Even in the best of tax times, folks are impatient when it comes to getting their refunds. They want them yesterday, looking to collect on the forces savings account they created when they intentionally had too much put into their paycheck withholding. Then comes 2019, where every day it's looking more like parts of the federal government, including the Internal Revenue Service, will be in shutdown mode when the annual tax return filing season starts on Jan. 28. While the Treasury Department and IRS say they will do what it takes to make this year as normal as possible, many... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service offices nationwide, like this one in New York City, are closed due to the ongoing federal government shutdown. (Photo by Matthew Bisanz via Wikipedia Commons) Most of us don't have personal interactions with the Internal Revenue Service. We simply do our taxes every year, send them to the federal tax collector and move on with our lives. It's a different story in many places across the country. Those places have physical IRS offices where friends and family usually go each weekday to do their jobs. They want the government shutdown shut down so they can get back... Read more →


Longest U.S. federal government shutdown in history be damned! That's apparently the Internal Revenue Service's motto this year. It announced last week that it will start working on our 2018 tax returns — and issue any related refunds — this filing season, which is set to start on Monday, Jan. 28, even if it's technically still operating in modified shutdown mode. The IRS underscored that commitment on Friday, Jan. 11, when it announced that taxpayers who qualify to use Free File can now access the online no-cost tax preparation and e-filing option. Yep. Free File 2019 is now open for... Read more →


UPDATE, 9:05 p.m. Central Time, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019: Donald J. Trump has signed into a law a short-term funding bill that should get paychecks flowing again for the around 800,000 federal workers — including the 14,000 or so Internal Revenue Service employees who called in sick during the tax agency's partial closure — who were affected by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. ***** Twenty-two Thirty-five days and counting (updated Jan. 25, 2019). We now are in the midst of the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. National park properties, such as the National Mall west of... Read more →


Today should be payday for hundreds of thousands of federal government workers. The partial government shutdown, however, means they're not getting their money. And even though the White House, Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service say that the 2019 filing season will open at the end of January as it has in years past and that refunds will be issued, there's no guarantee that things will go smoothly. We are, after all, talking about Uncle Sam's operations. Can IRS meet refund challenge? The IRS says it will recall "a significant portion" of its currently furloughed workforce to open tax season... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service still is mostly closed due to the Capitol Hill impasse over how to fund the federal government. Just a relative handful of employees are in a few IRS offices, doing what have been deemed essential jobs, but not getting paid for their work. Some of the agency's online operations, however, are up and running. And other IRS services, particularly those that are funding in part by fees, could be restarted despite the closure of many of Uncle Sam's offices. In fact, one of those, the Income Verification Express Service (IVES) program, was restarted this week (more... Read more →


Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos are getting a divorce. I know, it's hard to feel too bad for folks who are so wealthy. They tend to come through difficult circumstances quite well. But the joint announcement today (on Twitter, of course) from the world's richest man and his soon-to-be ex-wife got me thinking about, of course, taxes. By making the decision to end their marriage in 2019, Bezos is losing a tax break while Mrs. Bezos is getting one. As I said, I'm sure neither Mr. or Mrs. Bezos won't suffer too much. Both he and his wife will have lots... Read more →


Tax filing time! (Photo by MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr) The Internal Revenue Service will begin processing 2018 tax returns on Jan. 28. That's essentially the same the time, the last Monday of the month, that filing season started last year. Free File, the partnership between the IRS and the tax software industry, has in the past opened at least a few days earlier (it was available on Jan. 12 last year), but there's no word on that 2019 no-cost online tax prep and filing option yet. But one thing the IRS did make clear is its commitment to the Jan. 28... Read more →


Good news today for folks who are expecting a tax refund when they file their 2018 returns this year. You'll get your money, even if the partial government shutdown drags out into the 2019 tax filing season. That's the word from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), according to Hallie Jackson, chief White House correspondent for MSNBC. Jackson made that announcement during Ali Velshi's show this afternoon after leaving an hour-plus White House press briefing, led by Vice President Mike Pence, on the shutdown. "The head of Office of Management and Budget, Russ Vought, is telling us that there... Read more →


Whew! We made it through 2018, the first full year that the latest major tax law changes were in effect. Now we're about to see, depending on when Congress and the White House can agree to get the government (including the Internal Revenue Service) fully operational, if we can deal with the first tax filing season under those laws. But before we get lost in the intricacies of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), I'm taking this one early day in 2019 to look at the six tax stories that turned out to be big deals last year. These... Read more →


