Welcome to 2018's post-tax party, where we're celebrating the end (finally!) of the high tax filing season after an unexpected delay through midnight April 18.
Yeah, me too.
But all's good because when we sent in our Form 4868, we paid any tax we guesstimated we owe. Right? Right? Right.
And now we have until Oct. 15 to meet our new 2017 tax return filing deadline.
So take a breath. But not too deeply or for too long.
While we've got more time to finish our 2017 taxes, that new deadline will arrive before we realize. And we don't want to be in a panic in six months because we procrastinated until the absolutely, positively last tax-filing moment.
Plus, we've got to focus more this year on the tax laws since many of them changed in 2018 thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
Once-a-week tax advice: So let's get this tax party started with tax tips to entertain our original guests, our extended 2017 tax returns, and to welcome our new party crasher, the TCJA tax law changes.
Here at the ol' blog, we've got something for all the attendees with Weekly Tax Tips.
As in previous years, a new piece of tax advice will be featured each week. Unlike previous years, the weekly tip will go up on Friday instead of Wednesday. I know you want some weekend tax reading!
But it still will be in the upper right corner of the ol' blog.
Many of the items will be for the majority of taxpayers who are done with last year's taxes and are looking for ways to trim this year's tax bill. A few, though, will be aimed at helping those of us who've yet to file get that job done, especially as October nears.
The once-a-week tax tips will continue, as they've done in past years, until 2018 winds down. That will be on Dec. 28, the last Friday of this year.
Also, don't be surprised if a stray weekly tip or two also shows up in the opening week/weeks of January 2019 before I transition to the New Year's tax filing season and the return of the 2019 Daily Tax Tips.
But wait. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Let's get back to this year and the 2018 Weekly Tax Tips. Here goes!
- Missed Tax Day? Do this now — Some folks didn't file their federal taxes on April 17 (or 18). If you're among those who missed the deadline and also neglected to get an extension, you need to make these four tax moves ASAP. (April 20, 2018)
- Tax record keeping tips — You're done with your taxes. Now it's time to store those key filing records. Why? Well, there are many reasons and ways, but the key one is in case you're audited. So start sorting and saving! (April 27, 2018)
- 6 times married couples should file separate tax returns — Most married taxpayers do most everything together, even filing taxes. Sometimes, though, it's better for spouses to file separate 1040 forms. (May 4, 2018)
- 3 tax tip gifts for moms — My gift to moms for the upcoming Mother's Day is these three tax tips that could help cover some of their parenting costs. You, however, better come up with a much better present for your mother! (May 11, 2018)
- 4 side hustle tax tips — Are you looking to supplement your income with a side job? If you join the gig economy, these tax tips can help make sure you don't pay Uncle Sam too much tax on your side earnings. (May 18, 2018)
- Take a pre-disaster inventory — Hurricane Season 2018 is getting an early start with Alberto already formed. One of the first moves you should make is taking a pre-disaster inventory of your household goods. It will help you file insurance claims and, if the catastrophe is declared a major disaster, you also might get some tax relief. (May 25, 2018)
- Tax issues for the unemployed — Being out of work is bad enough, but you also need to pay attention to the possible tax implications. While the tax code does offer some help for those who've lost jobs and income, it also says that you owe tax on your unemployment benefits. (June 1, 2018)
- Ways to pay estimated taxes — Tax Day is back, this time for filers who must make estimated tax payments. The second payment for the 2018 tax year is due next week, Friday, June 15. Here's how you can pay your due 1040ES amount. (June 8, 2018)
- 10 tax tips for newlyweds — After "I do" newly married couples face a list of tax to-do's, too. Here are 10 tax things couples who are planning their weddings or who have exchange vows should think about. (June 15, 2018)
