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FAQ

I'm trying to fill out a free fillable tax form. It won't let me click "done with this form" or "efile" which?
From https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/...  (emphasis mine):DONE WITH THIS FORM — Select this button to save and close the form you are currently viewing and return to your 1040 form. This button is disabled when you are in your 1040 formSo, it appears, and without them mentioning it while you're working on it, that button is for all forms except 1040. Thank you to the other response to this question. I would never have thought of just clicking the Step 2 tab.
Some tax payers feel the government played politics by making the take-home bigger in people’s paychecks because many people ended up owing the IRS or getting smaller refunds. Who did the tax cut benefit and what did it do for Donald Trump?
First of all, one must consider the Universe of people who can potentially be impacted by a change to the FIT rates. Almost half the households in the United States pay either a NEGATIVE FIT (through the Earned Income Tax Credit), or pay NO FIT. Obviously, these people will not benefit from an income tax rate reductionFor normal working-class people who are net payers of FIT, they ALL experienced a tax cut, and the more taxes they paid under the old rates the more of a tax reduction they would see. In no case was it a life-changing reduction, but unless they submitted revised W-4 forms to change their withholding, their status with respect to any tax refund should not have changed. On the other hand, if they DID change their withholding in order to maximize take-home pay, then their refund would definitely be less - maybe they might have had to pay more when they filed.One of the reasons to cut taxes is to create a sense of optimism and increasing prosperity, thus encouraging people to SPEND MONEY, which stimulates the economy and, at least theoretically, results in the net tax revenues coming into the government to remain the same or even possibly increase.But I don’t think there was any devious plot by the Republicans in Congress to artificially inflate paychecks at the expense of much-anticipated tax refunds.
Do people in the UK care about losing their free movement rights after Brexit?
Not for me it doesn’t and let’s be honest here, what does the freedom of movement actually enable?The basic premise is it allows folk in countries within the EU to up sticks and go to any other country within the EU - no questions asked (more or less). The upshot being, anyone can go where they please and legitimately claim the same as those who were born, have lived, earned and paid taxes in the target country.That’s the nuts and bolts of it in 4 lines.As you can imagine, the freedom of movement policy has meant the UK has flourished in certain sectors because we have been able to recruit intelligent and hardworking individuals that, perhaps, were denied the chance to progress in their own country.It has also meant we have taken in an inordinate amount of lazy, free-loading loafers who, contribute nothing to the country other than being a drain on the economy, who commit crimes and ultimately, treat the UK and its denizens with utter contempt.What’s going to change when we leave the EU? Well, let me tell you a story:I work all over the world in North/South America, Asia and the Middle East and have to fill out a visa form for almost every country I work in. Do I kick up a fuss about it? Do I scream blue murder at the inconvenience of having to fill out - yet more - paperwork? Do I blame the establishments concerned for employing unnecessarily bureaucratic measures?No.I take the 5 minutes it takes to fill the form out and submit it. Sometimes, I have to send it to or go with my passport to the Embassy. Do I care? Not in the slightest and do you know why I don’t care?Because these measures are in place to protect the welfare of the country I’m visiting.The UK moving out of the EU puts a stop to the freedom of movement. We don't enjoy it anywhere else in the world and yet, it doesn’t prevent us from travelling, working or emigrating to those places. That is exactly how it should be and how the UK will be once we leave.Yes, we will have to apply for a visa to enter European countries. We will lose the obvious benefit of being able to easily recruit genuine candidates to come and work here without the need for said visas - but are those really valid issues or insurmountable obstacles? Nope, because if a candidate is good enough and credible, they’ll get in and we’ll welcome them.By taking back control of our borders we prevent the undesirables from coming in and taking the piss, and that far, far outweighs any potential negatives.So, in answer to your question, do I care about losing my freedom of movement in the EU?No, I welcome it because, with respect to public and economic welfare, it’s the most responsible decision we’ve ever made.
