Family Feed

We're a third of the way to coronavirus relief checks. Last night (March 25), the Senate approved the massive measure, which includes in its 880 pages payments of $1,200 per person and $500 per dependent child. (More on this in a minute.) The bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, now goes to the House for approval. There may be some procedural stumbling blocks, but it's expected to pass there, probably by voice vote to avoid the congregating caused by a roll call on the chamber's floor. That probably will happen Friday. Then it heads... 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 →


Volunteer tax preparers help Florida taxpayers complete and file their taxes. (Photo courtesy United Way of the Big Bend) You checked out Free File, but you're just not comfortable relying on the tax software alone. But when you looked into hiring a tax preparer, the fees put too much pressure on your already stretched budget. Good news! There are tax-savvy volunteers across the United States ready to help lower-income and older taxpayers fulfill their annual filing responsibilities. These folks are at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) locations nationwide. They are members of your... Read more →


Ah, March. The days get longer. The weather gets warmer. And we've got about six weeks before our tax returns are due. I know it feels like these 31 days of March is plenty of time to take care of all the tax tasks still on your to-do list this filing season. But it's easy to get distracted by the charms of early spring. To keep you at least partially on tax track, here are six March tax moves you can make. Most are easy, so you can soon be back to less taxing activities. 1. Contribute to your 2019... Read more →


The Setting Up Every Community for Retirement Enhancement Act, or SECURE Act as it's popularly known, was attached to the omnibus spending legislation enacted in late 2019. Taxpayers, lawmakers and investment advisers generally supported most of the measure's changes to how we stash and ultimately access our retirement funds. One SECURE provision, however, is causing some concerns, especially among those who have accumulated large IRA holdings and who had planned to leave the bulk of that money to heirs. They and, more importantly, their heirs no longer have access to what used to be known as a stretch IRA. Ending... Read more →


First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then come two filing as one When it comes to their taxes. OK, "marriage" and "taxes" in my opening verse don't rhyme, which is why I'm a journalist, not a poet. But since I focus on taxes and today is, so romantics tell me, the most important day of the year for couples, I thought I'd give the marrying of taxes and wedded bliss a try. Here are five love and tax considerations. 1. Marriage date matters Sure you marry for love. But you might want to consider when you formally tie the knot.... Read more →


Thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court ruling, many other states have joined Nevada in accepting bets on sporting events. But casino operations like this one in Las Vegas still get plenty of action on days like Super Bowl Sunday. Happy Tuesday to everyone who skipped work yesterday. I hope you've fully recovered from your Super Bowl hangover. I also hope that at least some of your prop bets on the NFL championship game also paid off. So does the Internal Revenue Service. All your Super Bowl LIV winnings, as well as any other gambling proceeds are taxable income. Yes, even... Read more →


What would you do with an extra $2,504? That's the average amount received by taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2019. Overall, the Internal Revenue Service says that across the country last year, 25 million taxpayers received more than $61 billion from this tax break for lower-and middle-income workers. Every tax year, however, folks who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit don't claim it. Many don't know about the tax break. Others don't realize that changes in their marital, parental or financial status means they now qualify. That's why for more than a decade, the... 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 →


Lots of folks will be heading home for the holidays in the next few days. For many, it will the first time they've seen family in a while. Enjoy! These get-togethers also are a great opportunity for adult children of aging parents to make sure, tactfully and discreetly, that Mom and Dad are still doing well and are able to continue living on their own. If you find that you do need to make some changes when it comes to care for older relatives, do your due diligence. Not only could your decisions affect their physical and mental well-being, but... Read more →


December is, for the most part, a festive month. The holidays and all that accompanies them, from songs to movies to the joy of youngsters and young at heart, bring out the best in most of us. But things aren't quite so bright and jolly for everyone. Despite an economic recovery that's lifted people out of poverty in most areas of the country, poverty increased in at least one county in every state between 2016 and 2018. The poverty rate — defined as the percentage of people in households earning less than the current $25,750 threshold for a family of... 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 →


If you moved this year and rely on the U.S. Postal Service for your interactions with the Internal Revenue Service, make sure that agency (among others) is on your list of those who are informed of your new address. I've always been a fan a snail mail. I know. OK, boomer. And December is my favorite month for good old U.S. Postal Service deliveries. I like thumbing through the colorful holiday catalogs, even if I do order online when I find a gift that would be perfect for a friend, family member or myself. I also love the annul batch... Read more →


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is the first major tax reform enacted since 1986. And while it cuts tax rates for most, one of its provisions has caused some military heroes' families to face higher tax bills. That's about to change. The fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), approved today by the House, repeals what is known as the widow's tax. The Senate is expected to soon OK the bill. Once that happens, the new NDAA should in turn should resolve the kiddie tax issues that the TCJA caused for children of service members who died... 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 →


Happy Thanksgiving. This annual gathering of family and friends is supposed to be a happy time of reconnecting. Nowadays, though, that takes some work. So to help you enjoy this Turkey Day instead of dread it or worse, here are some tips. Some are even tax-related. Acknowledge your differences: Clashes between family members have been going on since humans appeared on this planet. Unfortunately, over-sized expectations during holidays tend to make them worse. Old arguments — be they political, emotional or otherwise — often resurface. Recognize this and be ready. You aren't going to change your relatives or the issues... Read more →


Welcome to Part 6 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 how the annual changes help investors their families and eventual heirs. 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. OK, maybe the rich don't literally burn money. But as the saying goes, the very wealthy really are different from... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 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 some popular tax-related medical matters. 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. Yeah, you've seen this photo before. It's from about this time last year, the last time I had a medical maneuver that required I... Read more →