Tax planning Feed

Even if you're not a cat, you can appreciate Boxing Day as a way to help others by making charitable donations. Happy Boxing Day! This holiday isn't formally celebrated in the United States, but many people around the world embrace the day after Christmas as a way to keep the season of giving going a bit longer. There are many explanations as to how Boxing Day, and its name, came to be. One commonly accepted origin story is that when it began in the United Kingdom during the Victorian period, household servants were given the day after Christmas off as... Read more →


To ensure you have the type of retirement you want, you must do some calculations, including figuring how your required minimum distributions fit in, financially and tax-wise. (Photo via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) Retirement savings can make a big difference in how enjoyable your post-work years will be. If you have tax-deferred retirement accounts, those savings also present new tax responsibilities once you reach a certain age. Some money in a traditional IRA that's been out of the Internal Revenue Service's reach for years must be taken out as a required minimum distribution, or RMD. Uncle Sam also... Read more →


Photo by Xingchen Yan on Unsplash If your work involves driving, the Internal Revenue Service has some good news for your 2024 business trips. Today, the tax agency announced that on Jan. 1, 2024, the standard optional mileage rate you can use to claim those eligible miles will go to 67 cents per mile. That's a 1.5 cent increase over the 2023 mileage rate. However, the other two mileage rates that the IRS evaluates and adjusts each year are going down. Travel for medical and, in the case of qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces, moving purposes will be... Read more →


Wikipedia photo U.S. sports fans this time of year are focused on football. We're in the midst of the NFL season (how 'bout them Cowboys thumping the Eagles on Sunday night?!) and the NCAA bowl season is on the horizon. But a baseball player has many of us talking. Shohei Ohtani, the phenomenal two-way player touted as the modern-day Babe Ruth, set yet another record, this time off the field. The Japanese pitcher-slugger signed a $10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that shatters all prior major league records. It's the biggest deal not just for an MLB... Read more →


No need to wrap cash holiday gifts. Here are three that also have some tax benefits. (Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash) Still shopping for the perfect gift? Lots of folks who get stuck turn to cash. As the old saying (OK, cliché) goes, any amount is the perfect size and green looks good on everyone. Many people, though, find giving cash too crass. There are, however, ways around this that are a bit more subtle, and which can financially help others in a tax-favored way. Here are three. 1. Open a Roth IRA for a young worker.... Read more →


On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments in the tax case Moore v. United States. Charles and Kathleen Moore filed the lawsuit challenging the Mandatory Repatriation Tax provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. That section of the tax reform law was designed to discourage U.S. corporations from keeping funds overseas by reducing certain taxes on foreign earnings. But in exchange In exchange for those tax cuts, investors and corporations had to pay a one-time, retroactive tax on all foreign income dating back to 1986. The repatriation provision,... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Charlie Harris Financial gifts arrive this month for many mutual fund investors. Most funds make annual distributions in December, based on their results at the October end of their fiscal year. The money paid to fund owners also presents the Internal Revenue Service with a present. The distributions are taxable. The fund owner owes tax on the amounts regardless of whether the money is reinvested or paid directly to the investor. Such distributions typically are only a small portion of a fund's returns. However, sometimes the December amounts are big enough to pose a serious tax... Read more →


My H-E-B helps me keep track of store purchases that might be eligible for FSA reimbursement. (Crumpled receipt photo by Kay Bell) After today's weekly grocery buying trip, I'm pulling out my stash of COVID-19 pandemic masks. Yes, I bought a lot. A whole lot! As before, the facial protection is to shield me from the sneezes and coughs of many of my uncovered fellow H-E-B shoppers. This time, though, I'm hoping the upper respiratory cacophony is due to the changing weather, dust stirred up by the firing up of furnaces, and, here in Central Texas, cedar fever. But you... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images As we have become more globally interconnected, worldwide tragedies affect more of us. We have family and friends scattered across the globe. We want to support and help them, especially in troubled times. But those connections can have a dark side. Crooks take advantage of our goodwill. Fraudsters tout fake charities to worldwide victims, seeking to divert much needed help into their own malicious pockets. After disasters, the Internal Revenue Service regularly reminds taxpayers to be alert for such cons. Fake charity scams also are, sadly, a perennial on the IRS' annual Dirty Dozen... Read more →


Individuals who didn't automatically receive an Economic Impact Payment or claim a Recovery Rebate Credit during the COVID-19 pandemic get a second chance at the money. Economic Impact Payments helped many U.S. families financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some eligible filers didn't get the stimulus money directly, and didn't claim it later as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they filed. Now they get another shot at the tax relief. Remember Economic Impact Payments? These funds, also referred to as stimulus payments, were issued during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Internal Revenue Service sent most of the payments... Read more →


