Coronavirus COVID-19 Feed

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was expanded as part of the COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by President Joe Biden. Instead of $2,000 per child, the CTC in for the 2021 tax year is $3,600 per child age 5 or younger. It's $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Part of the 2021 credit money is going out through the end of the year as advance payments. The October payments went out last Friday. Two more rounds, on the 15th of November and December, will be issued. Few of us will turn down money, so the credit increase and... Read more →


One of my favorite Lyle Lovett songs is "What Do You Do/The Glory of Love," where the Houston singer-songwriter shares the vocal spotlight with the incomparable Francine Reed. The lyric that initially caught my ear and makes me chuckle every time I hear it goes, "If you make all that money man, make damn sure it shows." That's a great exchange in a duet, but such showiness raised suspicions about a Dallas-area accountant accused of defrauding the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP fraud guilty plea: Steven Jalloul was indicted in September 2020 on charges he orchestrated a fraudulent scheme... Read more →


Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels Everyone needs help now and then. That truism especially applies to filing taxes. But not everyone can afford to hire a tax professional. That's where the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs come into play. For decades, these two programs have provided free tax preparation and filing assistance during the annual filing season to millions of lower- and middle-income taxpayers, as well as elderly filers. The Internal Revenue Service just announced its financial support for 334 VITA and TCE programs in 2022. Now the agency is looking... Read more →


This has been a wonderful weather week here in the Austin area. Nights have been cool. Days have topped out in the seasonal upper 70s. But today is a tad warmer, a trend expected to continue through October. So it's goodbye to our brief autumn in Central Texas, and back to closing windows and cranking up the air conditioner. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Although it was hot this summer, it wasn't the hottest since we moved here 16 years ago. And after February's devastating ice storm, I'm never complaining about warm or warmer than normal or hot... Read more →


Millions of Americans rely on their workplace benefits to cover then health care and other needs. Most of them also are paying even more attention to those job-based benefits this year in light of the persistent COVID-19 pandemic. Medical insurance is a top priority. But other benefits also are getting added attention during this annual fall period, during which many U.S. companies allow workers to enroll in or change their benefits for the coming coverage year. Many of the office-based benefits also offer some tax advantages. Here are five questions with an Internal Revenue Service-inspired perspective to ask yourself as... Read more →


Free tax-preparation and filing help is offered ever tax season through groups community groups nationwide, like this Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program run by the Summit-Medina, Ohio, United Way. As the COVID-compromised 2020 and 2021 tax filing seasons demonstrated, most taxpayers needed some help to make sure they got all the tax breaks they were entitled to, as well as just file their annual returns. That need for tax assistance isn't going away, even if we do (fingers and toes tightly crossed) get to a more normal tax season next year. And volunteers who've received the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


Fans of peer-to-peer payment apps are worried that a proposed $600 bank account reporting threshold will affect their transactions. It won't. The U.S. tax system is based on voluntary compliance by taxpayers. But the Internal Revenue Service wasn't born yesterday. It knows full disclosure by all taxpayers is a pipe dream. That's why the agency relies on, and pushes for, increased third-party notifications. That's where taxable transactions are reported not only to the taxpayers, but also the IRS. The most common situation is the W-2 annual wage statement, but there are plenty of others. The latest instance of third-party reporting... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels Hello, ultimate tax procrastinators. You now have just a week to finish your Form 1040 and get it to the Internal Revenue Service. A piece of cake for all y'all who push thing to the last minute, right? Ooooh-kaaaay. It's your tax life … and possible tax costs if you mess up anything or, yikes, miss this due date. But just in case you're open to a little at-the-wire tax filing advice, here are six questions, and some answers from me, to ask yourself in these last seven days until Oct 15. 1. Do... Read more →


In addition to visiting your local pumpkin patch this month, make time for these October tax moves. (Photo by James Wheeler via Pexels) It's October. I know I say this every month, but wow, this day got here quickly. And it's just the start of a busy month. This first full month of fall means it's time to winterize your house if you live in a place with changing seasons. You've got candy to buy so trick-or-treaters won't be disappointed. But take it from me, don't buy the sweets too soon or you'll have to buy more by the time... Read more →


Despite companies reopening as we've moved into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of folks filing for unemployment is raising some concerns. Yes, unemployment applications still are trending near the lowest levels of the pandemic. But first-time applicants for the benefits have edged higher the past three weeks. Today's numbers from the Department of Labor (DoL) for the week ending Sept. 25 showed seasonally adjusted initial claims of 362,000. That's an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 351,000. And it's the highest since the 377,000 tally for the week ended Aug. 7. There... Read more →


