Charity Feed

So The Donald actually did it. He bailed on the final GOP debate before Iowa voters caucus on Feb. 1 to pick their favorite presidential candidates in both parties. Instead Donald Trump held an event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, ostensibly to benefit veterans' charities. Veterans Day 2015 observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Veterans Affairs photo by Robert Turtil. OK. Props to Trump's people for pulling it all together so quickly. But it was done in a way that, unsurprisingly, kept the focus on Trump. Trump again grabs the spotlight: He set up a special website where his... Read more →

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spreading the message of freedom and equality. Leading up to this milestone, the King Center in Atlanta has been celebrating more than a week of events highlighting this year's theme: "Remember! Celebrate! Act! King's Legacy of Freedom for Our World." The focus on freedom is especially meaningful, said King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, because 2016 also marks the 50th anniversary of her father going to Chicago to highlight the need for open and fair housing. In honor of King's... Read more →

Powerball Update, Jan. 10, 2016: There are some new millionaires in America this morning, including three Texans (one here in Austin, who, sad for me, is not me) who matched 5 of 6 Powerball numbers last night. But there was no Powerball big jackpot winner, so the drawing on Wednesday, Jan. 13, night will be for more than $1 billion for the first time. This morning it was $1.3 billion, with a cash lump sum payout of $806 million. This post applies to the latest winners, as well as the lucky person/people who win on Wednesday. A Lottery is a... Read more →

Welcome to the last week of 2015. The end of the calendar year is important not just for your New Year's Eve party planning purposes, but also because when it comes to most tax moves, Dec. 31 is a critical and firm deadline. So with the soon-to-be-old year rapidly winding down, here are 10 tax moves to make by Dec. 31. 1. Take your retirement account distribution. Most owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts who are age 70½ or older must take a specific amount out of their nest eggs by the end of the year or face stiff penalties. This... Read more →

Yes, I know I just posted about charitable giving on Boxing Day. And not to run this charitable donation thing into the ground, but 'tis the season of giving. Plus, I'm spending the afternoon philanthropically multitasking. I'm sorting through my big bag of old clothes, deciding which ones can go to Goodwill by Dec. 31 and noting their fair-market value for my Schedule A tax deduction claim. I'm doing this tax task while half-watching my Dallas Cowboys muddle through another game and trying to maintain some charitable thoughts about my life-long NFL team. I suspect the clothing donation triage will... Read more →

The day after Christmas is known in some countries as Boxing Day. These cats seem to be in the spirit. As was our kitty on any day of the year that a box of any size appeared. Tumbling Taxes also shows that big cats enjoy boxes, too, but in slightly different ways than do their so-called domesticated cousins. As a lover of cats large and small, house and wild, I can certainly appreciate the feline interpretation of Dec. 26 However, for people, Boxing Day has different meanings. An evolving Boxing Day: In recent years, according to the Associated Press, Boxing... Read more →

Christmas is tomorrow. Have you finished your shopping? If not, there's an easy way to come up with great gifts without fighting the last-minute shopping mall crush. Go online and give to your favorite charity in honor of someone. In most cases, the charity will send the person, or the family of a departed loved one if that's who you choose to honor with the donation, notification of the gift and how it will be used. The key here is to remember that this is a gift. Recipient's (not your) cause: You need to make sure that the person in... Read more →

When we think about tax-related inflation adjustments, we typically expect amounts to bump up, at least a little. But, as the Federal Reserve made clear yesterday when it finally hiked interest rates for the first time in almost a decade, inflation has not been a big deal for a while. So it's not such a big surprise that the Internal Revenue Service's annual inflation adjustments for the rates used to figure tax deductible driving looked like some earlier Fed moves: they will drop in 2016. A young driver knows what it takes to keep his vehicle on the road. The... Read more →

Sin taxes are supposed to encourage help force people to break what are generally perceived as bad habits. One of the most common sin taxes is an added levy on cigarettes. It has long been argued, and shown in some studies, that the tax is effective in keeping young people from starting to smoke. They tend to have lower incomes, so a hefty tobacco tax makes the habit too expensive for them, especially when they consider other ways they could use the money that otherwise would turn to ash. Now it looks like cigarette taxes also can improve the health... Read more →

The special post-Thanksgiving days -- Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, wrap up today. It's Giving Tuesday. Started in 2012, Giving Tuesday is a global day during which folks are encouraged to give back to their communities and the charitable causes they care about. It's the unofficial kick-off of the annual charitable season, when many of us focus on not just presents to friends and family, but also end-of-year giving to our favorite nonprofits. While taxes generally are not the reason why people give to charities, there is a tax component. If you itemize your taxes instead of taking... Read more →

