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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 →


Record-setting Cyber Monday sales means more porches across the United States will look like this. But the remote sales' boost to state tax coffers wasn't as big as some expected. $9.4 billion. That's how much U.S. shoppers spent on the just-passed Cyber Monday. That was nearly 20 percent more than last year's $7.9 billion tally for the annual and over-hyped Monday-after-Thanksgiving online shopping day. Obviously, the $9.4 billion in sales is a Cyber Monday record. Also obviously, all those online transactions will help out the state treasuries that now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Wayfair 2018 decision, are... Read more →


Congratulations! You made it through Thanksgiving. And Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Are you ready for one more special day before the end-of-year biggies? I'm talking about today, Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday, a post-Thanksgiving fixture since 2012, is the unofficial kick-off of the annual end-of-year charitable season Today was designed as a global day during which folks are encouraged to give back to their communities and the charitable causes they care about. The timing fits right into the end-of-year solicitations by nonprofit organizations and the annual tax considerations of donors. Tax cuts also cut donor numbers: Over... 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 →


Photo by Elaine Smith via Flickr CC It's been more than a year since the Supreme Court said states could collect online sales taxes from retailers who don't have any physical presence, aka nexus, in their states. But the internet tax collection process is still evolving. Going from a system where nationwide online sellers rarely if ever collected sales taxes from their customers to one — or actually multiple given the various tax system of states — where these purchasing levies are collected is not easy. Still, progress has been made. Online sales tax collection evolution: These taxes still are... Read more →


Thanksgiving is still a week away. It's another month-plus until Santa puts presents under trees. But holiday shoppers have been hitting the stores and online hard thanks to early Black Friday sales. In fact, more than half of consumers have already started this year's holiday shopping and nearly a quarter of planned purchases have been made, according to the annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Still, there's plenty of shopping and shoppers to do it out there. That means that retailers still are looking for help to handle the remaining seasonal shopping... Read more →


This summer the Internal Revenue Service launched an effort to make sure cryptocurrency owners comply with tax law. The IRS treats the online money as an investment, not cash. It sent more than 10,000 Bitcoin et al investors letters to educate them of their tax responsibilities, encourage them to report their transactions and get payment where due. The IRS crypto asset outreach appears to have worked. Positive taxpayer and IRS responses: Not only did the IRS get responses to the letters (which is what you should always to when you get a notice from the federal tax collector), in many... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 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 the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and next year's Social Security wage base. 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. Thanks to tax reform's changes, the AMT is no longer an ATM for the tax collector. The... 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 →


November is the place for perfectly roasted Thanksgiving bird, not the many tax turkeys that can gobble up your money. These monthly tax moves are a great garnish as you finalize your 2019 tax year menu. Turkey attack from South Park via GIPHY It's November. You know what that means. Year-end tax move time. Oh yeah, and holiday plans. I hear ya. It's that crazy hectic part of the year, whether you're the host/hostess with the most/mostest or planning to travel to your Thanksgiving festivities. But you also need to add taxes to the mix. Now. Before you get all... Read more →


Leonardo DiCaprio living the rich life in a scene from The Great Gatsby. (Film publicity photo courtesy Warner Bros.) The hubby and I are of that age where we're thinking about our estate plan. I know, financial planners say that every age is a good one to think about your estate. Planning helps you accumulate it, not just decide where it goes after you're gone. Still, most people, rightly or wrongly, don't tend to think about their estates until they get older. One thing a lot of us won't have to worry about, at least not if we shuffle off... Read more →


It's open season at workplaces across the United States this month. Nope, I'm not talking about team building hunting trips. I'm talking about hunting for the best employer-provided benefits for you and your family. Last year, the big new benefit that bosses were offering was a tax-favored ways to pay off student loan debt. That's still a big draw, with more companies eyeing this option to attract and keep workers, especially younger ones with huge college debt loads. But we're always looking for the new and shiny. This year, emergency funds are attracting employer and employee attention. The reason for... Read more →


Relationships, even in the best of circumstances, are hard. When one partner is abusive, then things get untenable. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During this month, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and similar groups are highlighting the victims and survivors, their children and families, their friends and family and their communities that are impacted by domestic violence. More importantly, these organizations are providing assistance and counseling to those in abusive relationships and looking for ways to leave them. Financial as well as physical abuse: While most of us immediately think of physical harm when we hear of... Read more →