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The American Rescue Plan is now on its way to President Joe Biden. As soon as Biden signs it, millions of taxpayers can look forward to the third COVID-19 economic relief payment. And taxpayers who've already filed their 2020 returns and paid tax on unemployment benefits they received last year also can get ready to file amended returns. That's because during its consideration of the bill last week, the Senate included a provision that made the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits tax-free. UPDATE, Thursday, March 11, 2021: Biden signed the bill into law early in the afternoon today. He originally... Read more →


A group of Kentucky homeowners switched to a different, higher-rate tax district so their increased taxes would pay for things like street cleaning. A transcription error meant they got it and other services for free for eight years. (Photo by Kay Bell) Property tax bills are a major expense for homeowners. They also can be confusing. Here in Texas, most property tax money goes to the homeowners' local school districts. But there's usually more. Our real estate bill, for example, has collections for our independent school district, as well as five other taxing jurisdictions. That's why every tax bill recipient... Read more →


Photo by Jess Bailey Designs The only thing worse than getting a surprising high property tax appraisal — which, as one of April's tax tips advises, you definitely should protest for venting, as well as potential lower tax, purposes — is having your local tax collector tell you that your tax payment is overdue. That happened to 2,400 homeowners in upstate New York, according to LocalSYR.com. Tax rebate endangered: Technically, the property owners in Onondaga County didn't get a past due bill. Instead, they incorrectly received notice from the Empire State's Department of Taxation and Finance that they could lose... Read more →


One of the big selling points of taking your taxes electronic is that the Internal Revenue Service's turnaround is quicker. The tax agency has long touted that when taxpayers e-file and have their refunds direct deposited, the tax cash usually shows up within 21 days. Usually. The only thing certain about taxes is that they'll find a way to frustrate you. That's the case when e-filed refunds take longer. Here are six reasons, from the IRS and tax community, as to why your refund may be delayed. 1. Math errors: Yes, taxes are complicated. That's why most of us use... Read more →


Don't let filing your taxes scare you. Take that fear and turn it into awareness of common Form 1040 mistakes you need to avoid making. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels) The only thing worse than paying taxes is having to fill out the required paperwork every year. Just looking at a Form 1040, whether through the step-by-step Q&A lens of tax software or with the guiding hand of a tax pro, can send chills down the spines of most taxpayers, even those whose tax circumstances are relatively simple. There's that nagging fear that this is a test from Uncle... Read more →


Most folks right now are working on filing their 2021 tax returns for the first time. But since it's Groundhog Day — in case you missed it, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so we're looking at six more weeks of winter (boo!) — today seems like the perfect time to also look at amending a tax return. Taxes are complicated, so tax mistakes on 1040 forms are common. In situations where you've made a relatively minor common error on your return, such as transposing an amount that the Internal Revenue Service can correct using its copy of a third-party tax... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell I'm married to a procrastinator. The most infuriating thing about it is not that he puts off things, but that occasionally he's right to not rush to finish projects. And yes, projects is a euphemism for tasks I've asked him to do. Sometimes situations change, making moot what originally looked like the right move. Other times, the delay prevents making what would have been a wrong action. And in a few cases, if a job was done on my timetable, the changed circumstances would have meant redoing it. So over the many years we've been together,... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 5 , 2021: Yes, you are experiencing tax déjà vu. But if you're one of the millions of taxpayers who got an extension to file your 2020 return back in May, and then put off doing so until now, literally just days until the final Oct. 15 due date, then you need this reminder. As you finally fill out your Form 1040, don't make any of these dozen tax filing mistakes. Every tax-filing season is different. One thing is constant, though. Taxpayers, and sometimes even the tax preparers they hire, make mistakes on 1040 forms. Hey, we're only... Read more →


Just can't bring yourself to do your taxes? Don't worry. There's no rush (yet). And there are some good reasons to wait a bit before finishing your Form 1040. The 2021 tax filing season is finally underway. The Internal Revenue Service started processing returns on Friday, Feb. 12. A lot of the 1040 forms actually had been submitted electronically weeks earlier, and were just waiting for Uncle Sam to accept them. This is not unusual. Millions of taxpayers file as early as possible, with good reason, every year. But there's something to said for those of us who wait. Here... Read more →


We all should learn from our mistakes. That's especially true of tax mistakes. And now that learning — and correcting — process is getting easier. The Internal Revenue Service now will accept some electronically filed amended returns. There's just one hitch. This long-awaited electronic filing process, which the IRS promised earlier this summer, is available for making corrections only to tax year 2019 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR returns. Those were the ones you filed (or got an extension file) this year by July 15. If you have an earlier filing you need to fix, you'll still have to use... Read more →


Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Hong Kong Disneyland, which features the internationally iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. (Photo by PoonKaMing via Wikipedia Commons) Tax offices often are derided for being Mickey Mouse operations. Rhode Island's Office of the General Treasurer actually went there. The Ocean State's financial office late last month issued 176 business tax refund checks that were signed by Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney. Rhode Island's Department of Revenue said the entertainment industry signatures, which went where state treasurer Seth Magaziner and state controller Peter Keenan should have signed, were due to a technical glitch. This should have been... Read more →


Tax notices are among the pieces of mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service in recent weeks. Due to COVID-19 complications, those documents detailing IRS questions about earlier filings have later due dates. The deadline for some is this Friday, July 10. It's the first full week of July 2020, meaning that the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column (shameless plug) shows that we're just single digit days away from this year's July 15 filing deadline. And some folks have an even earlier due date. If you recently received an Internal Revenue Service notice, you might... Read more →


One of the reasons the Internal Revenue Service has called more of its staff back to their offices is so they can deal with the backlog of tax notices. When the agency sent most personnel home earlier this year as a coronavirus pandemic precaution, some previously-printed balance due notices didn't get mailed. Now with some IRS operations restarting across the county, these notices will be delivered to taxpayers by the U.S. Postal Service in the next few weeks. Original notices, old dates: These notices, however, won't be updated versions produced by staffers who now are back at their desks. They... Read more →


To err on tax returns is human. To forgive is Xtraordinary, and yes, the misspelling is intentional. Tax law lets us correct mistakes we make on our 1040s via another form, the 1040X. Most people file 1040X, which is known as amending your return, because they discovered they didn't claim a tax break that give them a (or a bigger) tax refund. Of course, since the Internal Revenue Service is involved, there are some rules and certain steps you must follow. Here are five key things to keep in mind if you discover you need to re-do a previously filed... Read more →


Wait. It's April, right? And isn't it March that has the proverbial lion-like entrance? Well, April apparently is trying to steal some monthly arrival literal thunder. Over the first weekend of this new month, violent storms raked much of Texas and are still marching east. Little April showers on spider web GIF by SomethingTraLaLa via Giphy Yes, I know spring heralds thunderstorm season, which is often dangerous and deadly like this weekend. But I also know I speak for a lot of us who were hoping simply for some more soothing April showers. So instead of just worrying about filing... Read more →


It's early Christmas for 89 Maryland cities. They will be getting some unexpected money from the state's comptroller. Unfortunately, it's not new money. It's cash the municipalities should have received over the past five years. And there's also a Grinch, I mean glitch, in the Maryland revenue office that will require another other 83 cities to pay back state funds they received in error over the years. All told, according to The Baltimore Sun, the Maryland comptroller misdirected more than $21 million in tax money since 2010. "I'd love to blame this on our predecessors, but this is our problem,"... Read more →


There's an old tax myth that filing an amended tax return will get you audited. Not true. In fact, failing to correct an error you made on your original tax return is more likely to cause you more tax trouble. When the Internal Revenue Service discovers the mistake, and the agency likely eventually will, you'll owe the tax due and penalties and interest. And if you fail to claim a tax break on an amended return that you overlooked when you first filed, then you're the one cheating yourself out of tax savings. An effort worth making: I know, dealing... Read more →


This post was updated Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 Fake news. Alternative facts. We've all grown familiar with, and perhaps a big inured to, such phrases of late. Spinning language is something politicians have done for, well, forever. And it's not limited to just news. At tax time we hear a lot of things, especially on the internet, that we hope will help us make wise decisions when we file our taxes. But some of it is wrong. To fight this trend of alternative, fake tax facts, as well as brighten up your day a bit, I thought you might enjoy... Read more →


Tax Day is almost here. If you're one of the millions still to file, I understand. No judging here. I'm part of the last-minute tax crew, too. The key as April 18 nears is not to panic. If you freak out while doing your taxes, you'll likely make a mistake (or two or …) that could be costly. Source: Reddit.com So that you don't end up writing a check like the one above, here are 10 common tax-filing mistakes to avoid. 1. Math miscalculations -- This is the most common tax mistake every filing season. It includes addition, subtraction, percentage... Read more →


We're now into the single digit countdown (you are watching the clock in the right column, right?) to the April 18 tax return (and due tax payment!) deadline. That means millions of us are starting to get a little frantic. And that can be really, really bad when it comes to taxes. If we tackle our returns in the same state as this faux Grumpy Cat, we'll make the same costly mistakes he's bragging about to his neighborhood bar buddies. So take a breath. Put down the Cosmo (or whatever adult beverage you prefer) and cigarette. Tax tips time: And... Read more →


Hello 2016! Some of us (not me) got up early to welcome you. Others (me, as you can tell from the posting time on this item) are still easing into this brand new year. But one thing that most of us soon will be doing, regardless of our post-New Year's Eve celebration energy level, is making New Year's resolutions. Yeah, I know making resolutions is the annual, and usually temporary, victory of hope over experience. Most of our attempts to make ourselves and our lives better, at least within the strictures of quick and catchy Jan. 1 lists of goals,... Read more →