Education Feed

We've always asked a lot of our teachers. We've been asking more during the COVID-19 pandemic. But at least they are getting a bit of tax help this filing season thanks to a tweak to the educators' tax break. Now teachers and other qualifying school personnel can count some coronavirus out-of-pocket expenses when they claim the $250 deduction on their returns. That added spending option was included last December's Consolidated Authorization Act, 2021 that combined government funding, COVID-19 relief and some expiring tax provisions. You might remember it as the bill that provided a second $600 economic impact payment. This... Read more →


You're expecting a refund, so you're planning to file your tax return soon. Wait. You might want to take a step or two back. First, you need to make sure you have all the information you need to properly fill out your 2021 Form 1040. You can get an idea of that material in my post examining some common tax statements you need to complete your filing. Second, you need more than paperwork. You need to take a good look at your personal situation and answer some questions. The responses could affect your filing. This checklist can help. Start with... Read more →


I got my first tax statement today, a 1099 for some freelance work I did last year. That's just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their tax year 2021 returns. In addition to income statements, such as the 1099-NEC I got, 1099s with details on investment earnings, and W-2 forms for folks with wage-paying jobs, there are beau coup documents reporting tax-related transactions. Among the most common are forms detailing home related mortgage interest and taxes paid from escrow accounts, retirement account distributions, prize and gambling winnings, and in some cases, health... Read more →


You made it through the hectic December holidays. Congratulations. But don't slow down now. You still have to accomplish a few final year-end tax tasks. I know, not how you want to spend the last few days of the year. But these 6 year-end tax moves could save you some money, either when you file your 2021 return next year or down the tax road. 1. Don't miss the RMD deadline. You're enjoying your well-deserved retirement thanks to all those years of savings. Don't mess things up now by missing your required minimum distribution (RMD). This withdrawal from tax-deferred retirement... Read more →


Photo by Dima D from Pexels It's Christmas week and you still have some shopping to do. Don't worry. Here are some financial gift ideas for those of all ages on your personal Santa list. A few even offer tax advantages. Christmas is the season that brings out the kid in everyone, but let's start with some gifts that would be great for hard-to-shop-for youths. Open a Roth IRA for a young worker. If you have a young friend or family member who worked this year, help him or her get started on those way down the road retirement. Open... Read more →


Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels Schooling has changed a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote learning is more common. Where students have returned to classrooms, they and their teachers must deal with physical re-arrangements. One thing, though, remains the same. Education costs continue to climb. That's particularly true for college expenses. But there is a popular way to save for your youngsters' secondly educations and get a potential tax break, too. As long as you act quickly. When you contribute to a child's 529 plan, many states allow you to claim a state tax deduction. And in many states,... Read more →


There's one thing that every taxpayer, regardless of their financial situation, can agree on. We all want to pay the least amount of taxes to Uncle Sam as possible. The key way to get our taxable income to the lowest possible level is by claiming deductions, either the standard option by itemizing as discussed in Part 2 of the ol' blog's annual inflation adjustment series. Either option helps lower your taxable income. But there are additional deductions we should check out at filing time, like the above-the-line deductions anyone can claim. Then there are tax credits, which are a better... Read more →


Saving is a key component to reaching financial independence. However, for individuals facing added challenges, putting aside money for the future can be difficult. Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, accounts were created in 2014 to help in these cases. They are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities (and their families) to help them maintain their health, independence, and quality of life. While money put into ABLE accounts isn't tax-deductible, the distributions are tax-free when they are used to pay qualified disability-related expenses. Here are some key questions and answers about ABLE accounts. Who is eligible for an... Read more →


The IRS has decided that home COVID-19 tests are allowable medical expenses. This Tuesday was the week from hell, mainly due to dealing — again! — with medical insurance issues. I won't bore you with my personal, and continual, battles with insurance companies over paying for my health care procedures. I will say that even with the coverage, the hubby and I have been able to itemize our — and by our, I mean mostly my — medical costs over the last few years and claim them on our taxes. We're in the minority, both in itemizing and claiming medical... Read more →


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic created a plethora of economic problems, student debt was a national concern. Student loans are among the largest contributors to household debt, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau analysis. It cites Department of Education estimates that in 2017 the total amount owed in federal student loans was $1.37 trillion. That figure no doubt has grown dramatically in the last four years, exacerbated by the recent job losses caused by the coronavirus. Federal student debt relief moves: As the higher education debt dollars pile up, Washington, D.C., is working on ways to deal the costs... Read more →


