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Retailers aren't the only ones closing their doors to customers during the coronavirus crisis. So is the Internal Revenue Service and other tax-related operations. As cases of COVID-19 increased, the IRS has acted to protect not only taxpayers but its employees. The goal is the new global mantra — to flatten the curve of the potentially deadly virus' transmission. IRS in-person actions curtailed: "We're taking several immediate steps to protect employees while still delivering on the mission-critical functions," said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, in a message to his staff that also is posted on the tax agency's website. These virus-affected... Read more →


The Family Handyman Millions of Americans are at home now, sheltering in place in order to slow down spread of the coronavirus. One of the side effects of spending more than normal time in your house is that you discover issues. And one of those issues might be, depending on where you live, that your heating or air conditioning system is not in the greatest shape. Maybe you need a completely new unit. I feel your pain. We've had to replace AC systems and it sucks, from both the cost and inconvenience perspectives. Or perhaps you can get by with... Read more →


Vice President Mike Pence, left, discusses COVID-19 testing following a White House meeting with Donald J. Trump and health insurance executives on Tuesday, March 10. (Screenshot from The Hill coverage) The hubby and I get an annual flu shot. We also, after consulting with our health insurance, got the new two-part shingles vaccine last year. That part about talking with our insurer was key. We had received the older shingles vaccination years earlier. We wanted to make sure that didn't preclude the subsequent shots, which are supposed to be more effective. We were pleased to learn that the new shot... Read more →


I feel like one of the wrung out wacky clocks in Salvador Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory" every time we have to spring forward and lose an hour. (Oil on canvas, 1931 © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. Image via About.com, fair use, Wikipedia Commons) Time and tax deduction method changes It's that time again, literally for most of the United States that switches from Standard to Daylight Saving Time (DST). Whether you like the shift to DST, which provides more sunshine at the end the day. Or hate it since... Read more →


Photo: Nashville Metro Police Department via Twitter Spring storm season came early and with a vengeance to the southern United States last night. At least 25 people lost their lives when a tornado roared through the Nashville area early today. Tornado sirens started sounding around 2 a.m. Central Time on March 3. By the time the twister completed its rampage, it had become Tennessee's second-deadliest March tornado. More than 150 were injured. Residents and officials are still assessing property damage. Volunteer State residents are living their home's motto today, as they not only work through their losses, but also helping... Read more →


Millions of Americans are self-employed. In the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income count for tax year 2017, more than 26 million of U.S. nonfarm taxpayers filed as sole proprietors, submitting Schedule C along with their annual Form 1040 individual tax returns. The great thing about Schedule C is that is offers lots of ways sole proprietors, of which I'm one, can reduce our gross self-employment earnings. But one of those deductions that many likely claimed on their 2017 Schedule C has in subsequent years become a source of confusion and consternation. The tax break for business meals and entertainment... Read more →


Photo by Carlos Cuadros via Pexels It's prime tax-filing time! That's not just my observation. The Internal Revenue Service itself says it typically sees a surge in filings in the final two weeks of February. One of the main reasons for the rush is that folks finally have the tax statements they need. Most of those documents were required to be issued, or at least in the snail mail, to taxpayers by Jan. 31. Even given U.S. Postal Service delays, it's now been plenty of time for the documents to arrive. The crucial document for most filers is the W-2... Read more →


Every salaried worker is well aware of payroll taxes. These are taxes that come out of our earnings and go toward the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) programs, or what we know as Social Security and Medicare. Or, as the old first-time worker joker goes, "Who the heck if FICA and why is he getting some of my money?" FICA for now: Each FICA component is a percentage of a workers' pay and is paid by both the employer and employee. The total Social Security tax is 12.4 percent, split evenly between the two tax sources every pay period. The... Read more →


I finally got the final 1099 I was waiting for yesterday. Yay! Now I can file my return. The 1099 situation for a retired Southern California dentist, however, didn't go so smoothly. David Powell, got a 1099 from MetLife insurance showing he was paid $1,500 for dental work he says he never performed. Since MetLife also sent that 1099 to the Internal Revenue Service, this meant Powell was on the hook for taxes on money he never earned. Double check documents immediately: Powell's case is why you always need to look at every tax statement — 1099s, W-2s, bank, brokerage... Read more →


Thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court ruling, many other states have joined Nevada in accepting bets on sporting events. But casino operations like this one in Las Vegas still get plenty of action on days like Super Bowl Sunday. Happy Tuesday to everyone who skipped work yesterday. I hope you've fully recovered from your Super Bowl hangover. I also hope that at least some of your prop bets on the NFL championship game also paid off. So does the Internal Revenue Service. All your Super Bowl LIV winnings, as well as any other gambling proceeds are taxable income. Yes, even... Read more →


Even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people opted to claim the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions because. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also... Read more →


This cat apparently is expecting something to be delivered by his postal carrier. Many taxpayers share this feline's anticipation this time of year, when annual tax forms are on their way. The hubby and I have some investments in addition to our retirement accounts. We're hoping these assets will be a nice bonus to the funds dedicated totally to paying for our retirement years. That means we're among those folks who are waiting on some tax documents so we can file our 2019 tax return. And we're also among those folks who'll be waiting a bit longer. Mutual funds vs.... Read more →


If past years are any indication, when the 2020 tax filing season officially opens on Monday, Jan. 27, millions of taxpayers will hit the send button to electronically deliver their annual returns to the Internal Revenue Service. But millions more of us have to wait to file. We're still waiting on at least one tax statement that has information we need to finish filling out our Form 1040. Form deadline is Jan. 31: Technically, most of these tax documents aren't even required to be on their way to us until Jan. 31. Employers and other businesses that issue wage and/or... Read more →


Before you can file your taxes, you need some tax statements. The key among them for most of us is the W-2. Here's a look at all — and there's a lot — that's on this document. Taxes are all about the numbers. That includes the numerical names of tax documents. For wage earning taxpayers, the most important form is the W-2 they get early (hopefully!) each year. Officially titled Wage and Tax Statement, it has (true to its name) the details on earnings and taxes paid throughout the past tax year. This form is starting point in figuring any... Read more →


Broad City image via Giphy.com Do you have to file a return? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the answer usually is yes. Believe it or not, some people make it through tax-filing season without any hassle. That's because the Internal Revenue Service doesn't require them to file taxes. Unfortunately, most of us aren't that lucky. So just who has to file a tax return? Generally, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident you must consider three things when determining whether you have to file a tax return: your age, your filing status and your income.... Read more →


Taxpayers got their first experience with new filing forms with last year's 2018 returns. There are more changes to the 1040 for 2019 taxes, too, but the revisions actually could be helpful. Tax season is about to start in a less than two weeks. Jan. 27, in case you forgot. Many of us are already working on our 2019 returns, either by working with a tax preparer or filling out our forms on our own. Doing taxes has never been a fun job for most folks. But filing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made that job... Read more →


Ready to file your taxes? Ready to do so for free? The Internal Revenue Service is ready, too. Its Free File tax preparation and electronic filing option is open for business. As usual, the online no-cost way for millions to complete and electronically file their taxes is available before the IRS actually starts accepting and processing returns. That won't happen until Jan 27. But you can still get a jump on your annual tax filing obligation. The Free File program you select will simply hold your return until Jan. 27 and then submit as soon as the IRS officially kicks... Read more →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


Last year, some tax software companies allegedly hid their Free File option on their corporate websites, instead sending otherwise eligible free filers to paid products. That won't happen again, says the IRS, under a new Free File agreement that was just signed and takes effect for the upcoming 2020 tax-filing season. The only thing people like more than getting their annual tax refunds is getting things for free. The IRS says that this coming tax-filing season, its new agreement with tax software companies will help ensure that eligible taxpayers will know that they can combine those loves via Free File.... Read more →


It's that time of year again. Actually, that time was at 2 a.m. today (Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019). That's when most of us said goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and hello to the return of Standard Time. As we deal with the timepiece trickery, a lot of us (me!) suffer a sort of jet lag as our body clocks adjust to the new time and impending earlier arrival of sunsets. But the fall back to Standard Time also is a good reminder that standard is a good thing for millions of taxpayers. A couple of tax standards, the standard deduction... Read more →