Today's unemployment numbers offered a hopeful sign for the U.S. economy struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The news, however, is not so good for many who in 2020 got these out-of-work benefits. Many recipients of the emergency financial assistance are surprised to learn that unemployment benefits are taxable. Others are even more surprised at the amounts on their Form 1099-G. This is the document sent to taxpayers and copied to the Internal Revenue Service. While social media messages and comments on the ol' blog are purely anecdotal, it seems that quite a few folks think their 2020 unemployment benefits have... Read more →


Tax preparers nationwide already are working on clients' returns. Crooks also are working to steal info on and from those tax professionals. The Internal Revenue Service won't start accepting and processing 2020 tax returns until Feb. 12. Tax professionals, however, have been working of their clients returns since the new year arrived. That means tax criminals also doing their so-called jobs. The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and tax industry today announced that there's a new scam email being sent to tax professionals. The phishing message impersonates the IRS and attempts to steal Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). While... 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 →


Happy Monday to Patriots' — I mean Buccaneers' — fans. Your man Tom Brady did it again. Instead of the usual sports league drug tests, can we get a DNA sample to prove that the man is human? It's an even happier Monday for all y'all who collected on Super Bowl LV bets, both the ones on the on-field match-up and all the goofy prop bets for things only peripherally related to the National Football League championship game. The Internal Revenue Service is happy for you, too, as long as you report those winning wagers on your tax return. All... Read more →


The debate continues about whether gambling really provides states with substantial revenue. But one thing is settled. Regardless of how much, or little, money wagering brings into state coffers, it's here to stay. And Super Bowl Sunday is one reason more states are allowing sports betting within their borders, an option hey were given thank to the 2018 Supreme Court decision. Since last year's National Football League championship game, 36 million more American adults have gained the opportunity to bet legally in seven more jurisdictions: Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C. As today's Super Bowl LV gets... Read more →


Patrick Mahomes, a possible future GOAT, and his Kansas City Chiefs look to win a second consecutive Super Bowl. To do so, they'll have to control GOAT Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (CBS promotional photo) It's Super Bowl LV weekend. A very subdued one, in keeping with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The National Football League and CBS Sports are doing what they can to gin up excitement. And for the millions of us who'll watch on TV, that's probably enough. Heck, the match-up of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady is probably enough. But cities across the country, even... Read more →


We've always asked a lot of our teachers. We've been asking more during the COVID-19 pandemic. But at least they are getting a bit of tax help this filing season thanks to a tweak to the educators' tax break. Now teachers and other qualifying school personnel can count some coronavirus out-of-pocket expenses when they claim the $250 deduction on their returns. That added spending option was included last December's Consolidated Authorization Act, 2021 that combined government funding, COVID-19 relief and some expiring tax provisions. You might remember it as the bill that provided a second $600 economic impact payment. This... Read more →


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers literally will be the home team in Jan. 7's Super Bowl LV. The NFL championship game is being played at their stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs, however, are still favored by bettors to win the title. We're not back to normal, but the National Football League is doing all it can to keep its traditions, and team bank accounts, on track. Despite some issues in 2020, the NFL played out the season last year. On Sunday, Feb. 7, it will crown its champion in the annual Super Bowl. This 55th big game has a lot, in... Read more →


I'm willing to bet that line 30 will be one of the most scrutinized lines on the 2020 tax year Form 1040. That's where taxpayers can claim the new Recovery Rebate Credit, or RRC. The RRC is the official name of the money issued in 2020 and earlier this year as COVID-19 economic impact payments, or EIPs. The payments actually were advance payments on this tax credit. If you didn't get any or all of either EIP last year, you can claim it this filing season on the aforementioned and likely popular line 30. Depending on your actual income amount... Read more →


The official start of the 2021 tax filing season is less than two weeks away, but millions of taxpayers are still waiting on the resolution of the returns they filed last year. As of Christmas Day 2020, the Internal Revenue Service had 6.9 million individual tax returns in the processing pipeline, according to the latest update on the IRS' special web page where it's been tracking operations in this time of coronavirus. That's a lot of 1040s, but the IRS says in its Jan. 29 online entry that it has made "significant progress" in processing returns and is "now opening... Read more →


