Deductions Feed

Coming back from an appointment today, I saw school buses roaming my neighborhood. Classes for my local school district start Wednesday, so I guess the drivers were just on reconnaissance runs. Students, their parents, and of course teachers are making preparations, too, not just here in the Austin, Texas, area, but nationwide. Much has been written (or, in my case, blogged) about state sales tax holidays (a few are still on the horizon) and the savings on school-related items. In most cases, we tend to think of students and their families taking advantage of the no-tax events. However, teachers also... Read more →


St Louis, Missouri, residents are rescued from flood waters that swamped the city after record rainfall in late July. (Photo: West County EMS and Fire) Severe storms brought flooding rains to parts of eastern Missouri before moving into Kentucky. But Bluegrass State residents got Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Internal Revenue Service attention first, with that relief granted last week. But now, some Show Me State storm victims also are getting federal assistance, including some easing of certain tax filing and payment deadlines. The IRS today (Aug. 10) announced that Missouri individuals and businesses in the City of St.... Read more →


A Kentucky National Guardsman views flood damage in the southeastern part of the state on July 29 from a Blackhawk helicopter as the Bluegrass State unit flies in to provide help. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Jesse Elbouab via Flickr) Historic flooding ravaged southeastern Kentucky last week, destroying homes and killing at least 37 people. Tens of thousands who were spared the worst of the overwhelming water damage are coping with power losses. Now some of those folks are getting from help from the federal government. President Joe Biden declared the most severely hit parts of the Bluegrass... Read more →


Photo by Vlada Karpovich Immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the constitutional right to abortion, talk turned to the longer-term ramifications of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling. The ending of the 49-year-old federal right to an abortion means states now can determine under what circumstances the medical procedure is allowed. Most that have enacted anti-abortion laws or reinstated pre-Roe statutes do not allow or severely limit the time frame in which it can be performed. Some even have granted an unborn fetus personhood, or have introduced legislation to ban abortion by establishing fetal personhood, according to... Read more →


Photo by Amol Mande We're into the second month of the annual Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season, but it's other disaster outbursts that have prompted action by Uncle Sam. In early May, parts of Oklahoma were hit by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding. A month later, Montanan faced severe storms and flooding. After Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) review, the White House issued major disaster area declarations in both states. Now the Internal Revenue Service, as is usually the case, is providing affected taxpayers some relief. Sept. 1 deadline for Oklahomans: Individual and business taxpayers in Oklahoma who were hit... Read more →


One of these things is different from the rest: IRS Warns Donors about Charity Scams Following Recent Tragedies in Boston and Texas (2013) Fake charities make 2018 'Dirty Dozen list (2018) IRS cautions taxpayers about fake charities and scammers targeting immigrants (2021) IRS "Dirty Dozen" list warns people to watch out for tax-related scams involving fake charities, ghost preparers and other schemes (2021) Be aware of scammers who use fake charities to get sensitive information (2021) Bogus charities are always a problem. (2022) 76 Fake Charities Shared a Mailbox. The I.R.S. Approved Them All. (2022) The first six items above... Read more →


Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay The 2022 calendar aligned this year so that July 4th provided many of us with an extra-long holiday weekend. But the fireworks are over and, sadly, we'll never be independent of taxes. So it's back to work this first week of July, and back to making tax moves that can at least keep a few more dollars out of Uncle Sam's clutches. Here are five to consider this July. 1. Note the taxable driving change. If you use your vehicle for business or medical travel, that tax benefit got a bit better on July 1.... Read more →


Evening traffic on Pennybacker Bridge in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Manuel Garza via Flickr) The Internal Revenue Service today delivered a bit of good news to taxpayers who use their vehicles for medical and business purposes. The standard optional mileage rates used to calculate tax deductible amounts are going up on July 1. The increase of the rates, which last were adjusted in December as part of the IRS' annual review of transportation costs, comes as the nation's national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline nears $5. "The IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect... Read more →


Photo courtesy National Park Service Memorial Day commemorations of the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice tend to be outdoors. That's because they usually involve military participation and flourishes. People also head this long federal holiday weekend to national parks, many of which honor military service members today and year-round. Events will be held today at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. There are more than a dozen units of the National Park system and more than 100 unique monuments and memorials in the national capital. National parks honoring national sacrifices: The tributes in America's Front... Read more →


This coming Memorial Day long weekend is the first in more than two years that millions of Americans are treating as more-or-less normal. (Remember that?) And people's pent-up travel wishes are pushing aside COVID-19 pandemic worries in a big way. AAA Memorial Day 2022 forecast AAA predicts 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day three-day holiday. This is an increase of 8.3 percent over 2021, and brings travel volumes almost in line with those in 2017. But another year also comes to mind. Back in 2012, gasoline was $3.64 per gallon. When adjusted... Read more →


