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February 2017

This post was updated Feb. 11, 2018. You're married. You got married on Dec. 31. You're a parent. You take care of an aging parent. You're a single dad. You're divorced. You got divorced on Dec. 31. All of these personal situations can affect your tax filing status. So getting it right on your tax return is critical. Dad helps his children with their homework. If he's the only parent, he could have a couple of tax filing status choices depending on his personal situation. Why does filing status matter so much? It determines the amount of standard deduction you... Read more →


Oh, c'mon people! What is so hard about hiring a legal household worker and then paying the proper taxes for such help? Mother with a baby and toddler hauling, in her words, "a lot of crap." If she hires childcare help, she'll need to pay attention to nanny tax rules. (Photo by Mrs. Flinger via Flickr Creative Commons) However, some high-power folks with political aspirations apparently cannot get this right. Not even three weeks into the Trump Administration and we have a second nanny tax scofflaw. Puzder joins Mulvaney with household help issues: First there was the South Carolina Republican... Read more →


Did you, like the second-half resurgent New England Patriots, come up a winner yesterday thanks to some Super Bowl bets? The New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points and stunned the Atlanta Falcons with an overtime Super Bowl LI win Sunday, Feb. 5, at NRG Stadium in Houston. With the victory, Tom Brady became the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl games. (Photo courtesy NFL.com) Uncle Sam congratulates and thanks you. Gambling winnings, whether thousands of dollars on a sports championship or a few bucks from a lottery scratch-off ticket, are taxable income. Some of the taxable winnings come... Read more →


Super Bowl LI will kick off in a few hours. Get your guacamole made and place your bets! I obviously don't need to encourage folks to chow down or gamble on Super Bowl Sunday. Every year, it's the single largest day for U.S. avocado consumption and for betting. Yes, I've wandered through the betting section of a couple of Las Vegas casinos, but usually confine my money losing to the one-armed bandits. Last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Commission, a record $132.5 million in total bets were placed on the Super Bowl. Remember, these were legal bets made in... Read more →


Sunday is a big day not just for football fans, but also food fans. Super Bowl party snacks rank right up there with the specially-created television commercials, crazy prop bets and the game's halftime show. These items I regularly purchase are, according to my local H.E.B. grocery store's labels, hecho en Mexico. Heck, a lot of people look forward to those events more than the annual NFL championship game itself. Literally loading up on guac: In fact, it's a major day for guacamole. "Guacamole has become one of the most popular Super Bowl snacks," Ramon Paz, spokesman for the Association... Read more →


Will we hear "Houston, we have a problem" during Sunday's Super Bowl LI in H-Town? Oddsmakers say yes, there is a good chance we will hear that NASA-related phrase (popularized by the movie Apollo 13, but not actually uttered during the real ill-fated 1970 mission) during the NFL championship game's live broadcast. Super Bowl LI kicks off at 6:30 ET/5:30 CT, Sunday, Feb. 5 from NRG Field in Houston, Texas. It will be broadcast on Fox. That's just one of the prop bets being wagered on Sunday's (Feb. 5) matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. Total wagering... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, has been selected by President Donald Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left last year by the death of Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump explains why he chose Neil Gorsuch, at right with his wife Marie Louise, to server on the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch, 49, an Ivy Leaguer from Colorado, has a conservative judicial track record. He also formerly clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. If Gorsuch is confirmed, which is expected given that the... Read more →


Hello February. Although you're the year's shortest month, your fewer days can be full of extremes, like snow this week in the Midwest and Northeast and weather warm enough here in Central Texas for us to turn off the furnace and open windows. Image courtesy Tammy King's February Pinterest Board February's changes can be dramatic. But there's no need to over-react to your taxes this month. There are lots of easy moves you can make over the next 28 days. Collect your tax statements: Filing data on a variety of forms is filtering in this month. If you work for... Read more →