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March 2020

Are you freaking out because you have to take a tax-mandated withdrawal from a retirement account on April 1? The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has some good news for you. The new law that's gotten a lot of attention for the pandemic related stimulus checks that should be going out soon also offers a break to seniors who must take required minimum distributions, or RMDs. RMDs are waived for 2020 under the CARES Act. That means you can leave your money in your tax-deferred account this year or at least not take as much out as... Read more →


"No action needed" by most, says IRS, to get COVID-19 stimulus payments. But some, including Social Security recipients, will have tile a "simple" tax return to get the money. This has changed. See second update below in the Q&A section. Adobe Stock The coronavirus checks will soon be in the mail, or rather headed directly to your bank account. That's the official word from the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service. The agencies announced on Monday, March 30, that the economic impact payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will begin going to eligible taxpayers... Read more →


A first job is a major life event with obvious major tax implications. Other momentous changes throughout our lives involve taxes, too. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the White House has decided to follow state and local officials in urging continued social (aka physical) distancing. For millions of us, this new April 30 stay home recommendation means more time cooped up with loved ones. Or not-so-loved ones. My favorite non-medical virus-related debate right now is whether all the coronavirus forced togetherness ultimately will end with a baby boom (coronials, anyone?) or a marriage bust. While the... Read more →


Pixabay/CDC Coronavirus relief checks still are weeks away from arriving in our bank accounts or snail mail boxes, but crooks already are trying to trick us out of the money. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says its ScamTracker already has detected crooks impersonating as government officials and calling about the money authorized under the just-enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. New hooks, old scams: COVID-19 is a new bait, but the scam scenarios are out of the standard con artist playbook. You get an email or see an online post about a special COVID-19 government grant. All... Read more →


The law that created coronavirus stimulus payments just took effect yesterday and we're weeks at best from getting actual money. But tax planners have been thinking about COVID-19 tax intricacies since the illness exploded in the middle of this tax season. These payments just add a new tax filing wrinkle, since what we put on our 2019 returns could be a key part in the relief amount's ultimate dollar calculation. Tony Nitti, a CPA and tax partner with RubinBrown in Aspen, Colorado, has a good preview of what our tax filing actions now could mean to our potential coronavirus payments... Read more →


Image via Fotolia You're doing your part to help flatten the coronavirus transmission curve. You've been sitting at in your house for weeks. (Thanks, streaming services!) You're washing your hands so much, they're raw. (Moisturize, too. It's an added coronavirus prophylactic.) You're providing lessons and activities for your now home-schooled kiddos. (Take into account your child's needs and personality and take advantage of the many online resources.) But you want to do more. Specifically, you want to help others who aren't in such relatively good situations as you and yours. Thank you! There are many ways to help, notably by... Read more →


We're a third of the way to coronavirus relief checks. Last night (March 25), the Senate approved the massive measure, which includes in its 880 pages payments of $1,200 per person and $500 per dependent child. (More on this in a minute.) The bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, now goes to the House for approval. There may be some procedural stumbling blocks, but it's expected to pass there, probably by voice vote to avoid the congregating caused by a roll call on the chamber's floor. That probably will happen Friday. Then it heads... Read more →


Thank you, Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency has confirmed that 2019 tax year contributions to individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) can be made as late July 15. These accounts are among the very few areas where a tax break doesn't have a Dec. 31 deadline. In normal tax seasons, contributions to an IRA or HSA can be made and claimed for the prior tax year as late as April 15, which is the usual tax filing deadline. However, this year, as everyone already knows, the chaotic convergence of COVID-19 and taxes prompted the IRS to... Read more →


Retailers aren't the only ones closing their doors to customers during the coronavirus crisis. So is the Internal Revenue Service and other tax-related operations. As cases of COVID-19 increased, the IRS has acted to protect not only taxpayers but its employees. The goal is the new global mantra — to flatten the curve of the potentially deadly virus' transmission. IRS in-person actions curtailed: "We're taking several immediate steps to protect employees while still delivering on the mission-critical functions," said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, in a message to his staff that also is posted on the tax agency's website. These virus-affected... Read more →


Image: National Day Calendar It's a rare day on the internet. Dogs are getting more attention than cat videos. Actually, it's baby dogs who are the focus, since today, March 23, is National Puppy Day. Personally, I'm a cat, not dog, person. But I know that regardless of your pet preference, animals bring a lot of good to our lives. And in some very specific cases, they also might be able to help you reduce your federal tax bill. Here are 5 potential ways that Fluffy, Fido or whatever you call your fur (or other) baby can provide their human... Read more →


