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April 2021

Remember last summer when we all suddenly learned that the letter from Donald Trump about the first COVID-19 economic impact payment was an official Internal Revenue Service notice? Many of us thought it was a thinly disguised campaign mailer and tossed it. Others didn't even receive it. And many of those who held on to the document did so because they viewed it as a political artifact. But the letter, officially known IRS Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment, had details on how much money you received in connection with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that... Read more →


One of the many reasons that people hate taxes is that after the hassle of filing, then comes the fear that a Form 1040 mistake will mean an audit. The sort-of good news for taxpayers is that the Internal Revenue Service hasn't been auditing as many people in recent years. The agency has had other things to worry about, like doing its myriad jobs with fewer staff and less money. Then there's COVID-19, with added pandemic payments that the IRS is tasked with distributing. Things could be changing, though. More people are getting vaccinated, meaning the end of the coronavirus... Read more →


President Joe Biden's proposal to give the Internal Revenue Service an extra $80 billion over the next decade to go after tax cheats — which the ol' blog talked about earlier this month in this post — is getting a lot of attention in advance of his nationally televised speech night. I suspect the current IRS hierarchy is pleased, despite the comments to The New York Times by a former commissioner that an extra $25 billion over a decade would be sufficient. "I'm not sure you'd be able to efficiently use that much money. That's a lot of money," said... Read more →


Princess Bride impatience via Giphy.com Aside from having to fill out a tax return, the most annoying thing for most people each year is waiting for their tax refunds. The complaint is continually atop the list of taxpayer complaints. The frustration of waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to deliver their tax cash probably is why so many folks fall for tax refund myths. Don't! These fabrications, six of which are listed below, won't help you get your money any sooner, and some could actually cost you more. Myth 1: Calling my tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service will... Read more →


The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that became law in March gets most attention for creating a third round of COVID-19 economic impact payments. But it also made changes to some tax laws to help put more money into families' hands. One of those changes was bulking up the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, for tax year 2021. Quick EITC history: The EITC has been in the tax code since 1975. It was created as an outgrowth of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty as a way to help middle- and lower-income workers. Even though the EITC can... Read more →


Every tax season is challenging. Often, it's because Congress has fiddled with tax laws, presenting new learning curves for both taxpayers and the preparers they hire to lead them through the Internal Revenue Code. Problems during the last two years, however, can be blamed on COVID-19. Not only did the pandemic produce new laws, there have been delayed deadlines and health-related closures that created processing problems for the Internal Revenue Service. The latest 2021 filing season hurdle, for both taxpayers and the IRS, is the amount of tax returns the agency says must be processed by hand. The IRS is... Read more →


Spring has come and gone here in Central Texas. We're heading into a stretch when afternoon high temperatures are going to push 90 degrees. But it's still a good time for some spring cleaning, especially since it's going to too hot to be outdoors. And especially if you decided to get your taxes done well ahead of the May 17 Tax Day 2021 deadline. Over the years, I've posted my post-filing record retention recommendations. My tax document record keeping suggestions following last year's also-delayed Tax Day still are good, even if I say so myself. True, if you need but... Read more →


I know tax season still has a little more than three weeks until this year's May 17 filing deadline. But everyone, even tax geeks, need a break now and then. And although I'm not a gamer, I've found a diversion in that area. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. Game offshoot of a real issue: The game from Snoozy Kazoo was released yesterday, April 22. It is, per one tagline, where vegetables get serious about tax evasion because, as Mayor Onion of Veggieville informs Turnip Boy, it is real. From a player's perspective, according to the reviews like Joey Ferris' for... Read more →


Helping hand photo by Lalesh Aldarwish via Pexels.com I'm a big fan of the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Part of that, as long-time readers know, is because I was fortunate enough to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a volunteer group created to help the Internal Revenue Service meet and improve on the promise of the final word in the agency's name. My years with TAP let me see how TAS and the IRS work to help solve taxpayer problems. And yes, the people committed to this process really do care and do all they can to help taxpayers within... Read more →


We lost all our ornamental rosemary bushes in February's devastating winter storm. This debris pile is all that's left of them. (Kay Bell photo) February's surprisingly harsh winter storm has done a number on our yard. We are not alone. Major federal disaster areas were declared for parts of frozen Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. I've heard the same stories from my Austin neighbors, as well as friends in the Sooner and Pelican States. While some of our exterior flora made it through the subfreezing temperatures, quite a few of our plants succumbed. Our line of ornamental rosemary bushes in the... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 5 , 2021: Yes, you are experiencing tax déjà vu. But if you're one of the millions of taxpayers who got an extension to file your 2020 return back in May, and then put off doing so until now, literally just days until the final Oct. 15 due date, then you need this reminder. As you finally fill out your Form 1040, don't make any of these dozen tax filing mistakes. Every tax-filing season is different. One thing is constant, though. Taxpayers, and sometimes even the tax preparers they hire, make mistakes on 1040 forms. Hey, we're only... Read more →


Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons Last year was difficult for lots of people. Millions lost their jobs due to coronavirus pandemic protocols. For many, that also meant losing their workplace provided healthcare coverage. Finally, though, there is a bit of good news for folks in this situation. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was enacted in March, contains provisions to help individuals deal with COVID created health insurance issues. Plus, the Internal Revenue Service recently announced that taxpayers who received more federal advance subsidy than needed to help buy health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange... Read more →


Rather than heavy equipment, the IRS needs legislative and fiscal help to close its $1 trillion Tax Gap. If you've thought the $441 million figure that the Internal Revenue Service has for years cited as the Tax Gap is too low, you are not alone. None other than the IRS commissioner agrees that there is more tax money that's owed than the agency has been able to collect. A whole lot more. At an April 13 hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig estimated that the actual Tax Gap could be as much as $1 trillion. That's... Read more →


While those who work in the tax world must be precise, taxes are full of a particular type of shortcut. I'm talking about those sometimes creative, other times eye-roll inducing abbreviations or acronyms for tax terms. Tax terminology is full of them. AGI, AMT, EIN, EITC, EFTPS, GAAP, FATCA, IRA, NOL, PTIN, and VAT just to name a few. Good, bad and ugly acronyms: Tax bills themselves also usually are shortened, with the verbal results sometimes fine and even fun, most times meh and other time invariably ugh. The historic 1986 tax reform bill got the basic moniker Tax Reform... Read more →


We made it through April 15, 2021. The problem, though, is that for most individual taxpayers and the tax pros who handle their filings, yesterday wasn't really Tax Day. That's still more than a month away. Or, to be precise per [shameless plug] the clicking away countdown clock in the ol' blog's right column, 31 days and some odd hours away. Those extra days and hours until the new 2021 Tax Day on May 17, regardless of how well-intentioned (but incomplete), also should be added to the overall compliance burden taxpayers face every tax season. COVID tax complications: OK, maybe... Read more →


Bernie Madoff leaving a court hearing in 2009. Bernard "Bernie" Lawrence Madoff died on April 14 in a federal prison medical facility where he was being treated for terminal kidney disease. The 82-year-old had been in jail since 2009 for orchestrating the world's largest Ponzi scheme. Madoff pleaded guilty on March 12, 2009, to 11 federal crimes, including operating the financial fraud that bilked as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries over two decades. He was sentenced three months later to the maximum 150 years behind bars and ordered to pay restitution of $170 billion. At the time of... Read more →


Since the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was enacted on March 11, the Internal Revenue Service has distributed approximately 159 million COVID-19 economic impact payments (EIPs). Those deliveries come to more than $376 billion. This third round of coronavirus pandemic payments, worth up to $1,400 per person, has been going out in batches. Recipients include taxpayers who've filed 2020 returns, Social Security recipients, and veterans and their families. Still, there are some folks who aren't on the IRS' EIP delivery list. These are, for the most part, people who haven't file a tax return because they're not legally required to... Read more →


For the second consecutive year, millions of individual taxpayers aren't freaking out about their taxes as April 15 nears. That's because for the second consecutive year, the annual Tax Day has been postponed. But still, some folks are crashing right about now to get their 2020 filings done. That's because the Internal Revenue Service decision to move Tax Day 2021 from mid-April to May 17 applies only to individuals who must file income tax returns, aka the IRS' 1040 forms series. And some of these still have an April 15 deadline if they must pay estimated taxes for the 2021... Read more →


It's likely to be déjà vu all over again for IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, testifying here in March before a House tax panel, when he goes before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, April 13. Not to get your tax deadline hopes up too much, but Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Chuck Rettig is testifying tomorrow, April 13, before the Senate Finance Committee (SFC). The The last time he talked to lawmakers, it was in March to Representatives on the Ways and Means (W&M) Oversight Subcommittee. It was then that Rettig put the kibosh on the possibility that the IRS would... Read more →


U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen elaborated on the Biden Administration's fiscal year 2022 budget request for the IRS. (U.S. Treasury photo via Facebook) The White House last week kicked off the fiscal year 2022 budget process by sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee chairman and issuing a press release on President Joe Biden's funding priorities. The official 2022 discretionary budget request announcement lists 11 areas that also got attention during the presidential campaign, such as education, medical research, housing, and civil rights. In addition to the information issued by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also elaborated... Read more →