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Extension offers Nevadans tax preparation tips online



RENO, Nev. — It’s tax preparation season, and Nevadans with questions about deductions, Social Security benefits, 401(K) accounts and other personal finance issues can get thorough, reliable answers through University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and eXtension.org.

unr-ex-7901388-9896555The Web site eXtension.org is an interactive learning environment delivering information from Cooperative Extension experts from all over Nevada and the United States. The eXtension.org site’s “Ask an Expert” feature, accessible through www.unce.unr.edu, provides prompt, research-based answers to a wide range of questions – from tax, retirement and personal finance issues to queries about when to plant heirloom tomatoes. The answers are provided by researchers from around the country who collaborate on their answers and provide information that’s based on sound research.

“eXtension is a great place to get solid, clear answers to questions that come up when you’re filling out your tax returns,” said Jean Hilton, a state specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and one of the personal finance experts who help answer questions on the site. “It’s fast, too.”

For instance, one reader recently ask what type of records he should keep for tax-deductible business mileage. The answer from the eXtension experts:

“Some people record all their mileage on a calendar, planner, or business diary that they keep in their car. Be sure to jot down the date, the purpose of the trip, the starting and ending odometer readings, and the total number of miles driven. Another good source of documentation is a copy of the forms that you provide to your employer for expense reimbursement. Remember, you are entitled to deduct the difference between the IRS business mileage reimbursement rate (50 cents in 2010) and the mileage reimbursement rate provided by your employer.

“Mileage expenses are also deductible for charitable, moving, or medical purposes. In 2010, the mileage rate for medical or moving purposes is 16.5 cents per mile driven. The mileage rate for service to a charitable organization is 14 cents per mile. As in the case of business mileage, written documentation should be kept of length and purpose of each trip.”

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Dean and Director Karen Hinton, who helped create eXtension and served as chairman of the eXtension Governing Committee in 2009, said answers provided on eXtension are vetted by several Extension experts and are frequently updated as new information surfaces or laws change. She said the site is receiving a lot of questions about how losing a job affects a person’s income taxes, as well as how Social Security benefits are affected when one spouse continues to work.

“There are a lot of people trying to cope with difficult financial challenges right now,” Hinton said. “So if you have doubts or uncertainties, it’s nice to know there is somewhere you can go to get reliable answers.”

In addition to asking questions, eXtension.org also allows visitors to read through questions that have already been posed, such as:

  • Will unemployment hurt my credit score?
  • I am overextended in terms of debt and am looking for a qualified, trustworthy professional for credit counseling. Is there an organization to consult in order to locate this type of professional?
  • What provisions does the 2009 economic stimulus bill have that may affect me or my family?

To reach the Ask an Expert feature, go to www.unce.unr.edu and click on the icon for “Managing in Tough Times” on the homepage. You can also go to www.extension.org to ask questions or read through already-posted questions and answers.

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