Uncle Sam is always on the lookout for people who try to evade taxes by hiding money in foreign accounts. To keep track of taxable money abroad, the federal government relies on two agencies, the Internal Revenue Service and its sister agency within the U.S. Treasury, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, usually referred to as FinCEN. FinCEN requires a special filing from some of Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, usually referred to as FBAR. FBAR filings have long been a pain for Americans who hold assets abroad. A couple of years ago, Treasury tried to make... Read more →


Wildfire at night by Chenjack via Flickr While millions of taxpayers rushed to finish their 2109 tax filing last week in order to meet the Oct. 15 extended deadline, others weren't concerned about that deadline. They are the individual and business taxpayers who are dealing with something more pressing than taxes. They are trying to pick up the pieces from a major natural disaster. In these catastrophic cases, the Internal Revenue Service usually gives affected taxpayers more time to take care of their tax filing tasks. Some additional West Coast taxpayers have been added to this year's adjusted tax deadline... Read more →


For millions of U.S. workers, this month is the beginning of their benefits open enrollment period. This is your annual chance to switch, adjust or cancel usually tax-free company perks for you and your family. The biggest employer-provided benefit is medical insurance. Health coverage has taken on new importance during the coronavirus pandemic. But companies offer many more options that help make their workers' lives a bit easier and less costly. And many benefits experts expect COVID-19 considerations during this open season to alter the usual trend of workers simply letting existing coverages roll into the new year, which is... Read more →


Image by Daniela Hartmann via Flickr I joked on Twitter last week that coronavirus pandemic self-isolation has gotten to me so much that I'm considering buying all the gadgets whose ads keep popping up in my feed as holiday gifts. OK, I half joked. I've always tended to shop online anyway. COVID-19 has just moved me from 95 percent to 100 percent in that direction. And some of the items really are interesting. C'mon, admit it. You, too, wouldn't mind having a solar-power bird bath fountain or a pocket-sized, snowflake-shaped multi-tool. These items are even more appealing when you realize... Read more →


As we approach the Nov. 3 election, the political claims are fast and furious (but without any exciting car escapades … yet). When it comes to taxes, incumbent Donald J. Trump is relying on the tax breaks that were part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that became law in late 2017. It permanently reduced business tax rates and temporarily revised, through 2025, some key individual taxes. Trump and his fellow Republicans are hoping those tax cuts will be enough to fend off Democratic challengers, both at the presidential and Congressional levels. But their hedging their tax bets by... Read more →


Robert Smith surprised the 2019 class of Morehouse College graduates with a pledge to pay off their student loans. Watch the happy moment via Bloomberg Quick Take on YouTube. It was one of last year's best feel-good stories. On May 19, 2019, billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith promised graduates of Morehouse College listening to his commencement address that he would pay off their college debt. The approximately 400 grads at the historically black college in Atlanta were stunned. Then delighted. And the country cheered Smith's benevolence and commitment to making at least a little bit of the United... Read more →


The Social Security Administration (SSA) just gave retirees and other recipients of the program's payments some good news with the announcement of a small hike in their benefits year. Some higher earners, however, aren't so happy. In the same benefits raise announcement, the SSA noted that the amount of income subject to the Social Security payroll withholding also is going up in 2021. This amount, known as the Social Security wage base, is the maximum of earnings, by both salaried workers and the self-employed, that are subject to that portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. For the... Read more →


My local H-E-B Grocery smartphone app's barcode reader helps me discover the price of a product if it's not shown on the item packaging or store shelf. I love the technology almost as much as I love potato chips! I love my grocery store app. Not only does it offer digital coupons, it lets me make shopping lists, find the aisles where the products I want are located and if there's no price sticker on the item the shelf, I can use the app to scan the package's barcode code for that info. Now the Internal Revenue Service is becoming... Read more →


A quick Social Security note about for folks not yet at or near the benefits age about taxes on that pre-retirement income. More of it, known as the wage base, will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Details are in this post. Retirees checking on their investments. The income could make their Social Security benefits taxable. Today's a good day for millions of Social Security recipients. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that benefits will increase a bit next year. Older folks who get regular monthly Social Security payments, along with those who receive Supplemental Security Income... Read more →


It's a bit hard to keep track if you're still isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic, but welcome to another Monday federal holiday. Today is Columbus Day. Yes, it's still an official federal holiday. The White House issued an announcement lauding namesake Christopher Columbus that's getting a lot of pushback on social media from folks who prefer to use this October day to celebrate the United States' indigenous populations. We should use this day to learn about the history of indigenous people. #IndigenousPeoplesDay so for the next 24 hours this account will be a flood of me RTing Native excellence,... Read more →


