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It's been more than a year since hackers were able to get into the Internal Revenue Service's online database of taxpayer transcripts. The agency initially thought that cyber crooks got data on around 104,000 filers when they broke into the Get Transcript tool. The hack, which apparently started in February 2015 and was made public three months later, was accomplished by criminals using personal information that they got from sources outside the IRS. By August, the IRS investigation revealed that the hacked tax account tally was closer to 334,000. Your tax life in an alternate form: Tax transcripts aren't just... Read more →


Be still, my heart. Daveed Diggs talked about taxes! Diggs, one of the Tony-nominated stars of the Broadway smash "Hamilton," was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night. He of course talked about his dual roles as America's favorite fighting Frenchman Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Lin-Manuel Miranda's $10 Founding Father musical. Pre-Broadway jobs: However, just before getting the "Hamilton" parts, the accomplished rapper was at home in Los Angeles and was between gigs. To make ends meet, Diggs delivered catering "in my tore-up Honda Civic … mostly fajitas … at minimum wage, no less." When he got... Read more →


NOTE: This post was updated Jan. 26, 2017. Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was supposed to be a key factor in the 2016 presidential election. It still might be one came up in the general election once Democrats and Republicans have settled on their respective candidates. Now the Republican-controlled Congress and GOP President Donald Trump are working on repealing and replacing the prior president's signature health care law. So far, though, For the most part during last year's run for the White House, health care has received only cursory mention and, surprisingly, that's been was... Read more →


The hubby and I get our medical insurance through his employer. Today we and several of his coworkers got our Form 1095-C in connection with our health care coverage. This is one of two new documents that employers are sending out to their workers in connection with the Affordable Care Act, or as many of us call it (fondly and otherwise), Obamacare. When one of the hubby's colleagues raised questions about the form, I suggested he send out a company-wide email blast with a link to my story on ACA forms. He declined. We now have a dinnertime discussion topic.... Read more →


Have your snail mail and email boxes been filling up lately with tax statements? Mine have. That's good. As soon as we have all these documents detailing our 2015 tax transactions in our hands, physically or digitally, we can file our tax returns. The deadline for employers and other folks who must send out tax documents to affected taxpayers technically is Jan. 31. When that date falls on a federal holiday or, like this year, a weekend, then it gets pushed to the next business day. So Monday, Feb. 1, is the deadline this year, meaning our W-2 and 1099... Read more →


Uber pitches itself to potential drivers as a way to make cash on your own terms. But one of the popular ride-sharing company's contractors this week found the driving effort was not so personal after all. This Uber driver's 1099-K earnings statement, issued to contractors so they can file their annual tax returns, was made available to other drivers in the ride-sharing company's system. 1099-K forms are the cousins to 1099-MISC statements that independent contractors receive. A Form 1099-K is used mainly to report credit and debit card payments and online transactions, rather than old-fashioned check payments. 1099-Ks also are... Read more →


Note: This post was updated Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016 "The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dalí (Oil on canvas, 1931) © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. (Image taken from About.com, fair use, Wikipedia) It's baaaaack! At 2 a.m. today (Nov. 6, 2016) most of America switched from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard Time. The good news is that today is an hour longer, unless you're having a really bad day that you want to end ASAP. The bad news is that darkness arrives sooner, just as the naturally shorter days... Read more →


2015 was supposed to be the year of tax reform, specifically simplification of our complicated tax code. Instead, Congress has been tucking tax provisions into recently enacted pieces of non-tax legislation. The most recent was the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, popularly referred to as the short-term highway funding bill. That measure, signed into law on July 31, contains several new tax provisions, including changed filing deadlines, additional information reporting rules for mortgages and more time for the Internal Revenue Service to audit certain types of underreported income. But a month earlier when a... Read more →


Gambling is big business. It's also big tax money. But the Internal Revenue Service gets the short e... Read more →


Taxpayers usually file amended returns to correct mistakes they made on their original tax paperwork. A New York City product liability attorney, however, sent the Empire State tax department fraudulent amended tax returns and now is looking at prison time. Jeff Galloway, formerly a partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, partner pleaded guilty on June 4 to one felony count of criminal tax fraud. No returns, followed by false amended forms: The New York County District Attorney's office says that between 2005 and 2010, Galloway failed to file state personal income tax returns and pay taxes owed on around $1... Read more →


