Deductions Feed

School's starting, meaning parents and students need to study up on how the new tax laws do and don't affect the many tax-favored ways to pay for classes. We're all still learning about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was passed late last year and took effect, for the most part, at the beginning of 2018. One area where we all need some tax lessons, especially with the start of the first school year under the new tax law's provisions, is how it affects educational tax breaks. It does make some key changes to some of the tax... Read more →


Congressional Republicans are still fleshing out additional tax law changes, dubbed Tax Reform 2.0, that they hope to enact later this year. As for the first round of tax laws embodied in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), taxpayers, tax pros, many lawmakers and even the Internal Revenue Service are still sorting exactly what the tax code changes mean. Big and small biz tax breaks: The latest example is the Section 199A deduction. This 20 percent deduction for certain qualified business income ostensibly was created to give certain small businesses, known as pass-through entities, the same type of tax... Read more →


California wildfire smoke plumes as seen from space. (Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory) California wildfires that have claimed at least nine lives continue to rage. The Mendocino Complex fire has surpassed the 2017 Thomas fire to become California's largest fire on record. As of Aug. 7, the fire had charred 460 square miles, an area about the size of New York City. Meanwhile, the Carr fire near Redding torched more than 1,000 homes, making it the Golden State's sixth most destructive fire on record. Firefighters are doing their best to douse flames, but they're getting no help from Mother Nature.... Read more →


If you've been thinking since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) about devising a way to do your current job as an independent contractor instead of as an employee, think again. The Treasury Department today dashed many such tax-driven work-related dreams. Treasury issued (finally!) proposed regulations on the new Section 199A deduction that it says will prevent employees from improperly reclassifying themselves as independent contractors. Lower tax on self-employment income: That work recharacterization seemed appealing in the immediate aftermath of the new tax law. Amid all that was included in the hastily written TCJA, it was... Read more →


Freelancing means more flexibility, such as where to work and the option to wear more comfortable attire. It also means you have some new tax responsibilities. (Photo by Lulu Hoeller via Flickr) The gig economy in the United States is growing at a phenomenal rate that shows no signs of slowing down. That's the analysis of BMO Wealth Management. A recent survey commissioned by the international wealth management company found that gigs — defined as jobs of short or uncertain duration — are the new normal. BMO's findings appear to support Upwork's annual Freelancing in America study, which was released... Read more →


An historic interplanetary business trip 49 years ago prompted an astronaut to submit some travel expenses to his NASA bosses. Such claims still happen every day for more Earth-bound business travelers, but a tax break for unreimbursed work-related expenses is gone. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on Earth's Moon, photographs the lunar module at Tranquility Base on July 20, 1969. (Photo courtesy the National Aeronautics and Space Administration/NASA) On a hot July afternoon 39 years ago today, my brother and I were ordered to come in from our play in the West Texas sun so that we could... Read more →


As expected, states whose residents will take a major federal tax hit under the new $10,000 limit on deductions of state and local tax (SALT) payments have headed to court. Connecticut, Maryland, New York and New Jersey on Tuesday (July 17) afternoon filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York seeking to invalidate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's (TCJA) changes to a long-standing federal tax deduction. In this latest semi-reform of the tax code, Congress essentially gutted the value of this itemized tax deduction for, in most cases, the millions in state income and local real property payments... Read more →


Gym memberships could be deductible. Medical flexible spending accounts would be more appealing. Those are just part of tax changes included in a series of health care bills approved last week by the Ways and Means Committee. Now the question is, will they make it into law? Working out at Contours Express. (Photo courtesy Flickr CC) It's hot here in Austin. That's probably why most of my neighbors abandoned their usual outdoor workouts and jammed into my regular exercise class this morning. This happens every so often. Being a West Texas gal used to wide open spaces, I find the... Read more →


It's hot. Not just here in Texas, but across the United States. In fact, around the world. That means we all need to be careful. More careful than the hubby, who decided to mow our yard yesterday. And not during the relative cooler morning when temperatures were in the 80s, but in the afternoon when the thermometer nudged 100 and it felt even hotter. It wiped him out for the rest of the day and evening. I love my man, but I guess it's true that the heat does make us do dumb things. Deadly heat: Excessive heat also tends... Read more →


Couples by Michael Lehet/Flickr CC The hubby and I basically have a pretty equal, albeit traditional gender swapped, marriage. He's more persnickety when it comes to cleaning. So he does much of those household duties, including bathrooms and whole-house vacuuming. I hate that noise, so he vacuums when I'm out; that's one of the reasons I love him! We split kitchen duties, with the person who doesn't cook dinner doing the cleanup. We collaborate on investments, deciding how much and where our money goes. As for the day-to-day expenses, I take care of making sure the bills are paid on... Read more →


