Tuesday, November 20, 2018


* Have you checked out the latest “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING?

* The IRS has released the COLA and inflation-adjusted numbers for tax year 2019 (for returns to be prepared in 2020).  Get my special report on WHAT’S NEW FOR 2019 for only $1.00 – available from MY DOLLAR STORE.

* Peter J Reilly suggests you “Ask Your Tax Pro About 199A” at FORBES.COM.

In my opinion, as I said in a post here at TWTP, "The Section 199a Deduction Makes No Sense”. 

* TAXGIRL Kelly Phillips Erb’s latest “Getting To Know You Tuesday” introduces us to "Justin T. Miller", “a national wealth strategist at BNY Mellon, an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law, and a Fellow of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC)”.

Kelly tells us “Being a tax professional doesn’t necessarily mean that you prepare tax returns.”  As Justin describes his job – “I serve as a national thought leader for the firm, and I work collaboratively with other advisors to provide comprehensive wealth planning advice to clients and their families.”

Returning to Section 199a, I like his description of the new deduction, quoting Churchill -

It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

And correctly adding –

I know that our representatives spent dozens of minutes working on the tax legislation at the end of 2017, but 199A really set the standard for poor drafting by including limitations, exceptions to limitations, exceptions to exceptions, phase-ins, phase-outs, and poorly defined terms.”

* And Kelly’s “Ask The Taxgirl” entry last week involved a couple who was “Married But Faking Being Single”.

Good advice from KPE –

With so many moving parts, keeping up with the lie is going to catch up with you.  As Mark Twain once said, ‘If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.’ {good advice for Donald T Rump as well – rdf}

The bottom line is that this definitely isn’t a good strategy on the tax side.  Only you can figure out whether it’s a good strategy on the family/relationship side, but it might be worth considering whether you want to start your new life with a lie. Best of luck.”

* Jason Dinesen briefly reviews “Tax Deductions for College Professors” at DINESEN TAX TIMES, with special emphasis on how the GOP Tax Act has changed things.

As Jason correctly points out -

. . . college professors are out of luck in claiming any deductions for their research expenses or other out-of-pocket classroom expenses.”

* Jim Blankenship has some thoughts on “What can you do to save if you have no 401k?” at GETTING YOUR FINANCIAL DUCKS IN A ROW.

* And Jim tries to answer the question “Why are Social Security benefits taxed?”, while reviewing the history of taxing these benefits.

Why are Social Security benefits taxed?  Because the government needs money.

* The National Association of Tax Professionals has warned members of a new Social Security scam -

The acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about an ongoing caller ID “spoofing” scheme misusing the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) national customer service phone number. SSA has received numerous reports of questionable phone calls displaying SSA’s 1-800 number on a caller ID screen. This is a scam; citizens should not engage with those calls or provide any personal information.

These reports indicate the calls display the 1-800-772-1213, SSA’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on caller ID. People who have accepted the calls said the caller identifies as an SSA employee. In some cases, the caller states that SSA does not have all of the person’s personal information, such as their Social Security number (SSN), on file. Other callers claim SSA needs additional information so the agency can increase the person’s benefit payment, or that SSA will terminate the person’s benefits if they do not confirm their information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from citizens across the country.

The acting Inspector General urges citizens to be extremely cautious, and to avoid providing information such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it. If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA, you should report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.”


Monday, November 19, 2018


Looking for some "stocking stuffers"?  Here are some suggestions.

Each of these tax-saving reports are only $1.00 each -

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2018 - A compilation of the inflation and cost of living adjusted numbers you need to know for 2018 federal tax planning and return preparation, incorporating all the changes enacted by the GOP Tax Act.

THIS JUST IN! WHAT'S NEW FOR 2019 - A compilation of the inflation and cost of living adjusted numbers you need to know for 2019 federal tax planning and return preparation.

FLACH'S TAX FACTS - A compilation of some basic information about Form 1040.  I talk about who has to file a federal tax return, filing status, dependents, the difference between "above the line" and "below the line" deductions, the difference between deductions and credits, and the penalty for underpayment of tax.  This report also includes a timeline of the History of the Federal Income Tax.  

Each of these tax-saving reports are only $2.00 each -
2018 YEAR-END TAX PLANNING GUIDE - This special guide explains in details what you can do during the last two months of 2018 to reduce your federal tax bill in the context of the new rules for Form 1040 enacted by the GOP Tax Act.  It also contains a 2018 Preliminary Return Worksheet and details of what is new for federal individual income taxes for 2018.

MORTGAGE INTEREST GUIDE - I explain in detail the new rules for deducting mortgage interest as an itemized deduction on Schedule A, discussing the various types of mortgage debt and the deduction limitations, the importance of keeping separate track of acquisition debt and home equity debt, points, and refinancing.  I include two worksheets - one for Acquisition Debt Activity and one for Home Equity Debt Activity - and provide a detailed example of how to use the worksheets.  

The reports will be sent to you as a pdf email attachment.  

