Finances Feed

Meg White via Giphy It's the first weekend of August and my life is bucking the "take the month off" trend. I've got work to do this Saturday. Plus, the hubby would like me to spend some time with him. But I don't want to short-change you, my loyal readers of the ol' blog, so I'm initiating a new feature I'm calling Shout Out Saturday or, depending on the weekend day I take off, Shout Out Sunday. Regardless of which weekend day it runs, the idea will be the same. Instead of me composing a new post, some weekends I'll... Read more →


With every story or study on retirement savings, I hope the news will be better. It usually isn’t. Overall, most of us aren’t saving enough — or any! — for our retirement. And things aren’t likely to get better. In fact, Uncle Sam is shutting down a program created just three years ago to encourage lower-income earners to save for retirement. The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced on Friday, July 28, that it soon will wind down the myRA program. Broadening retirement savings: The name is short for “my retirement account” and was a play on IRA in an... Read more →


There are lots of reasons to dislike the Internal Revenue Service, but the House Ways and Means Committee took a step this week to eliminate one of them. The tax-writing panel on July 13 unanimously passed a bill that officially makes it harder for the IRS to seize assets under civil asset forfeiture policies. States are bit more obvious in their seizure of property, but the IRS takes assets, too. A bill to give property owners more rights in the federal seizure process has cleared the House Ways and Means Committee. The tax agency had made changes in 2014 regarding... Read more →


The cost of college continues to simmer as an educational policy and legal issue, particularly when it comes to student loans. Democratic attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia on July 6 filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department to stop her from changing rules that erased the federal student loan debt of those who were cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently. Consumer groups also have joined the litigation list. The Obama Administration finalized the so-called borrower defense rules last October. They were scheduled to take effect on July 1. DeVos, however, froze... Read more →


The Financial Choice Act is a third of the way to becoming law. Want to take a guess as to what it might do? It obviously deals with money. But it's about giving more choices to financial institutions, not to consumers. The Financial Choice Act essentially seeks to roll back much of the Dodd-Frank Act, one of President Barack Obama's signature accomplishments. The current law, enacted in 2010 and whose full, official Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act moniker comes from its former U.S. Senate champions Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Barney Frank of Massachusetts, was created to... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and Department of Education have a graduation gift for some students. The tax agency's income data retrieval tool that makes it easier to apply for federal financial college aid is once again operational for some applicants. This cool balloon was part of my neighbors' celebration of their son's graduation. Some Texas gusts, however, helped it take a post-graduation trip to our driveway. After snapping this photo (and Instagram video), I helped the light-headed fellow home. Since 2012, the IRS has made getting income information easier for students and their parents who are seeking financial help by... Read more →


Regardless of your thoughts, political or otherwise, when it comes to L'affaire Comey, most of us can relate to the recently fired FBI director. Like James Comey, we've at some point been out of job, either by our choice or because we, too, were let go. If that happens to you, here are five steps to take. And, of course, there are tax implications for each of the post-job moves. 1. File for unemployment. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, for example, a corporate downsizing, you should be eligible for unemployment. Depending on the circumstances,... Read more →


At midnight on Donald J. Trump's 99th day in the Oval Office, the federal government could shut down. That would be a public relations disaster for the 45th president, who's struggling to show that he and his administration can get things done as he promised in his 100-day contract with voters. "Saw this at my school's accounting career fair," wrote LittleNuclearReactor in a Reddit post during the last government shutdown Oct. 1-16, 2013. But it could be a bigger disaster for folks waiting on their federal tax refunds. Millions left waiting for tax cash: The Center for American Progress (CAP)... Read more →


Most high-income investors last were likely a little bummed last week when the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act failed. It didn't have anything to do with their personal opinions on Obamacare or health care in general. It meant that the Net Investment Income Tax, or NIIT, remains on the books. This 3.8 percent surtax is assessed on capital gains, dividends, interest, and other passive income earned by single investors making more than $200,000 a year or $250,000 if married filing jointly. It was one of the many ACA-related taxes that would have been repealed if the GOP... Read more →


