Congress has been busy.
They're home for the holidays, but before they left, they passed a flurry of bills that you might be interested in.
Oh, and yes … the House impeached the President. There is also that. I make no comment about that, but I DID want you to see these provisions that had been set to expire (but which are now extended into the 2019 tax year — and in some cases retroactively "extended" so that they would apply to 2018).
Specifically, they extended…
- The ability to exclude from gross income the amount of discharged debt in connection with the reworking of a mortgage on your principal residence.
- The option to count private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums as qualified residence interest and deduct it as an itemized expense.
- The continuation of the 7.5 percent deduction floor for itemized medical expenses.
- The renewal of the educational above-the-line deduction for tuition and qualified fees.
They also passed the SECURE Act, which is worthy of its own note in the future.
But I also want to share with you my annual holiday prayer here, especially in this age of impeachment and social media-driven antagonism, as it seems … pertinent.
At least we have the holidays.
But even these can so easily become stressful. Because whatever your faith background, it's hard to ignore the holiday clamor. In my opinion, it's a crying shame that a season of reflection and prayer would become transformed into something so… busy. It's almost as if we now have to rush around to purchase or artificially create these nostalgic moments, when they probably would have earlier happened on their own.
Now look — as a proud Staten Island business owner, I have no problem with people earning money during this season … I just wonder when it's time to say "enough"?
Maybe it really is the holidays, because as I've been meeting with Staten Island clients recently, I've discovered that many of you are worried and stressed — about finances, business problems, family, personal circumstances, etc. It's not my job to save the world on your behalf of course, but I do get to be somebody in your world who can encourage you to slow down, take a breather and keep your perspective on what's really important.
Anthony R. Mauriello, E.A.'s Annual Holiday Prayer
"There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met." – William Butler Yeats
"God, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.
"Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.
"Remind us, Lord, that the scary-looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares …
"Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slowly through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.
"Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.
Anthony R. Mauriello, E.A.