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April 2019

The time left until Tax Day is tick, tick, ticking away. If you're feeling like silent movie legend Harold Lloyd (pictured above), hanging on by your fingernails as you try to get your tax filing act together, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that there's no way to stop the tax deadline clock. The good news is you can get an extension to file your 1040. By filing for an extension, the Internal Revenue Service will give you six more months, up to Oct. 15, to submit your return. You still have to... Read more →


Federal and most state, tax returns are due in few days. Don't panic! You still have time to finish your return (or get an extension). If you do decide to just be done with your Form 1040 — new, but not necessarily improved this year under Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes — make sure you don't make any of these common filing errors in your rush to finish. For the most part, tax software has helped eliminate a lot of mistakes. Still, we're not yet at the total tax automation point yet. And that old garbage in, garbage... Read more →


Thanks to much larger standard deduction amounts under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), fewer filers are itemizing deductions. But that doesn't mean they aren't still writing off some tax-deductible expenses. During this first filing season after the many changes wrought by the latest tax reform law, taxpayers are still claiming what used to be called above-the-line deductions. Technically, they are and always have been adjustments to income. They got the above-the-line moniker because they previously appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your... Read more →


Tax Day every April is the biggie for individual taxpayers. That's when our annual Form 1040 is due. And yes, I know this year there are two Tax Days, since Patriot Day celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get until April 17 to send in their federal returns. But most of us must meet the April 15 deadline, so that's what I focus on in this post. Completing a 1040, however, is not the only mid-April tax deadline. It's just one of the 10 tax tasks listed below that many taxpayers also must make by next Monday, April 15. 1. File... Read more →


Photo by Will Keightley via Flickr CC Afraid you'll face an Internal Revenue Service audit? Don't bet on it, says a veteran oddsmaker. The tax audit odds for 2019 will be approximately 1 in 172, says SportsInsider.com's James Murphy, a sportsbook consultant and specialist in novelty betting odds. 25% of filers worry about audits: That slim audit possibility, however, didn't seem to affect folks who participated in a LexingtonLaw survey conducted before this tax season started. The Salt Lake City-based law firm found that a quarter of Americans are afraid they'll be audited. Older filers are more worried. Thirty-three percent... Read more →


The larger standard deduction amounts created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) mean that fewer filers claim itemized expenses. That also could be trouble for those of us who still will file a Schedule A. With fewer itemized expenses to review, the Internal Revenue Service theoretically could have more time to spend looking at everything we write off on this Form 1040 attachment. And excessive deductions are one of the common tax audit triggers. One of those deduction amounts, the one for state and local taxes, is changing, thanks to the new tax law. Some taxpayers and their... Read more →


Folks in Belzoni, Mississippi, aren't thinking about taxes today. They're celebrating the 44th Annual World Catfish Festival. But in addition to being the catfish capital of the world (the closing of its museum notwithstanding), Belzoni is the county seat of the most audited county in the United States. Residents of Humphreys County, a rural county in the Mississippi Delta, is one of the country's poorer counties, with more than a third of its residents living below the poverty line. Those low incomes also probably contribute to a new study's findings that Humphreys County is the area that is most audited... Read more →


Driving vacations are much more enjoyable when gasoline is cheap and the person behind the wheel isn't as amped up as this guy! The surest sign that summer is on the way is not temperature changes, but increasing gasoline prices. Oil companies traditionally take advantage of the seasonal shift, as families here in Texas and elsewhere across the country load up their cars — and fill up the gas tanks — to hit the road. Not too long ago, I topped off my tank with regular at $1.89 per gallon. Today the lowest price I've seen in the area is... Read more →


It's official. House Democrats have formally requested copies of the last six years of Donald J. Trump's personal and business federal tax returns. Trump has steadfastly refused to make public his taxes, breaking a modern-day tradition set by presidential candidates — and in-office presidents (and vice presidents) — of letting the public have a glimpse of White House 1040s. The main reason Trump has given for keeping his taxes private is that his personal and business filings are under audit. Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the... Read more →


Broad City image via Giphy.com Do you have to file a return? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the answer usually is yes. But there's a difference between having to file a tax return and submitting a 1040 form because you should. And by should, I mean when it's to your advantage to do so. Yes, that does happen in the tax world now and then. When filing is required: First, though, let's look at when the tax code says we must send the Internal Revenue Service a Form 1040. Although the 1040 has a new look... Read more →


I don't know about you, but March sure seemed to roar right past me. Lion, lamb, whatever your tax animal, last month was a big one for filers. We finally seemed to find our tax stride, with Internal Revenue Service statistics showing that, for the most part, this first tax season under major tax law changes is finally starting to look normal. Or as normal as life can be during tax filing time, at least when it comes to refund amounts. If you were among those more than 84 million taxpayers who filed a return during the first three weeks... Read more →


Umbrellas at the Venetian in Las Vegas (Photo by Kay Bell) April is the proverbial month of showers. That typically refers to the rain that falls to nourish the flowers that are predicted to arrive in May. But this month also is known for personal precipitation. Yep, I'm talking tax-time tears. Some folks will cry when they discover how much they owe. Others will shed tears of frustration as they struggle to decipher the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes that affect returns for the first time this 2019 filing season. And for others, it will be tears of... Read more →