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We regular folks tend to have a complicated relationship with the wealthy. And by complicated, I mean one-sided, unrealistic, and too often reverential. Being aspirational, we love to gawk at what they can get away with because of their money, and dream of one day being in their Manolos and mansions. That's fueled way too many not-really reality shows. Such hopes also are a big reason scammers can convince wealthy wannabes to fall for schemes that peddle false hopes of large tax deductions. In real-life tax reality, these dodges simply are a way to push hopeful taxpayers further away from... Read more →


Even during a pandemic, more routine illnesses occur. Don't put off seeing a doctor. Your medical spending account money can help cover office visit copays and much more. And if you're facing a March 15 deadline to spending the money, don't miss it! Medical concerns are top of mind for most of us right now because COVID-19. But as doctors are quick to point out, you shouldn't let pandemic fears keep you from seeking medical help, either for less-severe ailments or regular treatments of a chronic illness. In addition to paying attention to your and your family's health, you also... Read more →


I'm feeling a bit like the Internal Revenue Service's appointments secretary, but this Friday, Jan. 15, is a date when many taxpayers need to take action. Yes, I'm talking about the fourth estimated tax payment due at the end of this week, but also about some final tax year 2019 housekeeping. Specifically, individuals and businesses who were in the paths of some major disasters last year. The timing of those catastrophes prompted the IRS to give taxpayers who had already filed for an extension to finish their 2019 tax returns until Jan. 15, 2021, to complete them. These folks now... Read more →


Update, December 30, 2020: When the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, finally was signed into law on Dec. 27, the new law OK'ed the $600 COVID-19 economic relief payments now going out and meant the federal government would stay open through Sept. 30, 2021. But it also included the No Surprises Act, a measure that should help end the unexpected medical bills many patients receive even though they have insurance. The new health care law will take effect in 2022. Also, the $1.4 trillion CAA included another welcome medical tax break. The threshold for claiming eligible health care costs now is... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In today's post, we look at changes to some popular tax-related medical matters. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this year's taxes, due April 15, 2021. Medical issues have... Read more →


Wildfire at night by Chenjack via Flickr While millions of taxpayers rushed to finish their 2109 tax filing last week in order to meet the Oct. 15 extended deadline, others weren't concerned about that deadline. They are the individual and business taxpayers who are dealing with something more pressing than taxes. They are trying to pick up the pieces from a major natural disaster. In these catastrophic cases, the Internal Revenue Service usually gives affected taxpayers more time to take care of their tax filing tasks. Some additional West Coast taxpayers have been added to this year's adjusted tax deadline... Read more →


For millions of U.S. workers, this month is the beginning of their benefits open enrollment period. This is your annual chance to switch, adjust or cancel usually tax-free company perks for you and your family. The biggest employer-provided benefit is medical insurance. Health coverage has taken on new importance during the coronavirus pandemic. But companies offer many more options that help make their workers' lives a bit easier and less costly. And many benefits experts expect COVID-19 considerations during this open season to alter the usual trend of workers simply letting existing coverages roll into the new year, which is... Read more →


Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine agents survey Alabama Gulf Coast damage caused by Hurricane Sally on Sept. 16. (CBP photo by Jerry Glaser via Wikipedia Commons) Tax changes connected to the historic number of storms this 2020 Atlantic hurricane season keep on coming. This week the Internal Revenue Service announced that some Alabama individuals impacted by Hurricane Sally, which made official landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, on Sept. 16, now have until mid-January to deal with impending tax tasks. Sally actually began affecting Gulf Coast states on Sept. 14. That's the day cited by the IRS in... Read more →


The Brattain Fire near Paisley, Oregon, on Sept. 15, more than a week after it ignited. (Photo by Maj. Leslie Reed, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs, courtesy Oregon National Guard via Flickr) Tax season 2020 has been extended for some taxpayers. Unfortunately, the extra time to take care of tax tasks is because these individuals and businesses were threatened are dealing with the outbreak of wildfires in Oregon. The Internal Revenue Service announced that victims of the Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds that began on Sept. 7 now have until Jan. 15, 2021 to file various individual and business tax... Read more →


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 →