Deductions Feed

Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving in October. I like that timing. It doesn't force folks into attending two annual family gatherings within a month of each other. Not that I don't love my family, but like many things, a little goes a long way. And don't worry. I know which relatives (and there are plenty!) are thinking, if not saying, the same about me. Canada and the United States share many things, but the same Thanksgiving holiday isn't one of them. But during this week that we Americans are preparing to say thanks for our annual bounty (and, thanks to the... Read more →


Taxes are about dollar amounts and dates. April 15 obviously is the biggie. But Dec. 31 is almost as important. The end of a tax year is, for the most part, the last time you can make tax moves that could help lower your coming tax bill. While we all wish we could have Homer Simpson's to-do list, when it comes to taxes, most of us need to take care of some potentially money saving tax tasks by Dec. 31. With the days rapidly dwindling (the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column is tracking them), here... Read more →


Today is National Philanthropy Day, created to recognize those who strive to make life better for others. The term philanthropist usually conjures up rich people holding fancy galas attended by their wealthy friends to raise money for various causes. But you don't have to be rich to be a philanthropist, or a good-deed-doer as The Wizard of Oz called such folk when he stumbled over the fancier moniker. "Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phil … er … phil … er … er … good-deed-doers and their... Read more →


Did you catch the supermoon? 2016 is a great year for lunar gazing. The full moons of October, November and December all take place when the moon is at its closest point of approach in its orbit around Earth, creating the so-called supermoon. Click image to watch a NASA video about the phenomenon. (Photo courtesy NASA) The hubby and I were driving back earlier this evening from visiting my mom and we were treated to the supermoon peeking in and out of clouds. Luckily for us, by the time we got home the clouds had moved on, giving us a... Read more →


We call it Veterans Day here in the United States. An Army veteran salutes the colors being carried in the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 11, 2011. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army via Flickr) That Nov. 11 is such an important date is evidenced by the fact that federal holiday has escaped conversion into a Monday that wraps up a long weekend that's usually more focused on consumer spending than actual commemoration. End of the Great War: Each November we mark what originally was the official, formal end of World War I at the 11th hour of... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2017 inflation adjustments. You can find links to all 2017 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Today we look at changes to some popular credits and deductions. Note: The 2017 figures apply to 2017 returns that are due in 2018. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2016 amounts to be used in filing 2016 returns due next April. You can jump for joy like these youngsters if you can claim some of these popular inflation-adjusted credits and deductions. The key to paying the least tax... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's series on 2017 inflation adjustments, which kicked off yesterday with the tweaked income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some wealthier taxpayers. Note: The 2017 figures apply to 2017 returns that are due in 2018. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2016 amounts to be used in filing 2016 returns due next April. Standard deduction amounts go up: Itemized deductions get a lot of attention. There are several of them and they require more attention... Read more →


It's almost here, the Oct. 17 tax extension filing deadline. Since the regular 15th due date is Saturday, procrastinating filers get a couple of extra days to do their tax jobs. Don't waste them. UPDATE: Some filers in states where major natural disasters were declared also get time beyond 10/17. Details in Oct. 17 is final filing deadline for most, but is extended further for folks in FL, LA, NC and WVA disaster areas IRS grants more tax relief for Hurricane Matthew filers in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina But also don't be in such a last-minute panic... Read more →


Donald Trump acknowledged during Sunday's second presidential debate that he had avoided paying federal income taxes for years thanks to a claim in 1995 of nearly $1 billion in business losses. Click image to watch Newsy video report on Warren Buffett's response to Donald Trump's tax charges. The Republican presidential nominee then pivoted from his 1040s, which we still haven't seen, to wealthy supporters of his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Trump specifically accused his fellow billionaires of also using tax laws to their advantage. Duh! That's not unusual. Nor is it illegal. It's just a bit infuriating in many cases.... Read more →


I'm a bit slow today. I got up at O'dark-thirty to catch a flight home from San Diego, California, where I had spent four fantastic days at FinCon, an annual conference of fellow financial bloggers and other money and media folks. View from my San Diego FinCon hotel room last week. I almost -- almost -- didn't come home! It's a great opportunity to learn best practices, pick up tips (for stories, blog posts and growing your business), meet people you've only known heretofore online, make new friends and reconnect with old ones. And, almost best of all, the business... Read more →


