Tax planning 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 →


If you file your tax return as early as you can, mark Feb. 12 on your calendar. That's the day this year that the IRS will start accepting and processing 2020 returns. Are you ready for another wild tax season due to the coronavirus pandemic? Neither am I, but it looks like that's what will happen, at least to some degree. When the Internal Revenue Service today opened Free File, its online, no-cost tax preparation and e-filing option, at essentially the same time as it did last year, I was hopeful we were getting back to tax normal. But alas,... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is already accepting e-filed business returns and says Free File for eligible individuals to do their taxes and electronically file at no cost will open in mid-January. If you use Free File, get ready. The Internal Revenue Service says it will open in mid-January. UPDATE, Jan. 15, 2021: Soon is here! The IRS opened up its Free File site on Jan. 15. It also announced that it will officially open the full 2021 tax filing season on Feb. 12. That's when the IRS will start accepting and processing all 2020 tax returns, regardless of how they... Read more →


I'm feeling a bit like the Internal Revenue Service's appointments secretary, but this Friday, Jan. 15, is a date when many taxpayers need to take action. Yes, I'm talking about the fourth estimated tax payment due at the end of this week, but also about some final tax year 2019 housekeeping. Specifically, individuals and businesses who were in the paths of some major disasters last year. The timing of those catastrophes prompted the IRS to give taxpayers who had already filed for an extension to finish their 2019 tax returns until Jan. 15, 2021, to complete them. These folks now... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers are facing a deadline at the end of this week. No, unfortunately I am not talking about the Jan. 15 mark that the Internal Revenue Service is required by law to meet in distributing the second round of COVID-19 economic relief payments. I'm talking about paying Uncle Sam instead of getting money from him. The final estimated tax payment for tax year 2020 is due on Friday, Jan. 15. Taking care of taxes yourself: Around 22 million individuals file these extra tax payments, which total four if you make them for the full tax year. They are... Read more →


UPDATE, Jan. 18, 2021: And the jackpots keep growing. No one has hit all the numbers yet in the two nationwide lotteries. The Powerball payout now is $730 million. Mega Millions rises to $850 million. It's the first time in the games' history that both have topped $700 million. Picking lucky numbers from a lottery game dispenser. More than $1 billion is up for grabs in the two nationwide lotteries. The Powerball jackpot is at $550 million. A solo Mega Millions winner will walk away with $600 million. Since I know you've got your lotteries tickets in hand, here are... Read more →


Photo by Olya Kobruseva via Pexels Happy New Year! Oh, sorry. Was I typing too loud? I'm glad you were able to festively, and I hope safely, ring in 2021. Now that it's here, it also brings a new tax filing season. The Internal Revenue Service's delivery of the second round of COVID-19 relief money shouldn't hamper its handling of 2020 returns, which should officially start later this month. So if the IRS can be ready, so can we. So here are a few tax things to think about and take care of, after, of course, you're fully recovered from... Read more →


Even though we definitely are more than ready for 2020 to end, the celebration of its official departure in a few hours — that's for us here in the United States; Happy New 2021 to all y'all on the other side of the International Date Line — likely will be subdued. Thanks, no thanks, COVID-19. May you, too, be gone soon in the coming 12 months. But even if the ringing in the New Year will be in smaller, pandemic-precautioned pods, some adult beverages will be raised as the clock strikes midnight. And among those celebrating the most will be... Read more →


Most of us are cheering the rapidly approaching end of tumultuous 2020. I definitely am right there with you with some pre-New Year's Eve joyfulness. But take a little time off from your anticipatory year-end celebrations to check out these tax moves. These final three tax tasks for the final three days of the year could pay off at filing time in 2021. 1. Know the value of donating items instead of cash. You have until Dec. 31 to donate to an IRS-qualified charity so you can claim the gift as a deduction on your 2020 tax return. If you... Read more →


My neighborhood optometrist is encouraging medical flexible spending account (FSA) owners to stop by and spend that money before the end of the year. (Photo by Kay Bell) You just discovered that you have money in your medical flexible spending account (FSA). For folks who don't have an FSA, this is a workplace benefit that allows you to put money into the account as an automatic withdrawal from your paychecks. In 2020, you could put up to $2,750 into your FSA. Since inflation has been low, that amount stays the same in 2021. You then use FSA funds to pay... Read more →


