Shout Out Feed

You open the package expecting, well you don't know what, but probably not 500 cockroaches. That, however, is what happened to a mail thief. Crooks will steal just about anything. And criminals who focus on U.S. Post Office boxes tend to increase their activity around this time every year. The reason? Tax refunds. Tax-related mail theft: Every February, people are either getting refund checks from the U.S. Treasury or they're receiving tax documents they can use to file their annual federal and state returns. Either option is a crook's dream. The checks can be cashed. The tax statements' info can... Read more →


While most investors have been closely following the recent gyrations of the stock market, fans of cryptocurrency also have been on their own frenzied financial journey. One bitcoin, as of this morning, was worth almost $8,433. I'd be happy with that value, but that's less than half what the cryptocurrency was worth in mid-December. On Dec. 16, 2017, the digital currency topped out at more $19,000. The cryptocurrency can be spent like real money — don't email me bitcoin et al fans; it will always be just one step above Monopoly money to me — but many tax collectors worldwide... Read more →


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 pooling, restaurants took all servers' tips, combined them and then handed out the money to all staff at management's discretion. In 2011, the Obama Administration issued a rule prohibiting such tip distribution. Obama's Department of Labor (DoL) said employees,... Read more →


Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren might benefit by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The IRS has additional information for these taxpayers and other special groups and situations where the EITC could help. Friday, Jan. 26, was EITC Awareness Day, the 12th annual event during with the Internal Revenue Service makes a special effort to get the word out about this tax break that millions of filers ignore each year. Actually, the tax agency made special efforts, plural, yesterday. There were more than 250 total outreach events and activities around the country to promote the Earned Income Tax... Read more →


Homeowners are still trying to wrap their heads — and tax plans — around the many Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes to the Internal Revenue Code that are related to personal real estate. There's the new limit on federal deductions for mortgage interest on future home loans, the cap on real estate taxes on your primary residence and the elimination of the write-off for interest paid on home equity loans. When the new tax law took effect on Jan. 1, the deduction on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or home equity loans became a thing of the... 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 →


Tax pros are feeling all "Mean Girls" Gretchen Wieners right now thanks to the new tax law. (via Giphy.com) When people ask what I do, I say I'm the most popular person in the world until April 16. After a few seconds of quizzical looks, I explain. I write about taxes. Yep, everyone wants to be my best friend until they finish their tax returns. After the April filing deadline, though, it's "please, Kay, no more tax talk!" But the Republican tax bill, originally known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and set to take effect on Jan. 1,... Read more →


Clark Griswold, portrayed by Chevy Chase, is not thrilled with his holiday bonus check in the 1989 movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. (Click image to watch MovieClips.com full video) Donald J. Trump proclaimed, on Twitter of course, that the Republican tax law changes that became law on Friday, Dec. 22, already were having a positive effect for workers. "Big companies and corporations [are] showering their workers with bonuses," he noted in an early morning Tweet posted a few hours before he signed the tax bill into law. Despite Trump's marveling at "a phenomenon that nobody even thought of, and now... Read more →


Pass-through taxation has been one of the most contentious and confusing parts of the debate surrounding the Republican tax bill.ese businesses — sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs) and S corporations — are not themselves subject to federal taxation the way traditional corporations are. Instead, the income earned from these operations is passed through on the owner's personal income tax filing. As I and many, many other media outlets and bloggers have noted, the final version of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that House and Senate conferees approved Dec. 15 basically followed the Senate's taxing methodology... Read more →


But some firms, especially if they specialize in lobbying lawmakers, have other considerations in mind for their annual end-of-year festivities. The holiday season is here at offices, too. That means office parties. Oh, yay! OK, some people love office Christmas parties. Anything for free food and libations. And they actually like most of their co-workers. But if you're not one of them, go anyway. Surely you can fake it for a few hours. And, again, free refreshments. Plus, opting out of implicitly required conviviality could hurt your career. Tax-free thanks: Offices throw these parties as a way to thank workers... Read more →


A key job for all tax agencies is ensuring their citizens comply with the rules. Most revenue offices, including the Internal Revenue Service, do that by penalizing folks who break tax laws. It typically doesn't matter if you make an honest mistake, like transposing numbers when entering info from your W-2 to your Form 1040, or intentionally try to avoid paying your due tax. When you mess up, you owe the unpaid tax amount, interest on the missed payment and a penalty. Abatement allowed in some situations: Sometimes the IRS will abate a penalty. This could happen if you tried... Read more →