You can receive a print copy of these reports sent via postal mail for an additional $1.00 to cover postage, paper and ink costs.  So, $2.00 for the $1.00 reports, and $3.00 for the $2.00 reports.

FYI - the worksheets contained in these reports are copyrighted material and for your personal use only.

Send your check or money order payable to TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, INC for $1.00, $2.00, or $3.00 per report, and your email or postal address, to –



Thursday, November 15, 2018


This just in - the State of New Jersey’s latest Tax Amnesty Program has begun!    

Under the program you will only pay the amount of outstanding tax you owe and one-half of the balance of interest due (as of November 1, 2018).  You will not be charged any penalties, “Referral Cost Recovery Fees”, or cost of collection fees.  You also avoid a 5% amnesty penalty that will be assessed on all eligible tax balances remaining after the amnesty period ends.  This 5% amnesty penalty cannot be waived or abated.

The amnesty period begins November 15, 2018 and ends January 15, 2019.  If you have an outstanding tax balance you should be notified by mail on or about November 15th. This notice will provide instructions on how to participate in the program.

The program covers liabilities incurred for tax returns due on or after February 1, 2009 and prior to September 1, 2017 for all taxes administered and collected by the New Jersey Division of Taxation.  Amnesty is not available for local property taxes and payroll taxes owed to the New Jersey Department of Labor.   

NJ has created a special NJ Tax Amnesty website with information, guidelines, forms and FAQs.

The website tells us -

"All requests for amnesty must be filed electronically. To apply, log in to our Amnesty Processing Center using the Amnesty ID and PIN printed on your amnesty notice. Once you are logged in, you can:

·         View your balance(s) due;
·         View any delinquent tax returns;
·         Submit a payment.

If you have not received a notice and want to submit a payment or file delinquent returns, visit the Non-Outreach Portal. You will be prompted for the required information for identification purposes."



I was surprised to get the following email question from a taxpayer -

I read your article on MSN stating that you can no longer deduct mileage for business.  

I reached out to the IRS and according to the website you still can.

Please let me know.”

FYI, the item the writer was referring to was “10 things you can't deduct from your taxes anymore”.

My response -

Employee business expenses, including business mileage by an employee, along with the other Miscellaneous Expenses that had been subject to the 2% of AGI limitation, are not deductible on Schedule A of Form 1040 for 2018 through 2025 as a result of the GOP Tax Act.

An employee who is not reimbursed for business mileage by his employer cannot deduct business mileage as a Miscellaneous Expense on Schedule A.

Self-employed taxpayers filing Schedule C or C-EZ can still deduct business mileage. 

Farmers filing Schedule F can still deduct business mileage. 

Landlords can still deduct business mileage related to rental properties on Schedule E. 

Employers can still reimburse employees for business mileage and claim a deduction on their business tax return.”

The bottom line – the deduction for using your car for business, whether you claim the Standard Mileage Allowance or the business use percentage of actual expenses, is still allowed as a business expense on business returns – Schedule C or C-EZ, Schedule E, Schedule F, Form 1120 and 1120-S, and Form 1065.  It is an ordinary and necessary expense of doing business. 

But employees can no longer deduct any unreimbursed business expenses on Schedule A.  This includes business mileage, union or professional dues, job-related education, tools and supplies, home-office expense, business use of a computer or cell-phone, etc, etc, etc.

Employee business expenses, and the other Miscellaneous itemized deductions that were temporarily done away with by the GOP Tax Act, including business mileage, are deductible on the 2017 Schedule A for those, like a couple of my clients, who have still not filed their 2017 Form 1040.

If an IRS employee is telling taxpayers anything otherwise then he or she is wrong.  I do believe that IRS employees, especially those who are answering questions from the public, have been trained in the new law.  I expect that the taxpayer probably did not ask the question of the IRS person correctly.

Are they any other aspects of the GOP Tax Act that you want clarified?


Tuesday, November 13, 2018


* Have you checked out the latest “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING?

* Kay Bell explains “When health insurance premiums are tax deductible” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

* And Kay continues her post medical procedure recovery with more discussion of medical itemized deductions in “Thumbing through the IRS' medical deduction (or not) list”.

* Another Kay Bell trifecta, with Kay's suggestions on “How to help California wildfire victims”.

* A good primer on “What Happens to a Joint Account When One of the Owners Dies?” by Julie Garber at THE BALANCE.  Julie reviews the income tax, estate tax, and other consequences.

* Tony Nitti is running a post series on “The Top Tax Court Cases Of 2018” at FORBES.COM.  He starts off with “Conner V. Commissioner Was A Real Estate Potpourri”.

* Friday’s “Ask The Taxgirl” post from Kelly Phillips Erb dealt with the “Standard Deduction Versus Itemized Deductions”.


Part One -

Why do people assume that those who oppose and denounce Donald T Rump, and the Republicans who support and defend him, MUST be liberals?

1. Trump is a deplorable and despicable human being.

2. Trump is NOT a conservative.  Read this!

Part Two –

Do you know what Donald T Rump really believes?  Click here to find out.


