Tax Tip Feed

Federal and most state, tax returns are due in few days. Don't panic! You still have time to finish your return (or get an extension). If you do decide to just be done with your Form 1040 — new, but not necessarily improved this year under Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes — make sure you don't make any of these common filing errors in your rush to finish. For the most part, tax software has helped eliminate a lot of mistakes. Still, we're not yet at the total tax automation point yet. And that old garbage in, garbage... Read more →


Thanks to much larger standard deduction amounts under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), fewer filers are itemizing deductions. But that doesn't mean they aren't still writing off some tax-deductible expenses. During this first filing season after the many changes wrought by the latest tax reform law, taxpayers are still claiming what used to be called above-the-line deductions. Technically, they are and always have been adjustments to income. They got the above-the-line moniker because they previously appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your... Read more →


Tax Day every April is the biggie for individual taxpayers. That's when our annual Form 1040 is due. And yes, I know this year there are two Tax Days, since Patriot Day celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get until April 17 to send in their federal returns. But most of us must meet the April 15 deadline, so that's what I focus on in this post. Completing a 1040, however, is not the only mid-April tax deadline. It's just one of the 10 tax tasks listed below that many taxpayers also must make by next Monday, April 15. 1. File... Read more →


Photo by Will Keightley via Flickr CC Afraid you'll face an Internal Revenue Service audit? Don't bet on it, says a veteran oddsmaker. The tax audit odds for 2019 will be approximately 1 in 172, says SportsInsider.com's James Murphy, a sportsbook consultant and specialist in novelty betting odds. 25% of filers worry about audits: That slim audit possibility, however, didn't seem to affect folks who participated in a LexingtonLaw survey conducted before this tax season started. The Salt Lake City-based law firm found that a quarter of Americans are afraid they'll be audited. Older filers are more worried. Thirty-three percent... Read more →


The larger standard deduction amounts created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) mean that fewer filers claim itemized expenses. That also could be trouble for those of us who still will file a Schedule A. With fewer itemized expenses to review, the Internal Revenue Service theoretically could have more time to spend looking at everything we write off on this Form 1040 attachment. And excessive deductions are one of the common tax audit triggers. One of those deduction amounts, the one for state and local taxes, is changing, thanks to the new tax law. Some taxpayers and their... Read more →


It's official. House Democrats have formally requested copies of the last six years of Donald J. Trump's personal and business federal tax returns. Trump has steadfastly refused to make public his taxes, breaking a modern-day tradition set by presidential candidates — and in-office presidents (and vice presidents) — of letting the public have a glimpse of White House 1040s. The main reason Trump has given for keeping his taxes private is that his personal and business filings are under audit. Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the... Read more →


Broad City image via Giphy.com Do you have to file a return? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the answer usually is yes. But there's a difference between having to file a tax return and submitting a 1040 form because you should. And by should, I mean when it's to your advantage to do so. Yes, that does happen in the tax world now and then. When filing is required: First, though, let's look at when the tax code says we must send the Internal Revenue Service a Form 1040. Although the 1040 has a new look... Read more →


I don't know about you, but March sure seemed to roar right past me. Lion, lamb, whatever your tax animal, last month was a big one for filers. We finally seemed to find our tax stride, with Internal Revenue Service statistics showing that, for the most part, this first tax season under major tax law changes is finally starting to look normal. Or as normal as life can be during tax filing time, at least when it comes to refund amounts. If you were among those more than 84 million taxpayers who filed a return during the first three weeks... Read more →


Umbrellas at the Venetian in Las Vegas (Photo by Kay Bell) April is the proverbial month of showers. That typically refers to the rain that falls to nourish the flowers that are predicted to arrive in May. But this month also is known for personal precipitation. Yep, I'm talking tax-time tears. Some folks will cry when they discover how much they owe. Others will shed tears of frustration as they struggle to decipher the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes that affect returns for the first time this 2019 filing season. And for others, it will be tears of... Read more →


March Madness is heating up. We're down to the Elite 8. I usually don't pay too much attention to college basketball, or college sports in general. I follow the professional games because I like to yell at the players, and I feel much more comfortable cursing guys who're pocketing beaucoup bucks instead of unpaid college athletes. I am in the minority, even in my house. The hubby has been sneaking some TV time watching the NCAA men's basketball championship tournament, though truth be told that's mainly because our alma matter, Texas Tech, is doing pretty well. Only the ELITE remain!#MarchMadness... Read more →


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 →


This post was updated June 21, 2019, to reflect proposed Child and Dependent Care tax credit changes. 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... 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 →