Work-job-career Feed

If you have a medical flexible spending account, or FSA, one of the key year-end tasks you need to take care of this month is ensuring that you don't lose any of this tax-free money. Yes, some employers give workers a 2½-month grace period, until March 15, to use the prior year's FSA funds. Others let their workers roll over up to $500 left in their medical accounts. Both of those options are at the discretion of the companies offering the tax-favored benefit. A lot of companies, however, still just take advantage of the use it or lose it rule.... Read more →


Welcome to Part 8 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. Today we look at considerations of U.S. taxpayers living and working abroad. You can find links to all 2019 inflation posts in the series' first item: income tax brackets and rates. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns that are due in April 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing this year's 2018 tax return due April 15, 2019. Where's the best place for the world's estimated 57 million expatriates? InterNation's latest annual Expat Insider Survey says it's... Read more →


North Carolina flooding in the wake of extensive hurricane rains. Photo courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency A bill that would extend some expired tax laws, enact a handful of new ones and correct some errors in last year's tax reform bill is now before the House of Representatives. The extensive and expensive — the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will add another $55 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years — measure has a decent chance of clearing the House, where all it needs is the votes of the Republicans who control that chamber. Its chances in... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and next year's Social Security wage base. You can find links to all 2019 inflation posts in the series' first item: income tax brackets and rates. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns that are due in April 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing this year's 2018 tax return due April 15, 2019. Taxpayers who face the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, see it as the... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 15 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at changes to credit and deduction amounts. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns to be filed in 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing 2018 returns due April 15, 2019. Taxpayers depend each year on tax deductions and tax credits to cut their annual tax bills. The biggies are, of course, the use of standard or itemized deductions... Read more →


I'm not nearly as cheery as my smiley face socks in the above photo, but at least I'm recovering from oral surgery at home. The downsides are some pain and (for me, but not the hubby!) not talking very much. There are some pluses, though: ice cream and milkshakes for every meal! Yesterday's procedure also means I'll have more medical expenses to deduct on our 2018 tax return. Yep, we're one of those few people who will be itemizing deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), primarily because of our medical situation the last couple of years. We... Read more →


Despite the mug's proclamation, Michael Scott (as portrayed by Steve Carell in the U.S. version of The Office) tended to be a bad boss. Donald J. Trump is that boss that almost all of us have at one time had. You know the one. He or she is always telling clients, "Sure, we can do that. No problem, no problem at all." Maybe no problem for the boss, but plenty of problems for the workers who have to follow through and make good on the pie-in-the-sky pledge. That's probably how Congress is feeling right now in the wake of Trump's... Read more →


Some of my retirement money is in stock funds. They've been going gangbusters. Until this week. I'm fighting the urge to look at what's happened with these plans' value. Did they tank along with the broader market a few days ago? Or are they edging back up with today's sort-of recovery? I'm curious, but I don't need that money right now. And I believe my investment choices are sound. So I'm going to ignore the current market gyrations and just let things ride. That's the advice most financial gurus are offering now. This week's downward trend is just an overdue... Read more →


Today is a great day for my mother. The Social Security Administration announced that she and her fellow Social Security recipients will get a get a 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2019. The 2019 COLA — the largest since the 3.6 percent bump in 2011 — means the average single retiree's federal retirement benefit will be $1,461 or $39 more a month than this year. My mom is thrilled. Those 30+ bucks will cover her monthly phone bill. Still stretching each month: Unfortunately, the upcoming benefits adjustment won't be enough to make up for more than a decade of... Read more →


Manhattan businessmen meet over lunch. (Photo by Phillip Capper via Flickr Creative Commons) The way to a business contract is through a client's stomach. That revised adage underscores what every business person, whether they run a major corporation or a mom-and-pop company, knows: that personal relationships are key to success. And much of the time, those relationships are cemented over business meals. Business meals still tax deductible: The Internal Revenue Service this week gave business a break — or really left a tax break in place — when it comes to deducting the cost of business meals. The tax agency... Read more →


Another lingering tax deduction concern created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is finally clearer. The Internal Revenue Service says that half the cost of business meals is still tax deductible as an allowable work-related expense. That's what the pre-TCJA tax law said. But because the Republican tax reform bill was cobbled together so hurriedly at the end of 2017, its legislative language left many confused. And the new law's interpretation created a division among tax professionals (and semantics geeks) as to what exactly is entertainment. Meals or entertainment vs. meals and entertainment: A great number of tax... Read more →


