Tax Tip Feed

What do hearts and flowers, leaping amphibians and taxes have in common? February! The shortest month of the year is upon us. In 2016, however, it's a day longer because it's Leap Year, hence the frog allusion, adding a 29th day to our calendars. Then, of course, there's Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. And February also is a traditionally busy time for taxes. This is the month that most of us finally get all the tax statements we need to file our returns. And folks who filed early are anxiously awaiting their refunds. Whether you're working on your 2015 taxes or... Read more →


Looking for a creative way to get your taxes done this year? Here's an idea from xkcd.com. "Yes, it took a lot of work to make the cards and pieces, but it's worth it. The players are way more thorough than the tax prep people ever were," says the cartoon creator. I'm a big fan of board games. But I'm not sure I agree with xkcd's creative way to take care of the annual filing duty. I know lots of very thorough tax preparers. I am, however, all for anything that helps folks get their returns done quickly, correctly and... Read more →


It's national Spouse's Day. Yes, apparently this is a real day, real in the sense that somebody came up with the idea and managed to get the word out there enough that it's generating some attention. I don't know how I've missed this holiday in previous years, being such a perfect wife to a great husband, but I discovered it today. Thanks Twitter #SpousesDay. And given that this is the first year that all married couples, regardless of gender and in every state, will be filing joint tax returns, it seems like a perfect day to remind folks of their... Read more →


Karma can be a bitch. It also can be funny as hell when it involves a writer who matches his considerable wit against some inept tax scammers. Last week, my online pal Malarkey sent me a link to an item on @DaveHolmes' Twitter feed with the note, "You've gotta read this whole thing." Boy, was she right. Holmes, a writer for Esquire magazine, got a phone message from some of the crooks perpetrating the fake Internal Revenue Service agent telephone scam. Or, as Holmes described the encounter, "I just got targeted by the laziest, shoddiest grifters I have ever come... Read more →


The 2016 federal tax filing season is now officially underway, at both federal and state levels. Do you have to pay state income taxes? If so, your filing season opens today, Jan. 19, too. The Internal Revenue Service actually opened the electronic door to its Free File option on Friday, Jan. 15. Any returns filed over the long holiday weekend using one of the 13 tax software programs available this year were held until today. But now, those 1040s are in the IRS system. And those of us who use tax software on our devices or who still file using... Read more →


When it comes to millennials' personal finances, a recent study by the tax and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at George Washington University found eight trends among this generation born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990. These young adults: 1. Have inadequate financial knowledge, 2. Aren't happy with their current financial situation, 3. Worry about student loans, 4. Have debt that crosses economic and educational lines, 5. Are financially fragile, 6. Are heavy users of alternative financial services, 7. Sacrifice retirement accounts, and 8. Don't seek professional financial help. Before my millennial friends and... Read more →


I know all y'all are fixated on tonight's $1.5 billion Powerball drawing and that lottery jackpot's tax implications. But many of you -- including me! -- also must remember to meet the deadline for our final 2015 estimated tax payment. That's coming up on Friday, Jan. 15. Today's Daily Tax Tip has the skinny on paying estimated taxes. You also can read more about calculating these four extra tax payments here. Paying on untaxed income: Estimated tax payments are required when you get income, both earned (for example, self-employment as your main source of income or from side jobs to... Read more →


Here's one of the fun things about taxes -- and no, I am not using "fun" and "taxes" in the same sentence because the 2016 filing season has already driven me to drink (that'll come later) -- you need to think about two tax years simultaneously. It's the 2016 tax filing season, but it's our 2015 tax returns that we focus on finishing. The annual meeting of two tax years also is apparent in the income tax brackets. These Internal Revenue Service tables show us how much of our money will be taxed at what rates. The IRS usually issues... Read more →


So how's your first work day of 2016 going? I hate to add to the pile of stuff that you likely had to dig out of today, but I want to remind you that a new tax filing season will start in a few weeks. And with that day on the horizon, the ol' blog is kicking off its annual Daily Tax Tip feature. The Jan. 19 start of the 2016 filing season is this year's first daily tip. As in prior years (and as that old-timey pointing finger indicates), the Daily Tax Tip will be posted up there in... Read more →


Welcome to the last week of 2015. The end of the calendar year is important not just for your New Year's Eve party planning purposes, but also because when it comes to most tax moves, Dec. 31 is a critical and firm deadline. So with the soon-to-be-old year rapidly winding down, here are 10 tax moves to make by Dec. 31. 1. Take your retirement account distribution. Most owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts who are age 70½ or older must take a specific amount out of their nest eggs by the end of the year or face stiff penalties. This... Read more →


