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Updated, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, to add just-announced Hurricane Ida relief for some Pennsylvania taxpayers. Just two weeks ago, we were awaiting Hurricane Ida. Since then, Hurricane Larry went spinning into the North Atlantic and Tropical Storm Mindy rushed across parts of Florida and Georgia. Today. Sept. 13, Tropical Storm Nicholas is heading toward a Texas Gulf Coast landfall, after which it will send more rain into already water-logged Louisiana. But we're still dealing with Ida's deadly fallout in states beyond landfalling Louisiana. After coming ashore near New Orleans as a category 4 on Aug. 29, she moved northeastward across... Read more →


So how was your summer? Yep, it's over, or will be officially a bit later in this brand new month of September. In addition to bringing some cooler temperatures (eventually, or so promise my local weathermen and women), the ninth month of the year also marks the opening of schools (at least in part, depending on COVID-19 Delta outbreaks), and football seasons (American, not Ted Lasso's version). Tax tasks also are on this month's agenda. Yeah, taxes aren't as fun as football (either U.S. or global leagues) or as welcome as a break from the heat or the kiddos going... Read more →


Damage in the Galliano, Louisiana, area from Hurricane Ida as seen by U.S. Coast Guard overflight on Aug. 30. (Photo courtesy U.S.C.G./VIRIN: 210830-G-G0108-1006M) Hurricane Ida went from Tropical Depression 9 to a category 4 hurricane that slammed coastal Louisiana on Aug. 29 in just about three days. The Internal Revenue Service has reacted just as quickly. Today, the IRS announced that its offering tax relief to Ida victims. That includes pushing the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline (and other tax dates) to Jan. 3, 2022. The tax relief applies to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)... Read more →


Satellite image of Hurricane Ida entering the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. (Click the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service image to see looping version). Everyone in Hurricane Ida's path better already be on the road out of there or in or heading to some storm safe shelter. This one could be really, really bad. So for this weekend's Saturday Shout Out, I'm turning to items on last-minute preparation for and recovery after a major disaster. Time's short, so here goes, starting with some of Uncle Sam's official government assistance websites. Federal... Read more →


Records, tax and financial, are often among the property damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster. If you're lucky, you might be able, like this woman, to salvage some of the documents. If not, you'll need to recreate them to take advantage of tax-related storm relief. (Image courtesy Louisiana Law Blog) We're heading into peak Atlantic hurricane season, which means much of the United States could face disastrous circumstances like those already being dealt with coast-to-coast. In major disasters, various types of tax relief are available, including claiming storm-related losses as an itemized deduction. One of the key considerations here... Read more →


The devastating Haitian earthquake. Deadly flooding in Tennessee and North Carolina. Tropical Storm Henri damage in the Northeast. Drought-fueled destructive wildfires in California. Add the global Delta surge that's exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic and it does seem, as my grandmother would say, that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. If you've managed to avoid any or all of these disasters and want to help those who are less fortunate, thanks. Here are some ways to do so. Myriad mechanisms to give: The standard big dog nonprofits, American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, remain the go-to donation... Read more →


Hurricane season 2021 is back. Tropical Storm Fred is heading toward the eastern Gulf of Mexico, with much of Florida in the National Weather Service's cone of uncertainty. (Screen shot image from The Weather Channel) 2020 was one of the busiest hurricane seasons ever in the United States, creating major issues particularly along the Gulf Coast. Will 2021, be a replay? Possibly. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week issued its mid-season update for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA is expecting more storms than it originally forecast. Hurricane prediction hiked: Uncle Sam's official weather watchers now predict... Read more →


Even though Tax Day 2021 has come and gone, the Internal Revenue Service has decided to give some storm-struck West Virginians in the western part of the state more time to file their 2020 tax returns. Even after skies clear, flood waters remain. (Photo courtesy FEMA Facebook page) Sometimes even the Internal Revenue Service runs a bit late. That's the case with its announcement today, May 27, that some West Virginians now have a little more than a month to file their 2020 taxes. Until June 30, to be precise. Yes, Tax Day this year was May 17, almost two... Read more →


2021 already has brought us tornadoes, floods, fires and more. Now the annual Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season has arrived early, again, meaning it's time to get ready for that and whatever disaster is common where you live. The Atlantic hurricane season doesn't start until June 1, but we already (again!) have an early forming storm. Subtropical Storm Ana developed today, May 22, near Bermuda. (Screen shot of The Weather Channel video.) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) 2021 Atlantic hurricane season forecast calls for another active six (or more) months. So far, that prediction looks spot on. The... Read more →


While most of us dealt with our 2020 taxes this past Monday, May 17, taxpayers in six states have several more weeks, and in some cases, months to file their returns. The same is true for state filings due in those states with new federal filing deadlines. Plus, a couple of states acted independently of the Internal Revenue Service to give their residents more time to deal with state and local filings. Here's a quick look at this year's remaining tax calendars when it comes to dealing with 2020 returns. 6 states get federal disaster filing delays: Six states endured... Read more →


