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Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Congress apparently is still trying to hash out a tax bill. Republican leaders have created a measure, but it's facing not only Democratic opposition, but also pushback from some of its own members. The hangup within the GOP is the $10,000 limit on tax deductible state and local taxes. Democrats want any tax legislation to include an expansion of the Child Tax Credit, or CTC, that follows the increases allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CTC is one of the most popular federal tax breaks around. The family-friendly tax break has been in the... Read more →


A student checks his notes before the next class. (Photo by Brice Cooper on Unsplash) The 2023 school year has started, or will soon, for kindergarten through college students. Learning can be expensive, even for public school attendees. But it is higher education that poses the highest costs. Uncle Sam can help cover some educational expenses, but the school-related tax benefits noted in my post last week are limited. That means that students and/or their families must come up with the bulk of the school payments. That's usually done through traditional financial assistance, such as scholarships, loans, or other forms... Read more →


If you're the parent of this rambunctious duo, you definitely have a challenging job. However, this roughhousing duo also might help you claim a valuable federal tax credit. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is one of the most popular federal tax breaks around. This family-friendly tax break has been in the Internal Revenue Code in some form since 1997. Parents like it because it's relatively easy to claim. It's also a tax credit, which means it will reduce your tax liability dollar-for-dollar. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CTC benefits were expanded. To counter the economic problems created... Read more →


Photo by Saulius Sutkus on Unsplash August has arrived, reminding us that summer is almost over. There are just a few weeks left to take a final vacation during these sweltering dog days. But before you head out to a beach retreat or a cooler mountain cabin, take a few minutes for taxes. This month is a good time to make some tax moves that could save you some (or more) dollars and/or keep you out of tax trouble. Here are five to consider. 1. File your 2022 return by Aug. 15. OK, this applies only to a few, relatively... Read more →


Stereotypes, or traditions if you prefer, tend to be true when it comes to older couples and tax return filing. When the hubby and I married many (many) years ago, I (we) decided that I would keep my name. I was a writer, and my byline was already known, so it seemed logical. Also, as a young single woman of the 1970s, it was no big deal. What's that saying? The more things change, the more they stay the same. That also applies in many instances to taxes. Welcome to the 21st century, where Internal Revenue Service return filing data... Read more →


And if that's not enough to get what's owed, Oregon and other states' child support officials get the U.S. Treasury's assistance in collecting those delinquent family financial payments. Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images It's a given that raising children is an expensive endeavor. When parents split up, that financial burden is shared. That continues, ideally, even when couples split. In those cases, one parent often is held legally responsible for providing funds to the other who has main custody of the youngsters. The payments typically last until the children are legal adults. When the paying parent is delinquent on... Read more →


Reviewed and updated Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024 The New Year's Day 2024 Powerball drawing was life-changing for the yet-to-be identified person who bought the lone winning ticket in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Congrats to the winner of the $842.4 million jackpot, which has a one-time cash payment value of $425.2 million. And better luck next time for the rest of us! Picking lucky numbers from a lottery game dispenser. Benjamin Franklin wasn't wrong, but he did live in pre-national lottery times. Today, joining death and taxes as life's constants is Americans' love of gambling. One of the most popular betting options... Read more →


Hello, July! Yeah, I know my welcome to the first full month of summer is a bit late. But admit it. You don't really focus on the month either until after you wrap up July 4th celebrations. Since Independence Day this year fell on Tuesday, that meant an extra-long holiday weekend for lots of us. But the fireworks are over and, sadly, we'll never be independent of taxes. So it's back to work this first week of July, and back to making tax moves that can at least keep a few more dollars out of Uncle Sam's clutches. Here are... Read more →


Photo via Unsplash+ License The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) wrapped its latest term on Friday with a couple of education-related rulings — affirmative action in college admissions and student loan forgiveness; the high court said nope to both — that will be dissected for a while. But we're still talking about a year-old decision by the justices. On June 24, 2022, SCOTUS overturned 1973's Roe v. Wade, sending abortion decisions back to the 50 states. That's effectively limited the availability of the medical procedure in more than half of the country. Last year's Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s... Read more →


The expanded Child Tax Credit was a lifeline for millions of families early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit went from $2,000 per qualifying child to $3,600 a year for children younger than age 6, and $3,000 per child for youngsters ages 6 to 17. More of the increased CTC also was refundable, meaning that if the available tax credit amount was more than the filer's tax due, the excess was sent to the taxpayer as a refund. Even better, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) called for most eligible households to get half of their qualifying CTC payment in... Read more →


