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Even if you've been filling out Form 1040 and any other associated forms and schedules for years, things will be different this filing season. This is the first year we taxpayers (and tax pros) will be filing under the extensive new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes. In addition to new tax rates and deduction amounts, there are a variety of other tax law tweaks that could affect what goes on — or now doesn't — your Form 1040, which itself is new. So before you start working with your tax preparer or open up your tax software, either... Read more →


Most taxpayers every year end up getting refunds. But some folks are at the opposite end of the tax spectrum. They owe Uncle Sam at filing time. And some of those owing taxpayers end up in an even worse situation. Their tax bills are large enough that they also face added penalty charges. This filing season, though, those penalty-paying taxpayers could get a break. Tax underpayment penalty calculations: A tax penalty assessment usually occurs when wage earners don't have enough income tax withheld from paychecks or, if they have other income not subject to withholding, don't pay enough (or any)... Read more →


There's one more day in 2018, but it's too late to adjust your withholding for this almost over tax year. Following enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a lot of folks earlier this year should have tweaked the amount of federal taxes they have taken out of their paychecks. Those TCJA changes, which went into full effect for 2018, could mean some — OK, a lot; one estimate says 30 million — taxpayers could face an unexpected tax bill when they file their returns in 2019. If you discover in a few months that you're one of... Read more →


"The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dalí (Oil on canvas, 1931) © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. (Image from About.com, fair use, via Wikipedia) It's that time of year again, literally. At 2 a.m. today (Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018), most of us said goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and hello to the return of Standard Time. OK, maybe most of us weren't up in the wee hours to actually say goodbye and hello to our clocks. But we're dealing now with the timepiece trickery. A lot of us (me!) will suffer... Read more →


Texas, according to veteran Lone Star State meteorologists, is the land of perennial drought, broken by the occasional devastating flood. Such flooding occurred today, opening up the possibility that parts of the Texas Hill Country could be deemed major disaster areas. If that happens, affected property owners can claim their losses on their tax returns. Mansfield dam image Excessive rainfall has produced devastating flooding in Central Texas, forcing area officials to open floodgates at local dams. The amount of water flowing into area rivers and lakes is so heavy that even Mansfield Dam in Austin, the structure that holds back... Read more →


Things certainly have changed over the years when it comes to tax filing, especially from the technology perspective. But upgrading all today's IRS computer systems could mean a delayed 2019 tax filing season. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) As 2018 winds down, we're all looking at tax moves we need to make. (Need some ideas? Check out the suggested October tax tasks to tackle.) In addition to us individual and business filers, "we" also includes the Internal Revenue Service. And the tax agency could have some added trouble this year, thanks to all the changes made late last year by the... Read more →


Old-school passbook savings accounts are safe, but have been paying minuscule interest over the last few years. The White House might be unhappy, but all of us with money in safer assets like certificates of deposit (CDs) or plain-old savings accounts are sending the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, aka the Fed, a big fat thank you. The Fed's decision yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 26) to raise rates to a range between 2 percent and 2.25 percent means we'll be seeing few more pennies of earnings in our accounts. And it is just pennies. Those of us old enough to remember... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service (and I and my fellow tax bloggers) have been noting the need for folks to get their payroll withholding amounts correct under the recent tax law changes. Reporting any adjustments, however, will continue to be done on the old Form W-4, since folks who help implement the forms alerted the IRS of the many issues they have with the proposed document. You followed the Internal Revenue Service's nagging advice and did a paycheck checkup. This, in case you aren't one of the checking taxpayers, is a look at your current payroll withholding to ensure that the... Read more →


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Gordon Some veterans who received disability severance payments after Jan. 17, 1991, and included that money as income when they filed their tax returns now are due refunds. The former military members have known since February that they were due money. Now the process of getting it has finally begun. But Uncle Sam isn't automatically sending former troops any cash due from the erroneously taxed payments. The veterans need to file an amended tax return using Form 1040X to claim a disability severance payment-related credit or tax refund. Why now?... Read more →


Has anyone really been as happy as this couple when filing their taxes? The IRS hopes the new, shorter Form 1040 will put smiles on more taxpayers' faces. Did you spend your weekend looking at the new Form 1040, which the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service officially unveiled on June 29? I didn't think so. That's OK. Most of us, either individual taxpayers or our tax pros helping us file, don't look at literal paper tax forms any more. We use computer software that walks us through the filing process. Still, it's worth reviewing the new form since it's... Read more →


