Finances Feed

Just can't get motivated to do your taxes? You are not alone. It's April, but the pandemic has shifted the tax focus this year from filing, which has a new July 15 deadline, to the coronavirus economic relief payments. Still, if you're due a refund — and yes, some folks who get tax money back still dally when it comes to sending in their returns — you might want to go ahead and get to work on that 1040. The main reason to file is that you'll get your 2019 tax year refund. That's not going to happen until the... Read more →


Treasury backtracks and now says Social Security recipients who qualify for the COVID-19 payments will get the money without having to file a tax return. Never underestimate the power of the older population. The U.S. government learned that lesson this week, when the Treasury Department announced, contrary to its prior assurances (and a new law), that folks on Social Security would have to file a tax return if they wanted to get their share of the coronavirus relief payments. Last night, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin reversed that requirement. (Yes, on April 1. No, it was no an April Fool's Day... Read more →


We definitely are no longer living in normal tax or other times. (Images from Young Frankenstein) April has always been a serious month for taxpayers. April 15 has been Tax Day for 65 years and since most of the millions of at-the-deadline filers tend to owe Uncle Sam, they're not very happy. This year, though, there is an even more solemn reason for no April fooling around. Things, tax and otherwise, have gotten very serious as the United States and the world fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic. On the tax front, new laws have been written and old ones adjusted... Read more →


"No action needed" by most, says IRS, to get COVID-19 stimulus payments. But some, including Social Security recipients, will have tile a "simple" tax return to get the money. This has changed. See second update below in the Q&A section. Adobe Stock The coronavirus checks will soon be in the mail, or rather headed directly to your bank account. That's the official word from the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service. The agencies announced on Monday, March 30, that the economic impact payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will begin going to eligible taxpayers... Read more →


The law that created coronavirus stimulus payments just took effect yesterday and we're weeks at best from getting actual money. But tax planners have been thinking about COVID-19 tax intricacies since the illness exploded in the middle of this tax season. These payments just add a new tax filing wrinkle, since what we put on our 2019 returns could be a key part in the relief amount's ultimate dollar calculation. Tony Nitti, a CPA and tax partner with RubinBrown in Aspen, Colorado, has a good preview of what our tax filing actions now could mean to our potential coronavirus payments... Read more →


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 →


The Senate also addresses this year's tax filing and payment deadline, as well as those for 2020 estimated tax payments, in its coronavirus relief bill. Keep reading for more on this latest change and check out this Q&A for elaboration from the IRS on some specific tax considerations under the new mid-July deadlines. 2019 tax year returns and any due payments now will be due on July 15, 2020, according to a Treasury Department announcement this morning. And yes, I drew that sloppy circle and scribbled the info on my own calendar. I should have had a cup of coffee... Read more →


Unemployment claims are skyrocketing across the United States as more businesses close as a precaution to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The latest on claims for unemployment benefits was released today by the U.S. Department of Labor. For the week ending on March 14, around 281,000 Americans filed first-time claims for the benefits. That's up 33 percent from the 211,000 benefits claims the week before. Percentage wise, the increase was among the largest one-week spikes on record. Here in the Lone Star State, the Texas Workforce Commission reports that from March 8 to March 14 it received 16,038 unemployment... Read more →


If you're freaking out about the approaching April 15 tax filing deadline, the Internal Revenue Service might have some welcome news for you. There's talk in Washington, D.C., of postponing the regular tax filing deadline. The reason (you guessed it) is the coronavirus that's spreading across the country. Mass gatherings — social, political and cultural — already have been halted or dramatically limited in many places. Such actions have hit home for me. Here in Austin, we're — well, they, not really we, as I long ago quit going to the thing — in mourning over the cancellation of South... 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 →


Law schools and their students, like these at Georgia State University College of Law, are major contributors to the success of Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics nationwide. (Photo courtesy Philip C. Cook LITC) Sometimes, taxpayers encounter issues more serious that just filing their returns. They discover that the Internal Revenue Service has some questions about a prior return or an appeal of an agency decision isn't going as expected or that the federal tax collector is taking his name to heart and initiating collection procedures. What to do? Specifically, what to do if you don't have much money? Find your nearest Low-Income... Read more →


For folks with money in the stock market, the coronavirus' effect on their holdings is more terrifying than Michael Myers, the persistent slasher of "Halloween" horror movie fame. I confess. I've been glued to cable TV financial channels this week. They're showing, for owners of stocks, a real-life horror movie. The evil and infectious COVID-19 monster is maniacally slashing investment gains. Who or what can show up (soon, please!) to stop this crazed killer of our planned comfortable retirement? OK, I might be taking this sequel — and that's what it is; market corrections and recessions have happened before —... 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 →


Topher Grace is known by millions of fans as television's Eric Forman. But when he's not acting, he also has a side gig. Side hustles aren't just for struggling wage slaves. From the "what I learned today" files, I literally learned today that actor Topher Grace has a side gig doing projects for Disney. Yes, the man who was Eric Forman in That '70s Show, and a buddy put together, as a lark, a consolidated trailer of all the Star Wars movies. Their unsanctioned YouTube post got a gazillion hits. OK, around 2 million from all the various postings. But... Read more →


Supporters of a minimum wage increase at rally in Chicago last year. (Photo: Charles Edward Miller licensed under CC by SA 2.0; cover of the National Employment Law Project 2020 report) New tax laws aren't the only ones that went into effect on New Year's Day across the United States. A record number of states, cities and counties have or will boost their minimum wages in 2020. On or around this Jan. 1st, the minimum wage increased in 21 states. Another 26 cities and counties also hiked their baseline pay at the start of this year. In the coming months,... 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 →


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 →


Greek street market vendors offer just about everything. (Photo: Travels with Gerri-Travellerspoint) Every day, more Americans go digital, at least partially, when comes to their finances. We pay via our smartphone features and apps. Our paychecks or gig earnings are directly deposited. Even the Internal Revenue Service is nudging (and sometimes shoving) us to handle our tax tasks electronically. But we are nowhere near where Greece is going. That Mediterranean country, the one that's been on the financial edge or over it for years, now is forcing its residents to use electronic transactions equal to around a third of their... 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 →