Politics Feed

Often, too often, we use independence and freedom interchangeably. Even dictionaries and thesauruses say the words each mean to some degree the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint (freedom) or the state of being free from the control or power of another (independence). On this July 4, 2020, we are reevaluating what those definitions mean to us, our families, friends and neighbors, to people we don't know personally and to the United States as a whole. The scrutiny of those definitions could fill library shelves nationwide where reference — and history... Read more →


The tax agency has made it clear that the July 15 filing deadline is firm. But you still can get an extension to file, giving you until Oct. 15 to submit your Form 1040. Just ask for it by July 15. Plus, there other filing extension options (and forms on this Tax Form Tuesday!) for other tax circumstances. If you were hoping the Internal Revenue Service would push Tax Day 2020 beyond July 15, sorry. The agency says the already-delayed filing and tax paying deadline for 2019 returns is firm. When the IRS announced that decision late Monday afternoon (or... Read more →


Erin M. Collins took over as National Taxpayer Advocate on March 30, just as the United States was coming to grips with the coronavirus, so it's no surprise that the pandemic and its effects on taxes are part of her first official report to Congress. "Starting in the midst of a pandemic and witnessing IRS offices closing one by one was not the way I envisioned my role when I accepted the position," wrote Collins in the report's preface. But, added Collins, there's been a silver lining. In conference calls with her leadership team, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) employees and... Read more →


A recent government survey found most people are spending their COVID stimulus money on necessities, like food. (Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels) What did you do with your COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP)? If you're like most of the folks who responded to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, you used it to pay household bills. Many in the White House and on Capitol Hill had hoped the funds would help jump-start the stalled economy and then keep it going as businesses started to reopen. Looks like that's a big sorry on both counts. Instead, it appears, at least in... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service has offices nationwide, like this one in New York City. They were closed, at least partially, earlier this year as the agency took steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now the IRS is calling back more of its workers to deal with the impending July 15 Tax Day. (Photo by Matthew Bisanz via Wikipedia Commons) As Tax Day 2020 nears, the Internal Revenue Service is bringing back more staff — thousands are expected back at their desks on Monday, June 29 — to deal with the added tasks that have been given the agency in... Read more →


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels The last few months have been interesting for older individuals exploring ways to make the most of their retirement money. This demographic got some more, and mostly good, news again this week. The Internal Revenue Service has decided they now have more time to return required retirement account withdrawals they made earlier this year. Retirement savers' law changes: The tax-related retirement news started in December 2019 with the enactment of the wide-ranging retirement reform measure. The so-called SECURE Act, as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act is called, moved the age... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service announced in late May that it had sent out more than 152 COVID-19 economic relief payments totaling almost $258 billion Some coronavirus cash, however, went to folks that weren't supposed to get it. This includes relief payments to deceased taxpayers, some foreign-based workers and incarcerated individuals, as well as those married to someone who is in prison. Request, not demand: The IRS wants these folks to send back their stimulus money, although there's no indication, either legislatively or regulatorily, that the agency has any authority to require it. There's also the question of how it would... Read more →


Photo by Chris F from Pexels Are you taking dad out for a Father's Day brunch, in a properly-precautioned restaurant of course, complete with toasts to what a great pop he's been? Or maybe giving him a bottle of his favorite whiskey? Here's a present for you, the potent potables purchaser. A new study says alcohol taxes are at historic lows. No, it's not because alcohol excise taxes have been statutorily reduced. Fan of single malts can thank inflation. Or rather the lack of it. The new study by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) just published in the... Read more →


The House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act called for more a second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks. The Senate is starting to come around to the idea. But some folks are still waiting for their original coronavirus economic impact payments (EIPs), which were authorized in late March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Those initial COVID-19 payments could be as much as $1,200 for qualifying individuals or $2,400 for eligible married couples. Parents also could get $500 for each qualifying child who's younger than 17 at the end of this... Read more →


The Trump Administration plans in the next few weeks to announce a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, according to Bloomberg and Financial Times. The proposed spending on roads and bridges is seen as a way to further jump start the COVID-19 hobbled U.S. economy. The money reportedly would be spent over 10 years, but those familiar with the White House thinking say the plan is still "fluid and could take time." It also would go head-to-head with not only a sizable Democratic highway bill now before a House subcommittee, but also a GOP version that cleared the Senate last summer. Mapping... 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 →


