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The tornado that struck Afton, Iowa, in Union County on April 26, 2024. That county is one of eight that have been declared major disaster areas, meaning residents are eligible for a variety of federal assistance, including tax relief. (Photo by Dean Baron via National Weather Service) Iowans in eight Hawkeye State counties that were struck by severe storms and tornadoes last month now have until Oct. 15 to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. This latest Internal Revenue Service disaster relief applies to individuals and households that live or have a business in... Read more →


Some of the March 14 tornado damage in Indian Lake, Logan County, Ohio. (Photo credit: Indian Lake Chamber via Facebook) During the evening of March 14, supercell thunderstorms dropped numerous strong tornadoes across western and central Ohio. By the time things cleared, the deadly twisters also had left trails of destruction across the Buckeye State. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed three EF1 twisters, two reaching EF2, and an EF3 across Ohio. The NWS office in Wilmington, just north of Cincinnati, reported a total of 145 miles of combined tornado tracks across the state. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) investigation... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Tornadoes storms across the United States this year are striking at a record breaking pace. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center today shows 790 preliminary tornado reports. The historical average at this point in the year is around 550. Here in Texas, more than a million acres in the Panhandle were consumed by the Smokehouse Creek Fire that erupted in February. As spring arrived, the eastern part of the Lone Star State endured devastating floods. And hurricane season doesn’t even officially start until June. All this meteorological anger means that millions of people... Read more →


A health savings account, or HSA, helps high deductible health plan, or HDHP, enrollees cover their larger out-of-pocket medical costs. The plan limits and HSA contribution amounts are adjusted annually for inflation. Here are the 2025 numbers. Photo by Kay Bell The cost of health care keeps rising. That’s why many individuals and families who are basically healthy, but want medical coverage in case of an emergencies, often turn to high deductible health plans, or HDHPs. HDHP policies’ associated health savings accounts, or HSAs, help offset the plans larger out-of-pocket costs. HSAs also offer triple tax savings. If you’re interested... Read more →


Drone composite image of the significant damage to structures in downtown Sulphur, Oklahoma. A large part of the small town in south-central Oklahoma was struck by an EF3+ tornado on April 27, 2024. (Photo by Wikiwillz via Wikipedia Commons) The United States’ tornado season used to be in the spring, with most of them occurring in the middle of the country known as Tornado Alley. But things have changed. Or maybe data collection improved. Whatever the reason, tornado-spawning storms are showing up almost year-round, and they’re showing up well beyond the original Tornado Alley boundaries. This year could be one... Read more →


Today's post on the second half of the 2024 Internal Revenue Service's Dirty Dozen tax scams looks at a wide range of schemes and potential victims. Tax pros are targets, as are high income earners in schemes 7 through 12. Together with the Dirty Dozen's first six scams posted last week, there's a scam for almost all of us taxpayers. Take notice and don't become a Dirty Dozen victim. Last Friday, I shared the first six of the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen list. As promised, this post wraps up schemes, cons, and scams 7 through 12. This compilation... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images If you've been to a doctor recently, refilled a subscription, had to go to an emergency room, or just bought over-the-counter medications, you know that all these treatments cost a lot more than in previous years. It's enough to make you sick, or at least nudge up your blood pressure a bit. However, the tax code might have an Rx that can help. There are a variety of medical tax breaks that can help lower your federal tax bill. Several of them are adjusted each year to account for inflation. Here, in Part 5... Read more →


Confused about your workplace benefits options during open enrollment? Your answers to the following questions could help. (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash) Millions of U.S. workers are now deciding what workplace benefits they want in 2024. Many during this annual open enrollment period simply re-up the options they chose last year. I get it. It's easy. But you could be costing yourself, both in out-of-pocket cost and tax savings. So, before you make a final decision, ask yourself the following questions. 1. Will your company help your repay your student loan? College costs and the debt that... Read more →


Click on image for animation. Tropical Storm Arlene marked the official opening on Thursday, June 1, of the 2023 hurricane season. The good news is that she's now fizzled, as the above animated satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Hurricane Center, or NOAA NHC for all my fellow government acronym fans. Better news is that the NHC says it doesn't expect any tropical cyclone activity for the next 48 hours. The lull could be longer; that's just the time range that Uncle Sam's forecasters are using. A slow hurricane season start is not unusual. The Weather... Read more →


