Politics Feed

The IRS still has a desk waiting for its new commissioner. (Photo courtesy Cage Design Group) David Kautter, no doubt, was among the millions of Americans who were glad to see the 2018 high tax season end. Kautter is the acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner and he was on his way to Congressional hearing on how things were going when he got news of his agency's Tax Day computer hardware problems. How much longer will Kautter, who also is assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, have to deal with all the IRS' operational matters, including the many issues related to... Read more →


Most taxpayers have never itemized their deductions. And the new tax law that took effect this year will ensure that even fewer filers fill out a Schedule A. By nearly doubling the standard deduction amounts, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will prompt more folks to use them instead of messing with the record keeping and extra paperwork itemized deductions require. Plus, as I'm sure you've heard by now, starting with the 2018 tax year and running through, for now, 2025, other TCJA changes will make itemizing even less valuable. The amount of state and local taxes, including your... Read more →


Tax Day 2018 is almost here. This mid-April deadline, which falls on April 17 this year due to the Emancipation Day federal holiday in Washington, D.C., means that millions of us are in the midst of finishing up our federal tax returns. Many filers also are doing double tax duty right now. That's because they live in a state that taxes some portion of income. And most of those income tax collecting states follow the IRS filing calendar. That means those states' deadlines this year also are April 17. No, some or all state taxable income: Here in Texas, the... 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 →


Employers were supposed to have new withholding tables in place by mid-February to reflect the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act income tax rate changes. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said once those payroll changes were in place, 90 percent of workers would see bigger paychecks thanks to the GOP tax bill. Mnuchin might want to rethink his prediction. A CNBC survey conducted March 17-20 of 800 Americans, 60 percent of whom were working, found that 52 percent of the employed haven't seen a change in their paychecks. In fact, just 32 percent of the working adults that CNBC talked to said... Read more →


Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) and fellow Ways and Means member Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) have offered a bill to revamp the IRS. Remember the kinder, gentler Internal Revenue Service? That was the goal of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which sought to ease up on the tax agency's aggressive collection actions back then. Now two Ways and Means Committee members are looking to remake the IRS into a modern, more efficient agency that provides taxpayers a better experience. I'm pretty sure that modernizing and refining processes for better efficiency can eventually be accomplished. As for the improved... Read more →


Before departing D.C. last week for their version of spring break, Representatives and Senators, some grudgingly, approved a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government operating through September. Donald J. Trump signed the bill, which is massive by both dollar and legislative length (the bill ran 2,232 pages long) measurements, but not before injecting some reality show drama into the mix by threatening a veto. Both the $1.3 trillion outlay and 2,232 pages are huge, but since I have to pick one as this week's By the Numbers figure, I'm going with the dollar amount. Now, about... Read more →


Energy-efficient skylights installed in 2017 could provide homeowners some savings thanks to a recently renewed tax credit. Congress slipped some expired tax breaks into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 enacted back in February. That was good news for taxpayers who can claim these tax breaks, but it set off a mad scramble within the Internal Revenue Service. Playing processing catch-up: Uncle Sam's tax agency had to dig out and update the appropriate forms and then re-set its processing systems to handle them. And all this had to be done while the 2018 tax-filing season was already underway. The IRS... Read more →


Internet shopping is now the preferred purchasing method for millions. Just ask Toys R Us, which has blamed its decision to shutter its operations largely on losses to remote sellers. But the taxation of products bought online is still a mish-mash of state laws. That could change in a few months depending on what the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decides in a high-profile remote sales tax case. The oral arguments in the case, South Dakota vs. Wayfair, are set for April 17, which just happens to be this year's federal tax return filing deadline. SCOTUS' decision is... Read more →


Luxury suites provide fans with more than just views of sporting events. Some companies use these special accommodations to woo or reward high-dollar customers. However, a new tax law limiting the deductibility of such entertainment could end or limit these and similar business expenditures. (AT&T Stadium luxury box photo courtesy SuiteHop via Facebook) The arenas where the NCAA's March Madness college basketball games are being played have luxury box seats where the seat owners used to entertain existing and potential high-dollar clients. I say "used to" because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect this year could,... Read more →


Spring training games are wonderfully leisurely, at least for the fans. But Major League Baseball is a big business and some of its practices could be negatively affected by the new tax law. (Photo courtesy Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau) One of the good things about tax-filing season's timing is that it and Major League Baseball's spring training overlap a bit. That means when my head is about to explode from the hassles of taxes, I can take a break and catch some of the Boys of Summer preparations. The February and March games in Florida and Arizona are... Read more →


