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Sorry, but no matter how much your cat "helps" in your home office, the feline will not qualify as an employee, whose costs are tax deductible. However, you might be able to write off a part of your personal residence's homeowner's policy. (Photo by Lisa Omarali via Flicker CC) The hubby and I are still in self-quarantine, but while we've put the brakes on most of our regular activities, one part of our life is continuing as usual. Our house. Every homeowner will tell you that in addition to being the complete kings and queens of your (for the most... 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 →


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 →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Congress just came up with more tax breaks to wind down 2019 than the number of ornaments we have on our upstairs' mini Christmas tree! (Photo by Kay Bell) Congress finally decorated its Christmas tree early this morning. The ornaments were myriad tax breaks. Or, in some cases, elimination of taxes. With Dec. 25 bearing down and special interest groups sending more requests to Capitol Hill than kiddos' letters to Santa, the House and Senate negotiators finally agreed on, among other things, what to do about those expired tax provisions popularly known as extenders. They OK'ed a handful of them... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to some popular tax-related medical matters. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. Yeah, you've seen this photo before. It's from about this time last year, the last time I had a medical maneuver that required I... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some medical tax provisions. You can find links to all 2019 inflation posts in the series' first item: income tax brackets and rates. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns that are due in April 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing this year's 2018 tax return due April 15, 2019. Why yes, I am milking this medical situation for all it's worth, both personally (the hubby is such a great nurse!)... Read more →


Many medical costs are still tax deductible, but you have to clear an adjusted gross income bar. (Photo by Bjarteh via Wikipedia) If you're still young, which to me is an ever-shifting definition that now includes folks in their 40s, here's a warning. Get ready to see more doctors as you age. I know of what I blog. Although I'm young at heart, I'm finally there. My morning was full of physicians. And I'll deal with doctors again in a few weeks, both for follow-up exams and when I file my 2017 tax return. Tax breaks for medical costs: Taxes... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some medical tax provisions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. New tax laws also have altered some of the 2018 amounts and are noted in the post below. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy" via Giphy.com... Read more →


Updated: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 October marks the start for many companies of open season for employees' workplace benefits, many of which provide workers some nice tax savings. It's also a good month to make other tax-related moves. It's time to turn our attention to health care again. This time, though, it's not medical insurance via the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Instead, October marks the beginning of open enrollment season for workplace-provided benefits at companies across the country. Decide now for next year: Open enrollment periods vary from company to company. Most run from two to four weeks for workers to... Read more →


Tropical Storm Storm Cindy is now officially churning in the Gulf of Mexico, with a predicted landfall in a few days along the Texas-Louisiana border. That track could, of course change. And as meteorologists on the Weather Channel note, "it's not the name, but the rain." Tropical system precipitation typically reaches beyond the actual low pressure system, often well inland of coastal properties, and produces dangerous flooding. Such reports have come in from as far north as Atlanta today, with Cindy's expanded rain bands causing highway flooding in that city. Federal and state tax help for recovery efforts: As noted... Read more →


Most high-income investors last were likely a little bummed last week when the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act failed. It didn't have anything to do with their personal opinions on Obamacare or health care in general. It meant that the Net Investment Income Tax, or NIIT, remains on the books. This 3.8 percent surtax is assessed on capital gains, dividends, interest, and other passive income earned by single investors making more than $200,000 a year or $250,000 if married filing jointly. It was one of the many ACA-related taxes that would have been repealed if the GOP... Read more →


One way to survive working on your tax return with a deadline looming -- April 18 this year -- is to make sure you don't make any easily avoidable filing mistakes. Similarly, you don't want to overlook any tax breaks. I guess that technically omitting a tax claim could be considered a mistake, but for the sake of keeping things clear -- and for providing an added blog post topic! -- I've separated them. Searching for tax breaks? Below are 18. (James Corden GIF via CBS.com/Corden) And to save you time in your search for ways to cut your tax... Read more →


We got a $147.26 check today from a neighborhood medical clinic. It was a refund for treatment the hubby got when he had a kidney stone. I'm always happy to cash any check. But this one is a perfect example of what's wrong with the medical industry. The hubby's ailment was back in December 2013. Yep. It took more than 20 months for the bill to be completely settled. When we got the check and statement detailing the payment and refund process, my initial expectation was that it was the insurance company's fault. It wasn't. Here our billing timeline. Dec.... Read more →


December brings a special kind of crazy. There's shopping, travel, more shopping, tax moves to make, family and friend get-togethers, extra cooking, even more shopping and illness. Yeah, folks tend to get sick over the holidays. Maybe it's because of that guy coughing in the aisle behind you on your flight home. Maybe it's one of your loved ones with whom you're sharing way too close holiday quarters. Maybe it's playing in the snow a bit too long. Maybe it's that you wear yourself out and down with all the shopping, travel, more shopping, tax moves, family and friend get-togethers,... Read more →


On the heels of the conflicting Obamacare tax subsidy rulings by two federal appeals courts, we today had Affordable Care Act (ACA) part 2: A look into "the integrity of the administration" of the health care program's premium tax credit. At issue is whether the health care law's tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance bought through exchanges are issued properly. Specifically, members of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, wanted to know are the amounts correct and are they going to eligible individuals? An early review of a key component of the... Read more →


This post was updated Nov. 9, 2018 I live in Texas, a state that does not offer a health insurance exchange. Instead, we Lone Star Staters must use the federal exchange to buy their medical coverage. It has not been an easy time for my neighbors in need of health care, given HealthCare.gov's shaky roll-out. But being hardy Texans, they forged on and ended up getting policies to their liking. And now, a federal judge has determined that they will be able to claim, if eligible, the Premium Tax Credit on their 2014 federal return. Tax help in buying medical... Read more →


Attention medical flexible spending account (FSA) shoppers. The good news is that Uncle Sam is making it easier for you hang onto to the pretax money you put into this workplace benefit. The bad news is that if you are now perusing your company's benefits during open enrollment season, the FSA change probably won't affect your spending account in 2014. Yesterday, Oct. 31, the Treasury Department announced that employers now can offer FSA holders the option of rolling over up to $500 left in their spending accounts at the end of the benefit year. That's right. If you have $500... Read more →