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January 2015

I had a great time today talking with all the wonderful folks at Freelance Austin about taxes. The timing was perfect, too. Not only is January the start of the annual filing season for the prior year's tax returns, it's also time to start thinking about moves to make this year to keep your coming tax bill low. And tomorrow, Jan. 15, is the due date for the final estimated tax payment of 2014. Today's Daily Tax Tip has the skinny on filing estimated taxes. Click voucher image for full Form 1040-ES package as PDF from the IRS. Ways to... Read more →


About a month ago, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen met with the media and warned that the coming tax-filing season was going to be a pretty miserable few months for both his agency and taxpayers. That same day, Dec. 18, the commissioner sent the same gloomy message to his staff. Now, in what could be one of the worst employee pep talks ever delivered, Koskinen has reiterated to IRS employees the dire outlook for the 2014 filing season. In his latest email to IRS works, sent yesterday (Jan. 13), Koskinen offered "some important new details about what the 2015... Read more →


A week from today, on Jan. 20, the Internal Revenue Service will start accepting our 2014 tax returns. I am in far better tax-filing shape this year than I've been previously. I finally paid attention to my own advice about getting prepared and organized! I've gathered all my preliminary income statements -- the hubby's last pay stub and my invoices for my 1099-MISC earnings -- so I have an idea of what we earned. I've tallied the taxes we paid, both the hubby's payroll withholding and my self-employment estimated taxes. And I have a good idea of the expenses we... Read more →


The annual tax filing season is here, with the Internal Revenue Service preparing to accept 2014 tax year returns on Jan. 20. Many of those returns submitted in the coming weeks will be the work of paid tax professionals. More than half of U.S. taxpayers hire someone to help fill out and file their 1040s. That number could increase this year, as millions of taxpayers will find themselves having to answer Affordable Care Act questions in order to figure out what they owe, or will get back, from Uncle Sam. The new Obamacare tax wrinkles are just one reason that... Read more →


St. Louis pro football fans have no team in the current National Football League playoffs, but they are being treated to an exciting competition to house the Rams. Less than a week after Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build a new NFL stadium near Los Angeles, a task force created to keep the Rams (or another pro football team) in the Gateway City offered an architectural counter proposal. The good news for football fans in both cities is that the planned facilities will be built without any new taxpayer money. Yeah, right. Aerial view representation of proposed new... Read more →


I generally try to stay away from gender stereotyping. Such sweeping observations present, at best, an overly broad, and frequently incomplete, look at groups. At worst, they are flat out offensive. Maybe that's why I was drawn to taxes as a professional focus. It's impossible to make a sweeping statement about all taxpayers or all tax laws. Taxes are intensely personal. Specific details are necessary so that individuals can make the best decisions for their situations. Taxes also are, for the most part, egalitarian. The tax collector doesn't care whether you're a man or a woman. Tax departments, both federal... Read more →


In addition to updating tax forms and instructions and getting its computer systems ready for the Jan. 20 start of the 2015 tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service has been touching base with tax preparers who've had some recurring problems with some returns. Rather than penalizing the tax pros who have filed questionable claims for clients, the IRS is, for now, opting for pre-season tax filing reminders encouraging more diligence and a little bit of homework. In November 2014, around 2,500 preparers (according to Kiplinger Tax Letter) received letters recommending the recipients, in the IRS' words, "consider taking continuing... Read more →


OK, I swear that I'll quit highlighting the Daily Tax Tip soon. But today's advice on 7 ways to get organized for the tax-filing season is good! It's so good, in fact, that I just talked with a writer at The Street about this important matter. Here's some of our discussion. Old 1040, new filing guide: Start with last year's tax return. It's a good guide/reminder of what's likely to be on your 2014 return if your life hasn't changed that much. There is a method to my personal tax filing madness organization system, honest! It includes rough drafts on... Read more →


I'm not going to start every day of the 2015 filing season plugging the Daily Tax Tips feature. I promise. But because it's the first full week back at work for most of us, and that's a typically chaotic time (like doing taxes!), I want to make sure that readers of the o'l blog remember to check out the upper right corner of the home page for new tax tidbits each day through April 15. Plus, today's tip is a tax quiz. It's not hard, and is a good way to ease into the tax frame of mind. One final... Read more →


They're baaaaack! Representatives and Senators returned Jan. 6 to Washington, D.C., this time with both chambers under Republican control. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was selected House Speaker for the third time. And once again, Boehner had to fight off conservative insurgents in his party. Boehner got a total of 216 votes, with 25 Republicans voting for someone else or "present" as a protest of what they see as too conciliatory of an approach by the Speaker in dealing with President Obama. Across Capitol Hill, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) takes over as Majority Leader of the Senate from Sen. Harry Reid... Read more →


With the arrival of a new year comes a new tax season. And while the Internal Revenue Service doesn't officially kick off the 2015 filing season until Jan. 20, here at the old blog we're getting a head start with the return of our annual Daily Tax Tips feature. Whether you're working on your 2014 tax return yourself or turning your tax tasks 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 15 filing deadline. Kicking off the 2015 tips... Read more →


In case you missed it as the 113th Congress wrapped up its frantic lame duck days, it did manage to keep Internet access for most folks safe from taxation for another fiscal year. One of the provisions packed into the $1.1 trillion federal spending package passed in mid-December was an extension of the moratorium on local and state taxes for Internet access through October. A quick note for all y'all logging on in Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and alongside me here in Texas. We'll still see taxes on our Internet providers' bills because the taxes... Read more →


Did you make New Year's resolutions? I quit doing so long ago, and I am not alone. Apparently fewer than half of Americans take a pledge to do or be better as each new year rolls around. But those who do make Jan. 1 promises typically have the same goals year after year. (That's one of the reasons I stopped making them.) Among the perennially popular resolutions, according to Uncle Sam's official Web portal USA.gov, are quit smoking and drink less alcohol. If those are on your 2015 to-do list, they also could save you some tax dollars, especially if... Read more →


In a few hours, some lucky lottery ticket owner could be a multimillionaire. The Powerball jackpot is $131 million. If anyone matches the six numbers that are drawn tonight, Jan. 3, the lump sum payout is $84.3 million. UPDATE, Sunday, Jan. 4: Nobody won the big Powerball jackpot last night. It rolls over to the drawing on Wednesday, Jan. 7, when an estimated $146 million, $95.1 cash value, is up for grabs. Now that's a nice way to start a new year, even if you do have to also set aside part of your winnings to pay the Internal Revenue... Read more →


The adage that those who don't know history are destined to repeat it definitely applies to taxes. So that we -- and by we, I mostly mean our lawmakers and the Internal Revenue Service -- don't make the same tax missteps in this fresh new year, it's good to look at what happened in taxes in 2014. The one word that best sums up the tax world last year was combative. Political groups, especially conservative ones, fought with the Internal Revenue Service. IRS personnel, including the agency's head honcho, fought with Congress. Members of Congress fought with each other over... Read more →


Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful celebration last night and are ready to face a brand spanking new tax year. OK, maybe you need another cup (or two or more) of coffee. Or maybe you just want to wait until the NHL's Winter Classic and today's college bowl games are over before thinking about taxes. I totally understand. My TV is on and I'm flipping between hockey and the Cotton Bowl as I type this. But soon you need to think about taxes. Not only are there tax tasks related to filing your 2014 return, but you... Read more →