Deductions Feed

Classes are back in session in many communities across the United States. And part of the supplies that are being used to help educate our youngsters were paid for by their teachers. Every year, studies by both private groups and federal agencies report that most public school teacher pay for products they need to get their lessons across to the students. The amounts vary, ranging from nearly $500 in a U.S. Department of Education survey from several years ago to nearly twice that (or more) in some of today's classroom situations. Easy to claim: The good news for these dedicated... Read more →


After the vigils for victims of mass tragedies, efforts to help the victims and survivors appear. Make sure your gifts to such campaigns, especially online crowdfunding ones, go to those who need help and not scammers. (Photo by Catholic Church of England, Mazur/CatholicNewsUK via Flickr CC) Gilroy, California. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. In an eight-day span, three separate shootings by lone gunmen in these cities left a total of 35 people dead, 54 injured. Residents in these cities are dealing with unspeakable horror and grief. Most of the rest of us in the United States and across the world... Read more →


It's been a summer of change for my neighborhood. Several of our neighbors have moved, including our next-door neighbors that I really liked. My former suburban Austinites are heading off to new jobs, other subdivisions they've discovered or to be closer to families across the state or country. A few also decided it was time to cash in on the rising property values of our neighborhood. I must admit, that's crossed my mind, but then I think moving and … Summer is prime moving time regardless of the reasons. Things tend to slow down at workplaces, giving you more time... Read more →


August is here, but few of us have put out the welcome mat. The eighth month of the year tends to be one of the hottest of the year. Most of the summer's fun events have come and gone. And school is about to start. OK, that last point is a positive for many parents who are running out of patience with the kids being underfoot all the time. Those moms, dads and all other shoppers in 13 states at least will get some state sales tax holidays to make this muggy month a bit more tolerable. Those tax-free events... Read more →


Kissing up to the IRS, on this National Lipstick Day or any other, won't help with dubious business expense claims. Your work-related expenses must be ordinary and necessary. My collection of lip colorings, mostly unused since I began working from home. When I quit working in an office, I quit regularly applying makeup. Now I only pull out the mascara and powder and lipstick when I have an in-person meeting or must make a media appearance. So today, National Lipstick Day, really isn't a big deal for me. Others, however, are celebrating, especially by taking advantage of the lipstick deals,... Read more →


We're halfway through the second year of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and its effects, pro and con, are still being debated. Some of those disputes will play out in court, like the latest challenge to the tax reform law's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). This latest SALT legal action, brought by New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, was prompted by Treasury's and the Internal Revenue Service's regulation, finalized last month, that effectively guts the charitable workarounds these states had created to provide their residents full federal tax benefit of their state... Read more →


Hello, July! The heat is definitely on, but there are plenty of ways to chill out, both personally and to put your 2019 tax bill on ice. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just be generally lazy. I'm right there with you. But you'll enjoy those recreational pursuits a lot more once you've taken some steps, like the seven listed below, to lower your 2019 tax bill. Let's get to 'em! 1. Get weather ready. A low pressure trough moved overnight from Georgia to the Florida panhandle... Read more →


//Kara's Party Ideas If you don't have to work on this post-July 4th Friday, then you're probably spending the day recovering from your patriotic and fireworks-laden celebrations. Some folks also are resting up from their birthday partying. Yep, I'm talking about those folks born on the Fourth of July. Famous 4th birthday celebrants: Several celebrities share this early July birth date. People magazine published a slide show and those from that presentation that caught my eye include: Eva Marie Saint, the Academy Award winning actress immortalized in On the Waterfront, which was directed by Elia Kazan and also showcased real-life... Read more →


When it comes to expired tax laws, Congress is in much the same situation as the builders of this unfinished bridge. The basics are there, but there's still work to be done. (Photo by Paul Mannix via Flickr CC) UPDATE, June 21, 2019: After almost more than 11 hours of discussion, the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, June 20, passed along a 25-to-17 party-line vote a measure to extend through 2020 a variety of tax breaks that expired in 2017 and 2018 or will expire at the end of this year, some of which are highlighted in this... Read more →


Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee (top row, center), is looking to renew at least some expired tax provisions, known as extenders. The ranking Republican on the House tax-writing panel, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas (top row, right) is not impressed with Neal's proposal. (Photo courtesy House Ways and Means Democrats Facebook page) Is it finally the end for extenders? Yes, no or maybe, depending on who you ask. Many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle say enough is enough with the perpetually renewed technically temporary tax breaks known as extenders. They... Read more →


