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I’ve been listening to your feedback!

As previously announced, we’re making some changes to the podcast. We are keeping the interview portion front and center. That’s not changing. But, as promised, we’ve removed the intro – for timeliness and podcast length – and will be spinning it off as a separate bit.

Originally, the spinoff was going to be a quick news update, but a few folks suggested instead that I do an “Ask The Taxgirl” segment where I answer reader mail over the air.

So, I’m asking which you prefer. Your responses are appreciated!

Got two minutes? I’m looking for feedback on the newsletter.

Create your own user feedback survey

Not signed up for the free Taxgirl newsletter? You can sign up here.

When I first started writing about tax, I noticed that the posts that sometimes attracted the most attention weren’t always my favorites or the ones that I thought most important. I get it. Sometimes readers are looking for something crazy specific – like tax rates – or something goes viral – like the guy who paid his taxes in dollar bills. That necessarily means that the highest viewed posts aren’t always the ones that I had hoped my readers would enjoy or benefit from the most.

Here are the top tax posts on Taxgirl.com of 2019, as determined by views (note that I omitted tax rates posts):

Of course, sometimes posts aren’t all that popular with readers. Here are the posts that you didn’t read in 2019:

(In fairness, some of those were posted a little late in the year.)

So there you have it… what you did and didn’t read on Taxgirl.com during 2019.

The beginning of a new year is, of course, a good time for reflection. I often say (and I truly believe) that I have the best readers in the world. I love that I get up every day and get to do this job. And I couldn’t do that without you. Thank you. Best wishes for an amazing 2020.

I’ve received a few questions about the newsletter. I know it’s confusing, so I’ll try to sort it out for you.

Years ago, I had just one subscription option: the daily feed from Feedburner. With that, you would receive a daily notification if I posted on Taxgirl.com.

When I started writing more often for Forbes.com, I switched the feed to that site. Eventually, Forbes cut the subscription option. That’s why many of you wrote to tell me that you were no longer receiving the newsletter.

There are now two options that I control (since I don’t control Bloomberg or Forbes sites) for subscribing to my content:

  • The daily feed sign-up for Taxgirl.com is here. If you sign up through that link, you’ll get an email when I post new content on the Taxgirl.com site.
  • The sign-up for my newsletter is here. If you sign up through that link, you’ll get an email every few weeks with highlights of my content from Forbes, Bloomberg, and Taxgirl (as well as IRS news). I am hoping to increase the frequency of the newsletter since I’ve been asked about it so often.

I hate spam as much as the next person, so both of these are opt-in. That means that if you sign up, you’ll have to confirm your email address (be sure to look out for the confirmation email).

You can also find me on social:

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to email me. Thanks for your support.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about tax, it’s that it’s constantly changing. While the basics tend to remain in place, there have been some significant changes to the Tax Code, including those under the TCJA.

With that in mind, please pay attention to the original publication dates on posts you’ll find on the blog. All of my posts are dated – you’ll see the original publication dates at the top of each post. Posts that are pre-2018 and focus on tax mechanics may not be applicable to today’s tax laws (again, general information about tax procedure and the like hasn’t changed much).

You can find an overview of the TJCA here. If you have questions about whether a provision is still in place or applies to you, check with your tax professional.

It’s tax season so – you guessed it – my inbox is chock full of “Ask The Taxgirl” emails. While I can’t answer every question, I’ll do my best to answer as many as possible. Here are a few tips to make sure that your email gets the best attention:

