November 24, 2009

Never too early to talk taxes

Category: Charity, Community, Government, Money Saver — admin @ 9:32 pm

Cash Oregon helps THOUSANDS of people save MILLIONS on tax returns

Cash Oregon helps THOUSANDS of people save MILLIONS on tax returns

I wanted to start this post off with some humorous holiday lyrics incorporating tax terminology but I got as far as Frosty the Taxman and hit a wall.  The truth is, this time of year, we’re thinking turkeys, stockings and gifts.  Not taxes, I-9’s and refunds.  Right?

But one local nonprofit IS thinking taxes.  And they hope YOU will too.  CASH Oregon offers free tax prep help for people with low to moderate incomes.

Doing your taxes yourself runs the risk that you will miss a key credit.  Paying someone to do your return can cost a couple hundred bucks you don’t have.  As a result, people can miss THOUSANDS of dollars in tax credits every year.  CASH Oregon volunteers do tax returns for free.  You want results?  How about 16 million bucks in federal returns last year on about 14,500 total returns.  This year, they expect to do even more returns.

Where YOU come in, is they need help with the paperwork.  In fact, they need about 500 people in total to handle the project.  You don’t need any background in the tax world, all training is provided.  But you DO need to go through their training which takes some time.  To learn more about the service (either as a volunteer or a client) go here.

October 6, 2009

Category: Arts, Money Saver — admin @ 5:52 pm

moneyDo you know the difference between a tax DEDUCTION and a tax CREDIT?  Neither did we.

A deduction cuts down on your TOTAL taxable income.  So if you make 30K … and have 5K deduction . . . the government only taxes you on 25K.

A CREDIT counts against your total bill.  So if you owe 25K in taxes . . . and have a 5K credit . . . you only write a check for 20K.

So why a tax lesson on a blog about good news?  because Thursday marks the anniversary of the Oregon Cultural Arts Tax Credit.  Donations to the Oregon Cultural Trust are tax credit worthy.  So you can support great groups like the Portland Actor’s Conservatory and save big bucks come mid-April.  For more info, check out this link.

July 31, 2009

Military brings home the groceries

Category: Money Saver — admin @ 10:18 am

It’s a very minor perk of being in the military, but it makes a huge difference.  The commissary.  It’s basically a big grocery store that offers goods to soldiers and retired vets at a lower price than your neighborhood supermarket.

The one problem is commissaries only exist on bases.  If you don’t live near a base, you can’t go shopping unless you want to drive however far it may be (for example, in Southern Oregon soldiers might have to drive several hours to Fort Lewis in Washington).

Which is what led to the Comissary Case Lot Sale.  The Military effectively brings the store to soldiers by setting up a make shift grocer in central locations around the state, trucking in tons of food to sell.

There’s just such a sale this weekend at the Jackson Armory in Portland.  Fri-Sun, 9A-5P.

June 22, 2009

Teaching a “CAN” do attitude

Category: Money Saver — admin @ 1:26 am

Canning is not only a Money Saver, it's Green Friendly

Canning is not only a Money Saver, it's Green Friendly

It was during the recession of the 1970’s that Molly Wells first started canning.  She finds it really fun and a money saver in the long run.  She’s tried to teach people how to preserve food through canning, drying and freezing … but until recently, there hasn’t been a lot of interest.

Then, Molly Wells hit a proverbial perfect storm.  Not only is Portland in the throes of a recession, but it’s also an area of the world where people tend to be conscious of eating more natural, healthy foods.

Last month, she finally put out a test note to see if anyone would sign up for canning classes.

By the tone of this post, you can guess how successful her first push was.  So many people signed up for the first batch of classes she’s had to add more in July for the overflow and is offering another round in August.  Considering how green-friendly Portland is, she may wind up offering the classes year round.

To sign up email her at

April 13, 2009

Free Tax Help

Category: Community, Money Saver — admin @ 1:05 am

Taxes are due on Wednesday.  Out of curiosity, are you still just staring at a pile of receipts and blank forms?  Not to fret, there is help available and, best of all, it’s free.

The IRS (in partnership with AARP) offers free tax prep for people with low to moderate income.  For absolutely no charge you can sit down with an actual person who will look over all your deductions and fill out the paperwork (volunteers are carefully trained by the IRS so no need to stress) and even e-file your claim for you. 

There are dozens of locations in the Portland area, some are taking appointments but a bunch allow walk-ups.  Just don’t forget the necessary papers (W 2’s, receipts, Social Security info for you and your dependants).  Oh, and it also might help to bring a book, magazine or newspaper.  Because of the economy they are seeing a lot of people take advantage of the free service this year so there can be a bit of a wait.

Best of all, volunteers will be filing paperwork up through April 15th.  To find a spot in your neighborhood click here.

March 16, 2009

They think of EVERYTHING

Category: Money Saver — admin @ 1:00 am

Light BulbThese days it seems like companies and the government is trying to come up with ways to take some of the stress off of every expense we have.  Restaurants offering discount meals.  The state extending unemployment benefits.  Now we find out that even UTILITY bills are getting in on the act.

The Register Guard reports that EWEB customers can get help covering pricey winter bills.  Even better, similar assistance programs are available all over the state.  For more info check out Monday’s paper.