Tax Tip Feed

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 →


No maybe about it. Taxpayers will be calling the Internal Revenue Service this weekend as the April 18 tax return filing deadline looms. Taxpayers will be taking Carly Rae Jepsen's advice and calling the IRS in a filing season last-minute rush to complete their returns. Click image to watch her song's video. Or you can check out IRS videos for tax help. The first two weeks of April usually are the busiest times of the year for IRS employees who staff the agency's toll-free telephone help lines. And since this is an unusually slow filing season — the IRS reports... Read more →


Time is rapidly running out this filing season to make tax-saving moves, but adding to an IRA could be a win-win-win. Win 1: Added feathering of your nest egg Most moves to reduce a tax year's final bill must be taken by the end of that tax year. Once Dec. 31 is past, so are your options to reduce what you owe the Internal Revenue Service. IRA contributions, however, are different. You have until the April fling deadline, which is next Tuesday, the 18th this year, to put money into your traditional or Roth IRA and have the contribution count... Read more →


You have a mortgage. That home's property taxes are waaaay too big. (Note to self: Protest the appraisal.) And you were really generous. All those expenses probably mean that you itemize instead of taking the standard deduction when you file your taxes. Yes, it's more work, but if you take full advantage of all Schedule A has to offer, it can really pay off. Schedule A (Form 1040) Here's a closer look at what you can claim where when you itemize. Medical and Dental Expenses Being sick sucks. Having to pay a lot of out-of-pocket medical expenses is a pain,... Read more →


Most of us — Internal Revenue Service data shows around 70 percent of taxpayers — don't mess with itemized deductions. Instead this large group of filers claims the standard deduction. It's easy. The amount to claim is based on your filing status and found directly on the 1040 and 1040A forms; it's included with the personal exemption amount(s) on 1040EZ. It's also adjusted annually for inflation, so generally if you make more the next tax year, your standard deduction is larger. But sometimes standard deduction claimants feel a bit left out at tax time, since so much is written (guilty!)... Read more →


You know there's Free File, but you'd really feel more comfortable getting some face-to-face help filling out your taxes. The problem is you don't have a lot of money to pay for accredited tax assistance. Good news. You might qualify for free, in-person tax help. Free tax-preparation and filing help, like that shown here at a Rutherford Country, Tennessee, VITA office, is available at thousands of sites across the country. No-cost tax return preparation and e-filing is available at nearly 12,000 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites across the United States. These filing-season... Read more →


Back before I was totally focused on taxes — yes, I know that's hard to imagine — I worked for a corporate conglomerate that had an aerospace subsidiary. That company also was a government contractor. To underscore our connection to federal government, my employer offered the option to buy U.S. saving bonds through a payroll purchase program. I still have a bundle of those Series EE bonds. Yes, real paper bonds. That's some of them pictured above. It seemed a little silly back then, even though the purchases cost me only half of each bond's face value. Compared to other... Read more →


And so it starts. Again. As mandated by Congress, the Internal Revenue Service has turned over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. These collection agencies will begin calling affected individuals this week. Yes, private debt collectors are again calling about unpaid federal taxes. Worried much? I am. New tax scam potential: I spelled out my primary concern in a post last month about the private collection letter the IRS had finalized. "If you think this opens the door -- and windows and attic vents -- wide for tax scammers, you are probably correct. And you are not alone.... Read more →


Wait. It's April, right? And isn't it March that has the proverbial lion-like entrance? Well, April apparently is trying to steal some monthly arrival literal thunder. Over the first weekend of this new month, violent storms raked much of Texas and are still marching east. Little April showers on spider web GIF by SomethingTraLaLa via Giphy Yes, I know spring heralds thunderstorm season, which is often dangerous and deadly like this weekend. But I also know I speak for a lot of us who were hoping simply for some more soothing April showers. So instead of just worrying about filing... Read more →


The annual tax filing due date is the big day each April. Instead of falling on the usual April 15, the deadline for getting your taxes to the Internal Revenue Service this year is April 18. But some older taxpayers, specifically that first big batch of Baby Boomers who turned 70½ last year, are facing a key April 1 tax deadline. April Fools' Day is the deadline to take your first required minimum distribution, or RMD, from certain tax-deferred retirement accounts if you didn't do so by the end of last year. No kidding. If you miss the April deadline,... Read more →