Yes, I know I just posted about charitable giving on Boxing Day. And not to run this charitable donation thing into the ground, but 'tis the season of giving. Plus, I'm spending the afternoon philanthropically multitasking. I'm sorting through my big bag of old clothes, deciding which ones can go to Goodwill by Dec. 31 and noting their fair-market value for my Schedule A tax deduction claim. I'm doing this tax task while half-watching my Dallas Cowboys muddle through another game and trying to maintain some charitable thoughts about my life-long NFL team. I suspect the clothing donation triage will... Read more →


I'm a big movie fan. I also am a personal finance/tax nut. So it's a big day for me as those two worlds converge. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association today announced its nominees for its annual Golden Globe awards. Two financially-themed movies, "99 Homes" and "The Big Short," were tabbed. Christian Bale, nominated for a Golden Globe as best lead actor, rocking out in a scene from "The Big Short." Both films are based on the housing industry collapse that followed the reckless subprime mortgages banks handed out right and left during the 2000s. That led to the disastrous (and... Read more →


So how's your December going so far? Mine is off to a totally crazy start. We had guests for Thanksgiving. I'm not complaining, but when it's just the hubby and me, I can squeeze in a little work, too. Since that didn't happen, I'm swamped right now. Then this week some long-planned home repairs/improvements finally started. Today I'm being held hostage in my house as men destroy the structure. OK, so it's really just a roofing crew peeling off the old shingles in preparation for a new covering. Part of our old roof, a temporary December decoration for our backyard.... Read more →


Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your family members, even -- or for many of us, especially -- the furry ones. My mom and her furry child having an important pre-Thanksgiving dinner conversation. As we gather today to say thanks for all we have, many of us will include our pets among our blessings. I know my mother would be lost without her constant companion. She is not alone. Almost every pet owner will tell you that their animal is a member of the family. The IRS, though, tends to disagree. That's why the taxman won't let you claim your... Read more →


For the last few months, the standing joke in our house has been that the first words the hubby and I say to each other every morning is, "Can we retire today?" Beach? Mountain cabin? A cruise? Traveling across Europe? What's your retirement dream? Start planning now to achieve it. OK. Maybe we don't ask that question first thing in the morning, but that's mainly because the hubby is not a morning person. But we have been paying closer attention to our retirement stash, as well as checking on what we can one day expect from Social Security. Calculating retirement... Read more →


Are you hunkered down at home today, hiding out until Friday the 13th passes? You are not alone in suffering from paraskevidekatriaphobia. The number 13 has been considered an omen of bad luck for ages. One explanation is that 12 has historically represented the number of completeness; examples include the 12 months of the year, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 hours of the clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus, and 12 Imams of Muhammad. Thirteen, on the other hand, is seen as an outlier. However, I will happily take a specially priced Baker's Dozen of pastries on... Read more →


Last week's jobs report for October was surprisingly good. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent, its lowest level since 2008 and half of the 10 percent rate in the wake of the financial crisis. If predictions are correct for seasonal hires this year, even more workers could be having a merrier than usual Christmas. Businesses in San Antonio are following the national trend in hiring for the holiday season. Click image to see KSAT-ABC's report. But that holiday joy could be dashed at tax filing time if you don't pay attention to how you are classified by your temporary... Read more →


I'm a little slow posting today. I had to go vote. Have you been to your polling place yet? If not, you need to get out and make your voice heard. Most polling stations are open until 7 p.m. local time. Not only is public participation at the polls key to our democracy, it's also an important tax move for voters in some states. State tax questions on some ballots: Here in Texas, we're deciding on three tax initiatives. The biggie is a proposal to hike the residential homestead property tax exemption from $15,000 to $25,000. Most eyes, however, are... Read more →


Marriage means doing things together, even things you hate, like visiting the in-laws, cleaning out the garage and filing taxes. You might be able to let those first two slide, but when it comes to taxes, no such luck. Most couples file a joint tax return. That single Form 1040 is a legal document and if you ignore filing it or mess it up, you'll face consequences worse than your spouse's wrath. Her forced smile makes me think she's not buying what he's saying as they work together on their joint tax return. The Internal Revenue Service considers both spouses... Read more →


Happy Tax Day! No, I'm not six months late. Millions of ultimate procrastinators every year get an extension to file their tax paperwork. That absolutely final filing deadline is today. Oct. 15. I must confess I'm one of those who delayed filing back in April. I finished my taxes a couple of days ago. If you're part of my club, here are some tips on getting your return safely to the Internal Revenue Service. 3 tax delivery tips for electronic filers Filing electronically is the easier option. You just have to fill out the forms, double check them and then... Read more →