Tax planning Feed

A Lyft ride sharing vehicle in Atlanta. (Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr Creative Commons) Most U.S. workers meet their annual tax responsibilities via paycheck withholding. Here you give your boss the information needed to calculate just how much income tax should come out of each paycheck so that you're Goldilocks at tax-filing time, not owing the U.S. Treasury too much or too little. The sharing economy has thrown a wrench into this system. Lots of folks with traditional 9-to-5 jobs are hustling on the side to earn extra cash. Others have committed full-time to gig economy work. Job... Read more →


This family, with four generations shown here, likely will feel the effects of the new tax law. (Photo by Azoreg via Wikimedia Commons) Things get complicated when you have kids. Those complications are, well, even more complicated when it comes to tax filing. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made a variety of changes, in effect at least for tax years 2018 through 2025, that will affect millions of parents. Here's a quick look at key tax changes for dependents. Exemptions are eliminated: Under prior law, personal and dependent exemptions were excellent. These tax breaks helped filers reduce income,... Read more →


Freelancing means more flexibility, such as where to work and the option to wear more comfortable attire. It also means you have some new tax responsibilities. (Photo by Lulu Hoeller via Flickr) The gig economy in the United States is growing at a phenomenal rate that shows no signs of slowing down. That's the analysis of BMO Wealth Management. A recent survey commissioned by the international wealth management company found that gigs — defined as jobs of short or uncertain duration — are the new normal. BMO's findings appear to support Upwork's annual Freelancing in America study, which was released... Read more →


Couples by Michael Lehet/Flickr CC The hubby and I basically have a pretty equal, albeit traditional gender swapped, marriage. He's more persnickety when it comes to cleaning. So he does much of those household duties, including bathrooms and whole-house vacuuming. I hate that noise, so he vacuums when I'm out; that's one of the reasons I love him! We split kitchen duties, with the person who doesn't cook dinner doing the cleanup. We collaborate on investments, deciding how much and where our money goes. As for the day-to-day expenses, I take care of making sure the bills are paid on... Read more →


One of those hammocks has my name on it, after I finish a few July tax tasks. (Photo by Roberto La Forgia via Flickr CC) School is out. The fireworks have been shot (except for the stashes of my neighborhood's teens, which based on prior post-July 4 experiences, probably will last another week). And the heat is definitely on. That means it's finally, fully summer. And that means that it's time to get down to some serious summertime tax moves. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just... Read more →


Taking a post-vows moment. (Photo by Barney Moss via Flickr) If you were a June bride or groom, congratulations! My best wishes also go out to folks who wed in any other month. I've been a wife a long time and I highly recommend matrimony. You've got someone who, as most vows still say, will be there for all the good and bad times. Plus, you've got a built-in excuse for getting out of things you don't want to do ("So sorry, but we can't make it. The hubby has to work."). There also, as I've noted numerous times here... Read more →


The new postcard-sized Form 1040 isn't nearly as pretty as the vintage Austin, Texas, postcard, reproduced as a mural in the Lone Star State's capital city. The tax postcard also isn't nearly as simple as its smaller size — or the Republicans who've long promised it — would have taxpayers believe. Image courtesy Roadhouse Relics Facebook/Instagram The good news about the new postcard-sized Form 1040 is that it is, as promised, smaller. The bad news is that in condensing the form, the Internal Revenue Service removed many popular above-the-line deductions that survived the actual new tax law itself. That's the... Read more →


Speaker Paul Ryan touts postcard tax return possibilities after House passage of tax reform legislation last November. (Screen shot from Speaker.gov YouTube video) Every year the Internal Revenue Service makes tweaks to tax returns. Often it's simply updating annual inflation adjusted amounts. Other times it's adding or subtracting a line due to law changes. But for 2018's filing material, there will be large-scale form alterations thanks to the major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Among the new law's modifications for the 2018 tax year will be the actual size of the oldest of the tax... Read more →


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 →