- A look at the three versions of Form 1040 — Thanks to tax law changes, Form 1040 is about to get a makeover. Starting with tax year 2018, the granddaddy of tax documents will be dramatically shorter, transformed into the long-promised size of a postcard. But there are two other 1040 versions: the 1040A and 1040EZ. You should always pick the Form 1040 version, regardless of tax-related tweaking, that best fits your tax situation, provides the easiest filing and saves you the most tax money. (June 22, 2018)
- Tax-smart ways to share your wedding joy — June is the traditional marriage month, but couples say "I do" year-round. And some also share the joy of their big day by giving back to others. These four easy and tax-smart moves can help others share in your wedding celebration. (June 29, 2018)
- 4 hurricane preparation steps — Hurricane Beryl is heading west across the Atlantic. The storm could hit islands that are still recovering from last year's devastating storms. While this second storm of the 2018 season is at this point not expected to reach the U.S. mainland, storms are hard to predict this far out. But you can go ahead and start getting ready for this and any future storms, just in case. (July 6, 2018)
- Beware these 13 tax scams — These 13 tax scams are scary even when it's not Friday the 13th! Be on the lookout for them every day, not just on those with superstitious significance. (Friday, July 13, 2018)
- 6 tax holiday shopping tips — Are you planning to take advantage of a back-to-school sales tax holiday this summer in your state? Here are some ways to maximize your savings, tax and otherwise. (July 20, 2018)
- Know your ordinary and necessary business expenses — If you're your own boss, you get to write off a lot of business expenses on your taxes as long as they are ordinary and necessary for you to do your job. Here's how you can tell what qualifies. (July 27, 2018)
- Married couples share tax liability, too — Marriage typically means sharing just about everything, including taxes when you file a joint tax return. That's why you need to know that the joint and several liability provision of the Internal Revenue Code gives the Internal Revenue Service the ability to come after either spouse for payment of a tax bill. Remember that before you automatically sign that joint Form 1040. (Aug. 3, 2018)
- Don't fall for fake charities — The horribly historic California wildfires are just latest blow from Mother Nature. One this this disaster has in common with all that have come before it is that crooks will try to take advantage of folks who want to help. Be careful when you give and be especially aware of disaster-related charity scams designed to steal your money and possibly your identity. (Aug. 10, 2018)
- Side hustle tax filing guide — Millions of Americans work side jobs to supplement their salaries. If you’re one of them, you’ll need to pay taxes on the earnings from your side hustle. Here's how to meet the IRS' gig economy tax expectations. (Aug. 17, 2018)
- Disasters happen year round. Be ready! — Hawaii is dealing with Hurricane Lane. California is recovering from wildfires. And tornadoes have popped up nationwide way past the traditional severe thunderstorm season. It pays to be ready for natural disasters of all types. Check out Storm Warnings, a collection of tips, tax and otherwise on, preparing for, recovering from Mother Nature's wrath. (Aug. 24, 2018)
- How to report your taxable winning wagers — Are you ready for some football? And betting on football? Some bettors, thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, will be able to legally bet on the gridiron games and other sports in their states. Any of those winning wagers, including the payoff from illegal bets, are taxable income. Here's how to keep let the Internal Revenue Service know of your taxable luck. (Aug. 31, 2018)
- Prepare for a hurricane now — September is peak hurricane season. That's true this year, with Gordon having just hit the Gulf Coast and three systems possibly headed for the Atlantic seaboard. Here are four steps to take before a tropical system is at your doorstep. (Sept. 7, 2018)
- Estimated tax payment options — It's Tax Day again, this time for filers who must make estimated tax payments. The third payment for the 2018 tax year is due on Monday, Sept. 17, since the regular 9/15 due date falls on Saturday. Here's how you can pay your 1040-ES amount. (Sept. 14, 2018) Careful readers have already noted that this a Weekly Tax Tip repeat. But since each tip stays on the ol' blog's home page for a brief period and there's another 1040-ES deadline looming, I decided to double dip!
