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Misdirected direct deposits of COVID-19 economic relief payments are getting a lot of attention. They should. But this is not a new problem. Lost electronic tax refunds happen every filing season. What is new is the mechanism the Treasury Department established at the end of 2020 to deal with errant Internal Revenue Service direct deposits. A new regulation, the final version of which was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 22, 2020, details how taxpayers report this problem and how the IRS should handle it and get filers their misdirected money. Previously, not the IRS's problem: More of us... Read more →


Have you received your $600 COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP)? If not, then you're probably doing the same thing as Purcival Fairweather. You're checking, double checking and rechecking yet again your bank account to see if the coronavirus cash is finally there. $600 check? More like check my account 600 times. — Purcival Fairweather 🍾 (@purcival) January 2, 2021 But your obsessive bank badgering won't have to go on very much longer. If your EIP doesn't arrive by Jan. 15 or shortly thereafter it's sent out as a debit card or paper U.S. Treasury check, then you're not getting it.... Read more →


Santa Claus, Indiana, is one of many merrily named communities across the country. However, this Christmas-year-round town is the only one with an official U.S. Postal Service Santa postmark. (Photo by tengrrl via Flickr CC) Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas Eve from all the holiday themed towns across the United States. There are the municipalities dubbed North Pole in New York, Colorado, Alaska and yes, it's even OK in Oklahoma. For those who revel in the season's greenery we have up the road from me Garland, Texas, as well as virtual forest full of Evergreens. There's an Evergreen in... Read more →


There's some bad and not-so-bad news when it comes to the recently discovered hacking of the Treasury Department. Since we're still in god-awful 2020, let's start with the bad news. The hackers, believed by most security experts and many government officials to be Russian, were able to burrow deeply into the U.S. Treasury's computer operations, breaking into systems that are used by the department's highest-ranking officials. The better news is that the Internal Revenue Service, the largest division within Treasury, appears to be unaffected by the cyber attack. That's a relief to those of us who upon hearing that Treasury... Read more →


No, there isn't an electric version of Chevrolet's iconic Corvette (because who would want that!), but you have lots of other electric vehicle options that could get you not only a new car, but a nice federal tax credit. There are a couple of television commercials I look forward to every holiday season. There's the Corona Extra "Oh Tannenpalm" spot that's been airing for 30 years. And, of course, there's Hershey's Kisses handbell choir, which has been running even longer. Not as welcome, but as inescapable this time of year are the automaker ads with cars bearing giant bows. I've... Read more →


It's been a tough year for millions. In addition to worrying about keeping themselves and their families safe during the coronavirus pandemic, millions have lost their jobs. But there may be a little bit of help for those relying on government payments as 2020 winds down. The House and Senate are working on a compromise COVID-19 relief bill. It's huge and there still are congressional hurdles to overcome, but right now the proposal calls for a federal unemployment benefit of $300 a week for 16 weeks. That's welcome news for the nearly 13 million Americans who, without Congressional help, are... Read more →


Most of us agree that technology has enhanced our lives. It's simplified myriad daily tasks with just a voice command, touch of a device screen or stroke of a keyboard. It's also made things easier for crooks. Identity theft is a snap when criminals can electronically snag your personal and financial data. High tech's illicit aspects quickly spread to the tax world. When the Internal Revenue Service shifted to electronic transactions, tax identity thieves slipped through that digital door, stealing taxpayer identities and filing fake returns to collect fraudulent refunds. Now, though, the IRS is adding an extra electronic lock... Read more →


Have coronavirus money troubles forced you to break into some of your next eggs? COVID-19 legislation made getting to retirement money easier, but you probably will still owe tax on the early withdrawals and must deal with a new form to report your distributions (or paybacks) to the IRS at filing time. With the holidays here and no additional immediate COVID-19 economic relief payment in sight, some folks likely have or are considering tapping their retirement accounts. That option was made easier as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted on March 27. It provides... Read more →


As we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, everyone is thinking about masks. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has been working on masking rules for a while and, coincidentally in this year of COVID-19, has taken steps to offer added protection for taxpayers. The IRS masks are not literal covers. In fact, they lessen, not add. But the reductions will mask — that is, make it more difficult to see — personal and business identification numbers and information on common tax documents. And that should help reduce tax identity theft. Last four Social Security digits: This summer, the IRS... Read more →


Students at all levels are facing COVID-19 classroom challenges. Older students (and their parents) also are facing college costs, which can be covered in part with financial aid. (Photo by Julia M Cameron via Pexels.com) 2020 has been challenging year for all students and their parents. Moms and Dads with K-12 kiddos have been doing double (or more) duty as teachers where schools have shifted to full or hybrid remote classes as a coronavirus pandemic precaution. It's not much easier when the youngsters are older. Many young adults who've been away at college or were looking forward to going are... Read more →


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 →