Politics Feed

Donald J. Trump displays his signature he affixed this morning to the GOP tax bill law, holding it over the stack of legislation that now takes effect, for the most part, on Jan. 1, 2018. (CNN screenshot; click image to watch the full signing) There are just three shopping days left until Christmas, but the shopper in chief is done. Donald J. Trump this week got Americans the present he's been promising for months, "a big, beautiful tax cut." This morning, Trump quietly — Yes, you read that right! Quietly. A Christmas miracle? — signed H.R. 1 into law. It... Read more →


You thought we basically were done with taxes with the passage of the GOP's massive tax bill this week, right? Wrong. A variety of old extenders will get another look in the New Year. Horse racing tracks could get back a tax break that lapsed if the new bill of old expired tax extenders is passed. Senate Republicans decided to deal with the recently-passed tax code changes by working within the budgetary parameters of reconciliation and the Byrd rule so they could pass any bill by a simple majority. However, that made the individual tax changes temporary, setting the expiration... Read more →


Now that the Republican-sponsored massive tax bill is on its way to the Oval Office, taxpayers have two questions. The first is, "Will it help or hurt me when I get around to filing my federal tax return in 2019?" A variety of calculators offer some very broad hints as to that answer. The second is, "Will I see any benefits before the annual tax-filing time?" GOP members of Congress and the White House say yes. You should see the effect of the new tax rates, specifically more spending money, reflected in your February paychecks, promise Donald J. Trump and... Read more →


Christmas is only days away and it looks like Donald J. Trump will deliver on his promise to give American taxpayers a present. But will it be a "big, beautiful tax cut" as Trump characterized the legislation? Or will it be a bigger Internal Revenue Service bill? Or will it not make much difference at all? Who gets how much of a tax cut? House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who's career in the House has centered on budget and tax bills, reiterated in his floor speech this afternoon touting H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that "the typical... 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 →


Vice President Mike Pence (waving) and Ways & Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (far right) leave a Dec. 12 meeting in which they discussed the final touches being made to the Republicans' tax bill, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (Photo courtesy Brady's Facebook page) Breathe a sigh of relief, all you payers of state and local income taxes. The tax bill under consideration will help you. Or not. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) announced to reporters today (Thursday, Dec. 14) that conference committee members — or at least the Republican conferees — have agreed... Read more →


House and Senate tax conferees will officially meet for the first time this afternoon. As the formal "mixing" of the two tax bills begins, let's get few things straight. Neither H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as passed by the House nor the version of that bill approved by the Senate is not real tax reform. It's mainly, per its name, a variety of tax cuts, particularly for big business and wealthier taxpayers. Neither bill simplifies the Internal Revenue Code. In fact, in several instances it complicates things. Yes, I'm looking at you pass-through provisions. Taxpayers, both business... Read more →


U.S. map from vintage state postcards by Design Turnpike/Fine Art America State tax departments and lawmakers have joined individual and business taxpayers in closely watching and anxiously awaiting any possible changes to the federal tax code. Just like businesses and individuals, states will benefit or suffer depending on what the House and Senate tax reform conference committee decides. Most states collect some sort of tax — only Alaska has no income and no state (but some local) sales tax — and most of those states tie their tax methods, especially when it comes to income tax collection, to federal law.... Read more →


But some firms, especially if they specialize in lobbying lawmakers, have other considerations in mind for their annual end-of-year festivities. The holiday season is here at offices, too. That means office parties. Oh, yay! OK, some people love office Christmas parties. Anything for free food and libations. And they actually like most of their co-workers. But if you're not one of them, go anyway. Surely you can fake it for a few hours. And, again, free refreshments. Plus, opting out of implicitly required conviviality could hurt your career. Tax-free thanks: Offices throw these parties as a way to thank workers... Read more →


A driver pulled over in La Conchita, California, the evening of Dec. 6 to save a rabbit he spotted scurrying amid flames from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Click image to watch full video posted on YouTube by RMG News/Reuters/NJ.com. California is on fire. Literally. Again. Just two months after the northern part of the Golden State was ablaze, deadly wildfires are raging across Southern California. And while residents right now are simply trying to stay safe and, if possible, save as much of their personal possessions as they can, in a few weeks or months, they'll be trying... Read more →


