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Finally! That's what every taxpayer who's ever had to file an amended return is saying now that the Internal Revenue Service has announced that the process is going digital. As long as I've been blogging about taxes, I've included in every post about correcting previous tax filings some version of this instruction — An amended return cannot be filed electronically. You must use snail mail, using the appropriate address shown in the 1040X instructions. But in the summer of 2020, that changes. The Internal Revenue Service announced today that "later this summer" the Form 1040-X, Amended U.S Individual Income Tax... Read more →


I've been rearranging some upcoming doctors' appoints that I made months ago, well before anyone had heard of COVID-19, much less watched as it overtook our lives. A couple were able to be conducted as teleconferences with my physicians. Some, however, require actual in-office visits. Like getting jabbed for blood work. I'm also rescheduling some appointments originally set for June. These are being changed not because of the coronavirus pandemic, but because of new medical insurance. The dates are now late instead of mid-summer in the hopes that the new policy transition goes smoothly and I won't have to hassle... Read more →


We're less than two months from Tax Day 2020, which was pushed to July 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Or are we? There's been some talk and a few actual reports in the media that the White House is contemplating pushing the tax deadline back again, possibly to Sept. 15 or even mid-December. Just talk, so far: An NBC News report noted that talks of an even later Tax Day are preliminary. In that same article, Trump Administration officials stressed that no tax date change decision has been made. But some in the tax community are still a little... Read more →


The child care workplace benefit, as well as medical ones, are enhanced under two just-issued Internal Revenue Service notices. If your job doesn't offer child care benefits, you might be able to get other tax help in taking care of your youngsters via a tax credit. This mom is representative of many parents, who are starting to feel the pressure of weeks of quarantining with and homeschooling their children during COVID-19 stay-home orders. Earlier this year as the coronavirus was surreptitiously infecting Americans, lots of parents were going about their usual business, which included making summer plans for their children.... Read more →


GivingTuesday.org Hello Giving Tuesday. No, the world has not gone so thoroughly whack that we've jumped to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Rather, because of the unprecedented, and unexpected, need caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the creators of Giving Tuesday are encouraging those who can afford to give to participate in Giving Tuesday Now. As in today. This new global day of giving is in addition to the fall event, which has been around since 2012 and is scheduled this year for Dec 1. Potential charities, philanthropic activities:"We believe that generosity has the power to unite and heal communities in good... Read more →


Some suddenly out-of-work people are taking a double hit. Not only must they deal with the loss of income, but also the loss of their workplace-provided medical coverage. This week's relatively good COVID-19 pandemic economic news is that the latest count of folks who filed for unemployment benefits was down. The bad news? The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that another 3.8 million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week. While that's a drop from the previous week's 4.4 million unemployment claims, overall more than 30.3 million have applied for state help to make ends meet now that... Read more →


April is winding down. That means severe, and some deadly, spring storms are erupting all over the United States. And in just more than a month, hurricane season will officially start. A couple of states — Alabama and Texas — earlier this year offered their residents a sales tax holiday so they could save some money as they stocked up on emergency supplies. But even if you have to pay tax on your bottled water and canned food and batteries, start gathering your supplies now. Also take a pre-disaster inventory of your property. A full, accurate list of your belongings... Read more →


The first two estimated tax payments for 2020 aren't due this week because of COVID-19 changes, but it's still time to look at how much you owe via 1040-ES and how best to figure those amounts. I've paid estimated taxes for almost as long as I've filed taxes. These payments, in case this tax is new to you, are the equivalent of withholding. With estimated taxes, however, we taxpayers must cover the income (and usually other) tax on things like freelance earnings or investment payouts since we get the money without anything being taken out beforehand for Uncle Sam. There... Read more →


July is America's big celebratory month. The major time to party is, of course, on the United States' birthday, July 4. But in 2020, the tax community's revelry will be on July 16. That's the day after this year's revised Tax Day of July 15. And now we tax geeks, gurus and everyday Joe and Jane Taxpayers will have even more to celebrate since the Internal Revenue Service has expanded the July 15 due date to more tax situations. Below is a review of the key tax deadlines that now fall on July 15. Tax return filing and payments: Individual... Read more →


Photo by Vera Arsic via Pexels The biggest problem for most of us in coronavirus lockdown with our families, whether ordered by state or local officials or self-imposed, is figuring out how to not get on each other's last nerve. For some, however, the forced togetherness is deadly serious. Possibly just deadly. Domestic violence since COVID-19 appeared has spiked as victims find themselves forced to stay home with abusers, according to those who work to protect people, still primarily women, from abusive partners and spouses. It's happening globally, across the United States and here in Texas. "During a time of... Read more →


Treasury backtracks and now says Social Security recipients who qualify for the COVID-19 payments will get the money without having to file a tax return. Never underestimate the power of the older population. The U.S. government learned that lesson this week, when the Treasury Department announced, contrary to its prior assurances (and a new law), that folks on Social Security would have to file a tax return if they wanted to get their share of the coronavirus relief payments. Last night, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin reversed that requirement. (Yes, on April 1. No, it was no an April Fool's Day... Read more →


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 →