Across America, special thanks go out this Veterans Day to all the men and women who courageously put on uniforms and served our country whenever and wherever called. But once those proudly-worn uniforms are packed away, former U.S. military members need more than just gratitude. Millions of soldiers, sailors, pilots and National Guard members need our support and help as they return to civilian life. That's why this 11/11 Shout Out Saturday goes to MartketWatch's financial checklist for former military members. And since you come here for tax talk, I don't want to disappoint. Here are a couple of tax... Read more →


Business entities and how they are — and might be — taxed is one of the things complicating the Republican-formulated tax reform bill. The primary motivation for the Republican's new tax reform plan is to lower business tax rates. Major corporations definitely will see relief under the bill (even though many are doing quite well under our current system). But there's concern that smaller businesses won't be so tax reform lucky. In fact, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as the bill, as H.R. 1 is known, could make things worse for some so-called pass-through entities. Potential problems for plenty... Read more →


After four and a half years, the Internal Revenue Service Tea Party targeting scandal has been resolved. On Thursday, Oct. 26, the Justice Department announced that it has entered into proposed settlements with the two major challenges by conservative groups against the IRS. Substantial payments to plaintiffs: While the Justice Department did not discuss deal specifics, the Wall Street Journal reported that the payouts to plaintiffs in the Linchpins of Liberty and Norcal Tea Party Patriots cases could be between $1 million and $10 million. The conservative groups who joined the lawsuits had alleged in 2013 that their applications for... Read more →


There could be some consistency in how states collect sales tax on consumers' online purchases if the Supreme Court agrees to hear a South Dakota case. Many states are ignoring the sales tax law of the land, decided in 1992 by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Quill v. North Dakota. Soon another Dakota high court case, this one from South Dakota, could change the state sales tax collection law for remote sellers. On Sept. 14, the Mount Rushmore State's quest to collect sales tax from online et al retailers was rejected by that state's highest court. That's just what... Read more →


Cook County residents lined up last week to tell county commissioners what they thought about the board's proposed soda tax. (Photo by Hal Dardick via Twitter) Cook Cook County officials implemented a tax on sugary beverages this summer. That levy, which was designed to (1) promote healthier habits among Chicago-area residents, (2) raise more much needed money for the Illinois county or (3) both, has fizzled. On Wednesday, Oct. 11, county commissioners voted 15-2 to repeal the penny-per-ounce tax, which, like similar proposals, is usually referred to as a soda — or pop in the Midwest — tax. Collection of... Read more →


Michael Horowitz, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice and Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, welcomes one and all to Oversight.gov, a new website that consolidates public reports from federal Inspectors General. Whenever talk turns to tax reform, there also are discussions on cutting federal spending. After all, if some of us get more favorable tax treatment, the money to make up for that lost revenue must come from somewhere. Conventional wisdom and political rhetoric tends to focus on Uncle Sam's inefficiencies, both perceived and real. If a federal agency or department... Read more →


It's International Podcast Day! Why are you reading (although thank you for stopping by)? You should be listening. That's why on this day celebrating the internet's audio offerings, this Shout Out Saturday goes to seven of my favorite financial podcasts. 1. Money Girl Laura Adams is the Money Girl of the title, offering her self-described "quick and dirty tips for a richer life." This one caught my ear because Adams' typically short and sweet 'casts often include comments about my favorite financial subject, taxes. Even better, her tips typically are pretty actionable, so as soon as you're through listening, you... Read more →


One of the major drivers of the latest federal tax reform effort is the corporate tax rate. The Trump Administration is still pushing for a 15 percent corporate tax rate, the White House's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told CNBC last week. However, just the day before Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin conceded a 15 percent rate would be difficult to attain. Meanwhile, one Washington, D.C.-based tax policy group has looked at how much corporate taxes contribute per capita to state coffers. That analysis by The Tax Foundation earns this week's Shout Out Saturday honors. Not a major tax matter: "The corporate... Read more →


Colorfully coiffed "Girls Trip" friends Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah partying in New Orleans. I've been a film fanatic from an early age. It started when I was a back-seat viewer on the family's regular summer night trips to the drive-in. Movies were a much needed break from real life in terrible times, like when Mom took my little brother and me to see "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to get us away from the news of JFK's assassination. And the annual airing of "The Wizard of Oz" was must-see TV in our house, especially... Read more →