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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 →


Welcome to Part 9 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. In today's post, we look at taxpayer penalties for filing (and paying) late, assessments on tax pros and how unpaid taxes could limit international travel. 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... Read more →


As we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, everyone is thinking about masks. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has been working on masking rules for a while and, coincidentally in this year of COVID-19, has taken steps to offer added protection for taxpayers. The IRS masks are not literal covers. In fact, they lessen, not add. But the reductions will mask — that is, make it more difficult to see — personal and business identification numbers and information on common tax documents. And that should help reduce tax identity theft. Last four Social Security digits: This summer, the IRS... Read more →


Remote work has been among the many COVID-related challenges of 2020. Many employees have appreciated the added flexibility and no commute. Those who aren't that social say they've been more productive since they haven't had to spend time schmoozing with coworkers and bosses. The experience has many workers and companies exploring whether widespread working from home will — or should — continue once the coronavirus pandemic is under control. It's also raised tax questions, including an intriguing and unexpected one. A major European bank says that employees who work from home (WFH) should pay for the opportunity via a new... Read more →


Photo by Erik Mclean via Pexels.com Will the lame duck Congress finally give struggling individuals and businesses a second round of COVID-19 economic relief? That ultimate answer could be as confusing and convoluted as the election aftermath we're now watching play out in key presidential election battleground states. That Capitol Hill action is being anxiously awaited by individual taxpayers who've lost income during the pandemic, as well as by small business owners looking for a legislative tweak to make the coronavirus loan help they did get more palatable at tax time. Early relief was easy: The first relief measure, the... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 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. In In today's post, at changes to tax credit, deduction and income exclusion amounts. 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. Deductions are... Read more →


Image by Daniela Hartmann via Flickr I joked on Twitter last week that coronavirus pandemic self-isolation has gotten to me so much that I'm considering buying all the gadgets whose ads keep popping up in my feed as holiday gifts. OK, I half joked. I've always tended to shop online anyway. COVID-19 has just moved me from 95 percent to 100 percent in that direction. And some of the items really are interesting. C'mon, admit it. You, too, wouldn't mind having a solar-power bird bath fountain or a pocket-sized, snowflake-shaped multi-tool. These items are even more appealing when you realize... Read more →


A White Walker with an ice spear from the HBO show Game of Thrones. A North Carolina man allegedly took his love of the Game of Thrones books and television program too far. He's been charged by federal officials of trying to steal $6.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by setting up fake companies, some of which were named after the popular fantasy series, referred to as GoT by its millions of fans. Tristan Bishop Pan of Garner, North Carolina, has been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, according to officials with... Read more →


Millions of U.S. government employees in federal buildings across the country, like this one Sacramento, California, are being forced to participate in the Trump Administration's partial payroll tax deferral. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are continuing their efforts to cobble together a second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. Some people, however, don't want the ostensible financial relief they're already getting. They are among the federal workers and military members who've had the Social Security portion of their Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes automatically suspended. Forty-three Representatives say they've heard from these constituents who are... Read more →


Plus, tips on maximizing yard sales and holding safe events during a pandemic. When I went out to get the paper from our driveway this morning, I was puzzled by the amount of traffic on our usually quiet neighborhood street. Especially since it's Saturday. Then I remembered that it was our annual fall community garage sale day. Actually, it's our only community garage sale day this year. The spring 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. And while my immediate neighbors aren't big sellers of their old items, a few tend to participate. This year, though, the cars were... Read more →