Deductions Feed

Image via Fotolia You're doing your part to help flatten the coronavirus transmission curve. You've been sitting at in your house for weeks. (Thanks, streaming services!) You're washing your hands so much, they're raw. (Moisturize, too. It's an added coronavirus prophylactic.) You're providing lessons and activities for your now home-schooled kiddos. (Take into account your child's needs and personality and take advantage of the many online resources.) But you want to do more. Specifically, you want to help others who aren't in such relatively good situations as you and yours. Thank you! There are many ways to help, notably by... Read more →


Image: National Day Calendar It's a rare day on the internet. Dogs are getting more attention than cat videos. Actually, it's baby dogs who are the focus, since today, March 23, is National Puppy Day. Personally, I'm a cat, not dog, person. But I know that regardless of your pet preference, animals bring a lot of good to our lives. And in some very specific cases, they also might be able to help you reduce your federal tax bill. Here are 5 potential ways that Fluffy, Fido or whatever you call your fur (or other) baby can provide their human... Read more →


How are you feeling? That's the question everyone is asking themselves, family and friends as we adapt to the changes forced upon us by the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing — limiting your interactions with others, either at work or in recreational (remember those?) settings — is the new norm. For the introverted hubby and me, it's simply our norm. We both work from home and don't go out much. We used to joke that our self-imposed isolation works against us when we do venture into the wider world. We don't have an immunity to basic ailments. The hubby gets a... Read more →


Happy Pi Day 2014. March 14 is the annual celebration of pi, usually indicated by the Greek letter π, since the 3/14 calendar format is a close representation of pi's first three digits. What exactly is pi? Naturally, I went to the internet to find out, so math experts please cut me a slice of slack here. The consensus is that pi is a number that originally was defined as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It's a mathematical constant, meaning it isn't changed by the size of the numbers it is used to equate. It's also... Read more →


Friday the 13th scares a lot of folks, but there are some tax breaks that are almost as cuddly as this ebony kitten. It's another Friday the 13th, but the last thing we need in March 2020 is more stuff to worry about. So what's better help take our minds off the very scary COVID-19 pandemic and all its ramifications — like no sports to divert our attention! — than taxes? Yes, taxes. Really. There's no word yet as to whether the April 15 filing deadline and any due tax payments will be extended. But there still are a lot... Read more →


I feel like one of the wrung out wacky clocks in Salvador Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory" every time we have to spring forward and lose an hour. (Oil on canvas, 1931 © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. Image via About.com, fair use, Wikipedia Commons) Time and tax deduction method changes It's that time again, literally for most of the United States that switches from Standard to Daylight Saving Time (DST). Whether you like the shift to DST, which provides more sunshine at the end the day. Or hate it since... Read more →


Photo: Nashville Metro Police Department via Twitter Spring storm season came early and with a vengeance to the southern United States last night. At least 25 people lost their lives when a tornado roared through the Nashville area early today. Tornado sirens started sounding around 2 a.m. Central Time on March 3. By the time the twister completed its rampage, it had become Tennessee's second-deadliest March tornado. More than 150 were injured. Residents and officials are still assessing property damage. Volunteer State residents are living their home's motto today, as they not only work through their losses, but also helping... Read more →


To make sure you, not the U.S. Treasury, gets more of these, don't overlook possible tax deductions and credits. At tax time, filers are always searching for ways to reduce their final tax bill. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, still referred to (by me, at least!) as above-the-line deductions that reduce the amount of income that's taxed. There also are tax credits, which are even better because the directly reduce what you owe Uncle Sam dollar-for-dollar and in some cases could produce... Read more →


My [too] many medical treatment folders and dedicated medical travel log. (Kay Bell photo) I'm in the tax filing minority. I still itemize. Medical issues are the primary reason I've been filling out Schedule A for the last few years. Not to bore you with the gory details, but recently I've had a couple of medical scares and surgeries. Combine those with the requisite multiple physician follow-ups (this afternoon I'm heading to my fifth of sixth doctor appointments this month), continued testing and, of course, prescriptions and let's just say I'm helping many, many doctors pay off their vacation homes... Read more →


