Charity Feed

Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominees, skipped the Des Moines, Iowa, debate back in January. The Donald was feuding with Fox News, the debate's host, then and opted instead to hold his own event. Click image for full CNN report and video. Trump's alternate televised gathering at Drake University, also in Des Moines, was promoted as a fundraiser for veterans' charities. So how did that turn out? How much was donated? Which charities got some of the cash collected almost four months ago? The answers are, apparently, pretty good from a political posturing standpoint, not as much as... Read more →

J. Sterling Morton started Arbor Day back in 1872 with a simple idea: Set aside a special day for tree planting. Our backyard tree line. That's an oak at left, a crepe myrtle in the middle and a fig to the right, with some junipers and more oaks at back. Even on cloudy, gray days like this Arbor Day 2016, I love looking out at them. Morton saw the value of trees in the wide open high plains of Nebraska, where he had moved in 1854. The tallest of our plants serve as windbreaks to keep soil in place and... Read more →

One way to survive working on your tax return with a deadline looming -- April 18 this year -- is to make sure you don't make any easily avoidable filing mistakes. Similarly, you don't want to overlook any tax breaks. I guess that technically omitting a tax claim could be considered a mistake, but for the sake of keeping things clear -- and for providing an added blog post topic! -- I've separated them. Searching for tax breaks? Below are 18. (James Corden GIF via And to save you time in your search for ways to cut your tax... Read more →

One man hopes Hillary Clinton's drive for the White House will help him sell her former ride. Hillary Clinton's old Oldsmobile, pictured here in a screen shot from a YouTube video made in a 2011 attempt to sell the vehicle, is being offered once again to buyer. Click image to watch the full video. Mike Lawn of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, worked for the National Parks Service -- he just had to have that job, right, with that surname -- in Washington, D.C., for 29 years, helping with White House landscaping during the terms of seven presidents, including Hillary's husband. Lawn was... Read more →

The eggs in your Easter basket are probably tax-free. Only a handful of states tax groceries. But you had to pay tax on the dye kit you dropped in your shopping cart, along with the chocolate rabbits and crème-filled eggs. Sweets and other snacks, seasonal and year-round, tend to be subject to sales tax. Successful Easter egg hunt by Andrew McDowell via Flickr And if, like the parents of the youngster pictured above, you went with reusable plastic eggs, you had to pay tax on them. Ditto the basket itself, along with that green stuff that doesn't look at all... Read more →

Spring has sprung here in the Northern Hemisphere, at least according to the calendar. It arrived, depending on your time zone, late Saturday, March 19, or early Sunday, March 20. That makes it the earliest arrival of spring in our lifetime (thus far!). Maybe that's why some places welcomed the new season with snow. Regardless of the weather, one thing is a constant at this time of year. Lots of folks jump right into spring cleaning. Housekeeping is not really my thing. Thank goodness the hubby actually enjoys using a vacuum, and not just during the spring. Cleaning up and... Read more →

Opponents of Scientology were jazzed yesterday as word spread across the Internet that the controversial church's tax-exempt status had been revoked. They were quickly disappointed. Church of Scientology "Big Blue" building in Los Angeles (Photo by PictorialEvidence via Wikimedia Commons) The report that hit my social media feeds ostensibly was from ABC News. It said, in part: In a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court today, the eight justices ruled in favor of revoking the Church of Scientology’s tax-exempt status in the United States. Under the ruling, Scientology will still be able to operate as a business but no longer... Read more →

Here's some news guaranteed to get steam coming out of many ears on Capitol Hill. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen last week was awarded the Elliot L. Richardson Prize for Excellence in Public Service by the National Academy of Public Administration. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is often called to testify at Congressional committee hearing about his agency's actions. Last week, however, he appeared before a more welcoming group. The award, named for a four-time White House Cabinet member who served in all three branches of government under six presidents, includes a $25,000 cash component, at least half of which... Read more →

One of my favorite faux inspirational sayings suggests a way to deal with stress, which is a major issue for many folks at tax time. "When life is stressful, do something to lift your spirits. Go for a drive. Go two or three thousand miles away. Maybe change your name." It actually works, the taking a short drive, I mean. Thankfully, neither my taxes nor the rest of my life has gotten so overwhelming (yet!) that I've been tempted to follow the rest of the tongue-in-cheek advice. And in addition to the mental and emotional relief, some of the driving... Read more →

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 →