Free File is under fire again. The annual tax season program, in which some tax software programs participate via a special Internal Revenue Service website, was created 17 years ago to offer no-cost tax filing to low-to-middle income taxpayers. The current agreement private/public tax filing deal is in place through Oct. 31, 2021. This year, eligible taxpayers — that's those with adjusted gross incomes of $69,000 or less, regardless of filing status — can use Free File to meet the coronavirus-delay July 15 tax filing and payment deadline. Those who decided to get an extension can use Free File until... Read more →


Former Vice President Joe Biden meeting supporters in Iowa last year in the early days of his campaign. Now he's the Democratic presidential nominee. His and opponent Donald Trump's tax plans will be a part of the election discussions. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr) It's a done deal. Former Vice President Joe Biden will be the Democrat challenging Donald J. Trump this November for the White House. Biden secured enough delegates last week to formally become the Democratic nominee on the first ballot at the party's convention. That official imprimatur will come in August at the Democrats' combined in-person... Read more →


Yes, that a 20-something me in that photo, lighting up a cigarette. I was a smoker for way too many years when I was a young adult. I finally quit cold turkey as a birthday gift to my husband during our first year of marriage. And despite nicotine's addictive properties and a 2½-pack-a-day habit, I never suffered any withdrawal symptoms. I smoked back then not because my body or brain demanded it, but because I enjoyed it. That and, as I revealed in a social media conversation with some #TaxTwitter pals that started as a discussion about coffee, it was... Read more →


Millions of folks — around 152 million of us, by the Internal Revenue Service's latest count — have received COVID-19 economic impact payments, or EIPs as they are called in the acronym crazy federal government (and tax) world. The payments of up to $1,200 per individual and $500 for each eligible child were created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The IRS began sending out EIPs in April. But now, two months after the CARES Act became law on March 27, some EIP-eligible recipients are still waiting for direct deposit or a paper check or a... Read more →


Photo by Suzanne Walker from Pexels Memorial Day 2020 has an added poignancy. This solemn day to commemorate those who gave their lives in military service to the United States is overshadowed by the coronavirus. Almost 100,000 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded, with reporters often referring to military casualty numbers to put the pandemic's human cost in perspective. The Memorial Day events that we are used to seeing or participating in have been altered by COVID-19. Rather than community gatherings to share our sorrow and thanks, most now are limiting attendees or are being done virtually. There is so much,... Read more →


There are a lot of footprints on many U.S. beaches this Memorial Day weekend as folks seek seashores after weeks of staying home due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Wendy Wei via Pexels) This Memorial Day long weekend is a big one for numbers. As most states have relaxed at least some COVID-19 stay home orders, Americans are taking advantage of more openings to celebrate this unofficial start of summer. They are, naturally, heading to spots that offer traditional seasonal activities. There's no official counts of how many folks have flocked to U.S. beaches and lakes and parks, but the... Read more →


Americans are plastic addicts. I'm not just talking packaging. We depend on plastic payments, aka credit and debit cards. That financial transaction method has made its way into the COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) distribution. This week, the Internal Revenue Service began sending debit cards loaded with coronavirus payment amounts to approximately 4 million Americans. As created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the COVID-19 payment amounts are up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child who is younger than 17 at of the end of... Read more →


Forty-three states and the District of Columbia rely to some degree on income taxes from their residents. The good news for most who live in these locations is that the COVID-19 economic impact payments (EIP), which the Internal Revenue Service notes won't be taxed by Uncle Sam, also are tax-free at state levels. But things are a little different in a handful of states. Taxpayers in Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, Oregon, Missouri and Montana are allowed at least a partial deduction for federal taxes they pay. And that could affect the tax treatment of the coronavirus payments. Flipping tax code effects:... Read more →


All tax eyes nowadays are on coronavirus relief measures, both the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March and The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that passed that passed House on Friday (May 15), but isn't expected move, at least not quickly, through the Senate. That's understandable. Businesses are still struggling, despite some partial re-openings across the country, and most people who got laid off are still out of jobs. They are growing more desperate each day for the financial help that CARES offers and the HEROES promises. But... Read more →