Politics Feed

Whew! We made it through 2018, the first full year that the latest major tax law changes were in effect. Now we're about to see, depending on when Congress and the White House can agree to get the government (including the Internal Revenue Service) fully operational, if we can deal with the first tax filing season under those laws. But before we get lost in the intricacies of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), I'm taking this one early day in 2019 to look at the six tax stories that turned out to be big deals last year. These... Read more →


Screenshot from C-SPAN broadcast of the convening of the 116th Congress. Click image for full video. It's official. The 116th Congress is in session, with the Democrats retaking control of the House. As expected, longtime California legislator Rep. Nancy Pelosi is now Speaker of the House. Also as expected, presidential tax returns are atop the House Democrats agenda. Yes, I'm talking about the still unseen 1040s of Donald J. Trump, both those he filed while a candidate (and before), as well as his post-election filings. Trump was the first major-party presidential nominee since the 1970s to refuse to release his... Read more →


I'm getting a lot of feedback about the partial government shutdown, specifically about the pay status of Internal Revenue Service (and other federal) personnel who will report to work next week and those who are furloughed. More than 420,000 federal employees who will work will do so without pay, according to a report from the Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The additional 380,000 furloughed workers head home to wait out the closure, again without pay. Those 800,000 or so federal employees earn this week's By the Numbers honors. Many folks objected to my description in recent government shutdown blog... Read more →


We're now into the third shutdown of federal offices this year. The other two were brief closures back in January and February. Will this latest federal government shutdown, which began at midnight today (Saturday, Dec. 22) be similarly short-lived? Maybe, but closure #3 of 2018 already is the longest of the year, with the January shutdown lasting three days and the one in early February technically shutting federal doors for just a few hours. Nothing is expected to happen until after Christmas. Some are predicting the impasse will continue into the new year. And Donald J. Trump has vowed that... Read more →


Tax refund delivery isn't the only tax function that likely would be delayed if the federal government is shut down for an appreciable length of time. Tax audits, or examinations at the Internal Revenue Service calls them, also will be sidelined if fewer agency employees are at work. A lot of folks say that's not a problem. I get it. Nobody likes tax audits, even — maybe especially — when you haven't intentionally done anything wrong with your tax filing. But audits are a key component of taxpayer compliance. Why audits are important: The rationale for auditing returns comes from... Read more →


Will the Internal Revenue Service have to operate short-handed during the coming tax-filing season? Maybe. It's looking more like a government shutdown will happen after the White House rejection of the Senate-approved continuing resolution to keep all of Uncle Same's offices operating. (IRS Washington, D.C., headquarters photo by David Boeke via Flickr CC) The Internal Revenue Service is among the federal agencies awaiting full fiscal year (FY) funding. When I woke up this morning, it looked like Uncle Sam's tax collector would get his money. A short-term funding deal was on its way to passage, having cleared the Senate last... Read more →


Those of us of a certain age — translation: before video games, handheld devices and Wi-Fi equipped cars — staved off road trip boredom with a variety of games. One was counting the various auto makes and models we came across in our travels. The hubby and I found ourselves doing a version of that last week when we were out running errands. It happened organically when we noticed there were an awful lot of Teslas on Austin's roads. My Central Texas neighbors are not alone in loving Elon Musk's electric auto. The Internal Revenue Service confirmed the national popularity... Read more →


This post was updated Saturday, Dec. 22, as the federal government was partially closed when Donald J. Trump rejected any funding measure that doesn't have $5 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Photo by Alan Cleaver via Flickr CC We're now into the third government shutdown of 2018. Even though only some federal offices are affected, the Internal Revenue Service is among them. And if the closure is a long one, it could shake the Internal Revenue Service's initial confidence that the coming tax season won't be affected. A couple of weeks ago when it looked like Congress and the... Read more →


If any of these expired tax breaks apply to you and they're not renewed by year's end, wait a bit to file your 2018 return next year. By delaying your filing until they're retroactively renewed, you'll save yourself additional hassles. George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States was laid to rest today, marking the end of commemorations of his life and years of public service. The elder President Bush's death also brought the lame duck session of Congress to an almost complete halt, meaning that many measure lawmakers — particularly Republicans — had hoped to push through... Read more →


