Politics Feed

Photo by Pixabay Taxpayer privacy and our records' security apparently are top of mind on Capitol Hill. A couple of Democratic House oversight committee leaders are demanding operation details from a firm the Internal Revenue Service uses, for now, to authenticate taxpayers' identities. You can read more on that inquiry in yesterday's post on the investigation (and continuing tax pro ID.me requirements). Meanwhile, ranking Republicans on the House and Senate tax-writing committees also want answers, this time on how taxpayer records were stolen from the IRS last summer. That information ended up in ProPublica exposé on taxes paid (or not)... Read more →


House Oversight Committee members also investigating ID.me contracts, verification methods Photo by cottonbro In early February, the Internal Revenue Service announced plans to transition from ID.me's facial scanning identity verification system. The third-party service's scanning technology raised privacy concerns. A few weeks later, the IRS elaborated on its taxpayer identity process. It said the facial recognition would remain, but as an option, not a requirement. Taxpayers instead could participate in a live, virtual interview to prove they are legitimately opening their own online taxpayer account. The IRS also indicated that it eventually would join other federal agencies in using Login.Gov,... Read more →


Photo by Kampus Production via Pexels. Here in Austin, we're in the midst of doing our civic duties. In between the March primaries and late May runoffs from inconclusive races in that voting session, residents of the Lone Star State's capital are deciding on a trio of ballot questions. Two deal with property taxes. The third asks, in part, if we Austinites would like to eliminate enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses. There's a statue of Willie Nelson in downtown Austin. What do you expect the result to be? Toking in Tejas: Joking aside, Austin is just one Texas city that's... Read more →


It's likely to be a long road getting to free filing offered directly by the IRS. (Photo by Christopher Paquette via Flickr CC) With the bulk of the annual tax-filing season over, it's time for the regular autopsies of how things went. Much attention is rightfully focused on the Internal Revenue Service's continuing problems in digging out of the 2020 and 2021 backlogs exacerbated by COVID-19 pandemic protocols. But this year, the ways we taxpayers get our returns to the overloaded IRS also is getting a lot of attention. The chorus calling for the IRS to cut out the tax... Read more →


It didn't take much to convince the hubby and me to put on some going-out-in-public clothes today and head out to vote early. A couple of property tax reduction questions were on our local ballot. Sure, we would have done our civic duty anyway, but those proposals that would help reduce homeowners' real estate taxes definitely are a get-out-the-vote driver. More valuable homes, bigger tax bills: Here in Texas, as in many other places across the United States, home values have skyrocketed. We learned just how much when we got our latest notice a couple of weeks ago from the... 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 →


Most U.S. taxpayers made it through Tax Day 2022. They either filed their 1040 forms, or they got an extension to submit their returns by Oct. 17. The Internal Revenue Service reported that by April 15, which usually is the annual filing deadline, but was pushed to the next business day by Washington, D.C.'s Emancipation Day holiday, it had received more than 122.5 million returns. That's around 73 percent of the people who filed in 2020 and 2021, when filings exceeded historical averages. The count was higher those years because people who normally weren't required to send in a return... Read more →


Every Tax Day, millions of Americans complain about how much money they hand over to the U.S. government and how Uncle Sam spends it. OK, that's every day. But seeing the actual personal numbers on Form 1040 tends get people to focus. That's why the National Priorities Project (NPP), a Northampton, Massachusetts-based nonprofit that for almost 40 years has analyzed federal revenue and spending data, issues an annual receipt of where our tax dollars, primarily from individual income taxes, go. Source: NPP and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Coronavirus shift: The military usually commands a major portion... Read more →


President Joe Biden's fiscal year 2023 budget proposal of a minimum tax on the wealthiest Americans, as well as a levy on unrealized gains on assets (including stock holdings), is getting the most attention. Biden's plan to collect at least a 20 percent tax on U.S. households worth more than $100 million would apply to about 20,000 households, but more than half the revenue would come from households worth more than $1 billion, according to White House estimates. It also would, says the administration, help reduce the nation's budget deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade. Wish list only:... Read more →


The iconic Hollywood sign is still there, but films no longer are limited to Los Angeles backlots. They're made across the United States (and world), with film makers choosing locations based in many instances on available tax breaks. (Photo by Dmitry Rogozhin via Wikimedia Commons) You haven't been to a movie theater in years. You don't pay for streaming services. But chances are you have been covering the production costs for recent movies and television shows. That's because 33 states and the District of Columbia offer tax breaks to movie makers and more. The only states that currently don't offer... Read more →