Tax Day 2021 has moved to Aug. 2 for Tennessee taxpayers in 23 counties that were hard hit by tornadoes, other storms, and flooding. Satellite view from GOES-16 showing the storm system responsible for the tornado outbreak across much of the southern United States on March 25, 2021. (Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via Wikipedia Commons) As we enter the final weekend of the regular tax-filing season, millions of taxpayers have yet to file their returns. Some are simply uber-procrastinators. Others, however, don't have to worry about meeting Monday's May 17 deadline thanks to extra time granted by... Read more →


Severe storms in late February produced flooding in Franklin County, Kentucky, shown here, as well as other parts of the Bluegrass State. That led to a major disaster declaration and associated tax relief. (Photo by National Weather Service) We Texans, especially here in the usually more temperate central-to-southern part of the state, learned a hard lesson in February from Mother Nature. She can be as bad as she wants, whenever and wherever she wants. We Lone Star Staters are not alone in dealing with the weather truth. Since our devastating winter storm, severe weather has raged across much of the... Read more →


This is the weather we in the Austin area have to look forward to this evening. Severe weather and natural disasters occur year-round across the country. Regardless of where you live and the potential disaster threat, get ready now! (KXAN NBC4 weather graphic) I always look forward to spring, but when it arrives, I wonder why. In addition to warmer weather and new growth in my garden (yes, even after last month's Arctic Blast!), the seasonal change also brings severe weather. I'm charging up all my devices this afternoon, since if the forecast pictured above of potentially severe weather comes... Read more →


Winter can be gorgeous. It also can be disastrous, as all us Texans more accustomed to heat waves than winter storms found out last week. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's been near 80 degrees for the last two days in my part of Texas. This time last week, we were in the teens during the day, after single-digit overnight low — and record-breaking — cold temperatures. This surprisingly strong cold snap left a lot of damage. People lost power and water. Freezing pipes in freezing houses burst. Food was spoiled. Many are looking at weeks to even get repairs underway... Read more →


Much of Texas got record snowfall on Feb. 14-15, with around 6 inches covering our backyard. Thank goodness for some much welcome sunshine today, but it's still below freezing, meaning our heater is working overtime! (Photo by Kay Bell) We have sunshine here in Central Texas! Still, the high temperature today in the greater Austin area is not expected to break the freezing mark. That means my home's heater is still in overdrive. And that means my next bill is going to be ginormous. The only consolation, is that I can count part of that heating bill as a home... Read more →


Happy Valentine's Day! This Feb. 14, the hubby and I are snuggling, but today it's mainly to keep warm. Like much of North America, we're dealing with a serious arctic blast. I hope you and your sweetie are having a good Valentine's Day. And I hope you got exactly what you wanted from your love. In many cases, it might be something simple or homemade. Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering financial ramifications mean that spending on Valentine's Day gifts this year has dropped. Those celebrating plan to spend an average $164.76, down $32 on average per person,... Read more →


Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard responding after Hurricane Laura destroyed much of Lake Charles. The Capital One Tower was among the properties severely damaged by the category 4 storm. (Photo by Josiah Pugh via Flickr/Wikipedia Commons) Hurricane season 2020 is almost over and Nov. 30 cannot get here soon enough for Louisiana residents. The Pelican State was pummeled by five storms this record-breaking year, including a category 4 which produced the strongest cyclonic wind speeds ever recorded in the state. So state officials are giving folks who are still trying to rebuild in the storms' wakes a chance to... Read more →


Pixabay Ah, fall. Summer's scorching temperatures start to moderate. School's back in session. College and football players are back on the fields. Sorry. I seem to have drifted off into memories of autumn 2019. This is 2020. Scientists say worldwide, this year could rank near the top in torrid temps. Schools across the United States are struggling with how to keep students and staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic. And as for sports, the National Football League is going to give it a try, but some major college conferences have already called off theirs seasons. One thing, though, hasn't changed.... Read more →


Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall Sunday evening in Louisiana. Even though it quickly weakened to a tropical depression, it still is dumping copious amounts of rain across the Pelican State. The potential for flooding was part of the reason that the White House on Sunday, June 7, issued a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana. That decision allows the federal government to help pick up some of the state's disaster response costs. It also will give those who sustained Cristobal-related damages a chance to claim those losses on their taxes. Major disasters only need apply: Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs... Read more →


June has arrived. But the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on our lives, including our tax lives, mean that in 2020 we likely won't be able to enjoy our usual summertime living is easy lifestyles. (Photo courtesy City of Clearwater, Florida) Hello weird, scary, frustrating June 2020. We're sort of glad you're here, even though the coronavirus means many of us aren't going to be taking a summer vacation and many more of us will still be messing with 2019 taxes until mid-July. Yep, as everyone knows by now, COVID-19 precautions by the Internal Revenue Service have pushed this year's... Read more →