IRS Feed

Michael Cohen makes his opening statement before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, 2019. (C-SPAN video screenshot) We have a complicated relationship with money, particularly when it comes to divulging details about it in our personal lives. Few of us (outside of personal finance bloggers) want to say how much we make. We tend to be vague, saying we're doing fine or perhaps going as far as to say things like "in the high five figures." We're a little more forthcoming when it comes to taxes, especially when we get tax refunds or don't, as recent social media complaints... Read more →


It's taken a few weeks, four to be exact, but the 2019 tax season is finally catching up. The latest Internal Revenue Service filing season statistics show that while most categories that the agency tracks each filing season are still lagging 2018 figures, the differences are starting to shrink. And there's even better news for folks who are getting refunds. The average check amounts issued through Feb. 22 are dramatically larger than the week before. More notable, those average refund amounts have finally topped the averages of year ago. Unpleasant tax refund surprises: In case you haven't been following the... Read more →


That's me in mid-February doing my personal Groundhog Day shadow prediction that warm weather was back to stay. (The full image is on my Instagram page.) I was sooooo wrong. A couple of weeks ago, ecstatic over the return of warm weather and sunshine to Central Texas, I celebrated the arrival of spring. Was I ever wrong. Today is cold, wet — I swear it was sleeting when I ran to my car this morning after yoga class! — and downright dreary. And it's only supposed to get worse, with local meteorologists predicting the latest hard freeze ever for the... Read more →


The only thing worse than not getting the refund you expected is waiting for it to arrive. The Internal Revenue Service's official goal is to issue refunds within 21 days after processing the returns that produced them. But if you e-file and opt for direct deposit, the IRS says it's generally able to get most refunds — 9 out of 10 — out to recipients well before the end of that three-week time frame. Mandated delay done: There's also good news for folks whose refunds are associated with their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit claims.... Read more →


The 2019 tax filing season appears, so far, to be thankfully free of tax scams. Maybe it's because things are going a bit more slowly, either due to the many tax law changes, the lengthy government shutdown that preceded it or a combination of both. I hate to be a buzzkill, but this early filing season respite is probably the best we can hope for. Tax realists know that crooks are still out there, planning and/or implanting their schemes to steal taxpayer identities and file fake returns to get fraudulent refunds. Scams increase as tax deadline nears: That concern is... Read more →


A crowdfunding effort to raise money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has ended, but some folks still want to contribute. The debate on an expansive U.S.-Mexico wall (or similar structures) continues, in Washington, D.C., as well as across the country. The top issue right now is money to pay for any barriers along the United States' southern border. Donald J. Trump has declared the situation a national emergency, which his administration says would free up a total of $8 billion for the campaign-promised project. Opposition to the wall and Trump's workaround to pay for it has received... Read more →


Prior year tax returns serve many purposes. This filing season, a check of last year's return will show you what your tax liability for 2017 was. You can compare that to your final 2018 tax bill to see if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did indeed lower your taxes even though your refund this year was smaller. You'll also need past year tax data if you're applying for a major loan, such as a mortgage. And if you're electronically filing your tax return this year, you'll need data from your previous year's taxes to complete that task. Record... Read more →


Tax law change confusion and paycheck withholding miscalculations have led to a lot of grumbling by many filers about the size of their tax refund checks. But there are other reasons why refunds sometimes are not what filers expect. Here's what to do if you think your tax refund is wrong. The many changes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) have thrown a wrench into the 2019 tax filing season. Many folks who were expecting refunds are finding they are smaller than they anticipated or nonexistent. In a lot of cases, that's because of changes in withholding by... Read more →


Screenshot from a look at some of the people who depend on the gig economy. Watch the full YouTube video here. Everybody is looking for more money. Taxpayers want more in their tax refunds, especially those surprised by smaller amounts this filing season. Donald J. Trump wants more to build his campaigned-promised border wall. People who are unhappy with their current earnings are side hustling to get more income. It's that last group, says the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), that the Internal Revenue Service should be focusing on as a way to get more money into the... Read more →


Most of us who've ever worked for someone else are very familiar with Internal Revenue Service Form W-2. This is the statement you get early every year to tell you how much you were paid. Your W-2 also reports the amount of income tax withheld at both federal and, where applicable, state and/or local levels. There also are details on such things as the amount of tax-deferred money went into or you took out of your 401(k), how much your employer paid for your health care coverage and how much help you got from the boss in paying for care... Read more →


