Being your own boss is a challenge even in good times. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting your personal and professional life, keeping your individual enterprise operating is particularly dicey. So you probably were thrilled when Donald J. Trump took executive action last weekend to establish a temporary payroll tax holiday. Since you're both the boss and employee, that means that you pay both those components of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes. Getting to hold off paying at least some of your employee portion certainly could help with your cash flow. Or not. Right now, Trump's executive... Read more →


Photo by Pixabay via Pexels.com Ah, election years. They're always, uh, fun. Yeah, let's go with fun. Competing candidates with usually diametrically opposed policy positions go at each other, trying to convince voters that their proposals will better benefit them. That's why we tend to see, even in more usual presidential campaigns, a lot of ideas tossed out, including tax proposals. That's the case in the Trump Administration's suggestion this week to lower capital gains tax rates. Taxing investment timing payoffs: Capital gains are the profits made when you sell assets. We generally think of them in terms of financial... Read more →


The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has become a flash point in the coming election. On Capitol Hill, the constitutionally decreed national delivery service has been at the center of it's become a battle highlighting Republican claims of mail-in voter fraud (largely unsubstantiated) and Democratic concerns about Postal Service funding (not enough) and slowing down of services (too much). The mail also is a practical issue for the Internal Revenue Service and taxpayers. Despite increasing efforts to shift to digital tax transactions, the federal tax agency still relies on old fashioned snail mail for many of its tasks and those that... Read more →


If you get $500 from Uncle Sam in the next week or so, don't freak out. It's real if you used one of the Internal Revenue Service's online coronavirus registration tools and didn't originally get all the relief you were due. The tax agency is sending the money to those who previously were denied the $500 per child economic impact payment (EIP) amount created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The problem with the shorted amount wasn't with these individuals' or their minor children's' eligibility. It was due to a glitch in the IRS system set... Read more →


Donald J. Trump announced on Aug. 8 four executive actions to provide COVID-19 relief in the wake of the stalled Congressional talks. (White House photo via Twitter) By now everyone knows that Donald J. Trump decided to literally take COVID-19 relief into his own hands yesterday. Sitting at table in a meeting room at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, surrounded by media and club members who served as a smaller surrogate rally crowd to cheer him and boo the reporters, Trump sign four executive actions. One was a formal Executive Order. The other three were memoranda. He and his... Read more →


The annual Army-Navy game is the only college football matchup I make a point to watch. Go Navy! This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has put such gridiron rivalries in jeopardy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Johnny Bivera via Wikipedia Commons) The Mid-American Conference (MAC) today became the first Division 1 college football governing body to cancel its fall season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "There are simply too many unknowns to put our student athletes in these situations. This is simply a miserable decision," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. Yes, for the sports fans, schools, players and coaches,... Read more →


Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Hong Kong Disneyland, which features the internationally iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. (Photo by PoonKaMing via Wikipedia Commons) Tax offices often are derided for being Mickey Mouse operations. Rhode Island's Office of the General Treasurer actually went there. The Ocean State's financial office late last month issued 176 business tax refund checks that were signed by Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney. Rhode Island's Department of Revenue said the entertainment industry signatures, which went where state treasurer Seth Magaziner and state controller Peter Keenan should have signed, were due to a technical glitch. This should have been... Read more →


My desk in my home office which I deduct when I file my taxes. Not that I'm paranoid, but sometimes it seems like unseen others somehow know what's going on in my life. The latest example is tax related. Earlier this week, a #TaxTwitter pal asked that social media group about home office tax deductions. Granted, this is not an unusual question since the coronavirus pandemic has meant many of us have been working from home, a lot of us for the very first time. Today, the Internal Revenue Service issued a tax tip on what taxpayers need to know... Read more →


Millions of youngsters across the United States will start this school year in virtual classrooms. But the tax savings are real in 11 states holding sales tax holidays this weekend. Ten of the events kick off at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7. Most run through the full weekend. One doesn't start until Sunday, Aug. 9, but continues through the following Saturday, Aug. 15. Below are this weekend's back-to-school tax holidays listed alphabetically by participating states. The links, which include the state names, provide more details on what is and isn't tax-free. Florida: Friday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 9.... Read more →


The days of real toasts are on hold for the most part due to the coronavirus. But alcohol sales and the tax revenue they produce remain a bright spot in an otherwise dim outlook for state treasuries hit hard by the pandemic. (Photo by burst via Pexels.com). Many states have been facing budget issues for a while. Those financial problems have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. As businesses closed down, some temporarily and some forever, states saw the associated corporate tax revenue drop. Those closed companies meant its employees no longer had income on which they paid taxes. And... Read more →