Photo by 401(k) 2012 via Flickr The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) prompted the Internal Revenue Service this week to reissue some tax-related inflation adjustments. However, one area was not affected by the TCJA's provisions. The amounts you can contribute in 2018 to your tax-favored retirement accounts did not change. There are two reasons for the retirement amounts' status quo. First, despite some Congressional discussions about changing retirement plans early in the tax bill's formulation, those proposals were dropped after much public outcry. (Sometimes our elected leaders do hear us!) Also, while the TCJA did change the tax-related inflation... Read more →


Are you still waiting to file your taxes because you want additional guidance from the Internal Revenue Service about the 2018 property taxes you prepaid last year? You are not alone. A group of Democratic lawmakers, some of who met with the acting head of the IRS last month on this topic, are continuing to press the agency for a final rule about this deduction that was reduced under the newly enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The latest demand for deduction clarification came earlier this week when some Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee sent Acting IRS... Read more →


Many of us used to spend Saturday afternoons at the movies. Streaming and on demand options have cut into those ticket sales, but Oscar nominations and wins still boost ticket sales and the taxes collected on those admission slips. (Photo from Keith Page archives via Kevin Dooley on Flickr) It's an honor to win an Oscar. Or, according to those who don't, just to be nominated. It's also usually provides films an economic boost, even before the statuettes are handed out. And that could also help out those states, like Texas, that collect sales tax on movie theater tickets. Nominations... Read more →


Shortly after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law on Dec. 22, 2017, the Republican lawmakers who wrote and fast-tracked it into law pointed to the measure's immediate effects. The most immediate indicator was the many companies that gave their workers year-end bonuses. Some corporate execs acknowledged that the law, which gives big businesses a dramatic 14 percentage points cut on their tax bills (from a 35 percent to 21 percent rate), played a part in the bonus decision. But as 2018, the first year that the tax cuts will be in effect, other companies are... Read more →


Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, meets with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Did this July 18, 2011, conversation lead to Obama's proposed Buffett Rule, a surtax on millionaires? (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) If you were wise or lucky enough to get a piece of Berkshire Hathaway, company chairman Warren Buffett has some good news for you. Berkshire's gain in net worth last year was $65.3 billion. And while the Oracle of Omaha deserves kudos for many things, Buffett says the real thanks regarding Berkshire Hathaway's recent financial uptick should go to the Republicans. Specifically,... Read more →


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Gordon With identity theft and refund fraud being so ubiquitous, folks might understandably think an unexpected tax refund notice is a scam. This time though, it's real for more than 133,000 U.S. military veterans who may qualify for their portion of federal tax refunds totaling an estimated $78 million. These former service personnel are due the money because they wrongly paid taxes on disability severance pay. Some of the erroneous tax payments go back as far as Jan. 17, 1991. The amount due eligible veterans varies based on rank and... Read more →


George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, got together in the Oval Office in 2009. The five living U.S. presidents are part of an exclusive club. They also are part of the reason for today's Presidents Day celebration. (Photo by White House photographer Eric Draper/GWB White House archives) Happy Birthday, George! George Washington's birthday actually is Feb. 22, 1731. However, we've celebrated it on the third Monday of February since 1968 thanks to a law that mandated most federal holidays occur on Mondays. We've also unofficially changed the Father of Our Country's day to... Read more →


Same old, same old. That's the message the Internal Revenue Service got today when the Trump Administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget. The IRS' base budget amount is about the same as prior years and some old tax enforcement ideas are proposed again. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney discussing the Trump Administration budget last year. For release of the 2019 fiscal year budget, Mulvaney decided to stay off camera "because it's really boring." You can decide if he was right by listening to his remarks yourself via C-SPAN. It's no secret that the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


Since Congress decided to slip some expired tax breaks into the budget bill enacted earlier today and make them retroactive to the 2017 tax year, some folks will be amending the 1040 forms they've already filed. Ignore that smirking sound loud enough to make it onto the internet. It's the perpetually procrastinating hubby being all smug about how sometimes it does pay to put things off for a while. However, if, unlike the hubby, you don't defer tasks and were an early tax filer who now can claim, for example, the tuition and fees above-the-line tax deduction, you're probably already... Read more →