  1. I get a lot of emails and I read every single one. I’m not ignoring you but yours is also not the only email I’ll get today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. So please be patient.
  2. I consider a lot of factors when I choose a question to post (yes, the questions may get posted so read on to find out more about privacy). If I notice a similar bunch of questions, I’ll try to answer those first either as a Q&A or as a post. I also think about timing: if something is making headlines now or affects tax filing, I’m likely to post that before a more general question.
  3. Your question may be too broad or too specific. I do get questions like “Should I file Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately?” without another word. In contrast, I’ve gotten questions that include absolutely everything, down to a diary of phone calls to IRS and names of dependents. Keep it simple: I don’t need your shoe size or your mother’s maiden name. And hey, I’m a chatty girl. I get that you might fear that you’re leaving something out but don’t worry – if I think I’ll need it, I’ll ask you. I don’t redact your question before I post it (except for the email address) so don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your mother – or mine – to see.
  4. Don’t send a note asking for favors: I won’t call the IRS and find out where your rebate checks are or why your return wasn’t accepted as filed. I can’t do those things without a Power of Attorney, and I’m not your tax attorney unless you have a representation letter from me (to find out more about my law firm, check out this page). So please don’t ask. And don’t send me your personal information like your Social Security number or W-2 info out of the blue. Honestly, I’m a good person – just ask my mother. But you shouldn’t take such risks with anyone you don’t know personally. It’s scary.
  5. I rarely answer specific state or local tax questions. As much as I’d love to help – and I would – I just don’t know the specific property tax laws in Petaluma or the sales tax rules in Peoria.
  6. I have a spam filter. I have to. Mostly because of, well, you know, evil spammers. My spam filter will almost always dump your email into spam if your email doesn’t have a subject. Try including a word or two in the subject line to tell me what your question is about, like “mortgage interest question” or “I don’t have my 1099” – it will help make sure that the emails end up where they need to be.
  7. That spam filter I just mentioned? It also flags messages that only contain attachments. If you’re texting me from your cell phone and your provider will send your text as an attachment only, you should know that the attachment might not make it to me.
  8. Make sure that you send your email to the right email address (askthetaxgirl@taxgirl.com). Please don’t send direct messages via Facebook or Twitter: the notifications rarely work for me and your question might get lost. That goes for comments tacked onto old posts, too: if you have a question, it’s almost always best to direct it via email.
  9. If you post on social media or in the comments, remember that your personal information – including your name and question – may be visible to others. 
  10. I am almost always happy to help out a fellow journalist with a piece or give an interview about taxes. If you’re looking to seek me out for a story, please don’t contact me through the askthetaxgirl email. Send me an email and be sure to give me a quick idea of what you’re looking for and whether you have a deadline.
  11. If you’re actually sitting in an audit or jail, I can’t stress enough how much you need to put down the computer and find yourself a good tax professional right now. Run, do not walk, to the phones and call someone to help you.
  12. I love answering your questions. I really do. It’s why I do it. But I’m a writer and a lawyer, not a miracle worker. I’m also not a marriage counselor, doctor or investment advisor. So ask accordingly.

With all of that in mind, ask away.

When I first started writing about tax, I noticed that the posts that sometimes attracted the most attention weren’t always my favorites or the ones that I thought most important. I get it. Sometimes readers are looking for something crazy specific – like tax rates – or something goes viral – like the guy who paid his taxes in dollar bills. That necessarily means that the highest viewed posts aren’t always the ones that I had hoped my readers would enjoy or benefit from the most.

With that in mind, I typically recap my top viewed posts each year alongside my own favorites. 2016 is no different.

Here are my top tax posts, as determined by views, in 2016 (note that I omitted tax rates posts):

Those posts are the most popular by numbers but not always the posts that I most enjoyed writing. It’s always gratifying when the posts that I like are popular with readers, too. Here are the posts that I thought were noteworthy in 2016 and attracted attention from readers, too:

Of course, sometimes the posts I enjoy writing aren’t all that popular with readers. Here are my best top tax posts, as determined by me, that you didn’t read in 2016:

And one more thing before you go… The end of the year – and the beginning of a new year – is a good time for reflection. I often say (and I truly believe) that I have the best readers in the world. I love that I get up every day and get to do this job. And I couldn’t do that without you. Thank you. Best wishes for an amazing 2017.

I’ve been asked a lot about the jobs board. With the old jobs board, folks emailed me their posts and I would post them. It was time-consuming and well, it fell by the wayside.
Now, it’s back by popular demand. You can find it here.
The new format is a bulletin board style, powered by Hootboard. The upside? You don’t have to email me in order to post. And yes, it’s still free. The downside? I’ve never used Hootboard before so I’m not 100% sure that it’s going to work as I envision. But it can’t hurt to try, right?
So, pop on over to the site and feel free to post. You might have to register with Hootboard first (again, still working out those details).
If you’re just browsing, keep in mind that I can’t review all of the job posts (!) so please use your own good judgment before responding to an ad.
My inbox is always chock full of Ask The Taxgirl® emails. While I can’t answer every question, I’ll do my best to answer as many as possible. Here are a few tips to make sure that your email gets the best attention:

