Tax planning Feed

The hubby and I, like every other person, are getting older every day. That means we're getting closer to claiming Social Security and Medicare benefits. Two recent reports on the status of those federal programs make me glad to be closer to our collection dates. Both Social Security and Medicare, according to the programs' trustees, will run out of money to pay beneficiaries in 16 years and 8 years, respectively. At least the grayer-every-day hubby and I will get some of the full payouts. Sorry about all you youngsters! OK, I'm really not that selfish. But we are a bit... Read more →


Tax law changes mean that some previously deductible miles can no longer be claimed. (Traffic photo by Jo via Flickr) Back in March, the Internal Revenue Service announced revised inflation changes for many tax provisions that were affected by the recently-enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). One area that didn't change, however, was the list of 2018 standard mileage amounts used to calculate the driving-related tax breaks associated with medical, business, charity and moving costs. For the 2018 tax year, those cents-per-mile amounts are shown in the table below, along with the 2017 figures for folks who might be... Read more →


It's June! That means summer is here, both temperature-wise (more like mid-summer here in Texas!) and officially later this month. The arrival of the Summer Solstice — it's June 21 this year — is just one of the many special days in this sixth month of the year. There's Father's Day, Flag Day, D-Day, Juneteenth and, of course, the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. Then we have (or had) Doughnut Day (that was last Friday, June 1), Chocolate Ice Cream Day, International Yoga Day and for pet lovers, separate cat (today, June 4, is Hug Your Cat Day) and... Read more →


Today marks the midpoint of National Small Business Week 2018. What better way to celebrate than by taking a look at the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's changes to depreciation and expensing. Yeah, I know. But it is a tax blog. So here goes, courtesy a fact sheet on the topic issued by the Internal Revenue Service. Expensing enhancements: Expensing under Internal Revenue Code section 179 allows businesses an immediate tax break on some property rather than making them spread out the assets' tax value over years via depreciation. Companies can still choose to expense the cost of any section... Read more →


It's all about the angle for a budding photographer attending summer camp to hone her skills. (Photo courtesy Olds College via Flickr Creative Commons) Hello, May. You are indeed a very merry month, what with your longer days, warmer weather, lovely flowers and the impending end of classes. Yep, all you parents were smiling until you got to the end of that sentence, weren't you? School is far, far more than a day care for our children. But the fact that teachers and other educators keep an eye on kids for much of the day is a very consequential consideration... Read more →


Small businesses like Wild Scoops, which sells handcrafted Alaskan ice cream and is featured on the Small Business Administration Instagram account, are saluted this National Small Business Week. Happy National Small Business Week 2018. OK, technically it started yesterday, Sunday, April 29, and runs through Saturday, May 5. I like that it's a full seven-day week, not just a Monday-through-Friday work week since most small business owners are on the job way more than the traditional five-day, 40-hour weeks. This week has been celebrated annual since 1963 as a way to recognize the contributions of U.S. entrepreneurs and small business... Read more →


Still trying to figure out what you need to do to ensure that your family's health savings account (HSA) doesn't violate the new tax law's changes to maximum contributions? You can stop worrying. The Internal Revenue Service has relented on this issue. Almost 22 million people enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHP) and associated health savings accounts (HSA) in 2017, according to research by America's Health Insurance Plans. The political advocacy and trade association says that's up from just more than 20 million HDHP/HSA participants in 2016. Younger people, particularly millennials, are big fans of HSAs. A key reason for... Read more →


It's no secret that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was designed to primarily benefit big businesses. But in order to make those tax cuts more palatable to the rest of the U.S. taxpaying universe, Congress added what it promised were benefits for Main Street mom-and-pop operations, too. What's that saying about best laid plans? Four months into the new tax law and it looks like small businesses have a couple of issues with the TCJA. First, an analysis by the Joint Committee of Taxation found that the key tax break for smaller operations, the Section 199A pass-through deduction,... Read more →


