Beyond Tax Day! Dealing with the filing extension deadline
and the tax tasks that are still ahead in 2020.
Happy New Tax Year 2021 Update: I'm a bit slow in getting the ol' blog's standing features switched over to reflect the brand spanking New Year. So until that happens (soon, I promise!), the Weekly Tax Tips in early January 2021 will be added to this list.
We did it! We made it through the delayed Tax Day 2020 of July 15. Now what?
Well, there is the Oct. 15 extension deadline, which thanks to the coronavirus tax postponements now is just three, instead of the usual six, months away.
Then there's the post-filing process.
If you filed, you need to gather up all the material you used to fill out your Form 1040 and file at least some of it away in your tax record keeping system.
If you got an extension, you need to keep all those tax statements handy so you can eventually file your return.
Bonus early tip #1: You don't have to wait until Oct. 15 to finish the job.
Bonus early tip #2: You still can find 2019 return filing tips on the ol' blog's Filing Season Tax Tips that are collected on their monthly pages: January, February, March, April, May, June and (whew!) July.
Other folks face another type of tax clean up. They need to file an amended tax return to fix some errors they discovered, maybe when sorting through all those aforementioned tax statements.
And, of course, there's tax planning for the 2020 tax year so that next year's filing process won't be as much of a hassle or as costly.
Once a week through 2020: Sorry if you're starting to freak out about taxes again, right after we've wrapped the main filing season. I didn't mean to alarm you. In fact, this page is where you'll find tips to help you get through the rest of 2020 and tax tasks you may still face.
As in previous years, a new piece of tax advice will be featured here each week, usually each Friday. I know, it's a perfect lead-in to weekend tax reading!
And again as n previous tax years, the tips collected on this special page also first will be featured in the upper right corner of the ol' blog.
Regardless of whether you're looking for some tax advice to help file your extended return or save on 2020 taxes, regularly check the top of the blog page and bookmark this one for help. The weekly tips will continue until the end of this year.
Since Christmas this year is on a Friday, and it's the last Friday of the year, I'm thinking, at least right now that the final Weekly Tax Tip of 2020 will be pushed to the following Monday, Dec. 28. That way you'll have a few business days left in 2020 to take care of what I suspect will be a reminder of year-end tax moves to make.
Also, don't be surprised if a stray weekly tip or two also shows up in the opening weeks of January 2021 before I transition to the New Year and the return of the 2021 Filing Season Tips.
But I'm getting way ahead of myself. There's lots of 2020 left. So back to now, the middle of July, and this year's Weekly Tax Tips!
- Didn't file on Tax Day? Do this now — Did July 15, the COVID-19 delayed Tax Day 2020, slip by you? Don't panic. But do make these tax moves as soon as possible to stop or reduce any late-filing and non-payment penalties. (July 16, 2020)
- 16 states have scheduled sales tax holidays — The national debate over when and how schools will resume this fall continues as the coronavirus resurges across much of the country. Meanwhile, 16 states are counting on (hoping) things will be safe enough for shoppers to participate in their annual back-to-school sales tax holidays this summer. Alabama kicked off the tax holidays on July 17-19. Two more start the end of July, with the other 13 in August. Make your lists. Shop safely. (July 17, 2020)
- Tax record keeping tips — Is all the material you used last week to file your 1040 still stacked up in a pile? Time to go through it and save the crucial tax documents. Here are some record keeping tips and what tax material to keep and for how long. (July 24, 2020)
- Hurricane season heating up: Prepare now! — Hurricane season 2020 got off to an early start and as July arrives, it's picking up steam. Hurricane Isaias, the earliest "I" name since 2005, could affect Florida's east coast and then North Carolina. Time to prepare! (July 31, 2020)
- Mid-August tax holiday flurry — The bulk of the 2020 sales tax holidays are the Aug. 7-9 weekend. If you head to stores in Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia, be sure to follow coronavirus precautions. The same advice holds for Tennessee residents getting tax-free restaurant food and Marylanders who have a week (Aug. 9-15) for their back-to-sales tax holiday shopping. In addition to your health protection measures, safeguard your bank account with these tax holiday shopping tips. (Aug. 5, 2020 Bonus Tip)
- Home office tax deduction rules — The coronavirus pandemic has meant millions of us now do our jobs from home. But that doesn't mean every new work from home (WFH) employee gets to claim the home office tax deduction. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service expressly says if you're getting a salary for your WFH efforts, you're not eligible for this tax break. Here are the other rules about who can and can't write off a home office. (Aug. 7, 2020)
- Tax notice types and tips — It's rarely fun getting an Internal Revenue Service notice, but don't freak out. First, determine just what the IRS wants by looking at which type of tax notice you received. Then follow these 10 steps to deal with the tax agency's inquiry. (Aug. 16, 2020)
- RMDs can be reversed by Aug. 31 — Among the COVID-19 consequences is the waiving of required minimum distributions (RMDs) for 2020. If you made a required retirement account withdrawal before this law took effect in late March, the IRS says you have until Aug. 31 to reverse that RMD. (Aug. 21, 2020)
- Added COVID cash on way to some spouses and tax refund recipients — The coronavirus pandemic has royally messed up tax season 2020, but as the year winds down its effects are providing a bit more cash for some. Joint filers who filed injured spouse claims are getting catch-up COVID-19 payments. Plus, COVID-created tax refund interest payments are going to nearly 14 million filers. (Aug. 28, 2020)
- Tax breaks that can help cover educational costs — If you or your parents are paying for upcoming semesters, it's time for some educational tax incentives homework. Uncle Sam's various tax-favored credits, deductions, savings options, scholarships and even employer assistance can help pay many school bills. (Sept. 4, 2020)