Friday, November 9, 2018


A potpourri of tax “stuff” -

+ The IRS recently announced, in Notice 2018-83, the contribution limits for retirement plans for calendar year 2019.

The maximum contribution to a traditional or ROTH IRA, or a combination of the two, is increased from $5,500 to $6,000.  The catch-up contribution for individuals age 50 or older remains at $1,000.

The maximum contribution to a 401(k), 403(b) and 457 retirement plans is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.  The catch-up contribution remains at $6,000.

The maximum contribution to a SIMPLE retirement plan is increased from $12,500 to $13,000.  The catch-up contribution remains at $3,000.

The maximum contribution to a SEP or Solo401(k) plan is increased from $55,000 to $56,000.  SEP and Solo401(k) contributions are based on a % of “compensation” or adjusted net earnings from self-employment.

+ Usually you are given the option of having IRA administrative, custodial or management fees deducted from the account balance or paying them directly by personal check.  You should pay these fees directly by sending the trustee a check.

By doing this you increase the tax-deferred accumulation within the account, so more money is available at retirement.

A reminder – investment expenses like IRA administrative, custodial or management fees are no longer deductible on Schedule A.  

+ Beginning in 2018 job-related moving expenses are no longer deductible.  And reimbursements of these deductible job-related moving expenses are included in taxable wages reported on Form 1040.  For tax years 2018 through 2025 only moving expenses incurred by a member of the Armed Forces on active duty who moves due to a military order are deductible.

However, according to IRS Notice 2018-75, if you made a job-related move in calendar year 2017 any qualified moving expenses related to the move that you were reimbursed by your employer in calendar year 2018 are excluded from gross taxable wages, if the reimbursement would have been excludable from income if made in calendar year 2017.  

+ Now that the Democrats, thankfully, control the House the GOP Tax Act will not be made permanent. 

FYI, here is my take on what true “tax reform” should look like – THE TAX CODE MUST BE DESTROYED.

What do you think?


Wednesday, November 7, 2018



* Have you checked out the new “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING?

* Tony Nitti is back posting at FORBES.COM with a new “Tax Geek Tuesday” on “Reaping The Benefits Of Investing In An Opportunity Zone”.

None of the GOP Tax Act explanatory sessions I have attended so far even mentioned this new tax benefit – which actually sounds pretty good.  It has only been mentioned recently because the IRS has released proposed regulations.  I look forward to hearing more about this, hopefully, at the NATP year-end tax update seminar in Atlantic City later this month.

* It’s back!  My TAX GUIDE FOR NEW HOMEOWNERS.  And it’s updated for the changes enacted by the GOP Tax Act.  A great gift for new homeowners at Christmas, or any time of the year,

* Kelly Phillips Erb, the internet’s TAXGIRL, provides us with “A Quick Comparison Of Tax Reform Changes” via some helpful visuals.

* Let me educate you on to pay the absolute least amount of federal income tax possible.  Join my special exclusive members-only Facebook Group THE NATIONAL TAX PLANNING NETWORK for only $9.95!

Subscribers can download for free such files as “What’s New for 2018”, “Comparison of Tax Law 2018 vs 2017”, “2017 Tax Calculation Using GOP Tax Act Rules”, “Preliminary Tax Return Worksheet”, and a compilation of Tax Forms, Schedules and Worksheets to help in preparing your returns.  And they receive a special discount on all my tax planning and preparation books and reports.

* Returning to TaxGirl Kelly Phillips Erb, has brought back her popular contest for tax students, which she explains in “Tax Student Writing Contest: Win An A” -

Write an article about a hot tax policy issue. I’m not looking for a news or legal summary, I want a policy post. Pick an issue, take a position, and explain why it matters in the tax world.

* And for the trifecta the TaxGirl brings back her “Getting To Know You Tuesday” series with a Q&A with “Manasa Nadig, EA”.


A day of great celebration.  The Democrats now control the House!

This is a day to celebrate not because the programs and policies of the Democratic Party are superior to those of the Republican Party – although in most cases, since today’s Republican Party has truly become the Party of Trump, this is true. 

It is a day to celebrate because it is, hopefully, the beginning of the end of Donald T Rump and our national nightmare.  The arrogant idiot will finally begin to be properly investigated and held accountable for his unacceptable, indefensible, unethical, illegal and un-American actions and behavior.

Trump himself said, correctly for once in his life, that this election was about him (of course he did, because everything with Trump MUST be about him).  Trump lost!

It is disappointing that the Democrats lost some ground in the Senate.  But there were gains in Democratic governors.  And the Democratic victories resulted in more diversity. 

A message has been sent to the Republicans in Washington that their despicable and deplorable acceptance and defense of Trump and his behavior has consequences.  

It is proof that there are more intelligent Americans with a conscience than there are ignorant and racist Americans like Trump himself.  Although the margin is disappointing, with 46% of the voters choosing Republican candidates.  

And now we work toward the day when America finally says to Trump, "You're fired"! 


Tuesday, November 6, 2018