Tax Tip Feed

Most taxpayers have never itemized their deductions. And the new tax law that took effect this year will ensure that even fewer filers fill out a Schedule A. By nearly doubling the standard deduction amounts, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will prompt more folks to use them instead of messing with the record keeping and extra paperwork itemized deductions require. Plus, as I'm sure you've heard by now, starting with the 2018 tax year and running through, for now, 2025, other TCJA changes will make itemizing even less valuable. The amount of state and local taxes, including your... Read more →


Identity theft is bad enough, but when it's connected to your tax data, things can be particularly scary. Not only does a crook have personal information about you, but he or she can steal the tax refund you've been counting on. In some situations where your data has been hacked, you'll want to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, to let the inform the Internal Revenue Service that you think you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft. Now you finally can file that form online. IRS, FTC take ID theft fight further online: The IRS now will... Read more →


Welcome April, the Internal Revenue Service favorite month. It's when millions of us file our returns and, despite the billions of dollars in refunds that are sent (eventually), many filers also settle up with Uncle Sam. Those folks who owe tend to be the ones who enter April with tax tasks still to complete. If you're one of the procrastinators, here are some things your absolutely must do by Tuesday, April 17, again because the Emancipation Day federal holiday is celebrated in the IRS headquarters' home of Washington, D.C. That's two more days than usual, but not enough if you've... Read more →


The larger standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect this year has gotten a lot of attention. One of the big pluses, cite fans of the new nearly doubled standard deduction amounts, is that more people will claim them instead of itemizing tax deductible expenses. But regardless of whether you itemize now, plan to under the new tax law or never ever messed with a Schedule A and don't plan to start, there still are some tax deductions you can claim. They are what are popularly known as above-the-line deductions found directly on 1040... Read more →


iLEAD students hold up their Backpacks Full of Hope that they took to Puerto Rico on their spring break to help with recovery efforts on the island. (Photo courtesy iLEAD) Hundreds of students, and in some cases their families, recently took advantage of spring break to head to sunnier climes. However, a couple of the usual beach destinations, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The good news is that some of the mainland spring breakers did or still are using their time off to participate in storm recovery efforts in... Read more →


When we pay a tax pro for help, we trust that person. Sometimes we shouldn't. Most of use tax professionals to help get through tax season. Thankfully, most paid tax preparers are honest. They want to help their clients meet their tax responsibilities by legally paying the least amount of tax possible under the Internal Revenue Code. But most is not all. Some tax preparers run fly-by-night operations where they simply look to make a quick buck off of honest individuals seeking tax assistance. These pros, and I use the description advisedly, often get paid based on a percentage of... Read more →


I am so, so sorry my dear friends in the MidAtlantic and Northeastern United States. I know you're looking at possibly more snow with the fourth nor'easter in three weeks forecast to hit your areas in a few days. Here in Central Texas and other parts of the country, however, spring has officially arrived! My Texas neighbors and I are enjoying the seasonal wildflowers. Thank you, Lady Bird Johnson! (Photo by Kay Bell) It's also the traditional time for cleaning up and clearing out your house. Some of those old and/or unused items can be tossed. Others, however, are in... Read more →


A view of Connemara, along Ireland's west coast, by Fred Bigio via Flickr CC. St. Patrick's Day is almost here, but it's not the lush Kelly green landscapes of the Emerald Isle we taxpayers are thinking about right now. We want to know ways to save some greenbacks on our taxes. Inspired by the man brave enough, at least in myth, to face down snakes and the March 17th day we honor him, here are 17 ways to round up some tax savings from the almost as scary U.S. tax code. 1. Non-cash charitable gifts: If you gave household goods... Read more →


Doing taxes is all about the numbers. The forms require our Social Security number and that of our spouse and dependent children. Similar identification digits also are key on tax forms from, for example, our employers and other entities that contribute to our taxable income. And, of course, we have to put in all those figures about our earnings and subtract the numbers in the form of expenses and deductions and credits to get to the most important amount of all, our final tax bill. Today's the 30th anniversary of the math-inspired unofficial holiday Pi Day is a good time... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service announced today that it has begun releasing refunds for taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. Many of these refunds should arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards this week, according to the IRS. That should make many of the ol' blog readers who've been frustrated by the delay (and shared their irritation in the comments section of my recent Where's Your Refund? post) happy. But some folks are likely to be irked about their refunds for another reason. The amount that arrived as a check, in their... Read more →


