Tax Tip Feed

March 29 is Vietnam Veterans Day. This day commemorates the sacrifices of the 9 million Americans who served in the Vietnam War. All veterans are eligible for a variety of benefits, from discounts that can facilitated by the Department of Veteran Affairs' veterans ID card program to critical VA healthcare, thanks to their service. There also are special considerations for U.S. military personnel who are still serving, particularly in the tax area. With the April tax deadline quickly approaching, today's Vietnam Veterans Day also is a good time to review the tax breaks and resources available to current duty service... Read more →


UPDATE, Thursday, March 28: Well, I'm not the new Powerball multimillionaire. The lottery jackpot, which hit $768.4 million before the drawing last night, is going to the lucky person who bought the winning ticket in New Berlin, Wisconsin. But save this post. There will be other chances to win! Yes, I bought a ticket for the March 27 drawing of the $750 million and counting Powerball lottery. Yes, I know the odds of winning the jackpot, which is the fourth largest Powerball prize in U.S. history, are about 1 in 292 million. I know many of my hardcore personal financial... Read more →


April 1 could be costly for older retirement account owners. No fooling. That's the deadline for taking a required minimum distribution, or RMD, if you turned 70½ last year and did not take the specified amount from your tax-deferred retirement funds by Dec. 31. RMDs are, as the name says, required amounts that you must withdraw from a retirement plan that's been earning money over the years without you having to pay tax on it. The tax law has been letting these accounts ride for years, decades in many cases. But when you get halfway through your 70th year, the... Read more →


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law on March 23, 2010. During the almost nine years since President Barack Obama signed the health care bill, which usually is shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, opponents of the law have been working to repeal, maybe replace and definitely weaken it. Republicans succeeded in late 2017 in eliminating a key component of the ACA. Under the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the ACA's individual health insurance mandate. This is the requirement that you obtain at least minimum essential coverage, or MEC, for yourself and dependents... Read more →


Spring has just arrived, but parents already are thinking about summer. Specifically, they're wondering who's going to take care of their kids once school is out for a few months. Now don't get me, or my friends, family and neighbors who have children wrong. We don't view schools and their teachers as babysitters. But classes do keep youngsters occupied for a big chunk of the day for most of the year. Then May and June roll around and for the next three or so months it's kids everywhere all the time! That's a problem for many parents, especially those families... Read more →


Photo by Kumar's Edit via Flickr I've been married a long time. To the same guy. Marriage is not always easy and we don't even have a boss stirring up trouble between us. But we've made it through the tough times. And now as we patch things up when we do have our differences, we joke that we're staying together because it would be a bigger hassle to divorce. Sometimes, though, couples can't work through their troubles and decide to officially end their marriages. When that happens, among all the other issues, there are tax matters to consider. Here are... Read more →


The rate of Americans giving up their citizenship has slowed in the last few years. Are lower taxes a reason for fewer expatriations? Immigration remains at the top of most news lists, especially since the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-led Senate both rejected Donald J. Trump's emergency declaration to shift funds to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall. But the reverse phenomenon of U.S. citizens formally leaving the country forever isn't getting as much attention as it has in the past. Perhaps that's because the number of American expatriates is falling. The Treasury Department on March 12 published its quarterly list of... Read more →


Photo by GotCredit via Flickr CC Most of the focus on tax refunds this year has been on how many people are unpleasantly surprised by how small they are. In many (probably most) cases, the relatively small refunds are because people didn't adjust their payroll withholding last year to account for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes to income tax rates and earnings brackets. Now we have another refund situation that also can be blamed on filers, or actually on nonfilers. Yes, I'm talking about the annual announcement by the Internal Revenue Service that millions of folks who... Read more →


Lee County, Alabama, March 3 tornado damage. (Photo: Nicholas Baretto via Twitter) As expected, once the White House declared parts of Alabama a major disaster area, the Internal Revenue Service followed up by offering affected residents a variety of tax relief. Victims of the deadly tornadoes and severe storms that raked areas of the Yellowhammer State now have until July 31 to file some individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments. "With the regular deadline just a few weeks away, we want storm victims to focus on their families and recovering, rather than worrying about the tax... Read more →


R. Kelly performing in in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as part of his 2006 "Mr. Show Biz Presents: The Light it Up Tour. (Photo by Nicholas Ballasy via Wikipedia Commons) Singer-songwriter R. Kelly is (once again) facing serious criminal charges, but a more common complaint is what has landed him in jail. The 52-year-old R&B singer was arrested March 6 after a court hearing that he failed to pay more than $161,000 in back child support. (Update: Kelly was released from jail on March 9 after making the overdue support payments.) Incarceration for failure to meet court-ordered family payments happens... Read more →


