Tax Tip Feed

The continental United States will be a little dimmer today as the solar eclipse moves across the lower 48. Some folks, however, focus on the sun every day. They have solar energy systems. If you’re interest in joining their sun worshiping ranks, the tax code can help. The federal solar tax credit, officially known as the solar investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to claim on your federal taxes 30 percent of the cost of a solar energy system. Good, it’s a tax credit. This means you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction of any tax you owe. Even better, installation costs... Read more →


Before you can write off your business expenses, you must show that you were indeed trying to turn a profit. That basic business tax tenet was confirmed by a recent U.S. Tax Court decision. In a summary opinion, Special Trial Judge Daniel A. Guy, Jr., sustained the Internal Revenue Service’s accuracy-related penalty against Eric Zudak based on tax that was reduced by incorrect business expenses claims. The judge held that Zudak wasn’t entitled to a deduction for expenses he paid for his film festival activity because he didn’t conduct the activity in a businesslike manner or engage in the activity... Read more →


Does the surging stock market mean it's time to take capital gains? Tax reform could complicate the decision. The U.S. stock market passed another notable boundary today, moving above the 22,000 mark. It didn’t stay there long, bouncing around a bit before, yes, finally closing at 22,031. Today's activity got investors wondering whether such flirting will turn into more than a one-day stand. A more solid investment gains relationship, perhaps. Or will it dip under 22,000 and eventually, as investment bears warn, tumble much lower? Those questions have investors pondering their options. Do they take earnings now at historic highs... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →


If you've been paying attention to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with some Russians last summer, you know the White House has given two reasons for the get-together. The explanation that caught my tax eye was that the group talked about adoptions. The president's oldest son said that one of the Russian nationals came to Trump Tower to lobby for reversal of the Magnitsky Act. The law gets its name from attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009 while being held in a Moscow prison. Foreign fight, domestic family effects: In 2012, the U.S. law bearing Magnitsky's name was enacted. It... Read more →


Regardless of which month you marry, there are and will be tax matters to consider. Relaxing after the ceremony. (Photo by Barney Moss via Flickr) Ever wonder why June is "the" wedding month? Me, too. So I looked it up. The Old Farmer's Almanac, which I never realized was a go-to wedding planning resource, says that June is the most popular month to marry thanks to some ancient traditions. The Roman goddess Juno, for whom the sixth month was named, was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing. So, says the Almanac,... Read more →


Moving's a hassle for everyone, but in some cases the relocation costs are tax deductible. Donald J. Trump's family was finally reunited this weekend as his wife, Melania, and their 11-year-old son Barron moved into the White House. There were no moving vans spotted outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to let the world know of the relocation. Rather, the word came, of course, via Twitter. This time, though it was the First Lady, not @realDonaldTrump, who let social media and the world know that the family had officially moved from Trump Tower in Manhattan to Washington, D.C. Melania used her official... Read more →


June is here! Summer. Beaches. Holidays. Weddings. Tax breaks. That's not a non sequitur or the fevered delusions of tax geek. As schools close their doors for a few months and families head out on much-needed vacations, it really is the perfect month to look at some traditional June events and their related tax moves. 1. Batten down the hatches: OK, that's a nautical phrase, but when summer rolls around, landlubbers along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts take it to heart. They don't need a calendar to tell them that the annual hurricane season starts June 1. They... Read more →


When Donald J. Trump gets back from his first trip abroad as president, he's going to come home to something all homeowners dread. There's a problem at the house. OK, with Trump we have to ask which house? While there's plenty going on and going wrong in Washington, D.C., right now, I'm talking about the abode 45 calls the Winter White House, otherwise known as Mar-a-Lago. One of the views of Ma-a-Lago showcased on the private club's website. A sinkhole opened up this week in the street outside his landmark Palm Beach, Florida mansion. Traffic alert first: The news of... Read more →


Regardless of your thoughts, political or otherwise, when it comes to L'affaire Comey, most of us can relate to the recently fired FBI director. Like James Comey, we've at some point been out of job, either by our choice or because we, too, were let go. If that happens to you, here are five steps to take. And, of course, there are tax implications for each of the post-job moves. 1. File for unemployment. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, for example, a corporate downsizing, you should be eligible for unemployment. Depending on the circumstances,... Read more →


I'm a big fan of teachers, not just because my grandmother and one of my aunts were teachers, but because I had great instructors from elementary through college. So celebrating National Teacher Day is the least I can do. That and remind teachers and others who help educate us that there's a tax break specifically for them. Tax reward for teachers: Most teachers go beyond lesson plans and working weekends to get ready to make the learning experience one that resonates. In fact, a lot of teachers spend their own money to help make their classroom presentations effective. In recognition... Read more →


