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Friday, March 5, 2010
Book Review - The Tax Lady's Guide to Beating the IRS and Saving Big Bucks on Your Taxes
Like most people, I dread filling out my tax returns and want to minimize my taxes. So was eager to go through Roni Deutch's The Tax Lady's Guide to Beating the IRS and Saving Big Bucks on Your Taxes: Learn How You can Pay Less Money to the IRS by Beating them at their Own Game.

Overall, I found the book to be quite good. The main point that Roni Deutch is trying to make throughout the book is that people can minimize their taxes by having a better understanding of tax rules and good record keeping, so that they can take advantage of all the exemptions, deductions, and credits that are available to them. To that effect, Roni Deutch succeeds in her objective.

The book consists of the following 12 chapters (or "rounds" as Roni Deutch calls it, using a sports analogy):

1. Feeling Intoxicated? Dude, You are Paying Way Too Much in Taxes
2. First Steps: Mama, Don't Let Your Kids Grow Up to Be Sloppy Record Keepers
3. Armed & Dangerous: The More You Know, the Less You Pay
4. 1040 Treasure Map or 1040 Survival Guide? You Decide
5. Addition by Subtraction: The Sweet Science of Tax Deductions, Exemptions, and Credits
6. The New American Dream-Tax Tips for the Self-Employed
7. Fight for Your Tax Savings Diploma
8. Answer the Bell: Keep the IRS Out of Your Investment Portfolio
9. The Main Event-Now You're Ready to Rumble!
10. Boom! Eliminating Tax Debt...Or Surviving an IRS Audit
11. Help in the Ring: Should You Hire a Tax Trainer?
12. Tax-Cutting Tips You Can Take to the Bank

Each chapter is well-organized, and focuses on a wide variety of personal income tax-related topics, including:

- Record keeping
- What is considered taxable income?
- Different filing statuses
- Which IRS form to use for filing your taxes? (whether to use 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040?)
- Tax-tips for the self-employed
- Taxability of different saving options for the college (including 529 plans, Coverdall Savings Account, Prepaid tuition plans, and UGMA)
- Taxability of interest, dividends, and retirement accounts
- Wash sale rule
- Traditional versus Roth IRA
- How to file for an extension, and amend a tax return
- IRS collection options (tax levies, liens, property seizures and so forth)
- Different audit types
- Audit red flags

What I like about the book?

Overall, I found the book to be a good primer on federal income taxes. This book is for anyone who doesn't know much about personal income taxes and wants to get a basic understanding of it. While you can find most of the information in IRS publications, the book presents the information in a well-organized and easy to understand language. It's pretty comprehensive, covering a wide range of topics, and is filled with many tax tips, charts and interesting fast facts.

What I dislike about the book?

Based on the "Beating the IRS" title, I had expected the book to contain advanced topics and tax planning strategies to minimize taxes. However, the book is light on such topics and strategies. For example, the book briefly explains the wash sale rule but does not discuss how you can easily end up with a wash sale if you trade options. The only thing that the book says regarding options is that

"Finally, the (wash sale) rules also cover contracts or options to acquire stock".

As a result, if you have been doing your own taxes or if you already have a good knowledge of taxes, this book will serve more as a refresher rather than providing a lot of new information. However, in all fairness, considering the complexity of tax code, I don't think any single book on taxes can meet the tax needs of everyone.

Final thoughts

Overall, this book is a useful, beginner's guide on personal income taxes. The book emphasizes the importance of good record keeping and the fact that tax planning is a year-round activity rather than something that's done just before the April 15th deadline.


Note: I have received complimentary copy of the book. Please also see Disclosures and Disclaimer

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posted by Little Rishi @ Friday, March 05, 2010  
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