Charity Feed

iLEAD students hold up their Backpacks Full of Hope that they took to Puerto Rico on their spring break to help with recovery efforts on the island. (Photo courtesy iLEAD) Hundreds of students, and in some cases their families, recently took advantage of spring break to head to sunnier climes. However, a couple of the usual beach destinations, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The good news is that some of the mainland spring breakers did or still are using their time off to participate in storm recovery efforts in... Read more →


I am so, so sorry my dear friends in the MidAtlantic and Northeastern United States. I know you're looking at possibly more snow with the fourth nor'easter in three weeks forecast to hit your areas in a few days. Here in Central Texas and other parts of the country, however, spring has officially arrived! My Texas neighbors and I are enjoying the seasonal wildflowers. Thank you, Lady Bird Johnson! (Photo by Kay Bell) It's also the traditional time for cleaning up and clearing out your house. Some of those old and/or unused items can be tossed. Others, however, are in... Read more →


Doing taxes is all about the numbers. The forms require our Social Security number and that of our spouse and dependent children. Similar identification digits also are key on tax forms from, for example, our employers and other entities that contribute to our taxable income. And, of course, we have to put in all those figures about our earnings and subtract the numbers in the form of expenses and deductions and credits to get to the most important amount of all, our final tax bill. Today's the 30th anniversary of the math-inspired unofficial holiday Pi Day is a good time... Read more →


There are so many tax scams out there that it takes more than one post. Three, to be precise. This is Part 2 of the Internal Revenue Service's 2018 list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. The four schemes in this post, numbers 5 through 8, are like those in the initial 2018 Dirty Dozen tax scams of 2018. They also are repeat (dis)honorees. That's because once crooks find something that works, they keep using it. And sadly, there are enough new victims out there every year to fall for it. Unless potential targets are warned. To do that and... Read more →


Don't hate losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time. The clock change, along with charitable donations, could save koalas and other wildlife. (Photo by Arnaud Gaillard via Wikipedia CC) How are y'all feeling after losing that hour of sleep last night, or rather early this morning? Me, not so good. I'm apparently among that group of folks who experience headaches when our circadian rhythms are affected by going in and out of Daylight Saving Time (DST). But at least it's not a heart attack, which some studies have shown increase a bit during the first three weekdays following clocks' springing... Read more →


The Rev. Gilbert Caldwell (left) was part of the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (center). Click the screenshot above to watch the full CBS Sunday Morning feature on how a group of fifth-graders helped correct a 60-year-old act of discrimination against Caldwell and his wife. As a young man, the Rev. Gilbert Caldwell marched with Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we honor and celebrate on this federal holiday. Racial discrimination was among the many wrongs King, Caldwell and other civil rights activists back then were working to right. It's a... Read more →


It's almost 2018 and we all know what that means. Resolutions, fresh starts and lots of new tax laws. The good news is that for the most part, the changes to the tax code under the Republican-led tax bill will not affect us until we file our 2018 tax returns in 2019. But some of those changes in the still-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act mean we will need to make some tax moves now, this final week of 2017, to take advantage of some tax provisions that won't be around or will be dramatically altered when Jan. 1, 2018... Read more →


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree How lovely are thy branches! Our tree. Click here to see a photo of it with lights on. This is one of my favorite Christmas carols, in part because the Tannenbaum tune is also the one used for the "Maryland, My Maryland," the state song of the place the hubby and I called home for almost two decades. But it's also a wonderfully lyrical celebration of the Christmas tree tradition. The National Christmas Tree Association says that between 25 million and 30 million real trees are sold across the United States each holiday season.... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has good news for folks who do tax-related driving. Some auto travel amounts, however, might not matter depending on what happens with tax reform. 50 Cent via Giphy.com If your job requires you to be on the road, you'll get a bit bigger tax break for those business miles in 2018. The Internal Revenue Service's annual adjustment of the optional standard mileage rate for business use of your vehicle is a penny-per-mile more next year. The deductible per-mile rate for medical and moving also are one cent higher in 2018. The driving deduction rate for charitable... Read more →