We made it through the debt limit's renewal, so of course the focus now is on tax cuts. Or at least the House Republican majority's focus. That's understandable, at least if you're familiar with how Capitol Hill works. The GOP wants to show that even with its slim House majority, it takes its position as the originator of federal tax laws seriously. And it wants to lay down some policy and political markers for, respectively, upcoming budget talks and the 2024 elections. To that end, the House Ways and Means Committee will consider next week a package of tax breaks... Read more →


UPDATED, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023: The United States tends to be the target of tropical systems that form in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. But this week, California is in the path of Pacific-spawned Hurricane Hilary. And depending on Hilary's precise path, she could substantially impact Arizona, and even Nevada. Now is the time for West Coast residents and their inland neighbors to get ready. The Weather Channel meteorologist Ari Sarsalari says we don't need to worry too much about the low-pressure system that's formed in the Gulf of Mexico. You can watch his full forecast by clicking the... Read more →


Grandparents attending graduation ceremonies are a wonderful family tradition. Now a coming tax law change will create another meeting of education and retirement, this time affecting two tax-free savings plans. (Photo by RDNE Stock project) Many of us face a dilemma when it comes to two of the biggest reasons for saving, retirement and education. Do we split our extra income between the two? If so, evenly or with one account getting a boost? Or do we defer one for the sake of the other? The answers will depend on your personal financial and family situations, as well as your... Read more →


Photo by Juan Ramos on Unsplash May is graduation month. It's also graduate gift giving time. Money is always tight for the new diploma recipients (and their families), regardless of whether they've completed high school or college. That's why financial gifts are always welcome. One of those graduate gifts for students looking to continue their school days is a contribution to their 529 plans. And one source of those contributions could be, for older savers, their required minimum distributions. Quick 529 overview: These savings plans, named from the Internal Revenue Code that created them, originally only covered higher education expenses.... Read more →


Some of the world's largest companies are family owned. Yes, we're looking at you, Walmart. But the real backbone of every community is its locally owned and operated businesses. Although they are much smaller, these owners face many of the same challenges as do corporate behemoths that are run by and employ family members. Working with family can be even more fraught when it comes to taxes, since employment tax requirements for related employees may vary from those that apply to other employees. Here's an overview of some common family business tax considerations. Married couples as business partners: For better... Read more →


Homemade Gifts Made Easy May. A short word with many meanings. It's the name of the fifth month of the year. Here in the Norther Hemisphere, it's when springtime comes in fully. That's fitting, since its name comes from Maia, the Greek goddess of spring and growth. The Oxford English Dictionary also says the word is a verb that expresses possibility, as in "that may be true," or permission, as in "may I ask a few questions?" When it comes to taxes, I like to combine the meanings. May is a time of growth and renewal and the possibility of... Read more →


Doing taxes isn't nearly as much fun as riding a carousel, but a round of tax credits can help families save some tax dollars. (Photo by Brett Sayles) Tax deductions get a lot of attention, mainly because the Internal Revenue Service makes us choose between taking the standard deduction or itemizing. We make this decision every year, based on which method gives us the better write-off amount. Standard has always won, and since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 became law and nearly doubled the standard, adjusted annually for inflation amounts, the margin of victory has grown. But... Read more →


Blinders may work for horses, but they're terrible for taxpayers who might miss out on some tax savings. (Photo by Graham Ruttan on Unsplash) The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's expansion of the standard deduction amounts means even more taxpayers are using that filing method. Most think that since they don't itemize, they don't need to worry about tax breaks. They're wrong. There are the above-the-line deductions, officially known as adjustments to income, that anyone can take (if they qualify), regardless of whether they take the standard deduction or use Schedule A. Then there are some tax credits, again available... Read more →


UPDATE, March 12, 2023: Congratulations to all those who won Academy Awards tonight, especially the big winner, "Everything Everywhere All at Once." The movie, known on social media as #EEAAO (or #EEAO if you don't want to include the preposition) proved that this year's major Hollywood event definitely wasn't your grandparents' Oscars. The wildly imaginative film, which featured a tax audit, won best picture. Three EEAO stars, Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis, won acting Academy Awards. And original screenplay and directing Oscars went to The Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Jamie Lee Curtis, far left,... Read more →


White House Budget video screenshot. Full video is available at Facebook and Twitter. The Biden Administration released its fiscal year 2024 budget today (March 9, 2023). Thanks to previews from President Joe Biden, there are no surprises as far as taxes. "I want to make it clear I'm going raise some taxes," Biden to told a group in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who gathered Feb. 28 to hear about healthcare. "Many of you are billionaires out there. You're going to stop paying at 3 percent. Not a joke." The president's promise was put in writing today with the issuance by the... Read more →