Are you enjoying Thanksgiving? I hope so. And if your Turkey Day celebration extends, like it does for most of us, into Friday and the weekend, Happy Beyond Thanksgiving! But when you're ready (or forced) to get back to your regular routine, you might want to make time to consider the items in the box below: five tax turkeys and how to avoid them. A few relatively easy tax moves in these areas could help make your tax life easier. 2023's Tax Turkeys 🦃 🍗 🦃 to Avoid Not adjusting your incorrect withholding Not collecting your employer's maximum 401(k) match... Read more →


Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash This Thanksgiving week is a big travel week for millions of Americans. Most people are heading to friends' and/or relatives' where they'll share a Turkey Day spread. Others are using the time for other, non-holiday recreational pursuits. By this time next week, they'll be back home. In most cases, they'll return to homes are in the United States. However, thousands of U.S. citizens have relocated internationally. Despite the location distances, those Americans abroad share something with domestic residents other than celebrating a traditional U.S. holiday. They still owe U.S. taxes on their income, regardless... Read more →


UPDATED, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, to add a couple of new links as I found as I caught up on my own weekend tax reading. Source: Monopoly Wiki An inheritance from a friend or relative can be a nice surprise and a way to fondly remember that person. Such gifts typically do not have any tax implications for either the estate or heirs, at least not immediately, at the federal level. As noted in Part 6 of the ol' blog's annual tax inflation series, the value of an estate that is exempt from Uncle Sam's clutches goes from $12.92 million... Read more →


Before law changes, the now inflation-indexed Alternative Minimum Tax, known as the AMT, seemed to work like an ATM for the U.S. Treasury. The AMT was created 54 years ago to ensure the rich paid at least some tax, but since it originally wasn't indexed for inflation, it increasingly affected a lot of less-wealthy taxpayers. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) What's worse than figuring your tax bill? Having to figure a second, parallel amount you might owe. That's a situation that taxpayers who owe the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT, end up facing at filing time. The... Read more →


Plus, a look at how a higher cost of living affects gifts before you go, youngsters' investment earnings, and more. Photo by Lance Reis on Unsplash What we would do with our wealth may differ, but most of us want to be rich. And even if the Internal Revenue Service is successful in its recently announced effort to crack down on higher income tax evaders, having money is always preferable. In fact, if you've got beaucoup cash, you don't really have to try to slip one past Uncle Sam. Many of the current wealth-related provisions in the Internal Revenue Code... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images If you've been to a doctor recently, refilled a subscription, had to go to an emergency room, or just bought over-the-counter medications, you know that all these treatments cost a lot more than in previous years. It's enough to make you sick, or at least nudge up your blood pressure a bit. However, the tax code might have an Rx that can help. There are a variety of medical tax breaks that can help lower your federal tax bill. Several of them are adjusted each year to account for inflation. Here, in Part 5... Read more →


Taking advantage of these inflation-adjusted tax breaks could put more money in your pocket instead of Uncle Sam's bank account. (Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash) Each of our tax situations is unique. But every taxpayer can agree on one thing. We all want to pay the least amount of tax as possible. That universal goal can be reached by taking advantage of tax deductions, tax credits, and income exclusions. Deductions, like the standard amounts discussed in Part 2 of the ol' blogs annual tax inflation series, are a relatively easy, and popular, way to reduce a tax bill. Deductions... Read more →


Taxes are all about numbers, but generally speaking, we taxpayers are not big math fans. That's why we hire tax professionals or use tax software. That aversion to doing more calculations is why most of us have chosen, year-in and year-out, to claim the standard deduction. Sure, I know, we should use the tax deduction method, either standard or itemizing, that gives up the better tax due result. Still, I know some folks who use the standard deduction method without even comparing because, as noted, it's easier. There are no receipts to save, no additional adding, subtracting, and figuring percentages.... Read more →


Wide open spaces have a lot of appeal to many of us. Also appealing are the wider income tax brackets in 2024 just announced by the IRS. (Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash) Inflation has dropped from its post-pandemic historic high in 2022, but it's still enough to cause financial pain. That, along with producers hanging on to their higher prices to recoup some of their COVID-19 losses, eats into our buying power, as every consumer is painfully aware. But there are a few instances when inflation can work to our advantage. One is when it prompts the Internal Revenue... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Every year, families gather at Thanksgiving. In many cases, it's a chance for relatives and friends who haven't seen each other for a while to reconnect. Some families, however, are much closer proximity-wise. They see each other all the time. And in some of those cases, family members are caregivers. That's why November is a good choice as National Family Caregivers Month. It is formal recognition, as noted in President Joe Biden's proclamation, that millions of Americans provide crucial care and assistance to parents, children, siblings, and other loved ones. Many of these caregivers... Read more →