Shout Out Feed

Image by Bessi via Pixabay Happy Halloween! It's a special one, as it comes — despite the pumpkin-hued image above — on a Blue Moon, the second full moon in a month. Celebrations this year also will be different for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic means that Oct. 31 festivities will be really, truly scary during a time when mingling with strangers is traditional. We're likely to see more face masks than Michael Myers or Scream masks. But regardless of how or where you'll celebrate All Hallows' Eve, one thing likely will remain the same. There will be candy.... Read more →


The continuing COVID-19 chaos, plus an extended 2020 filing season for those coping with this year's natural disaster onslaught, could create more challenges in 2021 for taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service. Are we — and the agency — ready for it? 2020, a year that many of us would just as soon forget, will end in just more than two months. This federal tax filing season, however, will continue for folks who've endured some of the notable natural disasters that have helped make 2020 so terrible. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service issued more disaster-related tax relief in connection... Read more →


As we approach the Nov. 3 election, the political claims are fast and furious (but without any exciting car escapades … yet). When it comes to taxes, incumbent Donald J. Trump is relying on the tax breaks that were part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that became law in late 2017. It permanently reduced business tax rates and temporarily revised, through 2025, some key individual taxes. Trump and his fellow Republicans are hoping those tax cuts will be enough to fend off Democratic challengers, both at the presidential and Congressional levels. But their hedging their tax bets by... Read more →


John McAfee's banner image on his Twitter account. If you've waiting until the upcoming October extension deadline to file, chances are you wanted the extra time to ensure that you got your filing right. That's smart. Making mistakes or overlooking tax breaks could cost you, not only money but also time if you end up having to answer Internal Revenue Service questions about your filing. And when an audit — or examination as the IRS likes to call the process — definitely doesn't go your way, you could end up in more trouble. That's what happened to John David McAfee.... Read more →


Plus, tips on maximizing yard sales and holding safe events during a pandemic. When I went out to get the paper from our driveway this morning, I was puzzled by the amount of traffic on our usually quiet neighborhood street. Especially since it's Saturday. Then I remembered that it was our annual fall community garage sale day. Actually, it's our only community garage sale day this year. The spring 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. And while my immediate neighbors aren't big sellers of their old items, a few tend to participate. This year, though, the cars were... Read more →


Are you ready to go back to this? Or is working from home working out just fine for you? It's the last weekend of September. Not that calendars matter so much anymore to many of us — including me — who are still coronavirus quarantining. But time measurement and management are still important if you're working, or trying to, from home. States are in various degrees of reopening, meaning more of us have or will be heading back to our offices. Others, however, will continue to work from home, aka WFH. In fact, some companies have said they'll maintain remote... Read more →


If you get money that's not subject to income tax withholding, then this weekend's Saturday Shout Out posts are for you. Tuesday, Sept. 15* is the due date for the third quarter payment of estimated taxes. Our tax system is pay-as-you-earn. That's typically done by withholding from wages. But when there's no per-paycheck tax collection mechanism in place, the payment responsibility falls on the person getting the money. And the way it's done is through estimate tax payments. The type of earnings that typically trigger are full-time self-employment or occasional gig work income, investment earnings, rental income, certain alimony payments,... Read more →


The fall 2020 semester is starting remotely in most parts of the country. (Photo by August de Richelieu via Pexels) School is back in session. Sort of. In most places, both at the K-12 and college levels, students and their families are dealing with hybrid education modes. Some classes are meeting in person, albeit dramatically altered to meet COVID-19 safe distancing policies. The rest of the time, the students are learning online. It's not ideal, but it's something. The price of learning: But one thing remains the same even when we're dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Classes, at all levels,... Read more →


