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May 2018

You're parents! Congratulations! Now that you've welcomed your new baby with a special name, be sure to get him or her a Social Security card before you leave the hospital. It will help in completing many of life's tasks, including filing taxes. Click image to watch the Social Security Administration's top baby names of 2017 video at YouTube. How did your folks come up with your name? Were you named after a relative? A place? A friend? A favorite movie star? By a random dart that landed on a sheet of potential handles? My grandmother named me. Well, she at... Read more →


Selecting health care coverage definitely isn't child's play. Hey there, Health Savings Account (HSA) owners. The Internal Revenue Service has more numbers for you. Don't freak out. Your 2018 HSA amounts, which were tweaked thanks to changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and then reinstated to the original limits, are safe. This time, it's the inflation-adjusted limits on your high deductible health plan, or HDHP, and its associated HSA for the 2019 tax year. Popular health plan: First a quick bit of background on this health care coverage that is becoming quite popular as medical insurance costs continue... Read more →


Bitcoin fans contend that their currency is just as valid as any other money. But they've not had a lot of luck in convincing most people of that. Cryptocurrency aficionados thought they had taken a major step toward wider acceptance in February when the Arizona Senate approved a bill that would have allowed for, beginning in 2020, the payment of state income taxes in bitcoin or other digital currency approved by the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADoR). Four months later, that's no longer a possibility. Crypto pay stripped from bill: When Senate Bill 1091 went to the Arizona House for... Read more →


Substantially more than half of Americans say recreational marijuana use should be legalized. The October 2017 Pew Research Center survey that found the pro-marijuana majority is the latest analysis that documents a steady increase in weed acceptance over the past decade. The currently slow-but-steady support for weed — the 61 percent approval in the latest survey is up just 4 percentage points from a 2016 poll, but it's nearly double the 31 percent pro-pot results recorded in 2000 — offers hope to the marijuana industry. Part of that pro-pot progress is the herb's prospects as a job creator and revenue... Read more →


Margaret Reid won $1.2 million on an $18 Kentucky Derby bet at Retama Park in San Antonio. It was the biggest payout ever at the track, according to the racetrack's general manager Bill Belcher, who congratulated Reid. (Photo courtesy Rachel Bagnetto, Retama marketing department) The Internal Revenue Service loves the Kentucky Derby. Actually, it loves the full Triple Crown slate. Not only do thoroughbred owners, trainers and jockeys makes big, taxable bucks during the Derby's run for the roses, as well as at the subsequent Preakness and Belmont races, so do some bettors. Few race aficionados, however, are as lucky... Read more →


Lava slowly flows from a fissure that opened on a Leilani Estates street on May 5, 2018, after Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted. (United States Geological Survey public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons) The United States' 50th state is home to many extraordinary things. Exotic flowers. Magical beaches. Unique birds. An active volcano. It's that last thing that's got folks worried right now. Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, May 3, accompanied by dozens of earthquakes, the release of dangerous sulfur dioxide and lava flows. The 6.9 magnitude Kilauea-associated earthquake that shook the Big Island on May 4 was the most powerful... Read more →


Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Today is a commemoration of the Mexican Republic's victory in 1862 over French forces at the Battle of Puebla. While it's a national holiday in Mexico, festivities in that country are mostly located in and around the Puebla region. Here in the United States, however, Cinco de May is a big deal. That's especially true in Texas, where my native state once was part of Mexico. The Lone Star State's origins and the role of Mexican nationals and other Texians in helping establish Texas' independence in 1836 is one reason why we celebrate Cinco. That, and... Read more →


Click image to watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene, in which these musicians provide the catchy background tune, from the 1977 Star Wars movie that launched the sci-fi film franchise. Merry May 4th. Yes, this is another goofy, made-up holiday, but one that's dear to sci-fi fans (and punsters), particularly those devoted to Star Wars. The film franchise's iconic "May the force be with you" greeting is celebrated each year on the similar sounding "May the Fourth be with you." As a long-time sci-fi fan and a college student who waited in a long line to see the 1977 debut... Read more →


Big wave surfing fall by jihx via Giphy.com The Internal Revenue Service warns that there's a growing wave of identity theft attempts against employers. This National Small Business Week 2018, the tax agency offers advice on how to keep your company afloat in the fight against these crimes. Identity thieves have long made use of stolen Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to create fake Forms W-2 that they would file with fraudulent individual tax returns. Fraudsters also used EINs to open new lines of credit or obtain credit cards. Now they are using company names and EINs to file fraudulent returns.... Read more →


Today marks the midpoint of National Small Business Week 2018. What better way to celebrate than by taking a look at the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's changes to depreciation and expensing. Yeah, I know. But it is a tax blog. So here goes, courtesy a fact sheet on the topic issued by the Internal Revenue Service. Expensing enhancements: Expensing under Internal Revenue Code section 179 allows businesses an immediate tax break on some property rather than making them spread out the assets' tax value over years via depreciation. Companies can still choose to expense the cost of any section... Read more →


It's all about the angle for a budding photographer attending summer camp to hone her skills. (Photo courtesy Olds College via Flickr Creative Commons) Hello, May. You are indeed a very merry month, what with your longer days, warmer weather, lovely flowers and the impending end of classes. Yep, all you parents were smiling until you got to the end of that sentence, weren't you? School is far, far more than a day care for our children. But the fact that teachers and other educators keep an eye on kids for much of the day is a very consequential consideration... Read more →