Charity Feed

Hello, July! The heat is definitely on, but there are plenty of ways to chill out, both personally and to put your 2019 tax bill on ice. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just be generally lazy. I'm right there with you. But you'll enjoy those recreational pursuits a lot more once you've taken some steps, like the seven listed below, to lower your 2019 tax bill. Let's get to 'em! 1. Get weather ready. A low pressure trough moved overnight from Georgia to the Florida panhandle... Read more →


Checking out food bank offerings. (Photo by Michael Losch-KOMUnews via Flickr CC) All of us here in Texas, especially lovers of Mexican beers and avocados, are breathing a bit easier now that the threatened tariffs on our Southern neighbor are, for now, off the table. The Chinese trade situation, however, is still simmering. As that standoff continues, American shoppers are paying higher prices for many consumer goods. That's because tariffs essentially are taxes. The higher prices we're already seeing due to the Chinese charges could go up even more if the self-proclaimed Tariff Man holds firm in his belief that... Read more →


Thousands gather for a service at Lakewood Church in Houston, one of many megachurches often led by prosperity gospel evangelists. As since biblical days, religious leaders and governments continue to jockey over rendering unto the tax collector. (Photo by ToBeDaniel via Wikipedia Commons) Religion and taxes are inextricably tied together, primarily because religious groups that pass Internal Revenue Service muster don't have to pay taxes. But some religious leaders have gotten extra attention lately for, shall we say, the extravagant ways they seek to serve their god. Private jet is biblical: Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who in 2015 defended his use... Read more →


At least one state, Texas, joins the Internal Revenue Service in making filing accommodations for those affected by software company's malware troubles. Watch the full classic Roseanne Roseannadana skit at NBC's Saturday Night Live video page. As the wonderful Gilda Radner character Roseanne Roseannadana used to say, "It's always something." That's particularly true in the tax world. Just when we thought we had made it relatively unscathed through the 2019 tax season, which already was crazy since it was the first one in which most of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes took real life effect for taxpayers,... Read more →


Gustave Dore's 1866 engraving of Satan falling from Heaven for John Milton's "Paradise Lost." (Wikimedia Commons photo) Tax-exempt organizations became a landmine for the Internal Revenue Service in 2013. In May of that year, a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report determined that the agency had used questionable tactics in reviewing applications by self-described social welfare organizations seeking the favorable 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. You may remember it as the IRS/Tea Party Scandal. Now a new tax-exempt designation might open up the IRS for more criticism. This time, though, it doesn't involve nonprofit groups that might spend a little too... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2019 Earth Day was created in 1969 by environmental activists in response to an oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded each year as a day to emphasize environmental issues and inspire an appreciation of our planet. With this year's celebration falling on a weekday, many folks are looking for ways to incorporate their pro-Mother Earth efforts into their daily lives. Well, nothing is as incorporated into our day-to-day existences as our taxes. So on Earth Day 2019 and every day this year, here are 4 tax-saving environmental options. 1. Electric... Read more →


UPDATE, Thursday, March 28: Well, I'm not the new Powerball multimillionaire. The lottery jackpot, which hit $768.4 million before the drawing last night, is going to the lucky person who bought the winning ticket in New Berlin, Wisconsin. But save this post. There will be other chances to win! Yes, I bought a ticket for the March 27 drawing of the $750 million and counting Powerball lottery. Yes, I know the odds of winning the jackpot, which is the fourth largest Powerball prize in U.S. history, are about 1 in 292 million. I know many of my hardcore personal financial... Read more →


April 1 could be costly for older retirement account owners. No fooling. That's the deadline for taking a required minimum distribution, or RMD, if you turned 70½ last year and did not take the specified amount from your tax-deferred retirement funds by Dec. 31. RMDs are, as the name says, required amounts that you must withdraw from a retirement plan that's been earning money over the years without you having to pay tax on it. The tax law has been letting these accounts ride for years, decades in many cases. But when you get halfway through your 70th year, the... Read more →


A crowdfunding effort to raise money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has ended, but some folks still want to contribute. The debate on an expansive U.S.-Mexico wall (or similar structures) continues, in Washington, D.C., as well as across the country. The top issue right now is money to pay for any barriers along the United States' southern border. Donald J. Trump has declared the situation a national emergency, which his administration says would free up a total of $8 billion for the campaign-promised project. Opposition to the wall and Trump's workaround to pay for it has received... Read more →


Each year on this federal holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., people across the United States volunteer at their favorite nonprofit services provider. Others opt to donate to charitable causes that support the goals of Dr. King and MLK Day. Here's a look at how recent tax law changes have shifted some of those donation choices and giving methods. Charities cheered when they were spared the limitations imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on many popular itemized deductions. There even was celebration of a change that allows the charitably inclined, particularly the very wealthy,... Read more →