Photo by Antonio Quagliata via Pexels.com The presidential election countdown clock it quietly ticking. In most national election years, the tax plans of the candidates get a lot of attention. Obviously, 2020 is not most years. Other things — OK, one thing, COVID-19 — have been the focus on the campaign trail. But it's still worth looking at the tax implications of a possible change in the Oval Office. GOP vs. Democratic plans: The Trump Administration will look to make permanent at least some of the Republicans' 2017 tax reform measure. The White House also has hinted at expanding some... Read more →


John McAfee's banner image on his Twitter account. If you've waiting until the upcoming October extension deadline to file, chances are you wanted the extra time to ensure that you got your filing right. That's smart. Making mistakes or overlooking tax breaks could cost you, not only money but also time if you end up having to answer Internal Revenue Service questions about your filing. And when an audit — or examination as the IRS likes to call the process — definitely doesn't go your way, you could end up in more trouble. That's what happened to John David McAfee.... Read more →


A White Walker with an ice spear from the HBO show Game of Thrones. A North Carolina man allegedly took his love of the Game of Thrones books and television program too far. He's been charged by federal officials of trying to steal $6.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by setting up fake companies, some of which were named after the popular fantasy series, referred to as GoT by its millions of fans. Tristan Bishop Pan of Garner, North Carolina, has been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, according to officials with... Read more →


We're exactly one week away from Oct. 15, the day you must finally file your 2019 tax return that you extended earlier this year. Don't miss it. After next Thursday, there's no more time. And the IRS will start adding penalties and interest to any tax you might discover at this late date that you owe. Here are 8 tips and reminders to help you finish filling out that Form 1040 during these next seven days and get it on its way to the Internal Revenue Service by the deadline. 1. Gather all your tax material. OK, time to find... Read more →


There's been one positive for the Internal Revenue Service this coronavirus-affected tax filing season. The agency says that Free File has hit a record percentage increase in new users. And there's still just more than a week before the partnership between the IRS and tax software manufacturers shuts down on Oct. 16. Free, but previously not that popular: The online tax preparation and e-filing products that, as the Free File moniker indicates, allows eligible filers to complete and electronically transmit their tax returns at no cost, has been available since 2003. However, despite the growing popularity of do-it-yourself tax filing... Read more →


An impending tax deadline just got a little less imposing. The Internal Revenue Service is giving people who've yet to register for a COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) until Nov. 21 to supply their tax information. The November date is five weeks later than the Oct. 15 deadline the IRS set when it originally sent out letters to the almost 9 million potential stimulus recipients. These individuals didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return because they didn't make enough money to require them to do so. However, they still could qualify for some coronavirus relief. But to get the... Read more →


Millions of U.S. government employees in federal buildings across the country, like this one Sacramento, California, are being forced to participate in the Trump Administration's partial payroll tax deferral. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are continuing their efforts to cobble together a second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. Some people, however, don't want the ostensible financial relief they're already getting. They are among the federal workers and military members who've had the Social Security portion of their Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes automatically suspended. Forty-three Representatives say they've heard from these constituents who are... Read more →


A panoramic view of the University of Colorado's Folsom Field. The school has a deal worth more than $1.6 million dollars with an Australian sportsbook. (Photo by MECU via Wikipedia Commons) I hope your college football teams did better than mine did yesterday. I also hope that if you placed any bets on any National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) games, your selections netted you some extra cash. My aforementioned reference to the sad play of my teams is why I don't bet on sports, college or pro. But many people have been wagering legally on amateur college competitions since the... Read more →


Plus, tips on maximizing yard sales and holding safe events during a pandemic. When I went out to get the paper from our driveway this morning, I was puzzled by the amount of traffic on our usually quiet neighborhood street. Especially since it's Saturday. Then I remembered that it was our annual fall community garage sale day. Actually, it's our only community garage sale day this year. The spring 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. And while my immediate neighbors aren't big sellers of their old items, a few tend to participate. This year, though, the cars were... Read more →


Donald J. Trump posted this photo in 2016 on Twitter, saying it represented the size of his tax return filing. When we got a glimpse of Donald J. Trump's federal 2005 tax year filing back in 2017, one thing was very clear. Trump's personal tax situation is why during his initial presidential campaign he called for the elimination of the federal Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The New York Times' recent exposé of more than two decades of Trump tax information, underscores his adversarial relationship with this parallel tax system. In the few years that Trump did pay federal income tax,... Read more →