The vehicle lights coming and going across Pennybacker Bridge in northwest Austin are lovely in the evening, but the image also illustrates, as photographer Manuel Garza (via Flickr) notes, "the traffic sucks." I can't speak for all the country's suburbs, but I know mine is pretty sure that our neighborhood will still be around after the coming presidential election even if Joe Biden does move into the White House. We are, however, a bit concerned about how our continuing life here outside Austin's downtown might be affected by a proposed real estate tax increase that also will be on our... Read more →


Pixabay Ah, fall. Summer's scorching temperatures start to moderate. School's back in session. College and football players are back on the fields. Sorry. I seem to have drifted off into memories of autumn 2019. This is 2020. Scientists say worldwide, this year could rank near the top in torrid temps. Schools across the United States are struggling with how to keep students and staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic. And as for sports, the National Football League is going to give it a try, but some major college conferences have already called off theirs seasons. One thing, though, hasn't changed.... Read more →


Tax revenue is critical. It's even more important during a global pandemic when governments worldwide are facing shortfalls due to COVID-19 economic effects. So it's no surprise that tax officials are taking closer looks at possible tax scofflaws. And in many instances, they're getting help from their citizenry. Recent cases in point come from across the pond. Irish tax officials are getting record numbers of so-called good citizen reports of tax evaders. The United Kingdom's HM Revenue & Customs has boosted payments to those tipping it off about tax dodgers. Part of the reason for Ireland's impressive increase in tax... Read more →


If you live in Ireland and are thinking of playing a little fast and loose when it comes to taxes, make sure no one is looking. That could be harder than you think. Judging from government statistics, tax evasion reports from the public continue to increase. Last year, nearly 6,000 people filed so-called good citizen reports with Irish Tax and Customs, that nation's version of the United States' Internal Revenue Service. More reports in last five years: These alerts of suspected (or known) tax evasion or other illegal activity have grown exponentially since mid-2015. That's when Irish tax officials began... Read more →


If you're counting on a slightly bigger paycheck as 2020 winds down due to Donald J. Trump's presidential payroll tax pronouncement, don't hold your breath. Trump's Aug. 8 executive memo called for the deferral of the 6.2 percent employee portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax that goes toward Social Security. The White House said it would be an easy way to provide relief for Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. Others, however, weren't so sure about the proposal, especially the easy claim. Almost immediately after the executive memo was released, questions were raised by potentially affected employees, the... Read more →


COVID-19 has forced taxpayers and their hired preparers to maintain social distance during return completion this year. Electronic tax processes have helped, but some forms require real signatures, meaning in-person contact. Until now. The IRS is temporarily accepting electronic signatures on certain documents that still must be snail mailed. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.com Some, including me and many in the tax professional community, have long argued that the Internal Revenue Service has been its own worst enemy when it comes to moving the agency into electronic era. Sure, Uncle Sam's tax collector has been encouraging, and in some... Read more →


Hurricane Laura made landfall at Cameron, Louisiana, at 1 a.m. today, Aug. 27, as a Category 4 storm, with winds of 150 mph. Three Sixteen persons lost their lives. Property damage is still being assessed. Now Louisiana residents, who were the hardest hit by the area's strongest storm in more than a century and which at mid-morning, more than 100 miles inland, was still a Category 1, must deal with the aftermath. We're still getting reports on the damage. The one bit of good news is that the expected storm surge, if it materialized, looks to have been in a... Read more →


Are your spouse's debts are costing you? The IRS has a bit of good news for some husbands and wives. They'll be getting back the coronavirus payment portion they were shorted due to their spouses' unpaid child support. (Photo by Kat Jayne via Pexels) Congress and the White House may be struggling to reach a deal on additional COVID-19 economic relief payments, but the Internal Revenue Service has stepped up to get some of the original stimulus money to few more folks. The agency says that next month it will send catch-up Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to about 50,000 individuals.... Read more →


UPDATED, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020: More Iowa counties now eligible for relief. Details below. Photo courtesy Cal Fire Mother Nature is in one foul, destructive mood. California wildfires have killed seven people, destroyed more than 1,400 buildings destroyed and ravaged 1.25 million acres in the Golden State. Blazes also have burned more than 1.8 million acres in 14 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Hurricane Laura, which is shown in a National Hurricane Center satellite image below (updated 10 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020) gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to swamp East Texas... Read more →


The growing acceptance of electronic financial transactions has pretty much put an end to paper checks. Pretty much, but not totally. Some people still send old-school paper checks. And some of them sent such pen-to-paper payments to the Internal Revenue Service earlier this year to cover their due taxes. Unfortunately for the payers, their checks arrived at IRS offices that were closed as part of the agency's coronavirus pandemic precautions. And now that the IRS is digging those payments out of its massive mail backlog, there's a possibility that some of the months-old checks could bounce. But the agency is... Read more →


