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March 1 has arrived. Or, as some coronavirus pandemic weary wits have dubbed it, March 2.0 or March 366. Yes, we've been dealing with COVID-19 for a year now. And yes, the virus and its myriad disruptions continue. But the development of multiple vaccines and prospects for expanded distribution of the shots give us reason to hope that the coronavirus after-times are within sight. Another COVID-19 relief package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, also is closer to reality. The House passed the measure over the weekend, and the Biden Administration is pushing the Senate to hammer out its differences with... 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 →


Archer Daniels Midland is one of the major corporations cited in a new report of companies that paid no taxes in 2020. The Biden Administration's infrastructure plan has ramped up the perennial tax debate between Democrats and Republicans. The White House wants to increase tax collections on companies to pay for the proposal, dubbed The American Jobs Plan. And that approach is getting some support from a recent Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) report. The Washington, D.C. nonprofit found that 55 of the largest U.S. companies paid nothing in federal income taxes last year. The $0 tax payments... Read more →


Photo: Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created to help small businesses continue to operate in the face of COVID-19 complications. Its execution, however, has been a mixed bag for many businesses and their tax pros, not always working as smoothly as its creators had hoped. Still, the forgivable loan program has its fans. And those worried about its impeding March 31 expiration can rest easier. The Senate last week agreed to the House bill extending the PPP. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it. When that's done, borrowers will be able to apply for... Read more →


As COVID-19 continues to control to at least some degree our lives, federal and state tax officials are offering tax benefits to those who take steps to control and lessen the effects of the persistent pandemic. Photo: Anna Tarazevich from Pexels If you still itemize deductions, the Internal Revenue Service today announced that you can count a few more purchases toward your Schedule A medical claims. Of course, the additions are because of COVID-19. Specifically, the IRS says in Announcement 2021-7 that the costs of personal protective equipment, aka PPE, purchased for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of... Read more →


The tax world is full of instances that are different from the real world. There are quarterly estimated tax payments that don't align with our standard calendar quarters. There are birthdays that are considered having been celebrated earlier when we get older. And now there are financial transactions that aren't financial transactions, at least when it comes to cryptocurrency. IRS has crypto questions: Cryptocurrency, often referred to generally as bitcoin (the Kleenex tissue of virtual money), has been a target of the Internal Revenue Service for years. Most recently, the agency has focused on getting taxes due on crypto transactions.... Read more →


A scene from "Judas and the Black Messiah," which today received six Oscar nominations. The filmmakers also took advantage of state tax breaks to make the movie. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures) The 2021 Oscar nominees were announced today. Let the arguing begin. I'm generally happy with the nominations, especially since two of my favorite and (I believe) overlooked performers were nominated in the Best Actor in a Leading Role. Oh, you want names? Sure: Riz Ahmed for "Sound of Metal" and Steven Yeun for "Minari." However, disagreements about the nominees and the ultimate winners in all Academy of Motion... Read more →


Image by Maxime Duprez via Twitter Happy National Pi Day 2021. Or as usurping marketers in the United States also call it Pie Day, even though there is a day designated for the food. Go ahead, get your bargain-priced sweet or savory pies today. But March 14 actually celebrates the mathematical constant pi, or π in the Greek alphabet. In case it's been a long time since math class, that's the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. The trillion-digit ratio is rounded to 3.14. You can find more about pi in one of my earlier March 14 blog... Read more →


Much of Texas got record snowfall on Feb. 14-15, with around 6 inches covering our backyard. Thank goodness for some much welcome sunshine today, but it's still below freezing, meaning our heater is working overtime! (Photo by Kay Bell) We have sunshine here in Central Texas! Still, the high temperature today in the greater Austin area is not expected to break the freezing mark. That means my home's heater is still in overdrive. And that means my next bill is going to be ginormous. The only consolation, is that I can count part of that heating bill as a home... Read more →


Small businesses are adapting their operations to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. Some tax breaks in the relief bill enacted at the end of 2020 could help. (Photo by Norma Mortenson via Pexels) Most COVID-19 relief focus has been on the added financial help to individuals. That's understandable. Millions of folks have been struggling to make ends meet as the pandemic has ravaged the economy. But they are facing fiscal woes in large part because their employers are in trouble, too. When companies get their footing back, they can start to rehire laid off staff and things should pick... Read more →


