Family Feed

Last March, parents were frantically searching for day camps to enroll their kiddos once school let out for the summer. Then COVID-19 arrived. Most camps shut down or dramatically pared back operations and parents added teacher and summer activity director to their already long list of de facto titles. We're still not sure whether or how many summer day camps will resume this year, but things are looking better thanks to expanding coronavirus vaccinations across the country. That means that parents might be able to once again take advantage of the child and dependent care credit in connection with certain... Read more →


One of our neighbors made sure we all knew they had a new, cool graduate. (Photo by Kay Bell) I swear, my nieces and nephews were just in kindergarten. And wasn't that neighbor kid trick-or-treating as a dinosaur a couple of years ago? So how am I getting high school and college graduation announcements for these young people? Most of them will get a nice, actual paper congratulations card. A few will find a gift card tucked inside. However, a couple of these newly minted young adults will get actual gifts. But they won't be items that have to wrapped.... Read more →


Here are this weekend's full Flower Moon eclipse stages. The moon moves right to left, passing through the penumbra and umbra, leaving in its wake an eclipse diagram with the times (Eastern time zone) at various stages of the eclipse. Visualizations by Ernie Wright, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio. Click here for the video version. And if it's cloudy where you live, you can livestream the eclipse. It's Friday the 13th, the only one in 2022. A total lunar eclipse will turn the full Flower Moon red Sunday night. The only thing that could amp up our combined superstitions and natural... Read more →


The Child Tax Credit (CTC), already a popular tax break, was enhanced for the 2021 tax year. In addition to being larger — up to $3,600 for each child younger 6 and up to $3,000 for each youngster age 6 through 17 instead up the usual $2,000 per qualifying child — it was available to more families. Most eligible households got half of their qualifying CTC amount last year as monthly advance payments. They were sent automatically to taxpayers who had filed returns in prior years. Families who didn't have to file, usually because they earned less than the amount... Read more →


Taxes don't typically prompt celebrations like that of these school children welcoming May with a traditional Maypole dance. But thinking about tax moves this month can help you avoid costly faux pas. (Photo by Paul Barnett via Wikimedia Commons) May is supposed to be the month full of flowers from the previous month's showers. Unfortunately, this year the month is starting off on a decidedly unmerry note. In the wake of the devastating Kansas tornadoes, forecasters are warning of multiple rounds this week of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, across the Plains, Midwest, and South. That's why heeding weather warnings and... Read more →


via GIPHY So, you missed Tax Day. It happens. Don't panic. But don't dawdle. The Internal Revenue Service is serious about wanting your tax forms and, of course, any taxes you owe. If you miss the annual deadline, regardless of exactly when it falls, then you'll likely end up facing filing-related penalties, the harshest of which is for not filing at all. Below are four things you need to do now to get out of that penalty jam with as little damage as possible. Plus, there's a fifth tax move that could pay off for folks who aren't legally required... Read more →


Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. via Pexels Filing status is one of those tax matters that seems so simple, but which often trips up taxpayers in real life. As noted (shameless plug warning) in my 5 filing status choices item for the April Tax Tips page, most folks' status stays the same from tax year to tax year. But a change (or two, or more) in your personal situation could mean you need to revisit how you file your return. The head of household (HoH) status is a frequent source of confusion. Here, an unmarried person takes care of the... Read more →


Do check out these following related — and legitimate — tax write-offs Sometimes your home is indeed located at the intersection of favorable tax breaks. Sometimes it's not. Below is a look at the difference between some questionable and acceptable residential (and more!) write-offs. Every tax-filing season, the great quest by filers is to find the most tax breaks. But there are some deductions and credits you should steer clear of. These expenses that don't meet Internal Revenue Service guidelines mean the agency will stop processing your tax return to give it second (or third, or …) look. At best,... Read more →


President Joe Biden's fiscal year 2023 budget proposal of a minimum tax on the wealthiest Americans, as well as a levy on unrealized gains on assets (including stock holdings), is getting the most attention. Biden's plan to collect at least a 20 percent tax on U.S. households worth more than $100 million would apply to about 20,000 households, but more than half the revenue would come from households worth more than $1 billion, according to White House estimates. It also would, says the administration, help reduce the nation's budget deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade. Wish list only:... Read more →


It's not a literally blank computer screen, but the IRS and White House Child Tax Credit portals aren't accepting input until after Tax Day on April 18. (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels) The increased Child Tax Credit (CTC) has been a boon for many U.S. families. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) bumped up the tax break for the 2021 tax year from $2,000 per each eligible child to $3,600 for children age 5 or younger, and $3,000 for youngsters ages 6 to 17. Now, however, an online tool that the IRS created to make sure all who were due... Read more →


