Will youthful enthusiasm prevail over old age and treachery? That's one of the things, although not in exactly those words, that you can bet on in connection with Super Bowl LIII. (Photo courtesy NFL.com) Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, at right in the above photo, turned 33 last month. He's the youngest coach to take a team to a Super Bowl. Across the field (and at left above) will be Bill Belichick, a veteran of National Football League championship games as the New England Patriots head coach. He's twice as old as McVay. If the Rams win Super... Read more →


Super Bowl Sunday is the single largest betting day of the year. And now, Nevada is no longer is the only state where bettors can place legal sports wagers. A historic Super Bowl LIII will finally kick off in Atlanta late Sunday, Feb. 3, afternoon. It's the is the first National Football League championship game where legal sports gambling has expanded beyond Nevada. Bettors now also can head to casinos or other betting establishments in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or West Virginia to put their money down on the NFL's biggest game. You can bet... Read more →


Hello, February! If we ever were in need of your hearts and flowers, it is now. January was tough tax-wise. We had to worry about whether the Internal Revenue Service actually would get filing season open as the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history dragged on. It opened as promised on Jan. 28, but be patient. Plus, we're dealing with our first filing season under the many, many changes brought about by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Yep, we definitely need some tax love. And some tax guidance, whether we're earlier filers awaiting refunds or procrastinators taking... Read more →


Whew! We made it through January. For a while, it looked like the 2019 filing season might be delayed due to the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. But a deal to fund the affected agencies was reached and the Internal Revenue Service started accepting and processing 2018 tax returns on Jan. 28. If you weren't among the early filers, you've still got plenty of time to do the job between now and April 15 (or 17). The Filing Season Tax Tips can help. You'll should be able to quickly spot them thanks to the old-school yellow No. 2... Read more →


National EITC Awareness Day was Jan. 25. Did you miss it? Probably. It's not a federal holiday, but rather the day each year when the Internal Revenue Service celebrates the tax benefits the Earned Income Tax Credit, the full name of the aforementioned acronym. It's also a time that the IRS tries to get the word out about the EITC. This year, though, the IRS' message about this tax break for lower-income workers got drowned out. EITC Day 2019 fell on the day that the longest government shutdown in U.S. history came to an end. So most attention, tax and... Read more →


Much of the mass media coverage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes has focused on how they affect individual taxpayers. There are, after all, 150 million or so of us who, for the first time this filing season, are now dealing with the practical, real-life effects of the new law. But let's be honest. Business taxes were the impetus behind the biggest tax reform measure in more than 30 years. In this area, the 20 percent Section 199A tax deduction for certain small businesses has gotten the lion's share of coverage. It was added to the bill to... 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 →


Just like the Highlander character of film and television fame, the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act under which we're now filing our 2018 tax returns says there can be only one. One Form 1040, that is. The Internal Revenue Service today begins processing millions, if you go by the agency's prior filing season data, of early-filed tax returns. IRS staff are going to face more than the usual filing season chaos since most of them are coming back to work after 35 days of being shutout. (Short story: Get ready for some delays.) Filers, too, are in for some... Read more →


The red light has changed to green for the IRS now that the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history is over. (Photo by Kari Bluff via Flickr) The Internal Revenue Service should be fully staffed as we official start the 2019 tax filing season on Monday, Jan. 28. Holdover shutdown issues, however, still could cause delays, which many taxpayers and tax professionals already have experienced. Donald J. Trump signed into law late Friday, Jan. 25, a bill to end the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. That same day, the White House Office of Management and Budget notified... Read more →


Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's 2013 movie The Great Gatsby. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros.) We're about to go into a tax filing season under a new tax law that, despite plan promoters' promises, gives major tax breaks to wealthier taxpayers. That law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), is also why a lot of Democrats are looking at ways to at least revise the Republican-written tax bill. The U.S. Constitution says that tax measures must originate in the House of Representatives. Some in that chamber, now under Democratic control after last fall's midterm elections, would like... Read more →


