We made it! Tax Day 2015 is over, at least for most taxpayers. Those of us who decided to push our 1040 due date to Oct. 15 still have some work to do.
But at least the main crush is over. And despite predictions of a horrid tax filing season because of Obamacare requirements and the increase in tax scams and fraud, things went pretty well.
Now we can take a breath. But not for long. Folks on filing extension have work to do. And those who are through with 2014 taxes need to start thinking about ways to reduce their 2015 tax bills.
As in previous years, a new piece of tax advice will be featured each Wednesday in the upper right corner of the ol' blog.
Wait, you say. You noticed that the first Weekly Tax Tip showed up on Friday, April 17. Good eye! I must admit I was so jazzed about the tax season that I couldn't bear to take even a week's break.
So Weekly Tax Tip #2, courtesy Bankrate.com, will show up next Wednesday, April 22. And the full series will run through Dec. 30.
That's right. Taxes don't take the December holidays off, so neither will we.
A stray weekly tip or two also might show up in the opening week/weeks of January 2016 as we transition into that filing season and the appearance of that new year's Daily Tax Tips.
Too soon? Sorry. Back to this year and the 2015 Weekly Tax Tips.
- Filed for an extension? Didn't file at all? Now what? -- April 15 came and went without your tax return. Either you filed Form 4868 instead to get an extension until Oct. 15 to finish your paperwork or you didn't file at all. Whichever option you chose on Tax Day, here's what you need to do next to avoid invoking the ire (and potentially costly penalties and interest charges) of the Internal Revenue Service. (April 17, 2015)
- What to do if your refund is wrong -- Your refund finally arrived, but it's not what you expected. Now what? Regardless of whether the refund discrepancy goes against you or favors you, some steps can be taken to resolve the matter. (April 22, 2015)
- When it's OK to tap your IRA -- Roth and traditional IRAs are for retirement, but sometimes you need the money early. In many cases, the early distributions mean you owe any taxes due plus a 10 percent penalty. But not in every case. There are some specific situations where the Internal Revenue Service says it's OK to withdraw some IRA cash early. (April 29, 2015)
- Tax record keeping tips -- Yes, tax documentation is crucial to support your deduction and credit claims. But there's no need to be a tax paperwork hoarder. Here's what to keep and what you can toss. (May 6, 2015)
- No capital gains taxes for some investors -- Capital gains already are taxed at rates lower than ordinary income, but in some cases the deal is even better. Some investors won't owe the Internal Revenue Service a cent when they sell their assets. The catch? The zero tax rate generally applies to individuals in the 10 percent and 15 percent income tax brackets. (May 13, 2015)
- What's your income tax bracket? -- Whether you're still working on your 2014 tax return thanks to an extension, or looking ahead to your 2015 taxes, your tax bracket matters. Check out what tax rates apply to your earnings. (May 20, 2015)
- State taxes add to gas prices -- School's out and summer's here! If you'll be taking a driving vacation this year, watch out for pump price variations from state to state. Excise and other taxes and fees can really add to gasoline prices. (May 27, 2015)
- Get disaster relief at tax time -- Spring was full of floods and tornadoes. Now it's hurricane season. If you sustain storm or other natural disaster damages, Uncle Sam could help. You might be able to claim some of your property losses when you file your tax return. (June 3, 2015)
- Fix tax mistakes with an amended return -- You filed your taxes months ago, but you just discovered a mistake on your return. You can fix it by filing Form 1040X. (June 10, 2015)
- Let Uncle Sam lend a child care tax hand -- Juggling parenthood and work is a major challenge that gets bigger when school's out. Working moms and dads must find child care for full days, not just the hours after classes. The Internal Revenue Service can't help you find a summertime day care provider, but it can help cover some day camp costs thanks to the child and dependent care tax credit. (June 17, 2015)
