Military Feed

Are you frantically trying to finish your 1040 by the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline? Yes, it is just a week away, so you need to get to work. But don't be in such a hurry that you miss out on some tax breaks. There are lots of ways to reduce your tax bill, as this week's Weekly Tax Tip highlights. Some of the 10 often overlooked tax breaks are for itemizers only. Others can be claimed by any filer. Philanthropic filers should double-check their contribution records. You don't want to miss out on Schedule A deductions for noncash charitable... Read more →

The raw numbers are bad enough. Approximately 83,000 Department of Defense (DOD) employees and contractors had unpaid federal tax debt totaling more than $730 million as of June 30, 2012, according to a just-released General Accountability Office report. Southwest view of the Pentagon with the Potomac River and Washington Monument in background. Department of Defense photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force, via Wikimedia. IRS data shows that the tax debt of all individuals and businesses as of Sept. 30, 2013, was about $374 billion. But the news gets worse. In "Security Clearances: Tax Debts Owed by DOD... Read more →

July 1 not only marks the middle of the year. It's the start of a new fiscal year for most state governments and that means new laws typically take effect. Here are some of the new tax statutes now on state books. Indiana has changed how it calculates tax on gasoline. Instead of the previous fixed 19-cent-per-gallon sales tax, the tax rate will be modified month-to-month. Specifically, the Hoosier State's gas usage tax rate now will be 7 percent of the average price of gas the previous month. That means, says the Indiana Department of Revenue, that the state's July... Read more →

Happy Flag Day! The 14th of June this year wraps up National Flag Week, which per presidential proclamation began on June 8. Flag Day was born on June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress adopted the stars and stripes design for the U.S. flag. The first national observance of Flag Day, however, didn't occur until June 14, 1877, the centennial of the adoption of our Star-Spangled Banner. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as National Flag Day. W. Edwardes Baxter sent First Lady Lou Henry Hoover... Read more →

Happy National Doughnut Day! I know, my first reaction upon learning of today's seemingly light-hearted gustatory event was dismay that it unfortunately fell this year on the very solemn commemoration of D-Day, the landing 70 years ago of more than 160,000 Allied troops to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. This largest seaborne invasion in history on June 6, 1944, was the beginning of the invasion of German-occupied western Europe. It led to the freeing of France from Nazi occupation and was a key to the Allied victory in World War II. But then I learned that... Read more →

Today, despite the festive outings across the United States, is the most somber of national holidays. Photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc What we now call Memorial Day began with a ceremony on May 5, 1866, in Waterloo, New York, where residents of that community honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Exactly two years later, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, established the day as a special time for the nation to decorate the graves of Civil War dead with flowers. The annual rite spread and... Read more →

Folks receiving federal help buying groceries are making do with a little less. The increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps (although most programs are via debit cards), ended on Nov. 1. Calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) show that for families of three, the cut will be $29 a month, or a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining months of fiscal year 2014. CBPP says the reduction means that SNAP benefits now will average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014. In dinner table... Read more →

June 15 is a big tax day. It's normally the due date for the year's second estimated tax payment. It's also the filing deadline for taxpayers abroad, be they private citizens or members of the U.S. military. But when June 15 falls on a weekend, like today, then the deadline is pushed to the next business day. That means these tax tasks must be taken care of no later than Monday, June 17. I blogged last week about estimated taxes, so today's post focuses on the tax responsibilities of taxpayers living outside U.S. borders. Two more months to file: The... Read more →

Folks spend the long Memorial Day weekend different ways. Many travel, visiting family or friends or just seeing new sites. Others take advantage of the ubiquitous sales that are pegged to every holiday. Some shoppers even get a few sales tax savings this weekend and beyond. And millions of us have, will or will again fire up the grill. But, as the poster below notes, it's Memorial Day, not National BBQ Day. Memorial Day is the official day to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It began as Decoration Day to... Read more →

World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. The actual fighting, however, had stopped seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. That cessation of hostilities on Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of what was then dubbed "the war to end all wars." Unfortunately, the hope that there would be no more wars was not borne out and fighting continues at this moment in too many places across the... Read more →

Own a business? Hired a vet? Be sure you check out the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. And be sure to do so by Tuesday, June 19. That's right, you've only got a few days left to take tax advantage of your good hiring practices. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, or WOTC, can be as much as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 per veteran for tax-exempt organizations. Employers that hired unemployed veterans during late 2011 and early 2012 were given extra time to request the required certification to claim the credit. But that expanded time frame... Read more →

