Charles Rettig, Donald Trump's choice to head the IRS, is expected to be confirmed, despite not originally revealing that he has an ownership stake in properties in a Trump-branded Hawaiian hotel. (Photo of Trump International Hotel Waikiki via Hotels.com) The Internal Revenue Service may soon have a new commissioner, almost eight months after the last tax agency chief retired. But before Charles P. Rettig gets his new title, some lawmakers want more information from him about his ties to Donald J. Trump. Specifically, they want to know whether Rettig would maintain his independence from the man who nominated him. That... Read more →


Taking a post-vows moment. (Photo by Barney Moss via Flickr) If you were a June bride or groom, congratulations! My best wishes also go out to folks who wed in any other month. I've been a wife a long time and I highly recommend matrimony. You've got someone who, as most vows still say, will be there for all the good and bad times. Plus, you've got a built-in excuse for getting out of things you don't want to do ("So sorry, but we can't make it. The hubby has to work."). There also, as I've noted numerous times here... Read more →


U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised that this week we'd see the new, shorter and closer-to-a-postcard Form 1040. Well, the week's almost over and we're still waiting. However, I'm sure Mnuchin will keep his word and sometime today officially debut the new tax return. My faith is not so much in the Administration's top money man, as it is on the fact that I'll be out of my office and offline most of the day due to some personal business I can't reschedule. I'm good at tax timing like that. At least the proposed changes already have leaked. First came... Read more →


Taxpayers from three hurricane-affected U.S. islands must file their 1040s — and possibly Form 8898 — by this Friday, June 29. If that's not possible, these affected U.S. residents still can file for an extension by tomorrow to get three and a half more months. The community of Miñi Miñi, Puerto Rico, was flooded after the Carraizo Dam released water to deal with the deluge from Hurricane Maria. The category 4 hurricane tore through the U.S. island territory on Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo by Yuisa Rios/FEMA) Sorry for the late alert U.S. taxpayers who are residents of the country's islands,... Read more →


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) places the state's first legal sports bets on June 14 at Monmouth Park Racetrack. (Screenshot from AP coverage. Click image to view full video.) New Jersey's governor put his money behind the Garden State's new sports betting option. Now he's paying for that. New Jersey started taking bets on sporting events on June 14, a month after the Supreme Court ruled in the state's favor and three days after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law making his and, N.J. establishments hope, millions of other such wagers legal. The debut of the new sports betting... Read more →


The new postcard-sized Form 1040 isn't nearly as pretty as the vintage Austin, Texas, postcard, reproduced as a mural in the Lone Star State's capital city. The tax postcard also isn't nearly as simple as its smaller size — or the Republicans who've long promised it — would have taxpayers believe. Image courtesy Roadhouse Relics Facebook/Instagram The good news about the new postcard-sized Form 1040 is that it is, as promised, smaller. The bad news is that in condensing the form, the Internal Revenue Service removed many popular above-the-line deductions that survived the actual new tax law itself. That's the... Read more →


The world — OK, U.S. tax world — is anxiously anticipating the shrinkage (yeah, I'm now replaying that Seinfeld episode in my head, too; sorry) of Form 1040. The Treasury Secretary last week promised that by the time the 2019 tax filing season rolls around, the longest tax return, which is filed by 68 percent of taxpayers, will be substantially smaller. The goal is the long-promised size of a postcard. But another Internal Revenue Service form that affects even more folks already has been revised. The IRS earlier this month released a draft version of Form W-4 for the 2019... Read more →


On June 20, Republican leaders, including Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas speaking, celebrated the six-month anniversary of House passage of their tax bill. (Screenshot from Speaker.gov video; click image to view full event) When the Republicans finally got the tax cuts they wanted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, they viewed the changes as not only good tax policy but also a good political move. The debate continues as to the efficacy of the changes as far as tax policy, but there's more of a consensus on its political possibility. And the news is... Read more →


Since its appearance in 2003, around 50 million taxpayers have used Free File. As the name indicates, this partnership of the Internal Revenue Service and tax software manufacturers known as the Free File Alliance gives most taxpayers the opportunity to do their taxes on their computers and then e-file them at no cost. But, notes Pro Publica in an article co-published with Quartz, the number of Free Filing taxpayers comes to just around 3 percent of eligible households. That, according to the article by Tik Root, means that folks have spent around $1 billion on tax prep and filing fees... Read more →


Speaker Paul Ryan touts postcard tax return possibilities after House passage of tax reform legislation last November. (Screen shot from Speaker.gov YouTube video) Every year the Internal Revenue Service makes tweaks to tax returns. Often it's simply updating annual inflation adjusted amounts. Other times it's adding or subtracting a line due to law changes. But for 2018's filing material, there will be large-scale form alterations thanks to the major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Among the new law's modifications for the 2018 tax year will be the actual size of the oldest of the tax... Read more →