  1. I get a lot of emails and I read every single one. I’m not ignoring you but yours is also not the only email I’ll get today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. So please be patient. (Sending a follow-up email suggesting that I’m a terrible person for not answering your question immediately does not get you moved to the front of the line: I would think that would be obvious but clearly, it’s not.)
  2. I consider a lot of factors when I choose a question to post. If I notice a similar bunch of questions, I’ll try to answer those first. I also think about the timeliness: if something is making headlines now or affects tax filing, I’m likely to post that before a more general question.
  3. Consider how much information is necessary. I do get questions like “Should I file Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately?” without another word. I’ve also gotten questions that include absolutely every detail, down to a list of dependents. I don’t need your shoe size or your mother’s maiden name. I get that you might fear that you’re leaving something out but don’t worry – if I think I’ll need more details, I’ll ask you.
  4. I won’t call the IRS and find out where your rebate checks are, why your refund isn’t what you expected, or why your return wasn’t accepted as filed. Notwithstanding that I can’t do those things anyway without a Power of Attorney, I’m not your tax attorney unless you have a representation letter from me. So please don’t ask. And don’t send me personal information like your Social Security number out of the blue. Honestly, I’m a good person – just ask my mother. But you shouldn’t take such risks with anyone you don’t know. It’s scary.
  5. I will not redact or edit your question. Be careful with details since your question may be posted on the site. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your mother – or mine – to see, and do not include personally identifiable information (PII) like your phone number or Social Security number (see again #4).
  6. Please don’t call and leave your question on my voice mail. I will not call you back.
  7. I rarely answer state or local tax questions. I just can’t. As much as I’d love to help – and I would – I just don’t know the specific property tax laws in Petaluma or the sales tax rules in Peoria.
  8. Please put the subject of your question in the subject line of your email. I have a spam filter. I have to. Mostly because of, well, you know, evil spammers. My spam filter will almost always dump your email into spam if your email doesn’t have a subject. Try including a word or two in the subject to tell me what your question is about, like “mortgage interest question” or “I don’t have my 1099” – it will help make sure that the emails end up where they need to be.
  9. If you’re actually sitting in an audit, or you’re in a closet while the feds bang on your door, I can’t stress enough how much you need to put down the computer and find yourself a good tax professional right now. Run, do not walk, to the phones and call someone to help you.
  10. I like to talk about being a tax attorney. You can ask questions about that. But don’t ask me for a job, an internship, a reference, or a letter for your mother. I won’t answer you.
  11. If you think you’re being clever by sending your advertisement/promotion/tax treatise/election propaganda wrapped up in the guise of a question, you’re not. You’re just annoying. And rude.
  12. I love answering your questions. I really do. It’s why I do it. But I’m a writer and a lawyer, not a miracle worker. I’m also not a marriage counselor, doctor, or investment advisor. So ask accordingly. You can see my disclaimer here.
  13. I reserve the right to add more caveats – that’s what lawyers do – as we go along, so check back often.

With all of that in mind, ask away! Note that, to protect your privacy, I prefer that you ask questions via email.

Have a question for me? Before you ask, let’s make sure we understand a few things, ok?

  1. Unless you have a representation letter in hand, you and I don’t have an attorney-client relationship, capiche? I mean, I’m sure you’re a nice person. I appreciate you stopping by. But it doesn’t mean anything more (I’m having a weird déja vu to a couple of bad dates in college).
  2. Unfortunately, it is impossible to give comprehensive tax advice over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. This blog isn’t meant to be legal or accounting advice. It’s information. If you have real questions – i.e. you’re hiding in a closet while the feds bang on your door – you need to consult with a tax or legal professional (or perhaps both). If you live in my corner of the world, that might be me. But see #1.
  3. Once upon a time, I started a law firm. I still work for that law firm. However, this blog is in no way affiliated with my law firm. One of the founding partners and my malpractice carrier insist on it. And I have to live with one of them. And it’s not my malpractice carrier. So, again see #1.
  4. I’m not responsible for anything that anybody might add or comment on the site. So play nice. I don’t want to have to throw you out of here (there’s that déja vu to college again).
  5. In just the last 10 years, the tax code has been amended or revised over 4,000 times. Um, that’s a lot. And it changed even more in 2017 with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) – that was a massive piece of information. The reality is that when it comes to tax, the target is always moving. When I post information, it’s current as of that date. But I can’t promise that the laws, regulations, or other guidance won’t change from the time I post to the time that you’re reading. Always pay attention to dates (you’ll find them on the post) as well as any updates or notes from me (I typically note those at the top or bottom, depending on the content) and keep in mind that the content may not be current or applicable to your particular situation.
  6. I have kids. They have all been raised in the same house with the same set of rules. But every one of them can – and will – give me a different account of the facts that resulted in a broken dish or overfed fish. The same is true for questions that appear on my site. Context and details matter. No matter how closely you may think your situation aligns with another person’s question on this site, keep in mind that the law (and other tax rules) will vary based on different facts and circumstances.

  7. And one more thing. I’m not here to help you cheat the system. That should be obvious. But just in case, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants me to reiterate that I’m not. This blog also isn’t intended to help you get rich, lose weight, have whiter teeth, or regrow hair that has been lost. I can’t guarantee dates or life matches or help you make friends (in fact, it’s arguable that if your friends find out that you read a tax blog, you could lose friends). I have never made a good stock tip and I can’t buy your gold. I’m also miserable at making pie.