Finances Feed

The Internal Revenue Service has delivered two rounds of COVID-19 economic impact payments (EIPs). The first was the $1,200 per person approved in late March 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The second EIP for $600 per person was authorized at the end of last December as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), with payments distributed through the first two weeks of January 2021. By now, folks know that if they didn't get the full amounts, which included additional payments for eligible dependents, they need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC). You'll do... Read more →


I loved this couch, but it was starting to wear so we donated it away while it was still in good shape. Some folks, however, would have sold the sofa. Now, such transactions could trigger a confusing tax situation. With inflation still squeezing budgets, some people have taken to selling old items. Garage sales are the traditional route, but if your neighborhood limits when you can put old items out for sale (dang those HoAs), then there's always the internet. A tax law change, however, could mean a tax hassle for infrequent, small-time online sellers. They could get a tax... Read more →


Cryptocurrency continues to make inroads into our daily lives, including our taxes. On Sept. 1, Colorado officially became the first U.S. state to allow its residents to pay their state taxes in bitcoin. It's a pretty safe assumption that those Centennial State residents who pay state taxes with bitcoin also will be forthcoming at the federal level when it comes to their digital assets. But for those who are less transparent, the Internal Revenue Service is stepping up its efforts to know about and collect on crypto transactions. Legal action against hidden crypto: Last week, the IRS obtained a so-called... Read more →


Photo by Karolina Grabowska I have money in the stock market. When I was a younger investor, I checked my assets a lot. Like almost every day. Then I realized that was just going to make me crazy(ier), so I shifted to a monthly review of where my holdings were. Now I just check quarterly. Most of the reason for my reduction in the frequency of my equity evaluations is that I'm at that part of my life where my holdings are pretty much set for my fast-approaching retirement years. The good news is that the recent market dive, while... Read more →


If you believe cryptocurrency has democratized financial services and leveled the financial playing field, then have we got a deal for you. And by deal, we mean scam. That's a major finding of recently released U.S. Department of Treasury report, which also wants regulators to take more action against crypto fraud and scammers. The report, Crypto-Assets: Implications for Consumers, Investors, and Businesses, is in response to President Joe Biden's March 9 Executive Order 14067, which, directed Treasury (among other agencies) to examine ways to "ensure responsible development of digital assets." That's going to take a multi-agency effort, according to Treasury,... Read more →


Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. The Child Tax Credit was expanded in 2021 to help families coping with the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) temporarily bumped up the amount available via the already popular CTC. It went from $2,000 per qualifying child to $3,600 a year for children younger than age 6, and $3,000 per child for youngsters ages 6 to 17. The credit amounts were phased out once tax-filing families hit certain income levels. More of the increased CTC also was refundable, meaning that if the... Read more →


Photo by Alexander Mils So far this year, 17 states have or will issue rebate money to their residents. Massachusetts is about to up that list count to 18, thanks to a 1986 state law. The Bay State's Department of Revenue this summer reported a fiscal-year-end tax revenue surplus of nearly $3 billion. Once the state auditor certifies the amount, which at the last unofficial count was $2.941 billion, the tax cap law known as Chapter 62F takes effect. The payback law, a referendum approved 36 years ago by Massachusetts voters, requires the state rebate its taxpayers a percentage of... Read more →


You have lots of choices when it comes to helping your neighbors and community. There's even an option if taxes are of particular interest to you. Hey, it happens. You are, after all, reading my tax blog right now. If that's you, then the Internal Revenue Service wants you to fill up your free time by helping people prepare and file their tax returns next year. The IRS and its community partners are recruiting people to be a part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs during the coming 2023 tax season.... Read more →


You've had that student loan for what seems like forever. So naturally, you're eager to take advantage of the debt forgiveness offered by the Biden Administration. But don't act too quickly or you could be a scam victim. Soon after President Joe Biden announced his plan that will erase in some cases up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans, consumer advocates had some suggestions of their own. Beware of perps on the prowl with promises that they can get rid of your student loan obligation more quickly. Or get you even more loan relief if the federal plan doesn't cover... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell So how was your summer? Yep, that season officially ended today with the start of Meteorological Fall, which runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. Wait, you say. It's not sweater weather yet. You're not alone in still feeling the heat. First day of meteorological fall in USA doesn't look like fall at all in over 90% of the country,just the opposite: One of the hottest September weeks on records is starting with a flurry of 100F in Montana,North Dakota and Washington. Very hot also in Canadian Saskatchewan. pic.twitter.com/HXZXO2YpFL — Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps)... Read more →


Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash Millions of people whose student loan debt will be wiped out now face another financial question. What to do with a bit more disposable income. Financial advisers suggest they pay off other debt, such as high-interest credit card balances. That's a smart move. So is the recommendation that folks put their newly available former debt payments into an emergency fund. I'd like to also toss out there the option of saving for retirement. As an added bonus, most retirement account options offer some sort of tax benefit. Here are some tax-favored retirement-saving possibilities that... Read more →