If you're counting on a slightly bigger paycheck as 2020 winds down due to Donald J. Trump's presidential payroll tax pronouncement, don't hold your breath. Trump's Aug. 8 executive memo called for the deferral of the 6.2 percent employee portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax that goes toward Social Security. The White House said it would be an easy way to provide relief for Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. Others, however, weren't so sure about the proposal, especially the easy claim. Almost immediately after the executive memo was released, questions were raised by potentially affected employees, the... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service heard the complaints about incorrect unpaid tax notices and has acted. It announced yesterday, Aug. 21, afternoon that it is temporarily halting the mailing of three nonpayment notices. The decision came on the heels of public outcry, some of it among taxpayers and the professional tax community on social media, as well as letter from the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. COVID-19 mail complications: The notice problem was the result of, what else, the coronavirus pandemic. The IRS closed most of its physical operations in March, but mail kept coming. That was because... Read more →


The coronavirus pandemic has not only affected sports leagues, athletes and fans, but also gamblers and the state tax collectors that have come to rely on that related tax revenue. Shortened seasons, revised playoff rounds, cardboard fans in stands. Still, Americans' love of sports and boredom with COVID-19 self-isolation, along with the events being televised, has helped the seasons continue. But the actual reduction in the games mean fewer events on which to place bets. Unless bettors make that up by betting more on the remaining games, associated revenue, tax and otherwise, is likely to fall. And now a new... 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 →


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 →


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 →


Tax season 2020 is over. That means the focus of most Americans returns to the same thing we've been fixating on (besides taxes) for the last few months: COVID-19. The coronavirus is still here. It's getting worse in some — OK, a lot of — states. Even in the areas where it seems to be under better control, people are still worrying about what it means to their lives and, of course, their livelihoods. Although some jobs returned earlier this summer, that partial economic recovery is not expected to last after coronavirus cases reemerged following state re-openings. So folks are... Read more →


You're working on your tax return and discover that you are that close to shaving a few more dollars off what you owe Uncle Sam. Many in this situation are tempted to get creative. Don't. The Internal Revenue Service has seen it all. OK, most of it. The bottom line is that sketchy tax deduction claims are invitations to IRS auditors. Crazy and possibly costly tax break claims: Earlier this year before Tax Day got pushed to July 15 by coronavirus precautions, Washington Post financial columnist Michelle Singletary talked with some tax professionals about the wild write-offs they've seen. Singletary... Read more →


Often, too often, we use independence and freedom interchangeably. Even dictionaries and thesauruses say the words each mean to some degree the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint (freedom) or the state of being free from the control or power of another (independence). On this July 4, 2020, we are reevaluating what those definitions mean to us, our families, friends and neighbors, to people we don't know personally and to the United States as a whole. The scrutiny of those definitions could fill library shelves nationwide where reference — and history... Read more →


A new study says young people looking for summer jobs should see more of these signs, just later in the season. Summer is so different this year. That's especially true for young people, who, depending on their ages, look forward to just messing around, going to camp or getting a job. Most kiddos already have been messing around for months. Hey, parents who are trying to telecommute (or really commute if they have essential jobs) and also home school during a global pandemic can only do so much! On the camp front, many overnight camps are still closed, but some... Read more →


Looking for some weekend or beyond tax reading? Then check out the latest Internal Revenue Service Research Bulletin. Notice that I didn't say light tax reading. This collection of papers presented last June at the 9th Annual Joint Research Conference on Tax Administration, an event cosponsored by the IRS and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, is 252 pages. And some of the topics can be dense. The presenters and attendees at the 2019 conference, both in persona and online, included researchers from many areas of the IRS, officials from other government agencies and academic and private sector experts on tax... Read more →


Former Vice President Joe Biden meeting supporters in Iowa last year in the early days of his campaign. Now he's the Democratic presidential nominee. His and opponent Donald Trump's tax plans will be a part of the election discussions. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr) It's a done deal. Former Vice President Joe Biden will be the Democrat challenging Donald J. Trump this November for the White House. Biden secured enough delegates last week to formally become the Democratic nominee on the first ballot at the party's convention. That official imprimatur will come in August at the Democrats' combined in-person... Read more →