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When the Academy Awards are handed out Sunday, Feb. 26, it's a good bet that most of the films already were tax winners. They used special tax breaks to help offset their sometimes enormous production costs. As of Jan. 1, all those credits will come from states. End of the federal film tax break: The only federal tax incentive designed specifically to keep film and television production in the United States ended when 2017 arrived. It was part of a group of extenders — temporary tax breaks that must be periodically renewed by Congress — that lawmakers last year decided... Read more →


There weren't any major tax bills in 2016. That's going to change in some form in 2017 now that the Republicans control Congress and the White House. via GIPHY But there still were plenty of tax-related matters that got attention last year. Below is my list of top 10 tax stories of 2016, starting with the one I saw as most important. And as a bonus, I also pulled out my slightly cracked crystal ball -- really, who saw the presidential election turning out like it did? -- to forecast five tax issues that we're likely to see in 2017.... 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 →


Small business owners are hoping that their shops are filled with lots of paying customers this annual Small Business Saturday. The first Small Business Saturday was Nov. 27, 2010. That initial year, it was the creation of the financial company American Express. In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously made the day official. The day celebrates small businesses and encourages supporting them and how they impact communities. They also are hoping that by this time next year, their top tax rate will be just 15 percent. More business tax breaks ahead? That lower business tax rate, a 20 percentage point drop... Read more →


Labor Day is a holiday for many workers. But come Tuesday, most employed folks will be braving traffic again to get to their offices. Traffic happens by Reinis Traldas via Flickr CC Depending on the transportation method these workers use to get to their jobs, they could be eligible for some tax benefits. On the road to work again: The peak commuting time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey in 2014 (the most recent available data), was 7 a.m. to 7:29 a.m. Of the more than 139 million total commuters two years ago, 20.56 million were on... Read more →


"Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!" Everyone connected to "Hamilton" will be raising a glass and singing that Schuyler Sisters lyric later tonight after Broadway's annual awards ceremony is complete. The ground- and record-breaking musical is nominated for 16 Tony awards (yes, that's a new record, too). The show about the $10 Founding Father likely won't set a new record for wins, in part because many of its actors are competing against each other. But it should take home the statuette for top musical. And beyond the creative realm, Hamilton is already... Read more →


It's Derby Day. No, not the hat, although fancy chapeaux are a big part of the big race in the Bluegrass State. Well-dressed racing fans at the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Photo by Lee Burchfield via Flickr. It's the running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. Thanks to American Pharoah's wins last year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky; Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland; and Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, we're starting a new quest for the world's best thoroughbred. Winning race bets are taxable: The tax focus on this and other big... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's not just a catchy tune. It's President Barack Obama's philosophy regarding his eighth and final fiscal year budget blueprint. Click image to watch American Authors' hit "Go Big or Go Home" via YouTube. Even when Congress and Commander in Chief get along, getting everything in an administration's annual budget is tough. When things are outright hostile like now -- in an unprecedented move, both the House and Senate budget committees, headed by Republicans, announced they won't hold hearings on Obama's proposal -- the chances of a lame-duck president getting what he wants fiscally is... Read more →


What do hearts and flowers, leaping amphibians and taxes have in common? February! The shortest month of the year is upon us. In 2016, however, it's a day longer because it's Leap Year, hence the frog allusion, adding a 29th day to our calendars. Then, of course, there's Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. And February also is a traditionally busy time for taxes. This is the month that most of us finally get all the tax statements we need to file our returns. And folks who filed early are anxiously awaiting their refunds. Whether you're working on your 2015 taxes or... Read more →


Welcome to the last week of 2015. The end of the calendar year is important not just for your New Year's Eve party planning purposes, but also because when it comes to most tax moves, Dec. 31 is a critical and firm deadline. So with the soon-to-be-old year rapidly winding down, here are 10 tax moves to make by Dec. 31. 1. Take your retirement account distribution. Most owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts who are age 70½ or older must take a specific amount out of their nest eggs by the end of the year or face stiff penalties. This... Read more →


