Free File, the no-cost online tax return preparation and e-filing option, is now open for business. Although there's been no official announcement by the IRS and its Free File Alliance tax software partners, a click on the Free File page at IRS.gov invites eligible taxpayers to, "Click the Start Free File Now button to file your FREE federal return." UPDATE: The IRS has now made Free File official! You can read the announcement, but I'd appreciate it if you'd keep reading here. Those who can click the Free File button this year are taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) of... Read more →


New withholding tables are just phase one of a three-part implementation of the new tax laws' effects on workers' paychecks. Some folks will see more money each payday, but one thing won't change, says Treasury. Adjustments due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes won't stop people from overwithholding to intentionally get a big tax refund check. If you regularly get a tax refund, the new tax law and associated payroll withholding won't change that. That's the word today from the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service as the agencies released new payroll withholding tables to take the tax... Read more →


Some folks are taking seriously the traditional tax advice to start annual tax filing tasks early. Unfortunately, those folks are crooks. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners in state tax agencies and the tax industry have announced that they're seeing early signs that cyber criminals already are working to infiltrate the tax process. Tax practitioners are the prime targets as the 2018 filing season's opening on Jan. 29 nears. Fraudsters are sending a new round of emails in which they pose as potential clients or even the IRS to trick tax professionals into disclosing sensitive information, according... Read more →


Image courtesy 401kCalculator.org via Flickr Ah, January! A new year, new challenges, new opportunities and old tax tasks. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't give us much time to settle into a new tax year. In fact, it's right there, barely two weeks in, reminding many of us that we have a major tax obligation from the prior tax year to take care of or else. I'm talking, of course, about estimated taxes. These four extra tax payments are made by folks who get income that doesn't have income taxes withheld. If you don't pay, or don't pay on time, you'll... Read more →


The Beverly Hilton ballroom was packed on the evening of Jan. 7 as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out its annual Golden Globes statuettes for excellence in movies and television. (Photo courtesy Hollywood Foreign Press Association) I watched the Golden Globes. I am a big movie and television fan, so I wanted to see what one tiny subsection of awards voters, in this case the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, thought about recent entertainment offerings. Plus, I wanted to host Seth Meyers' take on Hollywood's harassment issue. I was thrilled to see his late-night show writers Amber Ruffin Jenny Hagel... Read more →


Welcome 2018 tax year. We know you are going to be crazy, but we are ready for whatever you plan to throw at us. And it will be a lot. In addition to starting out with the usual filing season tasks that focus on getting our 2017 tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service, there also are the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes to the tax code that will affect our 2018 tax bills. The Daily Tax Tip feature is here to help you accomplish both your 2017 filing and planning for 2018, regardless of whether you're confident enough... Read more →


While I make my coffee at home during the week, I'm a Starbucks fan on weekends. During hot Texas summers, those icy Frappuccinos are heaven. Heck, even in our not-that-cold winters, I get them. (Note to Starbucks: I sooo missed the Chile Mocha option this past holiday season. This flavor should be a regular, year-round option, especially here in Texas where chile peppers are one of the major food groups. We even have an official state pepper. But I digress. But bring it back, please!) When we do get the occasional cold spell, I'm an Espresso Macchiato fan. My drink... Read more →


The gambling loss tax deduction likely won't help the country's newest multimillionaire trim his or her 2018 tax bill. The write-off, however, still will help winners of smaller amounts. Professional gamblers, though, aren't so lucky. They'll see a limitation on how they offset their taxable winnings under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes. I've been touching base with my Florida friends and former neighbors and none of them won — or is admitting to winning! — last night's Mega Millions drawing. But some lucky Sunshine State resident is $450 million (more likely $281 million lump sum) richer today. Actually,... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting tax year 2017 returns on Monday, Jan. 29. Other key dates to note this 2018 filing season include the start of Free File (Jan. 12), the earliest some tax-credit-related refunds can be issued (Feb. 15+/-) and Tax Day (April 17). Ready, set, file ... on the 29th: Get out your brand new 2018 calendar and mark Jan. 29. That's the day the Internal Revenue Service will start accepting 2017 tax year returns. That's about a week later than the annual filing season started last year, meaning the agency will be under added pressure... Read more →


Welcome 2018! Yes, I know we're well into day four of this brand spanking New Year. But we all get a pass on the first day to recover from our New Year Eve parties. And days two and three were consumed by looking back at what was accomplished tax-wise in 2017, looking ahead at what we can expect from taxes in 2018, chatting with fellow tax folk (OK, maybe that was just me) and dealing with scary winter weather. Bundle up, all my friends along the East Coast! Now, though, it's time to get down to tax business. Time for... Read more →


