Tax planning Feed

The tornado that struck Afton, Iowa, in Union County on April 26, 2024. That county is one of eight that have been declared major disaster areas, meaning residents are eligible for a variety of federal assistance, including tax relief. (Photo by Dean Baron via National Weather Service) Iowans in eight Hawkeye State counties that were struck by severe storms and tornadoes last month now have until Oct. 15 to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. This latest Internal Revenue Service disaster relief applies to individuals and households that live or have a business in... Read more →


Free File, the Internal Revenue Service’s partnership with the tax software industry that allows millions of taxpayers to prepare their returns and e-file them for free, is still open for this year’s procrastinating filers. Private-sector companies will help those who filed for an extension (or who are just late filing) complete and submit their 1040s through the Oct. 15 extension deadline. And that no-cost filing service also will be around at IRS.gov for the next five filing seasons, the tax agency announced today. Extended through 2029: This year’s Free File program was its 22nd season at IRS.gov. Under this public-private... Read more →


Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash Congratulations to this year’s high school and college graduates. Walking across that stage and getting that diploma is a ceremony they and their families have long waited to experience. So what, besides sincere well wishes, do you give the graduates in your life for reaching this milestone? There are lots of gifts that can help young adults as they head off to college or into the work world. My personal favorite when I was that age was cash. (Truth be told, it still is my preferred present!) If your favorite graduate is like me,... Read more →


Some of the March 14 tornado damage in Indian Lake, Logan County, Ohio. (Photo credit: Indian Lake Chamber via Facebook) During the evening of March 14, supercell thunderstorms dropped numerous strong tornadoes across western and central Ohio. By the time things cleared, the deadly twisters also had left trails of destruction across the Buckeye State. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed three EF1 twisters, two reaching EF2, and an EF3 across Ohio. The NWS office in Wilmington, just north of Cincinnati, reported a total of 145 miles of combined tornado tracks across the state. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) investigation... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Tornadoes storms across the United States this year are striking at a record breaking pace. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center today shows 790 preliminary tornado reports. The historical average at this point in the year is around 550. Here in Texas, more than a million acres in the Panhandle were consumed by the Smokehouse Creek Fire that erupted in February. As spring arrived, the eastern part of the Lone Star State endured devastating floods. And hurricane season doesn’t even officially start until June. All this meteorological anger means that millions of people... Read more →


A health savings account, or HSA, helps high deductible health plan, or HDHP, enrollees cover their larger out-of-pocket medical costs. The plan limits and HSA contribution amounts are adjusted annually for inflation. Here are the 2025 numbers. Photo by Kay Bell The cost of health care keeps rising. That’s why many individuals and families who are basically healthy, but want medical coverage in case of an emergencies, often turn to high deductible health plans, or HDHPs. HDHP policies’ associated health savings accounts, or HSAs, help offset the plans larger out-of-pocket costs. HSAs also offer triple tax savings. If you’re interested... Read more →


Drone composite image of the significant damage to structures in downtown Sulphur, Oklahoma. A large part of the small town in south-central Oklahoma was struck by an EF3+ tornado on April 27, 2024. (Photo by Wikiwillz via Wikipedia Commons) The United States’ tornado season used to be in the spring, with most of them occurring in the middle of the country known as Tornado Alley. But things have changed. Or maybe data collection improved. Whatever the reason, tornado-spawning storms are showing up almost year-round, and they’re showing up well beyond the original Tornado Alley boundaries. This year could be one... Read more →


Photo by Karolina Grabowska Tax Day 2024 is over for most of us. But Tax Day 2021 looms for some this month. No, we are not in some tax time warp. And no, I did not have an adult beverage with my morning cuppa. The tax reality is that this coming May 17, 2024, is the last chance for almost a million people to get federal refund money they were due back in 2021. These individuals didn’t file a 2020 tax year return three years ago. And those three years are, according to tax law, the time limit they have... Read more →


Photo by Amina Filkins If National Small Business Week has you thinking about starting your own company, congratulations. You’ll be joining a growing sector of the U.S. economy. The Small Business Administration (SBA) describes a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees. That covers enterprises from one-person shops to manufacturing facilities with hundreds of workers. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics indicate there were 5,358,600 firms that met that definition in 2021, the latest year for complete data. That was an increase from 5,322,155 in 2020. But small really is key here. County Business Patterns (CBP) data... Read more →


Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash It’s National Small Business Week 2024! Technically, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s annual recognition event started yesterday, Sunday, April 28. The kick-off yesterday of this year's National Small Business Week (NSBW) included an awards ceremony where this year’s National Small Business Person of the Year and runner-up were named, along with the Small Business Persons of the Year from each state, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The event, with a theme this year of Building on America’s Small Business Boom, continues through Saturday, May 4. Your small business taxes: The full... Read more →


