Deductions Feed

Photo by Kay Bell All things considered, we got through last week's Central Texas ice storm pretty well. Yes, I whined about no power, hence no heat for 3½ days, but we piled on enough clothes to mimic the Michelin Man, and used our grill to cook previously frozen food before it spoiled. As for our property, our oldest and biggest tree, a live oak, lost just three limbs. Two, shown above, fell in our backyard; the other snapped on the other side of the fence and fell into our neighbor's yard. The neighbor had a clean-up crew over at... Read more →


Photo by Michael Burrows Millions of Americans send tax return to the Internal Revenue Service every year. It's a good bet that a lot of them are first-time filers. Dealing with the IRS, even in a routine manner like sending in a completed Form 1040, can be intimidating, even for veteran taxpayers. For newbies, the task also can be overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. These eight steps can help a novice taxpayer successfully make it through their first filing season, and maybe even get a bit of money back. 1. Get organized. This is a habit that will... Read more →


National Weather Service radar of a quasi-linear convective system (QLCS) and supercells, along with severe warnings in the southeastern United States during the afternoon of Jan. 12, 2023. The Autauga County, Alabama, EF3 tornado was on the ground at the time. (Image via Wikipedia; click here to see radar loop) Tax season 2023 starts today, but some more filers won't have to worry about meeting the April Tax Day deadline because Mother Nature continues to wreak havoc across the United States. Her Mommy Dearest outbursts earlier this month resulted in major natural disaster declarations in Alabama and Georgia. That, in... Read more →


We're just a couple of weeks into this new year, and I've received three 1099s and a donation thank-you letter. I am not alone. Official tax forms and statements are filtering into mail boxes, both curbside and electronic, across the country. The exact tax-related documents differ from taxpayer to taxpayer, but we all share one thing. We need them in order to accurately fill out annual tax returns. They include W-2 forms for folks with wage-paying jobs, 1099-NECs for freelancers, and 1099-MISC and DIV documents for those who have investment earnings. It is, after all, called an income tax. But... Read more →


The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) coordinates emergency responses, such as this one in early January before the latest disastrous rains and flooding engulfed the state. (Photo courtesy Cal OES Facebook) California covers a huge area, so there's room for plenty of extremes. That includes weather. Over the last few days, the Golden State has gone from devastating drought to equally devasting flooding. This week began with around 90 percent of California's population under a flood watch. Today, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it is giving taxpayers who are dealing with the disastrous conditions in 31... Read more →


Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR The first work week of 2023 is in the books. How many miles did you drive for business purposes? If you're using your personal vehicle to conduct business you need to know. And if the number is to satisfy an Internal Revenue Service examiner's question about your mileage deduction, you need to be exact. The IRS can disallow questionable guesstimates, meaning your tax deduction could end up being zero. The U.S. Tax Court has backed up the agency when taxpayers don't keep adequate records. To help you avoid that unwanted tax reversal, here are some do's... Read more →


Massive waves on Lake Erie splashed homes in Hamburg, New York, during the historic blizzard that moved across the Empire State just before last Christmas. While the result was a collection of real-life ice sculptures, the storm's ultimate effects were far less lovely. (Screen capture from WXChasing YouTube video) I admit it. I whined about the unusual cold front that moved into the Austin area Christmas week 2022. One of the reasons we moved here was for the area's generally moderate winters. But I was properly shamed. A few freezing nights was nothing like the deadly storm that gripped parts... Read more →


The tax code is like a car. A big, old, clunky car that just keeps chugging along. But every now and then you need to tune it up and change the tires. Here are some tweaks to the 2023 filing season model. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio) Tax filing rolls around every year. But every year, there also are a few changes that make the process slightly different from prior filings. We didn't have any major tax law changes in 2022. But some old rules come into play, as does the expiration of some tax breaks that many folks had enjoyed... Read more →


The tax year is over. Long live the tax year. Taxes are, if nothing else, persistent. Sure, there are a few (or more) changes every year, even if it's only inflation adjustments. But even in years when the changes are negligible, they are back, starting to add up on the first of every January. That's why 2023 is the first By the Numbers honoree of this new year. The transition from an old to a new tax year is also the focus of this post. It's a look at six tax matters that affected or at least fascinated us in... Read more →


Drivers faced plenty of challenges in 2022, notably the dramatic jump this year in fuel prices. That prompted the Internal Revenue Service in June to hike 2022's optional standard mileage rates for the last six months of the year. Now the IRS has bumped up the business rate again as part of its annual adjustments to a variety of tax laws. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2023, the standard optional mileage rate for a car (or van, pickup or panel truck) used for business purposes will be 65.5 cents per mile. That's up 3 cents from the midyear increase that applies... Read more →


