Still time to bolster that refund, and, yes, the IRS makes mistakes

The Ticker

April 10, 1996|By JULIUS WESTHEIMER

TODAY, tax tips, career comments, investment ideas, etc.:

"Although April 15 is just ahead," says Tax Hotline, April, "you can still cut taxes and get a bigger refund by promptly making retirement contributions.

"You get a retroactive deduction for 1995 by maximizing such deductible plan payments. Example: Make 1995 IRA contributions as late as April 15.

"And if you didn't open a Keogh self-employed plan by Dec. 31, you can make a deductible contribution from self-employment income by opening a Simplified Employee Pension before tax filing date."

WRONG WAY: Here are last-minute "tax sins" to avoid, from Working Woman, April:

"Don't invite audit by taking extra-large deductions compared to your income. Don't choose wrong filing status; married people often assume, wrongly, they should file jointly. Don't overpay taxes when you sell a house by forgetting to add improvement expenses. Don't forget the IRS makes mistakes too; have an accountant check their and your figures."

CAREER CORNER: Are you in a "go-nowhere" job? Glamour, April, advises:

"1. Move 'in-house.' Ask associates if you can come by and see what they do. Consider switching tracks.

"2. Try a new job elsewhere, volunteer for more responsibility. Your dedication might impress future employers.

"3. Learn all about a new field. Go to trade shows, ask sales representatives about hot-selling lines, which companies are hiring, etc.

"4. Break in through temping. Part-time work might be the only way a company will hire you."

DANGER AHEAD? "Bear Market in 1997 Likely if Clinton Re-elected," says Smart Money, April, adding, "All re-election years, beginning in 1833 (that's not a misprint) were followed by down markets in post-election years, with exception of 1985, year after Reagan was re-elected."

MONEY-SAVER: "Save by switching to a credit card that charges less interest. For instance, transferring a $2,000 balance from an 18 percent card to Wachovia Bank's 8.25 percent card (800-842-3262) will save $730 if you pay off your balance at the rate of $50 per month." (Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, May)

DON'T BE LATE! Because some train and plane schedules change with Daylight Savings Time, pick up new Amtrak timetables at Penn Station and call BWI Airport (410-859-7034) to receive by mail its freebie, every-other-month "Flight Guide."

TRAVEL TIP: After checking in at a hotel, cruise ship, etc., visit the manager or cruise director. Say you just want to make his or her acquaintance. Exchange business cards. Then if anything goes wrong the top person will realize you're not just another complainer.

MARYLAND MEMO: Several readers told me some well-known chains' cashiers still refuse to take new $100 bills. I suggest that store managers enlighten their people.

PROZAC PROFITS: "Ultimate bear market stock is Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, the anti-depressant drug. If the market falls through the floor, Prozac sales could go through the roof. Profits are booming." (Growth Stock Outlook, Chevy Chase)

BALTIMORE BEAT: "We've raised our USF&G rating to 'Buy' to reflect firm's successful restructuring. Product mix is improving, growth focuses on higher-margin specialty lines." (Dean Witter Reynolds)

LAST LINES: Procter & Gamble, parent of former Noxell Corp. (it's now officially "Procter & Gamble Cosmetic & Fragrance Products") is listed under "Industry Giant Stocks We Favor" in S&P Outlook, April 3.

"If you live in certain states (Maryland included), Mortgage Market Information Services (800-509-4636) will fax you a free list of local mortgage rates." (Working Families)

"Ask for free admission times at museums, etc., you want to visit. Many have them regularly or have special free events." (Tightwad Gazette)

"When you must say 'No,' give a reason for declining and be tactful. Express eagerness to do something else." (Time Management, by Marc Mancini, $10)

Pub Date: 4/10/96

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