Today's the tax filing deadline for most servicemen and women stationed abroad, but in addition to paying attention to what they must report to the Internal Revenue Service, they need to be on the lookout for a new tax scam. The scam's methodology isn't new. It's yet another email-based phishing trick. But, says the IRS, this latest scam is specific. The fake message is going to Department of Defense military members, retirees and civilian employees. The email appears to come from Defense Finance and Accounting Services, according to the IRS. It even displays a .mil email address. The email states... Read more →

I know all the careful readers of the ol' blog have already taken note of the left column note that June 15 is a big tax filing day. In addition to being an estimated tax filing deadline, June 15 also is the deadline for U.S. citizens or resident aliens living and working outside the country, as well as military personnel stationed abroad, to file Form 1040. Passport stamps by hjl via Flickr Creative Commons Taxpayers who are out of the country can file online. Those who qualify -- individuals with adjusted gross incomes of $58,000 or less -- might be... Read more →

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was established just after the Civil War as a way to remember the soldiers who died in that tragic campaign. Now on the fourth Monday of every May we recognize the sacrifices of all U.S. servicemen and women in all battles. Photo by DVIDSHUB via Flickr Creative Commons In addition to commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice, also keep in your thoughts the many service men and women who are serving today in combat zones. Taxes and the troops: Military personal do get some special tax considerations.'s list of the top... Read more →

State leaders are among those worrying about the effect of automatic budget cuts that are scheduled to kick in following the inability of the super committee to come up with a deficit reduction deal. When (if?) the $1.2 trillion in budget cuts equally divided between defense and domestic programs go into effect, some state and local economies could also take hits. How much will states suffer? sifted through U.S. Census data and found that Uncle Sam spent $480.4 billion on procurement in 2010. And that's this week's By the Numbers figure. I could have just as easily chosen $279.3... Read more →

Veterans Day gift from Senate: tax credit for hiring those who served

The Senate yesterday unanimously approved a measure that offers businesses a variety of tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. "This bill will make it easier for businesses to hire veterans and help make veterans more competitive in the job market," Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement following the 95-0 vote. Tax breaks for hiring veterans was part of Obama's overall jobs proposal. The president's overall measure quickly stalled on Capitol Hill, but Senators pulled the veterans' hiring section, dubbed the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, to consider separately. This latest... Read more →

Wartime project mismanagement, lax federal oversight and outright corruption by contractors could end up costing U.S. taxpayers as much as $60 billion. That's the top number from Transforming Wartime Contracting, the 2011 report issued on Aug. 31 by the Commission on Wartime Contracting. And it's this week's By the Numbers figure. The eight-member independent commission was established by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 to study the costs of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress charged the bipartisan panel with studying federal agency contracting for the reconstruction, logistical support of coalition forces and the performance of security functions... Read more →

It never hurts to be prepared. That's the thinking of freshman Rep. Daniel Webster. The Florida Republican has introduced the Prioritize Spending Act of 2011 (H.R. 2402) to, he says, "ensure America's priorities are preserved in the event that the debt ceiling is reached." "It is important that while we fight for true spending transformations," said Webster in announcing the bill, "we also prepare to prevent any default by protecting our priorities." So just what does Webster think should be paid with the actual dollars Uncle Sam will have on hand if there's no debt ceiling deal? First, the U.S.... Read more →

The NASCAR drivers are turning left and right today on the road course in Sonoma, Calif. The sport's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is driving a car with National Guard decals. But some of Junior's fans, as well as those who support other race teams, are worried about a report that Congress will again attempt to end military sponsorship of motorsports. Specifically, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) is expected to introduce an amendment to next year's Pentagon appropriations bill that would reduce money going to advertising for motorsports, fishing, wrestling and ultimate-fighting events. When McCollum introduced similar legislation in... Read more →

Most taxpayers wrapped up their 2010 tax duties in April. But today, June 15, is the filing deadline for payers of estimated taxes. The second payment for the 2011 tax year is due today. It's also the deadline for some taxpayers who automatically were granted two more months to finish filling out their tax returns: U.S. citizens or resident aliens who are living and working outside the country, as well as for members of the military who are posted abroad. These folks still had to pay any due tax back in April. But they didn't have to send in the... Read more →