Bankrate Taxes Blog Feed

As the Internal Revenue Service explores a future that will make more of its customer services digital, it is getting support from an advisory committee. The Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee (ETAAC) issued its annual report last week, recommending that the IRS expand its electronic filing efforts and digital strategy. ETAAC also suggests the IRS expand expanded electronic filing of more tax returns, particularly employment taxes. That business tax segment is dramatically lagging in electronic filing participation. The report points out that in 2016 the IRS exceeded, for the fifth straight year, its 80 percent electronic filing goal for individual... Read more →


Watch out, West Coast. Michael Bloomberg has you in his anti-sugar sights. Classic and Cherry Cokes in our pantry. Photo by Kay Bell. The former New York City mayor was a major financial backer of Philadelphia's beverage tax, providing around $1.6 million in support of the measure. The Philly city council handily approved the 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks on June 16 As I noted in my Bankrate Taxes Blog post on the day of the vote, the tax campaign was notable for the admission by Philadelphia lawmakers that revenue, not public health, was the prime... Read more →


Work-related moving expenses are tax deductible. You don't even have to itemize. The claim is made as one of the adjustments to income, generally referred to as an above-the-line deduction, right on the long Form 1040. Vintage moving van | Alden Jewell via Flickr But don't think just because this is a relative easy tax write-off that the Internal Revenue Service will just give the claim a cursory glance. IRS examiners will be looking. Just as Giliard Schwartz. A really big move: The San Antonio, Texas, woman claimed $330,000 in moving expenses on her 2012 tax return. Instead of that... Read more →


Tax scams that invoke the Internal Revenue Service get a lot of attention. That's understandable. The tax code is complicated and the IRS is a source of fear for most Americans. That combination makes it easy for crooks pretending to be with the federal tax agency to scare us into paying them to resolve a purported tax bill. But there are 43 other official government tax collectors out there, and crooks know that they also can use state taxes to scare us into sending them our money. Multitasking small business owners make good targets for state tax focused con artists.... Read more →


Federal drug officials are considering removing marijuana's Schedule 1 classification, reports USA Today. A DEA agent carries confiscated marijuana plants to be destroyed. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision, which is expected this summer, would make it easier for researchers to work with the plant. Currently, weed is in the same legal category as heroin, LSD and bath salts. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana is deemed to have "no currently accepted medical treatment use." Residents and lawmakers in 24 states and the District of Columbia disagree; they permit some form of medical marijuana use. Recreational weed and taxes: Colorado,... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's a common mantra down here in Texas. A variation applied this week in a federal bankruptcy courtroom in Big D. The judge there ruled that a former Lone Star billionaire's big attempt to shelter money offshore means he owes the Internal Revenue Service a big bill. Sam Wyly, a once legendary Dallas businessman, philanthropist and one of the wealthiest men in the country (shown at right on the October 2015 cover of D CEO magazine), was found on May 10 to have defrauded the IRS by shuffling assets among a network of offshore trusts... Read more →


A little more than a month ago, inquiring tax eyes were focused on Panama. Specifically, folks were curious about a law firm in that Central American nation that allegedly helps the wealthy stash cash in global accounts that are out of reach of their nations' tax collectors. ICIJ has produced a video, The Panama Papers: Victims of Offshore, that shows what the organization says are the unseen victims behind the email chains, invoices and documents that make up the Panama Papers and the shadowy offshore industry. A couple of U.S. states, Nevada and Wyoming, were named as international tax haven... Read more →


Last week, millions of last-minute filers got their returns to the Internal Revenue Service. As of April 22, the federal tax collector had 136.5 million returns in hand. The tax gap is kind of like the break in the old Florida Keys bridge: Something's missing (Photo by Ewen Robert via Flickr CC) The number of Americans who completed their annual tax duties by this year's April deadline(s) was slightly ahead of the 2015 filing pace. Before the year is over (and the 13+ million of us on extension get our returns in by Oct. 17), the IRS expects total filings... Read more →


Trust no one. That X-Files admonition has been co-opted for just about everything, but it's particularly appropriate in this time of increasing tax identity theft and refund fraud. It also apparently is taken to heart by the federal office that keeps an eye on the Internal Revenue Service's operations. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) says its Office of Investigations (OI) examines not only outside threats to the tax collecting agency, but also internal issues. "Specifically, OI investigates misconduct by IRS employees which manifests itself in many ways," said Timothy Camus, a Deputy Inspector General with TIGTA. Insider... Read more →


Tax returns are due tomorrow. Most of us have filed. But there are around 10 million procrastinating holdouts. Part of the reason we put off taxes is that it's a pain in, well, just about every body part. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) wants to make the process easier, especially for folks with simple returns. She's introduced the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016, which would require the Internal Revenue Service provide these taxpayers with prefilled 1040 forms, based on their tax documents that also are copied to the IRS. The process would be even easier next year, when a provision... Read more →


