Retirement Feed

GivingTuesday.org Hello Giving Tuesday. No, the world has not gone so thoroughly whack that we've jumped to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Rather, because of the unprecedented, and unexpected, need caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the creators of Giving Tuesday are encouraging those who can afford to give to participate in Giving Tuesday Now. As in today. This new global day of giving is in addition to the fall event, which has been around since 2012 and is scheduled this year for Dec 1. Potential charities, philanthropic activities:"We believe that generosity has the power to unite and heal communities in good... Read more →


Click image to watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene, in which these musicians provide the catchy background tune, from the 1977 Star Wars movie that launched the acclaimed sci-fi film franchise. Welcome to the first week of May 2020. It's a decidedly weird month, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic. When the deadly COVID-19 infection started spreading in force across the United States, most of the country shut down to some degree. Now many states are loosening their stay-home orders and things are starting to some degree to get back to normal, or what will pass as that... Read more →


Treasury backtracks and now says Social Security recipients who qualify for the COVID-19 payments will get the money without having to file a tax return. Never underestimate the power of the older population. The U.S. government learned that lesson this week, when the Treasury Department announced, contrary to its prior assurances (and a new law), that folks on Social Security would have to file a tax return if they wanted to get their share of the coronavirus relief payments. Last night, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin reversed that requirement. (Yes, on April 1. No, it was no an April Fool's Day... Read more →


We definitely are no longer living in normal tax or other times. (Images from Young Frankenstein) April has always been a serious month for taxpayers. April 15 has been Tax Day for 65 years and since most of the millions of at-the-deadline filers tend to owe Uncle Sam, they're not very happy. This year, though, there is an even more solemn reason for no April fooling around. Things, tax and otherwise, have gotten very serious as the United States and the world fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic. On the tax front, new laws have been written and old ones adjusted... Read more →


Are you freaking out because you have to take a tax-mandated withdrawal from a retirement account on April 1? The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has some good news for you. The new law that's gotten a lot of attention for the pandemic related stimulus checks that should be going out soon also offers a break to seniors who must take required minimum distributions, or RMDs. RMDs are waived for 2020 under the CARES Act. That means you can leave your money in your tax-deferred account this year or at least not take as much out as... Read more →


A first job is a major life event with obvious major tax implications. Other momentous changes throughout our lives involve taxes, too. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the White House has decided to follow state and local officials in urging continued social (aka physical) distancing. For millions of us, this new April 30 stay home recommendation means more time cooped up with loved ones. Or not-so-loved ones. My favorite non-medical virus-related debate right now is whether all the coronavirus forced togetherness ultimately will end with a baby boom (coronials, anyone?) or a marriage bust. While the... Read more →


Thank you, Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency has confirmed that 2019 tax year contributions to individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) can be made as late July 15. These accounts are among the very few areas where a tax break doesn't have a Dec. 31 deadline. In normal tax seasons, contributions to an IRA or HSA can be made and claimed for the prior tax year as late as April 15, which is the usual tax filing deadline. However, this year, as everyone already knows, the chaotic convergence of COVID-19 and taxes prompted the IRS to... Read more →


With the latest stock market dive, investors feel like the frontiersman confronting a bear in this "rough and tumble with a grizzley" illustration by H. Bullock Webster. (Image via Wikipedia Commons) Investors are in the third week of watching in horror as their nest eggs crack. The fiscal horror show began with the realization on Feb. 24 that the coronavirus was a global health risk. It got worse on Black Monday March 9 in the wake of the Russia-Saudi oil price war. Today, stocks are plunging again at rates not seen in more than a decade when were mired in... Read more →


UPDATE, March 24, 2020: As the coronavirus spread across the United States, the Internal Revenue Service and many associated tax programs have been adversely impacted. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites were among those affected, with most closing earlier this tax season. If COVID-19 conditions improve in some clinic areas before the new July 15 tax filing and payment deadline, some VITA and TCE operations may reopen. Meanwhile, some are offering phone help. Check with your local clinic (details on how to do that in the post below). Volunteer tax preparers help Florida... Read more →


