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Much is made of the United States' voluntary compliance tax system. The IRS depends on every taxpayer to honestly and accurately report his or her earnings and figure the correct tax due on the amounts. Apparently, we agree with the self-reporting system, with most taxpayers saying cheating on taxes is wrong. Of course, part of the reason we look askance at fudging Form 1040 figures is because we're afraid the IRS will catch us. However, our fear of a tax audit might be exaggerated, according to the latest IRS Data Book. Fewer return reviews: Audits, or examinations as they're called... Read more →


If taxpayers agree with the National Taxpayer Advocate that getting tax help from the Internal Revenue Service is terrible, you might expect folks to transfer their frustration to their returns. Unable to get the answers to their tax questions, they could say, "To hell with it. I'm just putting whatever I want on my 1040." The latest IRS taxpayer attitude survey, however, says that in most cases that's not the reaction. A notable majority of taxpayers say cheating on taxes is wrong. Tax cheating is wrong: Every year, the IRS releases its Data Book, which contains information from the prior... Read more →


IRS building photo by Kari Bluff via Flickr CC The Taxpayer First Act, which is awaiting the president's signature to become law was signed into law on July 1, got a lot of attention for what wasn't in it. The controversial section that would have codified the Free File Alliance was removed in the bill's revised House version, which was approved by voice vote in that chamber on June 10. Three days later, the Senate approved the reworked bill, also by voice vote, and sent it to the White House. Opponents of the formalized Free File section argued that it... Read more →


June 17 is the deadline this year for the second installment of 2019's estimated taxes. It's just one mid-June deadline that millions of U.S. taxpayers face. June 15 is a major tax deadline. Except for this year. For 2019, June 17 is the next red-letter Tax Day. That's because the 15th falls on Saturday, meaning that the usual due date moves to the next business day. A couple of extra days are nice, especially for folks who like to wait until the last minute. But don't get too comfortable. Here are three tax situations which require millions of taxpayers to... Read more →


April 15 came and went without you. You didn't file your annual Form 1040. You didn't send in an extension request to get six more months to file your return either. And you definitely didn't get around to sending the Internal Revenue Service the balance of the tax you owed on last year's income. Hey, I'm not judging. Things happen. But if you don't want to have to fork over even more cash to Uncle Sam, then you better get to work on your 2018 tax return and get it to the IRS soon. June 14 soon. After that date... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service did do away with two versions of Form 1040 and shortened, a bit, the lone document we now use to file our annual tax returns. But the tax agency went the other way with Form W-4. This form, officially titled Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. is what we give to our bosses to ensure that the correct amount of income taxes come out of our paychecks each pay period. Now instead of a brief, 10-item form, the IRS' W-4 proposed revision takes up a full letter-sized page. And while there are just seven boxes to fill out,... Read more →


Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast on Aug. 25, 2017. (National Hurricane Center satellite radar image) After a record-setting run of tornadoes over the last two weeks across not just Tornado Alley and the Midwest, but also into the MidAtlantic, the Big Apple even the nation's capital city, it's time for a weather break. Or not. The 2019 hurricane season officially starts June 1. Yes, I'm starting to look at the tropics a bit early, especially since we got a bit of a preview on May 20 when this year's first name storm popped up near Bermuda.... Read more →


If you filed your taxes before May 16 and your earnings included investment income, you might want to take another look at your return. The Internal Revenue Service announced on its website yesterday, May 16, that the 2018 Schedule D tax worksheet in that form's instructions contained an error. "The tax calculation did not work correctly with the new TCJA [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] regular tax rates and brackets for certain Schedule D filers who had 28% rate gain (taxed at a maximum rate of 28%) reported on line 18 of Schedule D or unrecaptured section 1250 gain (taxed... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has formed a working group to look into allegations that some of its Free File members really didn't (don't?) want taxpayers to file for free. State and city officials have launched official investigations into or taken legal steps in connection with allegations that some tax software companies redirected online searches away from their free options on at the IRS website. Now what is being hailed as the first nationwide class-action lawsuit in the matter has been filed against Intuit, the maker of TurboTax. Tax software giant is legal target: It's no surprise that the tax software... Read more →


This is a big week for Lone Star State businesses. The state's franchise tax is due May 15. For my fellow Texas business owners, that's tomorrow. Unless you're a Wolters Kluwer CCH software client. Then you have until May 22. See my prior post for more on the recent CCH malware problems and the filing accommodations being made by the Internal Revenue Service and Texas tax officials. I don't want to bore all y'all that don't live here, but since other states have business levies similar to ours, here's a quick, general take on Texas' tax system. The privilege of... Read more →


