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February 2023

You need to file your taxes, but you need help. You're on a tight budget, so you gave Free File a look. But you quickly discovered that you want more help than a tax software program provides. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) could be your answer. VITA and TCE sites are nationwide, usually at locations that are convenient for community residents to find and get to. They are staffed by Internal Revenue Service-trained volunteers. In many locations, the tax preparers are able to help taxpayers whose first language isn't English. And they are... Read more →


UPDATE, Aug. 15, 2023: Mississippi residents now join the Oct. 16 deadline club. The IRS announced this new due date, as well as other tax relief for individuals and business owners in parts of the Magnolia State that were hit June 14-19 by severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash Enough already, Mother Nature! We're not even through two full months of 2023, and you have been in a particularly foul mood too much of this time. The latest disastrous outbursts are leaving thousands across the country dealing with blizzards, high winds, and tornadoes. And... Read more →


via GIPHY Where's your tax refund? Use the IRS' online tracker to find out The first look at 2023 tax filing data revealed that while returns were coming in at a brisker pace than last year, the average tax refund amount was smaller. That's still true, three weeks into the season. The average refund amount issued for the week ending Feb. 17 is less than at the same period in 2022. Again. However, that comparatively smaller refund so far this year actually is a decent amount, specifically $3,140. I haven't filed yet, so I don't know what my refund will... Read more →


The IRS has been given millions of dollars to look into how to transform Free File from a partnership with private sector software companies into a system solely under the tax agency's control. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service received more than 152 million electronically filed tax returns. Nearly 67 million of those digital 1040s came directly from individual taxpayers. The 2023 filing season data so far seem to be a repeat of prior seasons. The IRS' weekly filing statistics, however, don't dive deeper into just how the individually sent e-filings were delivered. So we don't know how many of... Read more →


One thing that's missing in Texas is a personal income tax. But residents in most of the rest of the country have to file a state return at the same time their federal paperwork is due. We're roughly at about the midpoint of the official tax filing season, based on the Jan. 23 date when the Internal Revenue Service began processing individual tax returns. For many, this means they need to get serious about filing their taxes, which are due this year on April 18. The filing focus is especially true for folks who also must submit returns to their... Read more →


via GIPHY The good news on the scam front is that fewer people reported getting suckered by con artists last year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says there were 2.4 million scam reports in 2022, compared to 2.9 million such reports in 2021. The bad news is that con artists stole more money. The FTC's newest data book issued today (Feb. 23) reports $8.8 billion lost to scams in 2022. That's 2.6 billion more reports than the previous year. One reason for the dramatic increase in the amount of scammed dollars is the growth of investment scams. These schemes were... Read more →


UPDATE, May 3, 2024: Yes, this item originally was published on a prior Margarita Day. But since that adult beverage also is big part of celebrating, at least here in Texas, Cinco de Mayo — which, by the way, has its own tax connections — it's definitely worth a repost and a toast today. So jot down the recipe offered by the always animated (in every sense of the word) Sterling Archer. It will help the associated federal and state alcohol tax info go down a bit easier. ¡Salud! FX/FXX TV's spy-turned-private detective Sterling Archer offers his margarita recipe. If,... Read more →


Most U.S. workers get a salary or wages. Those amounts are reported to them early every year on Form W-2, which they use to file their annual tax return. But a lot of those folks also get other money throughout the year, and the Internal Revenue Service wants to know about that, too. These amounts, basically any income not reported on a W-2, go in Part I of Form 1040's Schedule 1, appropriately titled Additional Income. In many, but not all, cases the additional earnings are reported on one of the many types of 1099 forms. As with W-2s, 1099s... Read more →


U.S. President Joe Biden with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meeting after Biden's secret trip to Kyiv on Feb. 20, 2023. (Photo via Zelenskyy Telegram account) We woke up this morning (some later than others…) to news that while we were sleeping, President Joe Biden was in Ukraine. The overnight trip from Washington, D.C., to an active war zone was under a cloak of secrecy for obvious security reasons. Only a handful of White House, Pentagon, Secret Service, and intelligence community personnel were in the know. It, of course, included a 10-hour train ride by the Amtrak-loving 46th president. The momentousness,... Read more →


The size of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) has always been a popular, and contentious, topic. The tax code's expansiveness, usually misconstrued or exaggerated by anti-taxers, regularly is cited as a reason to, among other things, eliminate many tax laws and/or abolish the Internal Revenue Service entirely. But there's another extensive component to our tax system. Regulations. Creation, then implementation: While Congress has the constitutional power to tax, the Treasury Department provides the official interpretation of those laws once they're in the IRC via IRS-issued regulations. The regs, which are published in the Federal Register, are directions to us taxpayers... Read more →


