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Classic television's Cleaver family, circa 1960. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons) Senate leaders and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promise they'll release next week the Republican response to the Democratic House's already approved next round of COVID-19 relief payments. Until then, we're still speculating on what will be in the counter proposal. It's a safe bet, however, that it will contain a second round of direct payments. The first payments, created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March. What's not clear, though, is who would qualify for this additional stimulus money. Halfway... Read more →


Tax season 2020 is over. That means the focus of most Americans returns to the same thing we've been fixating on (besides taxes) for the last few months: COVID-19. The coronavirus is still here. It's getting worse in some — OK, a lot of — states. Even in the areas where it seems to be under better control, people are still worrying about what it means to their lives and, of course, their livelihoods. Although some jobs returned earlier this summer, that partial economic recovery is not expected to last after coronavirus cases reemerged following state re-openings. So folks are... Read more →


I know you're tired of taxes continuing into July. I know you just want to be done with your filings and the Internal Revenue Service and move on to other things. But I also know that most of you, especially if you're facing coronavirus-related financial difficulties, don't want to just hand over money, possibly hundreds of dollars to Uncle Sam. You'll do just that if you were due a tax refund on your 2016 taxes and didn't file for it during the 2017 tax season. That's the situation for an estimated 1.4 million individual taxpayers. If they don't claim those... Read more →


Did you get your COVID-19 stimulus money, either as direct deposit, debit card or a check like this? If so, you also should have received a letter discussing the payment and amount. The IRS says you need to keep that letter in your tax files. Congress might be working on another round of COVID-19 economic relief payment (EIPs). I say might because although the House in mid-May approved the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act and its provisions for even more stimulus money, the Senate and White House are dragging their heels. Not quite the max: Democrats,... Read more →


There are an estimated 72 million fathers in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest complete data, which is for 2014. Last year, say the country's official statisticians, around 24 million of these men were in married relationships where they and their spouses were raising children younger than age 18. Another 2 million men in 2019 were single fathers. On Father's Day 2020, these men doing the critical child care job alone earn this week's By the Numbers honors. First dad's day for single pop: That last figure also is notable not just because of recognition by... Read more →


As the United States struggles to recover from COVID-19 closures, there's talk of a new tax credit for individual taxpayers to encourage them to eat out or travel. (Photo by Adrienn via Pexels) How stir crazy are you after months of COVID-19 quarantine, either self- or government-imposed? For millions of folks, the answer is pretty freakin' fed up with being stuck at home. I feel your closed-in pain. The hubby and I aren't big socializers, but even we are reaching our limit. This morning we went for a drive beyond just our local grocery and drug stores. Our face masks... Read more →


It's official. School is out for the summer. And some day camps could soon offer families a break from coronavirus close quarters and a tax break. For millions of families across the United States, the official end of the school year doesn't really mean much. The kids already have been home for weeks instead of in classrooms because of COVID-19 closures. But things may be about to change. Some day camps are starting to open, albeit tentatively and with lots of new rules and limitations. For some, the option to send the kiddos to another supervised situation is a welcome... Read more →


Updated Friday May 15, 2020, 7 p.m. CDT Many found the first $1,200 (at most) of coronavirus relief payments to be too little and a tad too late. This latest round of relief, which calls for additional payments of up to $6,000 for some families, isn't likely to advance beyond the House in its current form, but at least it's a start toward more federal financial help. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opens debate on the latest COVID-19 relief bill. (Live House video feed screenshot) Today's good COVID-19 relief news is that the House is expected to vote on (and pass)... Read more →


The child care workplace benefit, as well as medical ones, are enhanced under two just-issued Internal Revenue Service notices. If your job doesn't offer child care benefits, you might be able to get other tax help in taking care of your youngsters via a tax credit. This mom is representative of many parents, who are starting to feel the pressure of weeks of quarantining with and homeschooling their children during COVID-19 stay-home orders. Earlier this year as the coronavirus was surreptitiously infecting Americans, lots of parents were going about their usual business, which included making summer plans for their children.... Read more →