- Tax breaks for life's big events -- June bride? New homeowner? Change jobs? These are just a few of life's changes that could have tax implications. In some cases, the Internal Revenue Service is an unwelcome intrusion. But in others, the tax code's involvement in your life can be a benefit. (June 24, 2015)
- Bunch your itemized expenses -- Itemized deductions can be a great way to reduce your tax bill. But to take full advantage of Schedule A write-offs, you need to clear some expense thresholds, such as 7.5 percent of medical costs and 2 percent of miscellaneous expenses. If you don't clear those percentage hurdles, no itemized expenses in those categories are tax-deductible. You can get around the limits by bunching tax-deductible expenses into one tax year. (July 1, 2015)
- Teen jobs and taxes -- Summer time and the working is easy. Or not. Finding a seasonal job is a challenge for young workers and that's only the beginning. After they're hired, the teenage employees must deal with taxes. (July 8, 2015)
- Home sweet home ownership tax breaks -- A home is more than a place to raise your family. Owning a house offers some of the best tax benefits around. There are the popular itemized deductions for mortgage interest and real estate taxes. And when you sell, you can exclude a nice chunk of sale profits from taxation. (July 15, 2015)
- 10 midyear tax moves -- The year's half over. That makes it the perfect time to take some tax steps that could lower your 2015 Internal Revenue Service bill. (July 22, 2015)
- Back-to-school tax holidays are back -- It's a late summer perennial, states offering shoppers special days to buy tax-free clothing, computers and classroom supplies. This year 17, and maybe 18 soon, will hold the sales tax holiday weekends or longer. The events save families a few bucks if they follow all the rules. (July 29, 2015)
- Home rental tax rules -- Want to put your primary residence or second home to work? Rent it. Just make sure you follow the Internal Revenue Service rules. Short-term leasing -- 14 or less days for the whole year -- could provide you with some tax-free rental cash. (Aug. 5, 2015)
- Uncle Sam offers many education tax breaks -- Higher education costs climb every year. But Uncle Sam can help out. The Internal Revenue Code has many education tax breaks that can help cover college costs, including those pricey textbooks. In some cases, even elementary and secondary school expenses are eligible. (Aug. 12, 2015)
- Coverdell accounts many tax benefits -- This oldie-but-goodie tax break doesn't offer a lot of tax dollar savings. You can only put up to $2,000 a year into it and the contributions aren't tax deductible. But it's one of the more flexible education tax breaks, letting you spend some of the tax-free money for elementary and secondary school expenses, not just college costs. (Aug. 19, 2015)
- Tax extenders outlook -- Tax planning for millions of Americans has been on hold since Jan. 1. That's when more than 50 tax deductions, tax credits and other tax-saving laws known as the extenders expired. And these tax breaks, for both individual taxpayers and businesses, will remain dead until Congress revives them. The two big questions we're waiting to be answered are (1) how many will be resurrected, and (2) when? (Aug. 26, 2015)
- Tax help for combined business, personal travel -- Thinking of tacking a couple of personal days onto the end of a business trip? It can offer a nice break. Plus, a well-planned mini-vacation can be even more satisfying when you get financial help via the federal tax code. (Sept. 2, 2015)
- Estimated tax time again -- If you have income that isn't subject to withholding tax, you must pay Uncle Sam via estimated tax payments. He prefers we pay up four times a year, with the third 1040-ES payment for the 2015 tax year due Sept. 15. (Sept. 9, 2015)
- Correct Social Security numbers are critical -- Taxes are all about the number, and that definitely includes identification numbers. In addition to the taxpayer's Social Security number, the nine digits are needed for dependents and in some cases to claim certain tax deductions and credits. An error in a tax ID number could at best slow down a refund. At worst, it could unexpectedly increase your tax bill. (Sept. 16, 2015)
- Domestic violence complicates tax problems -- A troubled marriage is painful enough. But things can get downright nasty when you add taxes to the mix. Since tax law hold both spouses liable for taxes when a joint return is filed, you might have to seek innocent spouse relief. (Sept. 23, 2015)
