Income tax quandary: I make $320,000. Can I cut my taxes?
Income tax weighs on the mind of this high-earner. For a solution to a high income tax, see question No. 3 in the reader mailbag.
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In your situation, I’d make it clear that you’re willing to give your time above and beyond what might be expected but that financial concerns might be difficult.Skip to next paragraph
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I would actually be much more concerned about the cost of the lodging than the cost of the dress, as a dress can be resould to recoup some of the money. If the wedding is in England, isn’t there someone you can stay with? I would approach savings from this angle. This way, if there is a housing opportunity for you, go over there a few days early and spend all of that extra time doing what you can to make the wedding go off perfectly. That’s the best gift you could give them.
Q5: Small claims court question
Like many others, I constantly find myself in situations where I feel that I have wrongfully lost money– A dentist recently overcharged me for dental treatment ($800 over the agreed upon amount!) and refused to refund the money. A few months ago an auto parts company sold me a $500 part that turned out to be broken, and would not refund the money or exchange the part. A car rental company overcharged me by $450, and– you guessed it– refused to refund the money.
In cases like these, I’ve always written a letter to the company and filed a complaint with Better Business Bureau, but have rarely gained satisfactory results. And although I have avoided court (because I hate the reputation that Americans sue anyone who annoys them), I’ve decided that I can’t afford these kinds of mistakes and have decided to take matters to Small Claims Court.
My question is about your ethical stance on suing companies or individuals that you feel have wrongfully taken your money. At what point do you think it’s legitimate and/or ethical to sue?
It depends on the agreement between the buyer and the seller. Was there a written agreement between you and the dentist? Was there a written agreement between you and the rental agency? Was there a warranty on the car part, and did you have a dated receipt for the item?
If you have these things, then you are likely entitled to some compensation. If you do not, then, frankly, you didn’t protect yourself as a consumer.
If you have clear proof that a company violated a written agreement with you, then you’re justified in suing. Most lawsuits are missing one element or another of that statement, though – no clear proof or no written agreement.
Q6: Deeply worried about parents’ future
My problem is that when I look down the road at my parents’ financial situation, it is enough to cause an anxiety attack. In their mid-50s, they have over $100K in consumer debt. They make more than that annually, and their mortgage payment is less than $500 per month. Their cars are paid off, although barely running. They do have significant retirement savings and adequate life insurance, but I cannot imagine their spending habits changing. I believe that they could change their situation with drastic changes, but even after a series of wake up calls they haven’t done so, which means it probably will not happen. Several years in a row they have had to borrow money to pay their tax bill from my grandparents, who never made even 1/4 of what they make in a year, and whose financial independence was and is hard-won through frugality. I myself gave them some money when I was in college at a time when they needed a cash infusion.