What the experts say
How to save on travel this year
Saving money through travel deals “has never been easier or more accessible,” said Lucas Peterson in The New York Times. One of the best ways to find cheap flights is to subscribe to a few of the “many deal newsletters that catalog the best travel bargains.” Scott’s Cheap Flights, The Flight Deal, and Secret Flying are all good bets. You might also consider setting up a Google alert for terms like “flight flash sale,” so you don’t miss out on brief discount windows. AARP and AAA “are somehow overlooked” as great resources for travel discounts; members can get reductions on hotel and rental car prices if they book through either group’s dedicated travel site.
IRS seeks funding after tax changes
“The Internal Revenue Service has estimated it may need nearly half a billion dollars more over the next two years” to implement the sweeping tax overhaul, said Herb Jackson in USA Today. IRS funding has shrunk by 20 percent since 2010, but the agency says it needs additional funds for answering phone calls, creating new tax forms, and training employees on the latest changes. “Though the tax overhaul was originally touted as a way to simplify the code, in some cases Congress added new complications.” For instance, the law reduced the home mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $750,000 for loans that closed after Dec. 15, 2017, but refinancings and loans that were in process before Dec. 15 are exempted. “The problem, however, is that the IRS generally does not know when a mortgage closes, the terms of a refinancing, or the date of a purchase contract.”
Consider switching to a Roth IRA
The passage of the new tax bill is a “golden opportunity for you to convert your traditional individual retirement account into a Roth IRA,” said Elizabeth O’Brien in Money.com. The bill reduced multiple individual income tax brackets, so if you convert your traditional IRA to a Roth and immediately pay taxes on those funds, “you will be paying at a lower rate than before.” Contributions to traditional IRAs are tax-deductible now because you will pay income tax on them later, when you withdraw the funds. But withdrawals from Roth accounts are tax-free, because contributions are taxed upfront at current rates. “Settle your bill when it’s the lowest it’ll ever be,” says tax attorney Rebecca Walser. “There will never be a better time than now.” ■