April 17 is Tax Day 2018. That means, of course, that tax returns for last year are due. But other tax tasks also share the annual April deadline. A big one for millions of taxpayers is the filing of the year's first estimated tax payment. Estimated tax payments are made by folks who have income that isn't subject to withholding. This typically is money made from full-time self-employment, side hustles, investment income and/or prize or gambling winnings (which is often like investing, but I digress). An earlier post has the scoop on these four extra tax payments. For today's purposes,... Read more →


Source: CafePress tax jigsaw puzzle Still trying to put the pieces of your Form 1040 (or 1040A or even 1040EZ) together? Time's running out. Tax Day is almost here. Since the tax filing deadline is April 17 this year, here are 17 tax tips. Not only do they earn this week's By the Numbers honor, some could help you put together a return to send to Uncle Sam on time and at the least possible tax cost to you. 1. File on time. Yes, this first tip is obvious, but a lot of people let the filing date slip by... Read more →


Apparently working on your taxes works up an appetite. That's the message from businesses offering freebies, or at least discounted items, on Tuesday, April 17, aka Tax Day 2018. Bagels, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches (sub, traditional and breakfast versions), cookies and Texas favorites corndogs (although some vendors — Yankees, perhaps? — call them hot dogs on a stick) and tacos (same culinary language nationwide) are there for your tasty taking on Tax Day. Taxes got you too stressed to eat? Take advantage of massages to ease you into a post-filing relaxed state. If you prefer to stay focused on the day's... Read more →


"If anyone from the, uh, from the IRS is watching, I…forgot to file my, my, my 1040 return. Um, I meant to do it today, but…." That tax oversight admission was made on April 11, 1970, by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut and Apollo 13 command module pilot John "Jack" Swigert. Bill Paxton as Fred Haise, Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell and Kevin Lovell as Jack Swigert in a pivotal scene from the 1995 Universal Pictures film "Apollo 13." (Image courtesy IMBD.com) By now, everyone knows, either because they're fans of NASA (like me!) or the popular Ron... Read more →


Tax Day is less than a week away. But finishing up your 2017 Form 1040 is not the only tax task facing millions of Americans. Here are 10 tax matters that must be taken care of by April 17. 1. File your 2017 tax year federal tax return. Yeah, I started with the easy (so to speak), obvious one. But it is the reason for the tax season. If you don't get your return into or on the way if snail mailing by Tax Day, the late-filing penalty is 5 percent of the additional taxes owed amount for every month... Read more →


Federal, and most state, tax returns are due in less than a week. Don't panic! You still have time to finish your return (or get an extension). But don't be in such a rush that you make a costly mistake. Yes, errors on 1040s still happen, even though most of use tax preparation software that catches errors on our annual returns. Here are a dozen common tax mistakes that millions of taxpayers make every year. Some are directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Others are based on my and other filers' experiences. 1. Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers: This... Read more →


Most taxpayers have never itemized their deductions. And the new tax law that took effect this year will ensure that even fewer filers fill out a Schedule A. By nearly doubling the standard deduction amounts, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will prompt more folks to use them instead of messing with the record keeping and extra paperwork itemized deductions require. Plus, as I'm sure you've heard by now, starting with the 2018 tax year and running through, for now, 2025, other TCJA changes will make itemizing even less valuable. The amount of state and local taxes, including your... Read more →


Most U.S. taxpayers get refunds. But the time it takes to get that over-withheld money seems to get longer every filing season, at least according to the emails I've received and comments on my refund-related blog posts. Part of the reason is the annual mandated hold until mid-February of refunds associated with returns that included Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit claims. Realistically, that money doesn't show up in many affected filers' hands until the end of February. Then earlier this year, Congress decided to renew some tax breaks after the filing season had already been... Read more →


New York magazine's Nov. 13-26, 2017, cover featured Cardi B. Click to see full image. (Photograph by Hassan Hajjaj) Things have been going great for Bronx-born rapper Cardi B. She was the musical guest on last night's Saturday Night Live, hosted by "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman. It seems a New York magazine cover last November got it right when it proclaimed she was made to be this famous. On her way to membership in music and pop culture's top echelon, Cardi B's career has covered an astoundingly wide spectrum. After losing her job as a teenage employee at an... Read more →


We got our notice of appraisal for our house last week. It was, as has been the case for the last few years, higher. If we were selling our house right now, we'd be thrilled. But we're not moving (yet). This week, we got our monthly neighborhood newsletter. It included a local Realtor's ad touting local listings. One was for a house down the block. The asking price was $300,000 more than our appraisal notice. Yes, that home is a bit larger than our house. And it has a pool. But is it worth $300,000 more than our home? The... Read more →


Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up last September, each possibly headed for landfall. (National Hurricane Center radar image) A key forecast group expects the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season to be even more active than normal. That is not what people who endured Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma last year and are, in some areas, still struggling to recover, wanted to hear. Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his team at Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project are forecasting 14 named tropical storms this hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Mother Nature and her... Read more →


Tax Day 2018 is almost here. This mid-April deadline, which falls on April 17 this year due to the Emancipation Day federal holiday in Washington, D.C., means that millions of us are in the midst of finishing up our federal tax returns. Many filers also are doing double tax duty right now. That's because they live in a state that taxes some portion of income. And most of those income tax collecting states follow the IRS filing calendar. That means those states' deadlines this year also are April 17. No, some or all state taxable income: Here in Texas, the... Read more →


Identity theft is bad enough, but when it's connected to your tax data, things can be particularly scary. Not only does a crook have personal information about you, but he or she can steal the tax refund you've been counting on. In some situations where your data has been hacked, you'll want to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, to let the inform the Internal Revenue Service that you think you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft. Now you finally can file that form online. IRS, FTC take ID theft fight further online: The IRS now will... Read more →


Being your own boss means you are responsible for many tasks, including setting up a retirement plan for yourself and your business' employees. If you're self-employed, your primary focus, especially in your entrepreneurial effort's early years, likely is to just make sure your business survives. But once you're on stable business footing, it's wise to look into tax-deferred retirement plan options for your small business. Not only are these retirement accounts a great way to save for the day you are ready to stop working, they also can help you reduce your current tax bill. Here are three self-employed retirement... Read more →


Welcome April, the Internal Revenue Service favorite month. It's when millions of us file our returns and, despite the billions of dollars in refunds that are sent (eventually), many filers also settle up with Uncle Sam. Those folks who owe tend to be the ones who enter April with tax tasks still to complete. If you're one of the procrastinators, here are some things your absolutely must do by Tuesday, April 17, again because the Emancipation Day federal holiday is celebrated in the IRS headquarters' home of Washington, D.C. That's two more days than usual, but not enough if you've... Read more →


Kids all across the country, including those in my neighborhood, spent Saturday hunting for brightly colored eggs. Or, if they're in the Washington, D.C. area, perhaps they're getting ready to participate in tomorrow's (Monday, April 2) 140th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, like the youngsters in the photo above did last year. Their parents, however, are more likely this weekend to be hunting for tax breaks as the April 17 filing deadline nears. Every tax season, lots of taxpayers overlook some deductions, credits or other tax moves that can reduce their eventual Internal Revenue Service bill. Here are some... Read more →


Employers were supposed to have new withholding tables in place by mid-February to reflect the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act income tax rate changes. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said once those payroll changes were in place, 90 percent of workers would see bigger paychecks thanks to the GOP tax bill. Mnuchin might want to rethink his prediction. A CNBC survey conducted March 17-20 of 800 Americans, 60 percent of whom were working, found that 52 percent of the employed haven't seen a change in their paychecks. In fact, just 32 percent of the working adults that CNBC talked to said... Read more →


Scott Foster, accountant by day and emergency NHL goalie for one night, makes a save in the Chicago Blackhawks win March 29 over the Winnipeg Jets. Accountants know all about pressure, especially during tax season. But Scott Foster, a Chicago-area numbers cruncher, last night ably handled even more, albeit a different kind of, stress. Foster faced, and bested, some of the National Hockey League's best. Injuries lead to NHL debut: A series of injuries forced Foster to suit up and step into the goal crease for the final 14 minutes of the Chicago Blackhawks March 29 game against the Winnipeg... Read more →


The larger standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect this year has gotten a lot of attention. One of the big pluses, cite fans of the new nearly doubled standard deduction amounts, is that more people will claim them instead of itemizing tax deductible expenses. But regardless of whether you itemize now, plan to under the new tax law or never ever messed with a Schedule A and don't plan to start, there still are some tax deductions you can claim. They are what are popularly known as above-the-line deductions found directly on 1040... Read more →


Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) and fellow Ways and Means member Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) have offered a bill to revamp the IRS. Remember the kinder, gentler Internal Revenue Service? That was the goal of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which sought to ease up on the tax agency's aggressive collection actions back then. Now two Ways and Means Committee members are looking to remake the IRS into a modern, more efficient agency that provides taxpayers a better experience. I'm pretty sure that modernizing and refining processes for better efficiency can eventually be accomplished. As for the improved... Read more →