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Is California Going to Tax Your Texts?

The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) wants to tax text messages in order to subsidize programs that make phone service accessible to the underserved. But the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) may have just blocked that possibility by reclassifying text messaging as information services rather than communication services. This reclassification may not seem like a big deal to the general public, but it could delay, and potentially eliminate, the possibility of the California Text Tax, which is set for a vote on January 10, 2019.

7 Key Tax Deductions You Can No Longer Claim in 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a major overhaul of the federal tax code. For some it will be a boon, but for others, a bust. As you wind down your calendar year, keep in mind a few changes that could affect most individual taxpayers, and their filings.

Sales Tax vs. Value-Added Tax: What's the Difference?

Most of us have been exposed to the term "VAT," or Value-Added Tax, when we are vacationing abroad. During the customs declaration process, we're told we can deduct VAT, but that requires a lot of math and saved receipts, and hey, did I mention we're on vacation? Most of us don't get involved with that process, since few things dull the high of vacation more than taxes.

But, in America, the debate surrounding switching the U.S. tax system to a VAT system is rearing its head again. Virtually every other industrialized country uses VAT, so there must be some goodness in it, but what? Here's an overview of the difference between VAT and Sales Tax, and why some prefer to replace the entire U.S. tax system with VAT.

Can Your Passport Be Denied If You Owe Taxes?

Imagine having your passport revoked for failing to pay your federal income taxes. As surprising as it sounds, Congress granted the IRS the right to do just that in 2015.

Starting in February of 2018, the Agency has been sending the names of over 362,000 individuals to the State Department, requesting that they be denied a passport, or passport renewal, until their delinquent taxes totaling at least $51,000 are paid. Violators must resolve their tax issues before applying for a passport. If not, their application will be rejected. For those already holding passports, theirs will not be renewed or may possibly be revoked, until payment is made.

So if the calendar flipping to April sent off a little alarm in the back of your mind but you haven't quite been able to put your finger on what it is you're forgetting to do, you might need to file your taxes. Don't panic -- you still have until the 17th. But you might want to start getting your paperwork together this week.

And here are three tips for you tax procrastinators to help with your last-minute filing.

What Parents Should Know About New 529 Tax Rule

Everyone talks about how raising kids is expensive, and one of the biggest contributing factors to that is providing kids with a good education. This is especially true if you want to send your kids to private school. Well, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has a significant impact on how many Americans can approach their strategy for funding their children's education. More specifically, the Act now makes 529 plans eligible to be used for private school tuition for grades K-12.

Coinbase to Hand IRS Info on 13K Users

Due to the general animosity toward paying taxes, people sometimes try to hide, lie about, or simply not report all of their income and/or property to the IRS. But, those who thought they could keep their cryptocurrency information from the IRS may be out of luck. A popular cryptocurrency wallet called Coinbase has agreed to provide the IRS with account information on 13,000 users.

What to Do If Someone Else Claims Your Child as a Dependent

You can claim a $4,050 dependent tax exemption for each qualifying child under federal tax law. Married couples filing jointly generally claim their children on their return, which is easy enough to manage between them. But when parents file separately, which often happens in the case of divorce or separation, the familiar tug-of-war over the kid(s) can extend to tax returns.

So what happens if someone else claims your child as a dependent?

Sure, we'd all love to have an experienced tax lawyer look over our financial situation before we file our taxes. But let's be honest, most of us just end up furiously clicking through a TurboTax or H&R Block website just to make the April deadline.

But how much money are we losing by doing our own taxes? And when is it worth it to hire a tax attorney?

The tax overhaul recently passed by Congress has a lot of changes in store for 2018, but one in particular may have a big effect on people's 2017 tax returns. The new tax bill will cap what federal taxpayers are allowed to deduct for state and local taxes at $10,000, sending some forward-thinking homeowners to their municipal tax offices in an attempt to prepay their 2018 property taxes in 2017 in order to maximize their deduction.

But will it work?