The loss of tax revenue is substantial, since most states collect tax (or are supposed to) on all their meals, from eat-in to pick up to delivery. Tasty and taxable. (Photo by Adrienn via Pexels) Running a restaurant poses many challenges. Dealing with increased food costs. Hiring and training staff. Finding an accessible and affordable location. Complying with health and other regulatory rules. Paying taxes. The tax consideration is getting special attention in California, where an extended investigation reveals that around a fifth of the state's restaurants are using high-tech methods to skip out on taxes. "The California Department of... Read more →


Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payments are producing a financial benefit to more than the families receiving the money. The early tax credit amounts, which started going out in July and will continue through December, also appear to keep more workers on the job. That's a finding from a report by Humanity Forward, which partnered with researchers at the Washington University of St. Louis, Appalachian State, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and the Urban Institute to examine the potential effects of the tax break. In addition, the tax credit also is encouraging some to follow through on entrepreneurial plans. Popular tax... Read more →


Here's some news that's not news for many taxpayers. The Internal Revenue Service is still running behind in its processing of tax filings and getting payments, including refunds, out to taxpayers. What is new, though, is that the admission comes from the top of the tax agency. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig praised the efforts of his employees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in a recent A Closer Look column. The online IRS publication offers agency executives the chance to discuss issues of interest to taxpayers and the tax community. But Rettig also acknowledged in the Sept. 14 piece that "despite... Read more →


Photo by sarachicad via Flickr CC Since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March 2020, both employers and employees have been struggling to recover. There was hope when vaccines became widely available in early 2021, things would change. Coronavirus jab hesitancy and the Delta variant wrecked that. Some blamed added federal unemployment benefits on the trouble companies had finding staff when they reopened. Others said it was the businesses' fault for not offering better wages and benefits. Now, in the midst of the Great Resignation in which millions of workers have opted not to return to their prior workplaces, companies are still... Read more →


If you have it in your heart, and bank account, consider donating to your favorite charity. It could help many through a difficult year, and also might provide you an enhanced tax deduction. 2021 has been, to put it as nicely as I can, one heck of a year. We commemorated the 20th year since the Sept. 11 foreign terrorists' attacks. We've had major and deadly natural disasters. We're still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. And we've got 3½ months to go. All these events, and the possibility of more (hurricane season, for example, lasts until the end of November),... Read more →


The IRS has decided that home COVID-19 tests are allowable medical expenses. This Tuesday was the week from hell, mainly due to dealing — again! — with medical insurance issues. I won't bore you with my personal, and continual, battles with insurance companies over paying for my health care procedures. I will say that even with the coverage, the hubby and I have been able to itemize our — and by our, I mean mostly my — medical costs over the last few years and claim them on our taxes. We're in the minority, both in itemizing and claiming medical... Read more →


The Great Resignation created by folks deciding not to return to their jobs after extended COVID-19 absences has led to a lot of new businesses. That means there a many new bosses out there, most of them dealing with a different part of the Internal Revenue Service for the first time. As business owners, they potentially face new types of taxes. Exactly which taxes depend largely on how their new company is established. That's why selection of a business entity is a major tax decision. Business entity options: As part of 2021's National Small Business Week, sponsored annually by the... Read more →


Whatever your reason for moving, be it a temporary disaster displacement or settling into your forever dream home, you need to let the Internal Revenue Service know where you are. Americans typically are a peripatetic lot. We move to be nearer family, to take new jobs, to enjoy the retirement lifestyle we've carefully planned. Other times, our moves are not a choice we wanted to make. After a major disaster, for example, folks who lived in a hard-hit area decide enough is enough. They're outta there. I totally get it. Even though our house in South Florida suffered relatively minor... Read more →


Who hasn't felt this way at work from time to time? This year, after COVID-forced reassessment of their jobs, millions decided to quit. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels) The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things, including workplaces. Where offices stayed open or reopened, there are the coronavirus precautions, such as work station spacing and staff masking. Other offices are allowing or requiring their staff to work remotely. Hello home offices (that, sorry, likely aren't tax deductible) and Zoom glitches. COVID also gave us the worst-case scenario for too many workers. Reduced consumer demand meant some businesses needed... Read more →


With the financial situation of Uncle Sam's retirement benefits program getting more dire, a recurring suggestion — raise the Social Security payroll tax wage base — is getting some traction this year. Labor Day typically marks the end, at least unofficially, of summer. After the early September long weekend, most schools are back in session, albeit still in remote/real classroom combos due to the Delta COVID-19 variant. Workers, many also still in hybrid coronavirus cubicle/Zoom formats, tend to focus on their jobs. Those jobs are critical not just to the employees, but the economy as a whole and to two... Read more →