Tax planning Feed

How are you feeling? That's the question everyone is asking themselves, family and friends as we adapt to the changes forced upon us by the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing — limiting your interactions with others, either at work or in recreational (remember those?) settings — is the new norm. For the introverted hubby and me, it's simply our norm. We both work from home and don't go out much. We used to joke that our self-imposed isolation works against us when we do venture into the wider world. We don't have an immunity to basic ailments. The hubby gets a... Read more →


I feel like one of the wrung out wacky clocks in Salvador Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory" every time we have to spring forward and lose an hour. (Oil on canvas, 1931 © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. Image via About.com, fair use, Wikipedia Commons) Time and tax deduction method changes It's that time again, literally for most of the United States that switches from Standard to Daylight Saving Time (DST). Whether you like the shift to DST, which provides more sunshine at the end the day. Or hate it since... Read more →


You finished your tax return and the news is not good. You owe Uncle Sam money. Don't freak out, at least not yet. Your payment isn't due until April 15. That gives you time to figure out how to come up with the cash and/or get it to the U.S. Treasury. The Internal Revenue Service, naturally, has some suggestions. Let's start with the agency's new favorite tax payment method. Yep, I'm talking electronic. You have several digital options. 1. Credit, Debit or Digital Wallet: Paying by plastic is one of the oldest and most popular tax e-pay methods. As the... Read more →


Happy Feb. 29! Here's to a great extra day in 2020. I know I've joked (sort of) about how nice it is to have another day to work on your taxes, but there really is a Leap Year potential tax connection. SentricHR, a cloud-based payroll and human resources software company, points out in this weekend's Saturday Shout Out item that while an extra pay period can show up any year depending on a business' pay system, a leap year increases the chance that workers can collect extra pay. Generally, an extra pay period affects salaried employees paid weekly or biweekly,... Read more →


(Pixabay via Pexels) When you're in the military, taxes are likely far down on your list of concerns. Members of the military, however, bear the same tax responsibility as do all U.S. citizens. The one bit of good tax news here is that the tax code and Internal Revenue Service take into account the special circumstances that armed services personnel face. Here are some tax highlights for military taxpayers. Affected armed forces: Military tax benefits typically apply to active duty or reserve members of the armed forces. The eligible forces are: United States Army (including Army Reserve and Army National... Read more →


Millions of Americans are self-employed. In the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income count for tax year 2017, more than 26 million of U.S. nonfarm taxpayers filed as sole proprietors, submitting Schedule C along with their annual Form 1040 individual tax returns. The great thing about Schedule C is that is offers lots of ways sole proprietors, of which I'm one, can reduce our gross self-employment earnings. But one of those deductions that many likely claimed on their 2017 Schedule C has in subsequent years become a source of confusion and consternation. The tax break for business meals and entertainment... 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 →


My [too] many medical treatment folders and dedicated medical travel log. (Kay Bell photo) I'm in the tax filing minority. I still itemize. Medical issues are the primary reason I've been filling out Schedule A for the last few years. Not to bore you with the gory details, but recently I've had a couple of medical scares and surgeries. Combine those with the requisite multiple physician follow-ups (this afternoon I'm heading to my fifth of sixth doctor appointments this month), continued testing and, of course, prescriptions and let's just say I'm helping many, many doctors pay off their vacation homes... 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 →


The shortest month of the year is a little longer in 2020. It's a Leap Year. What will we do with that extra day, Feb. 29? Of course, we're going to devote those additional 24 hours to our taxes. OK, maybe not. For many, this first full week of February is getting off to a slow part, thanks to the annual Super Bowl Sunday hangover. Others simply aren't ready to think taxes yet. It's not their fault. They, and that includes me, are still waiting for necessary tax-filing statements. And some eager and on-the-ball taxpayers don't want to think about... Read more →


Are you having some trouble getting fired up for Super Bowl LIV? I feel ya. It's hard when your team isn't one of the competitors. But as a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, I've learned over the last 24 years — yes, that's how long it's been since Them Cowboys were in the National Football League championship game — creative ways to pique my interest in the annual match-up. This year, for example, it's pretty easy to find a reason to watch. Kansas City Chief's star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is not only a native Texan like the hubby and me, but... Read more →


Yes, I bought a ticket for the Jan. 29 Powerball. I always do when the jackpot of that and the other national lottery, Mega Millions, gets into the, well, mega million-dollar range. No, I didn't win. Again. Last night's Powerball payout, which had climbed to $396.9 million, is going to the lucky person who bought the winning ticket in Florida. Yes, I am contacting my Sunshine State friends and relatives! In addition to the one big winner, three other Powerball tickets worth $1 million each went to ticket holders in Ohio, Virginia and, again, Florida. If you're one of the... 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 →


This cat apparently is expecting something to be delivered by his postal carrier. Many taxpayers share this feline's anticipation this time of year, when annual tax forms are on their way. The hubby and I have some investments in addition to our retirement accounts. We're hoping these assets will be a nice bonus to the funds dedicated totally to paying for our retirement years. That means we're among those folks who are waiting on some tax documents so we can file our 2019 tax return. And we're also among those folks who'll be waiting a bit longer. Mutual funds vs.... Read more →


Yes, that's a photo of my filing season mess, er, process, which explains why I never seem to be able to submit our joint Form 1040 early in the filing season. Getting your tax stuff together is just one of the reasons to not file early. The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting 2019 tax year returns next Monday, Jan. 27. A lot of folks already have filled out their 1040s and put them in the queue for IRS processing next week. Good for them. Their annual tax task is done. But there also are some reasons why you might... Read more →


The 2020 filing season starts on Jan. 27 and millions of taxpayers already are ready to send their 1040s to the Internal Revenue Service on that day. Most of these folks are expecting refunds. But that's just one reason to file your taxes early. Here are six reasons to finish up your Form 1040 and get it to the IRS ASAP. 1. To get your refund sooner. Yes, a tax refund is always the top reason to file your taxes as early as you can. I could go on (and on and on) about how it's better to adjust your... Read more →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr CC It's official. The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting, and more importantly for folks expecting refunds, processing 2019 tax year individual returns on Monday, Jan. 27. Way to give me some breathing room (NOT!), IRS, after my post earlier today about the opening of business tax filing tomorrow, Jan. 7. OK, only kidding (sort of) about the back-to-back business and individual filing season blog items. It's always good news for all when the IRS announces filing season starting dates. Almost ready to go: The annual announcement of the individual tax return filing season means the tax... Read more →


Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels A staple feature each New Year's Day is the fixation on babies born just after the clocked clicked past midnight. For the families, it's usually a joyous event, with their new bundles of joy being showered with first baby themed gifts from local merchants. Tax professionals, even those with families, however tend to see such celebrations as a tad misplaced. Or, as Jerry Gaddis, an Enrolled Agent in Florida, describes it, "bad tax planning." Am I the only one who sees this and thinks "bad tax planning"? #EnrolledAgent — Jerry Gaddis. EA, MBA (@TropicalTax)... Read more →