Earth Day 2024 is tomorrow, April 22. But today is so nice — we finally got some rain, and the butterflies and hummingbirds are taking over our backyard — that I decided to celebrate a day early. This special day dedicated to the ecological issues facing our planet was first held on April 22, 1970. Back then, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson came up with the idea separately. But they agreed that Americans should join en masse in grassroots demonstrations to highlight environmental threats. McConnell wanted Earth Day events to happen on March 20, which... Read more →


Running out of time to finish (or start) your 2023 tax return? Then get more by filing for an extension. (Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash) Put down that tax return. You know you aren't going to get it done by Monday, April 15. Instead, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This Internal Revenue Service form is the tax procrastinator's best friend, whether you've put off filing because, well, taxes or you're still waiting for some tax statements that arrive annoyingly late every year. Yes, I'm looking at you Schedule... Read more →


Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash The Internal Revenue Service is processing millions of returns that are coming in as Tax Day for the main 2024 tax season nears. But thanks to added Inflation Reduction Act money, the tax agency also is looking more closely at some returns. It recently resumed sending automated notices that had been on hold since February 2022 due to COVID-19 pandemic problems. And it got even more attention when IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel announced that his agents were going to crack down on individuals who use corporate jets for personal travel jets. While most of... Read more →


A scenic overlook is always worth a stop when traveling. But when it comes to taxes, you definitely don't want to overlook tax breaks that could save you money. (Photo by Gary Yost on Unsplash) There are two ways to reduce your tax bill. You can take deductions, which reduce the amount of your money that's taxable. You also can claim tax credits, which cut any tax you owe dollar-for-dollar, and in a few cases get you refund. The options are not mutually exclusive. But they don't do you any good if you don't claim the ones to which you're... Read more →


Daisies enjoying the result of an April shower. (Photo by Kay Bell) Tax Day is almost here, no fooling! We've readjusted, after the COVID-19 pandemic delays, to having Tax Day fall in the middle of this fourth month. This year, it's officially April 15 again for most of us. So filing our return or extension request by then obviously is a prime focus. But there are some other tax matters to consider or complete this April 2024. Here are six. 1. Finish (or start) your 2023 return. Tax Day is just 14 days away, and the Internal Revenue Service is... Read more →


Did you turn 73 last year? Belated happy birthday wishes. Now here's an important tax question about that septuagenarian celebration. Did you take your first required minimum distribution (RMD) from your tax-deferred retirement funds by the end of 2023? If the answer is no, then you've got to withdraw that mandated amount by next Monday, April 1. No fooling. Miss that RMD deadline date, and you'll owe Uncle Sam more money than just the tax due on your withdrawal amount. Ending tax deferral days: The Internal Revenue Code offers myriad tax benefits for retirement savers. Several of them provide tax-deferred... Read more →


Most taxpayers have always used the standard deduction amount. That group of filers grew even more after the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which dramatically increased the standard amounts. But even if you find the easier standard deduction option the way to file, stop. You might be missing some tax breaks that are available to every taxpayers, both those who claim the standard deduction and those who itemize. All taxpayers can also claim any of the two dozen above-the-line tax deductions for which they qualify. Tax law and form changes: When the TCJA became... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service IRS is expected to process more than 160 million individual and business tax returns this filing season. Through March 15, the IRS had received nearly 71.6 million individual returns. Some taxpayers probably put off filing in the hopes that the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act would be enacted by Tax Day. Several of its provisions could help both personal and business filers. Whether that will happen is still unclear, as the tax bill that cleared the House has hit a lot of speed bumps in the Senate. Other taxpayers, however, aren't that concerned... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Spring officially arrived at 11:06 p.m. March 19. Have you finished your spring cleaning yet? Me neither. But I have started. To be honest, it was prompted when the hubby and I had some work done to our house. With the structure getting some sprucing up, it only seemed natural to replace some interior items. The next question was what to do with the old stuff? For many, a yard sale is a good way to get rid of unwanted but workable items. But those who don't want to spend a Saturday haggling with... Read more →


Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash Moving to another country for a job involves a lot of changes, but one thing stays the same. Thanks to our worldwide tax system for individuals, as a U.S. citizen you remain a U.S. taxpayer, regardless of where you live. That makes you responsible for filing federal tax returns on your overseas earnings. Uncle Sam, however, does provide some tax breaks to his citizens living and working abroad. They get more time to file, with a June 15 deadline. And thanks to tax treaties, globally peripatetic taxpayers also get certain foreign earned income exclusions... Read more →