Tax Tip Feed

If you're reading this post, thanks. You could be out there on the road, getting a head start on the long Memorial Day weekend. Click image for 20 things you probably didn't know about "National Lampoon's Vacation" The annual three-day weekend at the end of every May is the traditional, although unofficial, start of the summer vacation season. And most of still take our mid-year trips in our autos. Near record on the road: AAA expects more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That's about 700,000 more motorists this May 26-30 compared to the holiday weekend... Read more →

Getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service can be scary, whether it arrives on Friday the 13th or any other day. Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. And the IRS has lots of questions in these areas. It sends out millions every year. And while there's no official clinical name for a tax notice phobia (unlike the various Friday the 13th fears of paraskevidekatriaphobia, triskaidekaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia) the truth is that there's usually nothing to be afraid of as long as you don't ignore the letter. To help you over your tax notice fear,... Read more →

Hey, May. You're supposed to be all about the flowers from last month's April showers. You can stop the rain and more any time now. Bluebonnets and more in a Central Texas field along the Willow City Loop. Photo by Kay Bell; art direction by the hubby. Yep, that old climatological adage is not quite accurate. May also brings plenty of showers. And hail. And tornadoes. That trend seems to be on track this year. Just two days into the month, and severe weather has moved from Central and flooded East Texas, where Houston was declared a major disaster area,... Read more →

Even with three extra days to complete taxes this year, some folks missed the April 18 (or 19) tax filing deadline. Did you just give up on tax filing this year? You need to get a return to the IRS ASAP or you'll pay the price. Maybe a personal emergency took precedence. Perhaps you meant to get the job done, but it took longer than you planned and exasperated, you just said, "Later!" Or you discovered you owe, but don't have the money and thought, "What's the point?" The point, regardless of why you didn't get your Form 1040 (or... Read more →

Finally! Tax Day 2016 has arrived for folks in Maine and Massachusetts. While procrastinators in the other 48 states and District of Columbia were working to finish their 1040s yesterday and get them on their way to the Internal Revenue Service, folks in Maine and Massachusetts had a literal and tax holiday. Monday, April 18, was Patriots’ Day in those two New England states. The annual state holiday commemorates the 1775 Revolutionary War battles at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. That celebration of the start of America's birth, as well as the running of the Boston Marathon and a day game... Read more →

Finally! Tax Day 2016 has arrived. Here are three things to do to make sure you and the Internal Revenue Service are happy today. Don't worry. You don't have to do all of them! 1. File your 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ) If you can finish your taxes -- and do them correctly, not making mistakes or missing out on some tax breaks -- then get your return on its way to the IRS. If you're e-filing, you can hit the send button by midnight your local time, although I don't recommend waiting that late in case you have technical... Read more →

The 2016 filing (or extending, but not tax paying!) deadline is tomorrow. I know many of you are working diligently on your 2015 return. But it never hurts to take a break. So I thought you might enjoy this brief tax facts video. Click image to watch the Plante Moran video on YouTube. That beard tax tidbit might terrify today's hipsters, but it's also a good example of how so-called Pigovian taxes have always been used to modify, or at least try to shape, our behavior. Nowadays we have sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol in part to discourage those... Read more →

One way to survive working on your tax return with a deadline looming -- April 18 this year -- is to make sure you don't make any easily avoidable filing mistakes. Similarly, you don't want to overlook any tax breaks. I guess that technically omitting a tax claim could be considered a mistake, but for the sake of keeping things clear -- and for providing an added blog post topic! -- I've separated them. Searching for tax breaks? Below are 18. (James Corden GIF via And to save you time in your search for ways to cut your tax... Read more →

If you started off today freaking out because you haven't finished -- or even started -- your 2015 tax return, chill. The federal (and most state) tax-filing deadline this year is April 18. That means you have the whole weekend to work on taxes. Sorry. Taking tax steps: You can, of course, file for an extension. That will let you procrastinate until Oct. 17 (yes, that Oct. 15 deadline is later this year, too, since the 15th falls on a Saturday). But if you think you'll owe Uncle Sam, you'll need to at least do a down-and-dirty tax filing run... Read more →

Tax Day is almost here. If you're one of the millions still to file, I understand. No judging here. I'm part of the last-minute tax crew, too. The key as April 18 nears is not to panic. If you freak out while doing your taxes, you'll likely make a mistake (or two or …) that could be costly. Source: So that you don't end up writing a check like the one above, here are 10 common tax-filing mistakes to avoid. 1. Math miscalculations -- This is the most common tax mistake every filing season. It includes addition, subtraction, percentage... Read more →

