Filing Feed

Millions of us file taxes every year. And millions of us, even those who get refunds, dread it. Why? We worry that we'll make a mistake. That's a legitimate concern. Despite lawmakers' perpetual promises to make our tax lives easier, they somehow seem to screw up that political pledge. Yes, I am looking at you Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), with your new forms and confusing tax breaks even when they provide some relief. Thanks, Congress! But sometimes, we filers have to bear some of the blame. We make things worse by making easily avoidable mistakes when we fill... Read more →


Photo by Carlos Cuadros via Pexels It's prime tax-filing time! That's not just my observation. The Internal Revenue Service itself says it typically sees a surge in filings in the final two weeks of February. One of the main reasons for the rush is that folks finally have the tax statements they need. Most of those documents were required to be issued, or at least in the snail mail, to taxpayers by Jan. 31. Even given U.S. Postal Service delays, it's now been plenty of time for the documents to arrive. The crucial document for most filers is the W-2... Read more →


Today technically is George Washington's Birthday, but we've come to call it Presidents Day in honor of all our commanders in chief, like these four greats on Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (Image courtesy Mount Rushmore Facebook page) Happy Washington's Birthday. I know, most of us, including all the retailers offering us sales savings, tend to call today President's (or Presidents'; the apostrophe is mobile) Day. But officially on the federal level, the third Monday in February is Uncle Sam's day to honor the birth of the Father of Our Country. George's actual birthday is Feb. 22, 1731. We've celebrated it... Read more →


Even with increased e-filing, taxpayers still don't seem to be in a big hurry to send their 1040s to the IRS. At the start of every filing season, there's a lot of talk and media coverage (guilty!) about how folks are champing at the bit to get their returns in to the Internal Revenue Service. And for the last five years, taxpayers have said "meh," at least as far as filing as soon as they can. Comparing IRS filing data for early February from 2016 through 2020, we see: Filing Season Week Ending # Returns Filed % Change from Prior... 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 →


You're working on your tax return and discover you owe Uncle Sam more than you expected. It happens. And in most cases, you're stuck with that larger Internal Revenue Service bill. After all, the 2019 tax year is long gone. It's too late to make those year-end moves that could have helped cut your tax bill. But wait! In a couple of instances, you still might be able to reduce last year's taxes with some tax saving moves that are allowed as late as the April 15 filing deadline. You can make a potentially tax-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA.... Read more →


Every salaried worker is well aware of payroll taxes. These are taxes that come out of our earnings and go toward the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) programs, or what we know as Social Security and Medicare. Or, as the old first-time worker joker goes, "Who the heck if FICA and why is he getting some of my money?" FICA for now: Each FICA component is a percentage of a workers' pay and is paid by both the employer and employee. The total Social Security tax is 12.4 percent, split evenly between the two tax sources every pay period. The... Read more →


I finally got the final 1099 I was waiting for yesterday. Yay! Now I can file my return. The 1099 situation for a retired Southern California dentist, however, didn't go so smoothly. David Powell, got a 1099 from MetLife insurance showing he was paid $1,500 for dental work he says he never performed. Since MetLife also sent that 1099 to the Internal Revenue Service, this meant Powell was on the hook for taxes on money he never earned. Double check documents immediately: Powell's case is why you always need to look at every tax statement — 1099s, W-2s, bank, brokerage... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers finally got their tax statements this week and promptly filed their returns. Millions more of us are still in the data gathering stage — Hey, it's not my fault! One of my 1099s still isn't here. — and will file soon. But all of us still are potential tax identity theft targets. Yes, even early filers. Crooks know these taxpayers generally are expecting refunds, so they tailor their deceptive approaches accordingly. Look out for IRS pretenders reaching out to you to say there's a problem with your filing. It can only be fixed, say these scammers who... Read more →


If this filing season is anything like previous ones, millions of taxpayers have already sent their 1040s to the Internal Revenue Service. One of the perennial questions is how many filers use tax software, specifically the options offered by the IRS-tax software industry partnership known as Free File. Again, if the 2020 filing season is like most before it, the news isn't likely to be good. Despite efforts by the IRS over the years, the Free File program is just not that popular with taxpayers. And making things worse for the program is a just-released report that says more than... 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 →


The shortest month of the year is a little longer in 2020. It's a Leap Year. What will we do with that extra day, Feb. 29? Of course, we're going to devote those additional 24 hours to our taxes. OK, maybe not. For many, this first full week of February is getting off to a slow part, thanks to the annual Super Bowl Sunday hangover. Others simply aren't ready to think taxes yet. It's not their fault. They, and that includes me, are still waiting for necessary tax-filing statements. And some eager and on-the-ball taxpayers don't want to think about... 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 →


Even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people opted to claim the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions because. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also... Read more →


The first day of tax filing season essentially is the tax version of Black Friday, with taxpayers — mostly those expecting refunds — rushing the Internal Revenue Service's digital doors. (Screenshot of eager Black Friday shoppers from Jerry Bailey's YouTube video) Today is the first day of the 2020 tax filing season and already folks are wanting to know when they're get their refunds. That question is totally understandable. Despite last year's refund confusion caused by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes, the average federal income tax refund was in 2019 was $2,869 based on returns processed through... Read more →


The second filing season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is about to start. This one will be easier, right? Right? Maybe. At least this year, we and the Internal Revenue Service aren't dealing with the longest federal government shutdown in history. Plus, folks got a good look with their filings last year at how the massive Republican tax reform law affects them, although some areas are still a bit fuzzy. And of course, everyone adjusted their payroll withholding so there won't be a replay of 2019's reduced/no-tax-refund drama. Yeah, I'm rolling my eyes at that statement, too.... Read more →


This cat apparently is expecting something to be delivered by his postal carrier. Many taxpayers share this feline's anticipation this time of year, when annual tax forms are on their way. The hubby and I have some investments in addition to our retirement accounts. We're hoping these assets will be a nice bonus to the funds dedicated totally to paying for our retirement years. That means we're among those folks who are waiting on some tax documents so we can file our 2019 tax return. And we're also among those folks who'll be waiting a bit longer. Mutual funds vs.... Read more →


If past years are any indication, when the 2020 tax filing season officially opens on Monday, Jan. 27, millions of taxpayers will hit the send button to electronically deliver their annual returns to the Internal Revenue Service. But millions more of us have to wait to file. We're still waiting on at least one tax statement that has information we need to finish filling out our Form 1040. Form deadline is Jan. 31: Technically, most of these tax documents aren't even required to be on their way to us until Jan. 31. Employers and other businesses that issue wage and/or... Read more →


Yes, that's a photo of my filing season mess, er, process, which explains why I never seem to be able to submit our joint Form 1040 early in the filing season. Getting your tax stuff together is just one of the reasons to not file early. The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting 2019 tax year returns next Monday, Jan. 27. A lot of folks already have filled out their 1040s and put them in the queue for IRS processing next week. Good for them. Their annual tax task is done. But there also are some reasons why you might... Read more →


If you live in one of the 43 states or the nation's capital, then in addition to filing your federal tax return you probably also must send a form (or two) to your state's tax collector. In most cases, states use at least some federal tax return information as the basis for their returns. So if you do your taxes yourself, you're probably looking for a tax software option that can handle both. The Internal Revenue Service and Free File Inc. say that their joint tax prep and e-filing venture Free File has some tax software company participants that can... Read more →