Today is the first day of winter and it's supposed to hit 76 it hit 79 degrees here in Austin. Similar temperatures are forecast for the rest of this Christmas week. I thought we left such winter warmth behind us 10 years ago when we moved from South Florida back home to Texas. And for most winters over the last decade, we've had our share of the cold, like in 2011 and 2013 when we had snow and temperatures low enough to freeze our backyard fountain. Some winters in Austin, Texas, like this one in 2011 have been cold. But... Read more →


Hot damn! My tax crystal ball -- yep, that's it there to the left -- is working again! Today the Internal Revenue Service announced that the 2016 filing season will start on time. The IRS will begin accepting electronically filed individual returns on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. It's on a Tuesday because Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday. There's even better news for folks who are eligible to use Free File. This IRS/private tax software industry partnership allows millions of taxpayers to prepare their returns online and e-file them at no cost.... Read more →


The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via BroadwayBox.com) And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →


It's a Christmas miracle! Weeks are left in 2015 and Congress has reached a deal on the 50+ tax breaks known as extenders. Holiday greetings in the hall leading from the room in the Capitol basement where House Republicans met late Dec. 15 to learn of agreement on omnibus spending and tax extenders bills. Photo by Craig Caplan, C-SPAN Capitol Hill producer, via Twitter. For those of us in the tax world, waiting for action in recent years on this group of technically temporary tax breaks has become a holiday tradition. A bad holiday tradition, to be sure, but one... Read more →


It's always a roller coaster ride when Congress is hashing out legislation. That's particularly true when it's a tax bill that has a firm deadline. UPDATE, Wednesday, Dec. 16: Hang on, the ride is heading up! Congress reached agreements on tax and spending bills late Dec. 15. Votes expected soon. Details on the deal to come soon in a new, separate post on Extenders 2015 Winners and Losers. Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure, a Bolliger & Mabillard out and back roller coaster. Photo by Dusso Janladde via Wikimedia I'm talking, of course, about the tax extenders package. These 50+... Read more →


We're five days away from another possible government shutdown. Wait. Didn't the budget deal that former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pushed through before handing the gavel to new Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) take care of that? Sort of. Budget but no spending plan: The budget agreed to at the end of October established a framework for expenditures through October 2017. Congress, however, still must allocate the actual dollars for Uncle Sam's operations so he can operate past Dec. 11, the day that the latest continuing resolution expires. UPDATE: Congress passed another short-term continuing resolution to fund the federal... Read more →


Does your Thanksgiving Day menu include a turkey, yams and those fancy stuffed potatoes that grandma used to make every time the family gathered at her house? Thanksgiving meal photo courtesy Satya Murthy via Flickr CC Then there are two things you need to do. First, send me your address and set another plate at the table. Then second, when Congress returns to Washington, D.C., after its holiday break, contact your Representative and Senators and urge them to finish up the tax extenders. If the 50+ tax breaks that expired on Dec. 31, 2014, aren't reinstated, then many of the... Read more →


To many, Donald Trump is a blowhard. But it turns out he has a legitimate connection to wind beyond his personal constant stream of hot air. The Republican presidential hopeful told a group of Iowa voters at a town hall meeting this week that he supports the federal tax credit for wind power producers. That's a pretty big surprise. Not just because Trump is actually talking about a piece of tax policy, but also given his hairdo you'd think he wouldn't be a big fan of wind. Yeah, I know, cheap and easy joke, but when someone walks into it,... Read more →


Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) took over as chair of the Ways and Means Committee today (Nov. 5), but he shares several tax-writing traits with his predecessor. Rep. Kevin Brady, new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, flanked by New House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (left) and former/retired W&M Chair Rep. Dave Camp (right) during a committee hearing. Like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan before him, Brady favors making the tax extenders permanent pieces of legislation. And Brady wants to get the extenders, more than 50 tax laws that regularly expire and are, per their name, extended by Congress,... Read more →


House Speaker John Boehner swears it wasn't a literal come-to-Jesus talk he had with Pope Francis that led him to announce today that he's resigning his Ohio House seat, and thus the U.S. House leadership post, at the end of October. We'll take the soon-to-depart Republican Speaker at his word. He is, after all a devout Catholic, so he wouldn't be making up stuff so soon after spending face time with the head of his global church. He did acknowledge, however, that he took the Pope's words to heart. At his press conference this afternoon, during which Boehner was in... Read more →