Tax Tip Feed

Rep. Mick Mulvaney is going to have to answer some nanny tax questions if he hopes to become President-elect Donald Trump's budget director. Rep. Mick Mulvaney speaks to some of his South Carolina constituents on last September's Constitution Day. (Photo by Erik B. Corcoran via Twitter) The South Carolina Republican was elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the midterm Tea Party wave. Since then, the man whom some have called a debt warrior has been a major player in the conservative Freedom Caucus and has focused on ways to cut federal spending. He probably should have focused on... Read more →


On this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, the last MLK Day that Barack Obama will serve as U.S. President, the 44th commander in chief will once again spend part of his afternoon volunteering. President Obama and younger daughter Sasha helped out during an earlier MLK Day at DC Central Kitchen. (Click image to see more at Corporation for National and Community Service.) The national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader has evolved into a day of service. The Obamas take that role seriously. In the past, the president and his family have volunteered at kitchens that feed... Read more →


The early part of any new year demands we be tax multitaskers. As we're getting ready to file last year's returns, we also must start planning moves that affect this year's taxes. For the next few days, though, it's time for those of us who pay estimated taxes to focus on 2016. We have to make our final 1040-ES payment to close out that tax year. According to the usual Internal Revenue Service calendar, that final fourth quarter payment is due Jan. 15. But calendar quirks this year mean a change in that deadline. The 15th is on Sunday and... Read more →


Tax filing season 2017 really is here. Some folks have already filed their tax year 2016 federal return (soooo jealous!) even though the Internal Revenue Service won't start processing the submitted forms until Jan. 23. Others of us are still waiting for the tax documents we need to fill out our forms. If you're in the still-waiting group, now's a good time to consider just what you will need to accurately and easily complete your return. To help, here's the 2017 version of the ol' blog's tax filing checklist. It's a good idea at the start of each filing season... Read more →


I got in my car for the first time in 2017 today. It also was my first use of my new mileage log. Yep, that pretty little pink spiral notebook is this year's tracking device of all my potentially tax deductible miles. And yep, those of you who know me know that I'm not really a pink kind of gal. This notebook was tucked in bag I got at a conference. Over the years, I've attended a lot of conferences and gotten a whole lot of similar notebooks, so I use a new one each tax year. What miles to... Read more →


Donald Trump doesn't move into the Oval Office for 15 more days, but the Republican-control Congress is working on legislation for him to sign into law shortly after he settles into his new digs. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was on CNBC's Squawk Box this week to discuss House efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. Click image to watch the full interview. One of the president-elect's campaign promises was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known (for a while longer) as Obamacare. That won't be easy, either politically and pragmatically. Delayed repeal... Read more →


It's that time of year again, tax season. Whether you're working on your Form 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ) yourself or turning your annual tax-filing task over to a professional, you'll want to check out the Daily Tax Tip. It will be there at the top of the ol' blog's right column through the April filing deadline. A new tip will be posted each weekday. All also will be archived on their own monthly tax tip pages -- January 2017 is posted, with February, March and April going live when those months arrive -- so you can check them out... Read more →


The first Friday the 13th of 2017 is lucky for some taxpayers. That's the day that Free File once again opens, allowing eligible folks to electronically prepare and file their 2016 tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service hasn't yet issued an official announcement about Free File 2017, but if you peruse the IRS web site (c'mon, I know I'm not the only one doing this!) you'll find the agency has updated its Free File page, a screenshot excerpt of which is shown above. UPDATE: It's official! The IRS says you can now access Free File by going to IRS.gov and... Read more →


Hello, 2017. For some of us, you sure took your sweet time. Others think you arrived a tad too soon. Few of us, however, are as ready to get our taxes as done-diddly-done as is Ned Flanders, Homer Simpson's annoying cheery neighbor. If you click the image, you'll see a GIF that gives you a good idea of Ned Flanders' obsessive-compulsive tendencies. While even a dedicated tax geek like myself thinks Neddie is a bit too filing gung-ho for the first day of the New Year, we all should take advantage of January's 31 days to get our 2016 taxes... Read more →


Today is officially winter. You know what that means. Taxes. For folks in Michigan, at least. Much of the United States has been in the grips of the Weather Channel named winter storm Decima this month. The Arctic air even dropped down to the Austin area earlier this week, producing a bit of a freeze in our back yard waterfall/stream. (Click image to watch my YouTube video.) OK. Tax collection in the Great Lakes State isn't limited to the coldest months, which are pretty plentiful there. And it's not even limited to one state. Property tax bills, which actually are... Read more →


