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Tax Day is less than a week away. But finishing up your 2017 Form 1040 is not the only tax task facing millions of Americans. Here are 10 tax matters that must be taken care of by April 17. 1. File your 2017 tax year federal tax return. Yeah, I started with the easy (so to speak), obvious one. But it is the reason for the tax season. If you don't get your return into or on the way if snail mailing by Tax Day, the late-filing penalty is 5 percent of the additional taxes owed amount for every month... Read more →


Being your own boss means you are responsible for many tasks, including setting up a retirement plan for yourself and your business' employees. If you're self-employed, your primary focus, especially in your entrepreneurial effort's early years, likely is to just make sure your business survives. But once you're on stable business footing, it's wise to look into tax-deferred retirement plan options for your small business. Not only are these retirement accounts a great way to save for the day you are ready to stop working, they also can help you reduce your current tax bill. Here are three self-employed retirement... Read more →


Kids all across the country, including those in my neighborhood, spent Saturday hunting for brightly colored eggs. Or, if they're in the Washington, D.C. area, perhaps they're getting ready to participate in tomorrow's (Monday, April 2) 140th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, like the youngsters in the photo above did last year. Their parents, however, are more likely this weekend to be hunting for tax breaks as the April 17 filing deadline nears. Every tax season, lots of taxpayers overlook some deductions, credits or other tax moves that can reduce their eventual Internal Revenue Service bill. Here are some... Read more →


The larger standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect this year has gotten a lot of attention. One of the big pluses, cite fans of the new nearly doubled standard deduction amounts, is that more people will claim them instead of itemizing tax deductible expenses. But regardless of whether you itemize now, plan to under the new tax law or never ever messed with a Schedule A and don't plan to start, there still are some tax deductions you can claim. They are what are popularly known as above-the-line deductions found directly on 1040... Read more →


Photo by 401(k) 2012 via Flickr The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) prompted the Internal Revenue Service this week to reissue some tax-related inflation adjustments. However, one area was not affected by the TCJA's provisions. The amounts you can contribute in 2018 to your tax-favored retirement accounts did not change. There are two reasons for the retirement amounts' status quo. First, despite some Congressional discussions about changing retirement plans early in the tax bill's formulation, those proposals were dropped after much public outcry. (Sometimes our elected leaders do hear us!) Also, while the TCJA did change the tax-related inflation... Read more →


Shortly after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law on Dec. 22, 2017, the Republican lawmakers who wrote and fast-tracked it into law pointed to the measure's immediate effects. The most immediate indicator was the many companies that gave their workers year-end bonuses. Some corporate execs acknowledged that the law, which gives big businesses a dramatic 14 percentage points cut on their tax bills (from a 35 percent to 21 percent rate), played a part in the bonus decision. But as 2018, the first year that the tax cuts will be in effect, other companies are... Read more →


UPDATE, March 24, 2018: The fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill signed into law on March 23 contained a compromise that should ensure that restaurant workers aren't stiffed under the new tip pooling regulation. Details follow in the post. If you're going to a restaurant or bar today to watch the Super Bowl instead of to your buddy's for an LII party, tip your servers well. They soon could be losing their gratuities. That's the worst-case scenario feared by wait staff and employee advocacy groups under the Trump Administration's effort to reinstate tip pooling. Return of shared tips: With tip... Read more →


Every tax season, the April filing deadline gets the most attention. But today, Jan. 31, also is a big tax day. It's when most statements with information you need to complete your Form 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ) are supposed to be delivered. Technically, the Internal Revenue Service gives these information statements the same leeway it offers filers on Tax Day. Earnings and other tax-related statements due today are considered on time as long as they're on the way, either electronically (if you agree to that delivery method) or via snail mail by Jan. 31. So if you don't have... Read more →


Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren might benefit by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The IRS has additional information for these taxpayers and other special groups and situations where the EITC could help. Friday, Jan. 26, was EITC Awareness Day, the 12th annual event during with the Internal Revenue Service makes a special effort to get the word out about this tax break that millions of filers ignore each year. Actually, the tax agency made special efforts, plural, yesterday. There were more than 250 total outreach events and activities around the country to promote the Earned Income Tax... Read more →


With the official start of the 2018 tax filing season just more than a week away, folks have been collecting important tax statements they'll need to file their returns. Identity thieves, unfortunately, are among those looking for those documents, particularly W-2 forms that most filers use to report their wage income. That's why the Internal Revenue Service is urging everyone to be on guard against the return of the Form W-2 phishing scam that last year made victims of hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees. Costly employment-related tax scam: The W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most... Read more →


We did it! We made it through the wild ride that was 2017. It ended in a particularly chaotic fashion, with a major tax bill that was literally written on the fly even on its last day of Congressional consideration. via Giphy.com Studios Now it's time to hunker down for what 2018 has to throw at us on the tax front. However, before we dive head-first into the new year, I'm taking one of the 365 days, just like I did at the start of 2017, to list my top 10 tax stories from the previous year. These are not... Read more →


Good news workers. You have one less thing to worry about in 2018 in connection with the impending new tax laws. The Internal Revenue Service says that even though many revamped individual tax laws kick in on New Year's Day, there's no need to re-do your current W-4. This tax document, pictured above in case it's been a while since you made any payroll withholding changes to your paycheck, is what your boss used to calculate how much in taxes to take out of your pay. There had been some concern, primarily from payroll administrators, that the coming tax law... 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 →


Clark Griswold, portrayed by Chevy Chase, is not thrilled with his holiday bonus check in the 1989 movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. (Click image to watch MovieClips.com full video) Donald J. Trump proclaimed, on Twitter of course, that the Republican tax law changes that became law on Friday, Dec. 22, already were having a positive effect for workers. "Big companies and corporations [are] showering their workers with bonuses," he noted in an early morning Tweet posted a few hours before he signed the tax bill into law. Despite Trump's marveling at "a phenomenon that nobody even thought of, and now... 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 →


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 →


Across America, special thanks go out this Veterans Day to all the men and women who courageously put on uniforms and served our country whenever and wherever called. But once those proudly-worn uniforms are packed away, former U.S. military members need more than just gratitude. Millions of soldiers, sailors, pilots and National Guard members need our support and help as they return to civilian life. That's why this 11/11 Shout Out Saturday goes to MartketWatch's financial checklist for former military members. And since you come here for tax talk, I don't want to disappoint. Here are a couple of tax... Read more →


Globally, the United States doesn't make the top 10 places people from other countries want to move. It came in 43rd in Internations' latest survey, as reported by the World Economic Forum. Maybe it's because of our tax system. People definitely are peripatetic. Millions of us move every year, with around 56 million crossing national borders to new homes. But there's one thing Americans who go abroad, be it for work or purely personal reasons (love and adventure join career as the top three reasons for expatriation), cannot leave behind. The U.S. tax code. Because Uncle Sam relies on a... Read more →


Picking up some extra cash is nothing new. People have always taken on added work when they've needed or wanted a few more dollars. Now, however, side hustles have become a viable employment option. They've also become a problem for the Internal Revenue Service. Growing gigs: The head of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax tax preparation software, noted earlier this year that more than a third of the U.S. workforce participates in the gig economy and it's growing. "We think self-employed [work] has a lot of opportunity for growth as we look ahead," said Intuit CEO Brad Smith said back... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some popular credits and deductions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. New tax laws also have altered some of the 2018 amounts and are noted in the post below. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Millions of taxpayers depend each year on tax deductions... Read more →