Yes, I know I've been a bit fixated the last few days on charitable giving. But it is Christmas week, the traditional time of giving gifts, which also coincides with nonprofits' annual year-end quest for more money. Those solicitations are more intense this year as charities are dealing with the potentially costly effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which some analysts worry could cost them billions in donations. Standard increase could cut into charitable gifts: The new tax law essentially doubled the standard deduction amounts. That means more folks are likely to claim the standard deduction instead... Read more →


Yes, I'll get to the tax moves to make by Dec. 31. Keep reading. But first I've just got to vent about some confusing year-end tax move info making the television and internet rounds. There's a tax feature that I've seen twice on local television and a couple of times online as a video with accompanying text and it's driving me crazy! It's about purportedly tax-saving moves to make in the last few days of 2018. Good idea. Confusing information. Specifically, one of the points is about charitable giving, which long-time readers know I'm a big fan of from both... Read more →


Dec. 26 is known as Boxing Day in many countries around the world. These cats definitely have embraced the spirit if not the full meaning of this unofficial, at least in the United States, holiday. Our feline also was a big fan of cardboard containers on the day after Christmas and any day of the year that a box of any size appeared. Big cats enjoy boxes, too, but as my Tumbling Taxes post shows they exhibit their enthusiasm in slightly different ways than their smaller cousins. As a lover of cats, be they large or small or domesticated (as... Read more →


The foundation run by Donald J. Trump and his family is being dissolved. That announcement today from the New York Attorney General's office also noted that it will continue pursuing its lawsuit against the Trump Foundation. In case you haven't been following this story, the Empire State's top law enforcement officer alleges that the First Family's foundation "functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump's interests." The White House contends this is just another politically motivated attack. We'll let this fight be hashed out via the legal system and voters. But today's news, which comes at the... Read more →


Welcome to Part 10 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. This final part of the annual inflation tweaks focuses on vehicle mileage rates. You can find links to all 2019 inflation posts in the series' first item: income tax brackets and rates. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns that are due in April 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing this year's 2018 tax return due April 15, 2019. If your job requires you to be on the road, you'll get a bit bigger tax break for... Read more →


Like helping people? You can extend your volunteer penchant beyond the holidays and into the coming tax season by becoming a volunteer with an Internal Revenue Service-approved free tax help site. Don't worry. You'll get, like the folks pictured here, the tax training needed to help others fulfill their tax tasks. (Screenshot from IRS video) The holidays are here. Yeah, I'm not ready either, but … In this season of giving, many folks donate to charities. This year, much of the focus in on helping nonprofits that assist folks who've suffered through natural disasters, notably the deadly wildfires still burning... Read more →


Updated Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 Smoke from the Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires now burning in California as seen via NASA satellite images. Earthquakes have been displaced as the most feared nature disaster in California. Wildfires, which once again are ravaging the Golden State, now are the biggest perennial natural threat, as evidenced by the latest rash of devastating and deadly flame outbreaks. Firefighters are battling three wildfires across the state. The Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road, is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As of Monday, Nov. 12, morning, the fire was responsible... Read more →


Don't let tax turkeys gobble up your money. Make these tax moves, a couple of which are related to recent tax reform, this November and for sure by the end of 2018. South Park turkeys via Giphy It's November! The start of the holiday season. Time to get into the festive spirit with some year-end tax moves. "Whoa! Wait! What the what are you thinking?" you say. "I'm still adjusting to Standard Time and already have a huge to-do list to make sure my family has the perfect Thanksgiving. Then as soon as that's over, I've got to start with... Read more →


"The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dalí (Oil on canvas, 1931) © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. (Image from About.com, fair use, via Wikipedia) It's that time of year again, literally. At 2 a.m. today (Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018), most of us said goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and hello to the return of Standard Time. OK, maybe most of us weren't up in the wee hours to actually say goodbye and hello to our clocks. But we're dealing now with the timepiece trickery. A lot of us (me!) will suffer... Read more →


The scariest thing about Halloween this year is we're expecting rain. If the meteorologists are right, it should start by late afternoon and run through early evening. Of course, that's prime time for young ghouls to arrive in our neighborhood, meaning much trick-or-treating likely will be washed out. That frightens me more than the costumed kiddos because I will have to face all the candy that we have on hand. Heck, I've gained 3 pounds just having it in the house, so there's no way I want it around longer! So what to do with the sweets? Here are some... Read more →