Deductions Feed

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and his Republican colleagues in June celebrated the six-month anniversary of their major tax reform bill. Back then, they thought the new tax laws would give them a political edge in the coming November elections. They thought wrong. (Photo courtesy U.S. Speaker of the House) When the Republican controlled House and Senate passed a major tax reform bill last December, it was supposed to be a twofer. First, enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) fulfilled long-standing GOP fiscal and political goals of reducing taxes... Read more →


Manhattan businessmen meet over lunch. (Photo by Phillip Capper via Flickr Creative Commons) The way to a business contract is through a client's stomach. That revised adage underscores what every business person, whether they run a major corporation or a mom-and-pop company, knows: that personal relationships are key to success. And much of the time, those relationships are cemented over business meals. Business meals still tax deductible: The Internal Revenue Service this week gave business a break — or really left a tax break in place — when it comes to deducting the cost of business meals. The tax agency... Read more →


Another lingering tax deduction concern created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is finally clearer. The Internal Revenue Service says that half the cost of business meals is still tax deductible as an allowable work-related expense. That's what the pre-TCJA tax law said. But because the Republican tax reform bill was cobbled together so hurriedly at the end of 2017, its legislative language left many confused. And the new law's interpretation created a division among tax professionals (and semantics geeks) as to what exactly is entertainment. Meals or entertainment vs. meals and entertainment: A great number of tax... Read more →


The Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots already are close to a combined $600 million. As the drawing times near, more people will play, creating even larger eventual jackpots. Of course, the chances of winning both drawings — roughly 1 in 75 quadrillion (that's 15 zeros) by one estimate — is even more minuscule than the general winnings odds of either alone. Still, millions of us will buy lottery tickets. Full disclosure: I'm one of them. Don't judge me. But don't call me either if I win! In fact, whoever wins Mega Millions major jackpot on Tuesday (Oct. 2), which as... Read more →


You took that great new job last November. It was a bit of hassle, a quick move three states away, but worth it. You love your work, office colleagues and neighborhood where you and your family have settled. Even better, your new employer covered most of your relocation costs. The bad news, though, is that your boss didn't get you the check reimbursing your moving expenses until this summer. That means you'll owe tax on that moving money, right? Wrong! New law, old rule: Although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did eliminate the tax break for most* work-related... Read more →


Do you have thoughts about the Internal Revenue Service's plan to stymie state efforts to work around the new $10,000 federal deduction limit on state and local taxes? You are not alone. On Aug. 23, the IRS issued a proposed rule designed to rein in state efforts to give their residents a way to get a tax write-off for all of their state and local taxes, commonly referred to in the tax world as SALT. In that same announcement, the IRS also said it will hold a Nov. 5 public hearing on its proposal regulation and, leading up to that... Read more →


If you're looking for a job to boost your holiday spending budget, the Internal Revenue Service might be able to help. I got the postcard shown above in today's mail. No, even though I write about taxes, I'm not special in the IRS' eyes — and that's fine with me. The taxman doesn't have to pay me any extra attention at all, ever! The postcard was addressed to "Resident" so all my neighbors got one. Probably most Austin area folks did, too. Seasonal hiring ritual: There's an IRS facility in the Texas capital and almost every year as the holidays... Read more →


N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, second from right, and staff announce efforts to investigate what state officials says is the politicization of the new federal tax law limiting the deduction of state and local taxes. (Photo by Kevin Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via Flickr) A lawsuit fighting the new federal cap on deductible state and local taxes (SALT) is working its way through the courts, but some lawmakers aren't waiting for a judicial (or judicious) result. With Tax Reform 2.0 moving forward in the U.S. House, a couple of new insurrections have flared up. On Capitol Hill, a small... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service acted quickly in announcing tax relief for Hurricane Florence victims. As the flood waters continued to build, it expanded its relief beyond its initial disaster coverage area. Read on for more on IRS actions and how you can follow Uncle Sam's example and lend assistance to those dealing with the deadly storm. Deer brave a Hurricane Florence flooded road in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in search of higher, drier ground. (Screen shot of NBC News Twitter video) As expected, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that some folks in Hurricane Florence's path will received special consideration when... Read more →


