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January 2019

UPDATE, 9:05 p.m. Central Time, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019: Donald J. Trump has signed into a law a short-term funding bill that should get paychecks flowing again for the around 800,000 federal workers — including the 14,000 or so Internal Revenue Service employees who called in sick during the tax agency's partial closure — who were affected by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. ***** Twenty-two Thirty-five days and counting (updated Jan. 25, 2019). We now are in the midst of the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. National park properties, such as the National Mall west of... Read more →


Today should be payday for hundreds of thousands of federal government workers. The partial government shutdown, however, means they're not getting their money. And even though the White House, Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service say that the 2019 filing season will open at the end of January as it has in years past and that refunds will be issued, there's no guarantee that things will go smoothly. We are, after all, talking about Uncle Sam's operations. Can IRS meet refund challenge? The IRS says it will recall "a significant portion" of its currently furloughed workforce to open tax season... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service still is mostly closed due to the Capitol Hill impasse over how to fund the federal government. Just a relative handful of employees are in a few IRS offices, doing what have been deemed essential jobs, but not getting paid for their work. Some of the agency's online operations, however, are up and running. And other IRS services, particularly those that are funding in part by fees, could be restarted despite the closure of many of Uncle Sam's offices. In fact, one of those, the Income Verification Express Service (IVES) program, was restarted this week (more... Read more →


Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos are getting a divorce. I know, it's hard to feel too bad for folks who are so wealthy. They tend to come through difficult circumstances quite well. But the joint announcement today (on Twitter, of course) from the world's richest man and his soon-to-be ex-wife got me thinking about, of course, taxes. By making the decision to end their marriage in 2019, Bezos is losing a tax break while Mrs. Bezos is getting one. As I said, I'm sure neither Mr. or Mrs. Bezos won't suffer too much. Both he and his wife will have lots... Read more →


Tax filing time! (Photo by MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr) The Internal Revenue Service will begin processing 2018 tax returns on Jan. 28. That's essentially the same the time, the last Monday of the month, that filing season started last year. Free File, the partnership between the IRS and the tax software industry, has in the past opened at least a few days earlier (it was available on Jan. 12 last year), but there's no word on that 2019 no-cost online tax prep and filing option yet. But one thing the IRS did make clear is its commitment to the Jan. 28... Read more →


Good news today for folks who are expecting a tax refund when they file their 2018 returns this year. You'll get your money, even if the partial government shutdown drags out into the 2019 tax filing season. That's the word from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), according to Hallie Jackson, chief White House correspondent for MSNBC. Jackson made that announcement during Ali Velshi's show this afternoon after leaving an hour-plus White House press briefing, led by Vice President Mike Pence, on the shutdown. "The head of Office of Management and Budget, Russ Vought, is telling us that there... Read more →


Whew! We made it through 2018, the first full year that the latest major tax law changes were in effect. Now we're about to see, depending on when Congress and the White House can agree to get the government (including the Internal Revenue Service) fully operational, if we can deal with the first tax filing season under those laws. But before we get lost in the intricacies of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), I'm taking this one early day in 2019 to look at the six tax stories that turned out to be big deals last year. These... Read more →


It's that time of year again, tax season. OK, not officially, especially since we're waiting for Congress and the White House to reach a deal that will end the partial government shutdown and let the Internal Revenue Service resume operations at full speed again. But we taxpayers can't afford to wait on the politicians. We know that we still have to file our taxes, even it we end up having to wait on the IRS to process our returns. Yeah, I know. Not fair. But c'est la tax laws. To make sure that we stay on track, I'll again be... Read more →


Close-up of National Geographic United States wall map. Click image to see all 50 states. Most states tend to operate on fiscal years, with July 1 being an effective date for a lot of law change State leaders, however, realize that their residents follow the Gregorian calendar, so they still make Jan. 1 the effective date for major revisions of law. I was surfing the Web on New Year's Day — doesn't everybody?!? — and ran across some interesting state tax law changes that took effective with the arrival of 2019. Below is a look at what I found. New... Read more →


We still don't know when the 2019 tax filing season will start. But that uncertainty has no bearing on the tax deadlines we're all expected to meet, even when some of Uncle Sam's offices are closed or operating with fewer staff than normal. The Internal Revenue Service usually begins accepting and processing returns around mid- to late-January. Meeting that traditional opening date already was going to be tough. The agency has been in crunch mode for the last 12+ months with the added work of making sure forms, instructions and guidance reflect all the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)... Read more →


Screenshot from C-SPAN broadcast of the convening of the 116th Congress. Click image for full video. It's official. The 116th Congress is in session, with the Democrats retaking control of the House. As expected, longtime California legislator Rep. Nancy Pelosi is now Speaker of the House. Also as expected, presidential tax returns are atop the House Democrats agenda. Yes, I'm talking about the still unseen 1040s of Donald J. Trump, both those he filed while a candidate (and before), as well as his post-election filings. Trump was the first major-party presidential nominee since the 1970s to refuse to release his... Read more →


Hello 2019! I'm not sure we're ready for you, particularly when it comes to the major tax code changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). We'll deal with the real-life effects of the new tax laws for the first time when we file our 2018 returns. When that will be is still up in the air and depends on a resolution to the partial government shutdown. But even though Capitol Hill and many of Uncle Sam's offices remain in limbo, we taxpayers need to start now taking an up close and personal look at what the TCJA will... Read more →


While millions of folks worldwide were greeting 2019's arrival, many were awaiting a more personal welcome for the planet's newest residents. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that more than 395,000 children will be born today, Jan. 1, 2019. There's always much to-do over babies who arrive right after midnight on New Year's Day. Much-needed tax breaks for parents: But for tax purposes, as long as a child is born or adopted any time during a tax year, be it on the first day or Dec. 31, the youngster could mean tax benefits for the new parents. Those tax... Read more →