Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels Investments have dominated recent money talk, on Capitol Hill and in the broader tax and financial communities. First there was the Congressional proposal to tax billionaires' unrealized gains. This approach is a change from the usual capital gains tax applied on profits when assets actually are sold. The idea was dropped (for now) during negotiations among Democrats to find agreement on their spending plan. Then the markets decided to go wild last week, with the three major stock indexes — the Dow, S&P 500, NASDAQ — all ending on Friday, Nov. 5, at all-time... Read more →


Hurricane Ida remnants arrive in the northeast United States in early September 2021. (Satellite image via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Hurricane Center) The effects of Hurricane Ida just keep coming. Connecticut is the latest state where areas have been declared major presidential disasters. That makes them eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It also means the Internal Revenue Service is offering corresponding tax relief. Certain Connecticut individual and business taxpayers now have until Jan. 3, 2022, to file various tax returns and make tax payments. The disaster and tax relief are for those who encountered... Read more →


This could be you in a few (or more) years. Make sure your retirement days truly turn into golden years by saving for them now. And by using tax-advantaged accounts to their fullest. If you're younger than I am, you need to be thinking about retirement. Actually, especially if you're younger than I am, you need to be thinking — and doing something — about your future retirement. You've got more time than I do (natch!) to build up your nest egg so you can retire the way you want. Being in control of your retirement is especially important nowadays.... Read more →


Yes, cash sometimes is called lettuce, but tax gain harvesting isn't just about more green for your wallet. It could help reduce taxes you sell on assets you sell in the future. Even if you're not among the wealthiest, if you have invested a bit, you probably keep an eye on the markets. And you probably took a long look yesterday, when the Dow topped 36,000 for the first time ever. Hey, I'm right there with you. I checked my holdings to see how much they were up at that point. We all like positive reinforcement. If you're investing for... Read more →


Congress is grappling with capital gains tax, specifically higher and unorthodox — some say unconstitutional — rates for billionaires. Meanwhile, all the way literally across the country from Washington, D.C., voters in Washington State will have their say today, Nov. 2, on whether they want to repeal their impending 7 percent capital gains tax. The tax is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Evergreen State voters, however, have the chance to today to tell lawmakers they want to stop its implementation. Or keep it. Most folks tend to be anti-tax, but the money that would be generated by... Read more →


UPDATE, Nov. 2, 2021: OK, #1 in this list now is moot. But the 5 remaining November tax moves still apply. Autumn leaves in our backyard stream. (Photo by Kay Bell) You can stop staring at your calendar. October is gone, apparently roaring through 2021. Today really is the first day of November. Once you regain your temporal composure, it's time to get busy. Even though some of us started dealing with upcoming year-end festivities last month (guilty!), it's now officially holiday season. And we have to adjust to the time change. And vote. And, of course, deal with our... Read more →


Elected officials come into office with grand plans. Then the reality of governing hits. Although President Joe Biden has a nominally Democratic House and Senate, the margin in both chambers, especially when we're talking about the perpetually infighting Dems, is razor thin. That means Biden is not going to get everything he proposed on the campaign trail. That's become obvious in the wrangling still going on over his scaled-back Build Back Better (BBB) budget bill. Estate tax/other benefits tradeoff: The Biden Administration had hoped to help pay for new and increased family-focused tax breaks in the BBB by upping another... Read more →


Family income affects just home much Child Tax Credit can be claimed. It also matters in the distribution of the 2021 increased amounts that are being delivered monthly through the end of this year. (Photo via Shutterstock) The Internal Revenue Service will be delivering two more Child Tax Credit payments this year, on Nov. 15 and Dec. 15. Eligible families need to make sure the IRS has the correct data for the payments. It could make a difference in both the amount of credits distributed this year and the families' tax returns filed in 2022. Notably, any changes to income... Read more →


Shutterstock There's one terrifying ghoul who hangs around long after Halloween. In fact, he and his ilk have been busy all year. It's the tax scammer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just this week warned that scammers are sending yet another phony Internal Revenue Service email about COVID-19 relief payments. "There's a fake IRS email that keeps popping into people's inboxes. It says that you can get a third Economic Impact Payment (EIP) if you click a link that lets you 'access the form for your additional information' and 'get help' with the application," says Cristina Miranda of the FTC's... Read more →


No, you're not time traveling. Tax Day is coming up quickly — like Monday, Nov. 1, quick — for some taxpayers. Halloween is almost here, but some folks need to take a break from their spooky costume and party plans and double check their tax situations. Monday, Nov. 1, is a tax deadline they can't afford to miss. Opting out of early Child Tax Credit payments: Most families who've received the Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payments are thrilled. It's meant a much-needed $300 per child for kiddos younger than 6 or $250 per child for youngsters ages 6 to... Read more →


