Charity Feed

Have you finalized your Valentine's Day plans? Good for you, you fool for love! Hey, I'm not judging. I'm just not that much of a romantic. That's why Valentine's Day is not that big of a deal in our household. Except for an exchange of cards, with the hubby and I each giving the other one humorous and one sentimental Hallmark greeting, Feb. 14 is just another day. Yes, the length of our relationship is one reason why Cupid's big day is predictably boring every year. But it works for us. Plus, our lack of more elaborate romantic gestures means... Read more →


Hello February. Although you're the year's shortest month, your fewer days can be full of extremes, like snow this week in the Midwest and Northeast and weather warm enough here in Central Texas for us to turn off the furnace and open windows. Image courtesy Tammy King's February Pinterest Board February's changes can be dramatic. But there's no need to over-react to your taxes this month. There are lots of easy moves you can make over the next 28 days. Collect your tax statements: Filing data on a variety of forms is filtering in this month. If you work for... Read more →


On this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, the last MLK Day that Barack Obama will serve as U.S. President, the 44th commander in chief will once again spend part of his afternoon volunteering. President Obama and younger daughter Sasha helped out during an earlier MLK Day at DC Central Kitchen. (Click image to see more at Corporation for National and Community Service.) The national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader has evolved into a day of service. The Obamas take that role seriously. In the past, the president and his family have volunteered at kitchens that feed... Read more →


President-Elect Donald Trump is feeling charitable again. This time, it's Uncle Sam who's the target of his largesse. President-Elect Donald Trump and his three older children (Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr.) get ready to meet the press this morning (Jan. 11) to discuss Trump Organization business deals after The Donald is sworn in on Jan. 20. (Photo by Evan Vicci via TPM Twitter post) During the almost hour-long press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan (Trump's first Q&A with the media since July 16, 2016, when he was on the campaign trail), a tax attorney for the incoming 45th president... Read more →


I got in my car for the first time in 2017 today. It also was my first use of my new mileage log. Yep, that pretty little pink spiral notebook is this year's tracking device of all my potentially tax deductible miles. And yep, those of you who know me know that I'm not really a pink kind of gal. This notebook was tucked in bag I got at a conference. Over the years, I've attended a lot of conferences and gotten a whole lot of similar notebooks, so I use a new one each tax year. What miles to... Read more →


Time is rapidly running out to make year-end tax moves, but if you're a septuagenarian, here's one that you definitely cannot afford to overlook. If you're 70½ or older, congrats and happy, happy on all those full and half birthdays! Remember, though, that now you must take out at least an IRS-specified amount from your tax-deferred retirement account(s) by the end of the year. Miss the deadline and you'll owe a major tax penalty. (Birthday party photo courtesy Today's Senior Network) Half birthday tax trigger: If you're 70½ and have a traditional IRA (or more than one of these accounts)... Read more →


The Dow is again flirting with the 20,000 mark. It closed today at 19,974.62. The run-up has finally prompted you to evaluate your portfolio to make some year-end rebalancing and, of course, tax moves. Good for you. But don't undermine that effort by making these tax mistakes. 1. Buying a tax bill: Timing is everything, especially when it comes to investments. If you buy a mutual fund just before it issues capital gains distributions, you've also bought yourself a tax bill. Worse, Morningstar's Christine Benz points out, by adding a holding to your taxable account before it makes a payout,... Read more →


Your business-related driving probably won't save you as much on your taxes in 2017. The reason? The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the optional standard mileage rate for business use of your vehicle is a half-cent less than in 2016. A trip to the vet likely won't count as a tax deductible medical expense, but other allowable miles in 2017 can be claimed at 17 cents apiece. It drops on Jan. 1, 2017, to 53.5 cents per mile. For the final few days of 2016, the business mileage rate is 54 cents per mile. Along with a smaller per-mile... Read more →


It's December 1. December. The last month of the year. How the heck did that happen!?! It hasn't even gotten good and cold yet here in Central Texas. We -- OK the hubby, at my nagging request -- put our Christmas tree up the first week of November this year. That means I have all of December to focus on taxes! OK. I've got my calendar and weather rant under control. But my urgency about how quickly 2016 is passing remains. That means we're rapidly running out of time -- check the countdown clock there in the right hand column... Read more →


President-Elect Donald Trump's tax reform plan has slipped off the radar as we've been watching him select folks to fill his cabinet. (We're still waiting on The Donald to reveal his Treasury Secretary choice.) But this Giving Tuesday, the unofficial kick-off of the annual charitable season, is the perfect time to look at how a Trump Administration might change our donations and the tax breaks that many get for their gifts. Trump Tax II vs. Pease: In revising his original tax proposal so that its projected deficit would drop from around $9 trillion over 10 years to just (please note... Read more →


