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PERSONAL FINANCE

Fri., Nov. 14, 2008

If you’ve been one of the lucky ones who actually made money investing this year, congratulations. If you’re also in a lower tax bracket, double congratulations – the IRS has a prize for you. Taxpayers in brackets under 25 percent can sell their investments for a profit and not pay tax on that gain.

Investments in stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds that were made more than a year ago are eligible for the tax-free prize. The law allows you to pay a zero percent capital gains tax versus the 15 percent capital gains tax on all other brackets.

For married couples, your taxable, not gross, income must be under $65,100. For singles it’s under $32,550. This requires a bit of calculation before Dec. 31 to determine your taxable income expectations. If you earn $75,000 in gross income as a couple and claim deductions that put you under $65,100 taxable, you’ll get the tax break.

This break continues until 2010, unless the new president changes it, so if you’re not at the one-year mark and under the income limit, wait until you qualify for the tax-free gains.

COST OF MOVING: Moving to a new city often involves important salary and cost-of-living considerations. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to first check out the level of income you’d need to maintain a comfortable living.

Several user-friendly cost-of-living calculators on the Web can help you figure out your salary needs in a new city or state.

•Bankrate.com ( www.bankrate.com /brm/movecalc.asp): Select your current city, the city you’re going to and current income, and calculate relocation equivalents and expenses in more than four-dozen categories.

•CityRating.com (www.city rating.com /costofliving.asp): Calculates the cost of living in two different states based on your current income.

•Relocation Essentials (www.relocation essentials.com/aff /www/tools/salary /salaryanalyzer.aspx): Enter states and cities, experience level and occupation to learn salary needs adjusted and unadjusted for inflation.

•PayScale ( www.payscale.com /cost-of- living-calculator): Comparison data between different locations offer charts detailing expenses by category and specific profession salary ranges.

•Salary.com (swz.salary.com /CostOfLivingWizard /layoutscripts /coll_start.asp): Explore cost-of-living differences based on old and new home and work locations, with brief analysis details about the move.

McClatchy


 

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