Healthcare Medical Feed

More than a dozen states now provide marketplace options to health care shoppers. And although the federal enrollment mandate and penalty is gone, some states still require their residents to get coverage or pay a price. Plus, federal tax help remains for some seeking medical insurance on their own. The annual employee benefits enrollment period, usually referred to as open season, is underway or about to begin across the country. During these weeks, workers choose from an array of employer-provided and usually tax-favored benefits. I'll be writing more on this shortly. Some folks, however, don't work for a company that... Read more →


No, that's not me. I would be the person face down on my exercise mat next to this woman. (Photo by Stefano Montagner via Flickr) My exercise class instructors are trying to kill me. OK, not exactly and not me specifically, but for all practical purposes I'm on their hit list. My fitness club's new teachers are real feel-the-burn, you-can-do-it types. Plus, due to some recent pressing personal matters, I haven't made it to my regular classes for a while. Now that I'm attending again, my out-of-practice aging body is having a harder time keeping up with the reps. I'm... Read more →


Vaping was once thought to be a safe alternative to cigarettes. That perspective is changing. Dramatically. Nationwide, 530 cases of lung illnesses believed to be from vaping have been reported in 38 states and one U.S. territory. Seven deaths have been reported from six states. When the illnesses and fatalities started surfacing, even the White House reacted. Donald J. Trump initially floated a ban on some electronic cigarettes, but that position apparently has been revised. Some Republican political data show that a no-vaping position could pose a problem with Trump's electoral base. Maybe that's why Trump more recently walked back... Read more →


August is here, but few of us have put out the welcome mat. The eighth month of the year tends to be one of the hottest of the year. Most of the summer's fun events have come and gone. And school is about to start. OK, that last point is a positive for many parents who are running out of patience with the kids being underfoot all the time. Those moms, dads and all other shoppers in 13 states at least will get some state sales tax holidays to make this muggy month a bit more tolerable. Those tax-free events... Read more →


Arthritis is one of the more common chronic medical conditions that millions of Americans face. There are treatments before you get to the joint replacement stage, but those recurring medical costs can add up, too. I finally filed away all the paper copies of last year's tax documentation and for the first time, I had more medical paperwork than work receipts. Yep, 2018 (like 2017) was one of those medical years. And while I'm still enriching various Austin doctors, labs and hospitals with follow-up care in 2019, my conditions aren't considered chronic. Yet. And no, basic aging doesn't count. A... Read more →


Hello, July! The heat is definitely on, but there are plenty of ways to chill out, both personally and to put your 2019 tax bill on ice. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just be generally lazy. I'm right there with you. But you'll enjoy those recreational pursuits a lot more once you've taken some steps, like the seven listed below, to lower your 2019 tax bill. Let's get to 'em! 1. Get weather ready. A low pressure trough moved overnight from Georgia to the Florida panhandle... Read more →


Photo courtesy Vaping360.com In just more than six months, San Francisco will become the first U.S. city to ban vaping. The city's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on June 25 to outlaw the sale, distribution and manufacturing of vaping products. The ban is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1 2020. It will last at least until the federal Food and Drug Administration reviews the safety of e-cigarettes. That, according to some estimates, could take another three years. The six-month delay is designed to give retailers time to remove the product, which is increasingly popular with younger people, from their... Read more →


When it comes to expired tax laws, Congress is in much the same situation as the builders of this unfinished bridge. The basics are there, but there's still work to be done. (Photo by Paul Mannix via Flickr CC) UPDATE, June 21, 2019: After almost more than 11 hours of discussion, the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, June 20, passed along a 25-to-17 party-line vote a measure to extend through 2020 a variety of tax breaks that expired in 2017 and 2018 or will expire at the end of this year, some of which are highlighted in this... Read more →


June is one of the most popular months to get married. Why? Some point to the weather. Peak spring thunderstorm season has passed. Temperature wise, it's warm, but not hot (unless you're in Texas, but that's another post). Ditto with humidity, meaning that June is one of the better months for an outdoor wedding. Then there's matrimonial history. The early Romans gave us Juno, the goddess protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing. So a wedding in the month named for Juno was, and still is for many, considered most auspicious, notes the... Read more →