And what you might be able to do about it. But not until next year. The hubby and I recently got our COVID-19 economic impact payment, despite my grumblings last month about not being able to get into the Get My Payment online tracking tool. We knew that due to some financial moves we've made in recent years in preparation for retirement, we wouldn't get the full possible payment. In case it's slipped your mind, that's $1,200 per individual, twice that for married couples who file a joint return. If you have qualifying dependent children younger than age 17, you... Read more →


You won't have to issue a mayday call if you don't fall for any of the many myths surrounding the COVID-19 relief payments. May 1 is celebrated as, obviously, May Day. Across much of the world, at least part of today is dedicated to acknowledging, usually festively, workers' contributions. However, it also can be a warning. Mayday as one word, mayday, often repeated, it is an internationally recognized distress signal. During the coronavirus pandemic, both etymologies apply. Scary, nonworking May Day: Workers globally have lost their job as businesses have closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We're still... Read more →


When your job doesn't pay much, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can be a big help. This tax break for lower- and middle-income workers has been a part of the tax code since 1975's Tax Reduction Act. It was a logical extension of the 1960s-era War on Poverty, creating a way for lower-paid workers to offset the Social Security taxes that take a relatively bigger bite out of their smaller paychecks. Since it's a tax credit, the EITC provides a dollar-for-dollar offset of any tax owed. And since it's a refundable tax credit, eligible recipients can get any EITC... Read more →


The law that created coronavirus stimulus payments just took effect yesterday and we're weeks at best from getting actual money. But tax planners have been thinking about COVID-19 tax intricacies since the illness exploded in the middle of this tax season. These payments just add a new tax filing wrinkle, since what we put on our 2019 returns could be a key part in the relief amount's ultimate dollar calculation. Tony Nitti, a CPA and tax partner with RubinBrown in Aspen, Colorado, has a good preview of what our tax filing actions now could mean to our potential coronavirus payments... Read more →


We're a third of the way to coronavirus relief checks. Last night (March 25), the Senate approved the massive measure, which includes in its 880 pages payments of $1,200 per person and $500 per dependent child. (More on this in a minute.) The bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, now goes to the House for approval. There may be some procedural stumbling blocks, but it's expected to pass there, probably by voice vote to avoid the congregating caused by a roll call on the chamber's floor. That probably will happen Friday. Then it heads... Read more →


The Family Handyman Millions of Americans are at home now, sheltering in place in order to slow down spread of the coronavirus. One of the side effects of spending more than normal time in your house is that you discover issues. And one of those issues might be, depending on where you live, that your heating or air conditioning system is not in the greatest shape. Maybe you need a completely new unit. I feel your pain. We've had to replace AC systems and it sucks, from both the cost and inconvenience perspectives. Or perhaps you can get by with... Read more →


The House-passed H.R. 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act does not — I repeat, does NOT — include a change in the upcoming federal tax filing and payment deadline. That did happen, but separately, as detailed in my April 15 Tax Day deadline and delay Q&A post. There's also no change to the payroll taxes that come out of our paychecks. So right now, expect your regular pay to remain the same. And keep working on those federal tax forms with April 15 as your deadline. What we do know, however, is that legislation to deal with coronavirus' health and... 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 →


With the latest stock market dive, investors feel like the frontiersman confronting a bear in this "rough and tumble with a grizzley" illustration by H. Bullock Webster. (Image via Wikipedia Commons) Investors are in the third week of watching in horror as their nest eggs crack. The fiscal horror show began with the realization on Feb. 24 that the coronavirus was a global health risk. It got worse on Black Monday March 9 in the wake of the Russia-Saudi oil price war. Today, stocks are plunging again at rates not seen in more than a decade when were mired in... Read more →


UPDATE, March 24, 2020: As the coronavirus spread across the United States, the Internal Revenue Service and many associated tax programs have been adversely impacted. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites were among those affected, with most closing earlier this tax season. If COVID-19 conditions improve in some clinic areas before the new July 15 tax filing and payment deadline, some VITA and TCE operations may reopen. Meanwhile, some are offering phone help. Check with your local clinic (details on how to do that in the post below). Volunteer tax preparers help Florida... 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 →