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Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2018 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Oct. 19 with a look at next year's — if there isn't tax reform or cuts by or before then — income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some wealthier taxpayers. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Standard deduction amounts edge... Read more →


This is the first in a 10-part series on the 2018 tax year inflation adjustments. Links to the other posts are at this end of this article. The White House and Congressional Republicans are still hoping to get some tax changes finalized by the end of the year. The IRS, however, isn't waiting on Capitol Hill. The Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, Oct. 19, released its annual compilation of tax provisions that are affected by inflation. It also issued next year's retirement plan contribution changes. The upshot is that most amounts will increase in 2018. Numbers, we've got lots o'... Read more →


Image by Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons What's going on with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? It depends on where you're looking for answers. Federal lawmakers remain in a quandary over how to deal with the ACA, or as it's known (for now) Obamacare. The Internal Revenue Service, however, made it clear this week that it plans to follow the health care law's reporting requirements as long as they are officially on the books. That's a reversal of a prior IRS position. However, given the confusion with the law, both under its namesake president and since Donald J. Trump... Read more →


Aerial view on Oct. 9 of a damaged home in the mountainous area of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, many homes, businesses, roads and bridges suffered major damages due to strong winds and heavy rain. (Photo by Andrea Booher, FEMA) To borrow from James Taylor's plaintive classic, the Internal Revenue Service has seen fire and rain and is making tax accommodations for Americans having to deal with those disastrous aftermaths. Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, pummeling the U.S. territory with category 5 force. Three weeks later, many of the island's 3.4 million residents are... Read more →


If Halloween isn't scary enough for you, this October also has a Friday the 13th, which if you haven't looked at a calendar yet, is today. It's a terrible day if you're superstitious or suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. And making things even more frightening, the Internal Revenue Service has some terrifying news about tax scams. This week alone, the IRS has issued two warnings about tax-related identity theft schemes. First was the phishing attempt to hook tax pros by using the agency's e-Services as bait. Now there's a fake insurance tax form scam that's being used to access annuity and life... Read more →


Tax identity thieves apparently are paying close attention to official security moves that the Internal Revenue Service is making and using that information to create new schemes. The latest effort by crooks to steal taxpayer personal data comes in the form of a new phishing scam designed to steal tax professionals' passwords and data. e-Services is hook for latest ID theft effort: In an email alert sent this (Oct. 11) afternoon to tax pros, the IRS warned that this latest scheme tries to trick them into signing a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing email claims to be from "e-Services... Read more →


Based on Internal Revenue Service tax return filing data, it looks like around 7 million Americans have yet to submit their 2016 forms. They need to get busy. (Yes, I get to say they, not we, this year since I filed my 1040 this summer.) The absolute, final due date is less than a week away. The six-month filing extension typically kicks the extended deadline to Oct. 15. But since that's on a Sunday this year, the IRS is giving extreme procrastinators until Monday, Oct. 16. So that you don't waste any of these last few days you have to... Read more →


A proposal to limit certain business estate valuation discounts is outta here under the Treasury's finalized list of eight tax regulations it wants to eliminate or substantially revise. Remember back in July when the U.S. Treasury announced eight tax regulations it said were burdensome and needed to be changed or axed? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his staff have now finalized what they want to do with these eight rules. Three would be tossed out, including one that many say hurt family-owned and operated businesses. Two would be partially revoked. The final three would be substantially revised. "This is only... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 13, 2017: Public and Congressional pressure, which included Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) letter to the Treasury Department urging it to review and potentially bar Equifax from consideration in any new or renewed government contracts, has paid off for opponents of the credit reporting bureau deal. The IRS announced, per an Oct. 12 report by Politico, that it has temporarily suspended the $7.25 million, no-bid contract it awarded to Equifax to verify the identities of taxpayers when they create accounts on the tax agency's website. Driver's license data was among the personal info that identity thieves obtained in the... Read more →


Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith is grilled Oct. 3 about the credit company's security breach by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (Click image to watch full hearing on YouTube) Human error, specifically one human's error, is why 145 million of us are worrying about what crooks will do with the data that was stolen earlier this year in a data breach of Equifax. Richard Smith, the credit reporting bureau's former CEO, in testimony before House Energy and Commerce Committee today blamed the initial failure to patch a known security risk on a specific individual. He did not... Read more →


Former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner leaves a Capitol Hill hearing on how the agency handles tax-exempt status requests. Her refusal to testify before two House Oversight Committee hearings in May 2013 and March 2014 ultimately led to her resignation from the IRS. Remember back in April 2015 when the Department of Justice decided it wouldn't follow-up on a Congressional contempt citation against Lois Lerner or "take any other action to prosecute" the former Internal Revenue Service executive? Current Republican Representatives do. And now, with the Justice Department full of fresh faces serving under a GOP White... Read more →