Ah, August. In normal times (remember those?), we'd be complaining about the late-summer heat, parents would be counting down days until school started, and tax geeks would be looking at things they should do this month. Well, things are decidedly not normal. It's been abnormally hot in much of the country already. Some schools are reopening, but with more COVID-19 precautions than they had planned since the virus has re-emerged with a vengeance due to the Delta variant. Those August tax moves, though, they're still around, of course with some coronavirus twists. And today, Aug. 2, the first Monday of... Read more →


Attention shoppers in Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Your states are holding back-to-school sales tax holidays this final weekend in July, and beyond for Sunshine State and Volunteer State tax bargain hunters. Retailers are getting ready for youngsters to return to classrooms. Shoppers are getting ready for tax-free savings on school supplies and more. (Photo by Kay Bell) Despite a surge among unvaccinated of the COVID-19 Delta variant, most schools are making plans to welcome students back to classrooms this fall. Retailers also are joining the back-to-school parties. This year, 18 states scheduled sales tax-free events, most of them... Read more →


The University of Alabama soon might have some new competitors in the SEC. (Pixabay via Pexels) Sure, the COVID-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics are finally underway, but here in Texas we're fixating on, what else, football. The Dallas Cowboys will kick off the NFL's 2021 preseason in a couple of weeks, but it's college football that is dominating the conversation right now. It looks like the Big 12, which only has 10 colleges in the conference, is about to lose two more. Oklahoma (OU) and Texas (UT) reportedly are joining the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Not only would that mess up the... Read more →


UPDATED, Aug. 14, 2021: This post was published originally on July 15 in advance of the 2021 back-to-school state sales tax holiday season. Now, almost a month later, the 2021 sales tax holiday season wraps up this weekend with three events. Connecticut's and Massachusetts' no-tax events started today. Maryland's week-long tax holiday ends at the stroke of midnight tonight. You can find more on each state's tax holiday in the table below. It has details and handy links for all 18 of this summer's tax-free shopping events, whether completed or finally under way. It's mid-July, a particularly important date this... Read more →


Cleaning up after customers. (Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels) Some businesses reopening after the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have struggled to hire workers. The big debate is whether coronavirus relief, primarily Uncle Sam's added unemployment benefits, or low wages is why so many jobs are going unfilled. That argument is likely to continue, along with the Congressional battle to raise the federal minimum wage. Earlier this year, the effort to increase it from $7.25 per hour to $15 an hour failed. Some state, city minimum wages hiked: Wage increase advocates, however, have had more success at other governmental... Read more →


If a new piece of legislation is enacted, these two youngsters might bring their classroom enthusiasm to the accounting profession. Tax professionals have been unsung heroes for the last two tax filing seasons. They've dealt with complicated and often last-minute tax law changes created to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic's economic problems. Not only did they have to decipher and apply the changes, tax pros had to explain them to their clients and, in many cases, hand hold taxpayers through the process more than usual. Plus, this all happened as tax deadlines were upended by the coronavirus and multiple major... Read more →


Happy College Savings Day! Or to be more tax specific, Happy National 529 Day! May 29, or 5/29 if you go the numerical route, is the day to celebrate 529 plans, even though the tax-favored educational savings plans get their name from the Internal Revenue Code section under which they were created, not the calendar. Provenance aside, these educational savings accounts grow tax-free as long as you eventually use the money to pay for qualifying school-related expenses. In addition to the usual classroom fees, books, supplies and equipment, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expanded 529 funds usage.... Read more →


The 2020 tax return filing deadline for most U.S. taxpayers literally is just days away. If you're scrambling to meet the May 17 due date, don't be in such a hurry that you cheat yourself out of some tax savings. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, most of which are still referred to (by me, at least!) as above-the-line deductions, that reduce the amount of income that's taxed. There also are tax credits, which are even better because they directly reduce what you... Read more →


Even before 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people chose to use the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also were... Read more →


Ah, college days. Studying, working between and after classes and now trying to avoid becoming a tax scam victim. (Photo by Tim Gouw via Unsplash) Many college students shoehorn jobs into their study schedules to help pay for their continuing educations. In addition to pocketing that cash throughout the year, many of these young workers also look forward at filing time to tax refunds from their jobs. So do crooks. The Internal Revenue Service today warned of an ongoing phishing scam in which the perpetrators are targeting education institutions, including students and staff with email addresses ending in the .edu... Read more →


As COVID-19 continues to control to at least some degree our lives, federal and state tax officials are offering tax benefits to those who take steps to control and lessen the effects of the persistent pandemic. Photo: Anna Tarazevich from Pexels If you still itemize deductions, the Internal Revenue Service today announced that you can count a few more purchases toward your Schedule A medical claims. Of course, the additions are because of COVID-19. Specifically, the IRS says in Announcement 2021-7 that the costs of personal protective equipment, aka PPE, purchased for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of... Read more →