I know I just extolled the virtues of tax credits over tax deductions. But you don't have to pick one or the other. Claim all the credits and deductions you can. When deductions are mentioned, most folks think itemized deductions. That's mainly because they have their own special form, Schedule A. But most taxpayers don't itemize. So they're out of deduction luck, right? Wrong. Deductions above and beyond: There's a collection of tax breaks known as above-the-line deductions. Technically, they are adjustments to income. You subtract them from your gross income, which is all the money you made in the... Read more →


You're finally ready to sit down and do your taxes. Are you sure? The only thing worse than filling out your 1040 and all those other forms is finding that you forgot something and have to file an amended return. A tax-filing checklist will help ensure you have all the information you need to complete your federal income taxes correctly. Generally, the documents and materials you need stay pretty much the same from tax year to tax year. For 2014 returns, however, there are a couple of new considerations. Obamacare filing issues: This year, millions of folks are dealing for... Read more →


Remember the advice to check your tax statements as soon as they arrive for accuracy? These are the sundry 1099s and W-2s and other tax-related documents that have information and amounts you must report on your tax return. Wrong form info means wrong 1040s and lots of filing follow-up hassles. It's still a recommended practice. But almost a million folks who purchased health insurance through an Affordable Care Act health insurance last year don't have to bother. They're getting word from issuers of 1095-A forms that those documents have errors. Federal, California issues: Around 800,000 of those folks are going... Read more →


What do Super Bowl bets and missing tax forms have in common? They're all part of this week's Daily Tax Tips. Yes, the end of January is hectic for sports fans, particularly NFL aficionados or folks who love Super Bowl ads and halftime shows, as well as taxpayers. Since it's been a crazy five days, and Friday isn't even over yet, you might have missed these and the other tax tips that were posted, as the pointing finger indicates, in the upper right corner of the ol' blog's home page this week. Don't worry. We're good tax teammates here at... Read more →


Around eight million individuals got health coverage in 2014 through an Affordable Care Act exchange. If you're among that group, pay attention to your mail in the coming weeks. You'll be getting a Form 1095-A in connection with your Obamacare coverage. Important health care exchange info: Form 1095-A is a new tax reporting document. It is sent only to individuals who obtained health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, either the federal or a state exchange. This new two-page form includes information about your exchange-purchased insurance coverage, any household members covered under the policy, the monthly premium you (and... Read more →


I had a great time today talking with all the wonderful folks at Freelance Austin about taxes. The timing was perfect, too. Not only is January the start of the annual filing season for the prior year's tax returns, it's also time to start thinking about moves to make this year to keep your coming tax bill low. And tomorrow, Jan. 15, is the due date for the final estimated tax payment of 2014. Today's Daily Tax Tip has the skinny on filing estimated taxes. Click voucher image for full Form 1040-ES package as PDF from the IRS. Ways to... Read more →


In addition to updating tax forms and instructions and getting its computer systems ready for the Jan. 20 start of the 2015 tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service has been touching base with tax preparers who've had some recurring problems with some returns. Rather than penalizing the tax pros who have filed questionable claims for clients, the IRS is, for now, opting for pre-season tax filing reminders encouraging more diligence and a little bit of homework. In November 2014, around 2,500 preparers (according to Kiplinger Tax Letter) received letters recommending the recipients, in the IRS' words, "consider taking continuing... Read more →


OK, I swear that I'll quit highlighting the Daily Tax Tip soon. But today's advice on 7 ways to get organized for the tax-filing season is good! It's so good, in fact, that I just talked with a writer at The Street about this important matter. Here's some of our discussion. Old 1040, new filing guide: Start with last year's tax return. It's a good guide/reminder of what's likely to be on your 2014 return if your life hasn't changed that much. There is a method to my personal tax filing madness organization system, honest! It includes rough drafts on... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has been encouraging, and in some cases forcing, taxpayers to use electronic options for years. But one area that's slipped through the electronic cracks is amended tax filings. And the IRS' continued old-fashioned handling of 1040X forms could cost Uncle Sam billions of dollars. Taxpayers can amend their previous filings, generally within three years of the original due date, to correct errors or claim overlooked tax breaks. 1040X filings typically are done to collect larger IRS refunds. In fiscal year 2012, the IRS received more than four million amended tax returns. A review by the Treasury... Read more →


If you just discovered an error on an old tax return, you might be able to correct it. All you need is Form 1040X … as long as the mistake was made on a return you filed within the last three years. Click image for PDF download of full Form 1040X. Details on filing an amended tax return, which is what you'll do with Form 1040X, are found in the Weekly Tax Tip. I'll let you check out the full tip at your leisure, but here are five key things to keep in mind. First, note the three-year time limit... Read more →