Was president-elect Donald Trump played by Carrier? The company, a division of United Technologies that makes heating and air conditioning units, agreed to keep 1,000 jobs in Indiana rather than move them to Mexico. Donald Trump addressing supporters Dec. 1 in Cincinnati as part of his post-election "Thank You Tour." He also stopped in Indianapolis to celebrate Carrier's decision to keep 1,000 jobs at that plant rather than move them to Mexico. (Click image to watch the president-elect's full speech) But Carrier also got some nice tax incentives from Uncle Sam and Indiana for its apparent change of mind. Apparently,... Read more →


It's December 1. December. The last month of the year. How the heck did that happen!?! It hasn't even gotten good and cold yet here in Central Texas. We -- OK the hubby, at my nagging request -- put our Christmas tree up the first week of November this year. That means I have all of December to focus on taxes! OK. I've got my calendar and weather rant under control. But my urgency about how quickly 2016 is passing remains. That means we're rapidly running out of time -- check the countdown clock there in the right hand column... Read more →


Attention users of Internal Revenue Service online options. Some of you soon will be getting letters from the IRS about proving who you are. This is not a scam. The coming IRS letters will be real. Some folks will be getting real letters from the IRS asking them to validate the IDs they use to access online tax services. The mailing is not a scam, but it's always good to be careful when you get any request for personal data. New ID validation effort: The IRS notified tax professionals this week via email that during the next five weeks, the... Read more →


President-Elect Donald Trump's tax reform plan has slipped off the radar as we've been watching him select folks to fill his cabinet. (We're still waiting on The Donald to reveal his Treasury Secretary choice.) But this Giving Tuesday, the unofficial kick-off of the annual charitable season, is the perfect time to look at how a Trump Administration might change our donations and the tax breaks that many get for their gifts. Trump Tax II vs. Pease: In revising his original tax proposal so that its projected deficit would drop from around $9 trillion over 10 years to just (please note... Read more →


The addition of more state sales taxes to online purchases doesn't seem to be slowing Cyber Monday shoppers. Thanks for taking a break from your online shopping to visit the ol' blog this Cyber Monday. (Photo by Keith Williamson via Flickr Creative Commons) In fact, many of you e-commerce devotees got a head start on buying and remitting sales taxes on Black Friday. Record-breaking online purchases: Shoppers shelled out $5.27 billion in online purchases between Thanksgiving and the end of Black Friday, according to Adobe, which uses a proprietary predictive model to forecast online sales and trends. In fact, the... Read more →


Do you live in Lafayette, Tennessee? Or maybe you know someone who lives in this town of about 5,000 just 60 miles or so northeast of Nashville. Or perhaps you know someone who just happened to pass through there and purchased a Powerball lottery ticket. Don't get too excited if you had 32 and 16 on your Powerball ticket. This Giphy image is from an earlier drawing, not the almost $421 million jackpot won by a Tennessee ticket buyer this weekend. That lucky person bought THE Powerball lottery ticket, which last night (Saturday, Nov. 26) matched all six of the... Read more →


Small business owners are hoping that their shops are filled with lots of paying customers this annual Small Business Saturday. The first Small Business Saturday was Nov. 27, 2010. That initial year, it was the creation of the financial company American Express. In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously made the day official. The day celebrates small businesses and encourages supporting them and how they impact communities. They also are hoping that by this time next year, their top tax rate will be just 15 percent. More business tax breaks ahead? That lower business tax rate, a 20 percentage point drop... Read more →


Happy day after Thanksgiving! For many folks, it's time for Christmas shopping, although internet commerce and changing demographics have made Black Friday a tad less chaotic. Are you shopping today? At a major retailer or at a local thrift store? If it's the latter and it's run by an IRS-approved charity, consider donating some items you no longer need or want to the nonprofit. It could provide you a tax deduction. (Thrift store shopper photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr) For others, it's a day to finally start decking the home's halls (and living rooms and mantels and…). The... Read more →


Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving, whether you're at home with family and friends or are 249 miles above Earth on the International Space Station. Astronaut Shane Kimbrough shares what he and his colleagues will be eating aboard the International Space Station this Thanksgiving Day. Click image to watch the full NASA video on YouTube. Astronauts aboard the ISS will enjoy each other's company over a specially packaged turkey dinner with all the trimmings and NFL football. "It's going to be little bit different for us up here in space, but I'm going to try to make it as much like home as... Read more →


