Previous month:
March 2019
Next month:
May 2019

April 2019

Independent contractor life could be for you if you're tired of having the boss constantly over your shoulder and on your back. But you and your employer must meet some IRS guidelines in order to achieve this nonemployee work relationship. (Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr CC) Uber is about to go public. It could mean billions for the company and its investors. That folks are so bullish on Uber's initial public offering (IPO) is astounding to most of us, considering the company's fiscal history. Uber lost about $3 billion in 2018 and has lost about $10 billion over... Read more →


Gustave Dore's 1866 engraving of Satan falling from Heaven for John Milton's "Paradise Lost." (Wikimedia Commons photo) Tax-exempt organizations became a landmine for the Internal Revenue Service in 2013. In May of that year, a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report determined that the agency had used questionable tactics in reviewing applications by self-described social welfare organizations seeking the favorable 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. You may remember it as the IRS/Tea Party Scandal. Now a new tax-exempt designation might open up the IRS for more criticism. This time, though, it doesn't involve nonprofit groups that might spend a little too... Read more →


It was a gorgeous sunset at this Astros game at Minute Maid Park, but the Houston MLB franchise and other professional sports teams are looking at a recent IRS ruling that provides them a bright new dawn for favorable tax treatment of player trades. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's a busy time for professional sports fans. National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs are in full swing. Major League Baseball's (MLB) early season is already full of surprises. Just what is wrong with the World Series champion Red Sox and Chris Sale? The National Football League (NFL)... Read more →


Most of us don't cheat on our taxes. And by cheating, I mean intentionally enter false information on our returns. Sure, we don't like paying taxes, even after they're trimmed a bit via periodic federal tax law changes. Still, we suck it up every spring and do our tax duties. But most is not all. Some folks do fiddle with the figures they put on their 1040 forms. The Internal Revenue Service does what it can to stop and/or catch such evasive entries. Budget cuts and staff attrition, however, hamper such audit efforts. That's why the IRS takes all the... Read more →


Michael Cohen (left) and Tom Arnold run into each other in New York City in June 2018. (Photo via Tom Arnold on Twitter) Michael Cohen, Donald J. Trump's former attorney and previously self-described fixer, is heading to federal prison in a couple weeks. But in a recent conversation with actor Tom Arnold, Cohen said he didn't commit all of the crimes for which he will do time. Specifically, according to the story on the telephone discussion that the Wall Street Journal broke, Cohen says he's not guilty of tax evasion, one of the charges for which he's going to jail.... Read more →


Tax season is over for another year. Now all that's left cleaning up after the filing crunch. I know many of y'all are tempted to simply toss everything in the trash. Don't. You don't have to the tax version of television's Hoarders, but there are some tax-related documents you need to hang onto, at least for a while. These 7 frequently asked questions and answers can help you get a better handle on your tax record keeping. 1. Why should I keep records? Well-organized records make it easier to prepare your tax return. Documentation, both the amount and in good... Read more →


High tax filing season is over and the numbers have been tallied. Unfortunately for Republicans who still are fighting the public relations war over their major tax reform law, the figures aren't good. Yes, fractionally more money has been delivered to taxpayers through April 21, almost a week after the filing deadline for most U.S taxpayers. But the average refund check remains smaller than it was last year. In 2018, the average refund was $2,780. This year, it came to $2,725. In case you're not good at math in your head (I'm not) and don't have a calculator handy, that's... Read more →


Social Security might be in trouble, but as long as it's around in some form, Uncle Sam will keep collecting taxes related to it. That includes not only the payroll taxes from workers that go toward funding the federal retirement benefits, but also in some cases on the benefits themselves. If you have enough money when you're older to enjoy time the way you want with your grandchildren, you might face taxes on your Social Security benefits. Stop me if you've heard this before. Social Security is running out of money. That's the latest word from the trustees of the... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2019 Earth Day was created in 1969 by environmental activists in response to an oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded each year as a day to emphasize environmental issues and inspire an appreciation of our planet. With this year's celebration falling on a weekday, many folks are looking for ways to incorporate their pro-Mother Earth efforts into their daily lives. Well, nothing is as incorporated into our day-to-day existences as our taxes. So on Earth Day 2019 and every day this year, here are 4 tax-saving environmental options. 1. Electric... Read more →


Multiply this computer trouble by 150 million taxpayers and you'll get an idea of the scope of the IRS' new plan to upgrade its technology systems. The Internal Revenue Service made it relatively unscathed through the 2019 main tax filing season. That's pretty amazing when you consider the agency: had sworn in a new commissioner just a few months earlier, had to tailor the season's opening around the longest-ever federal government shutdown, was still working on implementation of and guidance for the first major tax reform bill in more than 30 years and did it all using antiquated computer systems.... Read more →