@bublywater via Giphy.com If you missed this year's doubly extended tax filing deadline simply because you procrastinated, or actually over-procrastinated, then you're out of luck. If you owe tax for the 2017 tax year, interest and penalties already are piling up. If this is you — no judging here, just some advice — at least get a belated extension request into the Internal Revenue Service ASAP, along with the money you owe, to stop that costly process from getting worse. The first Weekly Tax Tip of 2018 offers some guidance on moves to make if your missed the Tax Day... Read more →


April 17 is Tax Day 2018. That means, of course, that tax returns for last year are due. But other tax tasks also share the annual April deadline. A big one for millions of taxpayers is the filing of the year's first estimated tax payment. Estimated tax payments are made by folks who have income that isn't subject to withholding. This typically is money made from full-time self-employment, side hustles, investment income and/or prize or gambling winnings (which is often like investing, but I digress). An earlier post has the scoop on these four extra tax payments. For today's purposes,... Read more →


"If anyone from the, uh, from the IRS is watching, I…forgot to file my, my, my 1040 return. Um, I meant to do it today, but…." That tax oversight admission was made on April 11, 1970, by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut and Apollo 13 command module pilot John "Jack" Swigert. Bill Paxton as Fred Haise, Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell and Kevin Lovell as Jack Swigert in a pivotal scene from the 1995 Universal Pictures film "Apollo 13." (Image courtesy IMBD.com) By now, everyone knows, either because they're fans of NASA (like me!) or the popular Ron... Read more →


Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up last September, each possibly headed for landfall. (National Hurricane Center radar image) A key forecast group expects the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season to be even more active than normal. That is not what people who endured Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma last year and are, in some areas, still struggling to recover, wanted to hear. Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his team at Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project are forecasting 14 named tropical storms this hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Mother Nature and her... 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 →


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 →


If you've been wondering when you can take advantage on your 2017 tax return of a recently renewed tax extender, your wait could be over. The IRS announced today, Feb. 22, that it's now ready to process returns claiming three recently renewed tax breaks Surprise extenders: Congress threw the tax world for a loop earlier this month when it tacked some expired tax break onto its budget bill. The tax laws, popularly known as extenders because they are temporary and must be periodically renewed or extended, included a variety of tax breaks for businesses and individuals. Immediately following the Congressional... Read more →


I hope she said yes! (Photo by Matt via Flickr) Valentine's Day has become one of the most popular days of the year to propose. If you're anticipating popping or answering the big question at an intimate romantic dinner tonight, taxes likely won't be on your mind. But perhaps they should be. Love and money: I'm a big fan of marriage. I've been in a mostly happy one with the hubby for a looong time. (Yes, I was a child bride!) But even back then, I was a tax geek. That's why our choice of wedding date — the year... Read more →


The 2018 tax filing season officially starts today. Many folks have already filed, by using Free File (which opened on Jan. 12), going with software on their own or turning over their tax material to paid preparers. The Internal Revenue Service will now process all those 1040s that were completed earlier this month and were on hold. If you, however, haven't gotten around to filling out your taxes yet, here's a checklist of what you'll need to accurately and easily complete your return. You might not need some of the stuff noted in this latest checklist. Feel free to skip... 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 →


Free File, the no-cost online tax return preparation and e-filing option, is now open for business. Although there's been no official announcement by the IRS and its Free File Alliance tax software partners, a click on the Free File page at IRS.gov invites eligible taxpayers to, "Click the Start Free File Now button to file your FREE federal return." UPDATE: The IRS has now made Free File official! You can read the announcement, but I'd appreciate it if you'd keep reading here. Those who can click the Free File button this year are taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) of... Read more →


Welcome 2018 tax year. We know you are going to be crazy, but we are ready for whatever you plan to throw at us. And it will be a lot. In addition to starting out with the usual filing season tasks that focus on getting our 2017 tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service, there also are the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes to the tax code that will affect our 2018 tax bills. The Daily Tax Tip feature is here to help you accomplish both your 2017 filing and planning for 2018, regardless of whether you're confident enough... Read more →