Deductions Feed

If compassion fatigue hadn't set in after the back-to-back-to-back hurricanes that roared across the Atlantic, laying waste to much of Texas, Florida, Georgia and many Caribbean islands, it probably did when Mexico got rocked within two weeks by two massive and deadly earthquakes. A group of American tourists were literally rocked when their Sept. 19 Mexico boat ride was interrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Click image to watch full YouTube video. Many of the small tropical islands were particularly hard hit by Hurricanes Irma and then Maria. Both were major hurricanes. Both covered wide areas. The mass of the... Read more →


Donald J. Trump is Tweeting about tax reform. He's also holding bipartisan dinners at the White House to talk taxes. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was pleased steak was on the menu. The White House website has a video explaining how the tax code is broken. House Speaker Paul Ryan says Congressional Republican's tax reform plan outline will be released in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, pundits have been honing their prognostication skills, attempting to tease out tax possibilities and their potential effects. But despite all this action, the bottom line is that it's still just a big tax... Read more →


Aside from the damage that hurricanes cause, one of the biggest problems is that they often, especially in September, effectively come back to back. Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up earlier in September. (National Hurricane Center radar image) That's what happened with Hurricane Irma. The angry sister of Hurricane Harvey walloped all of Florida three weeks after coastal Texas was gut-punched by Harvey's historic flooding. The back-to-back U.S. landfalls was a first for Category 4 storms. The only good news here, at least tax-wise, is that the Internal Revenue Service has a Harvey template for Irma... Read more →


Photo by The Explorographer via Flickr CC Sixteen years ago, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists struck on U.S. soil, leaving 2,977 dead in New York City, Washington, D.C. and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This Sept. 11, residents of Florida, Texas, U.S. territories in the Caribbean and neighboring island nations are struggling to recover from Harvey and Irma, two deadly hurricanes that are among the strongest ever to make landfall. There is no comparing these tragedies. Each is heart-wrenching and horrific in its own way. But they share one important attribute. Today, as on Sept. 11, 2001, people are reaching out to... Read more →


Some folks have been asking for clarification on disaster loss claims, specifically with regard to the value of a damaged or destroyed home. A Rockport, Texas, home severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which made its first landfall on Aug. 25 at the Gulf Coast town. (Photo courtesy National Weather Service, Corpus Christi, via Twitter) At issue is how a home's fair market value factors into a disaster tax claim. I'm sorry to report that a property's high value — I'm talking for sale purposes, not just your personal appreciation and assessment of the house — won't help you get more... Read more →


People are still being rescued in flooded Houston, so very few — even those who made it through Hurricane Harvey relatively unscathed — are thinking about taxes right now. But when they do begin to face rebuilding their post-storm lives, one of the things they'll have to deal with is taxes. A Texas National Guard soldier rescues a woman from her Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston neighborhood. (Photo by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD, via Flickr Creative Commons) The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for folks in Houston and its flooded surroundings, as well as those in other areas... Read more →


Hurricane Harvey has inundated Houston. And it's still raining there. And in other parts of the Lone Star State. Thanks to The Weather Channel's Matt Sitkowski for posting this image on Twitter, along with one showing these Houston roads pre-Hurricane Harvey so we can get some perspective on the extent of H-Town's hurricane-related flooding. That means lots of folks are going to need help recovering from the strongest tropical system to hit Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961. From Corpus Christi to Port Arthur along the Gulf Coast and, thanks to Harvey's size and slow movement, well inland, my native... Read more →


Before you can write off your business expenses, you must show that you were indeed trying to turn a profit. That basic business tax tenet was confirmed by a recent U.S. Tax Court decision. In a summary opinion, Special Trial Judge Daniel A. Guy, Jr., sustained the Internal Revenue Service’s accuracy-related penalty against Eric Zudak based on tax that was reduced by incorrect business expenses claims. The judge held that Zudak wasn’t entitled to a deduction for expenses he paid for his film festival activity because he didn’t conduct the activity in a businesslike manner or engage in the activity... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →


Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring. The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns. Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete. Dressing up your... Read more →


The cost of college continues to simmer as an educational policy and legal issue, particularly when it comes to student loans. Democratic attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia on July 6 filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department to stop her from changing rules that erased the federal student loan debt of those who were cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently. Consumer groups also have joined the litigation list. The Obama Administration finalized the so-called borrower defense rules last October. They were scheduled to take effect on July 1. DeVos, however, froze... Read more →


It's officially summer. Time for fun at the beach. And fun making mid-year tax moves. Happy July 5th, the start of midyear tax planning. With six months left in the tax year, it's the perfect time to make some tax moves that could reduce your 2017 tax bill. Here are six easy ones to take care of in July. 1. Adjust your payroll withholding. Did you get a big tax refund this year? Or did you owe Uncle Sam more than you expected? Either situation means that you need to reassess your payroll withholding. It's easy to do. Just give... Read more →


Happy Birthday, America! July 4 is special to all of us Americans, the day we declared our independence from Great Britain. Taxes, as everyone knows thanks to James Otis' famous announcement that "Taxation without representation is tyranny," were among the reasons we sought to govern ourselves. And taxes, even after we gained control, continue to play a key part in our lives, politics and popular culture. James Cagney, before he became the prototypical movie gangster, was as song-and-dance man. He showed off those talents in "Yankee Doodle Dandy," the biopic of a man who not only gave us great musicals,... Read more →


Since the iPhone debuted a decade ago, it's become an indispensable personal and business tool, with accompanying tax issues to consider. Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone at MacWorld in January 2007. iPhone mania was in full swing six months later when, on June 29, 2007, with crowds camping out at Apple stores to be the first to own the 1st Gen/2G telecommunications device. (Click screenshot to view full presentation on YouTube) What were you doing 10 years ago today? If you're an extreme tech geek, you were among the thousands waiting to get your hands on the first ever... Read more →


Moving's a hassle for everyone, but in some cases the relocation costs are tax deductible. Donald J. Trump's family was finally reunited this weekend as his wife, Melania, and their 11-year-old son Barron moved into the White House. There were no moving vans spotted outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to let the world know of the relocation. Rather, the word came, of course, via Twitter. This time, though it was the First Lady, not @realDonaldTrump, who let social media and the world know that the family had officially moved from Trump Tower in Manhattan to Washington, D.C. Melania used her official... Read more →


Americans have again dived into the deep end of the personal debt pool "Americans have now borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008, just as the global financial system began to collapse," write Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley in today's New York Times' DealB%k column. The $12.73 trillion in debt reported in the first quarter of 2017 is comprised mainly of housing-related borrowing. But there is a bit of good news here. Here's hoping that the new residents find being homeowners as sweet as these house warming cupcakes. (Photo by Danl Lurle... Read more →


Federal tax reform is still a ways off, but the prospect of an Internal Revenue Code rewrite already has prompted Oklahoma to change one of its tax laws. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin on May 12 signed legislation that will decouple the Sooner State's standard deduction from the current federal standard deduction. The reason for the change? If the Trump Administration's proposal to double the federal standard deduction eventually becomes part of the tax law of the land, Oklahoma stands to lose a lot of tax revenue. Federal, state tax ties: Oklahoma's tax system, like that of many states with income... Read more →


Regardless of your thoughts, political or otherwise, when it comes to L'affaire Comey, most of us can relate to the recently fired FBI director. Like James Comey, we've at some point been out of job, either by our choice or because we, too, were let go. If that happens to you, here are five steps to take. And, of course, there are tax implications for each of the post-job moves. 1. File for unemployment. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, for example, a corporate downsizing, you should be eligible for unemployment. Depending on the circumstances,... Read more →


I'm a big fan of teachers, not just because my grandmother and one of my aunts were teachers, but because I had great instructors from elementary through college. So celebrating National Teacher Day is the least I can do. That and remind teachers and others who help educate us that there's a tax break specifically for them. Tax reward for teachers: Most teachers go beyond lesson plans and working weekends to get ready to make the learning experience one that resonates. In fact, a lot of teachers spend their own money to help make their classroom presentations effective. In recognition... Read more →


The president is back in Washington, D.C., after spending the weekend not at Mar-a-Lago in South Florida, but at a closer family property, Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. A view of the Trump National Golf Club course at Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Trump International via Twitter) It was the 14th weekend since his inauguration that Donald J. Trump has headed to one of his eponymous real estate holdings. Trump explained his weekend travel decision twice on, of course, Twitter. First, on May 5, he Tweeted: "Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be... Read more →