Happy day after Thanksgiving! For many folks, it's time for Christmas shopping, although internet commerce and changing demographics have made Black Friday a tad less chaotic. Are you shopping today? At a major retailer or at a local thrift store? If it's the latter and it's run by an IRS-approved charity, consider donating some items you no longer need or want to the nonprofit. It could provide you a tax deduction. (Thrift store shopper photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr) For others, it's a day to finally start decking the home's halls (and living rooms and mantels and…). The... Read more →


Taxes are about dollar amounts and dates. April 15 obviously is the biggie. But Dec. 31 is almost as important. The end of a tax year is, for the most part, the last time you can make tax moves that could help lower your coming tax bill. While we all wish we could have Homer Simpson's to-do list, when it comes to taxes, most of us need to take care of some potentially money saving tax tasks by Dec. 31. With the days rapidly dwindling (the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column is tracking them), here... Read more →


Today is National Philanthropy Day, created to recognize those who strive to make life better for others. The term philanthropist usually conjures up rich people holding fancy galas attended by their wealthy friends to raise money for various causes. But you don't have to be rich to be a philanthropist, or a good-deed-doer as The Wizard of Oz called such folk when he stumbled over the fancier moniker. "Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phil … er … phil … er … er … good-deed-doers and their... Read more →


Donald Trump acknowledged during Sunday's second presidential debate that he had avoided paying federal income taxes for years thanks to a claim in 1995 of nearly $1 billion in business losses. Click image to watch Newsy video report on Warren Buffett's response to Donald Trump's tax charges. The Republican presidential nominee then pivoted from his 1040s, which we still haven't seen, to wealthy supporters of his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Trump specifically accused his fellow billionaires of also using tax laws to their advantage. Duh! That's not unusual. Nor is it illegal. It's just a bit infuriating in many cases.... Read more →


Fifteen years ago today, terrorists hijacked four planes and killed 2,977 people in New York City, the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. and in a field near rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The view across the south pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, former site of the Twin Towers, looking toward the National September 11 Memorial Museum. (Photo by NormanB via Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons) As has been tradition on each Sept. 11 since 2001, commemorative events will be held today across the country. The recognition became official on Dec. 18, 2001 when Public Law 107-89 took effect designating... Read more →


$10,162. That's how much of a federal tax refund that Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and his wife Karen received on their 2015 tax return. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, GOP vice presidential candidate, campaigning among Ohio State tailgaters during a stop earlier this month in the key Nov. 8 election state. (Photo via @mikepence Twitter account) Since the Pences' refund is almost four times the amount of the average tax refund of $2,732 (per Internal Revenue Service filing data through May 13), the $10,162 that the Pences are getting back from Uncle Sam also earns this week's By the... Read more →


I love cats and I love art, but I gotta say that The New York Times story yesterday (Sept. 2) on a feline-themed museum exhibit kind of grossed me out. So of course I'm sharing it with y'all. "The Kittens' Wedding" is the centerpiece of a new show at a Brooklyn, New York, museum. But it's not your typical work of art. Stuffed cats say "I do" in a scene from a British Pathé report on the anthropomorphic taxidermy of Walter Potter. Click image to watch the video. It's an elaborate tableau by the Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter that is,... Read more →


Music is important to me. I took piano lessons as a kid and even survived some formal recitals and special performances in elementary school. In junior high (that's what we called middle school in my day) and high school, I played the clarinet in school bands. A couple of friends (shout out to Sabrina and Rebecca) and I even won a 2nd place medal for our reed trio's performance at a Texas UIL competition. I long ago put my instruments away, but nowadays I am a polished listener of tunes, all sorts of tunes. Music plays a role in my... Read more →


Almost 7 trillion gallons of rain in just one week across Louisiana produced the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A Mississippi Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter delivers sandbags to the levee near the Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, on Aug. 16, 2016. Click image to view the video and learn more about Mississippi's aide to its neighbor. "This disaster is the worst to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy, and we anticipate it will cost at least $30 million -- a number which may grow as we learn more about the... Read more →


Are you one of the around 10 million taxpayers who got an extension to file? I was. Are you one of this group who's yet to file a tax return? I am. What are we waiting for? We paid any tax we owed, or a close guesstimation of our tax bill, when we filed for the extra six months back in April. So we're not that worried about a big tax bill. And we fully intended to get to the tax task sooner rather than later. But we woke up today, took a look at the calendar (or our smartphone)... Read more →