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Business & Finance
Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Kiplinger's Personal Finance February 2020

Written to help you do a better job of managing your personal and family financial affairs and to help you get more for your money. You get ideas on saving, investing, cutting taxes, making major purchases, advancing your career, buying a home, paying for education, health care and travel, plus much, much more. Special issues cover the latest information about car buying (December) and Mutual Funds (March and September).

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United States
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
let me explain

Some time ago I promised in this column that Kiplinger’s Personal Finance would steer clear of politics. I have tried very hard to keep that pledge. But in the December issue, I unintentionally crossed the line. What got me into hot water with some of you was how I characterized the new tax law. I said that the ballooning federal deficit was “exacerbated by the latest tax law.” I also said that “I’m still feeling the pain of the new tax law on my family’s budget.” That unleashed a number of reader e-mails. Several readers said that everyone they knew got a tax cut, so what’s the deal with me? A few readers noted that federal revenues following passage of the new tax law actually increased. The comments from Greg nicely (and in…

3 min.
uber law ripple effect

Regarding California Assembly Bill 5, which reclassifies a group of independent contractors as employees (“Ahead,” Dec.): I do tax returns for a number of individuals who work for Uber and Lyft. In my experience, they end up with very little income once expenses are subtracted from their payments. As self-employed contractors, their small-business tax return (Schedule C) allows them to subtract expenses such as cell-phone charges, fees and mileage in support of their passengers. None of those unreimbursed employee expenses will be deductible from their tax returns as W-2 employees. The result will be much higher reported incomes and much larger tax withholding, and thus a significant reduction in the cash they can spend. As employees, they will still wear out their cars but won’t get the benefit of expensing…

3 min.
great getaways that won’t break the bank

BUDGET-MINDED TRAVELERS looking to get away in 2020 will find plenty of deals, thanks to new airline routes, increased competition among hotels and airlines, and a strong U.S. dollar. To get the best fares and rates, you’ll want to sign up for fare alerts, compare flight and hotel prices on search sites, and be flexible with your travel dates. Not sure where you want to go? We’ve asked industry experts to weigh in with their top picks of places you can visit for less in 2020. Europe at a discount. In the past year, flights to some European destinations, including Paris, Madrid and Barcelona, have become more affordable thanks to new routes and increased competition among carriers, says Tracy Stewart, content editor at Airfarewatchdog.com. You can find flights to Rome from New York,…

1 min.
track your donated dollars

Most of us give to charity because we want to make the world a better place. But many donors fear that their contributions won’t be used efficiently or may even be misused. ImpactMatters.org, a new charity-rating system, seeks to address those concerns with an online tool that measures the impact of every dollar donated to a particular organization. For example, a $25 donation to Shared Harvest Foodbank, an Ohio-based charity, will provide a meal to 13 needy people, and $25 donated to Paralyzed Veterans of America will increase benefits claimed by a disabled veteran by $250, according to ImpactMatters’ analysis. Charities are given a one-to five-star rating. ImpactMatters bases its ratings on charities that serve the same cause so donors can make an apples-to-apples comparison. Elijah Goldberg, executive director of ImpactMatters, says its…

2 min.
should you bank with google?

Daniel Latimore is a senior vice president for banking at research and consulting firm Celent. Why are Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech companies interested in offering banking and financial services? It’s not that banking is where the money is, but rather that banking is where the data is. Big tech has grown by monetizing data. By offering a checking account, credit card or other financial product, these companies can gather specific and detailed information about your income, spending, cash flow and other financial habits. Are the tech firms really becoming banks? For now, they are wading into specific parts of financial services and generally partnering with existing financial institutions. For example, Google will soon offer checking accounts in partnership with Citigroup and Stanford Federal Credit Union. Often, the tech company will be the…

2 min.
electric cars cruise into the mainstream

ELECTRIC VEHICLES AREN’T just for environmentally conscious celebrities and high-tech entrepreneurs anymore. More than 1.3 million EVs, including plug-in hybrids, were on the road in the U.S. as of September, according to the Edison Electric Institute. That same month, the EV share of new-car sales hit 2.6%, a high for 2019. Ford recently made a splash with its upcoming Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV, the fifth pure EV SUV on the market. To fans, all-electric vehicles such as the Tesla models, Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf provide smooth and noiseless driving, low maintenance, quick acceleration and a premium feel. But there are hurdles to going electric. These cars are more expensive to buy or lease than their gas-powered counterparts. Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (which have a gas engine as well as…