One of those hammocks has my name on it, after I finish a few July tax tasks. (Photo by Roberto La Forgia via Flickr CC) School is out. The fireworks have been shot (except for the stashes of my neighborhood's teens, which based on prior post-July 4 experiences, probably will last another week). And the heat is definitely on. That means it's finally, fully summer. And that means that it's time to get down to some serious summertime tax moves. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just... Read more →


Kilauea lava flow from U.S. Geological Survey via Giphy.com Hawaiians got some relatively good news this week in connection with the continuing lava flow from Mount Kilauea. The volcano is continuing to spew potentially deadly gases and pour flaming lava across a growing southeastern section of the 50th state's Big Island. The eruption, which started May 3, also is still producing explosions and earthquakes. Now, however, the catastrophe has been declared a major disaster by the White House. That is good tax news for affected residents, which is everyone on the state's largest island, also named Hawaii, as is the... Read more →


June generally is a good time to review your tax situation and make moves while there are months for them to make a difference to your upcoming tax bill. That's particularly true this year, what with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes in full force. Unfortunately, questions remain as to just how the new tax law changes will affect some folks. Business change uncertainty: Businesses in particular are among the taxpayers still unsure about TCJA provisions. Many are waiting for clarification of the new law's elimination of business entertainment expenses. The tax community is divided as to whether... Read more →


Yes, as soon as I heard about the New York Attorney General filing a lawsuit against Donald J. Trump's charitable foundation, I checked the Internal Revenue Service exempt organization online search tool. There it, or they, were. When I entered Trump Foundation into the Tax Exempt Organization Search, or TEOS because everything in Washington, D.C. has an acronym, it turned up six results. The top two were what I was looking for: Trump Foundation EIN: 13-3054537 | New York, NY, United States Donald J Trump Foundation Inc. EIN: 13-3404773 | Woodbury, NY, United States Both organizations are listed in IRS... Read more →


Our home's celebration of the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. It's champions day at our house! I spent the morning watching the Washington Capitals, the new National Hockey League champions, parade down Constitution Avenue showing the Stanley Cup to their long-suffering fans. Then I switched over to watch the Golden State Warriors, the National Basketball Association's back-to-back champs, celebrate with their fans along the downtown Oakland parade route. It's fitting that the latest major league champs on both U.S. coasts had their parades today. Their festivities come on the heels of expanded sports betting across the country. N.J. sports... Read more →


The Republican's new tax law is expected to be the focus of the coming midterm elections. GOP candidates are telling taxpayers that they — or most of them, anyway — will owe the U.S. Treasury less in 2018 thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Democrats running for office, however, argue that any individual tax cuts under the new law are relatively small and, unless their colleagues across the aisle can change things in the next few months, are temporary. That ending date is Dec. 31, 2025. So who's telling the truth? It depends — wait for it... Read more →


Tired of being a wage slave? Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), some disgruntled salaried employees are looking into becoming independent contractors. But before you take the leap into a new way of working, you need to take tax and other matters into account. "Congress flipped traditional tax-planning upside down" with the new tax law, noted the Tax Policy Center's Steven M. Rosenthal in a TaxVox post soon after the new tax law took full effect earlier this year. "Many moderate-income workers may be able to exploit a tax break that higher-income workers cannot. And by shifting... Read more →


Tax law changes mean that some previously deductible miles can no longer be claimed. (Traffic photo by Jo via Flickr) Back in March, the Internal Revenue Service announced revised inflation changes for many tax provisions that were affected by the recently-enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). One area that didn't change, however, was the list of 2018 standard mileage amounts used to calculate the driving-related tax breaks associated with medical, business, charity and moving costs. For the 2018 tax year, those cents-per-mile amounts are shown in the table below, along with the 2017 figures for folks who might be... Read more →


The 2018 Atlantic basin tropical storm season, which began early with Alberto's late May arrival, is now officially here. Get ready for possible storms. And note that tax law changes mean you might not get any tax help with your recovery efforts this year. Remember this? A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite caught Hurricanes Katia and Irma and Tropical Storm Jose (left to right) lining up on Sept. 8, 2017. Mother Nature has her own calendar. She ignored today's official start of the 2018 Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season by, in late May, creating Tropical Storm Alberto. That storm... Read more →


Losing your job. It's one of the worst things that can happen, especially when it comes as a total surprise. That's what folks who worked on Roseanne are dealing with after ABC pulled the plug on the rebooted sitcom. Being out of work is not so high-profile for most of us. But we all share the panic, anger and helplessness of suddenly losing the reason we get up every morning. To help you get through being let go, here are six steps you can take. And, of course, there are tax implications (nine total) for each of these post-job moves.... Read more →