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Worthless security

If a stock you own becomes completely worthless during the year, you can claim a capital loss as though you sold the stock for $0 on December 31 of the year the stock became worthless.


The amount held back from your wages each payday to pay your income and Social Security taxes for the year. The amount withheld is based on the size of your salary and the W-4 form you file with your employer.

Wash sale

The sale of stocks, bonds or mutual fund shares for a loss when, within 30 days before or after that sale, you buy the same or substantially identical securities. The law forbids the deduction of the loss.

Wage base

The level of earnings to which the full Social Security tax applies. For 2013, the full 15.30 percent tax (the combined rate paid by employers and employees) applies to the first $113,700 of wages or self-employment income, and the 2.9 … Continue reading

Voluntary withholding

You can ask the Social Security Administration to withhold taxes from your Social Security benefits. This could make sense if withholding allows you to avoid making quarterly estimated tax payments. To request voluntary withholding, file form W-4V with Social Security. … Continue reading

Vested benefits

Benefits in a company retirement plan that are yours to keep if you leave the job. Your own contributions, to a 401(k), say, are immediately 100 percent vested. But employer contributions on your behalf can be vested gradually over a … Continue reading

Vacation home

Special tax rules apply if you rent out a vacation home, and the rules differ depending on how much you use the home personally. While all rental income is to be reported, the deductibility of expenses can be limited if … Continue reading

Underpayment penalty

The penalty is the IRS’s not-so-subtle reminder that taxes are due as income is earned, not just on April 15 of the following year. Basically, it works like interest on a loan, with the penalty rate applied to the amount … Continue reading

Unearned income

Income from investments, such as interest, dividends and capital gains. See Earned income.

Tuition deduction

Qualifying taxpayers can deduct a portion of college expenses if their adjusted gross income is under certain limits. This break is available whether or not you itemize deductions, but is not available to students who are claimed as dependents on … Continue reading