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September 2017

October 2017

Image by Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons What's going on with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? It depends on where you're looking for answers. Federal lawmakers remain in a quandary over how to deal with the ACA, or as it's known (for now) Obamacare. The Internal Revenue Service, however, made it clear this week that it plans to follow the health care law's reporting requirements as long as they are officially on the books. That's a reversal of a prior IRS position. However, given the confusion with the law, both under its namesake president and since Donald J. Trump... Read more →


To err on tax returns is human. To forgive is Xtraordinary, and yes, the misspelling is intentional. Tax law lets us correct mistakes we make on our 1040s via another form, the 1040X. Most people file 1040X, which is known as amending your return, because they discovered they didn't claim a tax break that give them a (or a bigger) tax refund. Of course, since the Internal Revenue Service is involved, there are some rules and certain steps you must follow. Here are five key things to keep in mind if you discover you need to re-do a previously filed... Read more →


It's that time of year again. Monday, Oct. 16, the absolute final tax return filing deadline. Don't panic. You've still got a few hours to fill out and submit your 2016 Form 1040. The latest Weekly Tax Tip, over there at the top of the ol' blog's right column, has 10 tax tidbits to help you through today. You also can find more tax tips in this year's previously posted Daily Tax Tips, conveniently archived on their own by-month pages: January, February, March and April. Good luck with your 2016 return today. And remember, when you're done with that (yay!),... Read more →


Cook County residents lined up last week to tell county commissioners what they thought about the board's proposed soda tax. (Photo by Hal Dardick via Twitter) Cook Cook County officials implemented a tax on sugary beverages this summer. That levy, which was designed to (1) promote healthier habits among Chicago-area residents, (2) raise more much needed money for the Illinois county or (3) both, has fizzled. On Wednesday, Oct. 11, county commissioners voted 15-2 to repeal the penny-per-ounce tax, which, like similar proposals, is usually referred to as a soda — or pop in the Midwest — tax. Collection of... Read more →


Aerial view on Oct. 9 of a damaged home in the mountainous area of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, many homes, businesses, roads and bridges suffered major damages due to strong winds and heavy rain. (Photo by Andrea Booher, FEMA) To borrow from James Taylor's plaintive classic, the Internal Revenue Service has seen fire and rain and is making tax accommodations for Americans having to deal with those disastrous aftermaths. Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, pummeling the U.S. territory with category 5 force. Three weeks later, many of the island's 3.4 million residents are... Read more →


If Halloween isn't scary enough for you, this October also has a Friday the 13th, which if you haven't looked at a calendar yet, is today. It's a terrible day if you're superstitious or suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. And making things even more frightening, the Internal Revenue Service has some terrifying news about tax scams. This week alone, the IRS has issued two warnings about tax-related identity theft schemes. First was the phishing attempt to hook tax pros by using the agency's e-Services as bait. Now there's a fake insurance tax form scam that's being used to access annuity and life... Read more →


AT&T Stadium, originally known as Cowboys Stadium when it opened its doors in 2009 and forever known as Jerry's World regardless of which company buys naming rights, is home to America's Team. It also hosts college football's Cotton Bowl game, as well as a variety of other sports and entertainment activities. NFL team owner Jerry Jones footed most of the billion-dollar stadium's cost, but Arlington voters approved an increase of the city's sales, hotel occupancy and car rental taxes to help pay for the facility. Arlington also provided millions in bonds to help Jones cover any cost overruns. (Photo by... Read more →


Tax identity thieves apparently are paying close attention to official security moves that the Internal Revenue Service is making and using that information to create new schemes. The latest effort by crooks to steal taxpayer personal data comes in the form of a new phishing scam designed to steal tax professionals' passwords and data. e-Services is hook for latest ID theft effort: In an email alert sent this (Oct. 11) afternoon to tax pros, the IRS warned that this latest scheme tries to trick them into signing a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing email claims to be from "e-Services... Read more →


Based on Internal Revenue Service tax return filing data, it looks like around 7 million Americans have yet to submit their 2016 forms. They need to get busy. (Yes, I get to say they, not we, this year since I filed my 1040 this summer.) The absolute, final due date is less than a week away. The six-month filing extension typically kicks the extended deadline to Oct. 15. But since that's on a Sunday this year, the IRS is giving extreme procrastinators until Monday, Oct. 16. So that you don't waste any of these last few days you have to... Read more →