Tax Day 2016 is a week away. That's seven days to take care of your annual tax duty. It also means you have seven days to complete some other tax-related tasks that have an April 18 deadline, too. Here are eight tax tasks to take care of in this final filing week. The Beatles' most famous tax-related song is Tax Man, but for this post, Eight Days a Week works, too. Click image to watch the YouTube video of the more-than-a-week-long song. 1. File your 2015 tax year federal tax return. If you miss this deadline by more than 60... Read more →

We're now into the single digit countdown (you are watching the clock in the right column, right?) to the April 18 tax return (and due tax payment!) deadline. That means millions of us are starting to get a little frantic. And that can be really, really bad when it comes to taxes. If we tackle our returns in the same state as this faux Grumpy Cat, we'll make the same costly mistakes he's bragging about to his neighborhood bar buddies. So take a breath. Put down the Cosmo (or whatever adult beverage you prefer) and cigarette. Tax tips time: And... Read more →

Uncle Sam's favorite month has arrived. By the middle of every April every year, the Internal Revenue Service has heard from most U.S. taxpayers. Sure, it's not friendly hellos. Millions of us are contacting him to get refunds. Some of us, though, are sending him a few more dollars Either way, Uncle Sam is thrilled. Not so thrilled are those of us who put off our annual tax task. A few more days: This year, we get a few extra days to fulfill our tax responsibilities. Since Emancipation Day, a federal holiday in Washington, D.C., falls on Friday, April 15,... Read more →

The hubby and I took a day trip today to check out a cool exhibit of a William Shakespeare First Folio. The book, produced in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, includes 36 of his plays, 18 of which had never been before published. Title page of the First Folio collection of Shakespeare's works, courtesy Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C. It was a great spring day, so we were treated to gorgeous wildflowers on the drive to and from College Station, where the Folio was on display at Texas A&M University. Plus we topped it off with a great Tex-Mex... Read more →

You thought it was the perfect job. And it was. For a while. But it's time to move on because, like Jimmy McGill in AMC's "Better Call Saul," your way of doing business is just too flashy for your company's more staid culture. Good news. The Internal Revenue Service can help you find a new job ... as long as you follow the tax rules. Specifically, there are three requirements to write off your job hunting costs. 1. You must itemize. The costs related to finding another job are included in the "Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions" section of... Read more →

During this presidential primary season, the cost of higher education has been a major campaign issue, especially on the Democratic side. Taking a study break. "University Life 159" by Francisco Osorio via Flickr. Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing free college for all. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a plan for debt-free college. Business Insider has a side-by-side comparison of Sanders' College for All Act and Clinton's New College Compact. But until Clinton or Sanders is elected, students and their families will have to rely on existing educational tax breaks. Comparing current education tax benefits: The most popular are... Read more →

The hubby and I have no children. We often, however, seem to find ourselves at places and events chock full of families. For the most part, that's OK. Although we're child-free, we get a kick out of kids in small doses. They often provide some chuckles. Or as in the case of the poor baby pictured below, literal out loud laughs. Sorry, kiddo, but peas are good for you. Really! Plus, it always helps to know that when we get in our car and head home, it's just the two of us! Families still rule: We're in the minority. Most... Read more →

In case you haven't check the countdown clock over in the ol' blog's right column, the filing deadline for your 2015 tax return is just a month away. If you haven't done your taxes yet -- and I admit I'm right there in that procrastinating group -- this might be a good weekend to at least get started. And the Internal Revenue Service has a suggested resource to help with that task: Publication 17. Officially titled "Your Federal Income Tax," this 286-page booklet basically is, as its stylized Washington, D.C., skyline cover says, the IRS' tax guide for individuals as... Read more →

It's been one of those weeks that makes me totally understand exactly why the TGIF acronym was created. Blarghhhh! Arghhhh! TGIF! The only solace for Milton Waddams, brilliantly played by Stephen Root, in "Office Space" is his red stapler. Huffington Post has even more GIFs from Mike Judge's 1999 workplace documentary comedy. We've all been there, thinking, at least temporarily, that work sucks. That it's time to get a new job. That being out of work for a while wouldn't be so bad. Or maybe the unbearable cube farm circumstances are a sign that it's time to take that entrepreneurial... Read more →

Were you like this cat during last night's debate featuring the four remaining 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls? Is the debate over? Is it safe to come out yet? I must confess that I just couldn't stick with the debacle from Detroit. Instead, I followed from a safe digital distance on Twitter. But from what I gleaned there and from various post mortems, the event was messy (school yard name calling), embarrassing (junior high style references to male sexual prowess) and at times scary (one of these guys soon could be running our country!). Weird political week: To us here in... Read more →