The enactment of the 21st Century Cares Act this week means medical researchers will get more money for their efforts to develop a variety of treatments for persistent and devastating health problems. The new law also opens up a tax-favored medical plan option for folks who work for small companies. Vice President Joe Biden (center) is recognized during the ceremony in which the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. The bill is close to Biden's heart. He lost his son Beau to brain cancer. Following that personal tragedy, President Obama tapped his veep (and friend) to lead the... Read more →


Your business-related driving probably won't save you as much on your taxes in 2017. The reason? The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the optional standard mileage rate for business use of your vehicle is a half-cent less than in 2016. A trip to the vet likely won't count as a tax deductible medical expense, but other allowable miles in 2017 can be claimed at 17 cents apiece. It drops on Jan. 1, 2017, to 53.5 cents per mile. For the final few days of 2016, the business mileage rate is 54 cents per mile. Along with a smaller per-mile... Read more →


Are you looking for a new ride? Buying a car at the end of the year often means you'll pay less, as dealerships are ready to bargain in order to clear their lots for the new year and new models. Unless you're looking for a vintage car, you'll find your transportation choices are quite different from these! Driving away in new wheels by Dec. 31 also could give you a bigger sales tax deduction when you file your taxes next year. Itemized sales tax savings: If you itemize, you can claim either the state and local income tax or the... Read more →


Get out your calendars! The IRS has some tax-related dates for us. The biggie is the start of the upcoming tax-filing season. That will happen on Jan. 23, 2017. That Monday, the Internal Revenue Service says it will start processing our 2016 tax year returns. Here are some details on that day, as well as three other important tax days/deadlines in 2017. Jan. 23, 2017: In announcing the official start of the 2017 tax filing season, the IRS acknowledged that eager filers expecting refunds are likely to get their 1040s filled out well before next Jan. 23. Many software companies... Read more →


Most of us are knee-deep (or deeper!) into holiday tasks, but the Internal Revenue Service thinks it's also a great time to think about security measures that can protect our tax data during the upcoming tax filing season. That's right, smack in the middle of seasonal shopping and parties, it's National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS and its Security Summit partners from the tax software and preparation industry, the tax professionals' community and the state tax world are offering tips this week on scams to be guard against, as well as ways to prevent crooks from stealing our IDs... Read more →


It's National Cookie Day. Guess what I had for breakfast? And probably for lunch and supper, too. Mmmmm! Mint Milanos, biscotti and ginger snaps. If you don't have any cookies in your pantry, click the image for info from Parade magazine on where you can get free cookies today. Not as my whole meal, at least not for the day's two later repasts. Today's gustatory observance reminded me of a DailyInfographic.com item that illustrated some money-making hobbies. Baking was on that list. That's the cooking excerpt below. Click image to see the full DailyInfographic on money-making hobbies. Hobbies' fun and... Read more →


Happy day after Thanksgiving! For many folks, it's time for Christmas shopping, although internet commerce and changing demographics have made Black Friday a tad less chaotic. Are you shopping today? At a major retailer or at a local thrift store? If it's the latter and it's run by an IRS-approved charity, consider donating some items you no longer need or want to the nonprofit. It could provide you a tax deduction. (Thrift store shopper photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr) For others, it's a day to finally start decking the home's halls (and living rooms and mantels and…). The... Read more →


Taxes are about dollar amounts and dates. April 15 obviously is the biggie. But Dec. 31 is almost as important. The end of a tax year is, for the most part, the last time you can make tax moves that could help lower your coming tax bill. While we all wish we could have Homer Simpson's to-do list, when it comes to taxes, most of us need to take care of some potentially money saving tax tasks by Dec. 31. With the days rapidly dwindling (the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column is tracking them), here... Read more →


We call it Veterans Day here in the United States. An Army veteran salutes the colors being carried in the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 11, 2011. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army via Flickr) That Nov. 11 is such an important date is evidenced by the fact that federal holiday has escaped conversion into a Monday that wraps up a long weekend that's usually more focused on consumer spending than actual commemoration. End of the Great War: Each November we mark what originally was the official, formal end of World War I at the 11th hour of... Read more →


Finally the weekend! It's what, as the song says, we've been working for. Some folks, however, are spending today looking for a job. Job fairs are good places to get, if not a job, at least an idea of what's available in the marketplace. (Photo courtesy iLearn Schools Job Fair 2016/NJASCS.org) Good jobs report: On Friday, Nov. 4, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its last jobs report before the presidential election. It showed 161,000 jobs were added in October, as well as a hike of 10 cents in the hourly pay rate. The number of jobs was less that... Read more →