Checking out food bank offerings. (Photo by Michael Losch-KOMUnews via Flickr CC) All of us here in Texas, especially lovers of Mexican beers and avocados, are breathing a bit easier now that the threatened tariffs on our Southern neighbor are, for now, off the table. The Chinese trade situation, however, is still simmering. As that standoff continues, American shoppers are paying higher prices for many consumer goods. That's because tariffs essentially are taxes. The higher prices we're already seeing due to the Chinese charges could go up even more if the self-proclaimed Tariff Man holds firm in his belief that... Read more →


Thousands gather for a service at Lakewood Church in Houston, one of many megachurches often led by prosperity gospel evangelists. As since biblical days, religious leaders and governments continue to jockey over rendering unto the tax collector. (Photo by ToBeDaniel via Wikipedia Commons) Religion and taxes are inextricably tied together, primarily because religious groups that pass Internal Revenue Service muster don't have to pay taxes. But some religious leaders have gotten extra attention lately for, shall we say, the extravagant ways they seek to serve their god. Private jet is biblical: Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who in 2015 defended his use... Read more →


Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast on Aug. 25, 2017. (National Hurricane Center satellite radar image) After a record-setting run of tornadoes over the last two weeks across not just Tornado Alley and the Midwest, but also into the MidAtlantic, the Big Apple even the nation's capital city, it's time for a weather break. Or not. The 2019 hurricane season officially starts June 1. Yes, I'm starting to look at the tropics a bit early, especially since we got a bit of a preview on May 20 when this year's first name storm popped up near Bermuda.... Read more →


It's that terrible time of year when Mother Nature is on the rampage. In the last few days, at least 19 twisters have touched down in Tornado Alley. That dangerous weather pattern is expected to repeat and expand over the coming days. 3:57 PM - We know have TWIN tornadoes northwest of Crescent in far western Logan county, north of OKC. Both of these are currently on the ground. Storm is moving northeast at 35 mph toward Mulhall. #okwx @NEWS9 pic.twitter.com/fAkqaGemmZ — Matt Mahler (@themahler) May 20, 2019 In addition to spawning twisters that destroyed stretches of property, but luckily... Read more →


Around two dozen tax breaks are now in a legislative zombie state, much like these creatures in George Romero's classic zombie film "Night of the Living Dead." The tax versions are waiting for federal lawmakers to bring them back to life or finally and completely put an end to them. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) A dozen groups spanning the political spectrum are urging Congress to let zombie tax extenders remain dead. Are you still waiting on expired tax provisions to be resurrected? If a motley crew of public policy, tax and advocacy groups get its way, you'll be waiting forever.... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2019 Earth Day was created in 1969 by environmental activists in response to an oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded each year as a day to emphasize environmental issues and inspire an appreciation of our planet. With this year's celebration falling on a weekday, many folks are looking for ways to incorporate their pro-Mother Earth efforts into their daily lives. Well, nothing is as incorporated into our day-to-day existences as our taxes. So on Earth Day 2019 and every day this year, here are 4 tax-saving environmental options. 1. Electric... Read more →


Two tornadoes struck the small East Texas town of Alto on Saturday, April 13. The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that the first was an EF-2 tornado and the second was an EF-3. Click image to see video from Disaster Compilations on YouTube. There are some things more important than taxes on April 15, 2019. Too many folks in the southern half of the United States are dealing with the loss of family and friends after a deadly weather system moved across that region over the weekend. At least eight people were killed by the storms, which in addition... Read more →


Federal and most state, tax returns are due in few days. Don't panic! You still have time to finish your return (or get an extension). If you do decide to just be done with your Form 1040 — new, but not necessarily improved this year under Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes — make sure you don't make any of these common filing errors in your rush to finish. For the most part, tax software has helped eliminate a lot of mistakes. Still, we're not yet at the total tax automation point yet. And that old garbage in, garbage... Read more →


Thanks to much larger standard deduction amounts under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), fewer filers are itemizing deductions. But that doesn't mean they aren't still writing off some tax-deductible expenses. During this first filing season after the many changes wrought by the latest tax reform law, taxpayers are still claiming what used to be called above-the-line deductions. Technically, they are and always have been adjustments to income. They got the above-the-line moniker because they previously appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your... Read more →


Tax Day every April is the biggie for individual taxpayers. That's when our annual Form 1040 is due. And yes, I know this year there are two Tax Days, since Patriot Day celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get until April 17 to send in their federal returns. But most of us must meet the April 15 deadline, so that's what I focus on in this post. Completing a 1040, however, is not the only mid-April tax deadline. It's just one of the 10 tax tasks listed below that many taxpayers also must make by next Monday, April 15. 1. File... Read more →