Billowing smoke from the wildfire ravaging norther New Mexico. (Screen shot of video posted on The Weather Channel, provided by Jackson Mathey via Storyful) The Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon wildfires that have merged and been burning a large swath of northern New Mexico for weeks now has been designated as the largest in the state's history. The combined blazes, driven by straight-line winds, have engulfed nearly 300,000 acres, or around 469 square miles, of the Land of Enchantment as of this morning. Only around a quarter of the fire area has been contained, according to InciWeb, a U.S. government... Read more →


Here are this weekend's full Flower Moon eclipse stages. The moon moves right to left, passing through the penumbra and umbra, leaving in its wake an eclipse diagram with the times (Eastern time zone) at various stages of the eclipse. Visualizations by Ernie Wright, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio. Click here for the video version. And if it's cloudy where you live, you can livestream the eclipse. It's Friday the 13th, the only one in 2022. A total lunar eclipse will turn the full Flower Moon red Sunday night. The only thing that could amp up our combined superstitions and natural... Read more →


Back in the classroom. (Photo by Max Fischer) Today, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, is annual National Teacher Appreciation Day. It's actually part of a full week focusing on saying thanks to the men and women who are dedicated to educating young (and older) people. And it got President Joe Biden's official acknowledgement, which isn't a surprise since First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is a community college educator. The teaching profession has always been challenging. I personally saw how much time, effort, and love my grandmother put into being a first-grade teacher. She did that labor of love for almost six... Read more →


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio These last 2+ years of lingering coronavirus pandemic have prompted some folks to become more adventurous. They've done isolation 180s, now opting to hit the road. Some have even gone as far as to move far, far away from their homes. When U.S. residents make international moves for work, there's one part of the country they keep. They still must file tax returns and pay tax to Treasury on their overseas earnings. Yeah, I know. Not exactly the memento from home you wanted to take on your travels. The good news, though, is that Uncle Sam... Read more →


The inflation we're experiencing right now is truly a pain. Thank goodness most of my driving is my weekly trip to the grocery store, but those bills have almost doubled. However, the current inflation level does have one, tiny bright spot for folks who have a specific type of health care coverage. It's bumping up tax benefits for individuals who have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and associated health savings account (HSA). HDHP coverage has grown in popularity as health care costs kept rising, even before this historic inflation increase. As the name indicates, these plan enrollees face more... Read more →


Vice President Kamala Harris looks on as President Joe Biden makes remarks on the White House lawn. (White House photo) Tax tradition return redux: Biden and Harris again release their tax returns The United States' top two elected officials were among the millions who filed 2021 tax returns this year. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden reported on their joint Form 1040 adjusted gross income of $610,702. After the figuring was done, they paid $150,439 in federal income tax, which was a 24.6 percent effective tax rate. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff reported more... Read more →


The biggest nutritional problem the hubby and I have is deciding what to cook for dinner, and then who's going to cook it. Sometime we just opt for what we call foraging, with each of us finding something to eat that night on our own. We are lucky. Our meal hunts are easy, confined to our well-stocked kitchen. However, an estimated 800 million worldwide face food insecurity. That includes an estimated 38 million people, 12 million of whom are children, in the United States, according to 2019 data from the Department of Agriculture. As we celebrate today's 52nd Earth Day,... Read more →


Do check out these following related — and legitimate — tax write-offs Sometimes your home is indeed located at the intersection of favorable tax breaks. Sometimes it's not. Below is a look at the difference between some questionable and acceptable residential (and more!) write-offs. Every tax-filing season, the great quest by filers is to find the most tax breaks. But there are some deductions and credits you should steer clear of. These expenses that don't meet Internal Revenue Service guidelines mean the agency will stop processing your tax return to give it second (or third, or …) look. At best,... Read more →


You have a mortgage that, even after refinancing at a lower rate, racks up a substantial interest bill. That home's property taxes were pretty hefty, too. (Note to self: Next appraisal period, protest the assessment.) Don't even start with your state — and county and city — income taxes. But at least your good salary meant you were able to be really generous. All those factors could mean you're in the tax-filing minority that finds itemizing expenses will get you a larger deduction than the standard amount. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your... Read more →


Photo by 401k2012 via Flickr CC April 18 isn't just the day you must file your 2021 tax return and pay any tax due. This fast-approaching Tax Day also the deadline to make a 2021 tax year contribution to your individual retirement arrangement (IRA), either a traditional or Roth account. For 2021, you can contribute up to $6,000 to your traditional or Roth IRA. If you're age 50 or older, you can add another $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. If you have the cash, or expect to get a refund that could replace the money you use for your IRA,... Read more →