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Donald J. Trump announced on Aug. 8 four executive actions to provide COVID-19 relief in the wake of the stalled Congressional talks. (White House photo via Twitter) By now everyone knows that Donald J. Trump decided to literally take COVID-19 relief into his own hands yesterday. Sitting at table in a meeting room at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, surrounded by media and club members who served as a smaller surrogate rally crowd to cheer him and boo the reporters, Trump sign four executive actions. One was a formal Executive Order. The other three were memoranda. He and his... Read more →


My desk in my home office which I deduct when I file my taxes. Not that I'm paranoid, but sometimes it seems like unseen others somehow know what's going on in my life. The latest example is tax related. Earlier this week, a #TaxTwitter pal asked that social media group about home office tax deductions. Granted, this is not an unusual question since the coronavirus pandemic has meant many of us have been working from home, a lot of us for the very first time. Today, the Internal Revenue Service issued a tax tip on what taxpayers need to know... Read more →


Millions of youngsters across the United States will start this school year in virtual classrooms. But the tax savings are real in 11 states holding sales tax holidays this weekend. Ten of the events kick off at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7. Most run through the full weekend. One doesn't start until Sunday, Aug. 9, but continues through the following Saturday, Aug. 15. Below are this weekend's back-to-school tax holidays listed alphabetically by participating states. The links, which include the state names, provide more details on what is and isn't tax-free. Florida: Friday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 9.... Read more →


The days of real toasts are on hold for the most part due to the coronavirus. But alcohol sales and the tax revenue they produce remain a bright spot in an otherwise dim outlook for state treasuries hit hard by the pandemic. (Photo by burst via Pexels.com). Many states have been facing budget issues for a while. Those financial problems have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. As businesses closed down, some temporarily and some forever, states saw the associated corporate tax revenue drop. Those closed companies meant its employees no longer had income on which they paid taxes. And... 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 →


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 →


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 →


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 →


UPDATED, July 31, 2020: This post was published originally on July 8 in advance of the 2020 state sales tax holiday season. As the holidays come and go, I'll change the headline to reflect the upcoming events. I'll also color code the table showing all 16 sales tax holidays planned for this summer so you can easily see which have past and which are on the immediate horizon. Coming up at the end of July/first of August are tax holidays in Mississippi and Tennessee. If and when schools reopen, classrooms likely will look much different from this due to COVID-19... Read more →


Erin M. Collins took over as National Taxpayer Advocate on March 30, just as the United States was coming to grips with the coronavirus, so it's no surprise that the pandemic and its effects on taxes are part of her first official report to Congress. "Starting in the midst of a pandemic and witnessing IRS offices closing one by one was not the way I envisioned my role when I accepted the position," wrote Collins in the report's preface. But, added Collins, there's been a silver lining. In conference calls with her leadership team, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) employees and... Read more →


A new study says young people looking for summer jobs should see more of these signs, just later in the season. Summer is so different this year. That's especially true for young people, who, depending on their ages, look forward to just messing around, going to camp or getting a job. Most kiddos already have been messing around for months. Hey, parents who are trying to telecommute (or really commute if they have essential jobs) and also home school during a global pandemic can only do so much! On the camp front, many overnight camps are still closed, but some... Read more →


As the United States struggles to recover from COVID-19 closures, there's talk of a new tax credit for individual taxpayers to encourage them to eat out or travel. (Photo by Adrienn via Pexels) How stir crazy are you after months of COVID-19 quarantine, either self- or government-imposed? For millions of folks, the answer is pretty freakin' fed up with being stuck at home. I feel your closed-in pain. The hubby and I aren't big socializers, but even we are reaching our limit. This morning we went for a drive beyond just our local grocery and drug stores. Our face masks... Read more →


Sorry, but no matter how much your cat "helps" in your home office, the feline will not qualify as an employee, whose costs are tax deductible. However, you might be able to write off a part of your personal residence's homeowner's policy. (Photo by Lisa Omarali via Flicker CC) The hubby and I are still in self-quarantine, but while we've put the brakes on most of our regular activities, one part of our life is continuing as usual. Our house. Every homeowner will tell you that in addition to being the complete kings and queens of your (for the most... Read more →


Some people. Trying to survive a global pandemic isn't enough for them. They have to go and break the law, too. I'm not talking about defying a state's closure order or hawking subpar face masks online. Nope, two New England businessmen this week became the first individuals to be arrested and charged with fraud in connection with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The small business assistance program was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help companies struggling due to the effects of the virus. David A. Staveley of Andover, Massachusetts, and David... Read more →


Click image to watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene, in which these musicians provide the catchy background tune, from the 1977 Star Wars movie that launched the acclaimed sci-fi film franchise. Welcome to the first week of May 2020. It's a decidedly weird month, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic. When the deadly COVID-19 infection started spreading in force across the United States, most of the country shut down to some degree. Now many states are loosening their stay-home orders and things are starting to some degree to get back to normal, or what will pass as that... Read more →


The beach obviously is one of the big attractions of Virginia Beach, Virginia. But the coastal vacation spot, like the rest of the Old Dominion, has been under a coronavirus lockdown. So city officials created a tax holiday to help out restaurants. (Image courtesy Visit Virginia Beach Facebook page) There's only so much sourdough you can bake. Man — and woman and children, too — can't live on bread alone. So, if you're like the hubby and me during COVID-19 quarantine, you've had some meals delivered or picked up your curbside dinner order yourself. The food prepared by your favorite... Read more →


April is winding down. That means severe, and some deadly, spring storms are erupting all over the United States. And in just more than a month, hurricane season will officially start. A couple of states — Alabama and Texas — earlier this year offered their residents a sales tax holiday so they could save some money as they stocked up on emergency supplies. But even if you have to pay tax on your bottled water and canned food and batteries, start gathering your supplies now. Also take a pre-disaster inventory of your property. A full, accurate list of your belongings... 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 →


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 →