TODAY Money expert and CNBC personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson joined us for a live Web chat Wednesday morning after the show's Money 911 segment.
She answered several tax questions as CNBC just launched their year-end tax tips package. Click here to read the tax advice.
Here are two of her answers from the live chat and a complete archive:
Question from Icilma: I have been unemployed for most of this year, worked from June until September only. Would like to know if there is anything specific I can do to avoid any tax penalties and potentially maximize returns. I have a house and a car.
Sharon Epperson: With your reduction in income, you may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Go to IRS.gov to see if you qualify. Also if you have any taxable investments (outside of IRAs and 401ks) that have lost money you may be able to offset those losses against any investment gains. If you have more losses than gains, you can offset up to $3,000 in taxable income.
Question from Guest: My husband and I are trying to buy a house together. How is the best route to start doing this? Should we pay off all of our credit cards and other bills before trying? Or should we do it as we go?
Sharon Epperson: First make sure you have at least 20 percent of the purchase price for the down payment. Then make sure you have at least 3 mortgage payments and other housing expenses in savings as part of your "rainy day fund." You don't necessarily have to have paid off ALL of your credit card debt before buying a home, but it's a good idea to reduce it as much as possible.
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Watch this week's Money 911 segment:
A team of experts led by CNBC's Sharon Epperson answers viewer questions about personal finance, protecting yourself from bank account fraud and more.