Previous month:
December 2019
Next month:
February 2020

January 2020

What would you do with an extra $2,504? That's the average amount received by taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2019. Overall, the Internal Revenue Service says that across the country last year, 25 million taxpayers received more than $61 billion from this tax break for lower-and middle-income workers. Every tax year, however, folks who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit don't claim it. Many don't know about the tax break. Others don't realize that changes in their marital, parental or financial status means they now qualify. That's why for more than a decade, the... Read more →


Yes, I bought a ticket for the Jan. 29 Powerball. I always do when the jackpot of that and the other national lottery, Mega Millions, gets into the, well, mega million-dollar range. No, I didn't win. Again. Last night's Powerball payout, which had climbed to $396.9 million, is going to the lucky person who bought the winning ticket in Florida. Yes, I am contacting my Sunshine State friends and relatives! In addition to the one big winner, three other Powerball tickets worth $1 million each went to ticket holders in Ohio, Virginia and, again, Florida. If you're one of the... Read more →


And be ready to pay tax on your winnings Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers will lead their teams Sunday, Feb. 2, in Super Bowl LIV. Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers will lead their teams Sunday, Feb. 2, in Super Bowl LIV. I've been to Las Vegas. I love that city. But I know nothing about betting. My gambling, aside from a half hour or so at a Sin City slot machine years ago, is losing a few bucks on a lottery ticket every time the Powerball... Read more →


Even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people opted to claim the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions because. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also... Read more →


The first day of tax filing season essentially is the tax version of Black Friday, with taxpayers — mostly those expecting refunds — rushing the Internal Revenue Service's digital doors. (Screenshot of eager Black Friday shoppers from Jerry Bailey's YouTube video) Today is the first day of the 2020 tax filing season and already folks are wanting to know when they're get their refunds. That question is totally understandable. Despite last year's refund confusion caused by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes, the average federal income tax refund was in 2019 was $2,869 based on returns processed through... Read more →


The second filing season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is about to start. This one will be easier, right? Right? Maybe. At least this year, we and the Internal Revenue Service aren't dealing with the longest federal government shutdown in history. Plus, folks got a good look with their filings last year at how the massive Republican tax reform law affects them, although some areas are still a bit fuzzy. And of course, everyone adjusted their payroll withholding so there won't be a replay of 2019's reduced/no-tax-refund drama. Yeah, I'm rolling my eyes at that statement, too.... Read more →


This cat apparently is expecting something to be delivered by his postal carrier. Many taxpayers share this feline's anticipation this time of year, when annual tax forms are on their way. The hubby and I have some investments in addition to our retirement accounts. We're hoping these assets will be a nice bonus to the funds dedicated totally to paying for our retirement years. That means we're among those folks who are waiting on some tax documents so we can file our 2019 tax return. And we're also among those folks who'll be waiting a bit longer. Mutual funds vs.... Read more →


If past years are any indication, when the 2020 tax filing season officially opens on Monday, Jan. 27, millions of taxpayers will hit the send button to electronically deliver their annual returns to the Internal Revenue Service. But millions more of us have to wait to file. We're still waiting on at least one tax statement that has information we need to finish filling out our Form 1040. Form deadline is Jan. 31: Technically, most of these tax documents aren't even required to be on their way to us until Jan. 31. Employers and other businesses that issue wage and/or... Read more →


Yes, that's a photo of my filing season mess, er, process, which explains why I never seem to be able to submit our joint Form 1040 early in the filing season. Getting your tax stuff together is just one of the reasons to not file early. The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting 2019 tax year returns next Monday, Jan. 27. A lot of folks already have filled out their 1040s and put them in the queue for IRS processing next week. Good for them. Their annual tax task is done. But there also are some reasons why you might... Read more →


If you live in one of the 43 states or the nation's capital, then in addition to filing your federal tax return you probably also must send a form (or two) to your state's tax collector. In most cases, states use at least some federal tax return information as the basis for their returns. So if you do your taxes yourself, you're probably looking for a tax software option that can handle both. The Internal Revenue Service and Free File Inc. say that their joint tax prep and e-filing venture Free File has some tax software company participants that can... Read more →


