Americans get health insurance access and discounts and coverage and whatnot. So why do we continue to operate like this? If it's so obvious we are spending more and getting far less, why can't we have a serious conversation about universal healthcare, as other countries employing it are having better results across the board than us?
Check out that study and let me know what you think.
I just listened to Dan Carlin (podcaster/historian) talk about the nature of our healthcare system in the U.S. on his 'Common Sense' podcast. I highly recommend checking out his latest episode called 'Unhealthy Numbers'. You can download it free on his website, or listen for free on his podcast through iTunes or an Android podcast app.
Anyways, it makes me want a universal healthcare system in this country even more. We spend more than any other country on healthcare, yet we get far less in return. What in the world is going on here? I had a similar feeling after reading Steven Brill's 'Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us'. If you are more into reading than listening, that is the best piece I have found yet to explain why our system is so in dire need of fundamental change.
Didn't realize this, but different states have different filing dates for state taxes, as well as different dates when you file for an extension as well. That is, if you live in a state that requires you to pay states taxes. No need to worry if you live in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
For 2017, state filing breaks down like this:
State Tax Filing Deadlines - Due Dates for State Income Tax Returns and Tax Extensions
As for federal filing, it's not April 15th this year, it's April 18th. And if you are filing for an extension to pay, that date to pay will be October 16th, 2017. Just keep in mind you still have to file by 4/18, the extension just gives you more time to pay (if you happen to have a bill).