So that you can enjoy lazy days in your retirement like this couple, take advantage of tax-saving retirement moves by the October filing extension deadline. (Photo by Pug50 courtesy Flickr CC) If you're one of the millions who's put off filing your tax return until October, you know that due date — it's Monday, Oct. 16, this year — is just a week away. (More on this, complete with filing tips coming soon!) But mid-October is also a key deadline for other tax tasks, particularly when it comes to retirement savings. Here are a couple of retirement-related tax matters to... Read more →


A proposal to limit certain business estate valuation discounts is outta here under the Treasury's finalized list of eight tax regulations it wants to eliminate or substantially revise. Remember back in July when the U.S. Treasury announced eight tax regulations it said were burdensome and needed to be changed or axed? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his staff have now finalized what they want to do with these eight rules. Three would be tossed out, including one that many say hurt family-owned and operated businesses. Two would be partially revoked. The final three would be substantially revised. "This is only... Read more →


Michael Horowitz, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice and Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, welcomes one and all to Oversight.gov, a new website that consolidates public reports from federal Inspectors General. Whenever talk turns to tax reform, there also are discussions on cutting federal spending. After all, if some of us get more favorable tax treatment, the money to make up for that lost revenue must come from somewhere. Conventional wisdom and political rhetoric tends to focus on Uncle Sam's inefficiencies, both perceived and real. If a federal agency or department... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 13, 2017: Public and Congressional pressure, which included Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) letter to the Treasury Department urging it to review and potentially bar Equifax from consideration in any new or renewed government contracts, has paid off for opponents of the credit reporting bureau deal. The IRS announced, per an Oct. 12 report by Politico, that it has temporarily suspended the $7.25 million, no-bid contract it awarded to Equifax to verify the identities of taxpayers when they create accounts on the tax agency's website. Driver's license data was among the personal info that identity thieves obtained in the... Read more →


Everyone knows the Monopoly Man, even if we don't know his name. His classy duds, compete with top hat, and bushy mustache make him immediately recognizable. For many of us, he and his board game were our introduction to high finance. Now, however, he's branched out. He made a real-life appearance this week at a Congressional hearing. Equifax visual protest: OK, it was someone dressed up like Rich Uncle Pennybags, which is the Monopoly Man's name. And the impersonator stole the show from former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, who continued to make the Washington, D.C, rounds to take heat for... Read more →


Who's in the middle class will determine in large part whether that group of Americans gets Republican-promised middle class tax relief. One of the big debates about any tax reform is whether or how much it will benefit the middle class. That was a question in today's #TaxBuzzChat about the recently released Republican framework for tax reform. First, however, we need to decide what is and who is part of the United States middle class. There are several ways to define the middle class. Some say it is based on income. Other define it by lifestyle. Still others say middle... Read more →


Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith is grilled Oct. 3 about the credit company's security breach by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (Click image to watch full hearing on YouTube) Human error, specifically one human's error, is why 145 million of us are worrying about what crooks will do with the data that was stolen earlier this year in a data breach of Equifax. Richard Smith, the credit reporting bureau's former CEO, in testimony before House Energy and Commerce Committee today blamed the initial failure to patch a known security risk on a specific individual. He did not... Read more →


October marks the start for many companies of open season for employees' workplace benefits, many of which provide workers some nice tax savings. It's also a good month to make other tax-related moves. It's time to turn our attention to health care again. This time, though, it's not medical insurance via the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Instead, October marks the beginning of open enrollment season for workplace-provided benefits at companies across the country. Decide now for next year: Open enrollment periods vary from company to company. Most run from two to four weeks for workers to evaluate their current benefits and... Read more →


Congress hopes to move beyond talk and have tax reform details in writing by mid-November. The Senate Budget Committee released its 2018 budget blueprint on Sept. 29, setting the stage for up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next 10 years. That's an astounding, alarming, amazing, pick-your-adjective amount. But the figure that caught my eye, and which earns this week's By the Numbers honor, is 13. As in Nov. 13. That's the date set in the Senate budget resolution by which it wants some legislative flesh attached to the framework of a tax reform that Republicans released on... Read more →