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May 2018

April 2018

Small businesses like Wild Scoops, which sells handcrafted Alaskan ice cream and is featured on the Small Business Administration Instagram account, are saluted this National Small Business Week. Happy National Small Business Week 2018. OK, technically it started yesterday, Sunday, April 29, and runs through Saturday, May 5. I like that it's a full seven-day week, not just a Monday-through-Friday work week since most small business owners are on the job way more than the traditional five-day, 40-hour weeks. This week has been celebrated annual since 1963 as a way to recognize the contributions of U.S. entrepreneurs and small business... Read more →


May 4. That's the day the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee wants the Internal Revenue Service to explain exactly what happened on this year's Tax Day. If you were a last-minute filer, especially one trying to pay your 2017 tax bill, you remember the hassle on April 17 when the IRS experienced a spectacularly ill-timed systems crash. That day, one of the busiest of the year for the IRS, one of the agency's core systems in West Virginia failed. Unfortunately for the IRS and millions of tax-owing filers, it was the system that powered the IRS' Direct Pay and Payment... Read more →


Summer's fast approaching and folks already are making travel plans. Many of us will be heading out on our holidays by air. Recent and impending Congressional action won't have any major effect on our near-term travels. But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill that's wending its way through Congress could make some changes to air travel later this year and for the next five years. House approves FAA bill: On Friday, April 27, the House approved by a 393-to-13 vote legislation that would extend through Sept. 30, 2023, expenditure authority for the FAA, along with the fuel and passenger ticket... Read more →


Still trying to figure out what you need to do to ensure that your family's health savings account (HSA) doesn't violate the new tax law's changes to maximum contributions? You can stop worrying. The Internal Revenue Service has relented on this issue. Almost 22 million people enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHP) and associated health savings accounts (HSA) in 2017, according to research by America's Health Insurance Plans. The political advocacy and trade association says that's up from just more than 20 million HDHP/HSA participants in 2016. Younger people, particularly millennials, are big fans of HSAs. A key reason for... Read more →


Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr CC We got a little bit of rain last night as a cool front moved through Central Texas. Other parts of my native state, however, were pummeled by large hail. It's not the first damaging weather to hit Texas this spring and it definitely won't be the last, as the annual storm season begins to ramp up in the next few weeks. Starting this weekend, however, Lone Star State residents get some tax help in getting ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw out way. Certain storm preparation supplies will be tax free as the... Read more →


It's no secret that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was designed to primarily benefit big businesses. But in order to make those tax cuts more palatable to the rest of the U.S. taxpaying universe, Congress added what it promised were benefits for Main Street mom-and-pop operations, too. What's that saying about best laid plans? Four months into the new tax law and it looks like small businesses have a couple of issues with the TCJA. First, an analysis by the Joint Committee of Taxation found that the key tax break for smaller operations, the Section 199A pass-through deduction,... Read more →


High tax season ended on April 18. High tax scam season never ends. The Internal Revenue Service today warned of a twist on an old phone scam. Criminals now are using telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) to trick taxpayers into paying non-existent tax bills. It's not the first time this has happened. Back in 2015, the IRS warned of a telephone tax scam that employed spoofing, which is, in the criminal vernacular, the faking of a phone number that shows up on Caller ID. Tax identity thieves also have used smishing, the text messaging cousin of... Read more →


Through April 13, the Internal Revenue Service had received 118.6 million tax returns. It had issued more than 86 million refunds totaling almost $243.6 billion. The refund numbers are fractionally smaller than in 2017, but they are still big enough to mean the average amount of money that Uncle Sam has sent so far this year to taxpayers is $2,831. That average check or direct deposit amount actually is slightly larger than last year's amount. GOBankingRates recently asked Americans how they planned to spend their tax windfalls. The results were encouraging for money folks who preach fiscal responsibility. Forty-three percent... Read more →


The IRS still has a desk waiting for its new commissioner. (Photo courtesy Cage Design Group) David Kautter, no doubt, was among the millions of Americans who were glad to see the 2018 high tax season end. Kautter is the acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner and he was on his way to Congressional hearing on how things were going when he got news of his agency's Tax Day computer hardware problems. How much longer will Kautter, who also is assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, have to deal with all the IRS' operational matters, including the many issues related to... Read more →


While millions of U.S. taxpayers were focusing last week on 2017 tax returns, a tax benchmark slipped past us. Tax Freedom Day 2018 arrived on April 19, a day after this year's revised Tax Day filing deadline and 109 days into the year. This day, according to the Washington, D.C.-based tax policy group The Tax Foundation, represents how long Americans as a whole have to work in order to pay the nation's tax burden. The nonprofit takes all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation’s income. The Tax Foundation has been making the annual calculations since... Read more →