420 Day celebrant photo by GoToVan via Flickr Happy 420 Day, when marijuana smokers commemorate cannabis. It's not surprising that the origins of this unofficial holiday to celebrate weed are fuzzy. Some say it's based on the California police or penal code number 420 that designates marijuana smoking. Not true. Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana. That count must have been made after a few tokes over the line. There are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, with only about 70 or so being cannabinoids unique to the plant. A more likely explanation is... Read more →


How accommodating is your state's tax system? Kiplinger lists the top 10 most tax-friendly states. Most U.S. taxpayers are breathing a sigh of relief as this week winds down. They made it through Tax Day 2019, getting their annual federal return to Uncle Sam. Millions also filed their state returns at the same time. They live in the 43 states and District of Columbia that collect some sort of personal income tax. The majority of those state tax departments follow the Internal Revenue Service's filing time frame. But not all. Five states have return due dates that are a tad... Read more →


We made it! Tax Days 2019 — and yes, Days is correct, since there were two April deadlines this year — are done! OK, maybe we made it because we filed for an extension. That's OK. We got something in to the Internal Revenue Service on time. Now we can relax. But not too much. In addition to meeting that Oct. 15 due date, all of us need to be proactive with tax moves over the next few months to ensure that our 2020 bill is as small as possible when we file next year. That's what the Weekly Tax... Read more →


You didn't file your taxes by the April deadline but you had a really good reason. Or did you? Excuses people make for not filing their taxes are right up there with rationalizations for claiming weird deductions. Both are creative exercises par excellence. And both will get you in bit trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. What won't fly: The Internal Revenue Code as we know it has been around since 1913. That means that for more than a century, Uncle Sam has heard just about every excuse for not getting a Form 1040 in on time or at all.... Read more →


Most U.S. taxpayers filed their annual tax returns or got extension on Monday, April 15. But what about folks who missed the Tax Day deadline? Don't panic, but don't procrastinate any longer. The IRS is serious about hearing from you each April. It imposes three main filing-related penalties, the harshest of which is for not filing. Here are four things late-filing steps you need to take ASAP. 1. File a return. Yes, the filing deadline is over. But still get the IRS a return. Now. You need to get something into the IRS system that will show the tax man... Read more →


Feeling pretty good today, are you? You got your taxes done and to the Internal Revenue Service on Tax Day. Now you can shift from complaining about doing your taxes to complaining about how they are spent. Here, direct from the U.S. Treasury is a graphic look at where our tax dollars went in fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, 2018. Source: U.S. Treasury final monthly statement for fiscal year 2018 Click graph for a larger image In addition to this graphic, the 36-page statement includes details on Uncle Sam's expenditures, as well as the scoop on the $779... Read more →


Two tornadoes struck the small East Texas town of Alto on Saturday, April 13. The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that the first was an EF-2 tornado and the second was an EF-3. Click image to see video from Disaster Compilations on YouTube. There are some things more important than taxes on April 15, 2019. Too many folks in the southern half of the United States are dealing with the loss of family and friends after a deadly weather system moved across that region over the weekend. At least eight people were killed by the storms, which in addition... Read more →


Giphy It's finally here! Tax Day 2019. Congratulations to all y'all who survived this first filing season under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) provisions. We all deserve a hearty pat on the back. A hug. A drink, potent as the Jeopardy category goes, or not. Some freebies. I'll take one of the massages, thank you. A Major League Baseball break. Patriots Day and celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get more tax-filing time so they can, among other things, enjoy today's Jackie Robinson Day Red Sox-Orioles game. Some sleep. And some tax talk. Radio tax ruminations: Wait, isn't... Read more →


Photo by Coolcaesar via Wikipedia Commons Two American institutions that regularly catch a lot of flak find that they are good partners each April. I'm talking, of course, about the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Postal Service. True, software-assisted return prep and e-filing by individual taxpayers or the tax preparers they hire now is the dominant way we get our 1040s to the IRS every year. Most of the 50 million yet-to-file taxpayers, who are this week's By the Numbers honorees, will use these electronic methods by the end of tomorrow. But until Uncle Sam forces all of us to... Read more →


This wading bird doesn't mind being knee-deep, but it's not a good position if you're trying to dig through your taxes on this last weekend of the filing season. (Photo by I Am birdsaspoetry.com via Flickr CC) We're knee- or in some cases neck-deep into the final days of Tax Season 2019. How's it going for you? If you're among the more than 103 million U.S. taxpayers who have already filed their returns, you're probably feeling pretty good about things. So is Charles Rettig, who's overseeing his first federal filing season as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. "The filing... Read more →