Tax planning Feed

Ho, Ho, Ho, hoss. It's the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays and year-end tax moves are here! (Photo by Kay Bell of a scene at Marble Falls, Texas' annual Walkway of Lights along the lake) Hello, holidays! We're so happy you and your good cheer have finally arrived. But the arrival of December also means 2017 is almost over, giving us only 31 days to take care of tax tasks that could save us money when we file our returns next year. This year, it also looks like Congress might actually make some tax changes, if not... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's 2018 filing season calendar isn't quite this messy, but it's not firmed up yet. The House Ways and Means Committee today started marking up, otherwise known as tweaking, the Republican-driven tax reform bill. Early word is that many provisions you may have read about will change. C'est la legislative process. Meanwhile, since most of the new tax laws won't take effect until Jan. 1, we can focus on our 2017 returns that will be filed under the existing tax laws. Most of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the tax moves we've made so... Read more →


$13 billion. That's how much nonprofits say Republican-proposed changes to the tax code could cost them each year. Even though the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would keep the itemized deduction for charitable donations, it's one of just a handful that will remain on Schedule A. In exchange for the elimination of most itemized write-offs, the House tax reform proposal calls for almost doubling the standard deduction. That shift in federal tax deduction strategy could pose a major problem for the thousands of U.S. nonprofits that rely on contributions. Fewer itemizers = less donations: Now, about a third of... Read more →


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) get serious in discussing what Republicans say are the middle-class benefits in their latest proposal to rewrite the tax code. The most detailed plan yet was released Thursday, Nov. 2. (Screenshot of C-SPAN video; click image to watch clip.) Remember that Capitol Hill adage that all politics is local? It can be easily shifted to tax reform. Whether you're for or against a tax law change will depend in large part on how much it helps or hurt you. When it comes to the men and women who propose and/or make those changes, their votes... Read more →


UPDATE, Nov. 2: Good news. It looks like most of the Republican tax reform plan, according to the bill's legislative language, "shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017." That means we will close out 2017 under current tax law, so these tips still apply. I'm working on a post about the proposed tax changes and will get it up here on the ol' blog shortly. it's now published! My mind boggles at the number of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies that can be made from this collection! It's just a small part of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden's... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amounts and next year's Social Security wage base. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. When you're hit by the AMT, or Alternative Minimum Tax, you might be tempted to rearrange the... Read more →


Welcome to Part 6 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to estate, gift and kiddie taxes. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. Real wealthy families like the fictional filthy rich Darlings of ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" welcome the latest estate tax inflation adjustments. (Cast photo courtesy ABC... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some medical tax provisions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy" via Giphy.com The only thing worse than being sick is having to pay for medical treatment. One remedy that could... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some popular credits and deductions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Millions of taxpayers depend each year on tax deductions and tax credits to cut their annual tax bills. The main tax reduction strategy is claiming the standard... Read more →


Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes next year to retirement and pension plans. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Maxing out your retirement plans, both those offered at your job and your separate IRAs, can help you build an overflowing nest egg. As Congress explores... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2018 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Oct. 19 with a look at next year's — if there isn't tax reform or cuts by or before then — income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some wealthier taxpayers. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Standard deduction amounts edge... Read more →


This is the first in a 10-part series on the 2018 tax year inflation adjustments. Links to the other posts are at this end of this article. The White House and Congressional Republicans are still hoping to get some tax changes finalized by the end of the year. The IRS, however, isn't waiting on Capitol Hill. The Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, Oct. 19, released its annual compilation of tax provisions that are affected by inflation. It also issued next year's retirement plan contribution changes. The upshot is that most amounts will increase in 2018. Numbers, we've got lots o'... Read more →


October marks the start for many companies of open season for employees' workplace benefits, many of which provide workers some nice tax savings. It's also a good month to make other tax-related moves. It's time to turn our attention to health care again. This time, though, it's not medical insurance via the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Instead, October marks the beginning of open enrollment season for workplace-provided benefits at companies across the country. Decide now for next year: Open enrollment periods vary from company to company. Most run from two to four weeks for workers to evaluate their current benefits and... Read more →


Records, tax and financial, are often among the property damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster. If you're lucky, you might be able, like this woman, to salvage some of the documents. If not, you'll need to recreate them to take advantage of tax-related storm relief. (Image courtesy Louisiana Law Blog) Maybe you didn't think the hurricane's flood waters would reach your neighborhood. Or maybe you just never kept copies, either paper or digital, of your financial and tax records. Now, however, you find you're among the millions dealing with Hurricane Harvey aftermath that destroyed much of the Texas Gulf... Read more →


I don’t know about you, but I am glad to see August gone! It was a horrible, awful, no-good month for too many of my fellow Texans. We're counting on you, September, with your promise of cooler temperatures and return of routines, like the kiddos' going back to class, to get us to a better place. Among the things to think about as fall nears is, of course, taxes. Here are four quick tax tasks to consider this month. File your 2016 taxes: For the first time in years, I'm heading into fall with my prior year return already in... Read more →


Tropical Storm Harvey is bringing the 2017 hurricane season to my home state. And while it's the Texas Gulf Coast that will take the first hit late Friday, Aug. 25/early Saturday, Aug. 26, the storm will be felt well inland. Including here in Austin. Meteorologists are forecasting that Harvey could be a Category 3 hurricane by the time it makes landfall. If so, it would be the first major hurricane to make U.S. landfall since Wilma in 2005. UPDATE Aug. 24, 2017, 5:30 p.m.: The dire predictions are looking like they are on the mark. This afternoon, Harvey was strong... Read more →


"Dear IRS, …" — If you have a question about how a tax law or regulation affects your particular set of circumstances, you can ask, in writing, for the Internal Revenue Service to weigh in. But be prepared to pay for the advice and, effective Aug. 15, pay electronically. Taxes are complex. That’s why it’s often wise to get professional help. In some cases, however, even tax pros need some guidance. This is particularly true when taxpayer circumstances are such that the individuals and their advisers feel the need for further interpretation as to how tax laws or administrative rules... Read more →


You’ve had enough of being a wage slave. It’s time to start your own business. That means it’s also time to consider the tax implications of becoming your own boss. Here are four tax matters to think about as you plan your move from the corporate cubicle to your own self-employed suite. 1. Select a business structure. How you’ll run your business will affect your taxes. You have several choices. The most common forms (and the federal tax forms required) are: Sole Proprietorship (Schedule C or C-EZ as an attachment to your personal Form 1040, along with Schedule SE to... Read more →


Does the surging stock market mean it's time to take capital gains? Tax reform could complicate the decision. The U.S. stock market passed another notable boundary today, moving above the 22,000 mark. It didn’t stay there long, bouncing around a bit before, yes, finally closing at 22,031. UPDATE, Oct. 18, 2017, 10 a.m.: It's still happening. The U.S. market hit 23,000 for the first time on Oct. 17, 2017, before closing just below that historic mark. Today, major indexes hit intraday records and the Dow industrials returned above 23,000 as the latest round of corporate earnings continued to support the... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →