Education Feed

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 →


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 →


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 →


Life is a carousel, at least for a while, for this youngster and her grandmother. Once play time is over, financially secure grandparents have some tax-favored ways they can help ftheir grandchildren. (Photo by Rob Bixby via Flickr Creative Commons) Happy Grandparents Day! If your pop-pop and mam-maw (insert your own personal and/or regional affectionate nicknames here) are still around, take some time to tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Most of the time, younger — and that's definitely a relative term — folk think of grandparents as ancient. In many cases, elderly grandparents (and parents) do... Read more →


I don’t know about you, but I am glad to see August gone! It was a horrible, awful, no-good month for too many of my fellow Texans. We're counting on you, September, with your promise of cooler temperatures and return of routines, like the kiddos' going back to class, to get us to a better place. Among the things to think about as fall nears is, of course, taxes. Here are four quick tax tasks to consider this month. File your 2016 taxes: For the first time in years, I'm heading into fall with my prior year return already in... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →


The cost of college continues to simmer as an educational policy and legal issue, particularly when it comes to student loans. Democratic attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia on July 6 filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department to stop her from changing rules that erased the federal student loan debt of those who were cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently. Consumer groups also have joined the litigation list. The Obama Administration finalized the so-called borrower defense rules last October. They were scheduled to take effect on July 1. DeVos, however, froze... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and Department of Education have a graduation gift for some students. The tax agency's income data retrieval tool that makes it easier to apply for federal financial college aid is once again operational for some applicants. This cool balloon was part of my neighbors' celebration of their son's graduation. Some Texas gusts, however, helped it take a post-graduation trip to our driveway. After snapping this photo (and Instagram video), I helped the light-headed fellow home. Since 2012, the IRS has made getting income information easier for students and their parents who are seeking financial help by... Read more →


These young women are enjoying their high school graduation ceremony. Now, with diplomas in hand, they and their families are looking at how to pay for college. A 529 plan could help. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Education via Flickr) Happy 529 Day! This end-of-May day is marked each year by a flurry of activity to get the word out about 529 college savings plans. Created by Congress in 1996, the accounts are officially designated as a "qualified tuition program" in the Internal Revenue Code. However, they are more commonly referred by the IRC section 529 that covers their associated... Read more →


Remember that recent economic analysis that said Americans were more in debt than they've been in almost a decade? The bulk of that debt is housing related, but student debt also is a big contributor to the growing owing. Households today are borrowing differently than they did nine years ago, note New York Times reporters Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley. The latest data show that student loan debt, driven by soaring tuition costs, makes up 11 percent of total household debt, up from 5 percent in the third quarter of 2008. Nice days mean students can turn their college campus... Read more →


I'm a big fan of teachers, not just because my grandmother and one of my aunts were teachers, but because I had great instructors from elementary through college. So celebrating National Teacher Day is the least I can do. That and remind teachers and others who help educate us that there's a tax break specifically for them. Tax reward for teachers: Most teachers go beyond lesson plans and working weekends to get ready to make the learning experience one that resonates. In fact, a lot of teachers spend their own money to help make their classroom presentations effective. In recognition... Read more →


Most of us — Internal Revenue Service data shows around 70 percent of taxpayers — don't mess with itemized deductions. Instead this large group of filers claims the standard deduction. It's easy. The amount to claim is based on your filing status and found directly on the 1040 and 1040A forms; it's included with the personal exemption amount(s) on 1040EZ. It's also adjusted annually for inflation, so generally if you make more the next tax year, your standard deduction is larger. But sometimes standard deduction claimants feel a bit left out at tax time, since so much is written (guilty!)... Read more →


Back before I was totally focused on taxes — yes, I know that's hard to imagine — I worked for a corporate conglomerate that had an aerospace subsidiary. That company also was a government contractor. To underscore our connection to federal government, my employer offered the option to buy U.S. saving bonds through a payroll purchase program. I still have a bundle of those Series EE bonds. Yes, real paper bonds. That's some of them pictured above. It seemed a little silly back then, even though the purchases cost me only half of each bond's face value. Compared to other... Read more →


It was supposed to be the annual Capitol Hill review of how the current tax filing season is going. It was supposed to be a time for the Internal Revenue Service to shine since, as the IRS commissioner said during a public speech yesterday, it's been the smoothest filing season since he took the top job in December 2013. It wasn't. During a Senate Finance hearing today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen revealed more details of security breach connected to federal student aid applications that require inclusion of tax data. Student loan tax data security concerns: While 2017 filing season specifics... Read more →


Most high-income investors last were likely a little bummed last week when the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act failed. It didn't have anything to do with their personal opinions on Obamacare or health care in general. It meant that the Net Investment Income Tax, or NIIT, remains on the books. This 3.8 percent surtax is assessed on capital gains, dividends, interest, and other passive income earned by single investors making more than $200,000 a year or $250,000 if married filing jointly. It was one of the many ACA-related taxes that would have been repealed if the GOP... Read more →


The United States and Canada share more than the world's longest undefended border. They also share attacks by cyber criminals on their online tax systems. A sign at the point where the railroad crosses the U.S.-Canada border at Peace Arch Park. This is the westernmost point on the continuous main section of the border. (Photo by Vmenkov via Wikimedia) Canada Revenue Agency’s website was down from the afternoon of Friday, March 10, until 5 p.m. Sunday, March 12, after tax officials discovered the site had a security vulnerability. South of the 49th parallel on Thursday, March 9, the Internal Revenue... Read more →


With Republicans soon to be in control of Congress and the White House, the tax focus has shifted to a major rewrite of the Internal Revenue Code. But this legislative approach means that more than 30 temporary tax provisions will disappear from the tax code on Jan. 1, 2017. Whether they are resurrected in any new tax overhaul depends on how persuasive the various laws' lobbyists are, how committed Senators and Representatives are to streamlining the tax code and how much tax revenue is gained or lost by their continued absence or revival. Extenders usually long lives: These tax laws,... Read more →


This post was reviewed and updated June 7, 2017. 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... 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 →