Some of the destruction from a tornado, preliminary estimated to be an EF-4 with winds reaching 170 mph, that touched down on March 3, 2019, in Lee County, Alabama. (Photo courtesy National Weather Service, Birmingham via Twitter) Mother Nature showed her extremely mean side this weekend, with tornadoes in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and the Florida panhandle leaving a path of death and destruction. I know that folks just now getting a good look at the havoc are not in a mood to think about taxes. That's especially true of those in who lost loved ones when a twister roared... Read more →


The King by Kevin Pluck via Flickr We thought we wanted you March, but your "in like lion" approach this year is way too fierce. Severe weather roared through the south today, with a rash of tornadoes claiming lives and destroying property. Meanwhile, a serious winter storm is heading to the northeast, making March's appearance more like a snow leopard than a lion. The only good thing about this early spate of destructive weather is that it reminds us all to be ready for natural disasters. They happen year-round. And under the new tax law, you can claim any damages... Read more →


I admit it, as a native Texan I get a kick out of this depiction of Lone Star State residents' skewed point of view of the United States. Click the image for a larger view of the map, which was part of a calendar I bought at Marfa Book Company while revisiting my West Texas roots a few years ago. Here on the ol' blog, I tend to focus on federal tax filings. That's because almost all of us at some point in our lives have to file paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service. But there also are state, and... Read more →


I know February is the shortest month, but we sure seemed to blast right through these 28 days. That means folks who were waiting for their refunds based on Earned Income Tax Credit and/or additional child tax credit claims now or soon should have those U.S. Treasury checks. As for the rest of us who've yet to tackle our 1040s, we're part of the reason that filing is a bit slow this year. Many of us are waiting because we either know we'll owe or we're still trying to decipher the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes. The good... Read more →


The only thing worse than not getting the refund you expected is waiting for it to arrive. The Internal Revenue Service's official goal is to issue refunds within 21 days after processing the returns that produced them. But if you e-file and opt for direct deposit, the IRS says it's generally able to get most refunds — 9 out of 10 — out to recipients well before the end of that three-week time frame. Mandated delay done: There's also good news for folks whose refunds are associated with their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit claims.... Read more →


Prior year tax returns serve many purposes. This filing season, a check of last year's return will show you what your tax liability for 2017 was. You can compare that to your final 2018 tax bill to see if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did indeed lower your taxes even though your refund this year was smaller. You'll also need past year tax data if you're applying for a major loan, such as a mortgage. And if you're electronically filing your tax return this year, you'll need data from your previous year's taxes to complete that task. Record... Read more →


Tax law change confusion and paycheck withholding miscalculations have led to a lot of grumbling by many filers about the size of their tax refund checks. But there are other reasons why refunds sometimes are not what filers expect. Here's what to do if you think your tax refund is wrong. The many changes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) have thrown a wrench into the 2019 tax filing season. Many folks who were expecting refunds are finding they are smaller than they anticipated or nonexistent. In a lot of cases, that's because of changes in withholding by... Read more →


Most of us who've ever worked for someone else are very familiar with Internal Revenue Service Form W-2. This is the statement you get early every year to tell you how much you were paid. Your W-2 also reports the amount of income tax withheld at both federal and, where applicable, state and/or local levels. There also are details on such things as the amount of tax-deferred money went into or you took out of your 401(k), how much your employer paid for your health care coverage and how much help you got from the boss in paying for care... Read more →


I never seem to be able to submit our joint Form 1040 early in the filing season, partly because I have to sort through all this material to fill out the forms! There are many reasons why millions of taxpayers procrastinate when it comes to submitting their annual returns. Much of the time, those excuses aren't good. But there are some times when you shouldn't rush to finish your Form 1040 early in the filing season, even if you're expecting a tax refund. Here are six reasons to wait a bit before filing: 1. To get your return right. Doing... Read more →


Updated Feb. 20, 2019 We're well into the 2019 tax filing season and things have been a little slow, thanks in large part to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history that hampered Internal Revenue Service preparations for the millions of tax returns it receives each year. Still, millions of taxpayers already have filed their returns. After the second week of the filing season, which ended on Feb. 8, the IRS had received almost 29 million returns. Most, if not all, of those filers were expecting refunds, although some were unpleasantly surprised. At least, though, they have their taxes out... Read more →