Happy Day After Christmas, or as it's known in many parts of the world, Boxing Day. As a lover of cats, be they large (like these in an earlier Tumbling Taxes item), small or domesticated (as much as cats can be), I certainly understand the feline interpretation of Boxing Day. But I also appreciate the other ways, taxes included, to celebrate Boxing Day. Boxing Day's evolution: Boxing Day got its name in the 1800s when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Since then, it's been celebrated in Great Britain and many of its former colonies, notably Canada, Australia and New... Read more →


Santa Claus, Indiana, is one of many merrily named communities across the country. However, this Christmas-year-round town is the only one with an official U.S. Postal Service Santa postmark. (Photo by tengrrl via Flickr CC) Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas Eve from all the holiday themed towns across the United States. There are the municipalities dubbed North Pole in New York, Colorado, Alaska and yes, it's even OK in Oklahoma. For those who revel in the season's greenery we have up the road from me Garland, Texas, as well as virtual forest full of Evergreens. There's an Evergreen in... Read more →


Welcome to Part 10 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 we wrap up the series (finally!) with standard optional mileage rate 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 year's taxes, due April 15, 2021. via GIPHY As... Read more →


Congress plans to pass this evening its second round of COVID-19 help for millions of Americans. It's a huge bill. Granted, much of its 5,593 pages of dense legislative language cover the funding bills required to keep the federal government open through fiscal year 2021. Lawmakers decided to incorporate some pandemic relief measures into this must-pass bill. Obviously, there are associated tax implications. I'll be writing about some of those coronavirus-related tax matters in the coming days once they are officially enacted and I've had a change to read and decipher them. Some checks, but not as big as the... Read more →


OK, I can't confirm that the Greek dramatist Sophocles said this. But it's on the internet, so…. What is irrefutable is that bad advice is too often given and worse followed, especially when it comes to taxes. (Image by Quote Coyote) That cheering you hear is, well, everyone as 2020 finally is winding down. This mess of a year can't end too soon for most of us. But in our enthusiastic anticipation of the Year of COVID-19, we still must get ready for the upcoming tax season. At the start of the month, I offered some year-end tax moves that... Read more →


No, there isn't an electric version of Chevrolet's iconic Corvette (because who would want that!), but you have lots of other electric vehicle options that could get you not only a new car, but a nice federal tax credit. There are a couple of television commercials I look forward to every holiday season. There's the Corona Extra "Oh Tannenpalm" spot that's been airing for 30 years. And, of course, there's Hershey's Kisses handbell choir, which has been running even longer. Not as welcome, but as inescapable this time of year are the automaker ads with cars bearing giant bows. I've... Read more →


It's been a tough year for millions. In addition to worrying about keeping themselves and their families safe during the coronavirus pandemic, millions have lost their jobs. But there may be a little bit of help for those relying on government payments as 2020 winds down. The House and Senate are working on a compromise COVID-19 relief bill. It's huge and there still are congressional hurdles to overcome, but right now the proposal calls for a federal unemployment benefit of $300 a week for 16 weeks. That's welcome news for the nearly 13 million Americans who, without Congressional help, are... Read more →


The end of the disappearing stream water feature in our backyard. The installation was a home improvement. My work today to shore up a part of it was home maintenance. The differences have tax break implications. (Photo by Kay Bell) I spent most of today taking care of home repairs that I felt confident doing. It's not a long list. I am not really a do-it-yourself kind of person when it comes to most things around the house. Still, even though I've worked from home for years, being stuck here more than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic has made... Read more →


Congressional leaders are continuing to discuss at least some form of coronavirus relief package. Right now, the idea is to include any pandemic help as part of a spending bill that will keep the federal government open past Dec. 11. Things are still fluid. Right now, it looks like there won't be a second stimulus check, at least in the waning days of the current Congress and White House Administration. But there is a tax proposal that might encourage more of us to give to charities that are trying to pick up the slack — and pieces of people's lives... 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 →