You're working on your tax return and discover you owe Uncle Sam more than you expected. It happens. And in most cases, you're stuck with that larger Internal Revenue Service bill. After all, the 2019 tax year is long gone. It's too late to make those year-end moves that could have helped cut your tax bill. But wait! In a couple of instances, you still might be able to reduce last year's taxes with some tax saving moves that are allowed as late as the April 15 filing deadline. You can make a potentially tax-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA.... Read more →


Thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court ruling, many other states have joined Nevada in accepting bets on sporting events. But casino operations like this one in Las Vegas still get plenty of action on days like Super Bowl Sunday. Happy Tuesday to everyone who skipped work yesterday. I hope you've fully recovered from your Super Bowl hangover. I also hope that at least some of your prop bets on the NFL championship game also paid off. So does the Internal Revenue Service. All your Super Bowl LIV winnings, as well as any other gambling proceeds are taxable income. Yes, even... Read more →


Yes, I bought a ticket for the Jan. 29 Powerball. I always do when the jackpot of that and the other national lottery, Mega Millions, gets into the, well, mega million-dollar range. No, I didn't win. Again. Last night's Powerball payout, which had climbed to $396.9 million, is going to the lucky person who bought the winning ticket in Florida. Yes, I am contacting my Sunshine State friends and relatives! In addition to the one big winner, three other Powerball tickets worth $1 million each went to ticket holders in Ohio, Virginia and, again, Florida. If you're one of the... Read more →


Even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people opted to claim the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions because. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also... Read more →


The birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been officially celebrated as a federal holiday on the third Monday of January for more than three decades. For 25 of those years, it's also been a Day of Service, during which we're all challenged to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of the slain civil rights leader. There are various ways to honor Dr. King on his holiday. One recommended by the Corporation for National and Community Service is to volunteer on #MLKDay and beyond as a tutor or mentor... Read more →


You just read my post on tax filing requirements (thanks!) and discovered you don't have to file a Form 1040 this year. So, as fictional television attorney (though not a tax specialist) Jimmy McGill might say, "'S'all good, man." Right? Not necessarily. Sometimes even if you don't have to file a federal tax return, it's to your benefit to do so. Here are 10 situations when you should send the Internal Revenue Service a return: You're due a refund. This often is the case if you had federal income tax withheld. The only way to get any of that prepaid... Read more →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels A staple feature each New Year's Day is the fixation on babies born just after the clocked clicked past midnight. For the families, it's usually a joyous event, with their new bundles of joy being showered with first baby themed gifts from local merchants. Tax professionals, even those with families, however tend to see such celebrations as a tad misplaced. Or, as Jerry Gaddis, an Enrolled Agent in Florida, describes it, "bad tax planning." Am I the only one who sees this and thinks "bad tax planning"? #EnrolledAgent — Jerry Gaddis. EA, MBA (@TropicalTax)... Read more →


via GIPHY If you used your car for business purposes last year, you probably did the same thing I did on New Year's Eve. You took a quick look at your auto's odometer and jotted down the miles. Keeping track of your annual miles driven and those specifically attributable to business travel can help you reduce taxes on your self-employment income. There are a couple of ways you can track this travel, either by keeping good records of your actual business-related auto usage (more on this in a minute) or by claiming the optional standard mileage amount. That standard amount... Read more →


Paying property tax bills by Dec. 31 used to be a surefire way for many filers to bump up their Schedule A deductions enough to make itemizing more advantageous than using the standard deduction. That's no longer the case thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). In addition to capping state and local real estate tax deductions at $10,000, the tax reform bill also nearly doubled prior tax law's standard amounts. So fewer folks are worrying about paying tax bills that may be due later, like the end of next January here in the Austin area, by year's... Read more →


"Do nothing" has long been the derisive descriptor attached to the U.S. Congress. Actually, though, the House and Senate could more accurately be described as a legislative body that does things that don't have any chance of becoming law. That's the case most recently with a bill that would eliminate, at least temporarily, the $10,000 cap on tax deductible state and local taxes, referred to by the acronym SALT. Cutting SALT in the tax diet: The House last week narrowly passed, by a 218 to 206 margin, H.R. 5377, dubbed the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act. The... Read more →