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Midyear Tax Planning For College Grads

BOSTON (CBS) - There is some tax planning for the recent graduate or their parents who want to give them advice.

I am assuming here that the graduate did get a job or is about to start a job or could be under-employed waiting for the right job.

Once you start that new job, think about your retirement. I know it's the last thing on your mind. But I promise you will be glad you did 40 years from now. Enroll in your employer's retirement plan as soon as you are eligible. If they offer a company match, and many companies do, at least contribute enough money to take advantage of the match. It is free money.

Review all of the paper work that came with the job. The employee handbook is a good read. Know what your benefits are. Sign up for the health care offered. You may find other freebies in there like a gym membership.

Your first paycheck may come as a surprise. Your employer will deduct your Social Security and Medicare contributions, your Massachusetts and federal taxes, your contribution to the 401(k), your share of the health insurance costs.

Once you know what your paycheck will look like set up a budget. A reasonable budget will have savings and fun both in there.

Next your school loans. Payments won't start until 6 months after graduation and you will be eligible for a deduction on the interest you pay. Take advantage of this grace period to save some money for an emergency fund. But remember that those payments will begin in a few months.

Review the loans and the interest rates you will be charged. There are consolidation and student loan refinancing options available that help lower the interest rate or the monthly payment.

You may be able to deduct up to $2,500 of the interest you paid on student loans on your federal individual income tax return. The deduction is not limited to government-sponsored loans, but does not apply to loans made to students by family members. And as with most tax rules if you make too much money the deduction will go away.

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