Taxes Feed

It's Sunday afternoon in America, meaning millions (still) are watching National Football League games Millions more also are betting on them. Unless, that is, they were participants in Ron & Mike's Football Pool. It's one of the largest football survivor pools in the country and it was shut down last week after federal agents seized documentation and the money the pool organizers collected, according to an article by Darren Rovell, senior writer for ESPN. In case you're not a gambler, survivor pools require a bettor to pick one team that is going to win each week of the football season... Read more →


But some firms, especially if they specialize in lobbying lawmakers, have other considerations in mind for their annual end-of-year festivities. The holiday season is here at offices, too. That means office parties. Oh, yay! OK, some people love office Christmas parties. Anything for free food and libations. And they actually like most of their co-workers. But if you're not one of them, go anyway. Surely you can fake it for a few hours. And, again, free refreshments. Plus, opting out of implicitly required conviviality could hurt your career. Tax-free thanks: Offices throw these parties as a way to thank workers... Read more →


A driver pulled over in La Conchita, California, the evening of Dec. 6 to save a rabbit he spotted scurrying amid flames from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Click image to watch full video posted on YouTube by RMG News/Reuters/NJ.com. California is on fire. Literally. Again. Just two months after the northern part of the Golden State was ablaze, deadly wildfires are raging across Southern California. And while residents right now are simply trying to stay safe and, if possible, save as much of their personal possessions as they can, in a few weeks or months, they'll be trying... Read more →


The House and Senate have officially agreed to hash out their respective tax reform differences. Both chambers passed their own versions of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Rather than one side accepting the other's bill, they now must come up with a new piece of legislation that incorporates some parts of both. That job falls to 14 Senators and 15 Representatives selected by their Party's leadership. Let's get this tax negotiation party started! House conferees: On the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin selected nine GOP Representatives. They are: Kevin Brady of Texas (chair of the... Read more →


Time's person of the year for 2017 is a lot of people. The magazine selected all the women and men who who publicly spoke about being victims of sexual harassment and abuse as a way to stop it and help others who have been victims, known on social media as the #MeToo movement. Ironically, today's announcement of Time's 90th most notable person (called Man or Woman of the year until 1999) was overshadowed by the continuing sexual harassment controversy in the political world. Sitting and wannabe Senator troubles: Roy Moore, who is seeking Attorney General Jeff Session's former Senate seat... Read more →


U.S. families have been getting smaller in recent years, but some still have lots of children and they could end up being adversely affected by the tax law changes now under consideration. (Photo from the Forks Timber Museum Collection via Flickr) In selling their tax cuts to the American public, Republicans emphasize that the standard deduction amount is almost doubled. That sounds good. But that's not the whole story. You'll lose personal exemptions. For taxpayers, exemptions are excellent. That's especially the case for filers who have lots of dependents. Under current law, a tax exemption helps reduce your income so... Read more →


Many homeowners breathed a sigh of relief when the Senate's version of tax reform followed the House's H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and included a tax deduction for property taxes. But it might be time to start hyperventilating again. While both chambers would keep the itemized deduction for the local real estate taxes that every homeowner faces each year, they will reduce its tax value. Each bill caps the deduction amount at $10,000. Most homeowners' taxes covered: For many homeowners, that limit is cool. Their property tax bills are high, but not into five digits, so it... Read more →


(Image by Rochelle Truong | Reddit) As we continue to plow though the Senate's version of the House tax reform bill, many folks, both on Capitol Hill and across the country, are still upset with the process used by GOP leaders to get the measure through the upper chamber. Changes traded for votes: One of the biggest complaints is about the legislative changes made on the fly to woo enough Senators to the "yea" side. That's not necessarily unusual. Quid pro quo is common in crafting legislation. But the problem for opponents of the bill was that some of these... Read more →


After 14½ hours of debate, the U.S. Senate early on Saturday, Dec. 2, approved 51-49 its version of tax reform. Now the hard work starts. (C-SPAN2 screenshot; click image to watch video of the full debate and votes) It's alive! Tax reform, or at least tax cuts (for a while, for some people) survived a marathon session in the Senate, with that chamber approving its Internal Revenue Code revisions early Saturday, Dec. 2, morning. Now the real fun begins. Since the House version (H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) passed on Nov. 16 is different from the Senate's... 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 →


Back in mid-October, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that the wage base, that's the amount of each worker's earnings that are subject to the Social Security portion of payroll withholding, would increase to $128,700. This week, the SSA revised that number downward. The new amount of income from which Social Security taxes will be withheld is $128,400. The SSA says it made the adjustment after getting corrected W-2s later in October that weren't figured into the original 2018 wage base announcement. "Approximately 500,000 corrections for W-2s from 2016 resulted in changes for three items based on the national average... Read more →