No need to display the bat signal. All fans of the Dark Knight already know that today is Batman Day. Yes, it started and still is a marketing gimmick for DC Entertainment, but Batman, who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939 and got his own pulpy publication series the next spring, also is a pop culture touchstone now celebrated with an annual celebration day. And yes, there are some tax connections beyond just the sales tax most of us pay on our comic book -- sorry, graphic novel -- purchases. Cinematic savings: Although "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn... Read more →


Music and tax fans have heard by now that rapper Nelly is in big tax trouble. Many have rallied to help the St. Louis rapper. But it's not just Nelly's fans who are coming to his aid as he deals with a $2.4 million Internal Revenue Service tax lien. Stephen Colbert offers rapper Nelly some tax advice in "Debt in Herre," a parody of the singer's hit "Hot in Herre." Click image to view full video on YouTube. Late-night television show hosts also are doing their part. Most notable is Stephen Colbert. The "Late Show" host, with help from his... Read more →


Donald J. Trump finally has released some traditionally private information about himself. No, not his taxes you dreamers. His most recent medical records. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shares his recent medical report during a taping Sept. 14 of the syndicated Dr. Oz show. The program will air today, Sept. 15. Click image for link to YouTube promo; link will be updated for full show viewing when available. But being The Donald, he did it (with apologies to Frank) his way. On TV of course. Trump shared his most recent medical data with television's syndicated, and controversial, Dr. Oz. From... Read more →


Fifteen years ago today, terrorists hijacked four planes and killed 2,977 people in New York City, the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. and in a field near rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The view across the south pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, former site of the Twin Towers, looking toward the National September 11 Memorial Museum. (Photo by NormanB via Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons) As has been tradition on each Sept. 11 since 2001, commemorative events will be held today across the country. The recognition became official on Dec. 18, 2001 when Public Law 107-89 took effect designating... Read more →


$10,162. That's how much of a federal tax refund that Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and his wife Karen received on their 2015 tax return. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, GOP vice presidential candidate, campaigning among Ohio State tailgaters during a stop earlier this month in the key Nov. 8 election state. (Photo via @mikepence Twitter account) Since the Pences' refund is almost four times the amount of the average tax refund of $2,732 (per Internal Revenue Service filing data through May 13), the $10,162 that the Pences are getting back from Uncle Sam also earns this week's By the... Read more →


Music is important to me. I took piano lessons as a kid and even survived some formal recitals and special performances in elementary school. In junior high (that's what we called middle school in my day) and high school, I played the clarinet in school bands. A couple of friends (shout out to Sabrina and Rebecca) and I even won a 2nd place medal for our reed trio's performance at a Texas UIL competition. I long ago put my instruments away, but nowadays I am a polished listener of tunes, all sorts of tunes. Music plays a role in my... Read more →


I have allergies, but they are just the run-of-the-mill inconveniences -- sniffles, sneezing, red eyes. Neither my life nor those of my loved ones depend on immediate treatment for an allergic reaction. Photo by Tokyogirl79 via Wikipedia Folks who rely on EpiPens, however, are in a really terrible place right now. EpiPen price increases: These injectable devices deliver a pre-measured dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) to people who are having a potentially deadly allergic reaction. The shot reverses anaphylaxis, which is the swelling, closing of the airways and other symptoms suffered by many who are allergic to bee stings, peanuts or... Read more →


Almost 7 trillion gallons of rain in just one week across Louisiana produced the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A Mississippi Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter delivers sandbags to the levee near the Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, on Aug. 16, 2016. Click image to view the video and learn more about Mississippi's aide to its neighbor. "This disaster is the worst to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy, and we anticipate it will cost at least $30 million -- a number which may grow as we learn more about the... Read more →


Saving soon and often for your or your children's college education is critical. But just as important as putting away higher education money is knowing when to take out that college fund cash. 529 plan benefits, possible pitfalls: This is especially true of the tax-favored 529 plans that states offer. Your deposits to a 529 plan are not tax deductible, but the funds grow tax-free. And when you or your child withdraws the money, there's no tax bill as long as you use the funds to pay for qualifying college costs. Withdrawing 529 money, however, is not as simple as... Read more →


I've reached a milestone age where doctors seem to think a person suddenly needs every test medical science has so far devised. Routine blood tests were the least of my worries after my last doctor visit. I am pushing back on some of my physician's suggestions for several reasons. They range from "I feel fine" and "I have no family history of that particular ailment/disease/condition" to "Ewwwww!" to "I don't have time" and "Wow, that costs an awful lot." As for the expense argument, even though I have medical insurance, it has a deductible. A sizeable one. My medical approach... Read more →