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 →


Did you, like the second-half resurgent New England Patriots, come up a winner yesterday thanks to some Super Bowl bets? The New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points and stunned the Atlanta Falcons with an overtime Super Bowl LI win Sunday, Feb. 5, at NRG Stadium in Houston. With the victory, Tom Brady became the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl games. (Photo courtesy NFL.com) Uncle Sam congratulates and thanks you. Gambling winnings, whether thousands of dollars on a sports championship or a few bucks from a lottery scratch-off ticket, are taxable income. Some of the taxable winnings come... Read more →


Super Bowl LI will kick off in a few hours. Get your guacamole made and place your bets! I obviously don't need to encourage folks to chow down or gamble on Super Bowl Sunday. Every year, it's the single largest day for U.S. avocado consumption and for betting. Yes, I've wandered through the betting section of a couple of Las Vegas casinos, but usually confine my money losing to the one-armed bandits. Last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Commission, a record $132.5 million in total bets were placed on the Super Bowl. Remember, these were legal bets made in... Read more →


Sunday is a big day not just for football fans, but also food fans. Super Bowl party snacks rank right up there with the specially-created television commercials, crazy prop bets and the game's halftime show. These items I regularly purchase are, according to my local H.E.B. grocery store's labels, hecho en Mexico. Heck, a lot of people look forward to those events more than the annual NFL championship game itself. Literally loading up on guac: In fact, it's a major day for guacamole. "Guacamole has become one of the most popular Super Bowl snacks," Ramon Paz, spokesman for the Association... Read more →


Will we hear "Houston, we have a problem" during Sunday's Super Bowl LI in H-Town? Oddsmakers say yes, there is a good chance we will hear that NASA-related phrase (popularized by the movie Apollo 13, but not actually uttered during the real ill-fated 1970 mission) during the NFL championship game's live broadcast. Super Bowl LI kicks off at 6:30 ET/5:30 CT, Sunday, Feb. 5 from NRG Field in Houston, Texas. It will be broadcast on Fox. That's just one of the prop bets being wagered on Sunday's (Feb. 5) matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. Total wagering... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, has been selected by President Donald Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left last year by the death of Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump explains why he chose Neil Gorsuch, at right with his wife Marie Louise, to server on the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch, 49, an Ivy Leaguer from Colorado, has a conservative judicial track record. He also formerly clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. If Gorsuch is confirmed, which is expected given that the... Read more →


Hello February. Although you're the year's shortest month, your fewer days can be full of extremes, like snow this week in the Midwest and Northeast and weather warm enough here in Central Texas for us to turn off the furnace and open windows. Image courtesy Tammy King's February Pinterest Board February's changes can be dramatic. But there's no need to over-react to your taxes this month. There are lots of easy moves you can make over the next 28 days. Collect your tax statements: Filing data on a variety of forms is filtering in this month. If you work for... Read more →


The 2017 tax filing season has been officially underway for just more than a week. Lots of folks have already filed their returns. The Ally Bank fortune cookie I got at FinCon16 last September was already planning for this filing season. And yes, after acknowledging the good tax advice, I ate the cookie! And, according to ecstatic posts on social media, some have received their refunds. Other taxpayers, however, are waiting to file. Form-ulaic delay: Why the delay. In a lot of cases, folks haven't yet received their W-2s, 1099s and other documents with the data necessary to fill out... Read more →


Jan. 31 is a key annual tax deadline. It’s the date employers must send W-2 and 1099-MISC forms to folks who received at least $600 in compensation the preceding tax year. Jan. 31 also now is the deadline for employers to also submit that W-2 and 1099-MISC data to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Earlier reporting to fight fraud: In past years, employers had another month to get the data to Social Security. But in an effort to help the Internal Revenue Service fight tax refund fraud, a provision in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH, Act now... Read more →


Remember that tax scam last spring where crooks posing as company executives sent emails asking for workers' payroll data? It was the one that fooled lots of folks, including a Milwaukee Bucks employee who thought that the message really did come from the NBA franchise's president. That chagrined Bucks' staffer sent the phishing crook 2015 tax year data on the team's employees, including his rank-and-file colleagues and highly-paid professional basketball players. Well, that tax scam is back. Email spoofs company CEO: The Internal Revenue Service says the email scam is now making its way across the nation for a second... Read more →


