Deductions Feed

Many medical costs are still tax deductible, but you have to clear an adjusted gross income bar. (Photo by Bjarteh via Wikipedia) If you're still young, which to me is an ever-shifting definition that now includes folks in their 40s, here's a warning. Get ready to see more doctors as you age. I know of what I blog. Although I'm young at heart, I'm finally there. My morning was full of physicians. And I'll deal with doctors again in a few weeks, both for follow-up exams and when I file my 2017 tax return. Tax breaks for medical costs: Taxes... Read more →


The 2018 tax filing season officially starts today. Many folks have already filed, by using Free File (which opened on Jan. 12), going with software on their own or turning over their tax material to paid preparers. The Internal Revenue Service will now process all those 1040s that were completed earlier this month and were on hold. If you, however, haven't gotten around to filling out your taxes yet, here's a checklist of what you'll need to accurately and easily complete your return. You might not need some of the stuff noted in this latest checklist. Feel free to skip... Read more →


Anger over the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) has spilled over into 2018, with lawmakers from high-tax states still looking for ways to undo this provision. Some have petitioned the Internal Revenue Service for revised, more filer-friendly property tax guidance. Other have introduced legislation to fully restore the now-limited SALT itemized write-offs. You thought the battle over paying 2018 local property taxes so that they could be claimed on 2017 tax returns ended on Jan. 1. You were wrong. Asking IRS to reconsider: Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate minority... 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 →


Homeowners are still trying to wrap their heads — and tax plans — around the many Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes to the Internal Revenue Code that are related to personal real estate. There's the new limit on federal deductions for mortgage interest on future home loans, the cap on real estate taxes on your primary residence and the elimination of the write-off for interest paid on home equity loans. When the new tax law took effect on Jan. 1, the deduction on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or home equity loans became a thing of the... Read more →


The Beverly Hilton ballroom was packed on the evening of Jan. 7 as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out its annual Golden Globes statuettes for excellence in movies and television. (Photo courtesy Hollywood Foreign Press Association) I watched the Golden Globes. I am a big movie and television fan, so I wanted to see what one tiny subsection of awards voters, in this case the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, thought about recent entertainment offerings. Plus, I wanted to host Seth Meyers' take on Hollywood's harassment issue. I was thrilled to see his late-night show writers Amber Ruffin Jenny Hagel... Read more →


The gambling loss tax deduction likely won't help the country's newest multimillionaire trim his or her 2018 tax bill. The write-off, however, still will help winners of smaller amounts. Professional gamblers, though, aren't so lucky. They'll see a limitation on how they offset their taxable winnings under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes. I've been touching base with my Florida friends and former neighbors and none of them won — or is admitting to winning! — last night's Mega Millions drawing. But some lucky Sunshine State resident is $450 million (more likely $281 million lump sum) richer today. Actually,... Read more →


Welcome to the first work day of 2018. By now you (and I) have had enough coffee (maybe, even this late in the day) to think about what the year ahead will hold for taxes. Chippy the Dog via Giphy.com Since my personal orbuculum is still a little blurry — I'm blaming equally the aftermath of New Year's Eve festivities and the craziness that now rules Washington, D.C. — I have only six tax-related prognostications. But even with the fuzzy focus, one thing is clear. Most of what we'll see happen in the tax world in 2018 will be related... 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 →


Pass-through taxation has been one of the most contentious and confusing parts of the debate surrounding the Republican tax bill.ese businesses — sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs) and S corporations — are not themselves subject to federal taxation the way traditional corporations are. Instead, the income earned from these operations is passed through on the owner's personal income tax filing. As I and many, many other media outlets and bloggers have noted, the final version of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that House and Senate conferees approved Dec. 15 basically followed the Senate's taxing methodology... Read more →


Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) got testy when GOP leaders demanded Senators vote on the huge tax bill without giving them time to go through the almost 500 pages. But they did. And it passed. And the final conference deal and supporting material is even larger! (Click image to watch Tester's complaint via his Twitter account.) After the House and Senate conferees signed off Dec. 15 on the "mixed" Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I posted a look at some of the highlights (or, depending on your political persuasion and personal tax situation) lowlights in the measure. But that one post... Read more →


