Tax Tip Feed

Happy day after Thanksgiving! For many folks, it's time for Christmas shopping, although internet commerce and changing demographics have made Black Friday a tad less chaotic. Are you shopping today? At a major retailer or at a local thrift store? If it's the latter and it's run by an IRS-approved charity, consider donating some items you no longer need or want to the nonprofit. It could provide you a tax deduction. (Thrift store shopper photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr) For others, it's a day to finally start decking the home's halls (and living rooms and mantels and…). The... Read more →


Taxes are about dollar amounts and dates. April 15 obviously is the biggie. But Dec. 31 is almost as important. The end of a tax year is, for the most part, the last time you can make tax moves that could help lower your coming tax bill. While we all wish we could have Homer Simpson's to-do list, when it comes to taxes, most of us need to take care of some potentially money saving tax tasks by Dec. 31. With the days rapidly dwindling (the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column is tracking them), here... Read more →


We call it Veterans Day here in the United States. An Army veteran salutes the colors being carried in the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 11, 2011. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army via Flickr) That Nov. 11 is such an important date is evidenced by the fact that federal holiday has escaped conversion into a Monday that wraps up a long weekend that's usually more focused on consumer spending than actual commemoration. End of the Great War: Each November we mark what originally was the official, formal end of World War I at the 11th hour of... Read more →


Finally the weekend! It's what, as the song says, we've been working for. Some folks, however, are spending today looking for a job. Job fairs are good places to get, if not a job, at least an idea of what's available in the marketplace. (Photo courtesy iLearn Schools Job Fair 2016/NJASCS.org) Good jobs report: On Friday, Nov. 4, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its last jobs report before the presidential election. It showed 161,000 jobs were added in October, as well as a hike of 10 cents in the hourly pay rate. The number of jobs was less that... Read more →


It's almost here, the Oct. 17 tax extension filing deadline. Since the regular 15th due date is Saturday, procrastinating filers get a couple of extra days to do their tax jobs. Don't waste them. UPDATE: Some filers in states where major natural disasters were declared also get time beyond 10/17. Details in Oct. 17 is final filing deadline for most, but is extended further for folks in FL, LA, NC and WVA disaster areas IRS grants more tax relief for Hurricane Matthew filers in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina But also don't be in such a last-minute panic... Read more →


October is one of my favorite months, as it ushers in crisp, cooler temperatures. This time of year has two names, fall and autumn. October also is a key month for some important tax moves. And there are many names for taxes, too, although not all printable in the ol' blog. I know it's tempting to rant about taxes instead of thinking about or actually acting on the, especially this time of year. I, too, want to be outside enjoying the arrival of fall. But first I have to take care of a couple of tax tasks. Here are four... Read more →


There's an old tax myth that filing an amended tax return will get you audited. Not true. In fact, failing to correct an error you made on your original tax return is more likely to cause you more tax trouble. When the Internal Revenue Service discovers the mistake, and the agency likely eventually will, you'll owe the tax due and penalties and interest. And if you fail to claim a tax break on an amended return that you overlooked when you first filed, then you're the one cheating yourself out of tax savings. An effort worth making: I know, dealing... Read more →


Saving is the key to the kind of retirement you want. The earlier you start, the better. Among the goals posted during this year's FinCon, an annual gathering of creators (including me!) of various personal finance material and advice, is to, as a couple of participants noted, retire soon. Retirement savings that receive special tax code treatment can help folks put away money for their post-work years. In fact, a recent survey by Harris Poll for Scottrade found that nearly half of investors (46 percent) wish they had started saving earlier. More than a third (38 percent) wish they had... Read more →


How's your first sort of full week of September going? The "sort of" question qualification comes, of course, because this week is short, at least for many workers, because Monday was Labor Day. September Bliss via HD Wallpapers Does anyone else find it intriguing that many of us celebrate a holiday commemorating work by taking the day off from our jobs? Even I, a self-employed person, took advantage of Labor Day to be lazy. But now it's time to get back to the grind, even -- especially -- when it comes to taxes. Here are some things you might want... Read more →


Saving soon and often for your or your children's college education is critical. But just as important as putting away higher education money is knowing when to take out that college fund cash. 529 plan benefits, possible pitfalls: This is especially true of the tax-favored 529 plans that states offer. Your deposits to a 529 plan are not tax deductible, but the funds grow tax-free. And when you or your child withdraws the money, there's no tax bill as long as you use the funds to pay for qualifying college costs. Withdrawing 529 money, however, is not as simple as... Read more →


