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skbell1
Native Texan, professional journalist, tax geek.
Interests: leafs, go!), crossword puzzles<br>cats<br>music, especially jazz and texas-based and/or inspired singers, songwriters and tunes<br>movies, especially independent and foreign films<br>birding<br>sci-fi (films, television and books and short stories)<br>dallas cowboys (still america's team)<br>houston astros (2005 nl champs!)<br>nhl hockey (go
Recent Activity
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Look for this new legislation to be part of the now-developing Phase 4 coronavirus relief measure expected to be considered in late April. Unlike this pre-coronavirus campus study group, current college kids are utilizing e-learning options to provide them appropriate social distancing and other COVID-19 protections. Young adults fell through the cracks in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That new law created the COVID-19 relief payments that the Internal Revenue Service says it will begin processing this week. It will send checks of up to $1,200 to single taxpayers, $2,400 to married couple who file a... Continue reading
Posted 4 hours ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Just can't get motivated to do your taxes? You are not alone. It's April, but the pandemic has shifted the tax focus this year from filing, which has a new July 15 deadline, to the coronavirus economic relief payments. Still, if you're due a refund — and yes, some folks who get tax money back still dally when it comes to sending in their returns — you might want to go ahead and get to work on that 1040. The main reason to file is that you'll get your 2019 tax year refund. That's not going to happen until the... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Photo courtesy MoneyBogNewz via Flickr CC This weekend many businesses and their tax advisers are still trying to sort out the complexities of Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. It's part of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, officially known as the CARES Act, that became law on March 27. The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, was created to get cash relatively quickly to small business owners whose operations have taken hits due to the pandemic and efforts to stem it, such as forced closures. It's supposed to have less red tape than the existing SBA loan programs and... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The specifics on how and when the Internal Revenue Service will issue the payments created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act have been changing. First, older filers were going to have to file a special return form to get the money. Now, the Treasury Department says the IRS will use eligible recipients' Social Security information and directly deposit them without requiring any additional action. As for when that will happen, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said yesterday that the delivery timetable has been accelerated. The IRS will start getting the money out to some next week. However,... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Treasury backtracks and now says Social Security recipients who qualify for the COVID-19 payments will get the money without having to file a tax return. Never underestimate the power of the older population. The U.S. government learned that lesson this week, when the Treasury Department announced, contrary to its prior assurances (and a new law), that folks on Social Security would have to file a tax return if they wanted to get their share of the coronavirus relief payments. Last night, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin reversed that requirement. (Yes, on April 1. No, it was no an April Fool's Day... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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We definitely are no longer living in normal tax or other times. (Images from Young Frankenstein) April has always been a serious month for taxpayers. April 15 has been Tax Day for 65 years and since most of the millions of at-the-deadline filers tend to owe Uncle Sam, they're not very happy. This year, though, there is an even more solemn reason for no April fooling around. Things, tax and otherwise, have gotten very serious as the United States and the world fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic. On the tax front, new laws have been written and old ones adjusted... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Are you freaking out because you have to take a tax-mandated withdrawal from a retirement account on April 1? The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has some good news for you. The new law that's gotten a lot of attention for the pandemic related stimulus checks that should be going out soon also offers a break to seniors who must take required minimum distributions, or RMDs. RMDs are waived for 2020 under the CARES Act. That means you can leave your money in your tax-deferred account this year or at least not take as much out as... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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"No action needed" by most, says IRS, to get COVID-19 stimulus payments. But some, including Social Security recipients, will have tile a "simple" tax return to get the money. This has changed. See second update below in the Q&A section. Adobe Stock The coronavirus checks will soon be in the mail, or rather headed directly to your bank account. That's the official word from the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service. The agencies announced on Monday, March 30, that the economic impact payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will begin going to eligible taxpayers... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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A first job is a major life event with obvious major tax implications. Other momentous changes throughout our lives involve taxes, too. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the White House has decided to follow state and local officials in urging continued social (aka physical) distancing. For millions of us, this new April 30 stay home recommendation means more time cooped up with loved ones. Or not-so-loved ones. My favorite non-medical virus-related debate right now is whether all the coronavirus forced togetherness ultimately will end with a baby boom (coronials, anyone?) or a marriage bust. While the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Pixabay/CDC Coronavirus relief checks still are weeks away from arriving in our bank accounts or snail mail boxes, but crooks already are trying to trick us out of the money. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says its ScamTracker already has detected crooks impersonating as government officials and calling about the money authorized under the just-enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. New hooks, old scams: COVID-19 is a new bait, but the scam scenarios are out of the standard con artist playbook. You get an email or see an online post about a special COVID-19 government grant. All... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The law that created coronavirus stimulus payments just took effect yesterday and we're weeks at best from getting actual money. But tax planners have been thinking about COVID-19 tax intricacies since the illness exploded in the middle of this tax season. These payments just add a new tax filing wrinkle, since what we put on our 2019 returns could be a key part in the relief amount's ultimate dollar calculation. Tony Nitti, a CPA and tax partner with RubinBrown in Aspen, Colorado, has a good preview of what our tax filing actions now could mean to our potential coronavirus payments... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Image via Fotolia You're doing your part to help flatten the coronavirus transmission curve. You've been sitting at in your house for weeks. (Thanks, streaming services!) You're washing your hands so much, they're raw. (Moisturize, too. It's an added coronavirus prophylactic.) You're providing lessons and activities for your now home-schooled kiddos. (Take into account your child's needs and personality and take advantage of the many online resources.) But you want to do more. Specifically, you want to help others who aren't in such relatively good situations as you and yours. Thank you! There are many ways to help, notably by... