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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 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 →


No messy splash back in fueling a Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle outside a Go Forth showroom in Portland, Oregon. It's that not very jolly time of year in Washington, D.C. Representatives and Senators are back in town for a few weeks to wrap up necessary legislation before heading home for the holidays. Political fights ensue. The session drags on until it's nearly Christmas. Or after. Members of Congress and staff stuck at work instead of making merry with family and friends and not happy. Neither are taxpayers who are wondering what literal year-end changes to tax laws lawmakers will make,... 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 →


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 →


Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) during a Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill she introduced. Another Harris proposal, this time a tax credit for middle-income taxpayers, has caught the White House's attention. (Photo courtesy Kamala Harris Twitter account) It's official. Unofficially. The 2020 presidential campaign is underway. Last week, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris introduced her LIFT (Livable Incomes for Families Today) the Middle Class Act. The bill's most notable feature is a refundable tax credit of up to $6,000. Tax-savvy folks know a tax credit is better than a deduction because it provides a dollar-for-dollar way to cut your tax... Read more →


My octogenarian mother does an amazing job of taking care of herself and her little dog, aka my furry younger brother. My mother and her pup come to our place, like the Thanksgiving visit pictured here, but usually it's me taking time from work to head her way. (Photo by Kay Bell) But since she no longer drives and hates to impose on friends and neighbors, I make regular trips to her place to help her run errands, take her to doctor appointments and just visit. It's not too much of a hassle because she lives relatively close and it's... Read more →


Do you have thoughts about the Internal Revenue Service's plan to stymie state efforts to work around the new $10,000 federal deduction limit on state and local taxes? You are not alone. On Aug. 23, the IRS issued a proposed rule designed to rein in state efforts to give their residents a way to get a tax write-off for all of their state and local taxes, commonly referred to in the tax world as SALT. In that same announcement, the IRS also said it will hold a Nov. 5 public hearing on its proposal regulation and, leading up to that... Read more →


The hubby works on what he calls the Law of Two. Basically, he says, it takes (at least) two tries to get anything done properly. I thought of his unofficial law as I read the Internal Revenue Service's clarification of one of its earlier clarifications. Tax geeks already know I'm talking about the IRS and Treasury declaration a couple of weeks ago regarding state tax credit programs tied to taxpayer deduction of state and local taxes, referred to as SALT. Less tax to deduct: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limits the itemized SALT deduction, which includes individual payments of... Read more →


Trees in September will see their first fall color. (Photo by Jonathan Bloy courtesy Bloy.net) Hello, September. It's nice to have you back. You are a month that offers mostly-welcome transitions. There are beginnings, as students start a new school year. Parents nationwide say "thank you!" There are endings, as summer gives way to fall's cooler temps and foliage changes. Those of us tired of heat waves want to know what took you so long!?! There are expectations, as the end of the year and its many holidays approach. It's never too early to start planning for these. My Christmas... Read more →


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did away with exemptions, a particularly concerning change for large families. Exemptions were a specific dollar amount, adjusted annually for inflation, that taxpayers could claim for themselves, their spouses if filing jointly and dependents. The exemptions total helped reduce the amount of filers' income subject to tax. TCJA supporters, however, say not to worry. They say the new law's lower income tax rates, wider income brackets, larger and more refundable child tax credit and $500 tax credit for other dependents will make up for the eliminated exemptions. Dependents guidance: The Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


One, in addition to being the loneliest number, also soon could cost some Chinese taxpayers when it comes to their family size. Three years ago, China abandoned its policy, which had been in place since 1979, of fining people for having more than one child. Now Chinese leaders want to encourage people to have more kids. The reason for wanting more babies is that China's previously restrictive family planning policy has produced a growing aging society and a shrinking young population. That's not healthy for any economy. To remedy that situation, China is exploring a variety of proposals, including a... Read more →


One of the first questions I got when states started working on chartable programs that would let their taxpayers get around the new $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) was how any Internal Revenue Service action might affect existing programs. We finally have an answer and it's not good. "Congress limited the deduction for state and local taxes that predominantly benefited high-income earners to help pay for major tax cuts for American families," said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement accompanying the regulations. "The proposed rule will uphold that limitation by preventing attempts to... Read more →


School's starting, meaning parents and students need to study up on how the new tax laws do and don't affect the many tax-favored ways to pay for classes. We're all still learning about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was passed late last year and took effect, for the most part, at the beginning of 2018. One area where we all need some tax lessons, especially with the start of the first school year under the new tax law's provisions, is how it affects educational tax breaks. It does make some key changes to some of the tax... Read more →


This family, with four generations shown here, likely will feel the effects of the new tax law. (Photo by Azoreg via Wikimedia Commons) Things get complicated when you have kids. Those complications are, well, even more complicated when it comes to tax filing. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made a variety of changes, in effect at least for tax years 2018 through 2025, that will affect millions of parents. Here's a quick look at key tax changes for dependents. Exemptions are eliminated: Under prior law, personal and dependent exemptions were excellent. These tax breaks helped filers reduce income,... Read more →


Yes, it's just TV. But I like it. A lot. I know a lot of folks, including many of my friends, still look down their noses at television. But like any creative enterprise, it can provide much more than just entertainment. From the get-go, television has been a reflection of every country's cultural, political and social perspectives. That's why I always look forward to the annual announcement of the Emmy nominations. (More on this year's prospective winners later. You can take this a threat or promise, depending on your personal opinion about TV and its awards.) At its most elemental... Read more →


Couples by Michael Lehet/Flickr CC The hubby and I basically have a pretty equal, albeit traditional gender swapped, marriage. He's more persnickety when it comes to cleaning. So he does much of those household duties, including bathrooms and whole-house vacuuming. I hate that noise, so he vacuums when I'm out; that's one of the reasons I love him! We split kitchen duties, with the person who doesn't cook dinner doing the cleanup. We collaborate on investments, deciding how much and where our money goes. As for the day-to-day expenses, I take care of making sure the bills are paid on... Read more →


Fathers Day Happy Fathers Day GIF from Fathersday GIFs Happiest of days to all the dads out there. And thank you Sonora Dodd. Dodd was raised by her father after her mother's death during childbirth. While listening to a sermon at church on Mother's Day, Dodd thought about all her father had done for her and her siblings and decided fathers should have a day, too. Because Dodd's father was born in June, she encouraged churches in Spokane, Washington, where she was living, to honor fathers that month. The first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane in on June 19,... Read more →


Losing your job. It's one of the worst things that can happen, especially when it comes as a total surprise. That's what folks who worked on Roseanne are dealing with after ABC pulled the plug on the rebooted sitcom. Being out of work is not so high-profile for most of us. But we all share the panic, anger and helplessness of suddenly losing the reason we get up every morning. To help you get through being let go, here are six steps you can take. And, of course, there are tax implications (nine total) for each of these post-job moves.... Read more →


"On this day, take time to remember those who have fallen. But on every day after, do more; put the freedoms they died for to greater and nobler uses." — Richelle E. Goodrich, author During holidays, we're generally encouraged to remember the reason behind the special day. The two instances where this is most prevalent is Christmas and Memorial Day. Memorial Day's purpose often gets lost in the revelry of summer's arrival … except when your awash in a tropical storm's rain bands. But today is supposed to be more than time with family and friends at picnics, trips to... Read more →