Charity Feed

Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images As we have become more globally interconnected, worldwide tragedies affect more of us. We have family and friends scattered across the globe. We want to support and help them, especially in troubled times. But those connections can have a dark side. Crooks take advantage of our goodwill. Fraudsters tout fake charities to worldwide victims, seeking to divert much needed help into their own malicious pockets. After disasters, the Internal Revenue Service regularly reminds taxpayers to be alert for such cons. Fake charity scams also are, sadly, a perennial on the IRS' annual Dirty Dozen... Read more →


Photo via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Andrej Lišakov The official holiday shopping season is officially underway. So is the identity theft season, which could cause lots of problems for shoppers at tax time. I know about the shopping season because my email box is overflowing with "Buy Now!" and "Bargains, Bargains, Bargains" and "Get 40% Off!" messages, mostly for stuff I have no intention of buying at any price. I know about the tax threat because next week, Nov. 27 through Dec. 1, is the eighth annual National Tax Security Awareness week. During these coming five days, just as online... Read more →


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash Taxes are all about the numbers, and this past week I've been posting inflation-adjusted figures that apply to a variety of tax provisions. Long-time readers know I parcel the numbers out in a 10-part series. But one of those posts, Part 3 on cost-of-living boosts in 2024 for tax-favored retirement savings plans, was published first because the Internal Revenue Service typically issues those adjustments first. Since that earlier Part 3 post hasn't gotten a sequential mention during this recent run of inflation series posts, I'm boosting it today. And I'm pulling out an item... Read more →


Substitute a cat for the dog, and that's pretty much how the hubby and I envision retirement! (Photo: Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) OK, boomer. When that catchphrase meme went viral a few years ago, it marked the end of friendly generational relations. It also could be seen as a wake-up call to retirement savers. With Social Security already facing financial challenges, many point to the added challenges that Uncle Sam's retirement program faces as even more of the Baby Boom generation retires. Congress has yet to address Social Security's future. Of course, the House and Senate seem to... Read more →


…and possibly get a sweet tax break for your gift. Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images There are two kinds of Halloween candy people. There are those who low-ball their trick-or-treater count and end up running out of goodies to give out early in the night's festivities. They turn off the porch and interior lights, and ignore the doorbell ringing by costume clad candy seekers who refuse to bypass any house. Then there are those who buy waaaaay too much candy. Even when they start doubling the handouts to the later goodie-seeking groups, they end up with a lot, a... Read more →


Things can get even more complicated if you're donating to international relief efforts and plan to claim your gift as a tax deduction. World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers are among the first in areas in need of relief, like here delivering meals with the help of nonprofit partners in Beit Shemesh, Israel. WCK staff also are already on their way to Acapulco, Mexico, where Hurricane Otis made landfall as a powerful Category 5 early today. (Photo credit: World Central Kitchen/WCK.org) Sometimes, like today, it seems as if the whole world is totally out of control. In the past few weeks,... Read more →


Source: AmeriCorps Tomorrow, Sept. 11, is Patriot Day. It's not an official, formal federal holiday. But it was declared, by a joint resolution of Congress in 2009, as the day each year for remembering those who died or were injured during the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001. On the annual National Day of Service and Remembrance on Monday, Americans across the country will follow the urging of President Joe Biden's in his proclamation to participate in community service in honor of those our nation lost. You can find opportunities to volunteer... Read more →


County of Maui photo via Facebook Late summer is wildfire season across much of the United States, and this particularly hot 2023 season has helped feed ferocious fires. Our 50th state has been hit the hardest. A series of wildfires erupted on several of the Aloha State's islands in early August, fed by strong winds from Hurricane Dora as it passed south of Hawai'i. The worst fires were on Maui, where starting Aug. 8 they burned out of control. By the time the flames were out, they left tragic evidence. The Maui fire is the deadliest in the United States... Read more →


U.S. Senators today grilled professional golf representatives in connection with the planned merger of the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the upstart league backed by Saudi Arabia. Critics, including many in the sports world as well as Congress, of the deal say it's a thinly disguised effort by the Mideastern country to sportswash its stained human rights reputation. Others add that it's an attempt to bolster its economic influence in the United States. The Senate Homeland Security Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing ran around three hours, but apparently didn't resolve much. (Insert your own Capitol Hill dog and pony... Read more →


