Despite the mug's proclamation, Michael Scott (as portrayed by Steve Carell in the U.S. version of The Office) tended to be a bad boss. Donald J. Trump is that boss that almost all of us have at one time had. You know the one. He or she is always telling clients, "Sure, we can do that. No problem, no problem at all." Maybe no problem for the boss, but plenty of problems for the workers who have to follow through and make good on the pie-in-the-sky pledge. That's probably how Congress is feeling right now in the wake of Trump's... Read more →


The scariest thing about Halloween this year is we're expecting rain. If the meteorologists are right, it should start by late afternoon and run through early evening. Of course, that's prime time for young ghouls to arrive in our neighborhood, meaning much trick-or-treating likely will be washed out. That frightens me more than the costumed kiddos because I will have to face all the candy that we have on hand. Heck, I've gained 3 pounds just having it in the house, so there's no way I want it around longer! So what to do with the sweets? Here are some... Read more →


Voters across the United States will vote for Congressional and state candidates that will have a profound effect on their lives for the next several years. But just as important are the fates of 155 statewide ballot measures that voters in 37 states will be asked to decide on Nov. 6. And many of those initiatives are about taxes. With a week to go before the midterm elections, here's a bit of background on ballot measures and a look at some of the notable tax-related issues that many of us will decide. Sin taxes not a sure thing: Since we're... Read more →


Homes along Lake LBJ sustained flood damage after recent torrential rains sent Central Texas waterways over their banks. The effect of too many days of too much rain is indicated by the debris and dumpsters outside the homes, as well as the lake's water up to the tree canopy and the usually blue water turned muddy by the waters that rushed into it from upstream. (Photo taken Oct. 18, 2018, by Kay Bell) We had a magnificent weather weekend, with two gorgeous days in the Austin area and we get to start this new week with more sunshine and full... Read more →


Anecdotal campaign info indicates that the new Republican tax law isn't motivating potential midterm voters to support that party's candidates. That's probably why the campaigner-in-chief recently tossed in an off-the cuff promise of a pre-Nov. 6 tax cut for the middle class. Spoiler: that isn't happening. Now a formal survey confirms the lack of enthusiasm for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), aka the GOP tax reform bill. Voters 'meh' at best on tax cuts: A Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll conducted last week on behalf of National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS NewsHour found that just 11... Read more →


The World, Mostly by Leif Kurth via Flickr CC Donald J. Trump got a lot of attention when he popped down to Texas last week for a midterm campaign rally. He told the Houston crowd that he was a nationalist. That term, he explained, describes the philosophy he's espoused since the get go of his presidential political life. He wants to put America first. There's nothing wrong with wanting your country to get the best deals and treatment in international relationships. But Trump also narrowly, and to my thinking incorrectly, defined globalists as people who want to put global issues... Read more →


Since it's unofficial retirement week here at the ol' blog, let's close it out with a look at how to move money from one retirement account to another and not upset the Internal Revenue Service or your nest egg. Life changes. That means sometimes you want or need to change your retirement plan. Say, for example, you have a 401(k) at one workplace, get a new job and open a 401(k) with that employer. What happens to the 401(k) you had at your prior job? In many cases, the company where you worked will let you keep it, although obviously... Read more →


You don't need a golden goose to have a great nest egg for retirement. You just need to contribute to one or more tax-favored retirement accounts. (Photo by 401(k) 2012 via Flickr) Congratulations to America's newest billionaire, the owner of the ticket bought in South Carolina that matched all the Mega Millions lottery numbers. That person is $1.537 billion richer, or more probably an $878 millionaire, since that's the cash payout amount. That lucky lottery player won't have to work another day or worry about retirement as long as he or she isn't a total spendthrift. Most of the rest... Read more →


Today was one of those days where personal stuff took precedence over work and tax matters. As a freelancer, I'm usually able to plan things so the I can do both without too much trouble. Not today. Personal issues won. That meant I missed out on a #TaxBuzzChat. This is a regular Twitter conversation among online tax folks on various, topical tax matters. Today a bunch of my Twitter pals — including, but not limited to @beanna_whitlock, @BrettNealCPA, @bstonercpa, @cbriancpa, @DebFoxFinancial, @MelindaNCPA, @RobergTax and @ShaunHunley — discussed year-end tax planning in light of the changes wrought by the Tax Cuts... Read more →


As Donald J. Trump has been making the campaign rounds in advance of the midterm elections, he's made some interesting — OK, wrong — comments about taxes. And in trying to cover for explain those remarks, some folks are compounding the misinformation. The latest example underscores a misconception about how retirement account withdrawals are taxes. Trump's tax cut talk: Trump has been touting a pre-Nov. 6 tax cut of 10 percent for the middle class. While nothing is impossible in this crazy world, that's not likely since Congress is not scheduled to return to Capitol Hill until Nov. 12. Many... Read more →


Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) during a Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill she introduced. Another Harris proposal, this time a tax credit for middle-income taxpayers, has caught the White House's attention. (Photo courtesy Kamala Harris Twitter account) It's official. Unofficially. The 2020 presidential campaign is underway. Last week, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris introduced her LIFT (Livable Incomes for Families Today) the Middle Class Act. The bill's most notable feature is a refundable tax credit of up to $6,000. Tax-savvy folks know a tax credit is better than a deduction because it provides a dollar-for-dollar way to cut your tax... Read more →


The only thing better than winning the humongous Powerball jackpot, now at $620 million and growing, or the ginormous, largest ever Mega Millions prize of $1.6 billion $1.6 billion — yes -illion with a B — is owing as little tax as possible. When someone finally hits the two national lotteries' winning numbers, the winner most likely will take the big winnings in a lump sum rather than in equal payments over 30 years. That's $354.3 million in cash all at once for one Powerball winner. A single Mega Millions winner will net $904 million in quick cash. The U.S.... Read more →


On top of everything else, the Texas floods have produced rafts of floating fire ants. Click image to see KVUE News Twitter video of this monstrosity! There are new stories every day about folks working to reclaim a semblance of normal after the massive destruction of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Here in Central Texas, hundreds of homes and businesses were (and some still are) under water. Our governor is considering whether to ask Uncle Sam for federal disaster relief to help affected folks get back on their feet. If the Lone Star State does ask and get federal disaster relief,... Read more →


Most folks agree that Wyoming is one of the most naturally beautiful states in the country. But tax experts have different opinions on its taxes and who they help and hurt. (Grand Teton National Park photo courtesy Wyoming Office of Tourism) One of the great things about taxes is that the policies that create them, the tax laws themselves and who and how they affect millions of taxpayers can be parsed so many ways. Take, for example, two recent analyses of state taxes. Tax Foundation each year issues its State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI). This analysis of states' tax... Read more →


This photo via Donald J. Trump's Twitter account shows, it says, him signing on Oct. 15, 2015, his 2014 federal return. It's still the only glimpse of Trump's federal tax returns that he's ever provided, either before or after moving into the White House. It's official. Donald and Melania Trump were among the millions of taxpayers who got tax-filing extensions and finally this week filed their 2017 return. It's also official that we won't be seeing the Trumps' 2017 taxes. No Trump taxes: Trump, as he made clear during his presidential campaign, won't release his taxes while they're under audit.... Read more →


Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and his Republican colleagues in June celebrated the six-month anniversary of their major tax reform bill. Back then, they thought the new tax laws would give them a political edge in the coming November elections. They thought wrong. (Photo courtesy U.S. Speaker of the House) When the Republican controlled House and Senate passed a major tax reform bill last December, it was supposed to be a twofer. First, enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) fulfilled long-standing GOP fiscal and political goals of reducing taxes... Read more →


Texas, according to veteran Lone Star State meteorologists, is the land of perennial drought, broken by the occasional devastating flood. Such flooding occurred today, opening up the possibility that parts of the Texas Hill Country could be deemed major disaster areas. If that happens, affected property owners can claim their losses on their tax returns. Mansfield dam image Excessive rainfall has produced devastating flooding in Central Texas, forcing area officials to open floodgates at local dams. The amount of water flowing into area rivers and lakes is so heavy that even Mansfield Dam in Austin, the structure that holds back... Read more →


Politics often is a dirty business. Mudslinging is ubiquitous nowadays. In one governor's race, an even messier substance is involved. A common complaint about politics is all the associated mudslinging. Such is the case in Illinois' gubernatorial race. But it's even messier, less desirable stuff that's come into political play. J.B. Pritzker, the Democrat running for Prairie State governor, removed his estate's toilets to lower the property's real estate tax. Renovation vs. removal: It's not a new revelation. The Chicago Sun-Times reported in May 2017 that Pritzker bought the historic mansion next door to his existing Chicago Gold Coast home,... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 15: Additional areas in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia now receive tax relief in connection with Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Details below. Monday, Oct. 15 is a big tax day for millions. The Internal Revenue Service says more than 14 million taxpayers requested added time to complete their 2017 tax returns. While not all of them put off that tax task until the very last minute, it's a safe bet that a lot did. If' you're among that group of uber-procrastinators, I wish you well in getting the job done by tomorrow. The tax and... Read more →


Did you get an extension back in April to wait until Oct. 15 to file your 2017 tax return? Guess what? That's Monday. Like this coming Monday. Like three days from now! Sorry. That means no weekend fun for you. You need to spend your weekend, or at least part of it, working on your 2017 Form 1040. I feel for all y'all ultimate procrastinators. I've been there, but not this year, thank goodness. The hubby and I still got an extension, joining more than 14 million other taxpayers who sidestepped the April 18 deadline, but we filed our return... Read more →