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Some of the Christmas cookies the hubby and I make and decorate. Yes, we over-bake. And yes, we slather on the sugary icing and decorations because the mainly sugar and butter cookies themselves are not fattening enough. Gotta keep Santa (and friends, family and ourselves) happy! Was Santa apparently full by the time he got to your house, leaving you with some extra Christmas cookies? No worries, even if you're low on milk … or are lactose intolerant. All the adults in your household can loosen their belts and finish off those goodies with a brew or two. Sugar and... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Sometimes it feels like you need an advanced mathematics degree to do tax calculations. The IRS seeks to ease some of that math frustration for employers with a new online withholding assistant. (Photo by Kim Manley Ort via Flickr CC) It's been two years since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) because law, but folks are still adjusting to its many changes. One area that's still a stumbling block is withholding. The first year that TCJA's lower tax rates and adjusted income brackets were in place, some folks unexpectedly owed taxes at filing time. In most cases, that was... Read more →


Greek street market vendors offer just about everything. (Photo: Travels with Gerri-Travellerspoint) Every day, more Americans go digital, at least partially, when comes to their finances. We pay via our smartphone features and apps. Our paychecks or gig earnings are directly deposited. Even the Internal Revenue Service is nudging (and sometimes shoving) us to handle our tax tasks electronically. But we are nowhere near where Greece is going. That Mediterranean country, the one that's been on the financial edge or over it for years, now is forcing its residents to use electronic transactions equal to around a third of their... Read more →


Yes, I know I'm a nag when it comes to year-end tax moves. I've posted about individual steps to take by Dec. 31 both at the beginnings of November and December, as well as looked at business tax moves to make now. But as happens all the time in life and taxes, I've come up with a few more year-end tax moves that didn't make the earlier lists, or at least were mentioned just in passing. So here goes with five more tax moves to make by Dec. 31 1. Don't miss the RMD deadline. You followed all the financial... Read more →


More offices are having holiday parties this year. Even better, the seasonal soirees — and small gifts for workers — could be tax free. Most holiday office parties aren't as raucous as the one portrayed in the R-rated 2016 movie "Office Christmas Party." That's probably good for bosses, workers and the tax collector trying to make sense of the deduction claims. (Screenshot of YouTube trailer) Offices are much more jolly this holiday season. More than three-quarters of businesses are planning parties this December. That 76 percent of companies throwing seasonal soirees is up more than 10 percent over 2018 count... Read more →


The days left in 2019 are dwindling. Quickly. Don't just take my work for it. Check out the countdown clock over in the right column of the ol' blog literally clicking away the seconds left in this year. That means it's time to act to cut your taxes. You can check out my monthly tax moves (thank you!) for November and December for some possibilities. While I did mention in those earlier posts (the November one specifically) the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's 20 percent tax break for small businesses that operate as passthrough entities, most of those earlier tips... Read more →


Record-setting Cyber Monday sales means more porches across the United States will look like this. But the remote sales' boost to state tax coffers wasn't as big as some expected. $9.4 billion. That's how much U.S. shoppers spent on the just-passed Cyber Monday. That was nearly 20 percent more than last year's $7.9 billion tally for the annual and over-hyped Monday-after-Thanksgiving online shopping day. Obviously, the $9.4 billion in sales is a Cyber Monday record. Also obviously, all those online transactions will help out the state treasuries that now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Wayfair 2018 decision, are... Read more →


Updated Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 Source: PhotoMIX Ltd via Pexels Yes, I know Cyber Monday has come and gone. I also realize that a lot of folks finished up their holiday shopping earlier this week. But there always are those of us who put off picking up that perfect present until the last minute. Or, as Dec. 25 nears, we just happen to see something that our spouse, parents, children or best fiend would absolutely love. So, since we seem to be perpetually logged in, we click on it and we're done. Unless our clicking leads to identity theft. Beyond... Read more →


Some food delivery apps apparently are shorting states when it comes to sales tax on the delivery fees. The 2019 holiday shopping season is officially underway. The kickoff remains Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as many shoppers remain committed to post-Turkey Day sales. Early data from Adobe Analytics shows in-store sales were up 4 percent from last year. But consumer patterns are changing. The store of choice for more and more of us is the internet, which is open 24/7 365 days a year. Online Black Friday sales were up early in the day by more than 19 percent... Read more →