Scenic overlooks, like this view of the Austin skyline from my suburban neighborhood, can be lovely. But when it comes to taxes, you don't want to overlook tax breaks. (Photo by Kay Bell) If you're like most taxpayers, when you finally decide to do your taxes, you want to get it over with as soon as possible. But don't pay a price for you haste. If you rush through filling out your Form 1040, you could cheat yourself out of some tax savings. It happens every year. Folks overlook deductions, whether they itemize on Schedule A or claim above-the-line breaks... Read more →


Today is EITC Awareness Day! OK, Jan. 28 isn't an official holiday to celebrate the Earned Income Tax Credit, usually referred to (at least in the tax world) by its acronym EITC. But it is an annual event promoted by the Internal Revenue Service. Every year in late January, the tax agency focuses on getting the word out about the EITC. The reason is simple. Millions of individuals regularly overlook the EITC and surrendering thousands of dollars they could use. The EITC itself, however, is not so easy to claim. That's why a lot of folks ignore it. The IRS... Read more →


If the IRS letter about your third COVID economic impact payment or advance Child Tax Credit has the wrong amount, the agency says to file anyway, using your "best information." (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels) Did the letter you got from the Internal Revenue Service about last year's economic impact payment (EIP) or advance Child Tax Credit money have your amount(s) wrong? The Internal Revenue Service says don't let that dissuade you from filing your 2021 tax return. In fact, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, during a conference call with reporters to discuss today's start of the annual tax filing... Read more →


You're expecting a refund, so you're planning to file your tax return soon. Wait. You might want to take a step or two back. First, you need to make sure you have all the information you need to properly fill out your 2021 Form 1040. You can get an idea of that material in my post examining some common tax statements you need to complete your filing. Second, you need more than paperwork. You need to take a good look at your personal situation and answer some questions. The responses could affect your filing. This checklist can help. Start with... Read more →


It's the first week of January and some people are already working on their taxes. They're expecting a refund and they want the Internal Revenue Service to have their forms as soon as possible so the agency can process them when tax season 2022 officially starts. Those enthusiastic filers, however, might want to take a break. In order to properly file their 2021 tax returns, many likely will need one or both tax statements the IRS is sending out this month. One is a notice of how much an individual got as the third Economic Impact Payment (EIP) issued in... Read more →


Photo by olia danilevich via Pexels For the past two years, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on tax deadlines. In 2021, Mother Nature joined in the chaos, with major disasters changing due dates in several states. But there's still a calendar tax constant. Dec. 31. That last day of the year remains the deadline to take care of some tasks that could affect your full year's taxes. Here are some common end-of-year tax timing situations. Getting married: If you say "I do" on 12/31, then the Internal Revenue Service considers you married for the whole year. That means when you file... Read more →


A lot of families were smiling the last half of 2021 as they received early Child Tax Credit payments. (iStock) On Dec. 15, the Internal Revenue Service distributed the last of 2021's Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payments. The monthly tally came to just more than $16 billion. Since the $300 per child for kiddos age 5 or younger and $250 for youngsters ages 6 to 17 started going out in July, nearly $93 billion has been issued to qualifying families, according to the U.S. Treasury. Recipients of their portions of those early billions can claim the Child Tax Credit... Read more →


This holiday season, some families are getting an added gift: their final Advance Child Tax Credit payment for 2021. An estimated 36 million families will see their final Advance Child Tax Credit arrive in their bank accounts today, Dec. 15. The bank deposit will be labeled CHILDCTC. Those getting the early 2021 tax year payments by mailed paper Treasury checks should have their money soon. Then what? Today's end of the pre-payments is the start of another process. When filing season starts next year, eligible families will claim the remaining Child Tax Credit (CTC) amounts for this year on their... Read more →


Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels Schooling has changed a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote learning is more common. Where students have returned to classrooms, they and their teachers must deal with physical re-arrangements. One thing, though, remains the same. Education costs continue to climb. That's particularly true for college expenses. But there is a popular way to save for your youngsters' secondly educations and get a potential tax break, too. As long as you act quickly. When you contribute to a child's 529 plan, many states allow you to claim a state tax deduction. And in many states,... Read more →


A close-up of some of our Christmas tree ornaments, including the newest one showcasing Austin icon El Arroyo's sign wisdom. (Photo by Kay Bell) Ho, Ho, Ho! The jolly month of December is here, bringing the official start of winter, Christmas and other holidays, and taxes. Yeah, that last December item might harsh your holidays. But the tax moves you make over the next 31 days could make your 2021 and 2022 tax situations happy and bright. Here's a look at 6 December tax moves you at least want to consider. 1. Keep an eye on Congress. Yeah, too often... Read more →


Do you need to tweak the Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) amount you've been receiving? You can adjust December's final payment as long as you let the Internal Revenue Service know by Monday, Nov. 29. Specifically, you need to update your Child Tax Credit data at the agency's special online website by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Nov. 29. Last payment of 2021: The American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief measure that became law in March, bumped up the Child Tax Credit amount for the 2021 tax year. The law also instructed the IRS to issue half of the... Read more →