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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exit St. George's Chapel as husband and wife. (Photo: Kensington Royal Instagram) I'm not a fashionista, but I was impressed with Meghan Markle's wedding dress. The simple, elegant Givenchy gown was perfect. So what happens to the hand-stitched dress that reportedly cost around £100,000 (almost $135,000 U.S.)? Will it be sent to a museum? Sealed, boxed and stuck at the top of a closet for use by a next-generation bride? Lent to a friend for her coming wedding? There's another option, maybe not for the new Duchess of Sussex, but for us commoners. Donate your... Read more →


You're parents! Congratulations! Now that you've welcomed your new baby with a special name, be sure to get him or her a Social Security card before you leave the hospital. It will help in completing many of life's tasks, including filing taxes. Click image to watch the Social Security Administration's top baby names of 2017 video at YouTube. How did your folks come up with your name? Were you named after a relative? A place? A friend? A favorite movie star? By a random dart that landed on a sheet of potential handles? My grandmother named me. Well, she at... Read more →


Click image to watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene, in which these musicians provide the catchy background tune, from the 1977 Star Wars movie that launched the sci-fi film franchise. Merry May 4th. Yes, this is another goofy, made-up holiday, but one that's dear to sci-fi fans (and punsters), particularly those devoted to Star Wars. The film franchise's iconic "May the force be with you" greeting is celebrated each year on the similar sounding "May the Fourth be with you." As a long-time sci-fi fan and a college student who waited in a long line to see the 1977 debut... Read more →


It's all about the angle for a budding photographer attending summer camp to hone her skills. (Photo courtesy Olds College via Flickr Creative Commons) Hello, May. You are indeed a very merry month, what with your longer days, warmer weather, lovely flowers and the impending end of classes. Yep, all you parents were smiling until you got to the end of that sentence, weren't you? School is far, far more than a day care for our children. But the fact that teachers and other educators keep an eye on kids for much of the day is a very consequential consideration... Read more →


Tax Day is less than a week away. But finishing up your 2017 Form 1040 is not the only tax task facing millions of Americans. Here are 10 tax matters that must be taken care of by April 17. 1. File your 2017 tax year federal tax return. Yeah, I started with the easy (so to speak), obvious one. But it is the reason for the tax season. If you don't get your return into or on the way if snail mailing by Tax Day, the late-filing penalty is 5 percent of the additional taxes owed amount for every month... 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 →


I hope she said yes! (Photo by Matt via Flickr) Valentine's Day has become one of the most popular days of the year to propose. If you're anticipating popping or answering the big question at an intimate romantic dinner tonight, taxes likely won't be on your mind. But perhaps they should be. Love and money: I'm a big fan of marriage. I've been in a mostly happy one with the hubby for a looong time. (Yes, I was a child bride!) But even back then, I was a tax geek. That's why our choice of wedding date — the year... 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 →


Photo by Katina Rogers via Flickr CC Most of us will spend time with family this Thanksgiving. If the gathering includes an aging parent (or two), it's a good time to gauge how they're doing. Now I'm not advocating a full diagnostic discussion. That's not only a bit intrusive, but such conversations probably will start fights if your family is anything like mine. My 80-something mom simply refuses to acknowledge that she's 80-something and that entering her eighth decade presents some limitations. And by refuses to acknowledge, I mean she dives head-first into vehement and lengthy denials. This is not... Read more →


Welcome to Part 6 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to estate, gift and kiddie taxes. 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 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. Real wealthy families like the fictional filthy rich Darlings of ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" welcome the latest estate tax inflation adjustments. (Cast photo courtesy ABC... 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 →


October marks the start for many companies of open season for employees' workplace benefits, many of which provide workers some nice tax savings. It's also a good month to make other tax-related moves. It's time to turn our attention to health care again. This time, though, it's not medical insurance via the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Instead, October marks the beginning of open enrollment season for workplace-provided benefits at companies across the country. Decide now for next year: Open enrollment periods vary from company to company. Most run from two to four weeks for workers to evaluate their current benefits and... Read more →


Here's some United Kingdom news that's much more exciting than the blowout NFL game played today in London. Two million married couples in Great Britain are missing out on their share of £1.3 billion ($1.76 billion U.S.) available via a marriage tax break. It's official, this bride indicates, by showing off her wedding band. (Photo by Pulathi Talagala via Flickr CC) Those unclaimed billions were calculated by Royal London insurance group after it received data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC; the U.K. version of America's Internal Revenue Service) following a freedom of information request. HMRC figures show that only... 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 →


This post was updated March 27, 2018. If you've been paying attention to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with some Russians last summer, you know the White House has given two reasons for the get-together. The explanation that caught my tax eye was that the group talked about adoptions. The president's oldest son said that one of the Russian nationals came to Trump Tower to lobby for reversal of the Magnitsky Act. The law gets its name from attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009 while being held in a Moscow prison. Foreign fight, domestic family effects: In 2012, the U.S.... Read more →


Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring. The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns. Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete. Dressing up your... Read more →


Regardless of which month you marry, there are and will be tax matters to consider. Relaxing after the ceremony. (Photo by Barney Moss via Flickr) Ever wonder why June is "the" wedding month? Me, too. So I looked it up. The Old Farmer's Almanac, which I never realized was a go-to wedding planning resource, says that June is the most popular month to marry thanks to some ancient traditions. The Roman goddess Juno, for whom the sixth month was named, was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing. So, says the Almanac,... Read more →


Dancing with Daddy (Courtesy Wifflegif.com via Giphy) Those of us lucky enough to have (or have had) great dads are well aware of all the support they provide. There are the traditional demonstrations, like teaching us to dance (like the dad above, sort of) or ride a bicycle and later to drive a car. And of course, there is Dad's perpetually open wallet, especially for us daughters who will always be our fathers' little girls. But families have changed over the years. More single fathers: Of the 72.2 million fathers in the United States, just more than a third (34... Read more →


June is here! Summer. Beaches. Holidays. Weddings. Tax breaks. That's not a non sequitur or the fevered delusions of tax geek. As schools close their doors for a few months and families head out on much-needed vacations, it really is the perfect month to look at some traditional June events and their related tax moves. 1. Batten down the hatches: OK, that's a nautical phrase, but when summer rolls around, landlubbers along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts take it to heart. They don't need a calendar to tell them that the annual hurricane season starts June 1. They... Read more →