October's here! In addition to making some general fourth quarter tax moves, this month is when many employees get to reassess and choose coming-year workplace benefits, many of which also offer tax advantages. And tax-free help paying off student debt could soon be part of those packages. Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. That's why today's employers are trying to figure out exactly what these younger workers want. The traditional worker wishes still apply. All employees want decent pay, regular raises and promotion possibilities. But today's twenty- and mid-thirty-somethings want more, and... Read more →


Winston Shrout giving a financial seminar via YouTube before his recent tax legal troubles. Winston Shrout believes he's an alien with Biblical origins who was sent to Earth to destroy a particular group of Catholics. Shrout's also a convicted tax evader. Last week, a Portland judge determined that despite Shrout's out-there delusions, the 70-year-old is competent to face sentencing on guilty verdicts on 13 counts of issuing fake financial documents to banks and six counts of willful failure to file tax returns. During his 2017 trial, prosecutors introduced evidence showing that between 2009 and 2014, Shrout earned $562,224 from a... Read more →


Hey, Uncle Sam, one of the funniest actresses out there is not feeling very cheerful right now and it's your fault. Tiffany Haddish is looking for a little gratitude from your tax collector. In a recent Instagram video, the award-winning star of the just-released "Night School" asked the Internal Revenue Service why, even though she pays her taxes "on time every year all the time," she never gets any thanks for her efforts. She doesn't let her state tax officials, the California State Franchise Tax Board, off the hook either for their similar lack of tax love. Shout outs all... Read more →


The Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots already are close to a combined $600 million. As the drawing times near, more people will play, creating even larger eventual jackpots. Of course, the chances of winning both drawings — roughly 1 in 75 quadrillion (that's 15 zeros) by one estimate — is even more minuscule than the general winnings odds of either alone. Still, millions of us will buy lottery tickets. Full disclosure: I'm one of them. Don't judge me. But don't call me either if I win! In fact, whoever wins Mega Millions major jackpot on Tuesday (Oct. 2), which as... Read more →


Old-school passbook savings accounts are safe, but have been paying minuscule interest over the last few years. The White House might be unhappy, but all of us with money in safer assets like certificates of deposit (CDs) or plain-old savings accounts are sending the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, aka the Fed, a big fat thank you. The Fed's decision yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 26) to raise rates to a range between 2 percent and 2.25 percent means we'll be seeing few more pennies of earnings in our accounts. And it is just pennies. Those of us old enough to remember... Read more →


You took that great new job last November. It was a bit of hassle, a quick move three states away, but worth it. You love your work, office colleagues and neighborhood where you and your family have settled. Even better, your new employer covered most of your relocation costs. The bad news, though, is that your boss didn't get you the check reimbursing your moving expenses until this summer. That means you'll owe tax on that moving money, right? Wrong! New law, old rule: Although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did eliminate the tax break for most* work-related... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service (and I and my fellow tax bloggers) have been noting the need for folks to get their payroll withholding amounts correct under the recent tax law changes. Reporting any adjustments, however, will continue to be done on the old Form W-4, since folks who help implement the forms alerted the IRS of the many issues they have with the proposed document. You followed the Internal Revenue Service's nagging advice and did a paycheck checkup. This, in case you aren't one of the checking taxpayers, is a look at your current payroll withholding to ensure that the... Read more →


Do you have thoughts about the Internal Revenue Service's plan to stymie state efforts to work around the new $10,000 federal deduction limit on state and local taxes? You are not alone. On Aug. 23, the IRS issued a proposed rule designed to rein in state efforts to give their residents a way to get a tax write-off for all of their state and local taxes, commonly referred to in the tax world as SALT. In that same announcement, the IRS also said it will hold a Nov. 5 public hearing on its proposal regulation and, leading up to that... Read more →


Got enough money that you've diversified by investing in some international accounts? Good for you. If, however, those non-U.S. holdings are, shall we say, designed to be ultra-private, you might want to think about opening them up. Specifically, tell the Internal Revenue Service about that money you've been hiding from Uncle Sam or pay a big price when your tax haven money is discovered. One way to do that is by taking advantage of the IRS' Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). That opportunity, however, is about to end. Closing OVDP: Back in March, the IRS announced that it was giving... Read more →


Is there anyone anywhere who hasn't been a potential identity theft victim? Probably not. Even if the crooks haven't stolen your identity — yet — there's still the possibility if some holder of any of your personal information has been hacked. And that happens every day. The biggies get the most attention, like last year when cyber criminals got hold of Equifax credit bureau data, putting almost 146 million identities at risk. And no one is safe. Just last week, the federal government again fell victim to hackers. The State Department, like the Office of Personnel Management and Internal Revenue... Read more →