There's better news for taxpayers this week. Internal Revenue Service data for the second week of the 2019 tax filing season shows a slightly larger refund amount. When the IRS released its first-week data, which covered 2018 tax returns filed by Feb. 1, the number of 1040s submitted and processed, as well as the number of refunds and average amount of those fewer checks, were dramatically lower than at the same time last year. That led to much grumbling by filers and arguments among supporters and opponents of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) about how the major tax... Read more →


By now, everyone knows that a lot of taxpayers are getting the worst news ever at filing time. They owe the U.S. Treasury money. We can debate the reasons for the unexpected tax bills ad infinitum. Withholding tables were rejiggered in 2018 following the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Itemized deductions and exemptions were reduced or eliminated by that tax legislation. Taxpayers didn't adjust their withholding to get their paycheck amounts more in line with the new law. The bottom line is that more than the usual number of filers this year are going to have... Read more →


The National Taxpayer Advocate this year selected 21 major problems that taxpayers encounter in their dealings with the Internal Revenue Service. I found five of those issues particularly troublesome. Every year, the National Taxpayer Advocate issue a report to Congress. The 2018 version released this week included a look at, not surprising, how the recent government shutdown affected not only Internal Revenue Service operations, but also the taxpayers who, particularly at this time of year, are relying on IRS services. Part of that annual report also includes at least 20 tax matters that the Taxpayer Advocate identifies as the most... Read more →


Open-close sign via Giphy.com The drama continues in Washington, D.C., as far as keeping the federal government open. It looked like, despite some grumbling from all sides, that a bipartisan, bicameral deal reached this week would keep all of the federal government open past Feb. 15. We all need to keep our fingers (and toes) crossed that it happens, especially those of us — which mean most Americans — who deal with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS obviously among those pushing for a resolution that will get the agency through the 2019 tax filing season. The agency is still... Read more →


One of my favorite recent TV shows was The Americans, FX's series on embedded Russian spies during the 1980s Cold War. For six seasons, we fans watched the couple known to their suburban Washington, D.C. neighbors as Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings raise their two U.S.-born children, run their small travel agency and spy, sometimes in deadly fashion, for their native U.S.S.R. One of the underlying themes was how well and easily the Jennings assimilated into the America they were trying to bring down. It's a common trope, but one done well and with nuance by the television program. A radio... Read more →


This tax filing season is a troubling and troublesome one for millions of filers. They're dealing with major tax law changes which many are finding have adversely affected their expected tax refund amounts. Things are slowly getting back to normal at the Internal Revenue Service following the recent federal government shutdown. Some quick indicators that more IRS workers are back include my email box getting more messages from the agency, more updates on IRS.gov and reports on how well (or not) the 2019 filing season is going. About that last matter, IRS has resumed its annual weekly postings of tax-filing... Read more →


Most tax preparers are honest and work to help their clients. Some, however, use shady methods to make money off unsuspecting filers. Don't be one of them! More of us every tax-filing season are turning to tax professions. The 2019 filing season in particular has underscored the value that tax professionals add. This is the first year taxpayers have had to deal with the real-life effects of the many Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) change. A knowledgeable tax preparer can help you navigate this new maze. But you need to be careful in picking the person to be your... Read more →


I never seem to be able to submit our joint Form 1040 early in the filing season, partly because I have to sort through all this material to fill out the forms! There are many reasons why millions of taxpayers procrastinate when it comes to submitting their annual returns. Much of the time, those excuses aren't good. But there are some times when you shouldn't rush to finish your Form 1040 early in the filing season, even if you're expecting a tax refund. Here are six reasons to wait a bit before filing: 1. To get your return right. Doing... Read more →


Updated Feb. 20, 2019 We're well into the 2019 tax filing season and things have been a little slow, thanks in large part to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history that hampered Internal Revenue Service preparations for the millions of tax returns it receives each year. Still, millions of taxpayers already have filed their returns. After the second week of the filing season, which ended on Feb. 8, the IRS had received almost 29 million returns. Most, if not all, of those filers were expecting refunds, although some were unpleasantly surprised. At least, though, they have their taxes out... Read more →


There was national anthem controversy at Super Bowl LIII, but it wasn't about what the players did during the song. It was about how long it took Gladys Knight to sing the Star-Spangled Banner and how it affected the associated prop bet. If you did come out on the winning side of the song, here's how to report that and other taxable gambling income. There's no disagreement that Gladys Knight's Star-Bangled Banner was magnificent. However, gamblers had some issue with how long the song lasted, which was one of the prop bets wagered on the game and its ancillary events.... Read more →