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Source: CafePress tax jigsaw puzzle Still trying to put the pieces of your Form 1040 (or 1040A or even 1040EZ) together? Time's running out. Tax Day is almost here. Since the tax filing deadline is April 17 this year, here are 17 tax tips. Not only do they earn this week's By the Numbers honor, some could help you put together a return to send to Uncle Sam on time and at the least possible tax cost to you. 1. File on time. Yes, this first tip is obvious, but a lot of people let the filing date slip by... 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 →


There are so many tax scams out there that it takes more than one post to cover them. Three posts, to be precise. This is Part 3 of the Internal Revenue Service's 2018 list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. Your promised tax savings can be quickly washed away if you put your money into an abusive offshore tax shelter. This is it, a look at the final group of scams that crooks are using again this tax year to try to take our money. The final four schemes in this post, numbers 9 through 12, are like those in... Read more →


Energy-efficient skylights installed in 2017 could provide homeowners some savings thanks to a recently renewed tax credit. Congress slipped some expired tax breaks into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 enacted back in February. That was good news for taxpayers who can claim these tax breaks, but it set off a mad scramble within the Internal Revenue Service. Playing processing catch-up: Uncle Sam's tax agency had to dig out and update the appropriate forms and then re-set its processing systems to handle them. And all this had to be done while the 2018 tax-filing season was already underway. The IRS... 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 →


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 →


Will you be watching the Academy Awards this Sunday, March 4? You might want to since, depending on where you live, you helped pay for some of the Oscar-nominated movies. New Yorkers have the most at stake, both financially and in connection with the gold statuettes. New York budgets $420 million for its film-tax-credit program. The Empire State's film production tax credit offers reimbursement of up to 40 percent on most production costs depending on what part of the state a movie is shot. It also reward TV programs, like the Big Apple-based "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon, that... Read more →


Princess Bride impatience via Giphy.com Mid-February is finally here, the time when the Internal Revenue Service can finally issue refunds to taxpayers who had claimed the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) and/or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Does that mean these refunds will show up today? No, that's a refund myth, even if you filed your Form 1040 on Jan. 29, the first day that the IRS began processing returns. Neither is your refund likely to be directly deposited into your bank account, loaded onto a debit card or as a paper check stuffed in your snail mail box... Read more →


Yesterday was a big day for electric vehicles. One was shot into a solar orbit. Terrestrially, a group of U.S. Senators launched an effort to extend tax credits for electric and alternative fuel vehicles. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy successfully launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Click image to watch the full video. SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, successfully launched one of the heaviest rockets ever. For those of us of a certain age, the Cape Canaveral lift off brought to mind the powerful Saturn V rocket that propelled NASA's Apollo... Read more →


Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren might benefit by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The IRS has additional information for these taxpayers and other special groups and situations where the EITC could help. Friday, Jan. 26, was EITC Awareness Day, the 12th annual event during with the Internal Revenue Service makes a special effort to get the word out about this tax break that millions of filers ignore each year. Actually, the tax agency made special efforts, plural, yesterday. There were more than 250 total outreach events and activities around the country to promote the Earned Income Tax... Read more →


Every tax filing season, millions overlook the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax break that could save them thousands of dollars. Nationwide, the Internal Revenue Service says that every tax season around 20 percent of filers who could claim this credit don't. That's an amazing statistic in a tax culture that's obsessed with getting refunds. Why EITC is ignored: So why are so many filers leaving all those tax dollars in the U.S. Treasury's account? There are three main reasons. First, some people think they make too much money to claim the EITC. True, this tax credit was created... Read more →


The Beverly Hilton ballroom was packed on the evening of Jan. 7 as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out its annual Golden Globes statuettes for excellence in movies and television. (Photo courtesy Hollywood Foreign Press Association) I watched the Golden Globes. I am a big movie and television fan, so I wanted to see what one tiny subsection of awards voters, in this case the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, thought about recent entertainment offerings. Plus, I wanted to host Seth Meyers' take on Hollywood's harassment issue. I was thrilled to see his late-night show writers Amber Ruffin Jenny Hagel... Read more →


Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) got testy when GOP leaders demanded Senators vote on the huge tax bill without giving them time to go through the almost 500 pages. But they did. And it passed. And the final conference deal and supporting material is even larger! (Click image to watch Tester's complaint via his Twitter account.) After the House and Senate conferees signed off Dec. 15 on the "mixed" Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I posted a look at some of the highlights (or, depending on your political persuasion and personal tax situation) lowlights in the measure. But that one post... Read more →


There's a tax bill, but there is no tax reform. There's still an estate tax. There are still (some) state and local itemized tax deductions. There's still an alternative minimum tax. And there are enough other tweaks to confuse filers and keep tax pros very busy over the next 12 (and more) months. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) presides over the lone public hearing Dec. 13 of the House-Senate conference committee on H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Final House and Senate votes on the bill are planned for next week. Basically, the Republican tax bill... Read more →


U.S. families have been getting smaller in recent years, but some still have lots of children and they could end up being adversely affected by the tax law changes now under consideration. (Photo from the Forks Timber Museum Collection via Flickr) In selling their tax cuts to the American public, Republicans emphasize that the standard deduction amount is almost doubled. That sounds good. But that's not the whole story. You'll lose personal exemptions. For taxpayers, exemptions are excellent. That's especially the case for filers who have lots of dependents. Under current law, a tax exemption helps reduce your income so... Read more →


After 14½ hours of debate, the U.S. Senate early on Saturday, Dec. 2, approved 51-49 its version of tax reform. Now the hard work starts. (C-SPAN2 screenshot; click image to watch video of the full debate and votes) It's alive! Tax reform, or at least tax cuts (for a while, for some people) survived a marathon session in the Senate, with that chamber approving its Internal Revenue Code revisions early Saturday, Dec. 2, morning. Now the real fun begins. Since the House version (H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) passed on Nov. 16 is different from the Senate's... Read more →


Across America, special thanks go out this Veterans Day to all the men and women who courageously put on uniforms and served our country whenever and wherever called. But once those proudly-worn uniforms are packed away, former U.S. military members need more than just gratitude. Millions of soldiers, sailors, pilots and National Guard members need our support and help as they return to civilian life. That's why this 11/11 Shout Out Saturday goes to MartketWatch's financial checklist for former military members. And since you come here for tax talk, I don't want to disappoint. Here are a couple of tax... Read more →


The tax dueling has officially begun. The Senate on Thursday, Nov. 9, released its answer to the House's H.R. 1, officially title the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. UPDATE, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017: The House passed H.R. 1. Prospects for the Senate's tax reform bill, however, are muddier. While resolving difference in the two doesn't demand quite as many steps as in the 10 Duel Commandments outlined in the still incredibly popular Broadway (and touring company) musical Hamilton, it's still going to be one of the biggest face-offs in recent Washington, D.C., legislative history. Here's a look at some of... Read more →


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) get serious in discussing what Republicans say are the middle-class benefits in their latest proposal to rewrite the tax code. The most detailed plan yet was released Thursday, Nov. 2. (Screenshot of C-SPAN video; click image to watch clip.) Remember that Capitol Hill adage that all politics is local? It can be easily shifted to tax reform. Whether you're for or against a tax law change will depend in large part on how much it helps or hurt you. When it comes to the men and women who propose and/or make those changes, their votes... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some popular credits and deductions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. New tax laws also have altered some of the 2018 amounts and are noted in the post below. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Millions of taxpayers depend each year on tax deductions... Read more →