Tax reform Feed

Bicyclists' fringe commuting benefits were eliminated under the new tax law. Other commuters also could find their workplace transportation perks slashed, too. Woman on bicycle by Sunny via Flickr CC It's forecast to be, for the third straight day, near 97 degrees this afternoon in the greater Austin area. It's also National Bike to Work Day. That is, shall we say, a pungent combination. Yet another reason I'm glad I work from home! Biking benefits are ending: Despite the hot Texas summers (and springs and falls), the Austin area is bicycle-crazed. Folks two-wheel it all over the place, undeterred by... Read more →


Margaret Reid won $1.2 million on an $18 Kentucky Derby bet at Retama Park in San Antonio. It was the biggest payout ever at the track, according to the racetrack's general manager Bill Belcher, who congratulated Reid. (Photo courtesy Rachel Bagnetto, Retama marketing department) The Internal Revenue Service loves the Kentucky Derby. Actually, it loves the full Triple Crown slate. Not only do thoroughbred owners, trainers and jockeys makes big, taxable bucks during the Derby's run for the roses, as well as at the subsequent Preakness and Belmont races, so do some bettors. Few race aficionados, however, are as lucky... Read more →


Lava slowly flows from a fissure that opened on a Leilani Estates street on May 5, 2018, after Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted. (United States Geological Survey public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons) The United States' 50th state is home to many extraordinary things. Exotic flowers. Magical beaches. Unique birds. An active volcano. It's that last thing that's got folks worried right now. Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, May 3, accompanied by dozens of earthquakes, the release of dangerous sulfur dioxide and lava flows. The 6.9 magnitude Kilauea-associated earthquake that shook the Big Island on May 4 was the most powerful... 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 →


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 →


Source: CafePress tax jigsaw puzzle Still trying to put the pieces of your Form 1040 (or 1040A or even 1040EZ) together? Time's running out. Tax Day is almost here. Since the tax filing deadline is April 17 this year, here are 17 tax tips. Not only do they earn this week's By the Numbers honor, some could help you put together a return to send to Uncle Sam on time and at the least possible tax cost to you. 1. File on time. Yes, this first tip is obvious, but a lot of people let the filing date slip by... Read more →


Most taxpayers have never itemized their deductions. And the new tax law that took effect this year will ensure that even fewer filers fill out a Schedule A. By nearly doubling the standard deduction amounts, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will prompt more folks to use them instead of messing with the record keeping and extra paperwork itemized deductions require. Plus, as I'm sure you've heard by now, starting with the 2018 tax year and running through, for now, 2025, other TCJA changes will make itemizing even less valuable. The amount of state and local taxes, including your... 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 →


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 →


Employers were supposed to have new withholding tables in place by mid-February to reflect the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act income tax rate changes. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said once those payroll changes were in place, 90 percent of workers would see bigger paychecks thanks to the GOP tax bill. Mnuchin might want to rethink his prediction. A CNBC survey conducted March 17-20 of 800 Americans, 60 percent of whom were working, found that 52 percent of the employed haven't seen a change in their paychecks. In fact, just 32 percent of the working adults that CNBC talked to said... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service filing data complete through March 16 shows that it has issued almost $183 million in tax refunds to around 62 million taxpayers. Many of those folks now getting refunds planned on the tax-back money. They used paycheck over-withholding as a forced savings account. These are the types of taxpayers the IRS is hoping to reach as part of Paycheck Checkup Week, which kicked off on Monday, March 26. Over the next few days, the IRS is making a special effort to get people to take another look at their payroll withholding. Such reexamination is especially important now... Read more →


I am so, so sorry my dear friends in the MidAtlantic and Northeastern United States. I know you're looking at possibly more snow with the fourth nor'easter in three weeks forecast to hit your areas in a few days. Here in Central Texas and other parts of the country, however, spring has officially arrived! My Texas neighbors and I are enjoying the seasonal wildflowers. Thank you, Lady Bird Johnson! (Photo by Kay Bell) It's also the traditional time for cleaning up and clearing out your house. Some of those old and/or unused items can be tossed. Others, however, are in... 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 →


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 →