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July 2020

Congress is debating, sort of, the possibility of, among other pandemic-related issues, another round of COVID-19 economic relief payments (EIPs). That's good news for folks struggling to make ends meet in the wake of coronavirus-related economic troubles. But some folks haven't yet received the first stimulus checks created back in March under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Created to help, but…: Now there's some good news for some encountering relief payment problems. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) now can help taxpayers in certain situations resolve their COVID-19 payment issues. "Previously, the IRS did not have a... Read more →


As the Senate grapples with its latest COVID-19 economic relief payment proposal, millions of Americans who lost their jobs in the pandemic are trying to figure out how they will pay their bills coming due in August. Those who had a workplace retirement plan, typically a 401(k), likely are deciding whether they should tap that account. It's always been possible to take what's known as a hardship distribution from tax-favored retirement plans. Pre-coronavirus tax law also allowed for loans from workplace retirement savings accounts. But COVID-19 also has added some new considerations to this financial route. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief,... Read more →


The Japanese anime television series Hamtaro is being used by some Thai protesters as a symbol of what they say is their government's insatiable appetite for taxpayer dollars. Here in the United States, we've been watching the continuing #BlackLivesMatter social and racial justice protests that were sparked by the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. We are not alone. Similar protests have been held around the world. But in Thailand, there is another, tax-related protest that's taken a lighter approach to highlight a serious issue. Hundreds of Thai young people last weekend sang a Japanese cartoon jingle... Read more →


Photo by Scrumshus via Citypeek-Wikipedia The Senate this week released its plan for another round of coronavirus relief. As expected, there are substantial differences between this Republican-crafted bill and the measure passed in mid-May by the Democratically-controlled House. Both bills are wide-ranging, but there are some key provisions that are of particular interest to most of us. Both also use as a basis in many areas the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provisions that were enacted in late March. Below is a comparison of seven key areas in the latest GOP Senate's Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection... Read more →


Yes, people should pay their bills. Sometimes, though, things happen. Just look at the financial crises the coronavirus pandemic has created for individuals. And yes, in some limited cases turning over way past-due bills to a private collection agency is appropriate. Note the use of the word limited. Full disclosure. For the most part, I hate bill collectors. I've helped family members who were in financial straits deal with them. While things worked out in our favor, those agencies' employees were the total worst. That's why I was disappointed (yeah, let's use that term to keep the ol' blog family... Read more →


Classic television's Cleaver family, circa 1960. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons) Senate leaders and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promise they'll release next week the Republican response to the Democratic House's already approved next round of COVID-19 relief payments. Until then, we're still speculating on what will be in the counter proposal. It's a safe bet, however, that it will contain a second round of direct payments. The first payments, created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March. What's not clear, though, is who would qualify for this additional stimulus money. Halfway... Read more →


The Hon. John Lewis receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2010. (Obama White House photo) The celebration of the life of the Hon. John Lewis continues. Today, the late civil rights leader and long-time member of Congress lies in state in his native Alabama. Other key moments from his early days in the South also will be commemorated as part of the six-day journey of memorialization and tributes that continues in Washington, D.C., before he goes to his final rest in Atlanta. America, the world actually, lost a true hero when Lewis passed away on... Read more →


Photo courtesy National Taxpayer Advocate blog If you have a tax issue that you want to discuss with the Internal Revenue Service in person, there's good news. In late June, the IRS started reopening its Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) across the country. By next week, all the facilities should be open. While the IRS encourages taxpayers to take advantage of its online problem solving and information gathering options, TAC employees still provide certain tax-related services. Specialized TAC services include assistance in: authenticating a taxpayer's identity and validating documents related to tax return filings or applications for an Individual Taxpayer Identification... Read more →


If tax it the time of coronavirus taught us anything, it's that tax professionals are indispensable. On the heels of getting a handle on the 2017 tax reform changes, tax pros this filing season were handed even more jobs. They helped people understand COVID-19 economic relief payments, what tax tasks were delayed until when and the Paycheck Protection Program. And now, just days after Tax Day 2020 finally came and went, another coronavirus stimulus package, no doubt with more tax implications, is in the works. The bottom line is that tax help from a reputable tax pro is critical, in... Read more →


UPDATE, July 28, 2020: We finally know how the Senate wants to handle additional COVID-19 economic relief. The GOP-crafted Heath, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, like the already passed Democratic House bill, provides for another round of stimulus payments, but isn't quite as generous as far as dependents. It also drastically reduces federal unemployment assistance. Details on this opening gambit are in these articles from The Washington Post and CNBC. Washington, D.C. watchers are used to federal lawmakers' last-minute struggles to create and pass legislation. Often though, we have to wait until the end of the year.... Read more →