It's that time of year again, tax season. OK, not officially, especially since we're waiting for Congress and the White House to reach a deal that will end the partial government shutdown and let the Internal Revenue Service resume operations at full speed again. But we taxpayers can't afford to wait on the politicians. We know that we still have to file our taxes, even it we end up having to wait on the IRS to process our returns. Yeah, I know. Not fair. But c'est la tax laws. To make sure that we stay on track, I'll again be... Read more →


Close-up of National Geographic United States wall map. Click image to see all 50 states. Most states tend to operate on fiscal years, with July 1 being an effective date for a lot of law change State leaders, however, realize that their residents follow the Gregorian calendar, so they still make Jan. 1 the effective date for major revisions of law. I was surfing the Web on New Year's Day — doesn't everybody?!? — and ran across some interesting state tax law changes that took effective with the arrival of 2019. Below is a look at what I found. New... Read more →


We still don't know when the 2019 tax filing season will start. But that uncertainty has no bearing on the tax deadlines we're all expected to meet, even when some of Uncle Sam's offices are closed or operating with fewer staff than normal. The Internal Revenue Service usually begins accepting and processing returns around mid- to late-January. Meeting that traditional opening date already was going to be tough. The agency has been in crunch mode for the last 12+ months with the added work of making sure forms, instructions and guidance reflect all the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)... Read more →


Screenshot from C-SPAN broadcast of the convening of the 116th Congress. Click image for full video. It's official. The 116th Congress is in session, with the Democrats retaking control of the House. As expected, longtime California legislator Rep. Nancy Pelosi is now Speaker of the House. Also as expected, presidential tax returns are atop the House Democrats agenda. Yes, I'm talking about the still unseen 1040s of Donald J. Trump, both those he filed while a candidate (and before), as well as his post-election filings. Trump was the first major-party presidential nominee since the 1970s to refuse to release his... Read more →


Hello 2019! I'm not sure we're ready for you, particularly when it comes to the major tax code changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). We'll deal with the real-life effects of the new tax laws for the first time when we file our 2018 returns. When that will be is still up in the air and depends on a resolution to the partial government shutdown. But even though Capitol Hill and many of Uncle Sam's offices remain in limbo, we taxpayers need to start now taking an up close and personal look at what the TCJA will... Read more →


While millions of folks worldwide were greeting 2019's arrival, many were awaiting a more personal welcome for the planet's newest residents. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that more than 395,000 children will be born today, Jan. 1, 2019. There's always much to-do over babies who arrive right after midnight on New Year's Day. Much-needed tax breaks for parents: But for tax purposes, as long as a child is born or adopted any time during a tax year, be it on the first day or Dec. 31, the youngster could mean tax benefits for the new parents. Those tax... Read more →


Change is the only constant, as the old saying goes, and that's as true on the last day of the year as it is on the first. Those changes also could mean changes to your taxes, as some life-altering situations on Dec. 31 affect your taxes for the preceding 364 days. Take, for example, tying the knot. If you get married today, congratulations. Have a spectacular combined wedding reception and New Year's Eve party. Also get ready after the confetti and toasts to deal with some filing changes to your 2018 taxes. Your new Dec. 31 husband or wife status... Read more →


There's one more day in 2018, but it's too late to adjust your withholding for this almost over tax year. Following enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a lot of folks earlier this year should have tweaked the amount of federal taxes they have taken out of their paychecks. Those TCJA changes, which went into full effect for 2018, could mean some — OK, a lot; one estimate says 30 million — taxpayers could face an unexpected tax bill when they file their returns in 2019. If you discover in a few months that you're one of... Read more →


The Dallas Cowboys, in white uniforms during a game with Detroit at Jerry World a few years ago, are heading back to the NFL playoffs. The Pokes last won a post-season game in 1996, when they ultimately won Super Bowl XXX. Will they change their dismal playoff run in 2019? (Photo by Kay Bell) National Football League fans in Texas are pretty happy this final regular season game weekend. Both the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys will play the post-season, with the Pokes actually winning their division. Go figure. I haven't been paying as close attention to the NFL this... Read more →


Yes, I know I've been a bit fixated the last few days on charitable giving. But it is Christmas week, the traditional time of giving gifts, which also coincides with nonprofits' annual year-end quest for more money. Those solicitations are more intense this year as charities are dealing with the potentially costly effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which some analysts worry could cost them billions in donations. Standard increase could cut into charitable gifts: The new tax law essentially doubled the standard deduction amounts. That means more folks are likely to claim the standard deduction instead... Read more →