Nearly 10 million households didn't have bank accounts in 2013, according to the latest survey of individuals' banking habits by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). That's a lot of folks for whom cash is king. That's also a lot of people for whom paying a federal tax bill is not that easy … until now. Taxpayers who want to pay their Internal Revenue Service bills in cash now can do so at some 7-Eleven stores. Tax cash: As I noted last week at my other tax blog, the 7-Eleven cash tax payment option is available thanks to an arrangement... Read more →


The main 2016 tax filing season is almost over, and things definitely are slowing down, at least form the refund issuance standpoint. The Internal Revenue Service says that through March 25, it had received 89.4 million returns and processed almost 87 million of them. Both those amounts are slightly less than at this time in 2015. Refund amounts, too, are down a tad. The IRS has issued 70.8 million refunds totaling almost $203 billion. The average refund this year is, as of now, $2,866. In late March 2015, the agency had sent out 71.6 million refunds worth a total $204.4... Read more →


Each tax season, millions of folks get a large chunk of money. For many, this refund money is the largest lump sum they'll see all year. A lot of those folks, however, don't have bank accounts. So they either get their Internal Revenue Service refunds in check form or they have the money loaded onto a prepaid card. Reloadable prepaid cards are available from many tax preparation software programs. Or from tax preparation firms. Or from major retailers such as grocery, drug and big box stores. Just Google the term for myriad options. But there's one big problem with these... Read more →


The 2016 federal tax filing season so far is, for the most part, statistically identical to 2015. Through March 11, around 74.456 million taxpayers have submitted returns. At this time last year, the count was 74.455 million. The Internal Revenue Service is running a tad slower this year in its processing of those millions of 1040 forms. However, the pace is less than 1 percentage point behind last year's return handling rate. Still waiting for your tax refund? Federal refunds seem to be on pace, but things are slow in many states. As for the most important issue, refunds, the... Read more →


This was supposed to be the year that the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners clamped down on tax identity thieves. So much for the best-laid plans to fight tax fraud. The 2016 filing season has seen a series of tax security concerns, both among private tax service providers and the IRS. Identity protection site targeted:The latest trouble is a possible security problem with the IRS' Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN, online retrieval tool. An IP PIN is used by folks who've had their tax filing data stolen. They use their IRS-issued six-digit IP PIN... Read more →


As millions of us are still working on our current tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service and its in-house watchdog the National Taxpayer Advocate's office are debating the future of the agency and how that will affect us and our filings in coming years. The IRS is working on what it calls its Future State plan, an outline of agency activities in five years and beyond. One of the plan's central components is online taxpayer accounts. These accounts, says the IRS, will substantially reduce the number of telephone calls and visits it receives every year from filers. The IRS says... Read more →


There are many reasons folks are leery of the Internal Revenue Service, but asset seizures have to be at the top of the list. The IRS isn't the only tax collector to seize assets for nonpayment of taxes. State revenue officers use the process, too. This extreme step generally is taken by Uncle Sam's tax collector when a taxpayer has failed to pay the legal tax due either because of neglect or willful refusal. In these cases, there are guidelines the IRS must follow, including giving the taxpayer notice of the tax assessment and conducting a hearing if requested by... Read more →


If you drive you've got to be thrilled with the price of gas right now. Every time I've filled up my car over the past six months, I've snapped a shot of just how cheap it is. That $1.419 a gallon photo to the left was from last weekend. As I drove past my local gas station yesterday, I saw that it had dropped two more cents. Low pump prices, however, could mean more taxes for motorists in nine states where, says the Tax Justice Blog, lawmakers are seriously considering gas tax hikes. So which drivers should be worried? Those... Read more →


One easy -- and scary -- way to know that we're at the peak of tax filing season is to look at the number of questionable emails, text messages and phone calls you're getting from folks seeking details about your taxes. Just this month, I've received two calls from the ubiquitous fake Internal Revenue Service agents threatening me with legal action. The first one, which was left as a message on my office answering machine, was obviously a poorly done mechanical scare tactic. The second call came a few days later, also from a bot, but better quality. I answered... Read more →


Super Bowl winners get it all. More fan adoration. Parades. A flashy piece of jewelry. Trips to Disney World. More taxes. Around a million Denver Broncos fans, including 24,000+ truant schoolchildren, thronged the Colorado capital on Feb. 9 to welcome home their NFL Champions. Photo by Enrico C. Meyer via Twitter. For many of the players in the NFL championship game, that last "benefit" is more than they bargained for. In fact, note a couple of tax attorneys, some of the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers players actually lost money by playing in Super Bowl 50. Wait. What? How is... Read more →