Shout Out Feed

Apparently working on your taxes works up an appetite. That's the message from businesses offering freebies, or at least discounted items, on Tuesday, April 17, aka Tax Day 2018. Bagels, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches (sub, traditional and breakfast versions), cookies and Texas favorites corndogs (although some vendors — Yankees, perhaps? — call them hot dogs on a stick) and tacos (same culinary language nationwide) are there for your tasty taking on Tax Day. Taxes got you too stressed to eat? Take advantage of massages to ease you into a post-filing relaxed state. If you prefer to stay focused on the day's... Read more →


We got our notice of appraisal for our house last week. It was, as has been the case for the last few years, higher. If we were selling our house right now, we'd be thrilled. But we're not moving (yet). This week, we got our monthly neighborhood newsletter. It included a local Realtor's ad touting local listings. One was for a house down the block. The asking price was $300,000 more than our appraisal notice. Yes, that home is a bit larger than our house. And it has a pool. But is it worth $300,000 more than our home? The... 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 →


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 →


Hooray for Hollywood! Filmmaking's elite gather Sunday, March 4, for presentation of the 90th Oscars. The gold-plated statuettes will be given to winners in 24 categories, but many more Academy Awards attendees will take home goodies. Yes, it's swag bag time! This has been a tax issue for a dozen years. Back in 2006, the Internal Revenue Service and the entertainment industry finally got together to make sure everyone knew the tax rules and provide me with one of my best headlines ever: IRS makes call on booty. So what exactly is the deal with so-called gift bags given out... Read more →


Here in Central Texas, many of us have been complaining (guilty!) about the dreary patch of weather that's settled over the area. Yes, we can be whiny, especially when you look at really severe conditions elsewhere in the United States. Some Alabamans also are thinking about weather this weekend, but in a forward looking way. The Yellowhammer State's severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday kicked off yesterday, Friday, Feb. 23, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 25. During this time, Alabama's 4 percent state sales tax is waived on eligible purchases. Many cities and counties also have chosen to participate in... Read more →


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 →


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 →


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 →