Glossary Feed

While those who work in the tax world must be precise, taxes are full of a particular type of shortcut. I'm talking about those sometimes creative, other times eye-roll inducing abbreviations or acronyms for tax terms. Tax terminology is full of them. AGI, AMT, EIN, EITC, EFTPS, GAAP, FATCA, IRA, NOL, PTIN, and VAT just to name a few. Good, bad and ugly acronyms: Tax bills themselves also usually are shortened, with the verbal results sometimes fine and even fun, most times meh and other time invariably ugh. The historic 1986 tax reform bill got the basic moniker Tax Reform... Read more →

Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Unsplash My favorite Christmas carol is "We Three Kings." As most know, especially the youngsters who donned paper crowns to play Christmas pageant rulers traversing afar, the song tells the tale of the biblical Magi in Matthew 2:1-12. John H. Hopkins, Jr. wrote the song around 1857. It was part of the United Methodist Hymnal, which was part of my childhood. As a youngster, I was fascinated by these three travelers, often referred to (though not in the carol) as the Magi. It was the first time this West Texas desert dweller had heard of... Read more →

Merry Christmas Eve to all who celebrate this late December holiday. I must confess that, despite my grandmother's and, to a slightly lesser degree, my mother's best efforts, I love Christmas for mainly secular reasons. I love the lights, especially the gaudy, multicolored ones that glow and flash. I love the ornaments, particularly the kitschy ones that remind me of special times, events and people. And, of course, there are the presents. Over the years I've enjoyed more than my fair share of delightfully packaged goodies. But I've also come to realize that I like searching for, finding and giving... Read more →

Christmas is Friday!!! Those exclamation points aren't just for show. The holidays have sneaked up on me this year. Yes, it's beginning to feel a lot like mid-April here, with last-minute shopping panic replacing the annual tax-filing freak-out. If you're in the same fix and are still trying to find a gift for the tax and/or financial person in your life, here are some suggestions that might help make Dec. 25 a bit less stressful than April 15. Dress the tax part: Tax preparation can often tie the best of us up in knots, so your pro might appreciate some... Read more →

Today, Oct. 16, is National Dictionary Day. It was created to honor Noah Webster, the publisher of the first dictionary in 1806. Oct. 16 was chosen because it was the day 257 years ago on which Webster was born. Dictionary Day is a day to learn new words with the help of a dictionary. I'm doing my part by updating -- OK, creating in large part -- a tax dictionary for the ol' blog. Photo by eFile989 via Flickr Creative Commons Many years ago, I posted a mini-glossary of tax terms. Since that day, I've meant to put together a... Read more →

One of the hardest things about filing your taxes is trying to decipher the forms. You practically have to learn a new, tax- specific language. And the IRS-speak makes that dang VCR manual (yes, a few of us still use those antiquated devices!) seem almost coherent! To help out, Don't Mess With Taxes is gathering some common tax terms and phrases and their plain English meanings in this post. This is an ongoing list, so don't be discouraged if the word that's stumping you isn't here yet. It soon will be. In fact, just go ahead and e-mail it to... Read more →

To celebrate the convergence of the Christmas story and the IRS, we are introducing today a new feature on Don't Mess With Taxes: a glossary. I know, I know. You're asking just exactly how do Christmas, taxes and a glossary come together? The answer: One of our glossary's first words is MAGI, just like the three wise men who traversed afar. OK, you're right. It's an acronym. But since it's Christmas Eve, I couldn't resist. In tax parlance, MAGI, or modified adjusted gross income, is a measurement of how much money you make. It's calculated by starting with your adjusted... Read more →