Deductions Feed

Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring. The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns. Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete. Dressing up your... Read more →


The cost of college continues to simmer as an educational policy and legal issue, particularly when it comes to student loans. Democratic attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia on July 6 filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department to stop her from changing rules that erased the federal student loan debt of those who were cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently. Consumer groups also have joined the litigation list. The Obama Administration finalized the so-called borrower defense rules last October. They were scheduled to take effect on July 1. DeVos, however, froze... 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 Birthday, America! July 4 is special to all of us Americans, the day we declared our independence from Great Britain. Taxes, as everyone knows thanks to James Otis' famous announcement that "Taxation without representation is tyranny," were among the reasons we sought to govern ourselves. And taxes, even after we gained control, continue to play a key part in our lives, politics and popular culture. James Cagney, before he became the prototypical movie gangster, was as song-and-dance man. He showed off those talents in "Yankee Doodle Dandy," the biopic of a man who not only gave us great musicals,... Read more →


Since the iPhone debuted a decade ago, it's become an indispensable personal and business tool, with accompanying tax issues to consider. Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone at MacWorld in January 2007. iPhone mania was in full swing six months later when, on June 29, 2007, with crowds camping out at Apple stores to be the first to own the 1st Gen/2G telecommunications device. (Click screenshot to view full presentation on YouTube) What were you doing 10 years ago today? If you're an extreme tech geek, you were among the thousands waiting to get your hands on the first ever... Read more →


Moving's a hassle for everyone, but in some cases the relocation costs are tax deductible. Donald J. Trump's family was finally reunited this weekend as his wife, Melania, and their 11-year-old son Barron moved into the White House. There were no moving vans spotted outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to let the world know of the relocation. Rather, the word came, of course, via Twitter. This time, though it was the First Lady, not @realDonaldTrump, who let social media and the world know that the family had officially moved from Trump Tower in Manhattan to Washington, D.C. Melania used her official... Read more →


Americans have again dived into the deep end of the personal debt pool "Americans have now borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008, just as the global financial system began to collapse," write Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley in today's New York Times' DealB%k column. The $12.73 trillion in debt reported in the first quarter of 2017 is comprised mainly of housing-related borrowing. But there is a bit of good news here. Here's hoping that the new residents find being homeowners as sweet as these house warming cupcakes. (Photo by Danl Lurle... Read more →


Federal tax reform is still a ways off, but the prospect of an Internal Revenue Code rewrite already has prompted Oklahoma to change one of its tax laws. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin on May 12 signed legislation that will decouple the Sooner State's standard deduction from the current federal standard deduction. The reason for the change? If the Trump Administration's proposal to double the federal standard deduction eventually becomes part of the tax law of the land, Oklahoma stands to lose a lot of tax revenue. Federal, state tax ties: Oklahoma's tax system, like that of many states with income... Read more →


Regardless of your thoughts, political or otherwise, when it comes to L'affaire Comey, most of us can relate to the recently fired FBI director. Like James Comey, we've at some point been out of job, either by our choice or because we, too, were let go. If that happens to you, here are five steps to take. And, of course, there are tax implications for each of the post-job moves. 1. File for unemployment. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, for example, a corporate downsizing, you should be eligible for unemployment. Depending on the circumstances,... Read more →


I'm a big fan of teachers, not just because my grandmother and one of my aunts were teachers, but because I had great instructors from elementary through college. So celebrating National Teacher Day is the least I can do. That and remind teachers and others who help educate us that there's a tax break specifically for them. Tax reward for teachers: Most teachers go beyond lesson plans and working weekends to get ready to make the learning experience one that resonates. In fact, a lot of teachers spend their own money to help make their classroom presentations effective. In recognition... Read more →


The president is back in Washington, D.C., after spending the weekend not at Mar-a-Lago in South Florida, but at a closer family property, Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. A view of the Trump National Golf Club course at Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Trump International via Twitter) It was the 14th weekend since his inauguration that Donald J. Trump has headed to one of his eponymous real estate holdings. Trump explained his weekend travel decision twice on, of course, Twitter. First, on May 5, he Tweeted: "Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be... Read more →


If you're like me, you're probably spending your Sunday perusing the possibilities for tax code change under the Trump Administration's recently announced plan. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, left, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announce the new administration's tax plan on April 26. Click image for full CNN video report. The document — officially titled "2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs" and officially subtitled "The Biggest Individual And Business Tax Cut in American History" — really is more of an outline. Deleting deductions: Under the proposal's simplification bullet point, the first item is eliminate targeted tax... Read more →


How do I celebrate each May 5th? With guacamole, cerveza y tax tips! That means here in our Texas casa, every day basically is Cinco de Mayo. Yes, there really is a tax component to Cinco de Mayo beyond the use of my poco Español as a framework for this list. That's why I feel justified in urging you — before you lift a glass, be it brimming with Dos XX or a margarita, to commemorate Mexico's victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla on this day in 1862 — to check out these five tax-smart tax moves.... Read more →


The federal deduction for local property tax payments could be eliminated as part of the Trump Administration's tax reform proposal. I'm trying not to get too worked up about the Trump Administration's recently released tax cut plan. In a past career I worked on Capitol Hill and watched first-hand how tax proposals morphed from concept to actual law. But I still get a little knot in my stomach when I think about losing my state and local tax write-offs when I fill out my federal Form 1040. Wait, you say. You're in Texas. There's no state or local income tax... Read more →


More Americans believe the Trump Administration will hike their taxes rather than cut them, according to a new poll. The CBS News survey found 38 percent believe the president will raise their taxes, 25 percent believe he will lower them and 33 percent think their tax bills won't change. The tax increase belief was strongest among poll participants who made less than $100,000. The telephone poll, conducted between April 21-24 by SSRS of Media, Pennsylvania, was released by CBS News on Wednesday, April 26, the same day that the White House revealed its latest tax reform plan. That tax plan,... 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 →


You have a mortgage. That home's property taxes are waaaay too big. (Note to self: Protest the appraisal.) And you were really generous. All those expenses probably mean that you itemize instead of taking the standard deduction when you file your taxes. Yes, it's more work, but if you take full advantage of all Schedule A has to offer, it can really pay off. Schedule A (Form 1040) Here's a closer look at what you can claim where when you itemize. Medical and Dental Expenses Being sick sucks. Having to pay a lot of out-of-pocket medical expenses is a pain,... Read more →


Most of us — Internal Revenue Service data shows around 70 percent of taxpayers — don't mess with itemized deductions. Instead this large group of filers claims the standard deduction. It's easy. The amount to claim is based on your filing status and found directly on the 1040 and 1040A forms; it's included with the personal exemption amount(s) on 1040EZ. It's also adjusted annually for inflation, so generally if you make more the next tax year, your standard deduction is larger. But sometimes standard deduction claimants feel a bit left out at tax time, since so much is written (guilty!)... Read more →


One of the biggest taxpayer fears is being audited. Realistically, unless you're aggressively pushing the tax envelope, it's not something that should keep you up at night. That's not just my assessment. It's borne out by Internal Revenue Service data, which shows that the individual tax return audit rate in 2016 was just 0.06 percent. That's the fifth straight year audits (or examinations, as the IRS calls them) have dropped and the number of returns examined last year was the fewest since 2004. A key reason that audits have fallen is because the IRS is understaffed in this area. (More... 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 →