UPDATE , Oct. 1, 2018: The House has signed off on its three Tax Reform 2.0 bills to extend the individual provisions of 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate, however, is not so keen on the measures. Additional Senate tax action this year looks doubtful as the Upper Chamber focuses on other year-end priorities. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expanded the use of 529 education savings plans to cover elementary and secondary school costs. One of the House's Tax Reform 2.0 bills would also make 529 money available to pay some home-schooling expenses. (Photo by Chris Yarzab... Read more →


The hubby works on what he calls the Law of Two. Basically, he says, it takes (at least) two tries to get anything done properly. I thought of his unofficial law as I read the Internal Revenue Service's clarification of one of its earlier clarifications. Tax geeks already know I'm talking about the IRS and Treasury declaration a couple of weeks ago regarding state tax credit programs tied to taxpayer deduction of state and local taxes, referred to as SALT. Less tax to deduct: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limits the itemized SALT deduction, which includes individual payments of... Read more →


House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) was among GOP leaders who celebrated the six-month anniversary of the party's tax reform bill back in June. Now he and other Republicans want to expand that bill by the end of September. We're still waiting for clarification of many of the new tax laws in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). In fact, some say we need clarification of clarifications; have you tried to decipher the new 199A business deduction even with the Internal Revenue Service guidance? But such lingering TCJA questions are not stopping Republican leaders from trying... Read more →


Trees in September will see their first fall color. (Photo by Jonathan Bloy courtesy Bloy.net) Hello, September. It's nice to have you back. You are a month that offers mostly-welcome transitions. There are beginnings, as students start a new school year. Parents nationwide say "thank you!" There are endings, as summer gives way to fall's cooler temps and foliage changes. Those of us tired of heat waves want to know what took you so long!?! There are expectations, as the end of the year and its many holidays approach. It's never too early to start planning for these. My Christmas... Read more →


Labor Day 2018 doesn't bring much good news for unions. Membership in the workplace organizations has, at best, stalled. Politicians and the public tend to view them unfavorably. And they lost a tax break in last year's tax reform bill. But there's a faint light for unionized workers thanks to a bill to restore their dues deduction and make the expense easier for more members to claim. Mention "unions" and most of us think of hardhat wearing men, like these members of the Utility Workers Union of America clearing storm damage. But union memberships cover a wide range and variety... Read more →


Donors to charities are used to scrambling on Dec. 31 to get their tax-deductible gifts to nonprofits in under the tax-year wire. But thanks to Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes, many are facing a deadline today, Aug. 27. The TCJA set a new $10,000 limit on state and local tax (SALT) payments that can be deducted on federal returns. To get around that, several states established charitable funds to which their residents, who claim itemize deductions on their federal tax returns, could make SALT payments. Those gifts to the state then would be deductible as charitable donations, which was... Read more →


Americans have always been mobile, as evidenced by this vintage photo from Flatbush Moving in Linden, New Jersey. Now some folks say they're relocating because of new tax law limits on deductions. Now that the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have made it clear that they will restrict state efforts to work around the new $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT), some folks are looking at other options. Among them, according to a New York Times story, is to move. (Unfortunately for them, the new law also, for the most part, ended the tax... Read more →


One of the first questions I got when states started working on chartable programs that would let their taxpayers get around the new $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) was how any Internal Revenue Service action might affect existing programs. We finally have an answer and it's not good. "Congress limited the deduction for state and local taxes that predominantly benefited high-income earners to help pay for major tax cuts for American families," said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement accompanying the regulations. "The proposed rule will uphold that limitation by preventing attempts to... Read more →


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 →