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Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2018 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Oct. 19 with a look at next year's — if there isn't tax reform or cuts by or before then — income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some wealthier taxpayers. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Standard deduction amounts edge... Read more →


If you've been paying attention to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with some Russians last summer, you know the White House has given two reasons for the get-together. The explanation that caught my tax eye was that the group talked about adoptions. The president's oldest son said that one of the Russian nationals came to Trump Tower to lobby for reversal of the Magnitsky Act. The law gets its name from attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009 while being held in a Moscow prison. Foreign fight, domestic family effects: In 2012, the U.S. law bearing Magnitsky's name was enacted. It... 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 →


You're married. You got married on Dec. 31. You're a parent. You take care of an aging parent. You're a single dad. You're divorced. You got divorced on Dec. 31. All of these personal situations can affect your tax filing status. So getting it right on your tax return is critical. Dad helps his children with their homework. If he's the only parent, he could have a couple of tax filing status choices depending on his personal situation. Why does filing status matter so much? It determines the amount of standard deduction you can claim. It is used to establish... Read more →


Oh, c'mon people! What is so hard about hiring a legal household worker and then paying the proper taxes for such help? Mother with a baby and toddler hauling, in her words, "a lot of crap." If she hires childcare help, she'll need to pay attention to nanny tax rules. (Photo by Mrs. Flinger via Flickr Creative Commons) However, some high-power folks with political aspirations apparently cannot get this right. Not even three weeks into the Trump Administration and we have a second nanny tax scofflaw. Puzder joins Mulvaney with household help issues: First there was the South Carolina Republican... Read more →


Millions of us will be seeing our parents during Thanksgiving. For many, it's the first they've seen of mom and dad in months. Thanksgiving traditionally is a multi-generational celebration. But adult children might need to pay special attention to their aging parents over the holiday to gauge whether mom and dad now need some extra help. (Photo courtesy NealeA via Flickr Creative Commons) If you're heading to your parents' place this holiday and they're getting up there in years, it's a good time to make sure they're doing OK when you're not around. All of us want our folks to... 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 →


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 →


This post was updated Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 Fake news. Alternative facts. We've all grown familiar with, and perhaps a big inured to, such phrases of late. Spinning language is something politicians have done for, well, forever. And it's not limited to just news. At tax time we hear a lot of things, especially on the internet, that we hope will help us make wise decisions when we file our taxes. But some of it is wrong. To fight this trend of alternative, fake tax facts, as well as brighten up your day a bit, I thought you might enjoy... 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 →


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 →