Photo by Elaine Smith via Flickr CC It's been more than a year since the Supreme Court said states could collect online sales taxes from retailers who don't have any physical presence, aka nexus, in their states. But the internet tax collection process is still evolving. Going from a system where nationwide online sellers rarely if ever collected sales taxes from their customers to one — or actually multiple given the various tax system of states — where these purchasing levies are collected is not easy. Still, progress has been made. Online sales tax collection evolution: These taxes still are... Read more →


These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their agribusiness operation. In the case of drought, they might get some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," observed Hartford Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner back in the late 1800s. More than a century later, that meteorological quip is still applicable. Long-time readers know I'm one of the guilty weather complainers. Heck, I do it so much that it's earned its own category on the ol'... Read more →


Today I'd rather be in the Midwest, say northern Ohio or Michigan, at least as far as the weather. Yeah, it's chillier than I like, but at least it's not so dang windy. As the screen shot above of the live wind map wind shows, the rest of the country is dealing with some strong gusts. Locally, we're at around 13 mile per hour sustained wind, with gusts up to 30 mph. Where wind pays: You'd think I'd be used to the wind. I did, after all, grow up in West Texas, where the wide-open spaces are perfect to spin... Read more →


Yes, that could be a real IRS revenue officer knocking on your door if live in Arkansas, Texas or Wisconsin and have ignored prior notices to pay your overdue tax bill. Have you been a bit remiss in meeting your tax duties? If so and you live in Arkansas, Texas or Wisconsin, you've likely or soon could find an Internal Revenue Service agent on your doorstep. The IRS has announced that these in-person visits are part of a larger effort by the agency to, it its words, ensure fairness in the tax system. The special compliance efforts will encompass both... Read more →


UPDATE: The Work Opportunity Tax Credit was extended through the 2020 tax year as part of the comprehensive appropriations (and tax extenders) act signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019. Companies could qualify for a tax break if they help former military members, as well as other specific groups of job seekers, transition to civilian workforces. But the hiring businesses need to act quickly. Hiring extra employees during the holiday season — which we're smack dab in the middle of it in case you've missed the touting of Thanksgiving specials, early Black Friday deals and, yes, Christmas decorations already —... Read more →


Whether I'm at home or traveling, I enjoy craft beers, like this one from a Maryland micro brewer. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's been one of those days. One of those weeks. One of those months. You get the idea. So I treated myself to a beer at lunch. And I'm having another one this afternoon. As the saying and song go, it's 5 o'clock somewhere. I really don't partake of adult beverages that much, despite the many booze-related items I've posted over the years. And although the posts are, obviously, about taxes, I don't tend to think about the... Read more →


Welcome to Part 9 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at how much tax penalties could cost you or your tax preparer next year. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. IRS agents don't throw flags like football referees, but the tax agency isn't afraid to blow the whistle... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to tax credit, deduction and income exclusion amounts. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. The hubby has a chant he breaks into every year when I start working on our annual tax return: "Deduct! Deduct! Deduct!"... Read more →


November is the place for perfectly roasted Thanksgiving bird, not the many tax turkeys that can gobble up your money. These monthly tax moves are a great garnish as you finalize your 2019 tax year menu. Turkey attack from South Park via GIPHY It's November. You know what that means. Year-end tax move time. Oh yeah, and holiday plans. I hear ya. It's that crazy hectic part of the year, whether you're the host/hostess with the most/mostest or planning to travel to your Thanksgiving festivities. But you also need to add taxes to the mix. Now. Before you get all... Read more →


It's that time of year again. Actually, that time was at 2 a.m. today (Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019). That's when most of us said goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and hello to the return of Standard Time. As we deal with the timepiece trickery, a lot of us (me!) suffer a sort of jet lag as our body clocks adjust to the new time and impending earlier arrival of sunsets. But the fall back to Standard Time also is a good reminder that standard is a good thing for millions of taxpayers. A couple of tax standards, the standard deduction... Read more →