Before you can file your taxes, you need some tax statements. The key among them for most of us is the W-2. Here's a look at all — and there's a lot — that's on this document. Taxes are all about the numbers. That includes the numerical names of tax documents. For wage earning taxpayers, the most important form is the W-2 they get early (hopefully!) each year. Officially titled Wage and Tax Statement, it has (true to its name) the details on earnings and taxes paid throughout the past tax year. This form is starting point in figuring any... Read more →


The birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been officially celebrated as a federal holiday on the third Monday of January for more than three decades. For 25 of those years, it's also been a Day of Service, during which we're all challenged to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of the slain civil rights leader. There are various ways to honor Dr. King on his holiday. One recommended by the Corporation for National and Community Service is to volunteer on #MLKDay and beyond as a tutor or mentor... Read more →


Millions are watching NFL playoffs today. But millions of other esports fans enjoy competitions like this match between Dallas Fuel and New York Excelsior at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles last June, the second season of the Overwatch League. Among those also watching esports closely are state tax collectors. (Image by Dallas Fuel via Wikipedia Commons CC BY 3.0) Tonight, we'll know which two National Football League (NFL) teams will be in South Florida next month to play in Super Bowl LIV. While you can never predict who'll win any game — just ask the previously heavily favored Baltimore... Read more →


Detroit police inspecting illegal alcohol distilling equipment found in a clandestine underground brewery during Prohibition. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration via Wikipedia Commons) Last week was the 100th anniversary of a momentous, and eventually failed, effort by U.S. lawmakers to control public actions. Following ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, Congress followed up with the National Prohibition Act, commonly referred to as the Volstead Act. It outlawed the production, distribution and transportation of alcohol. The United States officially went dry on Jan. 17, 1920. Not only did Prohibition, authorized by the 18th Amendment, fail to stop Americans from... Read more →


You just read my post on tax filing requirements (thanks!) and discovered you don't have to file a Form 1040 this year. So, as fictional television attorney (though not a tax specialist) Jimmy McGill might say, "'S'all good, man." Right? Not necessarily. Sometimes even if you don't have to file a federal tax return, it's to your benefit to do so. Here are 10 situations when you should send the Internal Revenue Service a return: You're due a refund. This often is the case if you had federal income tax withheld. The only way to get any of that prepaid... 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. Believe it or not, some people make it through tax-filing season without any hassle. That's because the Internal Revenue Service doesn't require them to file taxes. Unfortunately, most of us aren't that lucky. So just who has to file a tax return? Generally, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident you must consider three things when determining whether you have to file a tax return: your age, your filing status and your income.... Read more →


IRS building by David Boeke via Flickr CC A lot of former Internal Revenue Service employees take the lessons they learned on that job and create second careers as tax advisers and preparers. That's a nice professional segue. Going from being part of the U.S. tax collection machine to helping folks pay Uncle Sam as little as legally possible. But it needs to be done after IRS employees leave their government job. One current IRS staffer in the agency's Andover, Massachusetts, service center was, to borrow a tax term, double dipping. Worse, federal prosecutors say she filed almost 600 false... Read more →


Taxpayers got their first experience with new filing forms with last year's 2018 returns. There are more changes to the 1040 for 2019 taxes, too, but the revisions actually could be helpful. Tax season is about to start in a less than two weeks. Jan. 27, in case you forgot. Many of us are already working on our 2019 returns, either by working with a tax preparer or filling out our forms on our own. Doing taxes has never been a fun job for most folks. But filing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made that job... Read more →


Ready to file your taxes? Ready to do so for free? The Internal Revenue Service is ready, too. Its Free File tax preparation and electronic filing option is open for business. As usual, the online no-cost way for millions to complete and electronically file their taxes is available before the IRS actually starts accepting and processing returns. That won't happen until Jan 27. But you can still get a jump on your annual tax filing obligation. The Free File program you select will simply hold your return until Jan. 27 and then submit as soon as the IRS officially kicks... Read more →


Image via GotCredit.com The year's first obvious and, for some, painful acknowledgement of taxes is next week. Jan. 15 is the due date for the final estimated tax payment for the 2019 tax year. That upcoming deadline day is this weekend's By the Numbers figure. Generally, if you expect you'll owe more than $1,000 in taxes, then you must pay estimated taxes throughout the year. If you've been paying estimated taxes for a while, you already know that these payments cover earnings that aren't subject to withholding. This includes things like investment earnings that pay out periodically during the year... Read more →