Does your tax bill seem too big? You are not alone in thinking that, according to a recent survey. Every filing season, a lot of taxpayers discover that, at least from their point of view, they are paying too much in taxes. That's still true, even though we've now had four full years of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes. This major tax reform bill was supposed to simplify filings, and it did for millions by expanding the standard deduction amounts and shifting folks from itemizing. It also, according to the Republican lawmakers who crafted it, was supposed... Read more →


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels Inflation is the biggest domestic, and political, concern right now. And after months of waiting, the Federal Reserve's expected reaction to rising prices came last week. The board members of the United States' central bank raised interest rates on Wednesday, March 16, for the first time since 2018. The bump of a quarter percentage point to its benchmark rate is the first of expected increases to combat the country's highest inflation in four decades. When all is said and done, most financial observers say the previously near-zero interest rates to be near 2 percent... Read more →


Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, made an emotional plea to U.S. lawmakers for more help as his country battles Russian aggression. Screenshot of the address from C-SPAN broadcast. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke directly to members of the U.S. Congress this morning, urging them to do more to protect help his country's efforts to fight Russian invaders. At one point in the virtual speech, delivered remotely from his country's war-torn capital Kyiv, Zelenskyy called on President Joe Biden to be the world's "leader of peace." Hours after the emotional plea, Biden responded. He thanked Zelenskyy for his address, and pledged... Read more →


IRS office in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Bisanz via Wikipedia Commons) Almost six months into Uncle Sam's current fiscal year, Congress finally agreed to fund it fulltime. Representatives and Senators last week sent the $1.5 trillion appropriations package to the White House. Before that, they also signed off on yet another short-term continuing resolution that will keep government offices open until March 15. That should give President Joe Biden time to sign the fiscal 2022 spending measure into law before a government shutdown is triggered. The measure, H.R. 2471, got bipartisan support in both chambers. The House passed... Read more →


Ready to take a break from your 2021 taxes? I have just the diversion. You can read all about the tax legislation that was enacted during the 116th Congress. Wait! Come back. It's a good timeline look at recent tax breaks and changes, some of which still affect our 2021 tax returns. During that session of Congress, which began on Jan. 3, 2019, and ended on Jan. 3, 2021, the House and Senate sent 344 bills to the White House that were signed into law. Since this is a tax blog, our attention is on those bills/laws that had an... Read more →


Abandoned Russian tank in Ukraine (Rob Lee via Twitter) The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the latest reminder that wars have been around as long as humans. Taxes also have been part of the clashes, either fighting against them as in the American Revolution, or countries' creating or increasing them to pay for the battles. So it's no surprise that taxes have captured public attention — OK, the social media tax community's attention — as Ukrainians fight to keep their nation out of Vladimir Putin's hands. Specifically, it's the announcement by Ukraine authorities that citizens who have seized Russian tanks... Read more →


Tanker unloading crude oil (Photo by Hervé Cozanet, Marine-Marchande/Wikipedia Commons) Energy is on a lot of folks' minds right now. Europeans are keeping even warier eyes on Russia's invasion of Ukraine after an attack set off a fire at the continent's largest nuclear power plant. The immediate not horrific news is that there's no sign of radiation leaks at the Zaporizhzhia facility. However, damages to the infrastructure have left the nearly 53,000 residents of the Ukrainian city of Energodar almost without heat. It's unclear what the Russians, who've taken control of the plant grounds, are planning to do with the... Read more →


Fotolia As you finish up your 2021 tax year Form 1040, make sure you don't miss your charitable deductions. No, this is not just for itemizers. This filing season, single taxpayers can claim up to $300 in cash donations made to Internal Revenue Service-authorized nonprofits. Married couples filing a joint return get a maximum $600 deduction. And you claim it directly on your Form 1040. New, but temporary, deduction for nonitemizers: Most taxpayers choose to take the standard deduction. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction amounts, IRS data indicate that close to... Read more →


Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, gasoline prices in the United States were going up due to that Econ 101 basic supply and demand. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more U.S. workers starting doing their jobs remotely. Working from home meant no commuting, so fewer vehicle fill-ups. Oil producers, notably the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) cartel, responded by cutting production sharply in 2020. Since then, things have returned to, for lack of better words, more normal. Demand for oil and products like gasoline has surged since pandemic lows. But production has not kept up. More people wanting a scarce... Read more →


Today is the federal holiday celebrating George Washington's birthday. That's it. Just George. Not his Mount Rushmore colleagues Tom or Teddy or Abe. Not any other man who's been Commander in Chief. But most of us refer to this annual February celebration as Presidents Day. The unofficial public renaming actually happened somewhat organically. Evolution from one to all presidents: When Washington's Feb. 22nd birthday became the first federal holiday to honor an American president back in 1879 , it was celebrated on the actual date. But under the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act, it was shifted to the third Monday... Read more →