What extra curricular activities could Bill Gates have listed on his college application? Leave the SAT scores and his grades. What were his extra curricular activities?
Thanks for the A2ATLDR:Bill Gates was a uniquely talented and ambitious person even as a child. At 14 he was able to write computer programs better than most adults such that several companies paid for him for his services. Now a days, it is easier to "start" an online business... but Bill Gates did it as a teenager when you had to do it all yourself. There was no internet (as we know it), no website building platforms, no online marketplaces, no online tutorials on "how to start a business". He mostly figured out how to do it himself, including filling out all the federal and state tax forms covering the revenue of his business himself by hand.Longer version:Largely paraphrased from Wikipedia (link Bill Gates)At a time (1968) when personal computer ownership was literally 0.00%, Bill Gates first encountered a computer when his school bought a terminal and a block of access time on a mainframe. Think of this of like having access to a web browser and an internet connection, except instead of being able to surf the web... you only could run really, really, really simple apps - like tic-tac-toe and you had to have the "internet" connection for run any apps.When that computer time ran out and he didn't have any more money. The 13 year old Bill Gates managed to hack into a PDP-10 owned by Computer Center Corporation (CCC) to give himself and his friends (including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) free computer time. When CCC found out, they banned him for the summer (it was a more innocent time back then).  After his ban was up, he (and his friends) offered to find bugs in CCC's software in exchange for free computer time. The next year, another software company called Information Systems, hired the group of friends to write a payroll program for more computer time and money. When his school found out about his skills, they had him write a computer program to schedule students in classes. When he was 17, Bill Gates started his own company (Traf-O-Data) which read the raw data from roadway traffic counters and create reports for traffic engineers. For that they built a machine to process the ticket automatically More stories about Bill Gates here:Bill Gates, Inside the Gates
How do I go about paying my taxes?
I’m assuming you mean income tax despite the reference to “taxes for my home”. Property taxes where I live require no forms to be filed.Start reading the tax guide for your jurisdiction - likely available on line. It will probably be painful, particularly if you do not know the terminology. There will be frequent references to other parts of the document (to fill out a worksheet or to refer to a definition). Read everything because you do not yet know what applies to your situation, and what does not. It is going to be very tedious but I strongly urge this upon you as it is both educational and empowering.Plan B - purchase tax software. Most have some ‘interview’ mode that has you answer questions about your circumstances and enter data. While easier that starting from scratch, you will likely find they will ask questions and you may have no idea what they are talking about. Carefully persevere. Use Google to find out what things mean. The software ‘Help’ may also be very useful.The other resource you have that should help is the tax forms filled on your behalf in previous years. If you have never had any income, then this may be useless but if you have access to a ‘Married filing joint’ return (US reference), that applies to you then it will show the types of income and expense information that likely applies to you now as well.BTW - no one can answer “start to finish” since we have no idea where you file your taxes. I file for two countries and they are very different in each. (You do NOT want my tax life!!)
How is financial aid calculated?