There's still time to give for 2022 tax purposes, especially if you make an electronic donation. If you're among the minority of taxpayers who still itemize, year-end philanthropy is one of the easiest ways to boost your Schedule A deductions. And much of that giving his happening right now. Nonprofits Source, a digital marketing consultant for nonprofit groups, says an estimated 30 percent of annual giving occurs in December. Ten percent of those gifts are made in the last three days of the year. If you're part of this last-minute giving group, here are some tips on getting your potentially... Read more →


Merry Monday Holiday After Christmas on Sunday. Happy Boxing Day. Joyous End-of-Year Tax Tasks to Complete Week. Yep, the start of the last week of 2022 has a lot of identities. But it's that last designation that you need to pay close attention to, since the end of the tax year is critical when it comes to many tax moves. Here are eight you need to consider and, if they apply to you, complete by Dec. 31 — or actually by Friday, Dec. 30, in some cases since it's the last business day of 2022. 1. Take your required minimum... Read more →


When are tax-deductible expenses like bananas? When you bunch them. (Photo by Couleur) I just got an email from my dentist, who's suddenly turned into an ad hoc tax adviser. He wanted me to know that he's got a few appointments open through the end of the year in case I need to spend my medical flexible spending account money. His alert also got me thinking about another tax tactic, bunching. Types and timing of deductible expenses: Since enactment of the Tax Reform Act of 2017, year-end bunching has taken on increased importance. This potential tax saving technique means you... Read more →


Photo by Guneet Jassal on Unsplash It's December! Are you ready for all the decorating and shopping and cooking and parties and tax moves to make? Yep, tax actions need to be added to your already very long holiday to-do list. You only have 31 days to take advantage of some Internal Revenue Code provisions that could save you money. That's always a welcome gift from Uncle Sam, but especially at this time of year. Plus, if you take relevant tax steps sooner in the month, you'll also free up time for more traditional festivities. So let's get to it.... Read more →


The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has become a popular donation day. The charitable boosting effort, dubbed Giving Tuesday when it was initiated in 2012, is now the unofficial kick-off of the annual end-of-year charitable season. Most people don't give to good causes because they get tax breaks. Thank goodness for that, since the 2017 tax reform bill made it more difficult to claim a charitable deduction for donations. And that brings us to the first of this post's six charitable donation tax tips. 1. Itemizing required: The only way to get a tax deduction for your donations is to claim them... Read more →


Tom and Tillie Turkey take care of their youngsters, like these three young Bourbon Red poults. But poultry and the rest of the animal world doesn't have to send their offspring to college. (Photo by Jennifer Kleffner via Flickr CC) A recurring phrase uttered at holiday season family gatherings is "you've grown so much since I last saw you!" What that usually means for many parents of those youngsters is that they will soon be heading off to college. And that move to campus means that mom and dad will have to come up with big bucks. The best way... Read more →


These senior citizens celebrate their shared birthday month, if not the required traditional IRA withdrawals the big days may trigger. A QCD can help avoid tax on the mandated distributions. (Photo by Kay Bell) Most of us still have a real life, old-school, snail mail box. Every November, it is the target for the most mail of the year. Yep, the holidays are here. My curbside box is jammed with two types of correspondence, catalogs and charity solicitations. I get a kick out of thumbing through the catalogs. And yes, I even order a few (too many) things. The donation... Read more →


Korean War Memorial on National Mall, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash) 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. That moment marked the armistice between World War I's Allied forces and Germany, ending the fighting on the Western Front. The commemoration to honor the 4.7 million Americans who served — and the 116,500 who died — in what then was called the Great War originally was celebrated as Armistice Day. In 1954, the annual Nov. 11 commemorations were rebranded Veterans Day, and the day's focus expanded to honor veterans from all eras. But the momentousness of the event 104... Read more →


A single winning ticket for the record $2.04 billion Powerball lottery jackpot was sold in Altadena, California. The good news for the buyer, or buyers if it's a shared ticket, is that California is one of two states that don't tax lottery winnings. The other is Delaware. The bad news is that the U.S. Treasury still gets a big chuck of the huge payout when the winner(s) finally collect. Winnings are ordinary taxable income: Since lottery winnings are considered under the Internal Revenue Code as gambling proceeds, the Internal Revenue Service will get a cut. When winnings are more than... Read more →


If you've been to a doctor recently, refilled a subscription, had to go to an emergency room, or just bought over-the-counter medications, you know that all these cost a lot more than in previous years. It's enough to make you sick, or at least nudge up your blood pressure a bit. However, the tax code might have an Rx that can help. There are a variety of medical tax breaks that can help lower your federal tax bill. Several of them are adjusted each year to account for inflation. Here, in today's Part 5 post of the ol' blog's annual... Read more →