Financial advice for older people also should include planning for taxes on Social Security benefits, unless a House bill to end that process passes. If you're of a certain age (confession: I am), you're likely getting lots of notices about the possible hike in 2023 of Social Security benefits. At one point, prognosticators were saying it could be as much nearly 11 percent. However, the recent easing of inflation lessens the likelihood of a double-digit percentage bump. The latest prediction is a 9.6 percent bump. Still not bad. Most folks who get Social Security benefits will welcome any increase in... Read more →


College can be fun. Paying for it, not so much, especially when you have to take out loans. Some student borrowers are getting loan relief from the White House, but also might end up owing state taxes on their forgiven student debt. (Photo by cottonbro) Around 20 million folks who borrowed money to attend college got good news last week when President Joe Biden canceled a chunk of their student loan debt. The Biden plan's major component says that individuals earning less than $125,000 (or $250,000 for married couples or heads of households) a year will be eligible for up... Read more →


I suspect everyone involved in this ceremonial big check delivery is much happier than they appear in this Secret Service photo. COVID-19 federal financial assistance was a boon to many businesses that struggled during the pandemic's height. Now it's Uncle Sam who's getting relief. The U.S. Secret Service today announced the return of around $286 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The loans were granted based on fraudulently submitted applications that contained fabricated or stolen employment and personal information. Debit cards to hide, move funds: The investigation was initiated by the Secret Service's... Read more →


Barclays Bank building in Madrid (Photo by M.Peinado from Alcalá de Henares, España - 001782 - Madrid, CC BY 2.0) It's not a crime to put your money into legitimate foreign financial institutions. However, if the amount meets a certain threshold, you are required to report that money to the U.S. government. When U.S. taxpayers ignore this process, officially known as filing of a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR, they can face costly consequences. That's the case in the FBAR collection complaint filed Aug. 15 by federal officials seeking judgment against the defendant who, per the... Read more →


CT and NJ shoppers get sales tax relief on classroom clothing and, in the Garden State, more at the end of this month. And then there were five. That's how many states remain in the August back-to-school tax holiday list. Three of them — in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts — are this weekend. The other two, in Connecticut and New Jersey, will close out this month. Since most of the 19 states offering tax holidays this year have by now held their no-tax shopping events, all y'all know the drill. The table below has specific dates and links with tax-free... Read more →


Some on Capitol Hill want to make it easier for you to use your Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to make small, every day purchases. The 2022 election year legislative calendar might be working against them, but Congressional fans of cryptocurrency still are looking at ways to make it more appealing to mass consumers. On July 26, two Senate Banking Committee members, including the committee's top Republican, introduced the Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act. The bill, cosponsored by Ranking Member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) would, in part, make small personal virtual currency transactions for goods and... Read more →


Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr CC With things more or less back to whatever now counts as normal, kids (and parents) are counting down the days until school restarts. They're also looking, especially with inflation bumping up prices, for ways to save on necessary school supplies, which a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) survey found are expected to be around $864 this year. Sixteen states are offering ways to help their back-to-school shoppers. They're offering state (and in some cases local) sales tax holidays in August. Florida's two-week back-to-school tax holiday began July 25 and continues through midnight... Read more →


Geralt via Pixabay Economists use a variety of measurements to track inflation, but the one that matters most to you and me is the personal consumption expenditure, or PCE, price index. This gauge of consumer spending increased 1.1 percent in June. The difficulty many folks are having in meeting their rising living expenses finally prompted some Congressional action. The Senate is expected to vote next week on what's been dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a budget reconciliation package that includes tax, climate change mitigation, and health care provisions. But closer to home, 16 state governments are taking more... Read more →


Massachusetts residents are well aware of their state's Taxachusetts nickname. But some excessive Bay State revenue soon could be coming back to them. The state's department of revenue last fiscal year collected much more than expected. In April alone, which is when the state's federally-aligned Tax Day arrives, it received $2+ billion more than it had anticipated. All that unexpected money means a rarely used law in place since 1986 will kick in, sending back some of the excess tax money to residents. Taxpayer repayments on the way: "We think the number's probably north of $2.5 billion that would be... Read more →


Summer's winding down, meaning kiddos soon will be going back to school. But before they head to their classrooms, they'll need a few things. Three Southern states are focusing on families with such shopping lists. Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee are closing out July with back-to-school tax holidays. The longest is Florida's event, which began Monday, July 25, and runs through Sunday Aug. 7. Sunshine State shoppers can save on purchases of clothing ($100 or less); school supplies ($50 or less); learning aids and jigsaw puzzles ($30 or less); and computers and certain accessories ($1,500 or less). Tax holidays in Mississippi... Read more →