Politics Feed

High tax filing season is over and the numbers have been tallied. Unfortunately for Republicans who still are fighting the public relations war over their major tax reform law, the figures aren't good. Yes, fractionally more money has been delivered to taxpayers through April 21, almost a week after the filing deadline for most U.S taxpayers. But the average refund check remains smaller than it was last year. In 2018, the average refund was $2,780. This year, it came to $2,725. In case you're not good at math in your head (I'm not) and don't have a calculator handy, that's... Read more →


Social Security might be in trouble, but as long as it's around in some form, Uncle Sam will keep collecting taxes related to it. That includes not only the payroll taxes from workers that go toward funding the federal retirement benefits, but also in some cases on the benefits themselves. If you have enough money when you're older to enjoy time the way you want with your grandchildren, you might face taxes on your Social Security benefits. Stop me if you've heard this before. Social Security is running out of money. That's the latest word from the trustees of the... Read more →


Multiply this computer trouble by 150 million taxpayers and you'll get an idea of the scope of the IRS' new plan to upgrade its technology systems. The Internal Revenue Service made it relatively unscathed through the 2019 main tax filing season. That's pretty amazing when you consider the agency: had sworn in a new commissioner just a few months earlier, had to tailor the season's opening around the longest-ever federal government shutdown, was still working on implementation of and guidance for the first major tax reform bill in more than 30 years and did it all using antiquated computer systems.... Read more →


420 Day celebrant photo by GoToVan via Flickr Happy 420 Day, when marijuana smokers commemorate cannabis. It's not surprising that the origins of this unofficial holiday to celebrate weed are fuzzy. Some say it's based on the California police or penal code number 420 that designates marijuana smoking. Not true. Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana. That count must have been made after a few tokes over the line. There are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, with only about 70 or so being cannabinoids unique to the plant. A more likely explanation is... Read more →


Feeling pretty good today, are you? You got your taxes done and to the Internal Revenue Service on Tax Day. Now you can shift from complaining about doing your taxes to complaining about how they are spent. Here, direct from the U.S. Treasury is a graphic look at where our tax dollars went in fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, 2018. Source: U.S. Treasury final monthly statement for fiscal year 2018 Click graph for a larger image In addition to this graphic, the 36-page statement includes details on Uncle Sam's expenditures, as well as the scoop on the $779... Read more →


Driving vacations are much more enjoyable when gasoline is cheap and the person behind the wheel isn't as amped up as this guy! The surest sign that summer is on the way is not temperature changes, but increasing gasoline prices. Oil companies traditionally take advantage of the seasonal shift, as families here in Texas and elsewhere across the country load up their cars — and fill up the gas tanks — to hit the road. Not too long ago, I topped off my tank with regular at $1.89 per gallon. Today the lowest price I've seen in the area is... Read more →


It's official. House Democrats have formally requested copies of the last six years of Donald J. Trump's personal and business federal tax returns. Trump has steadfastly refused to make public his taxes, breaking a modern-day tradition set by presidential candidates — and in-office presidents (and vice presidents) — of letting the public have a glimpse of White House 1040s. The main reason Trump has given for keeping his taxes private is that his personal and business filings are under audit. Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the... Read more →


Broad City image via Giphy.com Do you have to file a return? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the answer usually is yes. But there's a difference between having to file a tax return and submitting a 1040 form because you should. And by should, I mean when it's to your advantage to do so. Yes, that does happen in the tax world now and then. When filing is required: First, though, let's look at when the tax code says we must send the Internal Revenue Service a Form 1040. Although the 1040 has a new look... Read more →


Tax credits for buying a Chevrolet Bolt, left, or Volt are going down on April 1. (Photo courtesy Driving Canada) The climate change debate rages on in political circles, but on U.S. roadways, many folks are voting, as the old saying goes, with their pocketbooks. They're buying more energy efficient and less polluting cars. And Uncle Sam has been part of that sales campaign. A federal tax credit that can be as much as $7,500 has convinced some Americans to trade in their gas guzzlers for electric autos. That tax break, however, doesn't last forever. Once an electric vehicle becomes... Read more →


We've got just more than three weeks before our 2018 tax returns are due, but most of us aren't in any hurry to complete this task. Through March 15, the Internal Revenue Service reports that it has received almost 76 million 2018 tax year returns. That's 2.5 percent fewer than this point in last year's filing season. In fact, the IRS latest filing season data shows that 9 of 12 tracked areas are still slightly behind last year's pace. Only visits to IRS.gov, tax returns directly e-filed by taxpayers and directly deposited refunds are up over 2018 numbers by 11.2... Read more →


