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In addition to selecting who gets to go to, or stay in, Washington, D.C., voters across the country on Nov. 3 will decide on a variety of ballot measures. This coming Election Day, citizens in 32 states will decide the fate of 120 statewide initiatives. There also are measures on the ballots in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And yes, there are plenty of tax questions that will be decided. Ballotpedia, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit that's been tracking election data since 2007, says this year voters in 12 states will decide 19 tax-related ballot measures.... Read more →


My local H-E-B Grocery smartphone app's barcode reader helps me discover the price of a product if it's not shown on the item packaging or store shelf. I love the technology almost as much as I love potato chips! I love my grocery store app. Not only does it offer digital coupons, it lets me make shopping lists, find the aisles where the products I want are located and if there's no price sticker on the item the shelf, I can use the app to scan the package's barcode code for that info. Now the Internal Revenue Service is becoming... Read more →


A quick Social Security note about for folks not yet at or near the benefits age about taxes on that pre-retirement income. More of it, known as the wage base, will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Details are in this post. Retirees checking on their investments. The income could make their Social Security benefits taxable. Today's a good day for millions of Social Security recipients. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that benefits will increase a bit next year. Older folks who get regular monthly Social Security payments, along with those who receive Supplemental Security Income... Read more →


There's been one positive for the Internal Revenue Service this coronavirus-affected tax filing season. The agency says that Free File has hit a record percentage increase in new users. And there's still just more than a week before the partnership between the IRS and tax software manufacturers shuts down on Oct. 16. Free, but previously not that popular: The online tax preparation and e-filing products that, as the Free File moniker indicates, allows eligible filers to complete and electronically transmit their tax returns at no cost, has been available since 2003. However, despite the growing popularity of do-it-yourself tax filing... 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 →


The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon tousles Donald J. Trump's hair during the Republican candidate's Sept. 15, 2016, appearance on the late-night television program. That hair. He spent $70,000 on that hair. Yes, I — and you and everybody — is talking about that $70,000 tax deduction claim by Donald J. Trump on his taxes, which were obtained by The New York Times and detailed in an expansive story this past weekend. Trump's hair has long been a point of curiosity and comedy. He knows it. He even has played it up with voters and on non-Apprentice television appearances. I... 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 →


No gasoline necessary for electric vehicles like this Chevrolet Bolt, which instead is plugged in to recharge for the road. If you opt for an IRS-certified electric auto or light truck, you might get some tax break help on your purchase. Climate change is getting more coverage lately. People are paying attention to what's happening with Mother Nature here in the United States thanks to the opposing environmental takes by the two presidential contenders. On a more personal level for many Americans is that we're in the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons ever — we're already... Read more →


Man signing papers (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.com) The Internal Revenue Service continues to go more digital, at least temporarily to make filings easier as we continue to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Late last month, the IRS announced 10 forms that previously had to be signed in ink on their printed paper version. You can read about this first group of forms to be granted digital signature status in my Aug. 28 post. On Sept. 10, the tax agency added another six forms to the digital signer list. They are: Form 706, U.S. Estate (and... Read more →


If you get money that's not subject to income tax withholding, then this weekend's Saturday Shout Out posts are for you. Tuesday, Sept. 15* is the due date for the third quarter payment of estimated taxes. Our tax system is pay-as-you-earn. That's typically done by withholding from wages. But when there's no per-paycheck tax collection mechanism in place, the payment responsibility falls on the person getting the money. And the way it's done is through estimate tax payments. The type of earnings that typically trigger are full-time self-employment or occasional gig work income, investment earnings, rental income, certain alimony payments,... Read more →


Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback (and Texas Tech alum) Patrick Mahomes is back in action tonight as the NFL kicks off its 2020 season under special COVID-19 rules. (Image via GIPHY) The United States is going to try a bit of normal tonight with the kickoff of the 2020 National Football League season. Sure, America's favorite spectator sport is not quite there. The coronavirus pandemic means that the stands at Arrowhead Stadium won't be full as the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take on the Houston Texans. But most of us will be watching the NFL on television,... Read more →


