Deductions Feed

Contributing to a 529 plan is one tax move you need to work into your hectic year-end holiday schedule since most states require you do so by Dec. 31 in order to claim associated state tax benefits on your next tax return. We're almost halfway through December. Are you feeling the holiday crunch? Sorry, but I'm here to add to it. As I've already nagged suggested back in November and earlier this month, you need to take care of some year-end tax tasks, too. One of those tax moves — contributing to a youngster's 529 plan — is worth another... Read more →


If you have a medical flexible spending account, or FSA, one of the key year-end tasks you need to take care of this month is ensuring that you don't lose any of this tax-free money. Yes, some employers give workers a 2½-month grace period, until March 15, to use the prior year's FSA funds. Others let their workers roll over up to $500 left in their medical accounts. Both of those options are at the discretion of the companies offering the tax-favored benefit. A lot of companies, however, still just take advantage of the use it or lose it rule.... Read more →


If any of these expired tax breaks apply to you and they're not renewed by year's end, wait a bit to file your 2018 return next year. By delaying your filing until they're retroactively renewed, you'll save yourself additional hassles. George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States was laid to rest today, marking the end of commemorations of his life and years of public service. The elder President Bush's death also brought the lame duck session of Congress to an almost complete halt, meaning that many measure lawmakers — particularly Republicans — had hoped to push through... Read more →


Truman the cat guarding presents under the Christmas tree. (Photo by Shawn Kinkade via Flickr CC) Ho, Ho, Ho, Happy Holidays! December is here. Time to decorate and, most importantly, get cracking on those gift lists. If you're not into frantic, crowd-fighting, last-minute shopping trips, here are five easy tax-related gifts for just about everyone on your nice list, including yourself. 1. Give to your favorite charities. You're probably already well aware of this option, since nonprofits have been sending out year-end donation solicitations since Halloween. Their urgency can be forgiven a bit more this year because of the tax... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 15 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to credit and deduction amounts. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns to be filed in 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing 2018 returns due April 15, 2019. Taxpayers depend each year on tax deductions and tax credits to cut their annual tax bills. The biggies are, of course, the use of standard or itemized deductions... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 15 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some taxpayers. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns to be filed in 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing 2018 returns due April 15, 2019. Internal Revenue Service data show that year after year, around 70 percent of filers claim the standard... 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 →


Since I'm still recovering from my medical procedure last week, I'm following doctor's orders and taking it as easy as possible. Translation: More milkshakes! But I'm nothing if not a slightly obsessive-compulsive creature of habit. So I did want to get a Saturday Shout Out piece up today. Solution: I'm combining both medical directions and blogging impulses and recommending related tax reading today. Specifically, I'm going to the source, the Internal Revenue Service, for its comprehensive list of tax-deductible medical items and procedures. That is, of course, IRS Publication 502. IRS' medical deductions codex: The IRS hasn't updated Pub. 502... Read more →


I'm not nearly as cheery as my smiley face socks in the above photo, but at least I'm recovering from oral surgery at home. The downsides are some pain and (for me, but not the hubby!) not talking very much. There are some pluses, though: ice cream and milkshakes for every meal! Yesterday's procedure also means I'll have more medical expenses to deduct on our 2018 tax return. Yep, we're one of those few people who will be itemizing deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), primarily because of our medical situation the last couple of years. We... 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 →


Updated Nov. 15, 2018 Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 15 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at allowable annual retirement plan contributions amounts and, for some taxpayers, tax deduction options and limitations. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns to be filed in 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing 2018 returns due April 15, 2019. If this is how you want to spend all your post-work days, you need to... 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 →


You don't need a golden goose to have a great nest egg for retirement. You just need to contribute to one or more tax-favored retirement accounts. (Photo by 401(k) 2012 via Flickr) Congratulations to America's newest billionaire, the owner of the ticket bought in South Carolina that matched all the Mega Millions lottery numbers. That person is $1.537 billion richer, or more probably an $878 millionaire, since that's the cash payout amount. That lucky lottery player won't have to work another day or worry about retirement as long as he or she isn't a total spendthrift. Most of the rest... Read more →


As Donald J. Trump has been making the campaign rounds in advance of the midterm elections, he's made some interesting — OK, wrong — comments about taxes. And in trying to cover for explain those remarks, some folks are compounding the misinformation. The latest example underscores a misconception about how retirement account withdrawals are taxes. Trump's tax cut talk: Trump has been touting a pre-Nov. 6 tax cut of 10 percent for the middle class. While nothing is impossible in this crazy world, that's not likely since Congress is not scheduled to return to Capitol Hill until Nov. 12. Many... Read more →


Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and his Republican colleagues in June celebrated the six-month anniversary of their major tax reform bill. Back then, they thought the new tax laws would give them a political edge in the coming November elections. They thought wrong. (Photo courtesy U.S. Speaker of the House) When the Republican controlled House and Senate passed a major tax reform bill last December, it was supposed to be a twofer. First, enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) fulfilled long-standing GOP fiscal and political goals of reducing taxes... Read more →


Manhattan businessmen meet over lunch. (Photo by Phillip Capper via Flickr Creative Commons) The way to a business contract is through a client's stomach. That revised adage underscores what every business person, whether they run a major corporation or a mom-and-pop company, knows: that personal relationships are key to success. And much of the time, those relationships are cemented over business meals. Business meals still tax deductible: The Internal Revenue Service this week gave business a break — or really left a tax break in place — when it comes to deducting the cost of business meals. The tax agency... Read more →


Another lingering tax deduction concern created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is finally clearer. The Internal Revenue Service says that half the cost of business meals is still tax deductible as an allowable work-related expense. That's what the pre-TCJA tax law said. But because the Republican tax reform bill was cobbled together so hurriedly at the end of 2017, its legislative language left many confused. And the new law's interpretation created a division among tax professionals (and semantics geeks) as to what exactly is entertainment. Meals or entertainment vs. meals and entertainment: A great number of tax... Read more →


The Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots already are close to a combined $600 million. As the drawing times near, more people will play, creating even larger eventual jackpots. Of course, the chances of winning both drawings — roughly 1 in 75 quadrillion (that's 15 zeros) by one estimate — is even more minuscule than the general winnings odds of either alone. Still, millions of us will buy lottery tickets. Full disclosure: I'm one of them. Don't judge me. But don't call me either if I win! In fact, whoever wins Mega Millions major jackpot on Tuesday (Oct. 2), which as... Read more →


You took that great new job last November. It was a bit of hassle, a quick move three states away, but worth it. You love your work, office colleagues and neighborhood where you and your family have settled. Even better, your new employer covered most of your relocation costs. The bad news, though, is that your boss didn't get you the check reimbursing your moving expenses until this summer. That means you'll owe tax on that moving money, right? Wrong! New law, old rule: Although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did eliminate the tax break for most* work-related... Read more →