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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 →


Many tax laws might be absurd, but overall, taxes are no laughing matter, especially when it comes to filers who use frivolous tax arguments. Some things crack up even Star Trek's usually stoic Data, but not frivolous tax arguments. The Internal Revenue Service defines frivolous tax arguments as misinterpretations or disregard of tax laws in order to evade paying taxes or claim refunds to which they aren't entitled. To date, the IRS has identified 50 frivolous tax arguments used by taxpayers. And those improper refunds have cost the U.S. Treasury -- and responsible taxpayers -- more than $27.2 million. Millions... Read more →


Have you filed your 2015 tax return yet? Don't feel bad. You are definitely not alone. The Internal Revenue Service on Friday, Oct. 7, noted that fewer than a third of the 13 million taxpayers who requested an automatic six-month extension earlier this year have yet to file. This is what my den floor looked like today as I finished up our 2015 tax return with a week to spare before the Oct. 17 extension deadline. Our taxes are done! I am pleased to say that I am no longer part of that group. I finished up my 2015 Form... Read more →


On lazy Sunday afternoons, my thoughts -- after I'm through cursing the idiotic plays my Dallas Cowboys make -- often turn to retirement. Retired couple enjoying a lazy day outdoors. (Photo by Pug50 courtesy Flickr CC) The hubby and I have been saving for a long time with the goal of making all our days like Sundays, without, of course, the 'Boys' frustrations. The tax code offers many ways to help us save for what we hope will be our golden years. Sen. Ron Wyden, however, thinks Uncle Sam needs to revise some of the retirement related tax provisions. The... Read more →


Personal note, Saturday, June 10, 2017: Batman has always been my favorite comic book superhero. While I love the Caped Crusader's dark history and how it is reflected in his crime-fighting style, when I was a kid Batman was pure fun thanks to the character's TV portrayal by actor Adam West. On this sad day that I learned of Mr. West's passing on June 9, I realize that Batman came with me from those joyful childhood "Bam" and "Ka-Pow" graphic days of diversion into my mostly more serious adult tax world. Thanks for always being there when I needed you,... 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 →


It was a good Summer Olympics in Rio not only for Team USA, which won 121 medals, but also for Nike. A Nike factory store (NikeFactoryStoreVaughanMills_Wikimedia) The Oregon-based athletic apparel and shoe maker got lots of attention for its neon yellow/green shoes that most of the U.S. athletes sported on track and atop assorted medal podiums. Now, however, Nike is in an unwanted tax spotlight. Nike vs. IRS: Nike Inc. is fighting a nearly $223 million tax deficiency notice from the Internal Revenue Service. Uncle Sam's tax collector says the company owes the money after the agency rejected the way... Read more →


Saving soon and often for your or your children's college education is critical. But just as important as putting away higher education money is knowing when to take out that college fund cash. 529 plan benefits, possible pitfalls: This is especially true of the tax-favored 529 plans that states offer. Your deposits to a 529 plan are not tax deductible, but the funds grow tax-free. And when you or your child withdraws the money, there's no tax bill as long as you use the funds to pay for qualifying college costs. Withdrawing 529 money, however, is not as simple as... Read more →


The Republicans still want to repeal Obamacare, or as it's officially known the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They say so every chance they get, be it on Capitol Hill, the campaign trail or in the Party's 2016 official platform. The Democrats want to extend and, according to that Party's platform, move the 44th president's namesake legislation toward even broader universal health care. President Barack Obama meets with doctors at the White House. (Photo by White House photographer Pete Souza) But until either of those comes to pass, we've got to work with what we've got. And that means coverage requirements... Read more →


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 →


Being a parent is tough. Being a single parent is even tougher. Beach-combing with dad. Photo by YoTuT via Flickr. So on this Father's Day 2016, here's a shout out to the millions of dads who are taking care of their kids on their own. There were almost 2 million single fathers across the country in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That, according to the nation's official people counters, represents 16 percent of the single parent population. In conjunction with the annual day to honor dads, those 1.9 million single fathers also earn this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


Happy Mother's Day! There's no better Mother's Day gift for mom than a homemade "<3 U Mommy" message. (Photo by Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr) Whether you are a mom, have a mom, are planning to become a mom, or are married to a mom, chances are you're taking part in a special celebration this Sunday. Enjoy! Millions of magnificent moms: While mothers often feel like they're all alone when it comes to their kids, some data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that all types of mothers have lots of company. Overall, there are 43.5 million women between the... 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 →


When the hubby and I head to a sporting event where only young fans are given freebies, say a team-logo cup or a bobble-head doll, we joke that we should be able to rent a kid or two so we could get the goodies. Yes, we would take sports-related candy etc. from children! This baby didn't hamper dad's ability to snag a foul ball. Plus, he provides his parents with several potential tax saving options. Click image to see MLB video of the catch and story about the ensuing controversy. Well, one Missouri man allegedly took our jesting approach to... Read more →


"Millions flee Georgia for the safety of North Carolina's bathrooms," quipped New Yorker columnist Andy Borowitz after the Tar Heel State's governor signed into a law a measure that, among other things, revokes local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The part of the bill that's gotten most attention is, as Borowitz notes, the one that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender they were born with rather than the one they identify with. North Carolina is the first state to require this. Last year, Houston, Texas, passed a similar law for facilities... Read more →


During this presidential primary season, the cost of higher education has been a major campaign issue, especially on the Democratic side. Taking a study break. "University Life 159" by Francisco Osorio via Flickr. Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing free college for all. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a plan for debt-free college. Business Insider has a side-by-side comparison of Sanders' College for All Act and Clinton's New College Compact. But until Clinton or Sanders is elected, students and their families will have to rely on existing educational tax breaks. Comparing current education tax benefits: The most popular are... Read more →


The hubby and I have no children. We often, however, seem to find ourselves at places and events chock full of families. For the most part, that's OK. Although we're child-free, we get a kick out of kids in small doses. They often provide some chuckles. Or as in the case of the poor baby pictured below, literal out loud laughs. Sorry, kiddo, but peas are good for you. Really! Plus, it always helps to know that when we get in our car and head home, it's just the two of us! Families still rule: We're in the minority. Most... Read more →