The Internal Revenue Service's 2018 filing season calendar isn't quite this messy, but it's not firmed up yet. The House Ways and Means Committee today started marking up, otherwise known as tweaking, the Republican-driven tax reform bill. Early word is that many provisions you may have read about will change. C'est la legislative process. Meanwhile, since most of the new tax laws won't take effect until Jan. 1, we can focus on our 2017 returns that will be filed under the existing tax laws. Most of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the tax moves we've made so... Read more →


$13 billion. That's how much nonprofits say Republican-proposed changes to the tax code could cost them each year. Even though the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would keep the itemized deduction for charitable donations, it's one of just a handful that will remain on Schedule A. In exchange for the elimination of most itemized write-offs, the House tax reform proposal calls for almost doubling the standard deduction. That shift in federal tax deduction strategy could pose a major problem for the thousands of U.S. nonprofits that rely on contributions. Fewer itemizers = less donations: Now, about a third of... Read more →


Business entities and how they are — and might be — taxed is one of the things complicating the Republican-formulated tax reform bill. The primary motivation for the Republican's new tax reform plan is to lower business tax rates. Major corporations definitely will see relief under the bill (even though many are doing quite well under our current system). But there's concern that smaller businesses won't be so tax reform lucky. In fact, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as the bill, as H.R. 1 is known, could make things worse for some so-called pass-through entities. Potential problems for plenty... Read more →


Before heading out on an Asian trip, the president met with House GOP members to talk tax reform. Among those at the plan briefing were, from left, Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and W&M Chair Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas. (Photo courtesy Donald J. Trump Twitter account) The shiniest part of the Republicans' new tax plan is the reduction in tax rates. We would go from the current seven to just four. So how much of our earnings will fall into these new brackets? Here's what the Grand Old... Read more →


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) get serious in discussing what Republicans say are the middle-class benefits in their latest proposal to rewrite the tax code. The most detailed plan yet was released Thursday, Nov. 2. (Screenshot of C-SPAN video; click image to watch clip.) Remember that Capitol Hill adage that all politics is local? It can be easily shifted to tax reform. Whether you're for or against a tax law change will depend in large part on how much it helps or hurt you. When it comes to the men and women who propose and/or make those changes, their votes... Read more →


UPDATE, Nov. 2: Good news. It looks like most of the Republican tax reform plan, according to the bill's legislative language, "shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017." That means we will close out 2017 under current tax law, so these tips still apply. I'm working on a post about the proposed tax changes and will get it up here on the ol' blog shortly. it's now published! My mind boggles at the number of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies that can be made from this collection! It's just a small part of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden's... Read more →


Hurricane Irma recovery work continues in Marathon Key, Florida, on Oct. 30 where storm debris is burned. Louisiana and South Carolina also were hit hard by this season's deadly hurricanes and some residents in those states are now getting tax relief, too. (Photo by Bill Koplitz/FEMA) The worst of the 2017 hurricane system began its assault on the United States on Aug. 25 when Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast as a category 4 storm. In rapid succession, the United States and it Caribbean territories also were pummeled in September by category 4 Hurricanes Irma and Maria.... Read more →


It's an exciting day in political and financial circles, what with the unsealing of the first indictments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible Russian involvement in and influence of the 2016 presidential election. Tax geeks also are basking in part of the buzz since the official charges include some tax matters. Among the things that Paul J. Manafort Jr., former manager of Donald J. Trump's campaign, is accused of, per the indictment, is hiding his "overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income." Manafort also is alleged to used... Read more →


After four and a half years, the Internal Revenue Service Tea Party targeting scandal has been resolved. On Thursday, Oct. 26, the Justice Department announced that it has entered into proposed settlements with the two major challenges by conservative groups against the IRS. Substantial payments to plaintiffs: While the Justice Department did not discuss deal specifics, the Wall Street Journal reported that the payouts to plaintiffs in the Linchpins of Liberty and Norcal Tea Party Patriots cases could be between $1 million and $10 million. The conservative groups who joined the lawsuits had alleged in 2013 that their applications for... Read more →


Picking up some extra cash is nothing new. People have always taken on added work when they've needed or wanted a few more dollars. Now, however, side hustles have become a viable employment option. They've also become a problem for the Internal Revenue Service. Growing gigs: The head of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax tax preparation software, noted earlier this year that more than a third of the U.S. workforce participates in the gig economy and it's growing. "We think self-employed [work] has a lot of opportunity for growth as we look ahead," said Intuit CEO Brad Smith said back... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amounts and next year's Social Security wage base. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. When you're hit by the AMT, or Alternative Minimum Tax, you might be tempted to rearrange the... Read more →


Welcome to Part 6 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to estate, gift and kiddie taxes. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. Real wealthy families like the fictional filthy rich Darlings of ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" welcome the latest estate tax inflation adjustments. (Cast photo courtesy ABC... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some medical tax provisions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy" via Giphy.com The only thing worse than being sick is having to pay for medical treatment. One remedy that could... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some popular credits and deductions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Millions of taxpayers depend each year on tax deductions and tax credits to cut their annual tax bills. The main tax reduction strategy is claiming the standard... Read more →


Where the heck has 2017 gone? The countdown clock over in the ol' blog's right column is steadily ticking away the time left until Dec. 31, the deadline for most moves that could affect this year's taxes. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has its eyes on November, which is just little more than a week away. The start of that 11th month effectively is the cutoff date for the federal tax agency to get ready for the next year's filing season. If the IRS can't get some certainty as to how to update forms, instructions and operational processes, the start... Read more →


There could be some consistency in how states collect sales tax on consumers' online purchases if the Supreme Court agrees to hear a South Dakota case. Many states are ignoring the sales tax law of the land, decided in 1992 by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Quill v. North Dakota. Soon another Dakota high court case, this one from South Dakota, could change the state sales tax collection law for remote sellers. On Sept. 14, the Mount Rushmore State's quest to collect sales tax from online et al retailers was rejected by that state's highest court. That's just what... Read more →


Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes next year to retirement and pension plans. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Maxing out your retirement plans, both those offered at your job and your separate IRAs, can help you build an overflowing nest egg. As Congress explores... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2018 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Oct. 19 with a look at next year's — if there isn't tax reform or cuts by or before then — income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some wealthier taxpayers. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Standard deduction amounts edge... Read more →


This is the first in a 10-part series on the 2018 tax year inflation adjustments. Links to the other posts are at this end of this article. The White House and Congressional Republicans are still hoping to get some tax changes finalized by the end of the year. The IRS, however, isn't waiting on Capitol Hill. The Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, Oct. 19, released its annual compilation of tax provisions that are affected by inflation. It also issued next year's retirement plan contribution changes. The upshot is that most amounts will increase in 2018. Numbers, we've got lots o'... Read more →


Image by Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons What's going on with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? It depends on where you're looking for answers. Federal lawmakers remain in a quandary over how to deal with the ACA, or as it's known (for now) Obamacare. The Internal Revenue Service, however, made it clear this week that it plans to follow the health care law's reporting requirements as long as they are officially on the books. That's a reversal of a prior IRS position. However, given the confusion with the law, both under its namesake president and since Donald J. Trump... Read more →