U.S. Supreme Court photo by Phil Roeder via Flickr CC Sorry most* U.S. shoppers. Whether you buy from your main street brick-and-mortar retailer or your favorite cyber mall, you're probably going to owe sales tax. Sorry, too, many U.S. businesses that rely on online, catalog and phone sales. You're going to have to devise ways to collect and remit sales tax (or at least report) on your remote transactions. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today ruled in South Dakota vs. Wayfair that the nexus standard established in 1992 by the High Court's Quill vs. North Dakota decision... Read more →


Kilauea lava flow from U.S. Geological Survey via Giphy.com Hawaiians got some relatively good news this week in connection with the continuing lava flow from Mount Kilauea. The volcano is continuing to spew potentially deadly gases and pour flaming lava across a growing southeastern section of the 50th state's Big Island. The eruption, which started May 3, also is still producing explosions and earthquakes. Now, however, the catastrophe has been declared a major disaster by the White House. That is good tax news for affected residents, which is everyone on the state's largest island, also named Hawaii, as is the... Read more →


June generally is a good time to review your tax situation and make moves while there are months for them to make a difference to your upcoming tax bill. That's particularly true this year, what with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes in full force. Unfortunately, questions remain as to just how the new tax law changes will affect some folks. Business change uncertainty: Businesses in particular are among the taxpayers still unsure about TCJA provisions. Many are waiting for clarification of the new law's elimination of business entertainment expenses. The tax community is divided as to whether... Read more →


Real Madrid teammates Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Luka Modrić go against each other in a Portugal vs. Croatia friendly match in June 2013. (Photo by Fanny Schertzer via Wikipedia) I'm not a soccer or World Cup fan, but many of my social media pals are. That's why my Twitter feed is full of updates on upsets and expected results from this year's tournament hosted by Russia. But those sports fans have overlooked one thing. Some of soccer's — football to the world beyond the United States — biggest global stars also have faced serious international tax battles. Portugal star fights... Read more →


Fathers Day Happy Fathers Day GIF from Fathersday GIFs Happiest of days to all the dads out there. And thank you Sonora Dodd. Dodd was raised by her father after her mother's death during childbirth. While listening to a sermon at church on Mother's Day, Dodd thought about all her father had done for her and her siblings and decided fathers should have a day, too. Because Dodd's father was born in June, she encouraged churches in Spokane, Washington, where she was living, to honor fathers that month. The first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane in on June 19,... Read more →


It's a cliché because it's true. All politics is local. That applies to taxes, too. Whether you love or hate a tax law depends on how much it helps or hurts you personally. That's why this weekend's Saturday Shout Out goes to the Tax Foundation's interactive map that lets you see average 2018 tax cuts in your congressional district. If you want to go beyond your locality, you can check out the dollar differences on average make to taxpayers across the country. As you can see on the Washington, D.C.-based tax policy nonprofit's map reproduced below, you simply enter your... Read more →


Yes, as soon as I heard about the New York Attorney General filing a lawsuit against Donald J. Trump's charitable foundation, I checked the Internal Revenue Service exempt organization online search tool. There it, or they, were. When I entered Trump Foundation into the Tax Exempt Organization Search, or TEOS because everything in Washington, D.C. has an acronym, it turned up six results. The top two were what I was looking for: Trump Foundation EIN: 13-3054537 | New York, NY, United States Donald J Trump Foundation Inc. EIN: 13-3404773 | Woodbury, NY, United States Both organizations are listed in IRS... Read more →


The only folks cheering the Federal Reserve's expected decision to hike its benchmark federal funds rate by a quarter-percentage point — to a range between 1.75 percent and 2 percent — are those with savings that earn interest. But relatively speaking, there aren't that many of us. Plus, we all know that banks and other financial institutions are going to be slow to increase the interest they pay us for holding our money and when they do, the hikes will be small. Meanwhile, if you are trying to get a mortgage, don't panic but move that process along as quickly... Read more →


June's a busy month for me. Lots of family birthdays. Father's Day. Graduations. Taxes. Yep. Taxes. In June. Specifically, June 15. The midpoint of the first month of summer is a major tax deadline. Estimated taxes: The biggie for a lot of taxpayers (including me) is the second installment of 2018's estimated taxes that's due by June 15. You have several ways to make this payment — six, actually, according to the current Weekly Tax Tip. I'll let you check out the details in that other post at your leisure, but here are some of the more popular options: Credit... Read more →


Our home's celebration of the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. It's champions day at our house! I spent the morning watching the Washington Capitals, the new National Hockey League champions, parade down Constitution Avenue showing the Stanley Cup to their long-suffering fans. Then I switched over to watch the Golden State Warriors, the National Basketball Association's back-to-back champs, celebrate with their fans along the downtown Oakland parade route. It's fitting that the latest major league champs on both U.S. coasts had their parades today. Their festivities come on the heels of expanded sports betting across the country. N.J. sports... Read more →