Elderly Feed

With the financial situation of Uncle Sam's retirement benefits program getting more dire, a recurring suggestion — raise the Social Security payroll tax wage base — is getting some traction this year. Labor Day typically marks the end, at least unofficially, of summer. After the early September long weekend, most schools are back in session, albeit still in remote/real classroom combos due to the Delta COVID-19 variant. Workers, many also still in hybrid coronavirus cubicle/Zoom formats, tend to focus on their jobs. Those jobs are critical not just to the employees, but the economy as a whole and to two... Read more →


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic created a plethora of economic problems, student debt was a national concern. Student loans are among the largest contributors to household debt, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau analysis. It cites Department of Education estimates that in 2017 the total amount owed in federal student loans was $1.37 trillion. That figure no doubt has grown dramatically in the last four years, exacerbated by the recent job losses caused by the coronavirus. Federal student debt relief moves: As the higher education debt dollars pile up, Washington, D.C., is working on ways to deal the costs... Read more →


The Child Tax Credit, particularly the advance payments now being distributed by the Internal Revenue Service in monthly installments through the rest of 2021, are getting a lot of attention. But that's not the only tax credit that offers help to families. These tax breaks are particularly helpful because, as tax credits, they offset dollar-for-dollar any tax liability you might have. A few are even refundable, meaning they'll net you a tax refund once they wipe out any tax you might owe. Such help from Uncle Sam is welcomed by all taxpayers, but especially families working to make ends meet.... Read more →


What's the result when the worst things happen? Too often, it's terrible people taking advantage of good people. This occurs with alarming regularity in the tax world following tragedies and disasters. Con artists use horrible events to convince compassionate individuals to donate to groups that will help out the victims. What really happens all too often is the caring donors become victims, too. Fake charities are just one type of scam in today's third installment of the IRS' Dirty Dozen for 2021. This category of tax ruses in which dishonest people trick others into doing something illegal often includes fraudulent... Read more →


More older Americans are going into debt. For many, it seriously undermines their ability to save for a comfortable retirement. (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels) It's no secret why personal finance folks urge us to save early and often. It takes a lot to live like you want when you retire. If you don't have enough stashed after you're done with the 9-to-5 grind, it could be because you are like the individuals in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study. They went into more debt as they aged. The government auditing agency's analysis found that older Americans held... Read more →


The 2020 tax return filing deadline for most U.S. taxpayers literally is just days away. If you're scrambling to meet the May 17 due date, don't be in such a hurry that you cheat yourself out of some tax savings. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, most of which are 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 they directly reduce what you... Read more →


A VITA volunteer helps a taxpayer prepare and e-filer her tax return for free. (IRS video screenshot) Tax software works fine for millions of taxpayers. Another sizeable chunk of filers opt for more personal service from a tax professional. Then there are people for whom software just doesn't cut it. They need or want more help and assurance that their taxes will be filed correctly. But they can't afford a tax preparer. Say hello to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Trained volunteer tax filing help: VITA programs across the United States offer free... Read more →


We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information. A handful of these documents must be submitted with Form 1040. Most, however,... Read more →


One of the many U.S. Capitol ornaments that adorn our Christmas tree each year. (Photo by Kay Bell) We all have our holiday traditions. That includes Congress. Almost every year, Representatives and Senators return to Washington, D.C. in December to take care of must-pass legislation. This year, there are two big items on the legislative to-do list. One is to approve federal government funding for the remainder of the 2021 fiscal year. Without that money, Uncle Sam's offices nationwide will shut down (again). That's definitely the Congressional equivalent of Santa putting coal in stockings! The other issue is another COVID-19... Read more →


A VITA volunteer talks with a taxpayer. Check out the IRS' video on VITA and TCE programs for more on them and how you can participate. Every November, millions of Americans take time around Thanksgiving to acknowledge all the things in their lives for which they are grateful. This year, the coronavirus pandemic is affecting not only how we celebrate Turkey Day, but our assessments of our blessings. It's also reshaped how many of us look at ways we can share our good fortunes. One option is donating to charitable groups that can help out those who have fewer thanks... Read more →


Of course 2020 has multiple Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month. The year's first was on March 13, right when as a nation we were realizing that COVID-19 would define everything about this year, and beyond. Back then, I offered 13 good luck tax breaks. Today, Friday, November 13, 2020, arrives as we're dealing with a resurgence of the coronavirus. So it seem appropriate to revisit that first list of 13 tax opportunities that could ease some of your tax fears on this traditional day of superstitions, while we're in the midst of a pandemic and beyond.... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In today's post, we look at changes to some popular tax-related medical matters. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this year's taxes, due April 15, 2021. Medical issues have... Read more →


Whether you'll be on the road this holiday season or staying home, you still need to map out some year-end tax moves. (Photo by Mohan Reddy Atalu via Pexels.com) It's November, a month most of us welcome because of its cooler temperatures and annual holiday festivities. However, there's even more to think about in November 2020. The presidential election is just a few days away. Then there's the coronavirus pandemic, which means Thanksgiving plans for most of us are modified if not scrapped. If you find you're staying home this year as a health precaution, don't despair. Remember that it's... Read more →


Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In today's post, we look at annual retirement plan contribution amounts, and, for some taxpayers, tax deduction and credit options and limitations. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, certain limitations on some Schedule A claims and the sort-of still around personal exemption amount. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this... Read more →


Free tax-preparation and filing help is offered through groups like United Way, which partnered with volunteers at this Rutherford County, Tennessee, VITA office. Not only does the IRS train the tax assistors, each year it awards grants to keep the sites running across the country. Meeting your tax responsibilities can be a challenge for many — OK, most — of us. But things can be even more difficult when you can't afford to hire help to finish your returns or your advancing age makes doing your taxes tougher. There are some dedicated volunteers who work every year to meet the... Read more →


The Social Security Administration (SSA) just gave retirees and other recipients of the program's payments some good news with the announcement of a small hike in their benefits year. Some higher earners, however, aren't so happy. In the same benefits raise announcement, the SSA noted that the amount of income subject to the Social Security payroll withholding also is going up in 2021. This amount, known as the Social Security wage base, is the maximum of earnings, by both salaried workers and the self-employed, that are subject to that portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. For the... Read more →


A quick Social Security note about for folks not yet at or near the benefits age about taxes on that pre-retirement income. More of it, known as the wage base, will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Details are in this post. Retirees checking on their investments. The income could make their Social Security benefits taxable. Today's a good day for millions of Social Security recipients. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that benefits will increase a bit next year. Older folks who get regular monthly Social Security payments, along with those who receive Supplemental Security Income... Read more →


When you hit birthday milestones, like the one my Mom, the lovely lady in red, and her fellow Senior Center pals did a few years ago, you might qualify for some special tax benefits afforded older filers. (Photo by Kay Bell) Aging is not for sissies. I definitely can attest to that since, as the saying goes, I'm now a woman of a certain age. But with age also comes wisdom (or so I've been promised!). And getting older also provides some tax benefits. On this National Senior Citizens Day 2020 — yes, it was made official by President Ronald... 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 →