Hurricane Ida just won't let go. The major storm made landfall on Aug. 29 near Port Fourchon, Louisiana. But the havoc wreaked by the category 4 hurricane extended well beyond that Gulf Coast town. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared a swath of counties slammed by Ida in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania as major disaster areas. The Internal Revenue Service followed up by offering tax relief to individuals and businesses in those designated areas. Now, almost two months after the hurricane hit, both agencies are still in the Ida relief business. Expanded disaster, and tax,... Read more →


Rep. John Larson speaking at a press conference announcing his latest Social Security bill. Joining Larson were his Democratic colleagues (in masks behind him left to right) Reps. Terri Sewell of Alabama, Steven Horsford of Nevada, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. (Photo courtesy Office of Rep. John Larson) If you're like me, closer to your retirement date than when you started your first full-time job, you keep a close eye on Social Security. For, well, it seems like forever, we've been hearing that Social Security is going broke. The federal retirement benefits doomsday date is a bit like those... Read more →


As the battle over how to pay for the Biden Administration budget continues on Capitol Hill, much of the focus has been on the wealthy. A new annual tax on billionaires' unrealized capital gains is the latest suggestion to help pay for the nearly $2 trillion bill. Under current law, every property owner, regardless of income, pays tax on assets when they realize a gain from them, usually by selling them. This so-called wealth tax, however, would force the ultra-wealthy to pay tax on the value or their holdings, stocks as well as real estate, before realizing the gains. It... Read more →


Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels A cell phone provider's television ad that's on heavy rotation here in the Austin area touts that it has no added fees or taxes. What it really means is that those charges, aside from sales tax, are included in the price of whatever company plan you choose, rather than listed as separate line items in your monthly bills. So, despite that Mad Men-style ad sleight of hand, you're going to pay taxes, fees, and state and local government surcharges for your mobile phone services. And you're paying more than ever toward these amounts. Taxes... Read more →


The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was expanded as part of the COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by President Joe Biden. Instead of $2,000 per child, the CTC in for the 2021 tax year is $3,600 per child age 5 or younger. It's $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Part of the 2021 credit money is going out through the end of the year as advance payments. The October payments went out last Friday. Two more rounds, on the 15th of November and December, will be issued. Few of us will turn down money, so the credit increase and... Read more →


One of my favorite Lyle Lovett songs is "What Do You Do/The Glory of Love," where the Houston singer-songwriter shares the vocal spotlight with the incomparable Francine Reed. The lyric that initially caught my ear and makes me chuckle every time I hear it goes, "If you make all that money man, make damn sure it shows." That's a great exchange in a duet, but such showiness raised suspicions about a Dallas-area accountant accused of defrauding the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP fraud guilty plea: Steven Jalloul was indicted in September 2020 on charges he orchestrated a fraudulent scheme... Read more →


Photo by ivan sellar from Pexels You're finally ready to give up being the boss. Or maybe you got a great offer for your business. Or maybe the COVID-19 pandemic did a number on you and your company. Whatever your reason, you've decided it's time to close your company's doors. Make sure that during that process, you take taxes into account. The Internal Revenue Service offers these tips to business owners who've decided to call it quits. File the appropriate final return: This filing is for the year you close your business. The type of return you file, and the... Read more →


Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels Everyone needs help now and then. That truism especially applies to filing taxes. But not everyone can afford to hire a tax professional. That's where the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs come into play. For decades, these two programs have provided free tax preparation and filing assistance during the annual filing season to millions of lower- and middle-income taxpayers, as well as elderly filers. The Internal Revenue Service just announced its financial support for 334 VITA and TCE programs in 2022. Now the agency is looking... Read more →


This has been a wonderful weather week here in the Austin area. Nights have been cool. Days have topped out in the seasonal upper 70s. But today is a tad warmer, a trend expected to continue through October. So it's goodbye to our brief autumn in Central Texas, and back to closing windows and cranking up the air conditioner. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Although it was hot this summer, it wasn't the hottest since we moved here 16 years ago. And after February's devastating ice storm, I'm never complaining about warm or warmer than normal or hot... Read more →


Millions of Americans rely on their workplace benefits to cover then health care and other needs. Most of them also are paying even more attention to those job-based benefits this year in light of the persistent COVID-19 pandemic. Medical insurance is a top priority. But other benefits also are getting added attention during this annual fall period, during which many U.S. companies allow workers to enroll in or change their benefits for the coming coverage year. Many of the office-based benefits also offer some tax advantages. Here are five questions with an Internal Revenue Service-inspired perspective to ask yourself as... Read more →