Retirement Feed

We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information. A handful of these documents must be submitted with Form 1040. Most, however,... Read more →


One of the many U.S. Capitol ornaments that adorn our Christmas tree each year. (Photo by Kay Bell) We all have our holiday traditions. That includes Congress. Almost every year, Representatives and Senators return to Washington, D.C. in December to take care of must-pass legislation. This year, there are two big items on the legislative to-do list. One is to approve federal government funding for the remainder of the 2021 fiscal year. Without that money, Uncle Sam's offices nationwide will shut down (again). That's definitely the Congressional equivalent of Santa putting coal in stockings! The other issue is another COVID-19... Read more →


We need to follow Santa Claus' example this month. Just as he checks his naughty or nice list, we need to check on tax moves to make by Dec. 31. It's December. 2020 and its craziness is almost over! Are you ready? Specifically, are you ready for the holidays? For those of us still committed to pandemic precautions, it's going to be a different, and yes, a bit less jolly, season. But one thing is the same as in previous Decembers. We still need to make some tax moves before Jan. 1. Some December tax moves will demand a little... Read more →


Have coronavirus money troubles forced you to break into some of your next eggs? COVID-19 legislation made getting to retirement money easier, but you probably will still owe tax on the early withdrawals and must deal with a new form to report your distributions (or paybacks) to the IRS at filing time. With the holidays here and no additional immediate COVID-19 economic relief payment in sight, some folks likely have or are considering tapping their retirement accounts. That option was made easier as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted on March 27. It provides... Read more →


A VITA volunteer talks with a taxpayer. Check out the IRS' video on VITA and TCE programs for more on them and how you can participate. Every November, millions of Americans take time around Thanksgiving to acknowledge all the things in their lives for which they are grateful. This year, the coronavirus pandemic is affecting not only how we celebrate Turkey Day, but our assessments of our blessings. It's also reshaped how many of us look at ways we can share our good fortunes. One option is donating to charitable groups that can help out those who have fewer thanks... Read more →


Of course 2020 has multiple Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month. The year's first was on March 13, right when as a nation we were realizing that COVID-19 would define everything about this year, and beyond. Back then, I offered 13 good luck tax breaks. Today, Friday, November 13, 2020, arrives as we're dealing with a resurgence of the coronavirus. So it seem appropriate to revisit that first list of 13 tax opportunities that could ease some of your tax fears on this traditional day of superstitions, while we're in the midst of a pandemic and beyond.... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. Today's post looks at next year's changes to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) calculations, as well as Social Security and nanny tax changes. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this... Read more →


To spend your retirement the way you want, you need to build your nest egg. The IRS has made changes to required withdrawal amounts that should help those Golden Years funds grow more and for longer. If you've been saving for retirement, then you likely are as jazzed as I am about a provision of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, or SECURE Act. This law, which took effect this year, gives all us owners of tax-deferred retirement savings accounts an extra year and a half before we must start taking out some of the... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In In today's post, at changes to tax credit, deduction and income exclusion amounts. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this year's taxes, due April 15, 2021. Deductions are... Read more →


Whether you'll be on the road this holiday season or staying home, you still need to map out some year-end tax moves. (Photo by Mohan Reddy Atalu via Pexels.com) It's November, a month most of us welcome because of its cooler temperatures and annual holiday festivities. However, there's even more to think about in November 2020. The presidential election is just a few days away. Then there's the coronavirus pandemic, which means Thanksgiving plans for most of us are modified if not scrapped. If you find you're staying home this year as a health precaution, don't despair. Remember that it's... Read more →


Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In today's post, we look at annual retirement plan contribution amounts, and, for some taxpayers, tax deduction and credit options and limitations. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this... Read more →


For millions of U.S. workers, this month is the beginning of their benefits open enrollment period. This is your annual chance to switch, adjust or cancel usually tax-free company perks for you and your family. The biggest employer-provided benefit is medical insurance. Health coverage has taken on new importance during the coronavirus pandemic. But companies offer many more options that help make their workers' lives a bit easier and less costly. And many benefits experts expect COVID-19 considerations during this open season to alter the usual trend of workers simply letting existing coverages roll into the new year, which is... Read more →


The Social Security Administration (SSA) just gave retirees and other recipients of the program's payments some good news with the announcement of a small hike in their benefits year. Some higher earners, however, aren't so happy. In the same benefits raise announcement, the SSA noted that the amount of income subject to the Social Security payroll withholding also is going up in 2021. This amount, known as the Social Security wage base, is the maximum of earnings, by both salaried workers and the self-employed, that are subject to that portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. For the... Read more →


A quick Social Security note about for folks not yet at or near the benefits age about taxes on that pre-retirement income. More of it, known as the wage base, will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Details are in this post. Retirees checking on their investments. The income could make their Social Security benefits taxable. Today's a good day for millions of Social Security recipients. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that benefits will increase a bit next year. Older folks who get regular monthly Social Security payments, along with those who receive Supplemental Security Income... Read more →


Hello, October! You're always welcome at my house. I love your cooler temperatures that let me open windows and doors and put an end to exorbitant air conditioning costs. I love the color changes of trees and shrubs. And I love the candy that I accidentally (really!) over-buy in preparation for the young ghouls and goblins that knock on our front door each Oct. 31. I suspect I'm not alone in appreciating the arrival of autumn. But amid all these annual fall festivities, we need to make at least a few tax moves that could help out our upcoming tax... Read more →


When you hit birthday milestones, like the one my Mom, the lovely lady in red, and her fellow Senior Center pals did a few years ago, you might qualify for some special tax benefits afforded older filers. (Photo by Kay Bell) Aging is not for sissies. I definitely can attest to that since, as the saying goes, I'm now a woman of a certain age. But with age also comes wisdom (or so I've been promised!). And getting older also provides some tax benefits. On this National Senior Citizens Day 2020 — yes, it was made official by President Ronald... 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 →


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 →


UPDATE, July 23, 2020: The White House has dropped its push for a payroll tax cut as part of the next round of COVID-19 relief. Although Donald Trump cited Democrats' objections to the payroll tax cut, top Senate Republicans also disliked the idea, seeing it as too expensive as they struggle to craft a relief version to counter the already-passed House bill. Federal lawmakers are working on the next COVID-19 relief package. Specifically, Republican Senators are working on a stimulus deal since House Democrats, who control that Congressional chamber, approved their proposal back in May. But in addition to dealing... Read more →


Hello July, which according to this year's goofy tax calendar is April. That means instead of heading to the beach, which is closed anyway due to COVID-19, or taking a longer trip to Europe, which isn't letting U.S. residents in, again due to COVID-19, we're spending mid-summer focusing on taxes. The main one, of course, is filing 2019 returns by the new Tax Day 2020: July 15. That date also is key for several other tax tasks to take care of in July. Here are six that you need to deal with in these two weeks before the 2020 tax... Read more →