Inflation has increased the cost of everything, including health care. That's why many people, even before the recent jump in the cost of living, have chosen a high deductible health plan, or HDHP. As the name indicates, HDHPs require enrollees to pay more out-of-pocket costs, aka the high deductible amount, before policy coverage kicks in. However, HDHPs typically have lower monthly premiums than the traditional type of medical insurance. Many individuals, especially those in generally good health, accept the risk of a higher deductible in exchange for the immediate cash-flow benefit of lower premiums. Another part of the HDHP trade-off... Read more →


Records, tax and financial, are often among the property damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster. If you're lucky, you might be able, like this woman, to salvage some of the documents. If not, you'll need to recreate them to take advantage of tax-related storm relief. (Image courtesy Louisiana Law Blog) It looks like Florida is about to be hit by another hurricane. Current Subtropical Storm Nicole is expected to accelerate from a subtropical system into a hurricane before it makes landfall along the Sunshine State's Atlantic coast. That's terrible news for Florida residents still dealing with the aftermath of... Read more →


Sifting through all the options during workplace benefits enrollment season can be confusing and frustrating. Here are some things to think about, including taxes, as you evaluate your company's offerings. (Photo by MART PRODUCTION) We're in the heart of the annual benefits enrollment season. Not only is the Affordable Care Act healthcare marketplace open for business, but older Americans are signing up for Medicare. But a big segment of American workers rely on workplace-provided benefits to cover then health care and other needs. If you're checking out your company's benefits, either to enroll for the first time or continue the... Read more →


If you've been to a doctor recently, refilled a subscription, had to go to an emergency room, or just bought over-the-counter medications, you know that all these cost a lot more than in previous years. It's enough to make you sick, or at least nudge up your blood pressure a bit. However, the tax code might have an Rx that can help. There are a variety of medical tax breaks that can help lower your federal tax bill. Several of them are adjusted each year to account for inflation. Here, in today's Part 5 post of the ol' blog's annual... Read more →


Do check out these following related — and legitimate — tax write-offs Sometimes your home is indeed located at the intersection of favorable tax breaks. Sometimes it's not. Below is a look at the difference between some questionable and acceptable residential (and more!) write-offs. Every tax-filing season, the great quest by filers is to find the most tax breaks. But there are some deductions and credits you should steer clear of. These expenses that don't meet Internal Revenue Service guidelines mean the agency will stop processing your tax return to give it second (or third, or …) look. At best,... Read more →


FSA Store Medical flexible savings accounts are a great tax break. This workplace-provided benefit allows you to put money into an account before your paycheck's taxes are calculated. Then you use those tax-free funds to cover health care copays or treatments not covered by insurance. FSAs do, however, have one major drawback. The accounts are a use-it-or-lose-it benefit. Basically, if you don't spend your tax-favored money by the end of your benefits' year, your employer gets to keep it. In some cases, however, workers get ways to use more of their FSA money instead of losing it. And one of... Read more →


Here in Central Texas, we're experiencing a mild December. We finally got a light freeze in outlying areas last night, but temperatures in the immediate Austin area are expected, at least for a couple of days this week, to climb into the mid-to-upper-80s. Human residents aren't the only ones enjoying the moderate spell. Plants are taking advantage of the warmth, too, like the Gerber daisy trio to the left that decided to make an appearance on our backyard patio. While the late-year flowers are lovely to look at, accompanying pollen is wreaking havoc with my allergies. I am not alone.... Read more →


Medical matters have been front and center for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even without a global health crisis, taxpayers know they need to keep an eye on not just their wellbeing, but also on how medical expenses could create a tax outcome that's healthier for the filers rather than the Internal Revenue Service. There are a variety of medical tax breaks. And several of them are adjusted each year to account for inflation. Here, in this Part 5 of the ol' blog's annual tax inflation series, is a look at those changes for the 2022... Read more →


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 →