Charity Feed

The Fourth of July is over, but if your neighborhood is anything like mine, you'll be hearing fireworks for another week or so. Yes, my neighbors are pyrotechnic scofflaws. Even if you don't participate in the literal lighting of firecrackers or bottle rockets post-July-4, there are still plenty of metaphorical tax fireworks that you can take advantage of as we head into the heart of summer. Here are five easy tax moves to consider in July. 1. Get storm ready. We've had four named tropical systems so far this Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. So far, thank goodness, there's been... Read more →


The United States of America tomorrow will celebrate 240 years since independence was declared. Here's wishing all my fellow Americans a safe and fun July 4, especially since our break from Britain was based in large part on the battle cry that "Taxation without representation is tyranny." But another important date arrived just a few days earlier. On July 1, the first of the Baby Boomers turned 70½. Judging by this cake's flames, this guy looks to be a bit older than 70½. That half birthday date is crucial because it means owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts like traditional IRAs... Read more →


Were you a June bride or groom? Congratulations and best wishes! "We did it!" The happy couple and friends celebrate. (Photo by Lindsey Child via Flickr CC) You have some tax tasks to take care of once you're back from your honeymoon excursion and the thank-you notes have been sent. Marriage is just one of the big life events that has tax implications. Today's Weekly Tax Tip has details on 7 such milestones, starting with your birth and continuing through retirement. And since your wedding day is one of the happiest days of your life -- remember it when you... Read more →


Donald J. Trump has had issues during his presidential campaign with charities. There was his fundraising event back in January for veterans' groups. That was followed up by questions about just how much money was made and to what military-focused nonprofit groups it eventually was distributed. The matter of The Donald's own personal charitable donations also has been discussed, particularly in light of his refusal so far to release any of his tax returns. Now a member of a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank says that he's advised the presumptive Republican nominee to consider taxing rich people more for their... Read more →


Americans, and particularly the families who suffered incomprehensible loss in the horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, are still trying to cope with the tragedy. Forty-nine families are struggling emotionally with the loss of their loved ones at the hand of a crazed and heavily (and legally) armed gunman. Families of 53 more people who were wounded, some gravely, also are trying to cope with the effects of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Help for affected families: Not only must these people work through the personal loss and pain, many also will face practical challenges.... Read more →


Happy National Doughnut Day! If you live near a military facility, consider dropping a box of the sweet fried treats off there for the enlisted men and women. Or take some to your local veterans' meeting hall. This isn't, a la some politicians who will remain nameless (but linked to!), a blog version of pandering to patriotism. Doughnuts actually are inextricably linked to our armed services. Last year, National Doughnut Day fell on June 6, D-Day. As I noted in my post then, Salvation Army officers who went to Europe during World War I to comfort U.S. troops did so... Read more →


Donald Trump, in a combative press conference today (May 31), announced the veterans' groups that received money collected in his Iowa debate alternative event last January. Click image to watch Trump campaign video via Twitter The 41 nonprofits and the amounts they received/will get are: 22Kill -- $200,000 Achilles International Inc. -- $200,000 American Hero Adventures -- $100,000 Americans for Equal Living -- $100,000 America's Vetdogs - The Veterans K9 Corps Inc. -- $75,000 AMVETS -- $75,000 Armed Services YMCA of the USA -- $75,000 Bob Woodruff Family Foundation Inc. -- $75,000 Central Iowa Shelter and Services -- $100,000 Connected... Read more →


More than 1 million men and women have died during U.S. military service. Memorial Day is when we take special time to remember them and their ultimate sacrifice. To ensure the ultimate hallowed duties of America's fallen heroes are never forgotten, The National Moment of Remembrance Act was enacted in December 2000. This law created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The Commission's charter is to "encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity" by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United... Read more →


Just in time for Memorial Day, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has made good on his promise to donate $1 million of his own money to a veterans' charity. "We got the check yesterday," James Kallstrom, chairman of the board of directors for the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation (MC-LEF), told The Washington Post today. "It's arrived, and it's in the bank." Welcome cash surprise: The donation was finalized the evening of May 23, according to the Post, nearly four months after Trump's campaign held a televised fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, that the candidate attended instead of participating... Read more →


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 CBS.com/Corden) 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 →