Hello August! These annual hot and, here in Central Texas, sticky days of late summer usually are a transitional time. Families take one last summer vacation. Parents and kiddos (but mostly parents) get ready for the return of school. Not so in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic continues to keep much of our lives on hold, like those final holiday trips and school openings. Taxes, though, are more persistent. Yes, COVID-19 did delay Tax Day until last month. But as far as the rest of the tax realm is concerned, there still are some matters that must be considered. That means... Read more →


Remember the Michigan man who lost his property because he underpaid by $8.41 the overdue real estate tax bill? The state's highest court says the how the tax sale of Uri Rafaeli's house was handled was wrong, at least as far as the transaction's proceeds. Because of that finding, the Michigan Supreme Court said Rafaeli, an 85-year-old retired engineer, is due financial compensation for the loss of his home to the tax collector. That means Rafaeli soon should be depositing more than $24,000 from the county. High Court speaks: "[G]overnment shall not collect more in taxes than are owed, nor... Read more →


Screenshot from an interview in 2011 of Georgist economist and professor Mason Gaffney (Posted on Vimeo by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation) Not to be morbid, but I like reading obituaries. They reflect not only on peoples' lives, but also provide a look at the worlds and times in which they lived. Well-written obits essentially are mini history lessons. I came across one such commemoration last week that introduced to me the late Mason Gaffney, as well as Henry George and the economic concept of land-value-only taxation. A tax to pay for progressive goals: Gaffney, who passed away on July 16,... Read more →


Congress is debating, sort of, the possibility of, among other pandemic-related issues, another round of COVID-19 economic relief payments (EIPs). That's good news for folks struggling to make ends meet in the wake of coronavirus-related economic troubles. But some folks haven't yet received the first stimulus checks created back in March under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Created to help, but…: Now there's some good news for some encountering relief payment problems. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) now can help taxpayers in certain situations resolve their COVID-19 payment issues. "Previously, the IRS did not have a... Read more →


As the Senate grapples with its latest COVID-19 economic relief payment proposal, millions of Americans who lost their jobs in the pandemic are trying to figure out how they will pay their bills coming due in August. Those who had a workplace retirement plan, typically a 401(k), likely are deciding whether they should tap that account. It's always been possible to take what's known as a hardship distribution from tax-favored retirement plans. Pre-coronavirus tax law also allowed for loans from workplace retirement savings accounts. But COVID-19 also has added some new considerations to this financial route. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief,... Read more →


The Japanese anime television series Hamtaro is being used by some Thai protesters as a symbol of what they say is their government's insatiable appetite for taxpayer dollars. Here in the United States, we've been watching the continuing #BlackLivesMatter social and racial justice protests that were sparked by the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. We are not alone. Similar protests have been held around the world. But in Thailand, there is another, tax-related protest that's taken a lighter approach to highlight a serious issue. Hundreds of Thai young people last weekend sang a Japanese cartoon jingle... Read more →


Photo by Scrumshus via Citypeek-Wikipedia The Senate this week released its plan for another round of coronavirus relief. As expected, there are substantial differences between this Republican-crafted bill and the measure passed in mid-May by the Democratically-controlled House. Both bills are wide-ranging, but there are some key provisions that are of particular interest to most of us. Both also use as a basis in many areas the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provisions that were enacted in late March. Below is a comparison of seven key areas in the latest GOP Senate's Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection... Read more →


Yes, people should pay their bills. Sometimes, though, things happen. Just look at the financial crises the coronavirus pandemic has created for individuals. And yes, in some limited cases turning over way past-due bills to a private collection agency is appropriate. Note the use of the word limited. Full disclosure. For the most part, I hate bill collectors. I've helped family members who were in financial straits deal with them. While things worked out in our favor, those agencies' employees were the total worst. That's why I was disappointed (yeah, let's use that term to keep the ol' blog family... Read more →


Classic television's Cleaver family, circa 1960. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons) Senate leaders and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promise they'll release next week the Republican response to the Democratic House's already approved next round of COVID-19 relief payments. Until then, we're still speculating on what will be in the counter proposal. It's a safe bet, however, that it will contain a second round of direct payments. The first payments, created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March. What's not clear, though, is who would qualify for this additional stimulus money. Halfway... Read more →


The Hon. John Lewis receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2010. (Obama White House photo) The celebration of the life of the Hon. John Lewis continues. Today, the late civil rights leader and long-time member of Congress lies in state in his native Alabama. Other key moments from his early days in the South also will be commemorated as part of the six-day journey of memorialization and tributes that continues in Washington, D.C., before he goes to his final rest in Atlanta. America, the world actually, lost a true hero when Lewis passed away on... Read more →