Pong via Giphy Who knew 45 years ago today when Atari released Pong that the two-dimensional video version of table tennis would herald in a fascination and fixation with video games? Who also knew that those games would become a major battle front in the taxing of digital entertainment? We've come a long way, baby, to borrow a phrase from Pong's era. Old and new gaming options: Since Pong's Nov. 29, 1972, debut and consumer acceptance that made it the first commercially successful video game, the world has become populated with video game addicts of all ages. The variety of... Read more →


Feeling generous? Good. It's Giving Tuesday. This philanthropic effort, usually seen as #GivingTuesday on social media, began in 2012 as a counter to the frantic shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday's goal is to fight the commercialization and consumerism of Christmas and other end-of-year holidays. Instead of buying more goods for family, friends or yourself, Giving Tuesday organizers urge gifts to nonprofits. Such donations, the Internal Revenue Service reminds us, could produce a gift for you — a tax deduction — when you file your annual tax return next year. As noted in a... Read more →


Today is Cyber Monday, the first post-Thanksgiving weekday when millions of shoppers go online seeking holiday bargains. It's also the start of National Tax Security Awareness Week. For the next five days, the Internal Revenue Service will focus on ways to protect tax and financial data during this hectic holiday season. Each day this week, the IRS and its Security Summit partners in state tax offices and the tax industry will focus on one issue that poses a threat to individuals and businesses. In addition to highlighting the issues, these groups will offer steps we can take to protect ourselves... Read more →


Lewis Hamilton was all hat and F1 2017 champion after he won the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin TX on Oct 29 2017. That was the race where the U.K. driver earned enough points to take another title. A few days later, Hamilton's name showed up in the Paradise Papers as one of the rich and famous individuals around the world who uses questionable tax shelters. (Photo courtesy Formula1.com) Formula 1's final race of the year was today in Abu Dhabi (no spoiler here unless you click the link), ending the 2017 season in which Lewis Hamilton claimed the motorsports'... Read more →


A key job for all tax agencies is ensuring their citizens comply with the rules. Most revenue offices, including the Internal Revenue Service, do that by penalizing folks who break tax laws. It typically doesn't matter if you make an honest mistake, like transposing numbers when entering info from your W-2 to your Form 1040, or intentionally try to avoid paying your due tax. When you mess up, you owe the unpaid tax amount, interest on the missed payment and a penalty. Abatement allowed in some situations: Sometimes the IRS will abate a penalty. This could happen if you tried... Read more →


A crush of shoppers rushes to start their Black Friday quest for bargains. (Photo via Diariocritico de Venezuela/Stan Honda/Flickr CC) Black Friday, the day-after-Thanksgiving kickoff to the holiday shopping season, may have lost some of its luster in recent years, but plenty of shoppers still hit the stores today to bargain hunt. If you're among the frenzied shoppers, hang onto your receipts if you buy a lot or big-ticket items. They could bump up your itemized tax deduction. And your 2017 tax return might be the last time you'll be able to take advantage of this deduction. Tax reform deduction... Read more →


This post has been updated on Cyber Monday 2017 — Nov. 27 — to add more info on sales taxes due on online purchases. It's almost Thanksgiving. You know what that means. It's almost Black Friday. With Cyber Monday on that shopping day's heels. Black Friday, the day-after-Thanksgiving ostensible bargain bonanza is still popular even with the growth of online shopping. Shoppers looking for Black Friday deals in Linton, Indiana. (Photo by yancy9 via Flickr) Spending expected to increase: Consumer spending over the Black Friday weekend is expected to increase by 47 percent from the same period in 2016, according... Read more →


John Koskinen's days of giving formal testimony as head of the IRS ended when his commissioner term concluded earlier this month. However, an interview he gave the week after leaving the tax agency post has raised questions about Donald Trump's tax returns and taxpayer privacy. Remember Donald J. Trump's tax returns? Those he said during the campaign that he'd share with America as soon as the IRS completed its audit of them? Well, we still don't know if the IRS has finished examining those prior year filings, but apparently Trump did sometime this year file his 2016 taxes. The Administration... Read more →


Fifteen Chicago-area men have had their names, and legal records, cleared. If they eventually get monetary restitution for the time they spent in jail for crimes they didn't commit, they also could get some tax relief. (Click CNN screenshot for full story.) "I'm innocent!" That post-conviction proclamation by many now behind bars is greeted by the strict law-and-order crowd with cynical eye-rolling. But in the case of at least 15 Chicago-area men, protestations that they didn't commit the crimes for which they did the time were true. And if these fully, officially, legally not guilty men ever receive compensation for... Read more →