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The Internal Revenue Service acted quickly in announcing tax relief for Hurricane Florence victims. Read on for how you can follow Uncle Sam's example and lend assistance to those dealing with the deadly storm. Deer brave a Hurricane Florence flooded road in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in search of higher, drier ground. (Screen shot of NBC News Twitter video) As expected, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that some folks in Hurricane Florence's path will received special consideration when it comes to their tax tasks. Residents and businesses in areas that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has determined qualifying for... Read more →


Each year, the Internal Revenue Service assesses estimated tax penalties against millions of taxpayers. This added money typically is due the IRS when a taxpayer pays too little total tax during the year. The last time the IRS released complete estimated tax penalty data was three years ago. The federal tax agency said back then that the average estimated tax penalty, which is based on the interest rate charged by the IRS on unpaid tax, was about $130. Back in September 2015, the IRS said it was seeing more taxpayers run into the estimated tax penalty. The number jumped about... Read more →


Trees in September will see their first fall color. (Photo by Jonathan Bloy courtesy Bloy.net) Hello, September. It's nice to have you back. You are a month that offers mostly-welcome transitions. There are beginnings, as students start a new school year. Parents nationwide say "thank you!" There are endings, as summer gives way to fall's cooler temps and foliage changes. Those of us tired of heat waves want to know what took you so long!?! There are expectations, as the end of the year and its many holidays approach. It's never too early to start planning for these. My Christmas... Read more →


The courthouse where a federal jury on Aug. 21 found Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges, including five tax evasion counts. Could he also face state charges? (Photo via Google Earth) It's the day after bombshell revelations in two federal courtrooms and the political and tax world is still abuzz. Almost simultaneously on Tuesday, Aug. 21, afternoon, two of Donald J. Trump's former presidential campaign officials faced serious legal judgments in two separate courtrooms. In New York City, Trump's former personal lawyer pleaded guilty to eight federal felony counts of tax and bank fraud, as well as campaign finance law... Read more →


A Lyft ride sharing vehicle in Atlanta. (Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr Creative Commons) Most U.S. workers meet their annual tax responsibilities via paycheck withholding. Here you give your boss the information needed to calculate just how much income tax should come out of each paycheck so that you're Goldilocks at tax-filing time, not owing the U.S. Treasury too much or too little. The sharing economy has thrown a wrench into this system. Lots of folks with traditional 9-to-5 jobs are hustling on the side to earn extra cash. Others have committed full-time to gig economy work. Job... Read more →


Money courtesy Pictures of Money via Flickr Most of us can't afford extravagant wardrobes. And we own, at most, one house. But for many of us, there's one thing that most of us share with lavish-living Paul J. Manafort. We, like the former lobbyist and political consultant, are not fans of paying taxes, especially really big Internal Revenue Service bills. Rick Gates, Manafort's former right-hand man, today told jurors hearing the tax evasion and bank fraud charges against his former boss that Manafort disliked paying a lot of taxes. But, I hope, that we aren't following Manafort's alleged method to... Read more →


Summer is winding down, but someone needs to tell the thermometers. Across much of country, it feels like the mercury is about to burst and everyone is doing everything they can to stay cool. Sorry, I can't help you beat the heat. But I do have eight tax moves you can make in this eighth month of 2018 — which, with all those 8s, makes that this week's By the Numbers figure — that might be able to help lower the heat you're feeling when it comes to taxes. 1. Adjust your withholding. I know. I nag remind y'all of... Read more →


Freelancing means more flexibility, such as where to work and the option to wear more comfortable attire. It also means you have some new tax responsibilities. (Photo by Lulu Hoeller via Flickr) The gig economy in the United States is growing at a phenomenal rate that shows no signs of slowing down. That's the analysis of BMO Wealth Management. A recent survey commissioned by the international wealth management company found that gigs — defined as jobs of short or uncertain duration — are the new normal. BMO's findings appear to support Upwork's annual Freelancing in America study, which was released... Read more →


As expected, states whose residents will take a major federal tax hit under the new $10,000 limit on deductions of state and local tax (SALT) payments have headed to court. Connecticut, Maryland, New York and New Jersey on Tuesday (July 17) afternoon filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York seeking to invalidate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's (TCJA) changes to a long-standing federal tax deduction. In this latest semi-reform of the tax code, Congress essentially gutted the value of this itemized tax deduction for, in most cases, the millions in state income and local real property payments... Read more →


Couples by Michael Lehet/Flickr CC The hubby and I basically have a pretty equal, albeit traditional gender swapped, marriage. He's more persnickety when it comes to cleaning. So he does much of those household duties, including bathrooms and whole-house vacuuming. I hate that noise, so he vacuums when I'm out; that's one of the reasons I love him! We split kitchen duties, with the person who doesn't cook dinner doing the cleanup. We collaborate on investments, deciding how much and where our money goes. As for the day-to-day expenses, I take care of making sure the bills are paid on... Read more →


