Did you get all your shopping done on Cyber Monday? A lot of us did. Adobe, which tracks the multitude of transactions among major U.S. retailers, projects that online sales this Cyber Monday will be $7.8 billion. That's an 18.3 percent increase from the $6.6 billion spent last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving. If that figure is reached (or bettered), it would make Cyber Monday the highest-selling day of the 2018 holiday season. Those sales amounts seem to support the argument made by online sales tax advocates that the levies wouldn't materially deter cyber shoppers. Court opens door for... Read more →


In just more than a month we'll welcome 2019 and begin the first tax filing season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Are you worried yet? Not to be too pessimistic, but tax law changes always produce some unintended consequences. Some are caught beforehand, usually by the tax community that raises questions and pushes for law changes or at least Internal Revenue Service regulatory clarifications. That process is still on going for many TCJA provisions, but one group of taxpayers now is breathing a bit easier. The Treasury Department and the IRS have issued proposed regulations that will... Read more →


Computer hacking ID theft image by Don Hankins via Flickr The billions of holiday shoppers who head for their electronic devices instead of malls are well aware of the precautions they need to take as they pick perfect gifts from websites. This year, everyone also needs to be on alert for tax crooks who've joined this annual online crime wave. Specifically, the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners warn that they've recently seen a surge of fraudulent emails where the sender impersonates the IRS and uses tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware.... Read more →


Have you stopped by your locally-owned shops today to show some Small Business Saturday support? This specially designated holiday shopping day was initiated by a major credit card, American Express, in 2010 as a way to encourage shoppers to encourage Black Friday bargain hunters to expand their buying to small, local retailers. The next year the Shop Small movement had gained enough momentum to receive boosts from all 50 state and many local officials, as well as nationally. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day. And this year, New Mexico lawmakers have gone even further... Read more →


The post-Thanksgiving shopping ad inserts, stacked at left, consumed more newsprint than my local newspaper in which they were stuffed! Welcome to the first holiday shopping season after the U.S. Supreme Court's Wayfair decision. That ruling last June OK'ed states' efforts to collect sales tax from companies even if they don't have a physical presence, aka nexus, in the locales. Some states were champing at the bit and quickly enacted or tweaked laws mandating at least some sellers, generally those of larger size, start collecting from their customers and sending the tax cash to the appropriate offices. Others are being... Read more →


It's turkey time! Thanksgiving spread photo courtesy Zeetz Jones via Flickr CC. Happy Turkey Day! I hope you and yours are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. It's subdued at our house this year, just the hubby and me. My mom is spending the day with some extended family. Plus, due to some dining issues created by recent oral surgery, our menu — OK, my menu — is limited to mashed potatoes and gravy. That means the hubby gets to pig out for the both of us. But I'm thankful that I can still enjoy the super creamy pumpkin pie that... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and next year's Social Security wage base. 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. Taxpayers who face the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, see it as the... Read more →


Image courtesy Natural Disasters by Nina Bort via SlideShare Thanksgiving week 2019 is a difficult time for many on both sides of the United States. Hurricanes this summer devastated lives and property in parts of the South and Eastern Seaboard. This fall Californians are dealing with deadly wildfires. Those of us who can help our less fortunate neighbors have many options, from the usual national charities that hit the ground in disaster areas to regionally specific nonprofits. The Internal Revenue Service is helping in its way, too. Hurricane Florence help in more of Virginia: This month, the IRS extended its... Read more →


Welcome to Part 6 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to estate, gift and kiddie tax provisions. 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. The rich, per the apparently apocryphal F. Scott Fitzgerald characterization, really are different from the rest of us. And... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some medical tax provisions. 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. Why yes, I am milking this medical situation for all it's worth, both personally (the hubby is such a great nurse!)... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 15 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to credit and deduction amounts. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns to be filed in 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing 2018 returns due April 15, 2019. Taxpayers depend each year on tax deductions and tax credits to cut their annual tax bills. The biggies are, of course, the use of standard or itemized deductions... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 15 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some taxpayers. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns to be filed in 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing 2018 returns due April 15, 2019. Internal Revenue Service data show that year after year, around 70 percent of filers claim the standard... Read more →


