Finances Feed

Free tax-preparation and filing help is offered through groups like United Way, which partnered with volunteers at this Rutherford County, Tennessee, VITA office. Not only does the IRS train the tax assistors, each year it awards grants to keep the sites running across the country. Meeting your tax responsibilities can be a challenge for many — OK, most — of us. But things can be even more difficult when you can't afford to hire help to finish your returns or your advancing age makes doing your taxes tougher. There are some dedicated volunteers who work every year to meet the... Read more →


Uncle Sam is always on the lookout for people who try to evade taxes by hiding money in foreign accounts. To keep track of taxable money abroad, the federal government relies on two agencies, the Internal Revenue Service and its sister agency within the U.S. Treasury, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, usually referred to as FinCEN. FinCEN requires a special filing from some of Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, usually referred to as FBAR. FBAR filings have long been a pain for Americans who hold assets abroad. A couple of years ago, Treasury tried to make... Read more →


For millions of U.S. workers, this month is the beginning of their benefits open enrollment period. This is your annual chance to switch, adjust or cancel usually tax-free company perks for you and your family. The biggest employer-provided benefit is medical insurance. Health coverage has taken on new importance during the coronavirus pandemic. But companies offer many more options that help make their workers' lives a bit easier and less costly. And many benefits experts expect COVID-19 considerations during this open season to alter the usual trend of workers simply letting existing coverages roll into the new year, which is... Read more →


As we approach the Nov. 3 election, the political claims are fast and furious (but without any exciting car escapades … yet). When it comes to taxes, incumbent Donald J. Trump is relying on the tax breaks that were part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that became law in late 2017. It permanently reduced business tax rates and temporarily revised, through 2025, some key individual taxes. Trump and his fellow Republicans are hoping those tax cuts will be enough to fend off Democratic challengers, both at the presidential and Congressional levels. But their hedging their tax bets by... Read more →


Photo by Antonio Quagliata via Pexels.com The presidential election countdown clock it quietly ticking. In most national election years, the tax plans of the candidates get a lot of attention. Obviously, 2020 is not most years. Other things — OK, one thing, COVID-19 — have been the focus on the campaign trail. But it's still worth looking at the tax implications of a possible change in the Oval Office. GOP vs. Democratic plans: The Trump Administration will look to make permanent at least some of the Republicans' 2017 tax reform measure. The White House also has hinted at expanding some... Read more →


An impending tax deadline just got a little less imposing. The Internal Revenue Service is giving people who've yet to register for a COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) until Nov. 21 to supply their tax information. The November date is five weeks later than the Oct. 15 deadline the IRS set when it originally sent out letters to the almost 9 million potential stimulus recipients. These individuals didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return because they didn't make enough money to require them to do so. However, they still could qualify for some coronavirus relief. But to get the... Read more →


Millions of U.S. government employees in federal buildings across the country, like this one Sacramento, California, are being forced to participate in the Trump Administration's partial payroll tax deferral. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are continuing their efforts to cobble together a second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. Some people, however, don't want the ostensible financial relief they're already getting. They are among the federal workers and military members who've had the Social Security portion of their Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes automatically suspended. Forty-three Representatives say they've heard from these constituents who are... Read more →


Plus, tips on maximizing yard sales and holding safe events during a pandemic. When I went out to get the paper from our driveway this morning, I was puzzled by the amount of traffic on our usually quiet neighborhood street. Especially since it's Saturday. Then I remembered that it was our annual fall community garage sale day. Actually, it's our only community garage sale day this year. The spring 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. And while my immediate neighbors aren't big sellers of their old items, a few tend to participate. This year, though, the cars were... Read more →


Depending on your personal situation, your deadline to claim any or additional coronavirus stimulus money is Sept. 30 or Oct. 15. Miss the deadline, and you'll have to wait until next year for much-needed COVID-19 cash. Since it's still unclear if or when we might get another COVID-19 relief payment, it's even more important that every person who's eligible get all they can from the first stimulus payout. And to do that, a lot of folks need to officially touch base with the Internal Revenue Service. Soon. Like in a couple of days for some families. Wednesday, Sept. 30, is... Read more →


Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service implemented a push to encourage folks who didn't get COVID-19 economic relief payments to touch base with the tax agency to see if they're due any of this money. Overall, nearly 9 million individuals, or 8,863,344 to be exact, might be eligible for the stimulus help. That's a maximum of $1,200 per person, double that for married couples filing joint tax returns, plus $500 for each qualifying child. Millions of these economic impact payments, or EIPs, were sent automatically to qualifying individuals who had filed tax returns for the 2018 or 2019 tax... Read more →