The college adjudicates the financial determination for the college’s money and acts as an agent for the Federal money.Every US citizen, permanent resident and legal refugee will fill out the FAFSA forms (FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in order to qualify for any Federal aid, and any US college that awards aid wants to take advantage of the Federal aid first.Many of the private colleges will ask the applicant to fill out the PROFILE (Apply for College Financial Aid) forms (that cost money to fill out) and use the extra information that is gathered to determine the college’s expectation of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Those forms require the student to fill out some of the information and All of the parents to fill our information. Without complete forms, there is No financial aid…. None …. Zero…. no matter how poor you are. Therefore, it is Essential that your parents fill out those forms. You MUST have your parents fill out the forms, unless you are 24 years old or older, a member of the US military or honorably discharged, or legally married. However, if you are married, then your spouse must fill out the forms with you.The total cost (TC) of the college is the tuition, mandatory fees, room, board, books and supplies and some miscellaneous expenses.Your need for financial aid is TC - EFC. You can Not negotiate on the EFC. It is what the college perceives it to be. Therefore, be very careful and honest in filling out the FAFSA and PROFILE forms. If you are considered an US applicant then you must (generally) submit your latest Federal Tax forms (for your parents and for you) to the college. If you or your parents own a “small business”, be prepared to be GRILLED for extra information as almost every college believes families Hide money in a small business. I have known families that had to produce evidence that the family was not Hiding money in younger siblings bank accounts or investment accounts. Be prepared for a Lot of forms.If you are an international applicant, then you may Not fill out the FAFSA forms. And the PROFILE or other forms that you and all your parents fill-out must be verified by an independent agency in your country that is trusted by the college. Small business owners could be haunted even more if international.Once the level of financial aid is determined, the US applicants are Expected to take a Federal Pell Grant. And even if the college says otherwise, they will structure your “aid” to almost force an US applicant to take a Federal Direct Loan (they have their ways….)All colleges expect the student to Earn money each Summer (including the Summer before you start college). Period. Many colleges also expect the student to earn some money during the academic year (one way to “force the US student” to take a Federal Direct loan).If you get financial aid from a college, then Expect to graduate with some amount of student loans. That is because you must apply for financial aid Each year, and “surprise, surprise”, I have seen Increase the EFC for rising juniors and seniors…….. (therefore reducing the amount of college money provided to you as a grant).Given that a Private US college can cost as much as $300,000 for four years, most students need to apply for financial aid.Some colleges will award some Merit Scholarship money to excellent students, however the elite Private US colleges (for the most part) do Not award any merit scholarships.Athletic scholarships are a whole different story.Enjoy the process.All the best.
Is the taxation in Nordic countries really as bad as they say? I prefer to hear answers from actual Nordics.
All Nordic countries are different, except perhaps Finland and Sweden, which have almost identical average wages and price levels at the moment. Legislation and labor code have long been very much alike.Tax calculations are produced in different ways and taxes are spent in slightly different ways, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the tax percentages were within a reasonably close margin.The following calculation is for Finland.As local tax payers do, go to the income tax rate calculator 2019.Fill in municipality, parish (if any) and year of birth. We’ll leave all else blank.On earned income, we’ll just fill in the first box in the form. Say, 40,000€ ($45,000) for a median income in the private sector.You could play with other variables like capital income, but this is a very basic example.Next are deductions. Common deductions include home loan interest, student loan interest and commuting expenses. We’ll just claim annual 300€ ($340) from trade union membership fees and unemployment fund payments.Rates used for calculation:Resulting income tax for 2019 is 18.5%, of which 18.0% is municipal tax.Full disclosure, 0.815 x 40,000 isn’t your annual net salary. There is withholding tax we need to take into consideration. That covers pension, unemployment and health insurance, and is paid by your employer. (Here’s probably where practices vary between countries the most).So we’ll visit another online calculator. This one’s only in Finnish and Swedish, not English.Same example salary, same example age. No deductions. Add the income tax percentage calculated before and you get an estimated annual net salary of 29,300€. That’s 27% tax on income. All included.Here’s a taste of what ‘all’ entails. The Social Insurance Institution of Finland in English online. (Apparently they also have an Instagram account!)You might be interested to know how much you spent on healthcare there?It’s indirectly supported by the municipal tax, but the health insurance, specifically, came to 988€ ($1,120) a year, which was suspended from your income in