Dependents Feed

If you thumb through Internal Revenue Service instructions -- since we all want to make sure we get our taxes right, who doesn't? -- you're likely to run across photos of missing children. Man answering phone at a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children call center. Click image for info on how you can help. This is a public service provided since 1999 by the IRS through its partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The photos, selected by the Center, are placed on tax document pages that otherwise be blank. As the text accompanying the... Read more →

Hey, May. You're supposed to be all about the flowers from last month's April showers. You can stop the rain and more any time now. Bluebonnets and more in a Central Texas field along the Willow City Loop. Photo by Kay Bell; art direction by the hubby. Yep, that old climatological adage is not quite accurate. May also brings plenty of showers. And hail. And tornadoes. That trend seems to be on track this year. Just two days into the month, and severe weather has moved from Central and flooded East Texas, where Houston was declared a major disaster area,... Read more →

The 2016 filing (or extending, but not tax paying!) deadline is tomorrow. I know many of you are working diligently on your 2015 return. But it never hurts to take a break. So I thought you might enjoy this brief tax facts video. Click image to watch the Plante Moran video on YouTube. That beard tax tidbit might terrify today's hipsters, but it's also a good example of how so-called Pigovian taxes have always been used to modify, or at least try to shape, our behavior. Nowadays we have sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol in part to discourage those... 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 And to save you time in your search for ways to cut your tax... Read more →

Twice the love, twice the early morning feedings and twice the tax breaks. That's what parents of twins can expect. And when the twins are born in different tax years, the earlier child's arrival provides tax breaks before mom and dad have to change a diaper. That's the unusual, but not unheard of, situation when one twin is born late on New Year's Eve and the sibling arrives early on New Year's Day. In fact, it happened twice -- that I know of -- on Dec. 31, 2015, and Jan. 1, 2016. And both doubly delightful deliveries were in Southern... Read more →

Welcome to the last week of 2015. The end of the calendar year is important not just for your New Year's Eve party planning purposes, but also because when it comes to most tax moves, Dec. 31 is a critical and firm deadline. So with the soon-to-be-old year rapidly winding down, here are 10 tax moves to make by Dec. 31. 1. Take your retirement account distribution. Most owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts who are age 70½ or older must take a specific amount out of their nest eggs by the end of the year or face stiff penalties. This... Read more →

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your family members, even -- or for many of us, especially -- the furry ones. My mom and her furry child having an important pre-Thanksgiving dinner conversation. As we gather today to say thanks for all we have, many of us will include our pets among our blessings. I know my mother would be lost without her constant companion. She is not alone. Almost every pet owner will tell you that their animal is a member of the family. The IRS, though, tends to disagree. That's why the taxman won't let you claim your... Read more →

The annual arrival of Father's Day emphasizes just how much being a dad has changed. When I was a kid, a father's main role was being the breadwinner. And dads back then weren't all that emotional, or at least mine wasn't. But that was OK. I didn't need dad around all the time telling me he loved me. My brother and I both knew it and we cherished the time we spent with Dad, either on our own or in family gatherings. Today, however, a lot of fathers take a more hands-on approach to raising kids. Good for them and... Read more →

Life. It just keeps keeping on (if we're lucky!). For most of us, our day-to-day activities fall into a predictable routine. Sometimes, though, the daily route detours. That's what happened yesterday, as the hubby had an unexpected day off. So I took time off, too, to enjoy the down time with him ... not, as he jokingly -- I'm pretty sure he was joking! -- said, to make sure he didn't have too much fun! Click image to watch a video of Ferris Bueller's sage advice about enjoying a day off. And that meant that I didn't get around to... Read more →

It's a dual Groundhog Day this year. There's the traditional meteorological news, which, by the way, is bad. Punxsutawney Phil says we're looking at more winter. An apparently sleepy Punxsutawney Phil prepares to make his weather prediction. The final word: Phil saw his shadow, so we're in for six more weeks of winter. Full story and video at Weather Underground. This year, we also get the federal fiscal replay on official Groundhog Day. This is the one where the president issues his annual budget and the members of the opposing political party declare it dead on arrival. Political process replay:... Read more →

A lot is going on in the next eight weeks. The holidays are almost here. Got your turkey yet? Made your Santa wish list? Meantime, you're also checking out the year-end tax moves you need to make to ensure you pay Uncle Sam the lowest possible 2014 tax bill. And you need to do some 2015 tax planning. Sorry, but it's true. So this week's By the Numbers figure is 2015 in recognition of the many inflation adjustments that will affect next year's tax bill and tax plans. Back on Oct. 30, I posted next year's ordinary tax rates and... Read more →