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law on March 23, 2010. During the almost nine years since President Barack Obama signed the health care bill, which usually is shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, opponents of the law have been working to repeal, maybe replace and definitely weaken it. Republicans succeeded in late 2017 in eliminating a key component of the ACA. Under the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the ACA's individual health insurance mandate. This is the requirement that you obtain at least minimum essential coverage, or MEC, for yourself and dependents... Read more →


Photo by Kumar's Edit via Flickr I've been married a long time. To the same guy. Marriage is not always easy and we don't even have a boss stirring up trouble between us. But we've made it through the tough times. And now as we patch things up when we do have our differences, we joke that we're staying together because it would be a bigger hassle to divorce. Sometimes, though, couples can't work through their troubles and decide to officially end their marriages. When that happens, among all the other issues, there are tax matters to consider. Here are... Read more →


Rep. Mike Thompson opens a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing into temporary tax policy, aka tax extenders. (Screenshot from official hearing video via YouTube) House tax writers have finally, officially looked at expired tax provisions, known popularly as extenders. But anyone hoping for a quick resolution or an indication that the many now-dead tax breaks might be revived by the April filing deadline was disappointed. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), chairman of the Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee, opened today's (March 12) hearing by making it clear that right now, his panel simply is examining the basis for creating... Read more →


The White House's fiscal year 2020 budget proposal was delivered to Capitol Hill today. (Screenshot from AP video via USA Today) The Trump White House today released its fiscal 2020 budget request. The annual fiscal request for money is a month later than usual this year because of the 35-day government shutdown. In his latest budget proposal, Donald J. Trump asks for $8.6 billion for the border wall. He's also calling for spending cuts of $2.7 trillion, the largest proposed reduction ever by an administration. The math involved also is monumental. The budget forecasts trillion-dollar deficits for four straight years,... Read more →


Part of today's International Women's Day celebrations are for the continuing employment advances by women. Our 21st century progress is due in large part to the pivotal roles of female employees in traditionally male jobs, like this woman machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1942. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) Back in 2017 when Congress was formulating the comprehensive tax law changes that would become the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the #MeToo movement was in full force, shining a light on the prevalence of sexual assault. As the TCJA... Read more →


Michael Cohen makes his opening statement before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, 2019. (C-SPAN video screenshot) We have a complicated relationship with money, particularly when it comes to divulging details about it in our personal lives. Few of us (outside of personal finance bloggers) want to say how much we make. We tend to be vague, saying we're doing fine or perhaps going as far as to say things like "in the high five figures." We're a little more forthcoming when it comes to taxes, especially when we get tax refunds or don't, as recent social media complaints... Read more →


A crowdfunding effort to raise money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has ended, but some folks still want to contribute. The debate on an expansive U.S.-Mexico wall (or similar structures) continues, in Washington, D.C., as well as across the country. The top issue right now is money to pay for any barriers along the United States' southern border. Donald J. Trump has declared the situation a national emergency, which his administration says would free up a total of $8 billion for the campaign-promised project. Opposition to the wall and Trump's workaround to pay for it has received... Read more →


Today technically is George Washington's Birthday, but we've come to call it Presidents Day in honor of all our commanders in chief, like these four greats on Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (Image courtesy Mount Rushmore Facebook page) How are you celebrating George Washington's birthday? Yep, that's what today officially is, despite all the Presidents Day sale signs in retailers' windows. Technically, America's first president was born on Feb. 22, 1731. However, since 1971 we've celebrated his arrival day on the third Monday of his birth month thanks to a law that took effect that year mandating most federal holidays be... Read more →


NASCAR's 2019 season started today with the auto racing series' biggest event, the Daytona 500. Congratulations to Denny Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing for taking the checkered flag in the Great American Race. Things aren't so clear-cut, though for the expired tax break for motorsports speedway improvements and more than two dozen other assorted tax benefits. These tax breaks expired in 2017 and are not on track for reinstatement. Yet. In fact, they're looking as messy as today's closing laps pile-up. Extenders indecision: These assorted tax breaks are known collectively as the extenders. They get that name because they are... Read more →


Open-close sign via Giphy.com The drama continues in Washington, D.C., as far as keeping the federal government open. It looked like, despite some grumbling from all sides, that a bipartisan, bicameral deal reached this week would keep all of the federal government open past Feb. 15. We all need to keep our fingers (and toes) crossed that it happens, especially those of us — which mean most Americans — who deal with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS obviously among those pushing for a resolution that will get the agency through the 2019 tax filing season. The agency is still... Read more →