This might be a first. The Internal Revenue Service essentially is going to be every taxpayers' valentine this year. No, it's not because we love paying our taxes or the agency that collects them so much. It's because the IRS officially starts accepting and processing our 2020 tax returns on the Friday before St. Valentine's Weekend. That means many of us will be consumed by the Internal Revenue Code as we work to complete our 1040 forms and get them to the IRS ASAP. For many, the target date is the Feb. 12 official opening of this tax season. So... Read more →


Yes, I know very few filers use paper tax forms now. But even if you rely on tax software or a tax preparer, it's still worth a look at what's on Form 1040. There are some changes to the form and its three schedules for 2020 filings. (Photo by MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr CC) The 2020 Form 1040 makes it official. The never-really-a-postcard individual tax return is dead. This filing season, set to officially begin on Feb. 12, taxpayers and preparers will see a Form 1040 that looks very much like the two-page version that we tax veterans used to call... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has delivered two rounds of COVID-19 economic impact payments (EIPs). The first was the $1,200 per person approved in late March 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The second EIP for $600 per person was authorized at the end of last December as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), with payments distributed through the first two weeks of January 2021. By now, folks know that if they didn't get the full amounts, which included additional payments for eligible dependents, they need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC). You'll do... Read more →


The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the federal government's largest refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income workers. In 2020, more than 25 million taxpayers received over $62 billion in EITC. The average EITC amount received last year was $2,461 per return. The EITC also is regularly overlooked. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that one of five eligible taxpayers do not claim the credit. That oversight could change this filing season. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed millions of American workers into lower income brackets last year as their work was reduced. That could make them eligible for this... Read more →


A GameStop store in an Alaska mall, circa 2013. (Photo by Bentley Mall via Wikipedia Commons) GameStop is a struggling brick-and-mortar enterprise that sells video games, gaming merchandise and consumer electronics through its, for now, more than 5,000 retail stores across the United States. The Grapevine, Texas-based company has been the focus recently of stock market moves that have intertwined day traders, stock buying apps, novice and naïve investors, Wall Street hedge funds and lots of rich guys with social media accounts who can afford to fan the overheated investing flames. I'm a Boglehead buy-and-hold type of investor, so I'll... Read more →


Pixabay via Pexels Members of the military have a lot of things to worry about. New enlistees are concerned whether they'll make it through basic training. Military personnel who are stationed far from their families worry about how spouses and children are faring. And, of course, those posted in dangerous parts of the world are in constant concern for their own safety. But every tax filing season, members of the military also must worry about taxes. Taxes for all, but some military breaks: Yes, with all the other responsibilities we place on the men and women who serve the United... Read more →


Being a homeowner can be a royal pain in the tush. I speak from experience. The hubby and I have bought a condo and five houses over the years. But, as you can tell from my buying string, it's my preferred living arrangement. And a lot of people joined us in the in the homeownership club in 2020. The National Association of Realtors says last year's housing boom was driven by sales of existing homes. The specific numbers from the NAR report released Jan. 22 show existing home sales totaled 5.64 million in 2020. That's 5.6 percent higher than in... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell The 2021 filing season won't start until Feb. 12 this year. That's frustrating for the millions of taxpayers who traditionally are early return filers. It's more frustrating for those taxpayers who, because of COVID-19 complications (which also created this year's filing delay), are really counting on their tax refunds to cover expenses. This year's later than usual filing start means it is even more important to get those 1040 forms into the Internal Revenue Service as soon as the agency will take them. If you're still debating about when to file your taxes, here are seven... Read more →


Neighborhoods like this one are major tax revenue sources in many states. (Photo by Pictometry) Much is made here in Texas about our lack of a personal income tax, but I can tell you that doesn't mean millions of us residents are tax-free. There's a 6.25 state sales tax. And Austin is among the cities that also tacks on another 2 percentage points, meaning we pay 8.25 percent tax on most of our purchases. Then there's the county-collected annual tax on our home's value. Property tax pain: I paid our annual residential property tax bill this weekend and I can... Read more →


Small businesses are adapting their operations to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. Some tax breaks in the relief bill enacted at the end of 2020 could help. (Photo by Norma Mortenson via Pexels) Most COVID-19 relief focus has been on the added financial help to individuals. That's understandable. Millions of folks have been struggling to make ends meet as the pandemic has ravaged the economy. But they are facing fiscal woes in large part because their employers are in trouble, too. When companies get their footing back, they can start to rehire laid off staff and things should pick... Read more →