- FSAs can save tax dollars -- Popular workplace spending accounts can help pay child care and medical costs. They also can save you tax money if you manage them carefully. (Sept. 30, 2015)
- 10 overlooked tax breaks -- You put off filing your Form 1040 until the Oct. 15 extended deadline. Now make sure that you didn't waste this extra filing time by overlooking some common tax breaks. These 10 tax breaks -- some for itemizers only, others that any filer can claim -- are often ignored, but could save you some tax dollars. And if you need more, there's always the 10 costly tax sins of omission. (Oct. 7, 2015)
- Don't make these 10 common tax-filing mistakes -- Are you finally finishing your Form 1040 to meet the Oct. 15 extended deadline? Make sure you don't make one of these common mistakes. And if you need more errors to avoid, check out these 10 costly tax sins of commission. (Oct. 14, 2015)
- Avoid these 3 common tax penalties -- Everyone makes a tax mistake now and then. Just ask the Massachusetts couple that didn't properly sign their joint return. That oversight produced a costly tax penalty. The three most common IRS penalties are assessed for not filing, not paying or not paying enough throughout the year. But even though because they are common, you can avoid them. (Oct. 21, 2015)
- Key 2015 tax ballot initiatives -- Marijuana and sales taxes are among the tax questions voters in several states will be asked to decide on Nov. 3. (Oct. 28, 2015)
- Employee vs. contractor tax differences -- The holiday season is here! Are you looking for a seasonal job? Make sure you know how you'll be treated by your new, temporary employer: as an employee or a contractor. It makes a big tax difference. (Nov. 4, 2015)
- 10 tax-saving moves to make by Dec. 31 -- The last day of the year can be just as important as April 15. Before the holidays get hectic, take some time to make some of these moves by year's end that could help reduce your eventual tax bill. (Nov. 11, 2015)
- Retirement plan contribution limits -- Saving for retirement can be confusing, especially when the IRS changes the limits each year on how much you can put in various plans. Here are the rules, and inflation adjustments, for various 2015 and 2016 retirement accounts. (Nov. 18, 2015)
- 6 pet-related tax write-offs -- The IRS doesn't recognize pets as members of the family. That's why the taxman won't let you claim your dog, cat, guinea pig or whatever critter brightens up your life as a dependent. But there are a few ways you can write off animal-related costs on your taxes. (Nov. 25, 2015)
- Use or lose FSA money -- A flexible spending account, or FSA, is a way to pay for some medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. While recent changes to the workplace benefit plans have allowed for a 2½-month expenses grace period or a limited rollover option, many companies still require FSA owners to spend down their accounts by year's end or forfeit the money. Make sure you get to use, not lose your FSA funds. (Dec. 2, 2015)
- Home-related December tax moves -- Homeowners already know that their residences offer a variety of tax breaks. But as the tax year winds down, you can take advantage of a couple of them -- mortgage interest and property tax payments -- by Dec. 31 to maximize the deductions on your coming tax return. (Dec. 9, 2015)
- Harvesting tax losses -- Nobody invests to lose money, but sometimes that happens. If you have an asset that's lost value, it could still be valuable at tax time. Sell it and use the loss to offset any capital gains you have or even some of your ordinary income. (Dec. 16, 2015)
- Charitable gift giving tax rules -- Donating to a charity is a common year-end move -- and a great last-minute Christmas gift. It also could help lower your tax bill if you know and follow the Internal Revenue Service's charitable giving rules. (Dec. 23, 2015)
- Cash in on uncommon charitable gifts -- Your donations to your favorite charity -- and possible tax deduction -- can go beyond a contribution check. The Internal Revenue Service accepts many different ways to give and deduct your good will. (Dec. 30, 2015)
And the new batch of Daily Tax Tips will return when the 2016 tax filing season arrives next January.