Is your retirement plan on target? Maybe not, thanks (no thanks!) in part to the COVID pandemic and inflation. People have been, understandably, more focused of late on meeting daily living expenses than saving for the future. Such financial concerns likely are partially responsible for the results of a new retirement savings report from Fidelity. The Boston-based investment company found that the average 401(k) balance declined for the third straight quarter. It dipped below the six-figure mark, coming in at $97,200. That's 23 percent lower than a year ago. The average individual retirement arrangement (IRA) balance also dropped. The average... Read more →


My polling place only had Spanish "¡Yo Voté! / I voted" stickers. But the language doesn't matter. The act of voting, this year and in the future, does. (Photo by Kay Bell) The 2022 midterm elections have come and gone. As the old saying goes, it's all over but the shouting or crying or both. In addition to selecting individuals to lead our local, state, and federal governments, many of us were asked to decide on ballot issues. Overall, according to Ballotpedia, voters in 37 states and the District of Columbia decided Nov. 8 on 132 statewide ballot measures. Since... Read more →


Regardless of what prompts an IRS examination, aka an audit, take advantage of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights guarantee that you can get professional help to get you through the process. Photo by SHVETS Production In an expected follow-up to reports that Donald J. Trump, while in the Oval Office, wanted the Internal Revenue Service to audit his perceived foes, a House tax writing committee member is asking for an investigation into the former president. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey), who chairs the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee until the next GOP-controlled House is sworn in, wrote the Attorney General... Read more →


These senior citizens celebrate their shared birthday month, if not the required traditional IRA withdrawals the big days may trigger. A QCD can help avoid tax on the mandated distributions. (Photo by Kay Bell) Most of us still have a real life, old-school, snail mail box. Every November, it is the target for the most mail of the year. Yep, the holidays are here. My curbside box is jammed with two types of correspondence, catalogs and charity solicitations. I get a kick out of thumbing through the catalogs. And yes, I even order a few (too many) things. The donation... Read more →


David Boeke via Flickr The Internal Revenue Service got billions in added funding thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, but money is still key. Specifically, Uncle Sam's tax agency needs "consistent and multi-year funding … to achieve its goals of providing efficient, effective, modern service to the nation's taxpayers," according to the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council's (IRSAC) 2022 annual report. The IRSAC report lauds the Inflation Reduction Act's fiscal boost as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade the IRS's service, enforcement, and IT capabilities." However, IRSAC members point out that the measure "was largely partisan legislation and may not foreshadow... Read more →


Updated Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 You still have time to electronically claim the benefits, but not much. The deadline to e-file is Thursday, Nov. 17. If you missed out on the special COVID-19 relief payments, notably the enhanced Child Tax Credit (CTC), then head to the Internal Revenue Service's Free File website. The IRS is keeping Free File operating through Nov. 17 so eligible nonfilers can e-file a Form 1040 to claim their eligible COVID benefits at, as the name says, no cost. In addition to the CTC, eligible taxpayers may be able to claim some or all of the... Read more →


Some of my grandmother's paintings, known as the main Vera Gallery in our house. (Photo by Kay Bell) The hubby and I are art fans, primarily of painted works. That's why almost all of our vacations include a visit to our destinations' museums. Our appreciation of a piece hanging on a wall is why most of our rooms are adorned by framed artworks. Most are signed limited edition print versions of our favorite painters' works. But we also have some originals of a few notable artists, as well as works that are more sentimental but just as lovely, like the... Read more →


Image by Ag Ku from Pixabay There's some good news for taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service as we near the new year and 2023 tax filing season. The IRS is making progress in working through its backlog of paper tax returns. In a Nov. 10 update on IRS Operations During COVID-19: Mission-Critical Functions Continue webpage, the agency reports that it is "opening mail within normal time frames," and has "processed all paper and electronic individual returns" that had no errors or didn't require further review "in the order received if they were received prior to April 2022." As of... Read more →


Right now, a lot of folks are thinking they should have been like Larry. The Larry they wished they'd emulated is Larry David, known for his curmudgeonly television character. He tweaked that persona to become a naysayer on several inventions that, per the commercial's Super Bowl debut, changed the world. The television ad for FTX crypto exchange advised viewers, "Don't be like Larry" and instead invest in digital currency via the company. On Friday, Nov. 11, FTX filed for bankruptcy following reports that between $1 billion to $2 billion of FTX customer funds disappeared. Continuing crypto troubles: This is just... Read more →


Korean War Memorial on National Mall, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash) 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. That moment marked the armistice between World War I's Allied forces and Germany, ending the fighting on the Western Front. The commemoration to honor the 4.7 million Americans who served — and the 116,500 who died — in what then was called the Great War originally was celebrated as Armistice Day. In 1954, the annual Nov. 11 commemorations were rebranded Veterans Day, and the day's focus expanded to honor veterans from all eras. But the momentousness of the event 104... Read more →