U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised that this week we'd see the new, shorter and closer-to-a-postcard Form 1040. Well, the week's almost over and we're still waiting. However, I'm sure Mnuchin will keep his word and sometime today officially debut the new tax return. My faith is not so much in the Administration's top money man, as it is on the fact that I'll be out of my office and offline most of the day due to some personal business I can't reschedule. I'm good at tax timing like that. At least the proposed changes already have leaked. First came... Read more →


The new postcard-sized Form 1040 isn't nearly as pretty as the vintage Austin, Texas, postcard, reproduced as a mural in the Lone Star State's capital city. The tax postcard also isn't nearly as simple as its smaller size — or the Republicans who've long promised it — would have taxpayers believe. Image courtesy Roadhouse Relics Facebook/Instagram The good news about the new postcard-sized Form 1040 is that it is, as promised, smaller. The bad news is that in condensing the form, the Internal Revenue Service removed many popular above-the-line deductions that survived the actual new tax law itself. That's the... Read more →


The world — OK, U.S. tax world — is anxiously anticipating the shrinkage (yeah, I'm now replaying that Seinfeld episode in my head, too; sorry) of Form 1040. The Treasury Secretary last week promised that by the time the 2019 tax filing season rolls around, the longest tax return, which is filed by 68 percent of taxpayers, will be substantially smaller. The goal is the long-promised size of a postcard. But another Internal Revenue Service form that affects even more folks already has been revised. The IRS earlier this month released a draft version of Form W-4 for the 2019... Read more →


Speaker Paul Ryan touts postcard tax return possibilities after House passage of tax reform legislation last November. (Screen shot from Speaker.gov YouTube video) Every year the Internal Revenue Service makes tweaks to tax returns. Often it's simply updating annual inflation adjusted amounts. Other times it's adding or subtracting a line due to law changes. But for 2018's filing material, there will be large-scale form alterations thanks to the major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Among the new law's modifications for the 2018 tax year will be the actual size of the oldest of the tax... Read more →


They're baaaack! Actually, they never left. They, of course, are tax scammers, who the Internal Revenue Service says have tweaked an old scheme using a form used by international taxpayers and non-resident aliens in their latest effort to steal taxpayer identities and cash. As is the case in many tax scams, the form used in this latest identity theft iteration, the W-8BEN, is real. That's an excerpt of the real IRS document, which is titled Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding, below. You can click on it to see the full form at IRS.gov.... Read more →


Click image to watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene, in which these musicians provide the catchy background tune, from the 1977 Star Wars movie that launched the sci-fi film franchise. Merry May 4th. Yes, this is another goofy, made-up holiday, but one that's dear to sci-fi fans (and punsters), particularly those devoted to Star Wars. The film franchise's iconic "May the force be with you" greeting is celebrated each year on the similar sounding "May the Fourth be with you." As a long-time sci-fi fan and a college student who waited in a long line to see the 1977 debut... Read more →


Tax Day is less than a week away. But finishing up your 2017 Form 1040 is not the only tax task facing millions of Americans. Here are 10 tax matters that must be taken care of by April 17. 1. File your 2017 tax year federal tax return. Yeah, I started with the easy (so to speak), obvious one. But it is the reason for the tax season. If you don't get your return into or on the way if snail mailing by Tax Day, the late-filing penalty is 5 percent of the additional taxes owed amount for every month... Read more →


Most taxpayers have never itemized their deductions. And the new tax law that took effect this year will ensure that even fewer filers fill out a Schedule A. By nearly doubling the standard deduction amounts, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will prompt more folks to use them instead of messing with the record keeping and extra paperwork itemized deductions require. Plus, as I'm sure you've heard by now, starting with the 2018 tax year and running through, for now, 2025, other TCJA changes will make itemizing even less valuable. The amount of state and local taxes, including your... Read more →


The larger standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect this year has gotten a lot of attention. One of the big pluses, cite fans of the new nearly doubled standard deduction amounts, is that more people will claim them instead of itemizing tax deductible expenses. But regardless of whether you itemize now, plan to under the new tax law or never ever messed with a Schedule A and don't plan to start, there still are some tax deductions you can claim. They are what are popularly known as above-the-line deductions found directly on 1040... Read more →


Since Congress decided to slip some expired tax breaks into the budget bill enacted earlier today and make them retroactive to the 2017 tax year, some folks will be amending the 1040 forms they've already filed. Ignore that smirking sound loud enough to make it onto the internet. It's the perpetually procrastinating hubby being all smug about how sometimes it does pay to put things off for a while. However, if, unlike the hubby, you don't defer tasks and were an early tax filer who now can claim, for example, the tuition and fees above-the-line tax deduction, you're probably already... Read more →