Welcome to the king of the tax season beasts!
March has arrived, usually bringing a mad dash of filings in what typically is the last full month of the annual tax season.
However, the 2020 filing season is anything but usual or typical. This month, which traditionally is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, has taken on a chaotic new personality.
The potentially deadly coronavirus started spreading with a vengeance in mid-month, prompting the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service to push April 15 Tax Day to July 15.
The added 90 days means we don't have to worry about an impending tax deadline as we're coping with the havoc prevention efforts, including quarantines and social distancing and remote almost everything.
But when you do get a handle on your new COVID-19 routine, working on your taxes could be a good distraction.
And whether you're finishing your 1040 this month or finally getting started or still just thinking about doing your taxes, these March filing season tips can help.
Tax planning, too: For all y'all who've already done your annual tax duty, we are definitely jealous. But we also salute you.
You industrious taxpayers can take more of a lamb approach, enjoying the tranquility of knowing that, for the most part, you're through with filing paperwork until next year.
But don't revel in our tax plaudits (and jealousy) or your tax peacefulness for too long. You still need to explore things you can do this month to make the next filing season even easier and less costly.
Regardless of whether you're a tax lion or lamb, the March pieces of tax advice, like January's and February's before them, are highlighted in the upper right corner of the ol' blog.
After their time in the spotlight, the March tips then will be permanently ensconced on this page.
So with an appropriate roar, let's get to them!
- Tax implications of asset sales — If recent stock market drops prompted you to make portfolio moves, you'll have some tax things to consider. If you made a profit, you'll owe usually lower capital gains taxes. If you sold at a loss, those negative numbers could offset any gains and even some ordinary income. (March 2, 2020)
- Business meals and other claims on Schedule C — The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changed a lot of things, but it left the deduction for business meals in place. There has been confusion, however, since the tax reform law did eliminate the previously connected business entertainment write-off. The IRS has been trying for years to clear up the confusion. This tip looks at the agency's latest business meal pronouncement, along with what else sole proprietors can still claim on Form 1040 Schedule C. (March 3, 2020)
- Take care of your state taxes, too — Most U.S. taxpayers have a double dose of tax duties every year. In addition to a federal Form 1040, residents of 43 states and the District of Columbia also must file state, and sometimes local, tax returns. You can find more at your state tax department, as well as this look at the wide range of state income (and other) taxes. (March 5, 2020)
- VITA, TCE volunteers offer free tax filing help — Intimidated by your 1040, even when using tax software? Can't work hiring a tax pro into your budget? Then check out a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) location near you. IRS-certified volunteers at these community tax-filing sites nationwide help lower-income taxpayers prepare and e-file their returns for free. (March 6, 2020)
- Tennessee tornado victims get tax relief — The deadly March 3 storms and tornadoes that devastated parts of Tennessee were declared major disasters. That means affected taxpayers get some tax relief, including deadlines extended until July 15. Those who sustained damages also might be able to claim their losses on their taxes by itemizing and filing Form 4684 to get some tax money back to put toward recovery efforts. (March 9, 2020)
- Standard vs. itemized deduction choice & strategies — Standard time is over for the next eight months, but the standard tax deduction is around every filing season. Most people use it, but itemizing also can work for many taxpayers, as long as they put some tax deduction strategies into place. (March 11, 2020)
- Military tax topics and tips — Being in the military is tough enough. The Internal Revenue Service and tax code realize that and offer some special tax breaks and considerations for U.S. armed forces personnel. (March 14, 2020)
- 13 good luck tax breaks — It's been a crazy tax season and not just because of the tax code. Global medical matters and a March Friday the 13th put many filers on edge. Here are 13 lucky tax breaks — for students, families and older filers — that make filing a little less scary. (March 16, 2020)
- April 15 still filing, but not paying, Tax Day — Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service still expect us to file our tax returns by April 15, but for many that's no longer this year's tax paying deadline. Coronavirus concerns prompted Uncle Sam's financial officials to give taxpayers a 90-day grace period — that's until July 15 (so you don't have to check your calendars!) — to pay any tax owed. That extension also is for the first estimated tax payment of 2020. (March 19, 2020)
- July 15 is new Tax Day 2020 — July 15 is the new April 15, at least for 2020. Efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus have meant changes in everyone's lives, including the tax portion. To help in that area, Treasury has declared that July 15, which had been the revised deadline to pay any tax due, now also is the new filing deadline for 2019 tax returns. (March 20, 2020)
- July 15 Tax Day 2020 Q&A — One question has been answered. Tax Day 2020 is July 15. Naturally, taxpayers have lots of questions about this latest (and we hope final!) tax calendar shift. Some of the most asked are in this collection of questions and answers about the new July 15, 2020, Tax Day. (March 21, 2020)
- Unemployment benefits are taxable — Lots of people are losing their jobs due to the coronavirus closures. Unemployment benefits can help a bit for those who qualify. But remember that this stop-gap money is taxable income. It must be reported on the tax return you file next year. (March 23, 2020)
- IRA, HSA contribution deadline is July 15 — The new 2020 Tax Day of July 15 also is the deadline to contribute to a some tax-favored accounts for the 2019 tax year. The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that change, assuring folks who want to put money for the prior tax year that they, too, have the same automatic 90-day extension as 2019 tax return filers. (March 25, 2020)
- COVID-19 advance tax credit payments: good, bad & ugly — Relief checks to help make up for financial hits sustained due to the coronavirus pandemic will be going out to taxpayers in the coming weeks. They are part of a huge COVID-19 assistance measure, some of which is good, some bad for certain folks and yes, some is downright ugly, like the advance tax credit issue some will encounter during next year's tax filing season. (March 26, 2020)
- Charitable donation, deduction changes under COVID-19 relief bill — A new coronavirus relief measure is now law. In addition to creating the highly touted payments, it enhances tax breaks for generous taxpayers. For 2020, you don't have to itemize to get a deduction. If, however, you do still file Schedule A and claim charitable gifts, you can give and deduct even more this year. (March 27, 2020)
- Coronavirus payments timetable announced — The Internal Revenue Service is getting ready to send out the coronavirus relief payments. Most of us won't have to do anything but wait for our money. There are, however, some other matters discussed in this official COVID-19 payment Q&A. (March 31, 2020)
But wait, there's more! You can find the previous two month's collected tax wisdom by clicking the links below for the January and February tax tips pages.
And yes, you can click on April, too, but you'll just find a guy telling you to whoa up. We're not there yet. But rest assured, April's tax tips will be added when that month arrives.
|Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.
But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.