Every year, the Internal Revenue Service makes a concerted effort to hand out more Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) money. The reason, says the tax agency, is that around 20 percent of eligible filers consistently fail to file for this refundable tax credit. But what about those who do claim the EITC? The IRS says that nationwide last year, 27 million U.S. workers and their families got $67 billion thanks to this tax credit for lower- and middle-income workers. Where EITC money goes: Not surprisingly, the most populated states account for the most EITC claims and actual dollars returned to... Read more →


The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is one of the filing claims that is delaying federal (and in some cases, state) tax refunds this year. But even if you have to wait a few extra weeks to get your refund from Uncle Sam (or your state tax office), filing for the EITC is usually worth it. It's worth more than $6,000 for some filers. And all or some of that money could be as a tax refund. Why credits rule: Like all tax credits, the EITC is a dollar-for-dollar offset of any tax you owe. Let's say your tax... Read more →


Most taxpayers who file federal returns also must do the same for their state taxes. And most those state filings tend to conform to federal laws. That means that, among other things, state deadlines usually are the same as the ones set by the Internal Revenue Service. This year, it also means that state tax refunds, like their federal counterparts, are likely to be later than usual. Feb. 15 delay for certain refunds: Millions of taxpayers who claim the federal Earned Income or additional child tax credits already are dealing with delayed refund checks from Uncle Sam. The IRS is... Read more →


As the Internal Revenue Service began accepting tax returns this week, the agency's commissioner noted that "the dedicated employees of the IRS look forward to serving taxpayers this filing season." IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's staff, however, apparently is not going to be as large this year as he had planned. Some federal job seekers got an icy reception after President Donald Trump instituted a federal hiring freeze this week. (Icy branch photo by J. Carmichael via Wikimedia Commons) On Jan. 23, the same day that the 2017 tax filing season officially began, President Donald Trump instituted an immediate hiring freeze... Read more →


Do you have to file a return? Don't shoot the messenger, but the answer usually is yes. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident who made money last year, whether you must tell the Internal Revenue Service about it depends on three things: Your gross income, Your filing status, and Your age. The IRS created the table below to give you an idea of whether you should start getting your filing material together. A quick filing note for some older New Year's Day babies. The IRS says that if you were born on Jan. 1, 1952, you are considered... Read more →


Tax filing season 2017 opens today! Yes, that is cheering you're hearing. It's from folks who file their taxes early, usually because they are getting refunds. They also are fortunate that they have all the materials they need to fill out their returns. The key document for most taxpayers is their W-2 form. Employers aren't required to get these out until the end of the month, but some companies are quite efficient. And some taxpayers this year are going to discover something new on their W-2s. Verification code addition: Around 50 million of these officially named Wage and Income Statements... Read more →


Not to run Donald J. Trump's penchant for tax secrecy into the ground -- OK, maybe just dig a shallow little hole and kick some on dirt on it -- but I couldn't resist the latest bit of info about the new prez's still concealed tax returns. We are not now or ever -- that's never, just in case you're unsure in our new alternate facts world -- going to see his tax returns. Click image to watch interview on YouTube. During an interview this morning on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" political news show, White House counselor Kellyanne... Read more →


When Donald J. Trump assumed the U.S. presidency at noon on Friday, Jan. 20, he and his staff also took over the White House website. This is the only glimpse of Donald Trump's taxes the new president has provided, a photo via Twitter of him signing his purported 2014 federal return on Oct. 15, 2015. Although the 45th president's people made some major changes to the content Trump's predecessor had posted, they did leave one feature untouched, the We the People petition generator. This option lets people petition the White House for action on whatever is near and dear to... Read more →


Free File 2017 has been open for a week. Have you tried it out yet? The partnership between Uncle Sam and the private tax software industry has been around since 2003. This year, a dozen companies are offering their services to eligible taxpayers. The Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance say these participating software manufactures should meet the filing needs of 70 percent of the around 153,000 million taxpayers expected to send in 2016 returns this year. Does free tax preparation and e-filing appeal to you? Check it out. But first check out these five things you should... Read more →