Education Feed

If past years are any indication, when the 2020 tax filing season officially opens on Monday, Jan. 27, millions of taxpayers will hit the send button to electronically deliver their annual returns to the Internal Revenue Service. But millions more of us have to wait to file. We're still waiting on at least one tax statement that has information we need to finish filling out our Form 1040. Form deadline is Jan. 31: Technically, most of these tax documents aren't even required to be on their way to us until Jan. 31. Employers and other businesses that issue wage and/or... Read more →


The birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been officially celebrated as a federal holiday on the third Monday of January for more than three decades. For 25 of those years, it's also been a Day of Service, during which we're all challenged to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of the slain civil rights leader. There are various ways to honor Dr. King on his holiday. One recommended by the Corporation for National and Community Service is to volunteer on #MLKDay and beyond as a tutor or mentor... Read more →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels A staple feature each New Year's Day is the fixation on babies born just after the clocked clicked past midnight. For the families, it's usually a joyous event, with their new bundles of joy being showered with first baby themed gifts from local merchants. Tax professionals, even those with families, however tend to see such celebrations as a tad misplaced. Or, as Jerry Gaddis, an Enrolled Agent in Florida, describes it, "bad tax planning." Am I the only one who sees this and thinks "bad tax planning"? #EnrolledAgent — Jerry Gaddis. EA, MBA (@TropicalTax)... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Congress just came up with more tax breaks to wind down 2019 than the number of ornaments we have on our upstairs' mini Christmas tree! (Photo by Kay Bell) Congress finally decorated its Christmas tree early this morning. The ornaments were myriad tax breaks. Or, in some cases, elimination of taxes. With Dec. 25 bearing down and special interest groups sending more requests to Capitol Hill than kiddos' letters to Santa, the House and Senate negotiators finally agreed on, among other things, what to do about those expired tax provisions popularly known as extenders. They OK'ed a handful of them... Read more →


Yes, I know I'm a nag when it comes to year-end tax moves. I've posted about individual steps to take by Dec. 31 both at the beginnings of November and December, as well as looked at business tax moves to make now. But as happens all the time in life and taxes, I've come up with a few more year-end tax moves that didn't make the earlier lists, or at least were mentioned just in passing. So here goes with five more tax moves to make by Dec. 31 1. Don't miss the RMD deadline. You followed all the financial... Read more →


These carolers, dressed in Dickensian attire, are no doubt singing traditional Christmas tunes, not my reworked and tax-themed "O Tannenbaum." (Photo by Chris Waits via Flickr CC) O Tax Year-End (O Tax Year Moves) O Tax Year-End, O Tax Year-End, How are thy days so nearing! O Tax Year Moves, O Tax Year Moves, How are thy days so wearing! Not only in the wintertime, But even in young spring is thy prime. O Tax Year-End, O Tax Year Moves, How are thy days so nearing! Yes, that's my attempt at tax lyrics to the tune "O Tannenbaum," known here... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to tax credit, deduction and income exclusion amounts. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. The hubby has a chant he breaks into every year when I start working on our annual tax return: "Deduct! Deduct! Deduct!"... Read more →


November is the place for perfectly roasted Thanksgiving bird, not the many tax turkeys that can gobble up your money. These monthly tax moves are a great garnish as you finalize your 2019 tax year menu. Turkey attack from South Park via GIPHY It's November. You know what that means. Year-end tax move time. Oh yeah, and holiday plans. I hear ya. It's that crazy hectic part of the year, whether you're the host/hostess with the most/mostest or planning to travel to your Thanksgiving festivities. But you also need to add taxes to the mix. Now. Before you get all... Read more →


It's open season at workplaces across the United States this month. Nope, I'm not talking about team building hunting trips. I'm talking about hunting for the best employer-provided benefits for you and your family. Last year, the big new benefit that bosses were offering was a tax-favored ways to pay off student loan debt. That's still a big draw, with more companies eyeing this option to attract and keep workers, especially younger ones with huge college debt loads. But we're always looking for the new and shiny. This year, emergency funds are attracting employer and employee attention. The reason for... Read more →


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 →


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 →


This cool balloon was part of my neighbors' celebration back in 2017 of their son's graduation. Some Texas gusts, however, helped it take a post-graduation trip to our driveway. After snapping this photo (and Instagram video), I helped the light-headed graduate home. Attention class, here's you latest assignment. Wait. Didn't the school year just finish? Yes, for younger students. But those looking for financial help as they head off to college need to do some homework now. Students, or their parents, who are seeking financial assistance to meet higher education costs need to file a Free Application for Federal Student... 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 →


Gold Star families aren't the only ones facing unexpectedly higher taxes under kiddie tax changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Some students who receive college scholarships or grants now face bigger tax bills, too, under the tax reform law that took full effect in 2018. Previously, scholarships or grants for nontuition expenses like room and board were taxed at the same marginal rate that the students' parents paid. That meant lower- and middle-income students generally paid lower tax rates on the educational financial assistance. But the TCJA now applies the higher trust and estates tax rate, which... 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 →


College and its ever-increasing costs certainly have gotten a lot of attention. There's the group of Democrats seeking their party's 2020 presidential nomination. Obviously spurred by the enthusiastic supporters of Independent-turned-temporary-Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders and his promise of free college, many other White House wannabes also are talking up educational assistance. Then there's this week's Operation Varsity Blues. You might not have caught the name, but let me drop two others to spur recognition: Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Yeah, that's the name federal investigators gave to their take down of a far-reaching college admissions scheme. Wealthy parents, elite school... Read more →


Change is the only constant, as the old saying goes, and that's as true on the last day of the year as it is on the first. Those changes also could mean changes to your taxes, as some life-altering situations on Dec. 31 affect your taxes for the preceding 364 days. Take, for example, tying the knot. If you get married today, congratulations. Have a spectacular combined wedding reception and New Year's Eve party. Also get ready after the confetti and toasts to deal with some filing changes to your 2018 taxes. Your new Dec. 31 husband or wife status... Read more →


Contributing to a 529 plan is one tax move you need to work into your hectic year-end holiday schedule since most states require you do so by Dec. 31 in order to claim associated state tax benefits on your next tax return. We're almost halfway through December. Are you feeling the holiday crunch? Sorry, but I'm here to add to it. As I've already nagged suggested back in November and earlier this month, you need to take care of some year-end tax tasks, too. One of those tax moves — contributing to a youngster's 529 plan — is worth another... Read more →