There's a tax bill, but there is no tax reform. There's still an estate tax. There are still (some) state and local itemized tax deductions. There's still an alternative minimum tax. And there are enough other tweaks to confuse filers and keep tax pros very busy over the next 12 (and more) months. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) presides over the lone public hearing Dec. 13 of the House-Senate conference committee on H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Final House and Senate votes on the bill are planned for next week. Basically, the Republican tax bill... 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 →


Vice President Mike Pence (waving) and Ways & Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (far right) leave a Dec. 12 meeting in which they discussed the final touches being made to the Republicans' tax bill, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (Photo courtesy Brady's Facebook page) Breathe a sigh of relief, all you payers of state and local income taxes. The tax bill under consideration will help you. Or not. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) announced to reporters today (Thursday, Dec. 14) that conference committee members — or at least the Republican conferees — have agreed... Read more →


U.S. map from vintage state postcards by Design Turnpike/Fine Art America State tax departments and lawmakers have joined individual and business taxpayers in closely watching and anxiously awaiting any possible changes to the federal tax code. Just like businesses and individuals, states will benefit or suffer depending on what the House and Senate tax reform conference committee decides. Most states collect some sort of tax — only Alaska has no income and no state (but some local) sales tax — and most of those states tie their tax methods, especially when it comes to income tax collection, to federal law.... Read more →


But some firms, especially if they specialize in lobbying lawmakers, have other considerations in mind for their annual end-of-year festivities. The holiday season is here at offices, too. That means office parties. Oh, yay! OK, some people love office Christmas parties. Anything for free food and libations. And they actually like most of their co-workers. But if you're not one of them, go anyway. Surely you can fake it for a few hours. And, again, free refreshments. Plus, opting out of implicitly required conviviality could hurt your career. Tax-free thanks: Offices throw these parties as a way to thank workers... Read more →


A driver pulled over in La Conchita, California, the evening of Dec. 6 to save a rabbit he spotted scurrying amid flames from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Click image to watch full video posted on YouTube by RMG News/Reuters/NJ.com. California is on fire. Literally. Again. Just two months after the northern part of the Golden State was ablaze, deadly wildfires are raging across Southern California. And while residents right now are simply trying to stay safe and, if possible, save as much of their personal possessions as they can, in a few weeks or months, they'll be trying... Read more →


Time's person of the year for 2017 is a lot of people. The magazine selected all the women and men who who publicly spoke about being victims of sexual harassment and abuse as a way to stop it and help others who have been victims, known on social media as the #MeToo movement. Ironically, today's announcement of Time's 90th most notable person (called Man or Woman of the year until 1999) was overshadowed by the continuing sexual harassment controversy in the political world. Sitting and wannabe Senator troubles: Roy Moore, who is seeking Attorney General Jeff Session's former Senate seat... Read more →


U.S. families have been getting smaller in recent years, but some still have lots of children and they could end up being adversely affected by the tax law changes now under consideration. (Photo from the Forks Timber Museum Collection via Flickr) In selling their tax cuts to the American public, Republicans emphasize that the standard deduction amount is almost doubled. That sounds good. But that's not the whole story. You'll lose personal exemptions. For taxpayers, exemptions are excellent. That's especially the case for filers who have lots of dependents. Under current law, a tax exemption helps reduce your income so... Read more →


Many homeowners breathed a sigh of relief when the Senate's version of tax reform followed the House's H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and included a tax deduction for property taxes. But it might be time to start hyperventilating again. While both chambers would keep the itemized deduction for the local real estate taxes that every homeowner faces each year, they will reduce its tax value. Each bill caps the deduction amount at $10,000. Most homeowners' taxes covered: For many homeowners, that limit is cool. Their property tax bills are high, but not into five digits, so it... Read more →