At least one state, Texas, joins the Internal Revenue Service in making filing accommodations for those affected by software company's malware troubles. Watch the full classic Roseanne Roseannadana skit at NBC's Saturday Night Live video page. As the wonderful Gilda Radner character Roseanne Roseannadana used to say, "It's always something." That's particularly true in the tax world. Just when we thought we had made it relatively unscathed through the 2019 tax season, which already was crazy since it was the first one in which most of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes took real life effect for taxpayers,... Read more →


Photo by vxla via Flickr CC If gratuities are part of your work, then the 10th of the month is an important tax date for you. It's the day — or the next businesses day if the 10th falls on a weekend or holiday — that you must report your tip amount for the previous month when it totals $20 or more. The Internal Revenue Service requires these reports because the tax code considers all types of tips as discretionary, fully taxable income. Wisconsin workers, however, may soon get a break on the state tax level when it comes to... Read more →


Uh oh. How did that 1099-MISC end up that desk drawer instead of with all your other tax documents you used to file your annual tax return? That mystery might never be solved, but an X filing can help you get the truth about your taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. I'm talking about IRS Form 1040X. It's the document you use to correct filing mistakes. It's known as the amended tax return form and it's really not that puzzling. Basically, Form 1040X lets you tell the IRS what you originally reported, what your revised numbers are and why you... Read more →


Free File is finally getting a lot of attention. Unfortunately for companies involved in the Internal Revenue Service/tax software partnership, it's not the kind of attention they want. The IRS now is following state officials in California and New York in looking into whether potential Free File users were intentionally directed away from the program. Free but not that popular: Free File, as the name indicates, was designed to allow most taxpayers access to no-cost online tax return completion and electronic filing. The 2019 filing season is its 17th. It's still available to taxpayers through the Oct. 15 extended filing... Read more →


Around two dozen tax breaks are now in a legislative zombie state, much like these creatures in George Romero's classic zombie film "Night of the Living Dead." The tax versions are waiting for federal lawmakers to bring them back to life or finally and completely put an end to them. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) A dozen groups spanning the political spectrum are urging Congress to let zombie tax extenders remain dead. Are you still waiting on expired tax provisions to be resurrected? If a motley crew of public policy, tax and advocacy groups get its way, you'll be waiting forever.... Read more →


Photo by Ken Hawkins via Flickr CC Free. It's the most magical word in the world. Everyone is always looking to get something for nothing. That includes tax filing. A couple of weeks ago, the tax and consumer protection worlds were abuzz over a provision in the Taxpayer First Act of 2019 that cleared the U.S. House with a provision that keeps the Internal Revenue Service from developing its own no-cost tax filing program. Such total IRS ownership of the form filling and electronic filing is the unicorn of the tax world for many. They oppose Uncle Sam acting as... Read more →


Children celebrate May Day by dancing around a maypole on the Village Green in Tewin, near Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. (Photo by Paul Barnett via Wikimedia Commons) Happy May Day! It's the annual May 1 global holiday celebrating the contributions of workers. But the other mayday often comes to mind when taxes are involved. If it's a tax distress signal you're sending out as the merry month of May begins, here are some moves that could help ease your tax trepidations. 1. File your 2018 return. If last month you didn't file your 2018 tax return, either because you... Read more →


Michael Cohen (left) and Tom Arnold run into each other in New York City in June 2018. (Photo via Tom Arnold on Twitter) Michael Cohen, Donald J. Trump's former attorney and previously self-described fixer, is heading to federal prison in a couple weeks. But in a recent conversation with actor Tom Arnold, Cohen said he didn't commit all of the crimes for which he will do time. Specifically, according to the story on the telephone discussion that the Wall Street Journal broke, Cohen says he's not guilty of tax evasion, one of the charges for which he's going to jail.... Read more →


Tax season is over for another year. Now all that's left cleaning up after the filing crunch. I know many of y'all are tempted to simply toss everything in the trash. Don't. You don't have to the tax version of television's Hoarders, but there are some tax-related documents you need to hang onto, at least for a while. These 7 frequently asked questions and answers can help you get a better handle on your tax record keeping. 1. Why should I keep records? Well-organized records make it easier to prepare your tax return. Documentation, both the amount and in good... Read more →


High tax filing season is over and the numbers have been tallied. Unfortunately for Republicans who still are fighting the public relations war over their major tax reform law, the figures aren't good. Yes, fractionally more money has been delivered to taxpayers through April 21, almost a week after the filing deadline for most U.S taxpayers. But the average refund check remains smaller than it was last year. In 2018, the average refund was $2,780. This year, it came to $2,725. In case you're not good at math in your head (I'm not) and don't have a calculator handy, that's... Read more →