Millions of us will be seeing our parents during Thanksgiving. For many, it's the first they've seen of mom and dad in months. Thanksgiving traditionally is a multi-generational celebration. But adult children might need to pay special attention to their aging parents over the holiday to gauge whether mom and dad now need some extra help. (Photo courtesy NealeA via Flickr Creative Commons) If you're heading to your parents' place this holiday and they're getting up there in years, it's a good time to make sure they're doing OK when you're not around. All of us want our folks to... Read more →


Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving in October. I like that timing. It doesn't force folks into attending two annual family gatherings within a month of each other. Not that I don't love my family, but like many things, a little goes a long way. And don't worry. I know which relatives (and there are plenty!) are thinking, if not saying, the same about me. Canada and the United States share many things, but the same Thanksgiving holiday isn't one of them. But during this week that we Americans are preparing to say thanks for our annual bounty (and, thanks to the... Read more →


Really, Mother Nature? I know the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially end until Nov. 30, but really? Radar image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Hurricane Center Tropical Depression 16 formed early this morning (Monday, Nov. 21) in the southwest section of the Caribbean Sea. By midday, it had intensified enough to be named Tropical Storm Otto. No U.S. threat: The good news for the United States and Caribbean islands is that Otto is due east of Nicaragua and is expected to track west over the next few days. The bad news for Nicaragua and residents of Honduras, Costa Rica,... Read more →


Come January, Republicans on Capitol Hill will officially start looking at ways to cut taxes. It's been the Grand Old Party's goal since President Obama was successful via the fiscal cliff deal of 2012-2013 in getting Congress to let the top level George W. Bush tax cuts lapse, pushing up the top individual tax rate to 39.6 percent. First focus on corporate taxes: While individual taxes will be part of the coming tax reform debate, it's likely that corporate taxes will get the most attention in the beginning. After all, ways to use the tax code to lure U.S. companies... Read more →


Donald J. Trump prefers to fight things out in court. Over the years as a businessman, the president-elect has filed and been named as a defendant in thousands of lawsuits. Even as he prepares to be sworn in on Jan. 20 as the United States' 45th president, he will facing, as of today, more than 70 lawsuits filed against him. Click certificate image for video report on settlement via KABC-TV Los Angeles. But he's no longer worrying about Trump University allegations. Friday, Nov. 18, afternoon, Trump and his attorneys agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits that claimed... Read more →


Most of us use credit and debit cards as convenient cash substitutes. Instead of reaching for wads of cash stuffed in pockets or purses or a paper checkbook, we simply whip out plastic to pay for almost everything or every service we need or want. Even micro businesses use mobile devices as mini non-cash registers to complete transactions. Yet most countries still print money. And those actual bills remain important to many. Some eschew credit cards for security reasons. They're afraid of become an identity theft victim. Similarly, others like the anonymity of a cash exchange for personal as well... Read more →


It's early Christmas for 89 Maryland cities. They will be getting some unexpected money from the state's comptroller. Unfortunately, it's not new money. It's cash the municipalities should have received over the past five years. And there's also a Grinch, I mean glitch, in the Maryland revenue office that will require another other 83 cities to pay back state funds they received in error over the years. All told, according to The Baltimore Sun, the Maryland comptroller misdirected more than $21 million in tax money since 2010. "I'd love to blame this on our predecessors, but this is our problem,"... Read more →


Taxes are about dollar amounts and dates. April 15 obviously is the biggie. But Dec. 31 is almost as important. The end of a tax year is, for the most part, the last time you can make tax moves that could help lower your coming tax bill. While we all wish we could have Homer Simpson's to-do list, when it comes to taxes, most of us need to take care of some potentially money saving tax tasks by Dec. 31. With the days rapidly dwindling (the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column is tracking them), here... Read more →


Today is National Philanthropy Day, created to recognize those who strive to make life better for others. The term philanthropist usually conjures up rich people holding fancy galas attended by their wealthy friends to raise money for various causes. But you don't have to be rich to be a philanthropist, or a good-deed-doer as The Wizard of Oz called such folk when he stumbled over the fancier moniker. "Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phil … er … phil … er … er … good-deed-doers and their... Read more →