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Most Obamacare attention this week has been on the been on the revised Congressional Budget Office estimates that show the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause fewer people (only 23 million vs. 24 million) to lose coverage, but at a higher cost ($31 billion more than the March version of the bill) to Uncle Sam's bottom line. But at the same time, nuts and bolts work on the American Health Care Act, or AHCA as the Republican bill is known, also continued at the Congressional committee level. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) in March... Read more →


The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on this day 67 years ago. President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday to thank U.S. military members for their service in support of our country. On Aug. 31, 1949, Truman's Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace the separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. It was a logical move given the unification under Truman's administration of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense. President John F. Kennedy established Armed Forces Day as an official holiday in... Read more →


In his new book, "The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis — and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance," Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse says young people in the U.S. are failing to launch. He explained to Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" how we ended up here and what Americans can do to prepare for adulthood. (Click image to view CBSN video) Sen. Ben Sasse swears that his book is not just 320 pages of old man "get off my lawn" rants at neighbor kids. First of all, the 45-year-old Sasse is far from old. Plus, says the Nebraska... Read more →


May flowers, like these Texas poppies, are one of the reasons it's such a merry month. Other reasons to be happy is that there are some tax moves you can make now to cut your 2017 IRS bill. (Photo by Kay Bell) Welcome to the merry, merry month of May, which is particularly joyous for folks who've finished up their 2016 tax returns. That's almost 136 million of us, with around 17 million of those 1040 forms arriving at Internal Revenue Service processing centers in the final days of this year's main filing season. While the 2017 filing season got... 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 →


The April filing deadline (it's on the 18th this year) is less than a month away. So far, the tax season is running slow. The Internal Revenue Service says that fewer than half of the expected 153 million returns have arrived at its processing offices. That indicates that there will be a mad rush to the tax filing finale. And that means that a lot of people will fall into the proverbial haste makes waste pit, being in such a hurry that they'll overlook some tax breaks. If you're careful not to miss any tax breaks for which you qualify,... Read more →


Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are among the wildflowers that emerged early this year thanks to warmer than normal temperatures. (Photo of a Hill Country patch on March 18, 2017, by Kay Bell) Hello, Spring! You used to be my favorite season, but for the last few years — OK, the last dozen that we've been back in Texas — you've arrived in late February or early March and only lasted about three days. By the time you're official, which was when you clocked in at 6:29 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (5:29 a.m. CDT; I was asleep) today, it... Read more →


Republicans took a major step toward tax reform on Monday, March 6, with their health care replacement plan that kills more than a dozen Obamacare taxes. Donald Trump greets House Speaker Paul Ryan before the new president's first address on Feb. 28 to a joint session of Congress. The two men now must work together to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo courtesy Speaker of the House) Not only would the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes erase some levies from the tax reform slate, passage of a GOP replacement health care plan also would clear the decks... Read more →


When the Academy Awards are handed out Sunday, Feb. 26, it's a good bet that most of the films already were tax winners. They used special tax breaks to help offset their sometimes enormous production costs. As of Jan. 1, all those credits will come from states. End of the federal film tax break: The only federal tax incentive designed specifically to keep film and television production in the United States ended when 2017 arrived. It was part of a group of extenders — temporary tax breaks that must be periodically renewed by Congress — that lawmakers last year decided... Read more →


Taxes are confusing anyway, but when a filing season has some special considerations, the misinformation increases. And with the availability of social media, the tax myths multiply. That's happening this year since refunds from some very specific tax returns are, by law, being held until the middle of February. Here are five tax refund myths the Internal Revenue Service says are making the rounds, along with the truth about the situation. Myth 1: All Refunds Are Delayed Yes, some refunds are delayed, but not every single one. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH, Act has a provision that... Read more →


Every year, the Internal Revenue Service makes a concerted effort to hand out more Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) money. The reason, says the tax agency, is that around 20 percent of eligible filers consistently fail to file for this refundable tax credit. But what about those who do claim the EITC? The IRS says that nationwide last year, 27 million U.S. workers and their families got $67 billion thanks to this tax credit for lower- and middle-income workers. Where EITC money goes: Not surprisingly, the most populated states account for the most EITC claims and actual dollars returned to... Read more →


The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is one of the filing claims that is delaying federal (and in some cases, state) tax refunds this year. But even if you have to wait a few extra weeks to get your refund from Uncle Sam (or your state tax office), filing for the EITC is usually worth it. It's worth more than $6,000 for some filers. And all or some of that money could be as a tax refund. Why credits rule: Like all tax credits, the EITC is a dollar-for-dollar offset of any tax you owe. Let's say your tax... Read more →


We're in the midst of an Arctic cold spell here in Central Texas. Yes, it's nothing compared to many other parts of the country, but it's ours. Three days of sub-freezing temperatures have made it clear that the hubby and I are no longer equipped to live in colder climes! We're just glad our backyard waterfall was able to deal with a bit of frost. This cold snap got me thinking about how glad I am that we were able to make some easy energy efficiency upgrades to our home and get a federal tax credit for them. Most energy... Read more →


With Republicans soon to be in control of Congress and the White House, the tax focus has shifted to a major rewrite of the Internal Revenue Code. But this legislative approach means that more than 30 temporary tax provisions will disappear from the tax code on Jan. 1, 2017. Whether they are resurrected in any new tax overhaul depends on how persuasive the various laws' lobbyists are, how committed Senators and Representatives are to streamlining the tax code and how much tax revenue is gained or lost by their continued absence or revival. Extenders usually long lives: These tax laws,... Read more →


Small business owners are hoping that their shops are filled with lots of paying customers this annual Small Business Saturday. The first Small Business Saturday was Nov. 27, 2010. That initial year, it was the creation of the financial company American Express. In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously made the day official. The day celebrates small businesses and encourages supporting them and how they impact communities. They also are hoping that by this time next year, their top tax rate will be just 15 percent. More business tax breaks ahead? That lower business tax rate, a 20 percentage point drop... Read more →


Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving in October. I like that timing. It doesn't force folks into attending two annual family gatherings within a month of each other. Not that I don't love my family, but like many things, a little goes a long way. And don't worry. I know which relatives (and there are plenty!) are thinking, if not saying, the same about me. Canada and the United States share many things, but the same Thanksgiving holiday isn't one of them. But during this week that we Americans are preparing to say thanks for our annual bounty (and, thanks to 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 →


We call it Veterans Day here in the United States. An Army veteran salutes the colors being carried in the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 11, 2011. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army via Flickr) That Nov. 11 is such an important date is evidenced by the fact that federal holiday has escaped conversion into a Monday that wraps up a long weekend that's usually more focused on consumer spending than actual commemoration. End of the Great War: Each November we mark what originally was the official, formal end of World War I at the 11th hour of... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2017 inflation adjustments. You can find links to all 2017 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Today we look at changes to some popular credits and deductions. Note: The 2017 figures apply to 2017 returns that are due in 2018. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2016 amounts to be used in filing 2016 returns due next April. You can jump for joy like these youngsters if you can claim some of these popular inflation-adjusted credits and deductions. The key to paying the least tax... Read more →


It's almost here, the Oct. 17 tax extension filing deadline. Since the regular 15th due date is Saturday, procrastinating filers get a couple of extra days to do their tax jobs. Don't waste them. UPDATE: Some filers in states where major natural disasters were declared also get time beyond 10/17. Details in Oct. 17 is final filing deadline for most, but is extended further for folks in FL, LA, NC and WVA disaster areas IRS grants more tax relief for Hurricane Matthew filers in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina But also don't be in such a last-minute panic... Read more →