UPDATE, Monday, March 13, 2023: Daniel (Danny) Werfel began work today as the 50th commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 9, and sworn into office this morning by Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Doug O'Donnell, who served as acting commissioner since November. Werfel's term will run through Nov. 12, 2027. "After taking the oath of office a short time ago, I feel incredibly grateful and humbled to have the chance to lead such an amazing group of dedicated public servants at a pivotal moment in IRS history," Werfel told IRS employees.... Read more →


When it comes to paycheck tax withholding, you want to get it just right to avoid a bear of a tax problem. (Goldilocks caught in Baby Bear's bed drawing by Leonard Leslie Brooke via Wikipedia Commons) Almost 29 million taxpayers have filed returns so far this 2023 tax season. Most early filers are tax refund recipients. Those of us who tend to owe send our 1040s to the IRSs closer to the April deadline, which is on the 18th this year. Both filing tendencies underscore a need to get tax withholding right. Overwithholding costs: IRS data show that most taxpayers,... Read more →


The IRS has implemented a document upload process to deal with certain tax notices that looks so easy, you shouldn't need your cat's, or any other, help to use it. (Photo by Ruca Souza) I've spent the last few days online, downloading documents we need to file our tax return, which I'll eventually do electronically. I am not alone. More of us handle most of our lives' issues online. In addition to taxes, we shop, bank, watch entertainment programs, and communicate with friends and family digitally. Now the Internal Revenue Service has expanded our electronic tax interaction options to help... Read more →


The tax reform law enacted back in 2017 did fulfill one of its promises. It made filing easier for millions, mainly folks who no longer itemize deductions because the standard claim amounts are so much larger. But some of the associated tax return mechanics also could mean some taxpayers might miss some tax breaks. Tax law and form changes: When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law, the Internal Revenue Service also revised tax return forms. Most notably, it dramatically shrank Form 1040, beginning with the 2018 version. It wasn't quite the postcard-sized tax return long touted by Republicans... Read more →


That's all?!? (Photo by Karolina Grabowska) As we hit mid-February, more tax refunds will start going out. The Internal Revenue Service has been waiting, per 2015's Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH, Act, to issue refunds on returns where filers claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The mandated delay was designed to give the IRS more time to catch fraudulent refunds based on these two popular tax credits. The IRS expects most EITC and/or ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by Feb. 28... Read more →


Casino sportsbooks like this one in Las Vegas still take plenty of sports bets, but thanks to the Supreme Court's 2018 ruling allowing states to open up sports gambling within their borders, this year's Super Bowl wagering broke betting records. Happy Super Bowl Monday hangover! I'll try to type softly for all y'all skipping work today to recover from either celebrating your Kansas City Chiefs hoisting the Lombardi Trophy again or hunkering down because you drowned your Philadelphia Eagles' fan sorrows a bit too much. Regardless of the National Football League championship result, I hope at least some of your... Read more →


… and yes, there is a tax connection beyond winning wagers being taxable income. Photo by Scott Webb As is usual each Super Bowl Sunday, bets are getting a lot of attention. There are the big-dollar wagers on the game. Two seven-figure bets were placed last week on the Philadelphia Eagles to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in today's Super Bowl LVII championship game. Then there are the prop bets, many of which have nothing to do with National Football League plays on the field. For any of those bets that pay off, the winners will owe taxes to the... Read more →


Image via California Franchise Tax Board Individuals who got special tax or inflation relief payments from their states last year won't have to worry about handing over a portion to the U.S. Treasury. The Internal Revenue Service announced late Friday, Feb. 10, afternoon, that, "in the interest of sound tax administration and other factors," recipients of the payments won't have to report the amounts on their 2022 tax returns that are now being filed. Disaster and general welfare exemptions: The IRS said that it will not challenge the taxability of payments related to general welfare and disaster relief. This means... Read more →


Image courtesy NFL The 57th Super Bowl is Sunday. Millions will watch the National Football League championship game to root for their Kansas City Chiefs or Philadelphia Eagles. For most, the attention will be because of pure fandom. But millions also will pay attention to the events at State Farm Field in Glendale, Arizona, because they've got money riding on the game. Growth of sports betting: Gambling on sporting events is no longer taboo. After the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 ruling allowed states to decide whether to legalize sports betting within their borders, most states and Washington, D.C., have done... Read more →


It's never fun having to re-do your taxes. But if it means you'll get a refund, or a larger amount than with your original filing, it's worth it. And now amended filers can have that refund amount sent straight to a financial account. The Internal Revenue Service announced today that people who e-file a Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, now will be able to select direct deposit as the money's delivery method. More X filing going electronic: The IRS began accepting e-filed 1040-X forms in 2020. Most tax software programs have added the amended filing option to... Read more →