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 →


Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr CC With things more or less back to whatever now counts as normal, kids (and parents) are counting down the days until school restarts. They're also looking, especially with inflation bumping up prices, for ways to save on necessary school supplies, which a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) survey found are expected to be around $864 this year. Sixteen states are offering ways to help their back-to-school shoppers. They're offering state (and in some cases local) sales tax holidays in August. Florida's two-week back-to-school tax holiday began July 25 and continues through midnight... Read more →


Summer's winding down, with schools opening their doors across much of the country in just a few weeks. So of course, you're thinking of one last getaway to escape the sweltering dog days. But before you head out to a beach retreat or cooler mountain cabin, take a few minutes for taxes. August is a good time to make some tax moves that could save you some dollars and future headaches. Here are four to consider. 1. Make your tax holiday shopping list: The return this fall of students to classrooms is most welcome by COVID-weary parents who saw much... Read more →


Summer's winding down, meaning kiddos soon will be going back to school. But before they head to their classrooms, they'll need a few things. Three Southern states are focusing on families with such shopping lists. Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee are closing out July with back-to-school tax holidays. The longest is Florida's event, which began Monday, July 25, and runs through Sunday Aug. 7. Sunshine State shoppers can save on purchases of clothing ($100 or less); school supplies ($50 or less); learning aids and jigsaw puzzles ($30 or less); and computers and certain accessories ($1,500 or less). Tax holidays in Mississippi... Read more →


Figuring out how to pay off student loans is a math problem that goes well beyond school days. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska) The payment pause on student loans expires in six weeks. As that Aug. 31 deadline approaches, former students also are waiting for President Joe Biden to take further action to help lessen, or eliminate, their higher education debt. In addition to the political ramifications of any White House action, especially in an important midterm election year, there also are tax implications. Taxable forgiven debt: The tax code generally treats forgiven or canceled debt as taxable income. It's officially... Read more →


19 states are holding sales tax holidays this summer, most focusing on back-to-school shopping. But some states are offering tax savings on other items and have multiple events planned, led by Florida with 9 tax holidays on the way for a wide variety of shoppers. Many school supplies, like these at my local grocery store, will be sales-tax-free in Texas later this summer. (Photo by Kay Bell) Florida's official nickname is the Sunshine State, but this year it qualifies for another title. It's king of the state sales tax holiday season. Florida, along with 17 other states, is offering the... Read more →


A group of Kentucky homeowners switched to a different, higher-rate tax district so their increased taxes would pay for things like street cleaning. A transcription error meant they got it and other services for free for eight years. (Photo by Kay Bell) Property tax bills are a major expense for homeowners. They also can be confusing. Here in Texas, most property tax money goes to the homeowners' local school districts. But there's usually more. Our real estate bill, for example, has collections for our independent school district, as well as five other taxing jurisdictions. That's why every tax bill recipient... Read more →


One of our neighbors made sure we all knew they had a new, cool graduate. (Photo by Kay Bell) I swear, my nieces and nephews were just in kindergarten. And wasn't that neighbor kid trick-or-treating as a dinosaur a couple of years ago? So how am I getting high school and college graduation announcements for these young people? Most of them will get a nice, actual paper congratulations card. A few will find a gift card tucked inside. However, a couple of these newly minted young adults will get actual gifts. But they won't be items that have to wrapped.... Read more →


Here are this weekend's full Flower Moon eclipse stages. The moon moves right to left, passing through the penumbra and umbra, leaving in its wake an eclipse diagram with the times (Eastern time zone) at various stages of the eclipse. Visualizations by Ernie Wright, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio. Click here for the video version. And if it's cloudy where you live, you can livestream the eclipse. It's Friday the 13th, the only one in 2022. A total lunar eclipse will turn the full Flower Moon red Sunday night. The only thing that could amp up our combined superstitions and natural... Read more →


Photo by Jess Bailey Designs The only thing worse than getting a surprising high property tax appraisal — which, as one of April's tax tips advises, you definitely should protest for venting, as well as potential lower tax, purposes — is having your local tax collector tell you that your tax payment is overdue. That happened to 2,400 homeowners in upstate New York, according to LocalSYR.com. Tax rebate endangered: Technically, the property owners in Onondaga County didn't get a past due bill. Instead, they incorrectly received notice from the Empire State's Department of Taxation and Finance that they could lose... Read more →


Back in the classroom. (Photo by Max Fischer) Today, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, is annual National Teacher Appreciation Day. It's actually part of a full week focusing on saying thanks to the men and women who are dedicated to educating young (and older) people. And it got President Joe Biden's official acknowledgement, which isn't a surprise since First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is a community college educator. The teaching profession has always been challenging. I personally saw how much time, effort, and love my grandmother put into being a first-grade teacher. She did that labor of love for almost six... Read more →


President Joe Biden's fiscal year 2023 budget proposal of a minimum tax on the wealthiest Americans, as well as a levy on unrealized gains on assets (including stock holdings), is getting the most attention. Biden's plan to collect at least a 20 percent tax on U.S. households worth more than $100 million would apply to about 20,000 households, but more than half the revenue would come from households worth more than $1 billion, according to White House estimates. It also would, says the administration, help reduce the nation's budget deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade. Wish list only:... Read more →


Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction amounts, even more people have chosen to use that filing method. IRS data indicate that close to 90 percent of us have opted not to mess with itemizing. But dumping the Schedule A doesn't mean you give up all deductions. On tax year 2021 returns, you can claim some of your cash charitable deductions directly on Form 1040. And if you take a look at Schedule 1, one of the documents that the Internal Revenue Service created to accompany Form 1040 when the TCJA took... Read more →


Scenic overlooks, like this view of the Austin skyline from my suburban neighborhood, can be lovely. But when it comes to taxes, you don't want to overlook tax breaks. (Photo by Kay Bell) If you're like most taxpayers, when you finally decide to do your taxes, you want to get it over with as soon as possible. But don't pay a price for you haste. If you rush through filling out your Form 1040, you could cheat yourself out of some tax savings. It happens every year. Folks overlook deductions, whether they itemize on Schedule A or claim above-the-line breaks... Read more →


The U.S. Department of Education announced this week the cancelation of another $415 million in federal student loan debt. This batch of debt was owed by nearly 16,000 borrowers whose for-profit colleges violated law and educational standards. It brings to around $16 billion the total student debt that has been discharged for more than 680,000 individuals. Uncle Sam's action definitely is good news for those misled students. However, it also raises some questions in connection with another government agency, the Internal Revenue Service. Canceled debt income issues: Normally, any canceled or discharged debt amount counts as income. Officially, it's known... Read more →


You checked out my post on who has to file a tax return (thank you!) and confirmed that you're one of the select lucky few who doesn't have to file a 1040. But you still might want to send the Internal Revenue Service a tax return. Here are 10 such should-file situations, starting with the ones that could get you a tax refund. 1. Too much tax was withheld. Most of us have income tax amounts taken from our regular paychecks. Other sources of income also sometimes take some tax amounts off the top. When too much is withheld, you're... 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 →