One thing almost everyone agrees on, both politically and financially, is that we all need to do a better job of saving for retirement. But some young savers are undercutting their own efforts by regularly tapping their workplace retirement accounts early. As part of Labor Day celebrations, Donald J. Trump signed an executive order that, in part, instructed the Treasury and Labor departments to look into ways to make it easier and cheaper for smaller employers to band together to offer 401(k)-type plans for their workers. Expanding these tax-deferred workplace retirement plans is a good idea. With the demise of... Read more →


If you're looking for a job to boost your holiday spending budget, the Internal Revenue Service might be able to help. I got the postcard shown above in today's mail. No, even though I write about taxes, I'm not special in the IRS' eyes — and that's fine with me. The taxman doesn't have to pay me any extra attention at all, ever! The postcard was addressed to "Resident" so all my neighbors got one. Probably most Austin area folks did, too. Seasonal hiring ritual: There's an IRS facility in the Texas capital and almost every year as the holidays... Read more →


Netflix has received a lot of attention lately. Some of it is good, like the online streaming service's impressive wins at this week's Emmy awards. Netflix tied cable giant HBO in overall awards for television program, with each taking home 23 of the statuettes. The impressive number of awards marks a major shift, say industry experts, putting streaming outlets on equal footing with network and cable television. One Missouri city appears to agree with that assessment. And that's the not-so-good attention now being paid to Netflix. Creve Coeur officials contend that a 2007 Show Me State law permits local jurisdictions,... Read more →


One of the reasons that Congress has in recent years been tight-fisted when it comes to the Internal Revenue Service's budget is because the agency apparently operates pretty darn well with what it already has. That's the case, at least, when it comes to IRS collection activity, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report released on Monday, Sept. 17. The tax watchdog office's generally positive review comes on the heels of the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) also generally complimentary examination of the federal tax agency. While both reports are welcome by the IRS, they also raise... Read more →


N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, second from right, and staff announce efforts to investigate what state officials says is the politicization of the new federal tax law limiting the deduction of state and local taxes. (Photo by Kevin Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via Flickr) A lawsuit fighting the new federal cap on deductible state and local taxes (SALT) is working its way through the courts, but some lawmakers aren't waiting for a judicial (or judicious) result. With Tax Reform 2.0 moving forward in the U.S. House, a couple of new insurrections have flared up. On Capitol Hill, a small... Read more →


New Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing this summer. Charles P. "Chuck" Rettig is moving into the Internal Revenue Service commissioner's office, which has been officially vacant since last November. Rettig, a corporate tax attorney with a strong background in tax controversies from his work as a 35-year private practitioner, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 12. He will begin his official duties as the IRS' 49th commissioner on Oct. 1 and will serve the remainder of the five-year term that began Nov. 12, 2017, when former Commissioner John Koskinen completed... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service acted quickly in announcing tax relief for Hurricane Florence victims. As the flood waters continued to build, it expanded its relief beyond its initial disaster coverage area. Read on for more on IRS actions and how you can follow Uncle Sam's example and lend assistance to those dealing with the deadly storm. Deer brave a Hurricane Florence flooded road in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in search of higher, drier ground. (Screen shot of NBC News Twitter video) As expected, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that some folks in Hurricane Florence's path will received special consideration when... Read more →


Each year, the Internal Revenue Service assesses estimated tax penalties against millions of taxpayers. This added money typically is due the IRS when a taxpayer pays too little total tax during the year. The last time the IRS released complete estimated tax penalty data was three years ago. The federal tax agency said back then that the average estimated tax penalty, which is based on the interest rate charged by the IRS on unpaid tax, was about $130. Back in September 2015, the IRS said it was seeing more taxpayers run into the estimated tax penalty. The number jumped about... Read more →


UPDATE , Oct. 1, 2018: The House has signed off on its three Tax Reform 2.0 bills to extend the individual provisions of 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate, however, is not so keen on the measures. Additional Senate tax action this year looks doubtful as the Upper Chamber focuses on other year-end priorities. Protesters at rally against Republican tax cuts. (Photo courtesy Stop the GOP Tax Scam) The House Ways and Means Committee began marking up today the three bills that make up what is being called Tax Reform 2.0 (TR2). The package is expected to make... Read more →


I know it's a little late for all the business owners in North and South Carolina who better already be on the road or heading out soon to get out of Hurricane Florence's reach. Mea culpa. But for the next time — and there will be a next time — here are some ways to get your business ready for any disaster. Most of these are best practices that tax professionals and other companies already follow, but just in case you're worried you forgot something in your rush to get things done and get out, here's a quick checklist. 1.... Read more →