UPDATE, 9:05 p.m. Central Time: Donald J. Trump has signed into a law a short-term funding bill that should get paychecks flowing again for the around 800,000 federal workers affected by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. UPDATE 2:30 p.m. Central Time: A deal to reopen the federal government fully for the next three weeks was announced by Donald J. Trump this afternoon. The government will reopen; Trump gets no funding (yet) for his campaign-promised physical border wall. This should solve the current furloughed workers' sick-out crisis. Will this truce last beyond Feb. 15, or will we go through... Read more →


The 2019 tax filing season starts on Monday, Jan. 28. That's when the Internal Revenue Service will start accepting and, more importantly, processing tax returns. While there's still some concern as to whether the IRS is up to the job this year since will be operating on half-staff (or fewer, according to reports that many recalled agency employees are skipping [unpaid] work) one thing is certain. We taxpayers have to meet tax deadlines, government shutdown or no government shutdown. So mark your calendars for this year's key filing dates. Jan. 28, 2019: Filing season 2019 begins. If you filed early,... 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 →


Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones as Martin and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the movie "On the Basis of Sex." (Photo courtesy Focus Features) The U.S. Tax Court has gotten some unexpected attention of late for two very different reasons. The fun reason is the movie "On the Basis of Sex." The film is based on a real-life gender discrimination case involving caregiver tax deductions claimed by a man. He is represented by a young and future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her tax litigator husband Martin Ginsburg. The Ginsburgs won the Tax Court case and the rest is... Read more →


Each year on this federal holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., people across the United States volunteer at their favorite nonprofit services provider. Others opt to donate to charitable causes that support the goals of Dr. King and MLK Day. Here's a look at how recent tax law changes have shifted some of those donation choices and giving methods. Charities cheered when they were spared the limitations imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on many popular itemized deductions. There even was celebration of a change that allows the charitably inclined, particularly the very wealthy,... Read more →


Most taxpayers every year end up getting refunds. But some folks are at the opposite end of the tax spectrum. They owe Uncle Sam at filing time. And some of those owing taxpayers end up in an even worse situation. Their tax bills are large enough that they also face added penalty charges. This filing season, though, those penalty-paying taxpayers could get a break. Tax underpayment penalty calculations: A tax penalty assessment usually occurs when wage earners don't have enough income tax withheld from paychecks or, if they have other income not subject to withholding, don't pay enough (or any)... Read more →


We're almost 13 months into the largest tax reform measure enacted in more than 30 years and one thing is clear. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is in no way tax simplification. In fact, taxpayers and the professionals they pay to help make filing less taxing in every sense of the word have been struggling with just what Congress meant in way too many of the tax bill's hastily drafted provisions. Big business bill, with small biz break and confusion: Although the TCJA contains many changes that will make filing returns this year interesting for individual taxpayers, it... Read more →


As the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history drags on with no end in sight, furloughed workers are looking at any and all ways to pay their bills. Some have taken hardship withdrawals from their workplace retirement accounts. Thousands of others have applied for unemployment. Few of us can blame folks who are struggling financially for taking these steps. At some point, many of us or our family members and friends have done the same. There's no shame in taking available help when bills you can't pay continue to arrive. And while such actions can help out-of-work folks make... Read more →


The current, and longest-ever, federal government shutdown has made it painfully clear that many of Uncle Sam's employees don't have an emergency savings cushion. They are not alone. A study released last summer found that only about a quarter of all Americans across nearly all ages and generations have no savings whatsoever in an emergency fund. Just more than a quarter of U.S. residents, 29 percent, had saved enough to cover six months' worth of living expenses. When people do save, they tend to do so for retirement. It's not necessarily that they're looking ahead to their golden years. Rather,... Read more →


IRS headquarters image by Kari Bluff via Flickr Creative Commons The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for taxpayers and sort of good news for its staff. The agency is calling back more than half — specifically, 46,052 or almost 55 percent of its more than 80, 265 — employees. These are workers who, according to the updated government shutdown contingency plan issued Jan. 15 by the Treasury Department, are necessary for the IRS "to continue return processing activities to the extent necessary to protect Government property, which includes tax revenue, and maintain the integrity of the federal tax... Read more →