My octogenarian mother does an amazing job of taking care of herself and her little dog, aka my furry younger brother. My mother and her pup come to our place, like the Thanksgiving visit pictured here, but usually it's me taking time from work to head her way. (Photo by Kay Bell) But since she no longer drives and hates to impose on friends and neighbors, I make regular trips to her place to help her run errands, take her to doctor appointments and just visit. It's not too much of a hassle because she lives relatively close and it's... Read more →


October's here! In addition to making some general fourth quarter tax moves, this month is when many employees get to reassess and choose coming-year workplace benefits, many of which also offer tax advantages. And tax-free help paying off student debt could soon be part of those packages. Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. That's why today's employers are trying to figure out exactly what these younger workers want. The traditional worker wishes still apply. All employees want decent pay, regular raises and promotion possibilities. But today's twenty- and mid-thirty-somethings want more, and... Read more →


You took that great new job last November. It was a bit of hassle, a quick move three states away, but worth it. You love your work, office colleagues and neighborhood where you and your family have settled. Even better, your new employer covered most of your relocation costs. The bad news, though, is that your boss didn't get you the check reimbursing your moving expenses until this summer. That means you'll owe tax on that moving money, right? Wrong! New law, old rule: Although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) did eliminate the tax break for most* work-related... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service (and I and my fellow tax bloggers) have been noting the need for folks to get their payroll withholding amounts correct under the recent tax law changes. Reporting any adjustments, however, will continue to be done on the old Form W-4, since folks who help implement the forms alerted the IRS of the many issues they have with the proposed document. You followed the Internal Revenue Service's nagging advice and did a paycheck checkup. This, in case you aren't one of the checking taxpayers, is a look at your current payroll withholding to ensure that the... Read more →


One thing almost everyone agrees on, both politically and financially, is that we all need to do a better job of saving for retirement. But some young savers are undercutting their own efforts by regularly tapping their workplace retirement accounts early. As part of Labor Day celebrations, Donald J. Trump signed an executive order that, in part, instructed the Treasury and Labor departments to look into ways to make it easier and cheaper for smaller employers to band together to offer 401(k)-type plans for their workers. Expanding these tax-deferred workplace retirement plans is a good idea. With the demise of... Read more →


If you're looking for a job to boost your holiday spending budget, the Internal Revenue Service might be able to help. I got the postcard shown above in today's mail. No, even though I write about taxes, I'm not special in the IRS' eyes — and that's fine with me. The taxman doesn't have to pay me any extra attention at all, ever! The postcard was addressed to "Resident" so all my neighbors got one. Probably most Austin area folks did, too. Seasonal hiring ritual: There's an IRS facility in the Texas capital and almost every year as the holidays... Read more →


A few election years ago, Republicans were aghast at the level of takers compared to makers. In case you've forgotten, they were complaining that an increasing number of folks, the so-called takers, were escaping their rightful tax payments and getting government help at the expense of the makers, higher earners who tend to put more tax money into the economy. That's still happening. Now, however, in a wonderful bit of political irony, it's the GOP that's responsible for more U.S. households avoiding tax bills next filing season. Big tax cuts for millions: The latest analysis by the Tax Policy Center... Read more →


House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) was among GOP leaders who celebrated the six-month anniversary of the party's tax reform bill back in June. Now he and other Republicans want to expand that bill by the end of September. We're still waiting for clarification of many of the new tax laws in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). In fact, some say we need clarification of clarifications; have you tried to decipher the new 199A business deduction even with the Internal Revenue Service guidance? But such lingering TCJA questions are not stopping Republican leaders from trying... Read more →


Trees in September will see their first fall color. (Photo by Jonathan Bloy courtesy Bloy.net) Hello, September. It's nice to have you back. You are a month that offers mostly-welcome transitions. There are beginnings, as students start a new school year. Parents nationwide say "thank you!" There are endings, as summer gives way to fall's cooler temps and foliage changes. Those of us tired of heat waves want to know what took you so long!?! There are expectations, as the end of the year and its many holidays approach. It's never too early to start planning for these. My Christmas... Read more →