monthly installments of 82.33€.For 80% of the population this will do. Approximately 20% have a private health insurance.There’s more than income tax, of course. Let’s check out the tax payer info online. Only brief summary available in English there, sorry.Here’s the whole tax contribution sorted by source.Finland’s taxes in 2017, million euros34,404 from income tax31,848 from consumption27,068 from mandatory social security payments, incl. the withholding tax we saw earlier.Property tax is in the bottom-right corner, there. Everything else is pretty insignificant.We’ve already broken down the two big ones. Zooming in on consumption now.20,404 MEUR tax revenue from VAT (value added tax)4,324 from energy (gasoline, electricity)1,340 from alcohol. The state monopoly liquor store online1,169 from taxes on vehicles …962 from tobacco products…1,021 MEUR from national lottery and gambling.Yes, gambling. Tax revenue from horse races and slot machines is used for supporting sports and culture.Tax contribution being made in a supermarketVAT is a tax on consumption. Those who do not consume, do not pay. Value added tax is generally 24%, but reduced on basic necessities:14 % on groceries, restaurants and meal services10 % on medicine, accommodation, transportation, books, sports and recreation.VAT is not paid for exports.Here’s how it plays out in general price levels.Cost Of Living Comparison Between United States And FinlandFinnish people on average have 16.29% less disposable income than Americans. That difference suspended from your salary covers an array of social services, incl. universal health insurance in EU, higher education, nine months parental leave, subsidized daycare… things Americans tend to pay more out of pocket for.With subsidies, preschool and daycare is 63.41% cheaper in Finland.Here’s the widest margin in USA’s favor:Gasoline is +141.15% more expensive in Finland. I certainly noticed the difference on a road trip in USA earlier this year.Jeans and domestic beer are also much more affordable in USA. Groceries are more affordable in Finland and EU in general. With 14% VAT and all.To answer your question, is it bad? I recognize that there’s a significant chunk of my income gone every month, but I don’t feel bad about it considering what I’ve gotten in return. I was a net receiver for the first 25 years of my life. Now I pay back. I also support the services that my parents as pensioners need.I like that I have information available on what my contribution amounted to and what it’s spent on.What do you think, does it look bad?Edited to add:Look, it comes down to different mindsets. Living in the USA I would probably groan about taxes too, because the way the society is set up, you need a lot of disposable income to afford good living. Anything that hampers with that, incl. taxes, leaves lower/middle income earners with less options.This isn't the way it works in Europe. Tax-funded services provide the kind of security and opportunities that lower/middle income earners would struggle to obtain. This is most clearly demonstrated in health care and education.
I'm going to be moving to Hong Kong next month. What do I need to know?
The way to find the apartment is to find the neighborhood you want to live in, and walk into a real estate agent for that neighborhood.  Hong Kong is pretty compact, so it doesn't make that much difference if you live on the island.  I know a few people that live in Shenzhen (much, much cheaper) and commute to Central every day.Bank account:  go into a bank with your passportPhone: You can get your iphone unlocked at which point there are all sorts of competitive cell plansInternet: Also lots of competition.  Cost of living: It can very widely.  The big cost is rent, and where you want to live and how much you want to pay is up to you.  Expat things tend to be more expensive.The only thing that I haven't been able to get in Hong Kong are tamales.Some random things....1) The most annoying thing is to find schools for the kids.  One thing that I found out was that you should e-mail the schools to see if there are any places open before filling out any applications.   That will save you a lot of time, and if a school doesn't respond to your e-mails, that means they aren't interested.Also you'll find that people will keep their space in a school until the last minute.  We were put on a lot of wait lists, and the day before school started we got calls seeing if you are interested.2) The housing reimbursement program is not a separate account.  You fill out a form saying that you want X of your income to go to housing, and that gets set up tax-free.  I was confused because I thought it was like an account in the US where the money goes into a separate account.3) Pensions work differently in HK.  One big mistake that I made was because pension matches are subject to US tax, I minimized my pension match since I assumed that I wouldn't have access to the funds until I was retiring.  What I didn't realize was that outside of the minimum contribution, you get the full pension benefit in cash when you switch employers.  If I realized this I would have maximized my employer match.4) If you are a US citizen/resident, you will need a tax accountant for the first year.  The taxes are low, but you will have to fill out a ton of forms.  Once you know how to fill out the taxes, then you can just copy them over to future years.5) If you have a choice you want to get paid as a HK employee and not a US employee, the tax rules are different and in particularly as an HK employee you do not have to pay US social security taxes.  The income tax is about the same, but as an HK employee you don't have payroll withholding.