Paying taxes on Clunker cash

Gerri answers questions about the tax consequences of a Clunker trade-in, student loan forgiveness and credit scores.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor

For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' 'Home Rich,' now in bookstores.

NEW YORK ( -- Question 1. Do you have to claim the money in the Cash for Clunkers program you received as income in your tax returns for next year? -- Joe, Indiana

You don't have to claim the money in the federal tax return if you're a consumer but the rules are different by state for state returns. So, you may have to pay taxes to your state. So make sure you ask what the rules are in your area.

Question 2. I have been teaching children in low income school called Head Start for about 5 years now. I am trying to find out if there is a loan forgiveness program out there for me. Please help me. -- Aprille

Good news Aprille. You probably qualify for loan forgiveness programs.

You may be able to get your Perkins loan forgiven 100% after five years of teaching says Mark Kantrowitz of

The Stafford loan forgiveness program may forgive up to $5,000 depending on your state's rules.

And finally, you may even be able to get the entire amount of your federal loans forgiven by the public service loan forgiveness program depending on your qualifications. To get the public service loan forgiveness, you will have to have worked full-time for 10 consecutive years. For more information, go to and the head of your local Head Start program.

Question 3. If I add someone to my credit card as an authorized user to help their credit score, will it affect mine just for making that change? (Assuming they don't misuse it) -- James, Michigan

No, when you add someone as an authorized user to one of your credit cards there are no changes on your credit reports so there is no impact to your scores says John Ulzheimer at

Keep in mind however that any debt incurred by that authorized user will show up on your credit reports and will impact your scores. And lastly, unless the authorized user is a person with whom you have a legitimate relationship (e.g. spouse, child, parent) then FICO 08, the newest FICO score in the market, will not give them the benefit of having the account on their credit reports.

-- CNN's Jen Haley contributed to this article. To top of page

Got a financial dilemma? Go to to submit questions, read the Help Desk articles and check out new Help Desk videos. And tune in to CNN's Newsroom Tuesdays and Fridays, when Gerri Willis and other experts answer your questions.
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