- Tax value of your donated household goods — If you've spent at least a part of your COVID-19 self-isolation cleaning up and cleaning out your house, consider donating items you no longer want or need. They could help out your favorite charity, be welcomed by many thrift store shoppers and possibly give you a tax deduction at filing time. Just be sure to value your donated household goods accurately and fairly. (Sept. 11, 2020)
- Inventory your property before disaster strikes — The historic 2020 Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season started early and shows no signs yet of slowing, so don't let up on storm preparation. That process includes taking a pre-disaster inventory that can help when you file insurance and/or potential tax deduction claims. (Sept. 18, 2020)
- Sept. 30 is dependent EIP deadline — Get government benefits? Have kids? You get one more chance to claim added COVID cash, but it expires on Sept. 30. (Sept. 23, 2020)
- Small business get COVID-19 tax credit help — COVID-19 has hammered small businesses. But the coronavirus pandemic also prompted creation of the Employee Retention and Paid Sick and Family Leave tax credits that can help companies and self-employed individuals cope with the health crisis' unexpected costs. (Sept. 25, 2020)
- Using medical account money to cope with COVID-19 — Does the coronavirus pandemic have you stressing? If you have a tax-favored medical savings option, such as a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), those funds could help pay for ways to ease your anxiety. Here are 10 suggestions. (Oct. 2, 2020)
- 8 tax tips to meet the Oct. 15 filing deadline — If you got a federal tax filing extension earlier this year, your time is almost up. The due date for your tax year 2019 Form 1040 (and probably your extended state taxes, too) is Thursday, Oct. 15. Here are some tips to help you get it all done by this final deadline. (Oct. 9, 2020)
- When Social Security is taxable — Good news if you're getting Social Security benefits. Your monthly payments will be a bit bigger in 2021. But if you still need to supplement your federal retirement benefits, be careful. In some cases, those added earnings could make part of your Social Security payments taxable. Check out when that happens and a couple of the tax forms that are involved. (Oct. 16, 2020)
- 7 tips for a safe and tax-smart benefits open enrollment season — We're in the midst of employee benefits enrollment time at most companies. It's the annual chance to make any changes to workplace enticements like tax-favored health insurance, child care and medical savings accounts and retirement plans. These tips can help you maneuver and maximize this employer-provided benefits enrollment period, especially in this time of COVID-19. (Oct. 23, 2020)
- Don't overlook tax ballot initiatives — Yes, voting for president and your other government officials is important. But you also likely will see a ballot question or two when you cast your vote on Nov. 3. And several of them are tax-related. Here's a look at 2020's tax ballot measures. (Oct. 30, 2020)
- Time to adjust your payroll withholding — With the year winding down, if you got a big refund or owed a lot at when you filed your taxes, now is the time to fine tune your Form W-4. With just two months left, you can adjust your payroll withholding to have more or less income taxes taken out each pay period. This paycheck checkup will help you get to the most accurate withholding amount, especially if you use the Internal Revenue Service's online withholding calculator. But do so soon, so that any withholding adjustments will be spread out over several paychecks and thereby not so dramatically noticeable. (Nov. 6, 2020)
- IRS help for those facing COVID money & tax troubles — Are you struggling with your finances because of COVID-19? The IRS has a new coronavirus-inspired program, the Taxpayer Relief Initiative, that could make it less painful to pay any tax you owe. (Nov. 13, 2020)
- Filling out the FAFSA — Education has been dramatically altered during the coronavirus pandemic. One thing hasn't changed, though, when it comes to higher education. College costs a lot. Financial aid can help cover those expenses. The FAFSA, as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is popularly known, is the best way to find money to cover the costs. Here's how to get the tax information you need to fill out FAFSA. (Nov. 20, 2020)
- 10 December Tax Moves — Since you've probably got fewer (and by fewer, I mean no) holiday parties to attend due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, you've got more time to make some potentially money-saving tax moves this month. Here are 10 tax tasks that you should consider before Dec. 31 arrives. (Dec. 5, 2020)
- 6 Unemployment Q&A — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits jumped this week. The money obviously helps when you've lost your job. But remember, it is considered taxable income. These 6 questions and answers look at that component and more regarding the federal out-of-work assistance. (Dec. 11, 2020)
- WOTC benefits companies as well as workers — It's been a terrible year for companies and workers, but if you're able to hire new staff, consider doing so by year-end and adding an employee who can help you get a business tax break. Hiring workers who are in specific employee groups, including military veterans, could help you qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). But you need to add to your staff soon, specifically by the end of the year. (Dec. 18, 2020)
- Boxing Day tips, tax and otherwise — 2020 has been a tough year. If you're able to help out folks who are less fortunate than you on this Boxing Day or after, here are some ideas of how to do so. And if you make your charitable donations by Dec. 31, your gifts could turn into tax-deductible presents for you next return filing season. (Dec. 26, 2020)
Happy New Tax Year 2021!
The January 2021 Tax Tips are now live at their own page.
- Tax rates and income brackets for 2020 & 2021 — Hello January, the month when tax years collide. We're getting ready to file our 2020 tax year returns, but we're also starting to make plans that, if implemented properly, will reduce our 2021 tax bills. Key information for both years includes the tax rates and income brackets they encompass. You can find 2020 and 2021 tax rates and brackets in the first of the ol' blog's 10-part annual inflation series. And at the end of that post, there's a directory to the nine other tax areas affected by annual inflation adjustments. (Jan. 1, 2021)
- Reporting your winnings to the IRS — Uncle Sam apparently is Lady Luck's cousin. Your lottery jackpot, other gambling winnings and prizes, too, are taxable income. Here's how to report them to the Internal Revenue Service on Form 1040's Schedule 1. (Jan. 11, 2021)