Daniel Werfel, then IRS Acting Commissioner, and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George testified before Congress in June 2013 about the IRS' questionable nonprofit status approval practices. (C-SPAN hearing screenshot) The Internal Revenue Service apparently will be led by a blast from its past, notably its troubled past. Daniel Werfel is President Joe Biden's choice for commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Werfel is most familiar to the tax and wider world as the man who filled the IRS' top role in 2013 in an interim capacity during the agency's nonprofit authorization scandal. In charge during troubling... Read more →


With the holiday season fast approaching, companies are looking to add employees for the end-of-year rush. The Internal Revenue Service is among them this year. Its new workers, however, will be instrumental during next year's tax filing season. In late October, the IRS announced it had made "significant progress" toward a (hopefully) smoother 2023 tax season by hiring 4,000 new customer service representatives. Those new staffers, who are undergoing training, will help answer phones and provide other services when the new year rolls around. Today, Uncle Sam's tax collector put out another "help wanted" sign. The IRS is seeking more... Read more →


A single winning ticket for the record $2.04 billion Powerball lottery jackpot was sold in Altadena, California. The good news for the buyer, or buyers if it's a shared ticket, is that California is one of two states that don't tax lottery winnings. The other is Delaware. The bad news is that the U.S. Treasury still gets a big chuck of the huge payout when the winner(s) finally collect. Winnings are ordinary taxable income: Since lottery winnings are considered under the Internal Revenue Code as gambling proceeds, the Internal Revenue Service will get a cut. When winnings are more than... Read more →


Records, tax and financial, are often among the property damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster. If you're lucky, you might be able, like this woman, to salvage some of the documents. If not, you'll need to recreate them to take advantage of tax-related storm relief. (Image courtesy Louisiana Law Blog) It looks like Florida is about to be hit by another hurricane. Current Subtropical Storm Nicole is expected to accelerate from a subtropical system into a hurricane before it makes landfall along the Sunshine State's Atlantic coast. That's terrible news for Florida residents still dealing with the aftermath of... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) division is doing its part to close the Tax Gap, which now sits at $496 billion in uncollected tax. The IRS' law enforcement group's recently released annual report notes that its agents initiated more than 2,550 criminal investigations, identified more than $31 billion from tax and financial crimes, and obtained a 90.6 percent conviction rate on cases that were prosecuted. Much of IRS-CI's success during the 2022 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, was due to its increased cooperation and partnership with its global counterparts to combat tax and financial crimes worldwide.... Read more →


UPDATE, Nov. 5, 2022, 10:25 p.m. CDT: The Houston Astros win game 6 by a 4-1 score and are 2022 World Series Champions! Houston Astros mascot Orbit hopes to trade in his extra-large regular season cap tonight for a 2022 World Series Champion one. (Photo by Kay Bell) The Houston Astros will play what fans, including me, hope is their last game of the 2022 Major League Baseball season tonight in Minute Maid Park. If they beat the Philadelphia Phillies, they get to hoist the World Series trophy in front of their hometown fans. Some H-Town businesses, however, might be... Read more →


The United States' tax system depends on voluntary compliance by taxpayers. But Uncle Sam is no fool. He and his tax collectors are believers of the adage "trust, but verify." The Internal Revenue Service also follows up on that verification with penalties when it finds taxpayers — and the professionals we pay to take care of our taxes — aren't fulfilling our tax responsibilities on our own. The most severe punishments come via criminal tax prosecutions. The IRS also employs civil actions to get due taxes. And many of us are familiar with the various fines and fees that are... Read more →


Sifting through all the options during workplace benefits enrollment season can be confusing and frustrating. Here are some things to think about, including taxes, as you evaluate your company's offerings. (Photo by MART PRODUCTION) We're in the heart of the annual benefits enrollment season. Not only is the Affordable Care Act healthcare marketplace open for business, but older Americans are signing up for Medicare. But a big segment of American workers rely on workplace-provided benefits to cover then health care and other needs. If you're checking out your company's benefits, either to enroll for the first time or continue the... Read more →


Fornillo Beach in Positano along Italy's Amalfi Coast. (Photo by Mihael Grmek via Wikipedia Commons) The hubby and I just finished watching the second season of Stanley Tucci's culinary trek across Italy. So, at least for a few more weeks, we're thinking (OK, dreaming) about moving to that boot-shaped Mediterranean peninsula. If we did, which we won't, we wouldn't renounce our U.S. citizenship. That comes with too steep a tax price. But officially remaining American nationals also carries a tax cost. Most Americans who move abroad still owe U.S. taxes on their income, regardless of where it's earned. That's because... Read more →


Getting your tax ducks in a row takes on a different meaning in November. But whatever bird you choose for the metaphor, make some time this month to complete tasks that will prevent tax turkeys. (Photo by Mohan Nannapaneni) November, the eleventh and penultimate month of the year, is like everything else in life. As a deadline nears, the end of 2022 in this case, the number of tasks to tackle grows. A lot. During these next 30 days we have holidays, both official like Thanksgiving and Veterans Day, and unofficial like National Doughnut Appreciation Day on 11/5, and which... Read more →