How do I celebrate each May 5th? With guacamole, cerveza y tax tips! That means here in our Texas casa, every day basically is Cinco de Mayo. Yes, there really is a tax component to Cinco de Mayo beyond the use of my poco Español as a framework for this list. That's why I feel justified in urging you — before you lift a glass, be it brimming with Dos XX or a margarita, to commemorate Mexico's victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla on this day in 1862 — to check out these five tax-smart tax moves.... Read more →


May flowers, like these Texas poppies, are one of the reasons it's such a merry month. Other reasons to be happy is that there are some tax moves you can make now to cut your 2017 IRS bill. (Photo by Kay Bell) Welcome to the merry, merry month of May, which is particularly joyous for folks who've finished up their 2016 tax returns. That's almost 136 million of us, with around 17 million of those 1040 forms arriving at Internal Revenue Service processing centers in the final days of this year's main filing season. While the 2017 filing season got... Read more →


An autographed photo of San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker and the NBA team's head coach Gregg Popovich from Daniel Lewis' autograph collection. Another Coach Pop signature on a restaurant receipt with a really, really big tip is now getting attention. Gregg Popovich is in the midst of going for his sixth NBA championship as a head coach, but he's already the champ to one Memphis, Tennessee, restaurant employee. Pop, as the coach of the San Antonio Spurs is known, apparently left an almost 613 percent tip after a visit April 21 to McEwen's on Monroe. The dollar amount... Read more →


Some folks didn't file their federal taxes on April 18. Judging from social media, much of the deadline busting was the fault of cats. "Can't claim my cats as dependents? Well I can't file then," Tweeted @deedles420. Sorry, Dee, but while a dependent doesn't have to be a blood relative, your fur babies don't pass tax muster. Dee was not alone. The Twitter hashtag #ExcusesForNotFilingTaxes underscored the internet's reputation as cat loving and apparently tax hating. "Still waiting for cats' social security numbers," Tweeted @growingupZee. Good point, Zee, since those nine official digits from the Social Security Administration are key... Read more →


The U.S. Postal Service has evolved since the days when Texas Panhandle residents depended on mule mail. That's a good thing, since millions of taxpayers still insist on using today's postal system to send their annual tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. (Photo courtesy of Traces of Texas via Facebook) The 2017 tax filing season has been unusually slow. Through April 7, the Internal Revenue Service reports it had received 3.6 percent fewer tax returns than during the same time period last year. The decrease in filings extends even to electronic returns, an area that in recent years had... Read more →


You've got until midnight your time to get your 2016 tax return to the Internal Revenue Service, either by hitting "send" on your computer or getting your paper form to a Post Office where it can be postmarked today. Or, if it becomes clear that you're just not going to finish that 1040, and the IRS expect around 13 million of us to arrive at that realization sometime today, it's then time to turn to another IRS form: the 4868. Form 4868, otherwise known as the procrastinating taxpayer's best friend, will get you six more months to complete your tax... Read more →


Remember those frantic times when your classroom assignment was due and you were running out of time to finish it? Millions of U.S. taxpayers are flashing back to those school days as they scramble to complete their 2016 tax returns by tomorrow, April 18. We all face deadlines. And at some point, we all procrastinate. If that's you now as the April 18 tax filing deadline looms, don't panic. You've still got time to do the tax job right. But the tax stakes are definitely higher than that what you faced with that looming senior essay you put off too... Read more →


If you've waited until now to finish your taxes (or are going to delay until the very last minute on April 18), then your best filing, and paying if you owe, bet is to go electronic. As the Internal Revenue Service has been saying for years, filing and paying your taxes is easier and more accurate than going the old fashioned paper route. In case you haven't made your e-filing and, if needed, e-payment choices yet, here are your options. E-filing choices: Tax e-filing actually covers two things, using software to prepare your 1040 and associated schedules and forms and... Read more →


Every journalist, regardless of his or her beat, follows a time-honored template in crafting stories. Each article should tell readers the who, what, when, where, why and how of the selected topic. Answers to those six questions are perfect for detailing the intricacies of estimated taxes. The first estimated tax payment for the current tax year is due every April on the same day that our annual tax returns must be filed. Yep, that means next Tuesday, April 18. With that tax double due date looming for some, here are the answers to the 5 Ws and 1 H of... Read more →