Deductions Feed

We got our notice of appraisal for our house last week. It was, as has been the case for the last few years, higher. If we were selling our house right now, we'd be thrilled. But we're not moving (yet). This week, we got our monthly neighborhood newsletter. It included a local Realtor's ad touting local listings. One was for a house down the block. The asking price was $300,000 more than our appraisal notice. Yes, that home is a bit larger than our house. And it has a pool. But is it worth $300,000 more than our home? The... Read more →


Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up last September, each possibly headed for landfall. (National Hurricane Center radar image) A key forecast group expects the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season to be even more active than normal. That is not what people who endured Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma last year and are, in some areas, still struggling to recover, wanted to hear. Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his team at Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project are forecasting 14 named tropical storms this hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Mother Nature and her... Read more →


Kids all across the country, including those in my neighborhood, spent Saturday hunting for brightly colored eggs. Or, if they're in the Washington, D.C. area, perhaps they're getting ready to participate in tomorrow's (Monday, April 2) 140th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, like the youngsters in the photo above did last year. Their parents, however, are more likely this weekend to be hunting for tax breaks as the April 17 filing deadline nears. Every tax season, lots of taxpayers overlook some deductions, credits or other tax moves that can reduce their eventual Internal Revenue Service bill. Here are some... Read more →


The larger standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect this year has gotten a lot of attention. One of the big pluses, cite fans of the new nearly doubled standard deduction amounts, is that more people will claim them instead of itemizing tax deductible expenses. But regardless of whether you itemize now, plan to under the new tax law or never ever messed with a Schedule A and don't plan to start, there still are some tax deductions you can claim. They are what are popularly known as above-the-line deductions found directly on 1040... Read more →


iLEAD students hold up their Backpacks Full of Hope that they took to Puerto Rico on their spring break to help with recovery efforts on the island. (Photo courtesy iLEAD) Hundreds of students, and in some cases their families, recently took advantage of spring break to head to sunnier climes. However, a couple of the usual beach destinations, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The good news is that some of the mainland spring breakers did or still are using their time off to participate in storm recovery efforts in... Read more →


I am so, so sorry my dear friends in the MidAtlantic and Northeastern United States. I know you're looking at possibly more snow with the fourth nor'easter in three weeks forecast to hit your areas in a few days. Here in Central Texas and other parts of the country, however, spring has officially arrived! My Texas neighbors and I are enjoying the seasonal wildflowers. Thank you, Lady Bird Johnson! (Photo by Kay Bell) It's also the traditional time for cleaning up and clearing out your house. Some of those old and/or unused items can be tossed. Others, however, are in... Read more →


Luxury suites provide fans with more than just views of sporting events. Some companies use these special accommodations to woo or reward high-dollar customers. However, a new tax law limiting the deductibility of such entertainment could end or limit these and similar business expenditures. (AT&T Stadium luxury box photo courtesy SuiteHop via Facebook) The arenas where the NCAA's March Madness college basketball games are being played have luxury box seats where the seat owners used to entertain existing and potential high-dollar clients. I say "used to" because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect this year could,... Read more →


A view of Connemara, along Ireland's west coast, by Fred Bigio via Flickr CC. St. Patrick's Day is almost here, but it's not the lush Kelly green landscapes of the Emerald Isle we taxpayers are thinking about right now. We want to know ways to save some greenbacks on our taxes. Inspired by the man brave enough, at least in myth, to face down snakes and the March 17th day we honor him, here are 17 ways to round up some tax savings from the almost as scary U.S. tax code. 1. Non-cash charitable gifts: If you gave household goods... Read more →


Doing taxes is all about the numbers. The forms require our Social Security number and that of our spouse and dependent children. Similar identification digits also are key on tax forms from, for example, our employers and other entities that contribute to our taxable income. And, of course, we have to put in all those figures about our earnings and subtract the numbers in the form of expenses and deductions and credits to get to the most important amount of all, our final tax bill. Today's the 30th anniversary of the math-inspired unofficial holiday Pi Day is a good time... Read more →


There are so many tax scams out there that it takes more than one post. Three, to be precise. This is Part 2 of the Internal Revenue Service's 2018 list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. The four schemes in this post, numbers 5 through 8, are like those in the initial 2018 Dirty Dozen tax scams of 2018. They also are repeat (dis)honorees. That's because once crooks find something that works, they keep using it. And sadly, there are enough new victims out there every year to fall for it. Unless potential targets are warned. To do that and... Read more →