It's been almost a week since Tax Day 2015. That's why today's Tax Form Tuesday is celebrating Form 1040. Actually, this week's feature includes not just the actual tax return you recently sent to the Internal Revenue Service, but also the many forms and schedules that accompanied your return, plus all the associated documents you used to complete it. Yep, we're talking tax record keeping. There's no federal tax law or IRS regulation detailing a preferred way to keep your tax records. That's because every taxpayer situation is different. But the one constant is that you do need to hang... Read more →


UPDATE, July 23, 2020: The White House has dropped its push for a payroll tax cut as part of the next round of COVID-19 relief. Although Donald Trump cited Democrats' objections to the payroll tax cut, top Senate Republicans also disliked the idea, seeing it as too expensive as they struggle to craft a relief version to counter the already-passed House bill. Federal lawmakers are working on the next COVID-19 relief package. Specifically, Republican Senators are working on a stimulus deal since House Democrats, who control that Congressional chamber, approved their proposal back in May. But in addition to dealing... Read more →


Image courtesy SimpsonsWorld via Giphy.com Do you remember your first phone number? I'm talking about the one when you were a kid. The one you parents made you memorize in case you needed to call home for any reason. For younger folks, that's not a problem. But when you reach a certain age, not that I'm confessing to any chronologically specific range, those early memories tend to fade. Despite that natural process, some of us still remember our childhood phone numbers. You'll have to trust me on my numerical recall. I'm leery enough of hackers, con artists and other assorted... Read more →


Tax season 2020 is over. That means the focus of most Americans returns to the same thing we've been fixating on (besides taxes) for the last few months: COVID-19. The coronavirus is still here. It's getting worse in some — OK, a lot of — states. Even in the areas where it seems to be under better control, people are still worrying about what it means to their lives and, of course, their livelihoods. Although some jobs returned earlier this summer, that partial economic recovery is not expected to last after coronavirus cases reemerged following state re-openings. So folks are... Read more →


Shopping during a pandemic will be challenging, but Alabama retailers and customers hope the state's annual back-to-school sales tax holiday this weekend will make everyone as happy as this young shopper. It's on! It is Alabama's annual Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday weekend. It starts at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 17, and runs until the clock strikes midnight on Sunday, July 19. And yes, everyone knows that we're still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases are increasing throughout the United States, with the South one of the hardest hit areas. Businesses and officials in Alabama, however, are going... Read more →


via GIPHY The long-delayed Tax Day 2020 came and went yesterday and you weren't part of it. Maybe you were distracted by COVID-19 worries or financial concerns brought about by the pandemic. I get it. Family crammed together for weeks, savings are running low and every ache sends you online to check coronavirus symptoms. Taxes just don't seem that important. But Uncle Sam and his tax folks are back at their jobs and they're doing them. To ensure that you don't run too afoul of the Internal Revenue Service, here are four steps you need to take as soon as... Read more →


Hello Tax Day 2020. We've been waiting for you for such a long time. In fact, a whole lot of folks have been waiting for July 15, according to research by from IPX 1031. Ultimate tax procrastinators: It's not unusual for millions to wait to file. Last year, Internal Revenue Service data showed almost 18 million filed during the last week of that tax season. That procrastination delay remained and even increased after COVID-19 pandemic precautions pushed 2020's Tax Day into the summer. IPX 1031's look at geo-targeted online search data showed that more than 22 million Americans have taken... Read more →


Meanwhile, the rest of us regular taxpayers say thanks for the offer and, as Tax Day 2020 looms, continue to look for ways to keep from paying so much on our nowhere-near-a-million earnings. If you're still working on your tax return instead of jetting off in your private plane to a luxury destination, then you might agree with the latest tax-the-rich plea. You also might need some of the tax-saving tips listed later in this post. With July 15, aka coronavirus Tax Day 2020, looming, millions of taxpayers are scouring their records and the tax laws looking for ways to... Read more →


When the extended and complicated 2020 tax filing season officially ends at mid-week, the IRS says it will resume many postponed normal actions. This means taxpayer payments — including to debt collectors — and other tax matters that have been on COVID-19 hold will go back to what we used to call normal. In this coronavirus era, we all just want things to be like the name of the central Illinois town of Normal, where the historic theater also shares that moniker. The IRS says it's heading that direction this week. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons) The 2020 extended main tax... Read more →


July truly is April this year, at least as far as my personal budget. Some of our insurance payments are quarterly. That means every April, we have to come up with that money, as well as cash to cover the first quarter of our estimated taxes. The Internal Revenue Service's calendar when it comes to its second quarter estimated tax payment doesn't strictly follow the Gregorian calendar. Uncle Sam's tax collector wants the tax year's second Form 1040-ES and payment in June. My main estimated tax explainer discusses the timing of these payments, but below is a quick look from... Read more →