The House and Senate have officially agreed to hash out their respective tax reform differences. Both chambers passed their own versions of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Rather than one side accepting the other's bill, they now must come up with a new piece of legislation that incorporates some parts of both. That job falls to 14 Senators and 15 Representatives selected by their Party's leadership. Let's get this tax negotiation party started! House conferees: On the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin selected nine GOP Representatives. They are: Kevin Brady of Texas (chair of the... Read more →


Time's person of the year for 2017 is a lot of people. The magazine selected all the women and men who who publicly spoke about being victims of sexual harassment and abuse as a way to stop it and help others who have been victims, known on social media as the #MeToo movement. Ironically, today's announcement of Time's 90th most notable person (called Man or Woman of the year until 1999) was overshadowed by the continuing sexual harassment controversy in the political world. Sitting and wannabe Senator troubles: Roy Moore, who is seeking Attorney General Jeff Session's former Senate seat... Read more →


Many homeowners breathed a sigh of relief when the Senate's version of tax reform followed the House's H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and included a tax deduction for property taxes. But it might be time to start hyperventilating again. While both chambers would keep the itemized deduction for the local real estate taxes that every homeowner faces each year, they will reduce its tax value. Each bill caps the deduction amount at $10,000. Most homeowners' taxes covered: For many homeowners, that limit is cool. Their property tax bills are high, but not into five digits, so it... Read more →


(Image by Rochelle Truong | Reddit) As we continue to plow though the Senate's version of the House tax reform bill, many folks, both on Capitol Hill and across the country, are still upset with the process used by GOP leaders to get the measure through the upper chamber. Changes traded for votes: One of the biggest complaints is about the legislative changes made on the fly to woo enough Senators to the "yea" side. That's not necessarily unusual. Quid pro quo is common in crafting legislation. But the problem for opponents of the bill was that some of these... 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 →


Ho, Ho, Ho, hoss. It's the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays and year-end tax moves are here! (Photo by Kay Bell of a scene at Marble Falls, Texas' annual Walkway of Lights along the lake) Hello, holidays! We're so happy you and your good cheer have finally arrived. But the arrival of December also means 2017 is almost over, giving us only 31 days to take care of tax tasks that could save us money when we file our returns next year. This year, it also looks like Congress might actually make some tax changes, if not... Read more →


A crush of shoppers rushes to start their Black Friday quest for bargains. (Photo via Diariocritico de Venezuela/Stan Honda/Flickr CC) Black Friday, the day-after-Thanksgiving kickoff to the holiday shopping season, may have lost some of its luster in recent years, but plenty of shoppers still hit the stores today to bargain hunt. If you're among the frenzied shoppers, hang onto your receipts if you buy a lot or big-ticket items. They could bump up your itemized tax deduction. And your 2017 tax return might be the last time you'll be able to take advantage of this deduction. Tax reform deduction... Read more →


It's going to be a mixed Thanksgiving in Internal Revenue Service households. The agency definitely won't be thankful for the Senate funding bill released on Nov. 20. That Financial Services & General Government Appropriations measure proposes the IRS get $11.1 billion in fiscal year 2018. That's $149 million less than it received for the 2017 fiscal year. However, the IRS can be grateful that the funding is close to the $11.235 billion that then IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency needs to maintain its current performance levels. And it's $111 million more than what Donald J. Trump's budget recommended... Read more →


John Koskinen's days of giving formal testimony as head of the IRS ended when his commissioner term concluded earlier this month. However, an interview he gave the week after leaving the tax agency post has raised questions about Donald Trump's tax returns and taxpayer privacy. Remember Donald J. Trump's tax returns? Those he said during the campaign that he'd share with America as soon as the IRS completed its audit of them? Well, we still don't know if the IRS has finished examining those prior year filings, but apparently Trump did sometime this year file his 2016 taxes. The Administration... Read more →