The annual tax filing due date is the big day each April. Instead of falling on the usual April 15, the deadline for getting your taxes to the Internal Revenue Service this year is April 18. But some older taxpayers, specifically that first big batch of Baby Boomers who turned 70½ last year, are facing a key April 1 tax deadline. April Fools' Day is the deadline to take your first required minimum distribution, or RMD, from certain tax-deferred retirement accounts if you didn't do so by the end of last year. No kidding. If you miss the April deadline,... Read more →


Today, March 8, is International Woman Day. In addition to recognizing women's contributions, some people in the United States also are participating in "A Day Without A Woman," asking women to stay home from work. Men and women shoppers often pay different prices for essentially similar products. And yes, the higher prices, known as the Pink Tax, are on items aimed at women. If that's not possible, which is the case for lots of folks regardless of gender, then supporters of today's added commemoration ask that women not shop to underscore our contributions to the economy. Women's $$$ contributions: And... Read more →


How's your holiday shopping going? If you're still looking for something to impress your true love, consider giving a gift inspired by the classic "12 Days of Christmas." For the 33rd year, the PNC Financial Services Group has analyzed the lengthy Christmas gift list from the song and determined, in its specially devised Christmas Price Index (CPI), just how much the prices have changed from year to year. Poultry prices aren't paltry: Overall, the cost of the song's gifts grew only slightly this year. But be prepared to pay a hefty prices if you opt for a few of the... Read more →


What's your favorite currency? I'm not talking dollar value, but which one do you find more appealing aesthetically? Here in the United States, our bills are not that attractive when compared to some of the flashier forms of legal tender worldwide. But we try. U.S. $$$ history: In 1929, America's dollars got a major remake, primarily to lower manufacturing costs, according to the U.S. Treasury's history of our money. Back then, all Federal Reserve notes were reduced in size and standardized designs were instituted for each denomination, decreasing the number of designs in circulation and making it easier for the... Read more →


Good news. A short-term spending bill is in place to keep Uncle Sam's agencies running. Better news. The money will be in place through midnight April 28, 2017, meaning that the upcoming main tax-filing season (set to kick off Jan. 23, 2017) won't be hampered by a government shutdown. President Harry S. Truman pledged in 1946 that the federal government would provide coal miners lifetime health and retirement benefits. Today, around 16,500 retired union coal miners depend on federal health care benefits. The continued federal funding for the miners' health care almost led last week to a government shutdown. (Photo... 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 →


Donald J. Trump prefers to fight things out in court. Over the years as a businessman, the president-elect has filed and been named as a defendant in thousands of lawsuits. Even as he prepares to be sworn in on Jan. 20 as the United States' 45th president, he will facing, as of today, more than 70 lawsuits filed against him. Click certificate image for video report on settlement via KABC-TV Los Angeles. But he's no longer worrying about Trump University allegations. Friday, Nov. 18, afternoon, Trump and his attorneys agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits that claimed... Read more →


Most of us use credit and debit cards as convenient cash substitutes. Instead of reaching for wads of cash stuffed in pockets or purses or a paper checkbook, we simply whip out plastic to pay for almost everything or every service we need or want. Even micro businesses use mobile devices as mini non-cash registers to complete transactions. Yet most countries still print money. And those actual bills remain important to many. Some eschew credit cards for security reasons. They're afraid of become an identity theft victim. Similarly, others like the anonymity of a cash exchange for personal as well... Read more →


With the 2016 election over, a lame duck Congress will return to Washington, D.C., next week to begin the job of wrapping up some pending legislation. One tax measure that passed the House earlier this year, but is still awaiting Senate action, is the RESPECT Act, which tax attorney Darrin Mish discusses in this guest post. A bank customer working with a teller to complete a transaction. If some large withdrawals seem suspicious to bank officials, a person could end up having assets seized by the Internal Revenue Service. In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act was... Read more →


Welcome to Part 3 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 retirement and pension plans. 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. Save early, save often to create an overflowing nest egg. Even in a contentious election year, there's one thing everyone in all political parties can agree on: retirement... Read more →


This post was updated Thursday, July 27, 2017. Summer is winding down. That means school soon will be back in session. And that means several states are holding sales tax holidays. A young man double checks and checks off school supplies from his back-to-school shopping list. That's a great way to make the most of your state's sales tax holiday. (Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr Creative Commons) Sixteen states have scheduled these annual tax-free shopping days in 2017, ranging from a couple of days to a full week. Early events: Three states kick off the summer of 2017... Read more →