We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information. A handful of these documents must be submitted with Form 1040. Most, however,... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is already accepting e-filed business returns and says Free File for eligible individuals to do their taxes and electronically file at no cost will open in mid-January. If you use Free File, get ready. The Internal Revenue Service says it will open in mid-January. UPDATE, Jan. 15, 2021: Soon is here! The IRS opened up its Free File site on Jan. 15. It also announced that it will officially open the full 2021 tax filing season on Feb. 12. That's when the IRS will start accepting and processing all 2020 tax returns, regardless of how they... Read more →


Even though we definitely are more than ready for 2020 to end, the celebration of its official departure in a few hours — that's for us here in the United States; Happy New 2021 to all y'all on the other side of the International Date Line — likely will be subdued. Thanks, no thanks, COVID-19. May you, too, be gone soon in the coming 12 months. But even if the ringing in the New Year will be in smaller, pandemic-precautioned pods, some adult beverages will be raised as the clock strikes midnight. And among those celebrating the most will be... Read more →


Santa Claus, Indiana, is one of many merrily named communities across the country. However, this Christmas-year-round town is the only one with an official U.S. Postal Service Santa postmark. (Photo by tengrrl via Flickr CC) Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas Eve from all the holiday themed towns across the United States. There are the municipalities dubbed North Pole in New York, Colorado, Alaska and yes, it's even OK in Oklahoma. For those who revel in the season's greenery we have up the road from me Garland, Texas, as well as virtual forest full of Evergreens. There's an Evergreen in... Read more →


Welcome to Part 10 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. Today we wrap up the series (finally!) with standard optional mileage rate changes. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this year's taxes, due April 15, 2021. via GIPHY As... Read more →


Christmas at the computer. (Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels) You've adjusted to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Now are you ready for the virtual office holiday party? That's the route some companies are taking as they try to hang on to some semblance of seasonal traditions. Fewer parties, some virtual: Plans for any type of office holiday party are, not surprisingly, down dramatically from last year. In 2019, nearly 76 percent of companies planned year-end events. This year, just 23 percent of businesses are planning parties, with almost three-quarters of the 2020 festivities expected to be virtual,... Read more →


Photo by Emanuel Kluge via Flickr CC Could the COVID-19 pandemic produce changes in tax systems worldwide? That's what one global economic group thinks could and should happen. There's no argument about the revenue problems caused by the coronavirus in 2020. They are being felt acutely as we head into the heart of the year's holiday season. In addition to the coronavirus' disruption of traditional get-togethers due to health concerns, there's the pandemic's financial component. COVID-19 business cutbacks and closures have left too many with reduced, or no, paychecks. Businesses that are open are seeing fewer customers because of those... Read more →


This year's fresh greenery component to our otherwise fake fir Christmas decorations. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's the first weekend of December. That means millions of folks are untangling light strings, digging out cherished family holiday tchotchkes and making their homes merry and bright. In many homes, a Christmas tree is the center of the celebration. Fake fir, real celebration: For all but one Christmas over our decades of marriage, the hubby and I have had an artificial tree. Our lone live tree December was our first in Florida because I was missing the season's traditional chill. I soon got... Read more →


Among the many things COVID-19 has changed, possibly forever, is how and where we do our jobs. The work from home trend also has provided cyber criminals new ways to steal our identities and money — corporate cash, too — using telework security lapses and system flaws. TGIF! Yeah, workers still say this. However, there's a little less exultation in the announcement nowadays, what with many of us still working from home due to continuing coronavirus pandemic precautions. Plus, COVID-19 means our prior welcome weekend happy hours now are via Zoom. The work from home (WFH) shift also has created... Read more →


As we head into December, holiday shopping begins in earnest. Today's Cyber Monday is expected to be the busiest ever, as millions have shifted to online purchasing of just about everything during the COVID-19 pandemic. This increasing burst of internet transactions also means more chances for crooks to steal your payment and personal information. Much of the data that criminals are trying to snag this holiday shopping season also can be used during the rapidly approaching 2021 tax season to steal you tax identity and use it to file a fake return claiming a fraudulent tax refund. That's why on... Read more →


Millions of Americans have been spending most of their time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. And a good portion of them began holiday shopping online before this Black Friday or the upcoming Cyber Monday. But small businesses are hoping consumers will spend some of those dollars tomorrow, the annual shopping holiday known as Small Businesses Saturday. The event was started in 2010 by credit card company American Express. The U.S. Small Business Administration has officially cosponsored Small Business Saturday since 2011, noting that it has become an important part of small businesses' busiest shopping season. And once again,... Read more →