George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, lying in state at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, Dec. 3. (Screenshot from C-SPAN video.) President George H.W. Bush, who passed away Nov. 30 at age 94 at his Houston home, will be honored today, Wednesday, Dec. 5, at a state funeral at Washington National Cathedral. The current President and First Lady, along with four others commanders-in-chief — the late 43rd president's son George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, along with their wives — are among the dignitaries from around the world who will be... Read more →


Truman the cat guarding presents under the Christmas tree. (Photo by Shawn Kinkade via Flickr CC) Ho, Ho, Ho, Happy Holidays! December is here. Time to decorate and, most importantly, get cracking on those gift lists. If you're not into frantic, crowd-fighting, last-minute shopping trips, here are five easy tax-related gifts for just about everyone on your nice list, including yourself. 1. Give to your favorite charities. You're probably already well aware of this option, since nonprofits have been sending out year-end donation solicitations since Halloween. Their urgency can be forgiven a bit more this year because of the tax... Read more →


No vote in the House this week on the Republican effort to pass more tax legislation before the GOP surrenders control of the chamber to Democrats at the start of the new January 2019 Congressional session. Are you waiting around this Friday to see whether the House will pass the GOP's package of tax extenders, some Tax Reform 2.0 proposal and corrections to the now almost a year-old Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)? Don't. Go ahead and call it a day and head out for an early first weekend of December. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin... Read more →


North Carolina flooding in the wake of extensive hurricane rains. Photo courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency A bill that would extend some expired tax laws, enact a handful of new ones and correct some errors in last year's tax reform bill is now before the House of Representatives. The extensive and expensive — the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will add another $55 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years — measure has a decent chance of clearing the House, where all it needs is the votes of the Republicans who control that chamber. Its chances in... Read more →


No messy splash back in fueling a Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle outside a Go Forth showroom in Portland, Oregon. It's that not very jolly time of year in Washington, D.C. Representatives and Senators are back in town for a few weeks to wrap up necessary legislation before heading home for the holidays. Political fights ensue. The session drags on until it's nearly Christmas. Or after. Members of Congress and staff stuck at work instead of making merry with family and friends and not happy. Neither are taxpayers who are wondering what literal year-end changes to tax laws lawmakers will make,... 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 →


This photo via Donald J. Trump's Twitter account is the closest we've gotten to seeing his tax returns. That could change, though, now that the House flipped to Democratic control in the midterm election. Even before it was official that Democrats had wrested House control from the GOP in yesterday's midterm elections, Donald J. Trump's taxes were once again a target. Votes were still being counted and, on the West Coast cast, when some on the House tax-writing committee announced that the when leadership is transferred to them in January 2019, they will officially request to see Donald J. Trump's... Read more →


Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! The choices you make in today's mi... Read more →


This dog might not feel as guilty as he looks, but shame can be useful in some tax collection situations. (Photo by Ansel Edwards/Flickr) When I was a kid and did something I wasn't supposed to, all it took was one quick glance from my mom to make me feel so ashamed. I'm not sure even my mother's steely look would work nowadays on kids who've grown up on reality TV and who make their every move, good or bad, public on social media. But when it comes to taxes, shame seems to work. Many U.S. jurisdictions post the names... Read more →


Despite the mug's proclamation, Michael Scott (as portrayed by Steve Carell in the U.S. version of The Office) tended to be a bad boss. Donald J. Trump is that boss that almost all of us have at one time had. You know the one. He or she is always telling clients, "Sure, we can do that. No problem, no problem at all." Maybe no problem for the boss, but plenty of problems for the workers who have to follow through and make good on the pie-in-the-sky pledge. That's probably how Congress is feeling right now in the wake of Trump's... Read more →


Voters across the United States will vote for Congressional and state candidates that will have a profound effect on their lives for the next several years. But just as important are the fates of 155 statewide ballot measures that voters in 37 states will be asked to decide on Nov. 6. And many of those initiatives are about taxes. With a week to go before the midterm elections, here's a bit of background on ballot measures and a look at some of the notable tax-related issues that many of us will decide. Sin taxes not a sure thing: Since we're... Read more →