Reviewed and updated Sunday, Oct.8, 2023 Since there was no big winner last night, the Powerball lottery jackpot grew to $1.55 billion, a nearly $680 million one-time lump sum payout. For those who aren’t deterred by the very long lottery-winning odds and hold out hope for dual jackpots, Mega Millions is at “just” $20 million ($8.7 cash option) after one of my fellow Texans bought the winning $361 million ($157.3 million one-time cash option) ticket last week. Whenever your numbers come up, in full or part, these tips can help you handle your new sudden millionaire status. Picking lucky numbers... Read more →


Washington, D.C, fireworks illuminate the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol dome. Happy Independence Day! My neighborhood kicked off today with our annual Fourth of July gathering. It included a parade around the flatter (our community is in a hilly area) of our two parks. Cars and golf carts and bicycles and baby strollers and individual walkers all decker out in red, white, and blue regalia made the nearly one-mile trek. There was a good turnout since my neighbors and I, like a lot of Americans, usually spend this holiday close to home. That's especially true in years when July 4... Read more →


Welcome to the first full week of June. Have you finished making your vacation plans? I hope you left some time to also deal with summer tax tasks. That's right, taxes don't go on holiday. And while they aren't fun, there are some tax moves you need to make, or at least consider, this June. Since we're already on fifth day of the month, let's get right to them, focusing on some other relevant numbers. Don't miss Tax Day take two. June 15 is Tax Day for U.S. taxpayers who live and work outside the United States and Puerto Rico.... Read more →


Spring is the traditional time to clean out all the junk you've accumulated. Our neighborhood has a community yard sale the first weekend in May. Some of what doesn't get sold ends up going to local charities. That's a good way to dispose of clothing and household goods that are in good condition and, if you itemize, claim a tax deduction. Follow donation rules: The state of the donated goods is just one of the conditions you must take into consideration, especially if you're planning to deduct their value as an itemized charitable gift. The other key donation deduction factor... Read more →


Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden share a lighter moment. Last week, they also shared their 2022 federal and state tax returns with the American public. (Photo courtesy K. Harris/White House) The U.S. president's and vice president's tax returns were among the more than 117 million filings that the Internal Revenue Service has received through mid-April. We know this because, as is once again tradition, President Joe Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, made their 2022 tax return public. So did Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff. The Bidens' filing showed they paid... Read more →


Scammers tend to use tried and true techniques to con people out of their identities and money. One of the most popular schemes involves crooks pretending to be real-life officials. And the Internal Revenue Service is near the top of government agencies that con artists impersonate. CloudFlare, a company which provides security for many companies' online operations, says that the IRS ranks sixth in the 50 top brands when it comes to phishing attempts that use fake sites. The example given by CloudFlare included "IRS" along with the words "contact" and "payment." A big tip-off that the URL is fake... Read more →


The IRS' tax relief for tornado-stricken Mississippians is welcome. But devastated residents could use more help. If you want to provide some support, read on for groups that are conducting a variety of recovery efforts in the storm-stricken areas and could use donations to continue their work. The devastation from the March 24-25 tornadoes that plowed through the lower Mississippi River Valley is horrific. A massive EF4 twister that cut a 59-mile path of destruction left 26 people dead. Hundreds of residents and businesses were displaced by the severe storms. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House... Read more →


Blinders may work for horses, but they're terrible for taxpayers who might miss out on some tax savings. (Photo by Graham Ruttan on Unsplash) The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's expansion of the standard deduction amounts means even more taxpayers are using that filing method. Most think that since they don't itemize, they don't need to worry about tax breaks. They're wrong. There are the above-the-line deductions, officially known as adjustments to income, that anyone can take (if they qualify), regardless of whether they take the standard deduction or use Schedule A. Then there are some tax credits, again available... Read more →


If you're in your seventies, it's time to start preparing for nest egg withdrawals, some of which are required by federal tax law. A couple of new retirement laws over the last few years, collectively known as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Acts, have made a lot of changes to retirement plans and the collection of associated taxes. One revision was the bumping up the date when most older owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts must start taking some money from these savings. Starting in 2023, required minimum distributions, known by the acronym RMDs, don't kick in... Read more →


Photo by Liza Summer The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's substantial increase in standard deduction amounts accomplished one of its supporters' major goals. More taxpayers have an easier time filing now because they claim the standard deduction. But the 2017 tax reform law had a less-welcome side effect. Charitable giving, which must be claimed as an itemized deduction, has dropped. Even for wealthier taxpayers, who are the most likely to still itemize and who under the law change can claim an even larger percentage of their charitable gifts, deductible donations have plummeted. Some federal lawmakers, however, are hoping to change... 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 →