@bublywater via Giphy.com If you missed this year's doubly extended tax filing deadline simply because you procrastinated, or actually over-procrastinated, then you're out of luck. If you owe tax for the 2017 tax year, interest and penalties already are piling up. If this is you — no judging here, just some advice — at least get a belated extension request into the Internal Revenue Service ASAP, along with the money you owe, to stop that costly process from getting worse. The first Weekly Tax Tip of 2018 offers some guidance on moves to make if your missed the Tax Day... Read more →


Missouri taxpayers who have federal tax refunds burning holes in their pockets have a tax-saving way to spend that money. Today, Thursday, April 19, is the start of the state's annual Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday. Since 2009, this week-long event provides buyers the opportunity to purchase qualifying new Energy Star appliances without paying any state sales tax on the items. That's an immediate savings of 4.225 percent that, during the other 51 weeks of the year, would be added to these appliances' prices. Plus, depending on where you live (or travel to buy), the sales tax savings could be... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service had issues with some of its online systems on Tuesday, April 17, the day that was supposed to be the filing deadline for our 2017 tax returns. Those problems notwithstanding, e-fling and electronically paying any tax that's due today, Wednesday, April 18 — yes, today, the new filing deadline provided by the IRS to make up for its online inconveniences yesterday — is still the best move for many filers. The agency for years has been encouraging, and in some cases forcing, electronic filing and paying of taxes. The reasons are that it's easier (definitely for... Read more →


Take this broken computer and multiply by millions. That was what it felt like April 17 for many taxpayers who were trying to use IRS.gov online services to finish up their tax tasks on deadline day. (Photo by Brian Herzog via Flickr) Tax Day 2018 has been awful for a lot of folks, including those at the Internal Revenue Service. That's why the IRS is going to take another run at it on April 18. Late Tuesday, April 17, afternoon, the tax agency announced that it's going to give everyone an additional day to file and pay their taxes following... Read more →


It's been years since U.S. Post Office branches in Austin have stayed open for Tax Day. I suspect that's the case across much of the United States. Most of us e-file our 1040s. Through April 6, the Internal Revenue Service had received almost 96 million electronically filed returns. It's expecting millions more electronically delivered returns as we rush to make today's filing deadline. So the mail service isn't swamped like in olden days when some offices had special pre-midnight festivities for taxpayers to drop off their returns. This shift means that if you're still committed to mailing a paper Form... Read more →


April 17 is Tax Day 2018. That means, of course, that tax returns for last year are due. But other tax tasks also share the annual April deadline. A big one for millions of taxpayers is the filing of the year's first estimated tax payment. Estimated tax payments are made by folks who have income that isn't subject to withholding. This typically is money made from full-time self-employment, side hustles, investment income and/or prize or gambling winnings (which is often like investing, but I digress). An earlier post has the scoop on these four extra tax payments. For today's purposes,... Read more →


Source: CafePress tax jigsaw puzzle Still trying to put the pieces of your Form 1040 (or 1040A or even 1040EZ) together? Time's running out. Tax Day is almost here. Since the tax filing deadline is April 17 this year, here are 17 tax tips. Not only do they earn this week's By the Numbers honor, some could help you put together a return to send to Uncle Sam on time and at the least possible tax cost to you. 1. File on time. Yes, this first tip is obvious, but a lot of people let the filing date slip by... Read more →


Apparently working on your taxes works up an appetite. That's the message from businesses offering freebies, or at least discounted items, on Tuesday, April 17, aka Tax Day 2018. Bagels, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches (sub, traditional and breakfast versions), cookies and Texas favorites corndogs (although some vendors — Yankees, perhaps? — call them hot dogs on a stick) and tacos (same culinary language nationwide) are there for your tasty taking on Tax Day. Taxes got you too stressed to eat? Take advantage of massages to ease you into a post-filing relaxed state. If you prefer to stay focused on the day's... Read more →


"If anyone from the, uh, from the IRS is watching, I…forgot to file my, my, my 1040 return. Um, I meant to do it today, but…." That tax oversight admission was made on April 11, 1970, by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut and Apollo 13 command module pilot John "Jack" Swigert. Bill Paxton as Fred Haise, Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell and Kevin Lovell as Jack Swigert in a pivotal scene from the 1995 Universal Pictures film "Apollo 13." (Image courtesy IMBD.com) By now, everyone knows, either because they're fans of NASA (like me!) or the popular Ron... Read more →


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 →