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 →


Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you have all your presents at least in hand, if not wrapped and under the tree. And I hope they didn't set you back as much as the gifts given by the true love in the classic "12 Days of Christmas" tune. The least expensive of the 12 gifts in the classic Christmas carol was the eight milking maids. Maybe that's because, like farm manager Courtney Biggs at Chapel's Country Creamery in Easton, Maryland, they use modern milking methods. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Bob Nichols via Flickr CC) The annual PNC Christmas Price... Read more →


Clark Griswold, portrayed by Chevy Chase, is not thrilled with his holiday bonus check in the 1989 movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. (Click image to watch MovieClips.com full video) Donald J. Trump proclaimed, on Twitter of course, that the Republican tax law changes that became law on Friday, Dec. 22, already were having a positive effect for workers. "Big companies and corporations [are] showering their workers with bonuses," he noted in an early morning Tweet posted a few hours before he signed the tax bill into law. Despite Trump's marveling at "a phenomenon that nobody even thought of, and now... Read more →


Donald J. Trump displays his signature he affixed this morning to the GOP tax bill law, holding it over the stack of legislation that now takes effect, for the most part, on Jan. 1, 2018. (CNN screenshot; click image to watch the full signing) There are just three shopping days left until Christmas, but the shopper in chief is done. Donald J. Trump this week got Americans the present he's been promising for months, "a big, beautiful tax cut." This morning, Trump quietly — Yes, you read that right! Quietly. A Christmas miracle? — signed H.R. 1 into law. It... Read more →


You thought we basically were done with taxes with the passage of the GOP's massive tax bill this week, right? Wrong. A variety of old extenders will get another look in the New Year. Horse racing tracks could get back a tax break that lapsed if the new bill of old expired tax extenders is passed. Senate Republicans decided to deal with the recently-passed tax code changes by working within the budgetary parameters of reconciliation and the Byrd rule so they could pass any bill by a simple majority. However, that made the individual tax changes temporary, setting the expiration... Read more →


Now that the Republican-sponsored massive tax bill is on its way to the Oval Office, taxpayers have two questions. The first is, "Will it help or hurt me when I get around to filing my federal tax return in 2019?" A variety of calculators offer some very broad hints as to that answer. The second is, "Will I see any benefits before the annual tax-filing time?" GOP members of Congress and the White House say yes. You should see the effect of the new tax rates, specifically more spending money, reflected in your February paychecks, promise Donald J. Trump and... Read more →


Christmas is only days away and it looks like Donald J. Trump will deliver on his promise to give American taxpayers a present. But will it be a "big, beautiful tax cut" as Trump characterized the legislation? Or will it be a bigger Internal Revenue Service bill? Or will it not make much difference at all? Who gets how much of a tax cut? House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who's career in the House has centered on budget and tax bills, reiterated in his floor speech this afternoon touting H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that "the typical... Read more →


Pass-through taxation has been one of the most contentious and confusing parts of the debate surrounding the Republican tax bill.ese businesses — sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs) and S corporations — are not themselves subject to federal taxation the way traditional corporations are. Instead, the income earned from these operations is passed through on the owner's personal income tax filing. As I and many, many other media outlets and bloggers have noted, the final version of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that House and Senate conferees approved Dec. 15 basically followed the Senate's taxing methodology... Read more →


Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) got testy when GOP leaders demanded Senators vote on the huge tax bill without giving them time to go through the almost 500 pages. But they did. And it passed. And the final conference deal and supporting material is even larger! (Click image to watch Tester's complaint via his Twitter account.) After the House and Senate conferees signed off Dec. 15 on the "mixed" Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I posted a look at some of the highlights (or, depending on your political persuasion and personal tax situation) lowlights in the measure. But that one post... Read more →


There's a tax bill, but there is no tax reform. There's still an estate tax. There are still (some) state and local itemized tax deductions. There's still an alternative minimum tax. And there are enough other tweaks to confuse filers and keep tax pros very busy over the next 12 (and more) months. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) presides over the lone public hearing Dec. 13 of the House-Senate conference committee on H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Final House and Senate votes on the bill are planned for next week. Basically, the Republican tax bill... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has good news for folks who do tax-related driving. Some auto travel amounts, however, might not matter depending on what happens with tax reform. 50 Cent via Giphy.com If your job requires you to be on the road, you'll get a bit bigger tax break for those business miles in 2018. The Internal Revenue Service's annual adjustment of the optional standard mileage rate for business use of your vehicle is a penny-per-mile more next year. The deductible per-mile rate for medical and moving also are one cent higher in 2018. The driving deduction rate for charitable... Read more →


Vice President Mike Pence (waving) and Ways & Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (far right) leave a Dec. 12 meeting in which they discussed the final touches being made to the Republicans' tax bill, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (Photo courtesy Brady's Facebook page) Breathe a sigh of relief, all you payers of state and local income taxes. The tax bill under consideration will help you. Or not. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) announced to reporters today (Thursday, Dec. 14) that conference committee members — or at least the Republican conferees — have agreed... Read more →


House and Senate tax conferees will officially meet for the first time this afternoon. As the formal "mixing" of the two tax bills begins, let's get few things straight. Neither H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as passed by the House nor the version of that bill approved by the Senate is not real tax reform. It's mainly, per its name, a variety of tax cuts, particularly for big business and wealthier taxpayers. Neither bill simplifies the Internal Revenue Code. In fact, in several instances it complicates things. Yes, I'm looking at you pass-through provisions. Taxpayers, both business... Read more →


U.S. map from vintage state postcards by Design Turnpike/Fine Art America State tax departments and lawmakers have joined individual and business taxpayers in closely watching and anxiously awaiting any possible changes to the federal tax code. Just like businesses and individuals, states will benefit or suffer depending on what the House and Senate tax reform conference committee decides. Most states collect some sort of tax — only Alaska has no income and no state (but some local) sales tax — and most of those states tie their tax methods, especially when it comes to income tax collection, to federal law.... Read more →


Experian credit reporting bureau replaces hacked competitor Equifax as supplier of taxpayer identity proof to Internal Revenue Service. Remember when credit reporting bureau Equifax was hacked? Sure you do because you probably were among the more than 143 million folks whose data, collected without your knowledge or consent, was exposed to criminals. Remember when the Internal Revenue Service had a deal with Equifax to tighten security processes used by taxpayers to get their tax information online from the agency? You probably do, since that no-bid Equifax-IRS contract got a lot of attention. Well, the IRS agreed to revisit that $7.25... Read more →


It's Sunday afternoon in America, meaning millions (still) are watching National Football League games Millions more also are betting on them. Unless, that is, they were participants in Ron & Mike's Football Pool. It's one of the largest football survivor pools in the country and it was shut down last week after federal agents seized documentation and the money the pool organizers collected, according to an article by Darren Rovell, senior writer for ESPN. In case you're not a gambler, survivor pools require a bettor to pick one team that is going to win each week of the football season... Read more →