Don't hate losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time. The clock change, along with charitable donations, could save koalas and other wildlife. (Photo by Arnaud Gaillard via Wikipedia CC) How are y'all feeling after losing that hour of sleep last night, or rather early this morning? Me, not so good. I'm apparently among that group of folks who experience headaches when our circadian rhythms are affected by going in and out of Daylight Saving Time (DST). But at least it's not a heart attack, which some studies have shown increase a bit during the first three weekdays following clocks' springing... Read more →


Photo by 401(k) 2012 via Flickr The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) prompted the Internal Revenue Service this week to reissue some tax-related inflation adjustments. However, one area was not affected by the TCJA's provisions. The amounts you can contribute in 2018 to your tax-favored retirement accounts did not change. There are two reasons for the retirement amounts' status quo. First, despite some Congressional discussions about changing retirement plans early in the tax bill's formulation, those proposals were dropped after much public outcry. (Sometimes our elected leaders do hear us!) Also, while the TCJA did change the tax-related inflation... Read more →


Are you still waiting to file your taxes because you want additional guidance from the Internal Revenue Service about the 2018 property taxes you prepaid last year? You are not alone. A group of Democratic lawmakers, some of who met with the acting head of the IRS last month on this topic, are continuing to press the agency for a final rule about this deduction that was reduced under the newly enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The latest demand for deduction clarification came earlier this week when some Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee sent Acting IRS... Read more →


If you've been wondering when you can take advantage on your 2017 tax return of a recently renewed tax extender, your wait could be over. The IRS announced today, Feb. 22, that it's now ready to process returns claiming three recently renewed tax breaks Surprise extenders: Congress threw the tax world for a loop earlier this month when it tacked some expired tax break onto its budget bill. The tax laws, popularly known as extenders because they are temporary and must be periodically renewed or extended, included a variety of tax breaks for businesses and individuals. Immediately following the Congressional... Read more →


My mother and my furry little brother having a conversation. Mum doesn't care that today is Love Your Pet Day. She celebrates it every day, much to her very spoiled dog's delight. (Photo by Kay Bell) Today, Feb. 20, is Love Your Pet Day, which has its own trending hashtag on Twitter (here's my contribution). This is the most unnecessary special day ever. Ask any pet owner and they'll tell you that every day is love your furry family member day. In fact, a National Retail Federation poll projected that just last week folks would spend $751 million on Valentine's... Read more →


Many medical costs are still tax deductible, but you have to clear an adjusted gross income bar. (Photo by Bjarteh via Wikipedia) If you're still young, which to me is an ever-shifting definition that now includes folks in their 40s, here's a warning. Get ready to see more doctors as you age. I know of what I blog. Although I'm young at heart, I'm finally there. My morning was full of physicians. And I'll deal with doctors again in a few weeks, both for follow-up exams and when I file my 2017 tax return. Tax breaks for medical costs: Taxes... Read more →


The 2018 tax filing season officially starts today. Many folks have already filed, by using Free File (which opened on Jan. 12), going with software on their own or turning over their tax material to paid preparers. The Internal Revenue Service will now process all those 1040s that were completed earlier this month and were on hold. If you, however, haven't gotten around to filling out your taxes yet, here's a checklist of what you'll need to accurately and easily complete your return. You might not need some of the stuff noted in this latest checklist. Feel free to skip... Read more →


Anger over the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) has spilled over into 2018, with lawmakers from high-tax states still looking for ways to undo this provision. Some have petitioned the Internal Revenue Service for revised, more filer-friendly property tax guidance. Other have introduced legislation to fully restore the now-limited SALT itemized write-offs. You thought the battle over paying 2018 local property taxes so that they could be claimed on 2017 tax returns ended on Jan. 1. You were wrong. Asking IRS to reconsider: Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate minority... Read more →


The Rev. Gilbert Caldwell (left) was part of the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (center). Click the screenshot above to watch the full CBS Sunday Morning feature on how a group of fifth-graders helped correct a 60-year-old act of discrimination against Caldwell and his wife. As a young man, the Rev. Gilbert Caldwell marched with Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we honor and celebrate on this federal holiday. Racial discrimination was among the many wrongs King, Caldwell and other civil rights activists back then were working to right. It's a... Read more →


Homeowners are still trying to wrap their heads — and tax plans — around the many Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes to the Internal Revenue Code that are related to personal real estate. There's the new limit on federal deductions for mortgage interest on future home loans, the cap on real estate taxes on your primary residence and the elimination of the write-off for interest paid on home equity loans. When the new tax law took effect on Jan. 1, the deduction on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or home equity loans became a thing of the... Read more →