Congratulations – Your Money Is Now All Yours

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Telling Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.

Tax Freedom Day

May 1 is the day for those living in New York and New Jersey to pay off their total tax bill for 2012. This includes federal, state, and local income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and sales tax, excise, and property tax. You citizens can take pride in the fact that you are not the highest taxed in the nation — the citizens of Connecticut have to work until May 5. For your information, Florida, on April 12, is number 28; Hawaii, on April 6, is number 45; and Tennessee, on March 31, is number 50.

If you’re past your ‘tax freedom day’ and still looking for extra money, check out the federal government, as well as the states:

Check For A Missing US Savings Bond

Over the years, many of us have misplaced or have forgotten about savings bonds we were given as a gift, or bought through payroll deduction, or other ways. The bonds are returned to you, the investor, at maturity — if the investor can be found. The Treasury Department says 25,000 payments come back annually as undelivered. Give this a try and find out if you are owed a U.S. savings bond.

The first and easiest step is at the U.S. Department of the Public Debt’s Treasury Hunt site. Just type in your Social Security number and, if there’s a match, follow the subsequent instructions. This tool identifies bonds issued after 1973 or have reached final maturity.

If you have bonds but are not sure if they are still earning interest, go to the site, Treasury Securities That Have Stopped Earning Interest. Continue on the site for additional and valuable information.

Check Your State For Missing Money

You can check for free, or pay $35 or more to some companies to help you find your missing money. Your forgotten bank accounts, uncashed stock dividends, and unused deposits on merchandise at Macy’s or other retailers all must be turned over to the state after a set period of time. A long-time stock broker at Morgan Stanley, Matthew Gershon [(212) 613-6751] has done the homework, for free, for his clients, and has been notifying them of their lost funds. You can do this for free for yourself at The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) site.

Tax Loopholes

And if you are looking for a way to save some tax dollars, consider moving to one of the following states:

  • Alabama: $1,000 deduction for building a radioactive fallout shelter.
  • Arkansas: Blind combat veterans may buy a new car every two years tax free.
  • Hawaii: Claim a $3,000 deduction for taking care of ‘exceptional trees’ on their property.
  • Louisiana: an annual ”second amendment weekend tax holiday,” which lets shoppers buy guns, knives, blinds, and other hunting gear sans sales tax each September. You can be sure that one will be around as long as there are deer to shoot in Cajun country.
  • Florida: Rent a cow, put it in your yard, and get a property tax break.
  • New York: Become a politician.

One more thing: Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?

Have a good week.

Joseph Reisman, of Joseph S. Reisman & Associates, has been serving tax prep and business accounting expertise from his Coney Island Avenue office for more than 25 years. Check out the firm’s website.