Ah, March. The days get longer. The weather gets warmer. And we've got about six weeks before our tax returns are due. I know it feels like these 31 days of March is plenty of time to take care of all the tax tasks still on your to-do list this filing season. But it's easy to get distracted by the charms of early spring. To keep you at least partially on tax track, here are six March tax moves you can make. Most are easy, so you can soon be back to less taxing activities. 1. Contribute to your 2019... Read more →


To make sure you, not the U.S. Treasury, gets more of these, don't overlook possible tax deductions and credits. At tax time, filers are always searching for ways to reduce their final tax bill. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, still referred to (by me, at least!) as above-the-line deductions that reduce the amount of income that's taxed. There also are tax credits, which are even better because the directly reduce what you owe Uncle Sam dollar-for-dollar and in some cases could produce... Read more →


The Setting Up Every Community for Retirement Enhancement Act, or SECURE Act as it's popularly known, was attached to the omnibus spending legislation enacted in late 2019. Taxpayers, lawmakers and investment advisers generally supported most of the measure's changes to how we stash and ultimately access our retirement funds. One SECURE provision, however, is causing some concerns, especially among those who have accumulated large IRA holdings and who had planned to leave the bulk of that money to heirs. They and, more importantly, their heirs no longer have access to what used to be known as a stretch IRA. Ending... Read more →


You're working on your tax return and discover you owe Uncle Sam more than you expected. It happens. And in most cases, you're stuck with that larger Internal Revenue Service bill. After all, the 2019 tax year is long gone. It's too late to make those year-end moves that could have helped cut your tax bill. But wait! In a couple of instances, you still might be able to reduce last year's taxes with some tax saving moves that are allowed as late as the April 15 filing deadline. You can make a potentially tax-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA.... Read more →


Even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people opted to claim the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions because. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also... Read more →


If past years are any indication, when the 2020 tax filing season officially opens on Monday, Jan. 27, millions of taxpayers will hit the send button to electronically deliver their annual returns to the Internal Revenue Service. But millions more of us have to wait to file. We're still waiting on at least one tax statement that has information we need to finish filling out our Form 1040. Form deadline is Jan. 31: Technically, most of these tax documents aren't even required to be on their way to us until Jan. 31. Employers and other businesses that issue wage and/or... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Congress just came up with more tax breaks to wind down 2019 than the number of ornaments we have on our upstairs' mini Christmas tree! (Photo by Kay Bell) Congress finally decorated its Christmas tree early this morning. The ornaments were myriad tax breaks. Or, in some cases, elimination of taxes. With Dec. 25 bearing down and special interest groups sending more requests to Capitol Hill than kiddos' letters to Santa, the House and Senate negotiators finally agreed on, among other things, what to do about those expired tax provisions popularly known as extenders. They OK'ed a handful of them... Read more →


These carolers, dressed in Dickensian attire, are no doubt singing traditional Christmas tunes, not my reworked and tax-themed "O Tannenbaum." (Photo by Chris Waits via Flickr CC) O Tax Year-End (O Tax Year Moves) O Tax Year-End, O Tax Year-End, How are thy days so nearing! O Tax Year Moves, O Tax Year Moves, How are thy days so wearing! Not only in the wintertime, But even in young spring is thy prime. O Tax Year-End, O Tax Year Moves, How are thy days so nearing! Yes, that's my attempt at tax lyrics to the tune "O Tannenbaum," known here... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and next year's Social Security wage base. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. Thanks to tax reform's changes, the AMT is no longer an ATM for the tax collector. The... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to tax credit, deduction and income exclusion amounts. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. The hubby has a chant he breaks into every year when I start working on our annual tax return: "Deduct! Deduct! Deduct!"... Read more →