Image courtesy SimpsonsWorld via Giphy.com The Tuesday after Presidents Day generally is the busiest day of the year for calls to the Internal Revenue Service's toll-free help line. That also means that callers find themselves on hold. Such waiting, compounded by being forced to listen to tunes that would never ever make your Spotify playlist, is common throughout the filing season. That then leads to taxpayer frustration, which often prompts filers to try different avenues to get answers to their questions. Don't, however, just randomly call any IRS phone number seeking tax help, cautions the IRS. And definitely don't call... Read more →


My mother and my furry little brother having a conversation. Mum doesn't care that today is Love Your Pet Day. She celebrates it every day, much to her very spoiled dog's delight. (Photo by Kay Bell) Today, Feb. 20, is Love Your Pet Day, which has its own trending hashtag on Twitter (here's my contribution). This is the most unnecessary special day ever. Ask any pet owner and they'll tell you that every day is love your furry family member day. In fact, a National Retail Federation poll projected that just last week folks would spend $751 million on Valentine's... Read more →


Your tax refund showed up in your bank account! Party time, right? Wrong. It's possible that the money isn't really connected to your filing. It could be part of a new tax scam that's appeared this filing season. And crooks are using even more chicanery to get the money that's in your account, from posing (once again) as Internal Revenue Service agents to pretending to be debt collectors (you knew this would eventually happen). But before this latest effort to steal your tax refund got to this point, it started with stealing your tax identity. Here's the tax tale in... Read more →


Since Congress decided to slip some expired tax breaks into the budget bill enacted earlier today and make them retroactive to the 2017 tax year, some folks will be amending the 1040 forms they've already filed. Ignore that smirking sound loud enough to make it onto the internet. It's the perpetually procrastinating hubby being all smug about how sometimes it does pay to put things off for a while. However, if, unlike the hubby, you don't defer tasks and were an early tax filer who now can claim, for example, the tuition and fees above-the-line tax deduction, you're probably already... Read more →


Rovio Entertainment, creators of Angry Birds, and the National Football League have teamed up to create a Super Bowl themed video game. But unlike the bird above, the Philadelphia Eagles are far from angry today after winning the NFL championship last night in Super Bowl LII. It was not a super Sunday for either the New England Patriots or Nevada's casinos. When all the numbers are tallied, it looks like the Silver State's sports books might lose only their third Super Bowl in 28 years thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles' 41-33 upset of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl... Read more →


Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, Except for February, Which has 28 to put to use doing your taxes. OK, I took some liberties with the traditional poem. But it is true that despite its reduced days, February still provides plenty of time to make some key tax moves. Here, since it is a short month, are three. Collect your tax statements: Most of the tax statements that you need to fill out your Form 1040 should be arriving by early this month. They were supposed to be to you or at least... Read more →


Every tax season, the April filing deadline gets the most attention. But today, Jan. 31, also is a big tax day. It's when most statements with information you need to complete your Form 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ) are supposed to be delivered. Technically, the Internal Revenue Service gives these information statements the same leeway it offers filers on Tax Day. Earnings and other tax-related statements due today are considered on time as long as they're on the way, either electronically (if you agree to that delivery method) or via snail mail by Jan. 31. So if you don't have... Read more →


Many medical costs are still tax deductible, but you have to clear an adjusted gross income bar. (Photo by Bjarteh via Wikipedia) If you're still young, which to me is an ever-shifting definition that now includes folks in their 40s, here's a warning. Get ready to see more doctors as you age. I know of what I blog. Although I'm young at heart, I'm finally there. My morning was full of physicians. And I'll deal with doctors again in a few weeks, both for follow-up exams and when I file my 2017 tax return. Tax breaks for medical costs: Taxes... Read more →


The 2018 tax filing season officially starts today. Many folks have already filed, by using Free File (which opened on Jan. 12), going with software on their own or turning over their tax material to paid preparers. The Internal Revenue Service will now process all those 1040s that were completed earlier this month and were on hold. If you, however, haven't gotten around to filling out your taxes yet, here's a checklist of what you'll need to accurately and easily complete your return. You might not need some of the stuff noted in this latest checklist. Feel free to skip... Read more →


Every tax filing season, millions overlook the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax break that could save them thousands of dollars. Nationwide, the Internal Revenue Service says that every tax season around 20 percent of filers who could claim this credit don't. That's an amazing statistic in a tax culture that's obsessed with getting refunds. Why EITC is ignored: So why are so many filers leaving all those tax dollars in the U.S. Treasury's account? There are three main reasons. First, some people think they make too much money to claim the EITC. True, this tax credit was created... Read more →