More than 160 million people have received the COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) that was approved in late March. Still, says the Internal Revenue Service, that's not everyone who's eligible for the relief money. In fact, the tax agency says around nine million Americans still are due the stimulus. But to get it this year, they need to contact the IRS. And the IRS will be sending them a special letter later this month to encourage them to file for the relief payment, preferably by Oct. 15. Don't have to file, but qualify for COVID cash: These nine-or-so million folks... Read more →


Tax revenue is critical. It's even more important during a global pandemic when governments worldwide are facing shortfalls due to COVID-19 economic effects. So it's no surprise that tax officials are taking closer looks at possible tax scofflaws. And in many instances, they're getting help from their citizenry. Recent cases in point come from across the pond. Irish tax officials are getting record numbers of so-called good citizen reports of tax evaders. The United Kingdom's HM Revenue & Customs has boosted payments to those tipping it off about tax dodgers. Part of the reason for Ireland's impressive increase in tax... Read more →


COVID-19 has forced taxpayers and their hired preparers to maintain social distance during return completion this year. Electronic tax processes have helped, but some forms require real signatures, meaning in-person contact. Until now. The IRS is temporarily accepting electronic signatures on certain documents that still must be snail mailed. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.com Some, including me and many in the tax professional community, have long argued that the Internal Revenue Service has been its own worst enemy when it comes to moving the agency into electronic era. Sure, Uncle Sam's tax collector has been encouraging, and in some... 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 →


UPDATED Oct. 6, 2020: More Iowa counties now eligible for relief. Details below. Photo courtesy Cal Fire Mother Nature is in one foul, destructive mood. California wildfires have killed seven people, destroyed more than 1,400 buildings destroyed and ravaged 1.25 million acres in the Golden State. Blazes also have burned more than 1.8 million acres in 14 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Hurricane Laura, which is shown in a National Hurricane Center satellite image below (updated 10 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020) gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to swamp East Texas and... Read more →


Almost 14 million U.S. taxpayers are getting a few extra dollars from Uncle Sam. If you're one of them, you can thank the Internal Revenue Service and the COVID-19 changes to the 2020 filing season. Pandemic tax season timing tweaks mean that these regular refund recipients also will be getting some interest — an average of $18 — in addition to their expected tax-back amounts. Interesting deadline days: The IRS announced the upcoming interest payments back in late June. Now it's making good on that promise, which was necessitated by this year's Tax Day delay. The postponing of the filing... Read more →


Times are tough for Uber and Lyft operations in California. Both ride-hailing services are threatening to temporarily shut down in the wake of a Golden State law that took effect in January and, more notably, a recent San Francisco Superior Court order that the companies classify their drivers as employees instead of contractors. This battle between the popular transportation option and California officials is playing out as the Internal Revenue Service continues its efforts to educate gig workers about their tax responsibilities. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has some ideas on how to make sure more freelance workers... Read more →


We all should learn from our mistakes. That's especially true of tax mistakes. And now that learning — and correcting — process is getting easier. The Internal Revenue Service now will accept some electronically filed amended returns. There's just one hitch. This long-awaited electronic filing process, which the IRS promised earlier this summer, is available for making corrections only to tax year 2019 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR returns. Those were the ones you filed (or got an extension file) this year by July 15. If you have an earlier filing you need to fix, you'll still have to use... Read more →


The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has become a flash point in the coming election. On Capitol Hill, the constitutionally decreed national delivery service has been at the center of it's become a battle highlighting Republican claims of mail-in voter fraud (largely unsubstantiated) and Democratic concerns about Postal Service funding (not enough) and slowing down of services (too much). The mail also is a practical issue for the Internal Revenue Service and taxpayers. Despite increasing efforts to shift to digital tax transactions, the federal tax agency still relies on old fashioned snail mail for many of its tasks and those that... Read more →