Healthcare Medical Feed

As COVID-19 continues to control to at least some degree our lives, federal and state tax officials are offering tax benefits to those who take steps to control and lessen the effects of the persistent pandemic. Photo: Anna Tarazevich from Pexels If you still itemize deductions, the Internal Revenue Service today announced that you can count a few more purchases toward your Schedule A medical claims. Of course, the additions are because of COVID-19. Specifically, the IRS says in Announcement 2021-7 that the costs of personal protective equipment, aka PPE, purchased for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of... Read more →


Image by Maxime Duprez via Twitter Happy National Pi Day 2021. Or as usurping marketers in the United States also call it Pie Day, even though there is a day designated for the food. Go ahead, get your bargain-priced sweet or savory pies today. But March 14 actually celebrates the mathematical constant pi, or π in the Greek alphabet. In case it's been a long time since math class, that's the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. The trillion-digit ratio is rounded to 3.14. You can find more about pi in one of my earlier March 14 blog... Read more →


The third round of coronavirus economic impact payments are on their way. So are con artists trying to convince financially strapped folks that there are easier ways to get the government payments of up to $1,400 per person. Don't fall for the lies. Some of the just-approved $1,400 COVID-19 relief payments will be delivered by local postal carriers. Others will get their coronavirus cash by direct deposit or Treasury-authorized debit cards. Be on the lookout for the payments, as well as crooks trying to steal them and your identity. The latest COVID-19 economic relief plan, officially known as the American... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers have already followed this calendar note's insistent instruction. Reading tax statistics can be a lot like checking out COVID-19 vaccination options. You can't just look at one number. You have to take into account the circumstances that produced the percentage that caught your attention. That's the deal with the 2021 filing season figures. Percentages skewed by season lengths: As of Feb. 26, the latest complete information collected by the Internal Revenue Service, almost 45.3 million 2020 tax returns have been filed. That's a 23.7 percent drop from the amount of submitted returns through the end of February... 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 →


Last year, as companies and employees were struggling with operational changes necessary to safely deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service IRS provided relief that allowed employers to tweak benefits plans so that employees had increased flexibility to make mid-year changes to dependent care spending accounts. This change helped parents who had set aside tax-deferred money in child care accounts, but because their kids were at home while mom and/or dad also worked at home, did not need as much care account funds as they anticipated pre-pandemic. Today, the IRS has issued additional guidance on the latest coronavirus... Read more →


I've always done my taxes. When the hubby and I married, I continued this annual task, now filing our joint return. The only change is that every tax season the hubby periodically peers over my shoulder as I work on our return and chants, "Deduct! Deduct! Deduct!" Although taxes aren't his thing, he's right. Deductions can help lower taxes. And for most of our marriage, we've found it better to itemize deductions on Schedule A. But even then, we've been able to use now and then what are known as above-the-line deductions. Back when these write-offs got that name, they... Read more →


We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information. A handful of these documents must be submitted with Form 1040. Most, however,... Read more →


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in Washington, D.C., in 1963 where he delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech. (Photo via Wikimedia) It's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021. If there's one tiny, thin silver lining to the terrible times we are enduring due to COVID-19 and political unrest, it's that these awful realities should help us focus on Dr. King's efforts. Equal justice: It is the first MLK Day following the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and too many others that sparked this 21st century drive for... Read more →


Some taxpayers awoke today to $600 (or more!) in their bank accounts. The money is the maximum per-person amount authorized by Congress and signed into law on Dec. 27 as part of the second COVID-19 economic relief measure. The Internal Revenue Service, which once again is in charge of distributing the economic impact payments (EIPs), says the electronic delivery will continue into next week. Some account holders may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of Jan. 4, 2021. Sorry, but you'll just have to wait for the... Read more →


My neighborhood optometrist is encouraging medical flexible spending account (FSA) owners to stop by and spend that money before the end of the year. (Photo by Kay Bell) You just discovered that you have money in your medical flexible spending account (FSA). For folks who don't have an FSA, this is a workplace benefit that allows you to put money into the account as an automatic withdrawal from your paychecks. In 2020, you could put up to $2,750 into your FSA. Since inflation has been low, that amount stays the same in 2021. You then use FSA funds to pay... Read more →


Welcome to Part 10 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. Today we wrap up the series (finally!) with standard optional mileage rate changes. 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. via GIPHY As... 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 →


Plain old tobacco cigarette smuggling is costing many states much-needed tax revenue. Yes, the House last week decided to decriminalize marijuana. The bill's bipartisan passage (really!) was the first ever Capitol Hill vote to legalize — and tax— cannabis. It's not going anywhere in the waning days of the 116th Congress. It might have a shot in the next one, which convenes in January 2021, depending on what happens with Georgia's runoffs for two Senate seats. The federal stance on weed is frustrating for the 36 states that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes, along with the 15 jurisdictions... Read more →


It's no surprise that bad people take advantage of bad situations. That's why as we continue to cope with COVID-19, pandemic-related scams — tax and otherwise — proliferate. The latest coronavirus tax scam arrives via a text message. COVID-19 text scam warning: It was created by thieves who are trying to trick people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment (EIP), according to the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners. This scam's text message tells recipients: "You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further... 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 →


Whether you'll be on the road this holiday season or staying home, you still need to map out some year-end tax moves. (Photo by Mohan Reddy Atalu via Pexels.com) It's November, a month most of us welcome because of its cooler temperatures and annual holiday festivities. However, there's even more to think about in November 2020. The presidential election is just a few days away. Then there's the coronavirus pandemic, which means Thanksgiving plans for most of us are modified if not scrapped. If you find you're staying home this year as a health precaution, don't despair. Remember that it's... Read more →


Marco Verch via Flickr Halloween's tomorrow. Have your youngsters (and you!) picked out who or what they (and you!) want to be? When I was very young, I went trick-or-treating for several years as my favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. Nowadays, though, kiddos tend to opt for other outfits. Over the years, the hubby and I have opened our front door on Oct. 31 to candy-craving athletes, superheroes and the occasional real-life occupation, such as a firefighter or astronaut or physician. With COVID-19 haunting this Halloween, we all might see more health care costumes sprinkled among the traditional goblins and... 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 →


Hello, October! You're always welcome at my house. I love your cooler temperatures that let me open windows and doors and put an end to exorbitant air conditioning costs. I love the color changes of trees and shrubs. And I love the candy that I accidentally (really!) over-buy in preparation for the young ghouls and goblins that knock on our front door each Oct. 31. I suspect I'm not alone in appreciating the arrival of autumn. But amid all these annual fall festivities, we need to make at least a few tax moves that could help out our upcoming tax... Read more →


Has the coronavirus pandemic got you stressing? Some ways to relief your COVID-19 anxiety might be covered by health insurance or associated medical savings accounts. (Photo by Gustavo Fring via Pexels) Life is stressful in the best of times. We definitely are not in the best of times. We're dealing with a contentious presidential election during a deadly pandemic. Plus, flu season is almost here. Mother Nature keeps whacking us with disasters. Kids are going back to school or not, both prospects producing parental problems. And way too many folks are unemployed or are worrying about losing their jobs. Whew!... Read more →