Things have changed dramatically over the years when it comes to medical treatment and ways to pay for it, including various health insurance options. (Photo by Billy Black via Flickr CC) Costs are a major consideration in deciding on a health care plan. Many folks deal with the expenses by choosing a high deductible health plan, or HDHP, and opening an associated health savings account, or HSA. As the HDHP name indicates, you're responsible for paying a deductible that's larger than many traditional medical insurance policies before the coverage takes effect. In exchange, a HDHP has much lower monthly premiums.... Read more →


Thanks to much larger standard deduction amounts under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), fewer filers are itemizing deductions. But that doesn't mean they aren't still writing off some tax-deductible expenses. During this first filing season after the many changes wrought by the latest tax reform law, taxpayers are still claiming what used to be called above-the-line deductions. Technically, they are and always have been adjustments to income. They got the above-the-line moniker because they previously appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your... Read more →


Tax Day every April is the biggie for individual taxpayers. That's when our annual Form 1040 is due. And yes, I know this year there are two Tax Days, since Patriot Day celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get until April 17 to send in their federal returns. But most of us must meet the April 15 deadline, so that's what I focus on in this post. Completing a 1040, however, is not the only mid-April tax deadline. It's just one of the 10 tax tasks listed below that many taxpayers also must make by next Monday, April 15. 1. File... Read more →


It's official. House Democrats have formally requested copies of the last six years of Donald J. Trump's personal and business federal tax returns. Trump has steadfastly refused to make public his taxes, breaking a modern-day tradition set by presidential candidates — and in-office presidents (and vice presidents) — of letting the public have a glimpse of White House 1040s. The main reason Trump has given for keeping his taxes private is that his personal and business filings are under audit. Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the... Read more →


Broad City image via Giphy.com Do you have to file a return? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the answer usually is yes. But there's a difference between having to file a tax return and submitting a 1040 form because you should. And by should, I mean when it's to your advantage to do so. Yes, that does happen in the tax world now and then. When filing is required: First, though, let's look at when the tax code says we must send the Internal Revenue Service a Form 1040. Although the 1040 has a new look... Read more →


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law on March 23, 2010. During the almost nine years since President Barack Obama signed the health care bill, which usually is shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, opponents of the law have been working to repeal, maybe replace and definitely weaken it. Republicans succeeded in late 2017 in eliminating a key component of the ACA. Under the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the ACA's individual health insurance mandate. This is the requirement that you obtain at least minimum essential coverage, or MEC, for yourself and dependents... Read more →


My mother and my furry little brother Willie having a conversation. While walking Willie last October, my mom fell and broke her leg, a common occurrence among older dog owners. That accident has prompted ongoing discussions (OK, fights) on possible more hands-on care options for my octogenarian mother. (Photo by Kay Bell) I'm a cat person. Fight me. Or don't. Like cats, I'm not really concerned about your pet opinion. For almost a decade, though, I've been dealing with a dog. Not mine. My mom's. She has a dog, Willie, and he's the most spoiled animal I have ever known.... Read more →


The tax filing season every year starts with a rush of flings. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service received more than 18 million returns (that's almost 12 percent of all the returns filed in 2018) during the first week the filings were accepted. This year appears to be on a similar track. Through mid-day Monday, Jan. 28, the opening day of the 2019 filing season, the IRS says it received several million tax returns. Those early filers obviously are expecting a tax refund. They also had all the documentation they needed to file their returns. Some of us, however, no... Read more →


Even if you've been filling out Form 1040 and any other associated forms and schedules for years, things will be different this filing season. This is the first year we taxpayers (and tax pros) will be filing under the extensive new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes. In addition to new tax rates and deduction amounts, there are a variety of other tax law tweaks that could affect what goes on — or now doesn't — your Form 1040, which itself is new. So before you start working with your tax preparer or open up your tax software, either... Read more →


Yes, I'll get to the tax moves to make by Dec. 31. Keep reading. But first I've just got to vent about some confusing year-end tax move info making the television and internet rounds. There's a tax feature that I've seen twice on local television and a couple of times online as a video with accompanying text and it's driving me crazy! It's about purportedly tax-saving moves to make in the last few days of 2018. Good idea. Confusing information. Specifically, one of the points is about charitable giving, which long-time readers know I'm a big fan of from both... Read more →


Welcome to Part 10 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. This final part of the annual inflation tweaks focuses on vehicle mileage rates. 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. If your job requires you to be on the road, you'll get a bit bigger tax break for... Read more →