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Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, have increased in popularity since they were created in 2004. More than 20 million people now have these particular medical savings plans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey last fall. KFF's analysis also found that the average account balance grew by more than a third last year to more than $1,800. Growth of HSAs could speed up under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Various GOP alternatives for Obamacare call for expansion of HSAs. High deductibles required: HSAs not only offer a way for account owners to pay medical bills, they... Read more →


On April 1, Idaho residents will join the almost nationwide list of places where Amazon collects sales tax. No kidding. That day the Gem State will become the 42nd state — and 43rd taxing jurisdiction overall thanks to Washington, D.C., being part of the group — where buyers will have to pay sales tax on purchases delivered by the world's largest online retailer. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, in a statement issued to the Boise television station KTVB, called Amazon's tax collection decision "a matter of fairness." In addition to helping the state collect more revenue, Otter said the Seattle-based... Read more →


Amazon's tax collection system expands on March 1 with Oklahoma and Wyoming joining the ever-growing list of locations where online customers will see sales tax added to their purchases. Photo by MikeBlogs via Flickr In February, five more states -- Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont, joined the Amazon sales tax list. With the addition tomorrow, March 1, of two more, that will bring the number of taxing jurisdictions where the Seattle-based online retail giant will be collecting sales levies to 41. In addition to collection sales tax on products shipped to Washington, D.C., the table below shows... Read more →


Sure, you're happy to tell your friends about the online bargains you get, but not so much your state's tax officials. That essentially will happen in Colorado this summer. But it won't be shoppers revealing their internet purchases. It will be the companies that sold them the stuff. Colorado online shoppers oppose the state's new sales tax reporting law because it violates their privacy. And oh yeah, now they'll have to pay more tax. The online purchase info is part of a creative way Colorado lawmakers devised to try to collect the almost $173 million in tax revenue they say... Read more →


When the Academy Awards are handed out Sunday, Feb. 26, it's a good bet that most of the films already were tax winners. They used special tax breaks to help offset their sometimes enormous production costs. As of Jan. 1, all those credits will come from states. End of the federal film tax break: The only federal tax incentive designed specifically to keep film and television production in the United States ended when 2017 arrived. It was part of a group of extenders — temporary tax breaks that must be periodically renewed by Congress — that lawmakers last year decided... Read more →


This post updated 10 p.m. CT, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Donald Trump has promised to deliver in a few weeks a tax plan that would "lower the overall tax burden on American businesses big league." The effusive description notwithstanding, some corporate tax reform would be welcome. It's long been accepted that the U.S. tax code needs work when it comes to business. The new Republican president and GOP-controlled House and Senate are promising business and individual tax reform. Analyses of the proposals so far, however, show that rich folks, personified in the character Jay Gatsby portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in... Read more →


In addition to a calculator to do your taxes, you also need a calendar. Given the myriad types of taxpayers out there, the Internal Revenue Service has a variety of due dates for their filings, be they tax returns or documents reporting tax data to Uncle Sam. Sometimes it's simply calendar quirks that produce filing deadline issues. That's the case again this fling season, especially for individual taxpayers. New laws, new tax deadlines: Other deadlines, however, are set by law. And now, some of those deadlines, particularly for business taxpayers, have changed this year. The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health... Read more →


Sunday is a big day not just for football fans, but also food fans. Super Bowl party snacks rank right up there with the specially-created television commercials, crazy prop bets and the game's halftime show. These items I regularly purchase are, according to my local H.E.B. grocery store's labels, hecho en Mexico. Heck, a lot of people look forward to those events more than the annual NFL championship game itself. Literally loading up on guac: In fact, it's a major day for guacamole. "Guacamole has become one of the most popular Super Bowl snacks," Ramon Paz, spokesman for the Association... Read more →


Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, has been selected by President Donald Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left last year by the death of Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump explains why he chose Neil Gorsuch, at right with his wife Marie Louise, to server on the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch, 49, an Ivy Leaguer from Colorado, has a conservative judicial track record. He also formerly clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. If Gorsuch is confirmed, which is expected given that the... Read more →


The online sales tax list for the world's largest online retailer gets longer. Amazon will start collecting state sales taxes on shipments to South Dakota on Feb. 1 and to Wyoming on March 1. If, however, you buy from other online vendors who ship to those states, your bills might not contain a sales tax charge. The deals each state struck with Amazon and announced this week are specific to that company only. Wyoming tax law in the works: While the decision by the Seattle-based online giant to start collecting sales taxes is welcomed by officials in South Dakota and... Read more →