Sports and betting, much to the chagrin of athletic purists and most league officials (except NBA Commissioner Adam Silver), are inextricably linked. Billions of dollars, from ubiquitous office pools to professional gamblers, are wagered, legally and illegally, on sporting events every year. Gamblers at a Las Vegas casino's sportsbook area place their bets, keep up with the many games on which they can wager. And this summer, the 2016 Olympics officially add to the U.S. wagering tally. Betting on the world's best athletes: Nevada Gaming Control last year revised state regulations to allow Silver State sportsbooks to offer wagering on... Read more →


If you need further evidence of how the 2016 presidential election has become a political Bizarro World, check out the list of billionaires who have disavowed one of their ostensible peers, self-proclaimed -- we're still waiting for the tax return proof -- billionaire Donald J. Trump, and opted instead to support Hillary Clinton. Bizarro World DC Comic panel courtesy DC-Wikia Meg Whitman, former Hewlett Packard executive and one-time California gubernatorial GOP candidate, says she's with her, meaning Clinton. Beaucoup billionaires: She joins fellow billionaires Michael Bloomberg (former New York City mayor and news/investment media mogul), Mark Cuban (owner of the... Read more →


It's been a good couple of years for Philadelphia tourism officials and for folks who rented out their homes to the city's visitors. Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers debated and adopted both the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Click image for a montage of other notable Philly sites. (Photo by J. Leon via Wikipedia) Last September, Pope Francis included the City of Brotherly Love in his U.S. visit itinerary. This week, the Democratic National Convention has taken over Philly. Making money-making space: When big events like these are held, many full-time residents decide to literally... Read more →


I've reached a milestone age where doctors seem to think a person suddenly needs every test medical science has so far devised. Routine blood tests were the least of my worries after my last doctor visit. I am pushing back on some of my physician's suggestions for several reasons. They range from "I feel fine" and "I have no family history of that particular ailment/disease/condition" to "Ewwwww!" to "I don't have time" and "Wow, that costs an awful lot." As for the expense argument, even though I have medical insurance, it has a deductible. A sizeable one. My medical approach... Read more →


The Fourth of July is over, but if your neighborhood is anything like mine, you'll be hearing fireworks for another week or so. Yes, my neighbors are pyrotechnic scofflaws. Even if you don't participate in the literal lighting of firecrackers or bottle rockets post-July-4, there are still plenty of metaphorical tax fireworks that you can take advantage of as we head into the heart of summer. Here are five easy tax moves to consider in July. 1. Get storm ready. We've had four named tropical systems so far this Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. So far, thank goodness, there's been... Read more →


Were you a June bride or groom? Congratulations and best wishes! "We did it!" The happy couple and friends celebrate. (Photo by Lindsey Child via Flickr CC) You have some tax tasks to take care of once you're back from your honeymoon excursion and the thank-you notes have been sent. Marriage is just one of the big life events that has tax implications. Today's Weekly Tax Tip has details on 7 such milestones, starting with your birth and continuing through retirement. And since your wedding day is one of the happiest days of your life -- remember it when you... Read more →


Even without the Triple Crown on the line, today is still a big one for thoroughbred race fans. Could Suddenbreakingnews, getting a workout back in March, spoil Exaggerator's quest for another trophy in today's Belmont Stakes? Exaggerator, who out raced rival and previously undefeated Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in Baltimore's muddy Preakness Stakes last month, is the favorite to win the Belmont Stakes later today. But the wide open field -- Nyquist's owners pulled the pony because it had been dealing with a fever and elevated white blood count -- has opened up the betting. A new horse in the... Read more →


June is jam-packed with special days. It kicks off with the official start of the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season, which seems a bit late since we've already seen two storms form this year. Then there's Flag Day, Father's Day and the arrival, here in the Northern Hemisphere, of summer. And I'm not even counting things like today's National Doughnut Day and all the June weddings that will be special calendar dates for those happy couples. And yes, there are some tax connections to all those days. They are duly noted over in the ol' blog's right column, just under... Read more →


Mother Nature got a jump on the 2016 storm calendar, creating Hurricane Alex back in January and Tropical Storm Bonnie four days before today's official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Seasonal forecast for the Atlantic Hurricane Season from Colorado State University (CSU), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and The Weather Channel. The forecast from CSU includes Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm Bonnie. The Weather Channel and the NOAA forecasts include Hurricane Alex. Does that mean we'll have more storms this year than the dozen or so that are predicted? Maybe. Maybe not. Weather prognostications from a variety... Read more →


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 →