- Taxes and your seasonal hiring status — Taking an extra job this coming holiday season to earn some added cash for gifts? Make sure you understand your hiring status. Regardless of whether you're an employee, contractor or just doing a few gigs on the side, all will affect your taxes and tax responsibilities. (Sept. 21, 2018)
- 5 tax tips for lottery winners — If you ever win a big lottery jackpot or some other game of chance, you'll have some tax issues to consider. These five tax tips for lottery winners can help you deal with your good fortune and the IRS. Good luck! (Sept. 28, 2018)
- Maximizing business meal tax deductions — The IRS has approved continued tax deductions for business meals under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Here's how to make sure you get the most tax break from those work-related dining experiences. (Oct. 5, 2018)
- 7 401(k) do's and don'ts — You put money into your 401(k). Now you're freaking out because of this week's crazy stock market. Don't panic. Do read these 7 ways to make the most of your workplace retirement plan. (Oct. 12, 2018)
- Getting tax help for disaster losses — Two major hurricanes hit the South. Wildfires ravaged California. Hawaii's dealing with volcanic destruction. The tax code can help these and other folks affected by major disasters via itemized tax claims for their losses. (Oct. 19, 2018)
- 5 retirement plan saving and tax options — Too many Americans are not saving for their post-work years. One of the reasons might be they're overwhelmed by all the options. To help you sort through the choices, here's a quick guide to some of the more popular tax-favored nest egg accounts. (Oct. 26, 2018)
- Retirement plan contribution limits for 2018 & 2019 — If you're ever planning to retire, you need to be saving as much as you can now. There are limits on tax-favored retirement plans, but the Internal Revenue Service makes cost-of-living inflation adjustments every fall. Check out the maximum amounts you can stash in IRAs, 401(k) plans and the like for 2018 and 2019 tax years. Then do it! (Nov. 2, 2018)
- Deducting medical insurance premiums — Health insurance coverage is a huge expense for most folks. In some situations, though, an individual's cost of paying those premiums is tax deductible. (Nov. 9, 2018)
- 2019 tax year inflation adjustments — It's already 2019, at least from the Internal Revenue Service's perspective. The agency has released its annual collection of tax amounts affected by inflation. This first of the annual 10-part series looks at how inflation impacts 2019's income tax brackets and has a directory with links (some still in-the-works) to the other nine posts. (Nov. 16, 2018)
- Charitable donation tax rules — The Thanksgiving spirit has prompted you to share some of your good fortune with those in need. Your generosity not only will help your favorite good cause, but it also could cut your tax bill if you follow the tax code guidelines. (Nov. 23, 2018)
- Reconstructing tax records — You and your family made it through a major disaster, but your tax records didn't. Now you need all those 1040s and associated schedules to apply for federal tax relief. Here's how to get them, or sufficient substitutes, so your recovery can continue. (Nov. 30, 2018)
- Federal and state tax breaks for military members — A double tax tip this Pearl Harbor Day 2018: U.S. service personnel have long contributed, sometimes with their lives, to the welfare of our nation. It's only fitting that these military men and women are provided some special tax considerations at various government levels. (Dec. 7, 2018)
- Don't make these 8 year-end investment tax mistakes — You depend on your investments, for income now or when you retire. Don't undercut your investing efforts by making these year-end tax-related mistakes. (Dec. 14, 2018)
- Making stock losses pay off at tax time — Were you among the sellers that helped propel the recent stock market dive? If some of the assets you cashed out were losers, you can use them at filing time to offset any gains you earned this year. (Dec. 21, 2018)
- Don't waste your FSA money — With only a few days left in 2018, use them to shop for medical expenses that are covered by your flexible spending account (FSA) account. Check out these five FSA-approved purchases, as well as these 10 unusual but allowable FSA expenditures. (Dec. 28, 2018)
And for all y'all still working on of needing to amend your 2017 taxes, you can always get help by checking the 2018 Daily Tax Tips collected on their monthly pages: January, February, March and April.