Education Feed

In addition to selecting who gets to go to, or stay in, Washington, D.C., voters across the country on Nov. 3 will decide on a variety of ballot measures. This coming Election Day, citizens in 32 states will decide the fate of 120 statewide initiatives. There also are measures on the ballots in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And yes, there are plenty of tax questions that will be decided. Ballotpedia, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit that's been tracking election data since 2007, says this year voters in 12 states will decide 19 tax-related ballot measures.... Read more →


Robert Smith surprised the 2019 class of Morehouse College graduates with a pledge to pay off their student loans. Watch the happy moment via Bloomberg Quick Take on YouTube. It was one of last year's best feel-good stories. On May 19, 2019, billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith promised graduates of Morehouse College listening to his commencement address that he would pay off their college debt. The approximately 400 grads at the historically black college in Atlanta were stunned. Then delighted. And the country cheered Smith's benevolence and commitment to making at least a little bit of the United... Read more →


Hello, October! You're always welcome at my house. I love your cooler temperatures that let me open windows and doors and put an end to exorbitant air conditioning costs. I love the color changes of trees and shrubs. And I love the candy that I accidentally (really!) over-buy in preparation for the young ghouls and goblins that knock on our front door each Oct. 31. I suspect I'm not alone in appreciating the arrival of autumn. But amid all these annual fall festivities, we need to make at least a few tax moves that could help out our upcoming tax... Read more →


The fall 2020 semester is starting remotely in most parts of the country. (Photo by August de Richelieu via Pexels) School is back in session. Sort of. In most places, both at the K-12 and college levels, students and their families are dealing with hybrid education modes. Some classes are meeting in person, albeit dramatically altered to meet COVID-19 safe distancing policies. The rest of the time, the students are learning online. It's not ideal, but it's something. The price of learning: But one thing remains the same even when we're dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Classes, at all levels,... Read more →


The vehicle lights coming and going across Pennybacker Bridge in northwest Austin are lovely in the evening, but the image also illustrates, as photographer Manuel Garza (via Flickr) notes, "the traffic sucks." I can't speak for all the country's suburbs, but I know mine is pretty sure that our neighborhood will still be around after the coming presidential election even if Joe Biden does move into the White House. We are, however, a bit concerned about how our continuing life here outside Austin's downtown might be affected by a proposed real estate tax increase that also will be on our... Read more →


Rapper Cardi B quizzes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on taxes (and more) in Elle magazine video chat. The 2020 Democratic Convention kicks off today, but former Vice President Joe Biden, who later this week will be formally nominated by his party to take on Donald J. Trump, got a media head start. Biden's recorded video chat with music superstar Cardi B was posted this morning. No, the nearly 17-minute video wasn't put out by the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign. The conversation was sponsored by Elle, where Cardi's visage graces the fashion/lifestyle magazine's September cover. And no, Cardi's not coming... Read more →


Donald J. Trump announced on Aug. 8 four executive actions to provide COVID-19 relief in the wake of the stalled Congressional talks. (White House photo via Twitter) By now everyone knows that Donald J. Trump decided to literally take COVID-19 relief into his own hands yesterday. Sitting at table in a meeting room at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, surrounded by media and club members who served as a smaller surrogate rally crowd to cheer him and boo the reporters, Trump sign four executive actions. One was a formal Executive Order. The other three were memoranda. He and his... Read more →


Millions of youngsters across the United States will start this school year in virtual classrooms. But the tax savings are real in 11 states holding sales tax holidays this weekend. Ten of the events kick off at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7. Most run through the full weekend. One doesn't start until Sunday, Aug. 9, but continues through the following Saturday, Aug. 15. Below are this weekend's back-to-school tax holidays listed alphabetically by participating states. The links, which include the state names, provide more details on what is and isn't tax-free. Florida: Friday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 9.... Read more →


Hello August! These annual hot and, here in Central Texas, sticky days of late summer usually are a transitional time. Families take one last summer vacation. Parents and kiddos (but mostly parents) get ready for the return of school. Not so in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic continues to keep much of our lives on hold, like those final holiday trips and school openings. Taxes, though, are more persistent. Yes, COVID-19 did delay Tax Day until last month. But as far as the rest of the tax realm is concerned, there still are some matters that must be considered. That means... Read more →


Photo by Scrumshus via Citypeek-Wikipedia The Senate this week released its plan for another round of coronavirus relief. As expected, there are substantial differences between this Republican-crafted bill and the measure passed in mid-May by the Democratically-controlled House. Both bills are wide-ranging, but there are some key provisions that are of particular interest to most of us. Both also use as a basis in many areas the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provisions that were enacted in late March. Below is a comparison of seven key areas in the latest GOP Senate's Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection... Read more →


We're heading, finally, into the heart of tax return filing season 2020. Even if you fill out and submit your Form 1040 electronically, as most of us do, you still need the documents that provide the figures you transfer to your return. One area of interest to millions every filing season is interest. In some cases, the interest you pay on certain loans can provide a tax break. In another, it could mean you owe Uncle Sam a bit more. This week's Tax Form Tuesday looks at three common interest-related tax documents. (Quick note: the forms' names below are linked... 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 →


This new legislation could be part of the now-developing Phase 4 coronavirus relief measure expected to be considered in late April. Unlike this pre-coronavirus campus study group, current college kids are utilizing e-learning options to provide them appropriate social distancing and other COVID-19 protections. Young adults fell through the cracks in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That new law created the COVID-19 relief payments that the Internal Revenue Service says it will begin processing this week. It will send checks of up to $1,200 to single taxpayers, $2,400 to married couple who file a joint return,... Read more →


A first job is a major life event with obvious major tax implications. Other momentous changes throughout our lives involve taxes, too. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the White House has decided to follow state and local officials in urging continued social (aka physical) distancing. For millions of us, this new April 30 stay home recommendation means more time cooped up with loved ones. Or not-so-loved ones. My favorite non-medical virus-related debate right now is whether all the coronavirus forced togetherness ultimately will end with a baby boom (coronials, anyone?) or a marriage bust. While the... Read more →


Friday the 13th scares a lot of folks, but there are some tax breaks that are almost as cuddly as this ebony kitten. It's another Friday the 13th, but the last thing we need in March 2020 is more stuff to worry about. So what's better help take our minds off the very scary COVID-19 pandemic and all its ramifications — like no sports to divert our attention! — than taxes? Yes, taxes. Really. There's no word yet as to whether the April 15 filing deadline and any due tax payments will be extended. But there still are a lot... Read more →


To make sure you, not the U.S. Treasury, gets more of these, don't overlook possible tax deductions and credits. At tax time, filers are always searching for ways to reduce their final tax bill. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, still referred to (by me, at least!) as above-the-line deductions that reduce the amount of income that's taxed. There also are tax credits, which are even better because the directly reduce what you owe Uncle Sam dollar-for-dollar and in some cases could produce... Read more →


Even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people opted to claim the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions because. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also... Read more →


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 →