Politics Feed

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 →


During an overnight session, Congress ended a brief government shutdown and retroactively approved some expired tax breaks. Remember those tax breaks that expired at the end of 2016? Most of them, including four were claimed by many individual taxpayers, are back. But just for the 2017 tax year. That's good and bad news for filers who last tax year: paid college tuition and fees, had a mortgage payment that included private mortgage insurance (PMI), made certain energy efficient improvement to their homes or reworked their home loan and in that process had some of the debt forgiven. Yep, those tax... Read more →


Yesterday was a big day for electric vehicles. One was shot into a solar orbit. Terrestrially, a group of U.S. Senators launched an effort to extend tax credits for electric and alternative fuel vehicles. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy successfully launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Click image to watch the full video. SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, successfully launched one of the heaviest rockets ever. For those of us of a certain age, the Cape Canaveral lift off brought to mind the powerful Saturn V rocket that propelled NASA's Apollo... Read more →


UPDATE, March 24, 2018: The fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill signed into law on March 23 contained a compromise that should ensure that restaurant workers aren't stiffed under the new tip pooling regulation. Details follow in the post. If you're going to a restaurant or bar today to watch the Super Bowl instead of to your buddy's for an LII party, tip your servers well. They soon could be losing their gratuities. That's the worst-case scenario feared by wait staff and employee advocacy groups under the Trump Administration's effort to reinstate tip pooling. Return of shared tips: With tip... Read more →


UPDATE, Feb. 8, 2018: The Trump Administration made it official this afternoon, announcing Donald J. Trump's intent to nominate Charles P. Rettig as the next commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. If confirmed by the Senate, Rettig will serve a five-year term that began Nov. 12, 2017, when prior commissioner John Koskinen left. Tax practitioners are generally pleased to see someone from their ranks selected to helm the IRS. Capitol Hill reaction also was positive. "With a long history of helping families and job creators navigate the tax code and stand up to the IRS when the agency is wrong,... Read more →


When Congress overwhelmingly approved — a 266-150 vote in the House, 81-18 margin in the Senate — a bill on Monday (Jan. 22) to fund the federal government, a lot of folks celebrated. Federal workers, who were off work just one day, of course were happy. So were the parents of the 9 million kids who get medical care under the Children's Health Insurance Program, aka CHIP, which had run out of money at the end of last September. States, which administer the program, had been operating on savings and an earlier short-term infusion of federal funds. Now they don't... Read more →


One week from today, on Monday, Jan. 29, the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting 2017 tax year returns. Some folks have already filed, including for free via Free File, which actually opened on Jan. 12. Others, however, will be, shall we say, more deliberative, pushing off filing until closer to April's Tax Day or later thanks to an extension. While you need to take as much time as you need to complete your Form 1040 accurately and fully, it can be beneficial to file earlier rather than later in the tax season. Here are six reasons why early tax... Read more →


And so it begins. Uncle Sam is out of money, forcing closure today of many federal operations. How long will this latest government shutdown last? Based on prior shutdowns, it could be just today, or this could drag out for weeks. UPDATE, Feb. 9, 2018: The federal government closed briefly again on Feb. 9, but only for a few hours. A two-year budget agreement means we'll be able finish out the filing of our 2017 returns, either by the April deadline or the extended due date in October, without further interruption. In addition, this latest 5½-hour overnight closure ended with... Read more →


Photo by Alan Cleaver via Flickr CC The federal government might shut down at midnight on Friday, Jan. 19. What will that mean to your taxes? The Internal Revenue Service has opened its Free File online tax preparation and e-filing program. Since the IRS simply acts as the portal to the dozen private tax software manufacturers who actually handle the returns, things there should operate as usual. That means that the taxpayers' returns now being filed through Free File will still be queued up, awaiting processing when the 2018 tax filing season officially starts on Monday, Jan. 29. But what... Read more →


Anger over the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) has spilled over into 2018, with lawmakers from high-tax states still looking for ways to undo this provision. Some have petitioned the Internal Revenue Service for revised, more filer-friendly property tax guidance. Other have introduced legislation to fully restore the now-limited SALT itemized write-offs. You thought the battle over paying 2018 local property taxes so that they could be claimed on 2017 tax returns ended on Jan. 1. You were wrong. Asking IRS to reconsider: Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate minority... Read more →


U.S. Supreme Court photo by Phil Roeder via Flickr CC Much tax attention has been focused on the new tax law that now limits the federal deduction filers can claim for the state taxes they pay. But another impending state tax decision could affect even more taxpayers across the country. The Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) will decide this summer whether more of us will be paying state sales taxes on our online purchases. That's already a price that folks in the 45 states and Washington, D.C. pay when they buy products from internet retail giant Amazon. If the... Read more →


The Rev. Gilbert Caldwell (left) was part of the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (center). Click the screenshot above to watch the full CBS Sunday Morning feature on how a group of fifth-graders helped correct a 60-year-old act of discrimination against Caldwell and his wife. As a young man, the Rev. Gilbert Caldwell marched with Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we honor and celebrate on this federal holiday. Racial discrimination was among the many wrongs King, Caldwell and other civil rights activists back then were working to right. It's a... Read more →


While I make my coffee at home during the week, I'm a Starbucks fan on weekends. During hot Texas summers, those icy Frappuccinos are heaven. Heck, even in our not-that-cold winters, I get them. (Note to Starbucks: I sooo missed the Chile Mocha option this past holiday season. This flavor should be a regular, year-round option, especially here in Texas where chile peppers are one of the major food groups. We even have an official state pepper. But I digress. But bring it back, please!) When we do get the occasional cold spell, I'm an Espresso Macchiato fan. My drink... Read more →