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March 2017

Have you filed your tax return yet? Neither have I. Neither have millions of Americans. The weekly filing data the Internal Revenue Service delivers during high tax filing season shows that almost all the numbers are behind where filing was at this point last year. Started slow, stayed that way: When filing season kicked off back in late January, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said his agency was expecting 153 million individual tax returns to be filed in 2017. Most of those show up from January through the April deadline, which is on the 18th this year. There's usually a big... Read more →


A couple of Republican-proposed changes to Obamacare would affect a popular individual savings option, the medical flexible spending account, or FSA. Many of the items this shopper can find on her local pharmacy's shelves are eligible for flexible spending account reimbursement. (Photo courtesy FSAStore.com) Tax-saving company benefit: An FSA is a benefit offered by many companies where workers can have a certain amount taken from their paychecks every pay period and placed into a special account. These accounts can help you cover such things as child care, commuting and medical expenses. Even better, the money is put into the FSA... Read more →


Have you called the Internal Revenue Service for help this filing season? Your chances of getting through are markedly better than they were a year ago. After years of declining telephone assistance, an IRS executive and two other federal agency reps told a March 8 joint hearing of two House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees that taxpayer telephone service has been improving. Internal Revenue Service Deputy Commissioner John Dalrymple and reps from TIGTA and GAO testified this week before a joint hearing of two House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees about IRS service. You can watch the full hearing, but... Read more →


Today, March 8, is International Woman Day. In addition to recognizing women's contributions, some people in the United States also are participating in "A Day Without A Woman," asking women to stay home from work. Men and women shoppers often pay different prices for essentially similar products. And yes, the higher prices, known as the Pink Tax, are on items aimed at women. If that's not possible, which is the case for lots of folks regardless of gender, then supporters of today's added commemoration ask that women not shop to underscore our contributions to the economy. Women's $$$ contributions: And... Read more →


Republicans took a major step toward tax reform on Monday, March 6, with their health care replacement plan that kills more than a dozen Obamacare taxes. Donald Trump greets House Speaker Paul Ryan before the new president's first address on Feb. 28 to a joint session of Congress. The two men now must work together to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo courtesy Speaker of the House) Not only would the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes erase some levies from the tax reform slate, passage of a GOP replacement health care plan also would clear the decks... Read more →


Most folks have their income taxes, both federal and state, withheld from their paychecks. While your employer (or, in many cases, the payroll company it hires) will take care of the amount that comes out each pay period, it's up to you to make sure it's correct. Filling out your W-4: Your withholding is based on the information you provide on Form W-4. The key factor on this document is your number of withholding allowances. The more allowances you claim, the less tax withheld. The reasoning is that you need the money in hand each payday to take care of... Read more →


Christina Knaack decided to use her federal tax refund the way many folks do. She paid for necessary living expenses. But the single mom from Gaffney, South Carolina, took her refund use to the next level. She paid for her full year's rent. Cristina Knaack's Facebook photo of her $5,400 receipt for paying all of her 2017 rent. "I'm a single mom and I do it all by myself on a minimum wage job. I know that a roof over my kids' head is what's important." Knaack wrote in a Facebook post. "My kids don't want for anything because my... Read more →


Most people get federal tax refunds. And for a lot of them, it's a substantial amount. Through February, the Internal Revenue Service says it issued more than 41 million refunds with the average check exceeding $3,000. So what are folks doing with that money? A couple of recent surveys found they are being practical. Savings and debt reduction: GoBankingRates.com found that most Americans will use their tax refund money to add to their savings and pay down debt. Individuals' personal financial situations, however, determine which of those two refund options they choose first. Folks making less than $50,000 are more... Read more →


Are you planning to catch up this weekend on some of this year's Academy Award winning movies you've yet to see? Me, too. But I'm also putting on my viewing list a newish flick, "Love & Taxes." Reel tax life: I'm not making this up. It's a real movie that, according to its website, is "a riveting comic tale of seven years of tax avoidance." OK. You probably want a less vested review. Here's what Ken Jaworowski had to say in Friday's New York Times: Likability goes a long way in "Love & Taxes," a comedy that relies on the... Read more →


Remember that assurance from the Internal Revenue Service that its agents never call you about an overdue tax bill. That's changing. A call from a bill collector can seem as terrifying as the one Drew Barrymore received in "Scream." Even worse? A collection agency call about an overdue IRS bill. The IRS is about to turn over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. Again. And those companies' employees, as subcontracting agents of the IRS, will be calling folks about the money they owe the U.S. Treasury. Bill collecting concerns, scams: If you think this opens the door --... Read more →


Could you use $763? The IRS could have that much or more just waiting for you. It's yours as long as you don't miss the 2013 tax return tax deadline. Photo by 401(k) 2012 courtesy Flickr Creative Commons Nope, that's not a typo. More than 1 million taxpayers didn't file their federal returns three years ago and that oversight has left the Internal Revenue Service holding more than $1 billion in unclaimed refunds. If some of that money is yours, the IRS wants to send it to you. But you have to ask by filing a 2013 Form 1040 (or... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is charged with putting tax and other financial crooks behind bars. That job has gotten tougher, according the man who heads the CI, primarily because of the loss of experienced agents. "We're at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it," CI Chief Richard Weber said during a press this week in conjunction with the release of the division's 2016 annual report. "There's still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It's very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated... Read more →