Politics Feed

Same old, same old. That's the message the Internal Revenue Service got today when the Trump Administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget. The IRS' base budget amount is about the same as prior years and some old tax enforcement ideas are proposed again. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney discussing the Trump Administration budget last year. For release of the 2019 fiscal year budget, Mulvaney decided to stay off camera "because it's really boring." You can decide if he was right by listening to his remarks yourself via C-SPAN. It's no secret that the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


Since Congress decided to slip some expired tax breaks into the budget bill enacted earlier today and make them retroactive to the 2017 tax year, some folks will be amending the 1040 forms they've already filed. Ignore that smirking sound loud enough to make it onto the internet. It's the perpetually procrastinating hubby being all smug about how sometimes it does pay to put things off for a while. However, if, unlike the hubby, you don't defer tasks and were an early tax filer who now can claim, for example, the tuition and fees above-the-line tax deduction, you're probably already... Read more →


During an overnight session, Congress ended a brief government shutdown and retroactively approved some expired tax breaks. Remember those tax breaks that expired at the end of 2016? Most of them, including four were claimed by many individual taxpayers, are back. But just for the 2017 tax year. That's good and bad news for filers who last tax year: paid college tuition and fees, had a mortgage payment that included private mortgage insurance (PMI), made certain energy efficient improvement to their homes or reworked their home loan and in that process had some of the debt forgiven. Yep, those tax... Read more →


Yesterday was a big day for electric vehicles. One was shot into a solar orbit. Terrestrially, a group of U.S. Senators launched an effort to extend tax credits for electric and alternative fuel vehicles. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy successfully launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Click image to watch the full video. SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, successfully launched one of the heaviest rockets ever. For those of us of a certain age, the Cape Canaveral lift off brought to mind the powerful Saturn V rocket that propelled NASA's Apollo... Read more →


If you're going to a restaurant or bar today to watch the Super Bowl instead of to your buddy's for an LII party, tip your servers well. They soon could be losing their gratuities. That's the worst-case scenario feared by wait staff and employee advocacy groups under the Trump Administration's effort to reinstate tip pooling. Return of shared tips: With tip pooling, restaurants took all servers' tips, combined them and then handed out the money to all staff at management's discretion. In 2011, the Obama Administration issued a rule prohibiting such tip distribution. Obama's Department of Labor (DoL) said employees,... Read more →


UPDATE, Feb. 8, 2018: The Trump Administration made it official this afternoon, announcing Donald J. Trump's intent to nominate Charles P. Rettig as the next commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. If confirmed by the Senate, Rettig will serve a five-year term that began Nov. 12, 2017, when prior commissioner John Koskinen left. Tax practitioners are generally pleased to see someone from their ranks selected to helm the IRS. Capitol Hill reaction also was positive. "With a long history of helping families and job creators navigate the tax code and stand up to the IRS when the agency is wrong,... Read more →


When Congress overwhelmingly approved — a 266-150 vote in the House, 81-18 margin in the Senate — a bill on Monday (Jan. 22) to fund the federal government, a lot of folks celebrated. Federal workers, who were off work just one day, of course were happy. So were the parents of the 9 million kids who get medical care under the Children's Health Insurance Program, aka CHIP, which had run out of money at the end of last September. States, which administer the program, had been operating on savings and an earlier short-term infusion of federal funds. Now they don't... Read more →


One week from today, on Monday, Jan. 29, the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting 2017 tax year returns. Some folks have already filed, including for free via Free File, which actually opened on Jan. 12. Others, however, will be, shall we say, more deliberative, pushing off filing until closer to April's Tax Day or later thanks to an extension. While you need to take as much time as you need to complete your Form 1040 accurately and fully, it can be beneficial to file earlier rather than later in the tax season. Here are six reasons why early tax... Read more →


And so it begins. Uncle Sam is out of money, forcing closure today of many federal operations. How long will this latest government shutdown last? Based on prior shutdowns, it could be just today, or this could drag out for weeks. UPDATE, Feb. 9, 2018: The federal government closed briefly again on Feb. 9, but only for a few hours. A two-year budget agreement means we'll be able finish out the filing of our 2017 returns, either by the April deadline or the extended due date in October, without further interruption. In addition, this latest 5½-hour overnight closure ended with... Read more →


Photo by Alan Cleaver via Flickr CC The federal government might shut down at midnight on Friday, Jan. 19. What will that mean to your taxes? The Internal Revenue Service has opened its Free File online tax preparation and e-filing program. Since the IRS simply acts as the portal to the dozen private tax software manufacturers who actually handle the returns, things there should operate as usual. That means that the taxpayers' returns now being filed through Free File will still be queued up, awaiting processing when the 2018 tax filing season officially starts on Monday, Jan. 29. But what... Read more →


Anger over the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) has spilled over into 2018, with lawmakers from high-tax states still looking for ways to undo this provision. Some have petitioned the Internal Revenue Service for revised, more filer-friendly property tax guidance. Other have introduced legislation to fully restore the now-limited SALT itemized write-offs. You thought the battle over paying 2018 local property taxes so that they could be claimed on 2017 tax returns ended on Jan. 1. You were wrong. Asking IRS to reconsider: Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate minority... Read more →


U.S. Supreme Court photo by Phil Roeder via Flickr CC Much tax attention has been focused on the new tax law that now limits the federal deduction filers can claim for the state taxes they pay. But another impending state tax decision could affect even more taxpayers across the country. The Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) will decide this summer whether more of us will be paying state sales taxes on our online purchases. That's already a price that folks in the 45 states and Washington, D.C. pay when they buy products from internet retail giant Amazon. If the... Read more →


The Rev. Gilbert Caldwell (left) was part of the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (center). Click the screenshot above to watch the full CBS Sunday Morning feature on how a group of fifth-graders helped correct a 60-year-old act of discrimination against Caldwell and his wife. As a young man, the Rev. Gilbert Caldwell marched with Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we honor and celebrate on this federal holiday. Racial discrimination was among the many wrongs King, Caldwell and other civil rights activists back then were working to right. It's a... 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 →


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 →


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 →


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 →


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 →