Taxes Feed

High tax filing season is over and the numbers have been tallied. Unfortunately for Republicans who still are fighting the public relations war over their major tax reform law, the figures aren't good. Yes, fractionally more money has been delivered to taxpayers through April 21, almost a week after the filing deadline for most U.S taxpayers. But the average refund check remains smaller than it was last year. In 2018, the average refund was $2,780. This year, it came to $2,725. In case you're not good at math in your head (I'm not) and don't have a calculator handy, that's... Read more →


Social Security might be in trouble, but as long as it's around in some form, Uncle Sam will keep collecting taxes related to it. That includes not only the payroll taxes from workers that go toward funding the federal retirement benefits, but also in some cases on the benefits themselves. If you have enough money when you're older to enjoy time the way you want with your grandchildren, you might face taxes on your Social Security benefits. Stop me if you've heard this before. Social Security is running out of money. That's the latest word from the trustees of the... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2019 Earth Day was created in 1969 by environmental activists in response to an oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded each year as a day to emphasize environmental issues and inspire an appreciation of our planet. With this year's celebration falling on a weekday, many folks are looking for ways to incorporate their pro-Mother Earth efforts into their daily lives. Well, nothing is as incorporated into our day-to-day existences as our taxes. So on Earth Day 2019 and every day this year, here are 4 tax-saving environmental options. 1. Electric... Read more →


Multiply this computer trouble by 150 million taxpayers and you'll get an idea of the scope of the IRS' new plan to upgrade its technology systems. The Internal Revenue Service made it relatively unscathed through the 2019 main tax filing season. That's pretty amazing when you consider the agency: had sworn in a new commissioner just a few months earlier, had to tailor the season's opening around the longest-ever federal government shutdown, was still working on implementation of and guidance for the first major tax reform bill in more than 30 years and did it all using antiquated computer systems.... Read more →


420 Day celebrant photo by GoToVan via Flickr Happy 420 Day, when marijuana smokers commemorate cannabis. It's not surprising that the origins of this unofficial holiday to celebrate weed are fuzzy. Some say it's based on the California police or penal code number 420 that designates marijuana smoking. Not true. Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana. That count must have been made after a few tokes over the line. There are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, with only about 70 or so being cannabinoids unique to the plant. A more likely explanation is... Read more →


How accommodating is your state's tax system? Kiplinger lists the top 10 most tax-friendly states. Most U.S. taxpayers are breathing a sigh of relief as this week winds down. They made it through Tax Day 2019, getting their annual federal return to Uncle Sam. Millions also filed their state returns at the same time. They live in the 43 states and District of Columbia that collect some sort of personal income tax. The majority of those state tax departments follow the Internal Revenue Service's filing time frame. But not all. Five states have return due dates that are a tad... Read more →


We made it! Tax Days 2019 — and yes, Days is correct, since there were two April deadlines this year — are done! OK, maybe we made it because we filed for an extension. That's OK. We got something in to the Internal Revenue Service on time. Now we can relax. But not too much. In addition to meeting that Oct. 15 due date, all of us need to be proactive with tax moves over the next few months to ensure that our 2020 bill is as small as possible when we file next year. That's what the Weekly Tax... Read more →


You didn't file your taxes by the April deadline but you had a really good reason. Or did you? Excuses people make for not filing their taxes are right up there with rationalizations for claiming weird deductions. Both are creative exercises par excellence. And both will get you in bit trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. What won't fly: The Internal Revenue Code as we know it has been around since 1913. That means that for more than a century, Uncle Sam has heard just about every excuse for not getting a Form 1040 in on time or at all.... Read more →


Most U.S. taxpayers filed their annual tax returns or got extension on Monday, April 15. But what about folks who missed the Tax Day deadline? Don't panic, but don't procrastinate any longer. The IRS is serious about hearing from you each April. It imposes three main filing-related penalties, the harshest of which is for not filing. Here are four things late-filing steps you need to take ASAP. 1. File a return. Yes, the filing deadline is over. But still get the IRS a return. Now. You need to get something into the IRS system that will show the tax man... Read more →


Feeling pretty good today, are you? You got your taxes done and to the Internal Revenue Service on Tax Day. Now you can shift from complaining about doing your taxes to complaining about how they are spent. Here, direct from the U.S. Treasury is a graphic look at where our tax dollars went in fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, 2018. Source: U.S. Treasury final monthly statement for fiscal year 2018 Click graph for a larger image In addition to this graphic, the 36-page statement includes details on Uncle Sam's expenditures, as well as the scoop on the $779... Read more →


Two tornadoes struck the small East Texas town of Alto on Saturday, April 13. The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that the first was an EF-2 tornado and the second was an EF-3. Click image to see video from Disaster Compilations on YouTube. There are some things more important than taxes on April 15, 2019. Too many folks in the southern half of the United States are dealing with the loss of family and friends after a deadly weather system moved across that region over the weekend. At least eight people were killed by the storms, which in addition... Read more →


Giphy It's finally here! Tax Day 2019. Congratulations to all y'all who survived this first filing season under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) provisions. We all deserve a hearty pat on the back. A hug. A drink, potent as the Jeopardy category goes, or not. Some freebies. I'll take one of the massages, thank you. A Major League Baseball break. Patriots Day and celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get more tax-filing time so they can, among other things, enjoy today's Jackie Robinson Day Red Sox-Orioles game. Some sleep. And some tax talk. Radio tax ruminations: Wait, isn't... Read more →


Photo by Coolcaesar via Wikipedia Commons Two American institutions that regularly catch a lot of flak find that they are good partners each April. I'm talking, of course, about the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Postal Service. True, software-assisted return prep and e-filing by individual taxpayers or the tax preparers they hire now is the dominant way we get our 1040s to the IRS every year. Most of the 50 million yet-to-file taxpayers, who are this week's By the Numbers honorees, will use these electronic methods by the end of tomorrow. But until Uncle Sam forces all of us to... Read more →


This wading bird doesn't mind being knee-deep, but it's not a good position if you're trying to dig through your taxes on this last weekend of the filing season. (Photo by I Am birdsaspoetry.com via Flickr CC) We're knee- or in some cases neck-deep into the final days of Tax Season 2019. How's it going for you? If you're among the more than 103 million U.S. taxpayers who have already filed their returns, you're probably feeling pretty good about things. So is Charles Rettig, who's overseeing his first federal filing season as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. "The filing... Read more →


The time left until Tax Day is tick, tick, ticking away. If you're feeling like silent movie legend Harold Lloyd (pictured above), hanging on by your fingernails as you try to get your tax filing act together, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that there's no way to stop the tax deadline clock. The good news is you can get an extension to file your 1040. By filing for an extension, the Internal Revenue Service will give you six more months, up to Oct. 15, to submit your return. You still have to... Read more →


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 →