Forgiven debt can help ease financial burdens, but it usually comes with a tax cost. (Image: CreditRepairExpert/Flickr) The Internal Revenue Service usually is all about information. It wants it from taxpayers getting money and it wants it from those issuing payments. Not so, however, with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that are forgiven under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It doesn't want to know about any of these forgiven loans. In fact, the tax agency has officially told lenders not to mess with Form 1099-C in connection with these special COVID-19 loans. Latest pandemic tax twist:... Read more →


If you're hoping for a second COVID-19 stimulus check, it's looking like you're going to have to wait until after the November election for Congress to act. However, there is better financial pandemic payment news for millions of folks who didn't get the first coronavirus economic impact payment (EIP). Non-filers left out of first payments: Nearly 9 million individuals missed out on the first payment, notes the Internal Revenue Service, because they didn't file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 tax year. That was the info the IRS used to send out the EIPs that were authorized back... Read more →


Couple waiting to get married at San Francisco City Hall. (Photo by Brian Kusler via Flickr) One good thing has come of my self-imposed pandemic lock down. Seeking a distraction from the news channels I usually watch, I'm finally getting more of my money's worth from our cable account. I've been exploring the many channels the hubby and I typically tend to click right past. For the last week or so, I've tuned in to WEtv because of its run of CSI: Miami episodes. No judging, please! Actually, the TV is more like a talking lamp (really!). The dramatic intonations... Read more →


Representatives also introduce legislation to overturn executive payroll action, which also affects members of the military. Internal Revenue Service workers are among the federal employees who will see their upcoming paychecks reflect Donald Trump's payroll tax deferral order. Some lawmakers say workers should get to make the final decision on their withholding. (Photo by David Boeke via Flickr) Maryland and Virginia, the two states that border the District of Columbia, are home to hundreds of thousands of federal employees. So it's no surprise that the four U.S. Senators representing those states — and workers who get checks from Uncle Sam... Read more →


Labor Day is the time to recognize the contributions of workers. It's one of the United States' oldest official commemorations, with Uncle Sam in 1894 making the first Monday of September a legal federal holiday. In this age of consumerism, however, the meaning of Labor Day and other holidays, official or not, often takes a back seat to associated retail sales. The bargains this year, though, are a bit different. Pandemic precautions have pushed even more shoppers online. COVID-19 closures for good: The country's shift to digital transactions already was well underway before COVID-19 appeared in the United States. But... Read more →


It's Labor Day weekend. This holiday usually is time for end-of-summer revelry, with a little leftover celebration of the workers whose efforts are recognized on the first Monday of each September. This year's a bit different. Social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic have, for the most part, limited the usual three-day weekend parties. As for the workers, COVID-19 also means more attention is paid this year on those who aren't laboring because they lost their jobs. COVID-19 response work ramifications:Health decisions by states, several of which reacted to the novel coronavirus earlier than Uncle Sam, led to widespread business closures... Read more →


Donald J. Trump's payroll tax deferral for employees technically took effect this week. But most employees shouldn't expect to see a minimal raise in their next paychecks. The reason is that few businesses jumped right in there on Sept. 1, the effective date of Trump's Aug. 8 White House memo, to stop withholding their workers' 6.2 percent portion of pay that goes toward the Social Security trust fund. Employers' reluctant choice: Yes, the decision to temporarily stop this segment of payroll withholding is voluntary on the part of companies. Employees, however, don't have the choice of opting in or, if... Read more →


The vehicle lights coming and going across Pennybacker Bridge in northwest Austin are lovely in the evening, but the image also illustrates, as photographer Manuel Garza (via Flickr) notes, "the traffic sucks." I can't speak for all the country's suburbs, but I know mine is pretty sure that our neighborhood will still be around after the coming presidential election even if Joe Biden does move into the White House. We are, however, a bit concerned about how our continuing life here outside Austin's downtown might be affected by a proposed real estate tax increase that also will be on our... Read more →


If you're counting on a slightly bigger paycheck as 2020 winds down due to Donald J. Trump's presidential payroll tax pronouncement, don't hold your breath. Trump's Aug. 8 executive memo called for the deferral of the 6.2 percent employee portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax that goes toward Social Security. The White House said it would be an easy way to provide relief for Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. Others, however, weren't so sure about the proposal, especially the easy claim. Almost immediately after the executive memo was released, questions were raised by potentially affected employees, the... Read more →


Are your spouse's debts are costing you? The IRS has a bit of good news for some husbands and wives. They'll be getting back the coronavirus payment portion they were shorted due to their spouses' unpaid child support. (Photo by Kat Jayne via Pexels) Congress and the White House may be struggling to reach a deal on additional COVID-19 economic relief payments, but the Internal Revenue Service has stepped up to get some of the original stimulus money to few more folks. The agency says that next month it will send catch-up Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to about 50,000 individuals.... Read more →