How are those Thanksgiving leftovers holding up? While you might be sick of the excess turkey, dressing and countless side dishes, too many people face the opposite problem. They don't have enough to eat every day. Food pantries and soup kitchens get a lot of attention during the holidays, and that's good. But they welcome help throughout the year. And some are getting it from nontraditional sources. Many hunters and the organizations that support them have charitable offshoots through which game meat is donated to help feed the hungry. A volunteer serves game meat at soup kitchen. Click image to... Read more →

I love that Subaru commercial where the little kid (he's 5!) imagines what it would be like to drive his dad's car. My favorite part is when he exasperatedly utters, "People." That's how I feel today after the Internal Revenue Service felt compelled to issue a warning about possible fake charity scams popping up in connection with the deadly flooding this month in South Carolina and neighboring states. People. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Crooks and con artists look for any hook they can to separate us from our money. It happened after the devastating Haitian earthquake. Criminals also targeted... Read more →

Do you regularly give to charities? Do your neighbors? That's probably the case if you live in Utah. A new study by the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, found that between 1997 and 2012 residents of the Beehive State donated the most to charity as a percentage of their total income. William Freeland, an ALEC research analyst, talks with the Wall Street Journal about "The Effects of State Taxes on Charitable Giving," the group's new study that he coauthored. Click image to see the full video interview. The other top 10 states as far as percentage of income... Read more →

PBS is losing a beloved resident. Sesame Street, which debuted on public television in 1969, now will be seen on HBO, the premium cable channel heretofore best known for decidedly adult dramas. HBO star Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini, welcomes Sesame Street viewers in his own inimitable way to the premium cable network in @JRehling's Twitter take on the channel change. There is, however, a tiny bit of good news for PBS and families who rely on that broadcast outlet for their kids' entertainment. Old Sesame Street episodes will still be available on PBS. And the new... Read more →

And here we are, into August. School will start in some places this month. Elsewhere, folks are sneaking in one final vacation trip. Regardless of whether you're packing the kiddos' lunches or packing for a final seasonal jaunt, you're probably just trying to stay cool during these Dog Days of summer. You also should be looking at some August Tax Moves that could help you keep you cool now and at filing season next year. Here are some ideas. Tax-free shopping: Few things are cooler than getting a tax bargain. That's possible for shoppers in 18 states that this summer... Read more →

What once seemed like a tax Hail Mary pass doomed to fall short is now a game ending completion. The National Football League is giving up its tax-exempt status, which he called a "distraction." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the change, which will take effect with the league's 2015 fiscal year, in a memo to the 32 NFL team owners. Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman and ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means Committee, also reportedly got copies. Goodell cited among the reasons for the change in tax status recent Congressional criticism of... Read more →

As the sharing economy continues to grow, so do the associated tax problems. The Internal Revenue Service obviously is interested in folks who earn money using their autos as on-call car services or rent their homes to out-of-towners. Money collected for special projects via crowdsourcing sites also is generally viewed by Uncle Sam as taxable income, regardless of whether it's for a movie (yay Veronica Mars) or potato salad. Then there are the contributions to help out folks in need. No tax break for donors: Setting up online money-collection sites to help out folks who've encountered a catastrophe is today's... Read more →

Every year, we have to deal with a few new tax laws. This year the biggie is the Affordable Care Act, known by its acronym ACA or its popular nickname Obamacare. Millions of us this filing season are reporting our health care coverage to the Internal Revenue Service or figuring any penalty we owe for not having health insurance for all of 2014 or calculating whether we must pay back any of the advance premium tax credit we got to buy a medical insurance policy via a state or federal exchange. There have been problems. Errors on taxpayer statements issued... Read more →

Full disclosure: I didn't watch HBO's documentary on the Church of Scientology last night. We don't get the premium channel and anyway I had zombies walkers to follow. But I plan to catch "Going Clear" when it's available on video on demand or some streaming option. Alex Gibney's two-hour film apparently focuses more on certain specific allegations about the church, particularly in connection with two of its most famous members, actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise, than did the book upon which it is based. From a tax standpoint, how the Scientologists came to be officially sanctioned by Uncle Sam... Read more →

March Madness is almost over. As with taxes, numbers are critical. We've gone from the First Four to the Select 64 to the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight to today's games to determine the Final Four. Those four teams will meet up on Saturday, April 4, to decide which two men's college basketball teams will vie on Monday, April 6, for the NCAA championship. Click bracket for a larger view (opens as PDF). Also check out SBNation's full college basketball and NCAA tournament coverage. Ending a college sports tax break: College sports are huge money makers. We're still waiting... Read more →