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Tax Day 2013: 5 Surprising Sources of Taxable Income

Posted on Monday, Apr 15, 2013

Tax Day is here! Are you ready? Are your taxes complete and in the mail? Most people think that determining their total amount of taxable income would be a simple math equation of your annual salary, wages, tips, commissions + any additional investment income from stocks or rental properties. But, nothing is that black and white when it comes to taxes, which is why many other sources of taxable income often get overlooked. Here are a few, often surprising, sources of income that Uncle Sam would like a piece of on tax day:

1. Social Security Benefits
If your income is above a certain level, a percentage of your social security income is taxable. To find out if or what you owe, add your other income to half of your social security benefits. If the answer is between $25,000-$34,000, and you’re filing singly, you may be taxed on up to half of your benefits; $32,000 if filing jointly. If the total is over, $34,000, as much as 85% of your social security income could be subject to tax, $44,000 if married filing jointly.

2. Unemployment
It might feel like rubbing salt in wounds, but since unemployment is a temporary substitute for your normal salary (although likely not the same), federal tax laws treat that income the same tax-wise.

3. Alimony
If divorced, the alimony payments one ex spouse pays to another are deductible by the payer and taxable by the recipient. Child support payments aren’t the same as alimony and are not counted as taxable income.

4. Gambling, Lottery and Sweepstakes Winnings
Whether you win the lottery, a round of roulette in Vegas, or money in a school 50/50, all gambling winnings are taxable. Casino winnings over $1,200 and lottery winnings over $600 must be reported by law.

5. Jury Duty Stipends
The seemingly insignificant daily stipend (average $15) jurors get for doing their due diligence is considered taxable income.

6. Scholarships
Most students who are lucky enough to receive scholarship money don’t realize there are tax implications involved with those good fortunes. Funds that go toward tuition, books, equipment and supplies are tax exempt if in a degree program; but money for travel, room and board is subject to tax.

7. Independent Contractor Income
Say you have a small side business as a photographer, landscaper, accountant or tutor. Any money you earn, even a few hundred dollars, is all taxable income and must be reported to the IRS.

Here are a few more surprising sources of taxable income that you must consider when filing taxes this year:

• Forgiven or cancelled debts
• Executor’s fees
• Tips
• Royalties by authors, musicians or inventors
• Notary public fees
• Sale of property
• Trust income
• Severance pay
• 401K Plans
• Lump sum distributions
• Capital gains and losses
• Interest received
• Rollovers from retirement plans

Hopefully your taxes are signed, sealed and delivered, or you’re headed to the mailbox today. If you have any questions about managing your finances or need financial advice or investment services in the Pensacola to Tallahassee region, let us know if we can help.

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