Has anyone really been as happy as this couple when filing their taxes? The IRS hopes the new, shorter Form 1040 will put smiles on more taxpayers' faces. Did you spend your weekend looking at the new Form 1040, which the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service officially unveiled on June 29? I didn't think so. That's OK. Most of us, either individual taxpayers or our tax pros helping us file, don't look at literal paper tax forms any more. We use computer software that walks us through the filing process. Still, it's worth reviewing the new form since it's... Read more →


U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised that this week we'd see the new, shorter and closer-to-a-postcard Form 1040. Well, the week's almost over and we're still waiting. However, I'm sure Mnuchin will keep his word and sometime today officially debut the new tax return. My faith is not so much in the Administration's top money man, as it is on the fact that I'll be out of my office and offline most of the day due to some personal business I can't reschedule. I'm good at tax timing like that. At least the proposed changes already have leaked. First came... Read more →


Taxpayers from three hurricane-affected U.S. islands must file their 1040s — and possibly Form 8898 — by this Friday, June 29. If that's not possible, these affected U.S. residents still can file for an extension by tomorrow to get three and a half more months. The community of Miñi Miñi, Puerto Rico, was flooded after the Carraizo Dam released water to deal with the deluge from Hurricane Maria. The category 4 hurricane tore through the U.S. island territory on Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo by Yuisa Rios/FEMA) Sorry for the late alert U.S. taxpayers who are residents of the country's islands,... Read more →


The new postcard-sized Form 1040 isn't nearly as pretty as the vintage Austin, Texas, postcard, reproduced as a mural in the Lone Star State's capital city. The tax postcard also isn't nearly as simple as its smaller size — or the Republicans who've long promised it — would have taxpayers believe. Image courtesy Roadhouse Relics Facebook/Instagram The good news about the new postcard-sized Form 1040 is that it is, as promised, smaller. The bad news is that in condensing the form, the Internal Revenue Service removed many popular above-the-line deductions that survived the actual new tax law itself. That's the... Read more →


The world — OK, U.S. tax world — is anxiously anticipating the shrinkage (yeah, I'm now replaying that Seinfeld episode in my head, too; sorry) of Form 1040. The Treasury Secretary last week promised that by the time the 2019 tax filing season rolls around, the longest tax return, which is filed by 68 percent of taxpayers, will be substantially smaller. The goal is the long-promised size of a postcard. But another Internal Revenue Service form that affects even more folks already has been revised. The IRS earlier this month released a draft version of Form W-4 for the 2019... Read more →


Since its appearance in 2003, around 50 million taxpayers have used Free File. As the name indicates, this partnership of the Internal Revenue Service and tax software manufacturers known as the Free File Alliance gives most taxpayers the opportunity to do their taxes on their computers and then e-file them at no cost. But, notes Pro Publica in an article co-published with Quartz, the number of Free Filing taxpayers comes to just around 3 percent of eligible households. That, according to the article by Tik Root, means that folks have spent around $1 billion on tax prep and filing fees... Read more →


Speaker Paul Ryan touts postcard tax return possibilities after House passage of tax reform legislation last November. (Screen shot from Speaker.gov YouTube video) Every year the Internal Revenue Service makes tweaks to tax returns. Often it's simply updating annual inflation adjusted amounts. Other times it's adding or subtracting a line due to law changes. But for 2018's filing material, there will be large-scale form alterations thanks to the major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Among the new law's modifications for the 2018 tax year will be the actual size of the oldest of the tax... Read more →


Kilauea lava flow from U.S. Geological Survey via Giphy.com Hawaiians got some relatively good news this week in connection with the continuing lava flow from Mount Kilauea. The volcano is continuing to spew potentially deadly gases and pour flaming lava across a growing southeastern section of the 50th state's Big Island. The eruption, which started May 3, also is still producing explosions and earthquakes. Now, however, the catastrophe has been declared a major disaster by the White House. That is good tax news for affected residents, which is everyone on the state's largest island, also named Hawaii, as is the... Read more →


Fathers Day Happy Fathers Day GIF from Fathersday GIFs Happiest of days to all the dads out there. And thank you Sonora Dodd. Dodd was raised by her father after her mother's death during childbirth. While listening to a sermon at church on Mother's Day, Dodd thought about all her father had done for her and her siblings and decided fathers should have a day, too. Because Dodd's father was born in June, she encouraged churches in Spokane, Washington, where she was living, to honor fathers that month. The first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane in on June 19,... Read more →


It's a cliché because it's true. All politics is local. That applies to taxes, too. Whether you love or hate a tax law depends on how much it helps or hurts you personally. That's why this weekend's Saturday Shout Out goes to the Tax Foundation's interactive map that lets you see average 2018 tax cuts in your congressional district. If you want to go beyond your locality, you can check out the dollar differences on average make to taxpayers across the country. As you can see on the Washington, D.C.-based tax policy nonprofit's map reproduced below, you simply enter your... Read more →