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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We're a third of the way to coronavirus relief checks. Last night (March 25), the Senate approved the massive measure, which includes in its 880 pages payments of $1,200 per person and $500 per dependent child. (More on this in a minute.) The bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, now goes to the House for approval. There may be some procedural stumbling blocks, but it's expected to pass there, probably by voice vote to avoid the congregating caused by a roll call on the chamber's floor. That probably will happen Friday. Then it heads... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Thank you, Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency has confirmed that 2019 tax year contributions to individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) can be made as late July 15. These accounts are among the very few areas where a tax break doesn't have a Dec. 31 deadline. In normal tax seasons, contributions to an IRA or HSA can be made and claimed for the prior tax year as late as April 15, which is the usual tax filing deadline. However, this year, as everyone already knows, the chaotic convergence of COVID-19 and taxes prompted the IRS to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Retailers aren't the only ones closing their doors to customers during the coronavirus crisis. So is the Internal Revenue Service and other tax-related operations. As cases of COVID-19 increased, the IRS has acted to protect not only taxpayers but its employees. The goal is the new global mantra — to flatten the curve of the potentially deadly virus' transmission. IRS in-person actions curtailed: "We're taking several immediate steps to protect employees while still delivering on the mission-critical functions," said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, in a message to his staff that also is posted on the tax agency's website. These virus-affected... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Image: National Day Calendar It's a rare day on the internet. Dogs are getting more attention than cat videos. Actually, it's baby dogs who are the focus, since today, March 23, is National Puppy Day. Personally, I'm a cat, not dog, person. But I know that regardless of your pet preference, animals bring a lot of good to our lives. And in some very specific cases, they also might be able to help you reduce your federal tax bill. Here are 5 potential ways that Fluffy, Fido or whatever you call your fur (or other) baby can provide their human... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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National Guard troops have been deployed to help states meet COVID-19 needs, ranging from personal protective equipment training, support of medical testing facilities and healthcare professionals and assisting with disinfecting and cleaning common public spaces. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Defense) Taxes have been in the public spotlight this week, not because right about now we normally would be nearing the annual filing deadline, but because of how the coronavirus pandemic has thrown normal, including our tax obligations, out the window. By now you know that April 15 is not Tax Day this year. Instead, it's been pushed to July... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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We're in what during normal times would be the annual tax season's big push to the end (or an extension). But these are not normal times. Instead, it feels more and more like we're living in a tax version of Bill Murray's classic "Groundhog Day." That's because for the second time in three days the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have moved the deadlines for filing and paying taxes. Friday, March 20, morning Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin decided that an earlier decision that split the usual April 15 deadline for tax filing and paying should be changed. So he... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The Senate also addresses this year's tax filing and payment deadline, as well as those for 2020 estimated tax payments, in its coronavirus relief bill. Keep reading for more on this latest change and check out this Q&A for elaboration from the IRS on some specific tax considerations under the new mid-July deadlines. 2019 tax year returns and any due payments now will be due on July 15, 2020, according to a Treasury Department announcement this morning. And yes, I drew that sloppy circle and scribbled the info on my own calendar. I should have had a cup of coffee... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Unemployment claims are skyrocketing across the United States as more businesses close as a precaution to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The latest on claims for unemployment benefits was released today by the U.S. Department of Labor. For the week ending on March 14, around 281,000 Americans filed first-time claims for the benefits. That's up 33 percent from the 211,000 benefits claims the week before. Percentage wise, the increase was among the largest one-week spikes on record. Here in the Lone Star State, the Texas Workforce Commission reports that from March 8 to March 14 it received 16,038 unemployment... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 18, 2020: The Treasury and Internal Revenue Service have issued an official statement about the April 15 tax payment grace period. The portions that answer some of the questions raised earlier in this post are now added as yellow highlighted sections within the original post with any additional notations by me in red. Our world has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, but we're still trying to hold on to some semblance of normal life. One of those life constants this time of year is taxes. Yesterday, March 17, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin joined... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The Family Handyman Millions of Americans are at home now, sheltering in place in order to slow down spread of the coronavirus. One of the side effects of spending more than normal time in your house is that you discover issues. And one of those issues might be, depending on where you live, that your heating or air conditioning system is not in the greatest shape. Maybe you need a completely new unit. I feel your pain. We've had to replace AC systems and it sucks, from both the cost and inconvenience perspectives. Or perhaps you can get by with... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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How are you feeling? That's the question everyone is asking themselves, family and friends as we adapt to the changes forced upon us by the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing — limiting your interactions with others, either at work or in recreational (remember those?) settings — is the new norm. For the introverted hubby and me, it's simply our norm. We both work from home and don't go out much. We used to joke that our self-imposed isolation works against us when we do venture into the wider world. We don't have an immunity to basic ailments. The hubby gets a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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States also are coping with COVID-19 and tax return timing, with a handful already delaying some returns. UPDATE, March 21, 2020: Tax Day 2020 has changed again. Now taxpayers have until July 15 to file their 2019 returns and pay any due tax. This latest change was announced March 20 and the IRS issued some guidance on the changes on March 21. This window's timely admonition usually is good advice as April 15 nears. This year, however, Tax Day may be pushed back due to the spreading coronavirus. (Painted window in Harlingen, Texas, 1939, by Lee Russell; New York Public... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The House-passed H.R. 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act does not — I repeat, does NOT — include a change in the upcoming federal tax filing and payment deadline. That did happen, but separately, as detailed in my April 15 Tax Day deadline and delay Q&A post. There's also no change to the payroll taxes that come out of our paychecks. So right now, expect your regular pay to remain the same. And keep working on those federal tax forms with April 15 as your deadline. What we do know, however, is that legislation to deal with coronavirus' health and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2020 at Don't Mess With Taxes