It seems a bit too little, too late, but the Internal Revenue Service is continuing its efforts to make it harder for identity thieves to get their hands on our tax documents. The IRS this week (Sept. 20) published a notice on its proposed regulations that would allow issuers of W-2 forms to truncate the recipients' Social Security numbers. The idea is that even if criminals get their hands on the earnings statements, they would be of less use since they wouldn't have workers' full tax identification numbers. Unfortunately for the IRS and the rest of us, the tax agency's... Read more →


Hurricane Irma got most attention when she threatened and eventually made landfall in Florida. Her destructive effects, however, were felt beyond the Sunshine State. History of Hurricane #Irma: 1 September 2017 - 10 September 2017 #GOES16 pic.twitter.com/Z53paEmpIY — NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT) September 11, 2017 That's why today the Internal Revenue Service announced that all of Georgia, which took its own hard hits as Irma moved across the Georgia-Florida border, is now eligible for disaster tax relief. This latest hurricane related tax relief parallels that previously granted to Irma victims throughout Florida and in parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin... Read more →


Have a problem with the Internal Revenue Service that you just can't solve? The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) might be able to help. And for some folks, that help will be in person. Generally, TAS can assist taxpayers — at no cost — if: Your problem is causing financial difficulties for you, your family or your business. You or your business are facing an immediate threat of adverse action. You've tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded or the IRS hasn't responded by the date promised. You believe an IRS system or procedure isn't working as... Read more →


Bitcoin continues to confound financial and tax officials worldwide. BTC China, the country's first and largest digital currency exchange, announced Thursday, Sept. 14, that would stop trading by the end of the month. One reason apparently is the Chinese government ban instituted days earlier of fund-raising for new digital currencies. Although China embraced Bitcoin trading, the virtual currency's growth has increasingly worried the nation's regulators. One of the concerns was tax evasion. "Because it is traded anonymously and peer to peer, Bitcoin makes it easy for money laundering and tax evasion," Sheng Songcheng, an adviser to the People's Bank of... Read more →


Aside from the damage that hurricanes cause, one of the biggest problems is that they often, especially in September, effectively come back to back. Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up earlier in September. (National Hurricane Center radar image) That's what happened with Hurricane Irma. The angry sister of Hurricane Harvey walloped all of Florida three weeks after coastal Texas was gut-punched by Harvey's historic flooding. The back-to-back U.S. landfalls was a first for Category 4 storms. The only good news here, at least tax-wise, is that the Internal Revenue Service has a Harvey template for Irma... Read more →


Residents of Houston and much of southeast Texas are still dealing with Hurricane Harvey's floods. Texas National Guard members are helping. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tim Pruitt via Flickr) If you're looking for financial help to help you recover from Hurricane Harvey damages, the Internal Revenue Service says you can use your workplace retirement plan money. The IRS announced that 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make expedited loans and hardship distributions to hurricane victims and members of their families in Texas. Since Harvey made initial landfall the night of Aug. 25 near Rockport, Texas, the federally-declared disaster area... Read more →


Some folks have been asking for clarification on disaster loss claims, specifically with regard to the value of a damaged or destroyed home. A Rockport, Texas, home severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which made its first landfall on Aug. 25 at the Gulf Coast town. (Photo courtesy National Weather Service, Corpus Christi, via Twitter) At issue is how a home's fair market value factors into a disaster tax claim. I'm sorry to report that a property's high value — I'm talking for sale purposes, not just your personal appreciation and assessment of the house — won't help you get more... Read more →


People are still being rescued in flooded Houston, so very few — even those who made it through Hurricane Harvey relatively unscathed — are thinking about taxes right now. But when they do begin to face rebuilding their post-storm lives, one of the things they'll have to deal with is taxes. A Texas National Guard soldier rescues a woman from her Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston neighborhood. (Photo by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD, via Flickr Creative Commons) The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for folks in Houston and its flooded surroundings, as well as those in other areas... Read more →


As Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Internal Revenue Service was providing some tax relief for victims of earlier natural disasters. Severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in late July caused major damage in parts of West Virginia. Now some of those affected residents get extra time to tax care of tax responsibilities. Tax time, penalty relief: The IRS says that individuals who live or have a business in the West Virginia counties of Harrison, Marion, Marshall and Wetzel have extra time to meet certain tax deadlines that fall/fell between July 28 and Nov. 29.... Read more →