Almost 14 million U.S. taxpayers are getting a few extra dollars from Uncle Sam. If you're one of them, you can thank the Internal Revenue Service and the COVID-19 changes to the 2020 filing season. Pandemic tax season timing tweaks mean that these regular refund recipients also will be getting some interest — an average of $18 — in addition to their expected tax-back amounts. Interesting deadline days: The IRS announced the upcoming interest payments back in late June. Now it's making good on that promise, which was necessitated by this year's Tax Day delay. The postponing of the filing... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service heard the complaints about incorrect unpaid tax notices and has acted. It announced yesterday, Aug. 21, afternoon that it is temporarily halting the mailing of three nonpayment notices. The decision came on the heels of public outcry, some of it among taxpayers and the professional tax community on social media, as well as letter from the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. COVID-19 mail complications: The notice problem was the result of, what else, the coronavirus pandemic. The IRS closed most of its physical operations in March, but mail kept coming. That was because... Read more →


When you hit birthday milestones, like the one my Mom, the lovely lady in red, and her fellow Senior Center pals did a few years ago, you might qualify for some special tax benefits afforded older filers. (Photo by Kay Bell) Aging is not for sissies. I definitely can attest to that since, as the saying goes, I'm now a woman of a certain age. But with age also comes wisdom (or so I've been promised!). And getting older also provides some tax benefits. On this National Senior Citizens Day 2020 — yes, it was made official by President Ronald... Read more →


Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), right, and his colleague, the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), conduct a hearing in pre-pandemic days. (W&M Committee photo) In a recent post about the Internal Revenue Service sending out nonpayment notices that it knew were wrong, I asked now what? Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal has one answer. The Massachusetts Democrat is calling on the IRS to stop sending tax bills until the agency catches up on its huge mail backlog. Stop the notices: In a letter to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, Neal noted that this summer, following IRS... Read more →


Times are tough for Uber and Lyft operations in California. Both ride-hailing services are threatening to temporarily shut down in the wake of a Golden State law that took effect in January and, more notably, a recent San Francisco Superior Court order that the companies classify their drivers as employees instead of contractors. This battle between the popular transportation option and California officials is playing out as the Internal Revenue Service continues its efforts to educate gig workers about their tax responsibilities. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has some ideas on how to make sure more freelance workers... Read more →


We all should learn from our mistakes. That's especially true of tax mistakes. And now that learning — and correcting — process is getting easier. The Internal Revenue Service now will accept some electronically filed amended returns. There's just one hitch. This long-awaited electronic filing process, which the IRS promised earlier this summer, is available for making corrections only to tax year 2019 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR returns. Those were the ones you filed (or got an extension file) this year by July 15. If you have an earlier filing you need to fix, you'll still have to use... Read more →


Rapper Cardi B quizzes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on taxes (and more) in Elle magazine video chat. The 2020 Democratic Convention kicks off today, but former Vice President Joe Biden, who later this week will be formally nominated by his party to take on Donald J. Trump, got a media head start. Biden's recorded video chat with music superstar Cardi B was posted this morning. No, the nearly 17-minute video wasn't put out by the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign. The conversation was sponsored by Elle, where Cardi's visage graces the fashion/lifestyle magazine's September cover. And no, Cardi's not coming... Read more →


Photo via Office of the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General And the crazy that is COVID-19 tax season 2020 keeps on coming. The recent buzz on tax social media was/is about Internal Revenue Service balance-due notices that arrived in folks' mailboxes. However, the people who got the notices did file on time and did pay when they filed. So what gives? The problem, in most cases, is that the payments were/are stuck in the agency's huge — 10 million pieces — U.S. Postal Service mail backlog. Since those initial concerns were aired on social media (thank you #TaxTwitter!), things seem... Read more →


The coronavirus pandemic has not only affected sports leagues, athletes and fans, but also gamblers and the state tax collectors that have come to rely on that related tax revenue. Shortened seasons, revised playoff rounds, cardboard fans in stands. Still, Americans' love of sports and boredom with COVID-19 self-isolation, along with the events being televised, has helped the seasons continue. But the actual reduction in the games mean fewer events on which to place bets. Unless bettors make that up by betting more on the remaining games, associated revenue, tax and otherwise, is likely to fall. And now a new... Read more →


Attention parents who rely on government program payments to help care for your families. If you missed out on the extra $500 per dependent child coronavirus economic impact payment (EIP), the Internal Revenue Service is giving you one last chance to get this supplemental money this year. The tax agency announced this afternoon that it is reopening registration for the added COVID-19 stimulus amounts. The IRS' online Non-Filers tool , which debuted back in mid-April, again will be available starting tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 15. It will be open through Sept. 30 to allow affected individuals to enter their qualifying children's... Read more →