Taxes and politics are inextricably linked. Raising them, or even saying you might think about doing so, generally dooms campaigns. Lowering them, of course, is seen as a political plus. And actually giving people real tax money back goes a long way toward a ballot box win. At least that's what some New York incumbents no doubt are hoping happens this election year. Family tax credit rebates: Millions of Empire State residents soon will be $350 richer. Tax rebate checks for that amount are going out this week to New Yorkers who, among other things, had a child younger than... Read more →

Our beloved cat Zeke was part of our family for 19 years. He's been gone for 15 now and we still think about him every day. Zeke chilling out in a box at our Maryland condo back in 1984. Our human family and friends are stunned we never adopted another cat. When I've broached the subject of a new kitty over the years, the hubby's reaction has remained consistent and firm: "Do people get another kid when they lose one?" Sometimes, but that's a topic and blog post for another time. Today's focus is on our collective devotion to our... Read more →

Today I'm spending the day with my mother. It's a rare weekday visit, which allows us to take care of some things that must be done during regular business hours, not on weekends. My mother turned 80 this year. You wouldn't know it. For the most part, she's still very vital and active. In fact, her social life is much more vibrant than one the hubby and I have! She can't, however, drive. So part of each visit is devoted to errands that are hard for her to accomplish using the limited public transit options where she lives. I'm thankful... Read more →

It's summer, so that means kids are everywhere. Heck, they're even in our yard -- OK, our driveway, since we don't have much of a front yard. Obviously inspired by the X Games held earlier this month in Austin, the neighborhood skateboarders and cyclists have taken over our block. And they've deemed our sloped, circular driveway a perfect practice area. (The hubby thinks its for competition, not just practice.) This is not a surprise. When we moved here nine years ago (Yikes! Where did the time go?), we soon learned that opening our garage doors in the summer would send... Read more →

A Father's Day gift for single dads: 5 tax breaks

Dad deserves as much rest as he can get. So on this Father's Day, a good and easy gift is to let your father sleep a little longer. "There should be a children's song: 'If you're happy and you know it, keep it to yourself and let your dad sleep.'" -- comedian and father of five Jim Gaffigan A bit more shut-eye is especially welcome by fathers who are raising families on their own. There were 2 million single fathers in the United States last year, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. These solo pops, who accounted for... Read more →

Are child-related tax breaks appropriate, fair?

It's another Mother's Day and for the last few years, my mom and I have lived close enough so that we've been able to spend it together. I'm about to head over to her place for the day. My mother has taught me many things, including that being a mom is a tough job. That's one of the reasons I opted out. She definitely raised a smart daughter! Not that mom complained. She desperately wanted kids and my brother and I were always very aware of the depth of her love. Child-related costs: But it takes more than parental devotion... Read more →

The recent harsh winter weather has been tough on everyone. But parents are feeling special heat. Sorry. I mean special pressure. Schools have been closed an inordinate number of days across the country. That's meant working moms and dads have had to stay home with the youngsters, take the kids to work with them or hustle to find day care. Even in the best weather and circumstances, finding reliable child care is difficult and costly. There is, however, a tax break that can help, the child and dependent care tax credit. While this credit can be claimed by eligible taxpayers... Read more →

Despite my best intentions, my posting lately of the Daily Tax Tip has been, let's be honest, crappy. I won't bore your with my excuses explanations reasons. But as way of apology, I am pleased to report that I have finally updated February's running tax tip list. In doing so, I noticed that last week four of the five tax tips dealt with family tax issues. Was your last family reunion as well attended as the Miller gathering in 1951? Photo shared by Hilary Kanupp Perez via Flickr CC. Most families today, be they as large as the Miller clan... Read more →

Personal exemptions are one way for taxpayers to reduce their adjusted gross income to a lower taxable income amount. Remember, the less money that the Internal Revenue Service can tax, the smaller your eventual tax bill. Personal tax exemptions also are today's Daily Tax Tip. Each of the three individual returns allows each filer to claim a personal exemption for him- or herself, as well as one for a spouse and eligible dependents. Don't be confused by the lack of specific mention of exemptions on the 1040EZ. It's there, but the exemption amount is included in the form's combined standard... Read more →