National Guard troops have been deployed to help states meet COVID-19 needs, ranging from personal protective equipment training, support of medical testing facilities and healthcare professionals and assisting with disinfecting and cleaning common public spaces. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Defense) Taxes have been in the public spotlight this week, not because right about now we normally would be nearing the annual filing deadline, but because of how the coronavirus pandemic has thrown normal, including our tax obligations, out the window. By now you know that April 15 is not Tax Day this year. Instead, it's been pushed to July... Read more →


We're in what during normal times would be the annual tax season's big push to the end (or an extension). But these are not normal times. Instead, it feels more and more like we're living in a tax version of Bill Murray's classic "Groundhog Day." That's because for the second time in three days the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have moved the deadlines for filing and paying taxes. Friday, March 20, morning Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin decided that an earlier decision that split the usual April 15 deadline for tax filing and paying should be changed. So he... Read more →


The Senate also addresses this year's tax filing and payment deadline, as well as those for 2020 estimated tax payments, in its coronavirus relief bill. Keep reading for more on this latest change and check out this Q&A for elaboration from the IRS on some specific tax considerations under the new mid-July deadlines. 2019 tax year returns and any due payments now will be due on July 15, 2020, according to a Treasury Department announcement this morning. And yes, I drew that sloppy circle and scribbled the info on my own calendar. I should have had a cup of coffee... Read more →


Unemployment claims are skyrocketing across the United States as more businesses close as a precaution to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The latest on claims for unemployment benefits was released today by the U.S. Department of Labor. For the week ending on March 14, around 281,000 Americans filed first-time claims for the benefits. That's up 33 percent from the 211,000 benefits claims the week before. Percentage wise, the increase was among the largest one-week spikes on record. Here in the Lone Star State, the Texas Workforce Commission reports that from March 8 to March 14 it received 16,038 unemployment... Read more →


UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 18, 2020: The Treasury and Internal Revenue Service have issued an official statement about the April 15 tax payment grace period. The portions that answer some of the questions raised earlier in this post are now added as yellow highlighted sections within the original post with any additional notations by me in red. Our world has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, but we're still trying to hold on to some semblance of normal life. One of those life constants this time of year is taxes. Yesterday, March 17, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin joined... Read more →


The Family Handyman Millions of Americans are at home now, sheltering in place in order to slow down spread of the coronavirus. One of the side effects of spending more than normal time in your house is that you discover issues. And one of those issues might be, depending on where you live, that your heating or air conditioning system is not in the greatest shape. Maybe you need a completely new unit. I feel your pain. We've had to replace AC systems and it sucks, from both the cost and inconvenience perspectives. Or perhaps you can get by with... Read more →


How are you feeling? That's the question everyone is asking themselves, family and friends as we adapt to the changes forced upon us by the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing — limiting your interactions with others, either at work or in recreational (remember those?) settings — is the new norm. For the introverted hubby and me, it's simply our norm. We both work from home and don't go out much. We used to joke that our self-imposed isolation works against us when we do venture into the wider world. We don't have an immunity to basic ailments. The hubby gets a... Read more →


States also are coping with COVID-19 and tax return timing, with a handful already delaying some returns. UPDATE, March 21, 2020: Tax Day 2020 has changed again. Now taxpayers have until July 15 to file their 2019 returns and pay any due tax. This latest change was announced March 20 and the IRS issued some guidance on the changes on March 21. This window's timely admonition usually is good advice as April 15 nears. This year, however, Tax Day may be pushed back due to the spreading coronavirus. (Painted window in Harlingen, Texas, 1939, by Lee Russell; New York Public... Read more →


The House-passed H.R. 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act does not — I repeat, does NOT — include a change in the upcoming federal tax filing and payment deadline. That did happen, but separately, as detailed in my April 15 Tax Day deadline and delay Q&A post. There's also no change to the payroll taxes that come out of our paychecks. So right now, expect your regular pay to remain the same. And keep working on those federal tax forms with April 15 as your deadline. What we do know, however, is that legislation to deal with coronavirus' health and... Read more →


Happy Pi Day 2014. March 14 is the annual celebration of pi, usually indicated by the Greek letter π, since the 3/14 calendar format is a close representation of pi's first three digits. What exactly is pi? Naturally, I went to the internet to find out, so math experts please cut me a slice of slack here. The consensus is that pi is a number that originally was defined as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It's a mathematical constant, meaning it isn't changed by the size of the numbers it is used to equate. It's also... Read more →