I spent most of today with my Mom, running errands with her and chauffeuring her to a couple of medical appointments. (She's fine. It was routine stuff. Thanks for asking.) But I did make time to hook up with my peeps, all the Twittering tax experts, accountants, writers, preparers, attorneys, Enrolled Agents and general tax geeks who set aside an hour at the beginning of each month to talk taxes. Specifically, we were part of the first #TaxBuzzChat of 2018, coordinated and moderated by, as the name (and my headline) indicates, TaxBuzz.com. As you guessed — OK, noticed in the... Read more →


Welcome to the first work day of 2018. By now you (and I) have had enough coffee (maybe, even this late in the day) to think about what the year ahead will hold for taxes. Chippy the Dog via Giphy.com Since my personal orbuculum is still a little blurry — I'm blaming equally the aftermath of New Year's Eve festivities and the craziness that now rules Washington, D.C. — I have only six tax-related prognostications. But even with the fuzzy focus, one thing is clear. Most of what we'll see happen in the tax world in 2018 will be related... Read more →


We did it! We made it through the wild ride that was 2017. It ended in a particularly chaotic fashion, with a major tax bill that was literally written on the fly even on its last day of Congressional consideration. via Giphy.com Studios Now it's time to hunker down for what 2018 has to throw at us on the tax front. However, before we dive head-first into the new year, I'm taking one of the 365 days, just like I did at the start of 2017, to list my top 10 tax stories from the previous year. These are not... Read more →


Most folks will ring in the new year by raising a glass. For many, it will be an adult beverage. For us, it's the local sparkling almond wine shown there at left. Traditional or more extravagant celebrants, however, will ring out 2017 and welcome 2018 with bubbly. More tax sparkle: The toasting with champagne will have extra meaning this year for the makers and importers of the fancy sparkling wine. Not only will they be celebrating more year-end sales, they'll be reveling in a significant reduction in 2018 taxes on their product. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, with the implementation of... Read more →


Tax pros are feeling all "Mean Girls" Gretchen Wieners right now thanks to the new tax law. (via Giphy.com) When people ask what I do, I say I'm the most popular person in the world until April 16. After a few seconds of quizzical looks, I explain. I write about taxes. Yep, everyone wants to be my best friend until they finish their tax returns. After the April filing deadline, though, it's "please, Kay, no more tax talk!" But the Republican tax bill, originally known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and set to take effect on Jan. 1,... Read more →


Federal law enforcement scored a major victory this year against an India-based ring of tax crooks who pretended to be Internal Revenue Service agents in phone calls to U.S. taxpayers. The last of 24 U.S.-based member of the international tax scam pleaded guilty on Nov. 13. That brought to a successful end the multi-agency effort that helped bring down the IRS impersonation scam that since it began in 2013 has stolen $61.6 million from duped victims. But, warned the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, these crooked callers are not done. "This is the largest, most comprehensive investigation that TIGTA... Read more →


Good news workers. You have one less thing to worry about in 2018 in connection with the impending new tax laws. The Internal Revenue Service says that even though many revamped individual tax laws kick in on New Year's Day, there's no need to re-do your current W-4. This tax document, pictured above in case it's been a while since you made any payroll withholding changes to your paycheck, is what your boss used to calculate how much in taxes to take out of your pay. There had been some concern, primarily from payroll administrators, that the coming tax law... Read more →


We've only got five days left in 2017 and just three business days. That means that if you're making any tax moves, you'd best get on the stick! You also need to look at how your 20176 year-end tax actions might be affected by the new tax laws that take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. I've been writing about the latest tax changes for months now. You could find those stories by simply looking at the ol' blog's archives and checking out all the posts tagged as "tax reform" (even though this latest bill is really more tax cuts than... Read more →


It's almost 2018 and we all know what that means. Resolutions, fresh starts and lots of new tax laws. The good news is that for the most part, the changes to the tax code under the Republican-led tax bill will not affect us until we file our 2018 tax returns in 2019. But some of those changes in the still-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act mean we will need to make some tax moves now, this final week of 2017, to take advantage of some tax provisions that won't be around or will be dramatically altered when Jan. 1, 2018... Read more →


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree How lovely are thy branches! Our tree. Click here to see a photo of it with lights on. This is one of my favorite Christmas carols, in part because the Tannenbaum tune is also the one used for the "Maryland, My Maryland," the state song of the place the hubby and I called home for almost two decades. But it's also a wonderfully lyrical celebration of the Christmas tree tradition. The National Christmas Tree Association says that between 25 million and 30 million real trees are sold across the United States each holiday season.... Read more →