President-Elect Donald Trump is feeling charitable again. This time, it's Uncle Sam who's the target of his largesse. President-Elect Donald Trump and his three older children (Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr.) get ready to meet the press this morning (Jan. 11) to discuss Trump Organization business deals after The Donald is sworn in on Jan. 20. (Photo by Evan Vicci via TPM Twitter post) During the almost hour-long press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan (Trump's first Q&A with the media since July 16, 2016, when he was on the campaign trail), a tax attorney for the incoming 45th president... Read more →


I got in my car for the first time in 2017 today. It also was my first use of my new mileage log. Yep, that pretty little pink spiral notebook is this year's tracking device of all my potentially tax deductible miles. And yep, those of you who know me know that I'm not really a pink kind of gal. This notebook was tucked in bag I got at a conference. Over the years, I've attended a lot of conferences and gotten a whole lot of similar notebooks, so I use a new one each tax year. What miles to... Read more →


China has enacted a series of taxes on various types of industrial pollution. But to the dismay of even some of its own government researchers, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are not included in the tax plan. Some specific emissions could mean tax bills for Chinese companies under a new pollution tax law just enacted by that country. (Photo by Graeme Maclean via Flickr CC) Still, for the first time ever, public institutions and companies that discharge listed pollutants directly into the environment will face specific environmental protection taxes. Some air, water pollutants targeted: Under the law passed Dec.... Read more →


A couple of days ago when I blogged about Amazon's decision to start collecting sales tax amounts in 2017 on products it ships to Louisiana, I noted "…and counting" in the list of states where this already is happening. I didn't, however, expect to have to do some more sales tax math so soon. Online shoppers in Louisiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Utah will see sales taxes added to their Amazon invoices beginning Jan. 1, 2017. (Photo by Keith Williamson via Flickr Creative Commons) But Jan. 1, 2017, is the day that the online retail giant also will add sales tax... Read more →


I love Christmas. I love it so much that I convinced the hubby to put our tree up the week after Halloween. . We -- OK the hubby, at my nagging request -- put our Christmas tree up the first week of November this year. The early decorating has made for a less hectic official holiday season. My main reason is, as I said, I love Christmas. And we have a big artificial tree that takes a while to decorate with all the ornaments we've collected over all our years together. Plus, we have lots of other holiday decorations spread... Read more →


Here's a special end-of-year tax move for Louisiana online shoppers. Make sure your purchase is delivered by Dec. 31. That's the last day Pelican State consumers can get anything from Amazon with no sales tax included on the invoice. On Jan. 1, 2017, the online retail giant will start adding the appropriate sales tax amounts, both state and city, to items shipped to Louisiana addresses. The new tax addition applies to all online sellers, not just Amazon. Use tax ignored: Technically, Louisiana buyers have always owed the state's sales tax, which currently is 5 percent, and any applicable local sales... Read more →


Working overseas can be a wonderful professional and personal opportunity. It also can present some tax problems. The United States has a worldwide tax system. That means that regardless of where you earn your money, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you owe taxes to Uncle Sam. The bad news is that the Internal Revenue Service is serious about getting this money. The good news is that there are some income tax benefits for U.S. workers abroad. Excluding income abroad: The most notable one is the foreign earned income exclusion, or FEIE. This allows workers abroad who... Read more →


The enactment of the 21st Century Cares Act this week means medical researchers will get more money for their efforts to develop a variety of treatments for persistent and devastating health problems. The new law also opens up a tax-favored medical plan option for folks who work for small companies. Vice President Joe Biden (center) is recognized during the ceremony in which the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. The bill is close to Biden's heart. He lost his son Beau to brain cancer. Following that personal tragedy, President Obama tapped his veep (and friend) to lead the... Read more →


Your business-related driving probably won't save you as much on your taxes in 2017. The reason? The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the optional standard mileage rate for business use of your vehicle is a half-cent less than in 2016. A trip to the vet likely won't count as a tax deductible medical expense, but other allowable miles in 2017 can be claimed at 17 cents apiece. It drops on Jan. 1, 2017, to 53.5 cents per mile. For the final few days of 2016, the business mileage rate is 54 cents per mile. Along with a smaller per-mile... Read more →


It's National Cookie Day. Guess what I had for breakfast? And probably for lunch and supper, too. Mmmmm! Mint Milanos, biscotti and ginger snaps. If you don't have any cookies in your pantry, click the image for info from Parade magazine on where you can get free cookies today. Not as my whole meal, at least not for the day's two later repasts. Today's gustatory observance reminded me of a DailyInfographic.com item that illustrated some money-making hobbies. Baking was on that list. That's the cooking excerpt below. Click image to see the full DailyInfographic on money-making hobbies. Hobbies' fun and... Read more →