This is the first in a 10-part series on the upcoming 2019 tax year inflation adjustments. Links to additional tax-related inflation changes for next tax year are at this end of this article. It's the most wonderful time of the year. And while, confession time, I have been watching a lot of Hallmark holiday movies, I'm talking today about the overlap of one tax year and the approaching one. As the annual count of days winds down, we taxpayers must pay attention to ways to cut our current tax year's bill as well as make some initial plans to keep... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's crime fighting division did a bang-up job last fiscal year, stopping almost $10 billion in tax fraud. That 2018 amount was four times more than the previous fiscal year, according to the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Division’s annual report released today. CI, which marked its 100-year anniversary at the Oct. 1 start of the 2019 fiscal year, identified $9.7 billion in tax fraud during the last fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018). That's up dramatically from the $2.5 billion CI found in fiscal 2017. Much crime, but tax fraud focus: General tax fraud... Read more →


Like helping people? You can extend your volunteer penchant beyond the holidays and into the coming tax season by becoming a volunteer with an Internal Revenue Service-approved free tax help site. Don't worry. You'll get, like the folks pictured here, the tax training needed to help others fulfill their tax tasks. (Screenshot from IRS video) The holidays are here. Yeah, I'm not ready either, but … In this season of giving, many folks donate to charities. This year, much of the focus in on helping nonprofits that assist folks who've suffered through natural disasters, notably the deadly wildfires still burning... Read more →


Updated Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 Smoke from the Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires now burning in California as seen via NASA satellite images. Earthquakes have been displaced as the most feared nature disaster in California. Wildfires, which once again are ravaging the Golden State, now are the biggest perennial natural threat, as evidenced by the latest rash of devastating and deadly flame outbreaks. Firefighters are battling three wildfires across the state. The Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road, is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As of Monday, Nov. 12, morning, the fire was responsible... Read more →


The poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1922. One century ago today, history's bloodiest war to date ended after more than four years of slaughter. The Veterans Day holiday was conceived as Armistice Day to honor the 4.7 million Americans who served — and the 116,500 who died — in World War I, or what was then called the Great War. The original specificity has a solemn meaning. It marks the armistice between World War I's Allied forces and Germany ending the fighting on the Western Front at precisely 11 a.m.... Read more →


Since I'm still recovering from my medical procedure last week, I'm following doctor's orders and taking it as easy as possible. Translation: More milkshakes! But I'm nothing if not a slightly obsessive-compulsive creature of habit. So I did want to get a Saturday Shout Out piece up today. Solution: I'm combining both medical directions and blogging impulses and recommending related tax reading today. Specifically, I'm going to the source, the Internal Revenue Service, for its comprehensive list of tax-deductible medical items and procedures. That is, of course, IRS Publication 502. IRS' medical deductions codex: The IRS hasn't updated Pub. 502... Read more →


The 2018 tax season is not quite over for some folks. But if you're an extra-late filer and want to submit your 1040 electronically, you must do so by Nov. 17. After that date, you'll have to complete your 2017 tax year filing on paper returns. Must-do maintenance: The Internal Revenue Service didn't select the Nov. 17 e-file drop-dead due date randomly. The agency says it needs to shut down its IRS Modernized e-file system that processes electronically-filed individual returns after next weekend so that it has enough time to perform annual maintenance. The IRS also has to reprogram the... Read more →


I'm not nearly as cheery as my smiley face socks in the above photo, but at least I'm recovering from oral surgery at home. The downsides are some pain and (for me, but not the hubby!) not talking very much. There are some pluses, though: ice cream and milkshakes for every meal! Yesterday's procedure also means I'll have more medical expenses to deduct on our 2018 tax return. Yep, we're one of those few people who will be itemizing deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), primarily because of our medical situation the last couple of years. We... Read more →