Feeling generous? Good. It's Giving Tuesday. This philanthropic effort, usually seen as #GivingTuesday on social media, began in 2012 as a counter to the frantic shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday's goal is to fight the commercialization and consumerism of Christmas and other end-of-year holidays. Instead of buying more goods for family, friends or yourself, Giving Tuesday organizers urge gifts to nonprofits. Such donations, the Internal Revenue Service reminds us, could produce a gift for you — a tax deduction — when you file your annual tax return next year. As noted in a... Read more →


$13 billion. That's how much nonprofits say Republican-proposed changes to the tax code could cost them each year. Even though the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would keep the itemized deduction for charitable donations, it's one of just a handful that will remain on Schedule A. In exchange for the elimination of most itemized write-offs, the House tax reform proposal calls for almost doubling the standard deduction. That shift in federal tax deduction strategy could pose a major problem for the thousands of U.S. nonprofits that rely on contributions. Fewer itemizers = less donations: Now, about a third of... Read more →


If compassion fatigue hadn't set in after the back-to-back-to-back hurricanes that roared across the Atlantic, laying waste to much of Texas, Florida, Georgia and many Caribbean islands, it probably did when Mexico got rocked within two weeks by two massive and deadly earthquakes. A group of American tourists were literally rocked when their Sept. 19 Mexico boat ride was interrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Click image to watch full YouTube video. Many of the small tropical islands were particularly hard hit by Hurricanes Irma and then Maria. Both were major hurricanes. Both covered wide areas. The mass of the... Read more →


Photo by The Explorographer via Flickr CC Sixteen years ago, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists struck on U.S. soil, leaving 2,977 dead in New York City, Washington, D.C. and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This Sept. 11, residents of Florida, Texas, U.S. territories in the Caribbean and neighboring island nations are struggling to recover from Harvey and Irma, two deadly hurricanes that are among the strongest ever to make landfall. There is no comparing these tragedies. Each is heart-wrenching and horrific in its own way. But they share one important attribute. Today, as on Sept. 11, 2001, people are reaching out to... Read more →


Oh, Photoshop. What would the internet be without you? Sometimes, doctored images are welcome innocent examples of good humor. Other times they are cruel and divisive. And the astounding photos tend to skyrocket during times of tragedy and disaster. Take, for example, the photo below of what @Jeggit's Tweet says is a shark swimming in a Houston street flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Jeggit gives us the option to believe it or not. Go with not. It's fake. Mashable has the details on the original shark photo, which over the years has been seen in edited online images swimming through flooded... Read more →


Hurricane Harvey has inundated Houston. And it's still raining there. And in other parts of the Lone Star State. Thanks to The Weather Channel's Matt Sitkowski for posting this image on Twitter, along with one showing these Houston roads pre-Hurricane Harvey so we can get some perspective on the extent of H-Town's hurricane-related flooding. That means lots of folks are going to need help recovering from the strongest tropical system to hit Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961. From Corpus Christi to Port Arthur along the Gulf Coast and, thanks to Harvey's size and slow movement, well inland, my native... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →


It's officially summer. Time for fun at the beach. And fun making mid-year tax moves. Happy July 5th, the start of midyear tax planning. With six months left in the tax year, it's the perfect time to make some tax moves that could reduce your 2017 tax bill. Here are six easy ones to take care of in July. 1. Adjust your payroll withholding. Did you get a big tax refund this year? Or did you owe Uncle Sam more than you expected? Either situation means that you need to reassess your payroll withholding. It's easy to do. Just give... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2017! Maybe you're spending this Saturday simply out enjoying the beauty of Mother Earth. Or perhaps you're participating in the March for Science (the main event in D.C. or satellite marches across the country) to support scientific efforts, including the study of climatology and climate change. Regardless of how you acknowledge Earth Day, thank you for thinking of our planet. In recognition of your commitment to protect and preserve the only place we humans and other creatures have (so far) to live, here are 7 tax saving options that reward energy and environmentally friendly efforts. Let's start... Read more →


This post was updated Feb. 14, 2018 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... 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 →