Tax Tip Feed

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 →


Some folks are taking seriously the traditional tax advice to start annual tax filing tasks early. Unfortunately, those folks are crooks. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners in state tax agencies and the tax industry have announced that they're seeing early signs that cyber criminals already are working to infiltrate the tax process. Tax practitioners are the prime targets as the 2018 filing season's opening on Jan. 29 nears. Fraudsters are sending a new round of emails in which they pose as potential clients or even the IRS to trick tax professionals into disclosing sensitive information, according... Read more →


Image courtesy 401kCalculator.org via Flickr Ah, January! A new year, new challenges, new opportunities and old tax tasks. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't give us much time to settle into a new tax year. In fact, it's right there, barely two weeks in, reminding many of us that we have a major tax obligation from the prior tax year to take care of or else. I'm talking, of course, about estimated taxes. These four extra tax payments are made by folks who get income that doesn't have income taxes withheld. If you don't pay, or don't pay on time, you'll... 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 →


Welcome 2018! Yes, I know we're well into day four of this brand spanking New Year. But we all get a pass on the first day to recover from our New Year Eve parties. And days two and three were consumed by looking back at what was accomplished tax-wise in 2017, looking ahead at what we can expect from taxes in 2018, chatting with fellow tax folk (OK, maybe that was just me) and dealing with scary winter weather. Bundle up, all my friends along the East Coast! Now, though, it's time to get down to tax business. Time for... Read more →


We've only got five days left in 2017 and just three business days. That means that if you're making any tax moves, you'd best get on the stick! You also need to look at how your 20176 year-end tax actions might be affected by the new tax laws that take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. I've been writing about the latest tax changes for months now. You could find those stories by simply looking at the ol' blog's archives and checking out all the posts tagged as "tax reform" (even though this latest bill is really more tax cuts than... Read more →


It's almost 2018 and we all know what that means. Resolutions, fresh starts and lots of new tax laws. The good news is that for the most part, the changes to the tax code under the Republican-led tax bill will not affect us until we file our 2018 tax returns in 2019. But some of those changes in the still-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act mean we will need to make some tax moves now, this final week of 2017, to take advantage of some tax provisions that won't be around or will be dramatically altered when Jan. 1, 2018... Read more →


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 →


Photo by Katina Rogers via Flickr CC Most of us will spend time with family this Thanksgiving. If the gathering includes an aging parent (or two), it's a good time to gauge how they're doing. Now I'm not advocating a full diagnostic discussion. That's not only a bit intrusive, but such conversations probably will start fights if your family is anything like mine. My 80-something mom simply refuses to acknowledge that she's 80-something and that entering her eighth decade presents some limitations. And by refuses to acknowledge, I mean she dives head-first into vehement and lengthy denials. This is not... Read more →


To err on tax returns is human. To forgive is Xtraordinary, and yes, the misspelling is intentional. Tax law lets us correct mistakes we make on our 1040s via another form, the 1040X. Most people file 1040X, which is known as amending your return, because they discovered they didn't claim a tax break that give them a (or a bigger) tax refund. Of course, since the Internal Revenue Service is involved, there are some rules and certain steps you must follow. Here are five key things to keep in mind if you discover you need to re-do a previously filed... Read more →


It's that time of year again. Monday, Oct. 16, the absolute final tax return filing deadline. Don't panic. You've still got a few hours to fill out and submit your 2016 Form 1040. The latest Weekly Tax Tip, over there at the top of the ol' blog's right column, has 10 tax tidbits to help you through today. You also can find more tax tips in this year's previously posted Daily Tax Tips, conveniently archived on their own by-month pages: January, February, March and April. Good luck with your 2016 return today. And remember, when you're done with that (yay!),... Read more →


Based on Internal Revenue Service tax return filing data, it looks like around 7 million Americans have yet to submit their 2016 forms. They need to get busy. (Yes, I get to say they, not we, this year since I filed my 1040 this summer.) The absolute, final due date is less than a week away. The six-month filing extension typically kicks the extended deadline to Oct. 15. But since that's on a Sunday this year, the IRS is giving extreme procrastinators until Monday, Oct. 16. So that you don't waste any of these last few days you have to... 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 →


If compassion fatigue hadn't set in after the back-to-back-to-back hurricanes that roared across the Atlantic, laying waste to much of Texas, Florida, Georgia and many Caribbean islands, it probably did when Mexico got rocked within two weeks by two massive and deadly earthquakes. A group of American tourists were literally rocked when their Sept. 19 Mexico boat ride was interrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Click image to watch full YouTube video. Many of the small tropical islands were particularly hard hit by Hurricanes Irma and then Maria. Both were major hurricanes. Both covered wide areas. The mass of the... 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 →


People are still being rescued in flooded Houston, so very few — even those who made it through Hurricane Harvey relatively unscathed — are thinking about taxes right now. But when they do begin to face rebuilding their post-storm lives, one of the things they'll have to deal with is taxes. A Texas National Guard soldier rescues a woman from her Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston neighborhood. (Photo by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD, via Flickr Creative Commons) The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for folks in Houston and its flooded surroundings, as well as those in other areas... Read more →


All U.S. workers know, simply from looking at their pay stubs, that our tax system is pay-as-you-earn. Our taxes come out of our paychecks as withholding, both for federal income taxes, as well as to cover future Social Security and Medicare benefits. We don't have control over those taxes we pay now for federal retirement and hospital coverage when we're older. But we can — and should — adjust our income tax withholding if there are changes in our lives, such as marriage or a family addition or home purchase that can affect a tax bill, or we're getting a... Read more →


The continental United States will be a little dimmer today as the solar eclipse moves across the lower 48. Some folks, however, focus on the sun every day. They have solar energy systems. If you’re interest in joining their sun worshiping ranks, the tax code can help. The federal solar tax credit, officially known as the solar investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to claim on your federal taxes 30 percent of the cost of a solar energy system. Good, it’s a tax credit. This means you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction of any tax you owe. Even better, installation costs... Read more →


Before you can write off your business expenses, you must show that you were indeed trying to turn a profit. That basic business tax tenet was confirmed by a recent U.S. Tax Court decision. In a summary opinion, Special Trial Judge Daniel A. Guy, Jr., sustained the Internal Revenue Service’s accuracy-related penalty against Eric Zudak based on tax that was reduced by incorrect business expenses claims. The judge held that Zudak wasn’t entitled to a deduction for expenses he paid for his film festival activity because he didn’t conduct the activity in a businesslike manner or engage in the activity... Read more →