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I've answered a number of questions that are specific to the year, e.g. "What is this year's IRA maximum?"

Some of these were closed as stale, then reopened after my update to current year's data. With no idea how many questions are year-sensitive, I'll ask, Is there any value in a tag that indicates the question is in this category? A search on that tag in later years would produce the list of questions ready to update. Just a thought.

A recent question Can I claim my girlfriend as a dependent? contained a reference to the exemption for "this year," which I felt ambiguous, although the context was a 2013 tax return. My gut reaction is to remove my own edit that added the '14 exemption, and simply add the 2013 tag. Late this year, it would be a good number to update.

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    Interesting. Like a tag for the year it is relevant? 2014 2015? What about multiple year things like tax breaks for the next two years? – MrChrister Feb 1 '14 at 4:56
  • Agree. Something like Single Tag [TimeBound] or multiple tags like [ReviewBy2015], [Reviewby2016] etc ... I think there are multiple ways ... we should have answers for each option and then vote to decide the best – Dheer Feb 1 '14 at 5:11
  • I like @MrChrister's idea. The year that applies to the content would be more apropos than a review-by year or a catch-all tag. It could still serve as an indicator to review later, while describing the actual content, for search engines to find, too. – Chris W. Rea Feb 1 '14 at 14:04
  • @MrChrister - If it's for multiple years, and there's room, I'd suggest having 2 years (or 3?) but if not enough tagging, then just the final year. When we had the "convert you IRA to Roth and pay over 2 years" I'd consider both years to be relevant. And once 3 years (?) pass beyond the due date of the second return, that particular question is stale, only history. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Feb 1 '14 at 14:44
  • We also have to consider that a question can only have max 5 tags ... so some way we need to optimize this. – Dheer Feb 1 '14 at 15:20
  • @Dheer - Right, so the trade off is whether my idea has any merit in that it can save a question from going stale and closed, in exchange for that question giving up its fifth tag. We can keep the date to the last one if it's a number of years. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Feb 1 '14 at 16:14
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For date specific answers, we shouldn't get any more specific than a year. To make the tags consistent, just a single year per tag

etc

I vote to not put instructions like "ReviewBy" because tagging should be what the information is, not what it should be.

Suggestions on How to Tag Time Sensitive Questions

  • Only use years in the tags
  • Tag at least the last year the answer applies
  • If you can, tag the first year the answer applies
  • If you are answering a question that is time sensitive, edit the question with the correct tags

Reviewing Questions That Are Time Sensitive

  • Don't rely on the tags to spell out time sensitive info. Clarify in the body of the answer. (Maybe in the question too)
  • If you find an Q/A that is out of date, earn free points and ask it again for the new year
  • If you find an time sensitive Q/A that is of no historical value, vote to close as no longer relevant. We don't want to lead people astray, but we don't want to live exclusively in the present.

For questions that span multiple years, do the last year the answer applies if you can only tag one, do the start and end year if you can tag twice. I am saying this because having tags that span years could get out of control. I am, however, unsure of this stance and could be persuaded to change.

I see value in answers that are clear about the applicable date, even if that date is historical. While they might be periodically edited to link to a new, updated answer, I don't know why they would need to be deleted as a matter of practice. There is value in having accurate historical information.

I can also see a certain amount of damage by people who don't read, but that has to be judged on a case by case basis. Certainly tax rules from the United States that expired in 1980 don't help a ton, but tax rules from 2011 could help a person trying to catch up and not make mistakes.

I cannot speak to the specific nature of international tax rules, but from what I read here I gather they mostly work in that same way.

I imagine a scenario where two co-workers are debating some tax rule by some law, and they search on the Internet for the answer.

Alvin: 'SEE! Right there! You do get to write that off"
Simon: 'Learn to read Alvin. The answer says that write off expired last year! I WIN!"

Alvin: Darn you and your expertise money.StackExchange!

  • I agree that making questions date-insensitivd when possible, and marking answers with dates, seems more meaningful unless the question is specifically about a change point. Answers do get timestamped. Newer answers could be posted, but that requires having people willing to review and update old questions, which is not something you will get many volunteers for. – keshlam Oct 29 '16 at 2:58
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Just a remark, too long for a comment. I'm not "at home" on money.SE, rather on different sites, so I might bring an opinion that differs from the local habits, so don't kill me please :)

In general, questions that are aging into no value are off-topic on StakExchange. So the question "What it this year's IRA maximum" should be changed into "Where to find the yearly maximums of IRA", whose answer can contain the maximum for couple last years and can be updated yearly. Similarly, in the "girlfriend" question, there's no need for the time-dependent tag -- the information that the claimable amount changes every year is enough, nevertheless it would be nice to have a link to an official resource that contains this information.

So maybe a good addition to the tags would be something like (that's a bad one, but I'm neither native speaker nor sufficiently creative to think out a better one).

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It's been a while, but I would argue that lots of questions on "time sensitive" topics can be worded in such a way as to remove the ambiguity in the first place.

Let's take JoeTaxpayer's example question,

What is this year's IRA maximum?

to which the answer can clearly change over time. By definition, this question is a moving target.

If we rather write (or edit) the question to be

What is the maximum IRA contribution for 2013?

then

  1. The question is clearly about a specific year. The answer isn't going to change later. (In this case, assuming no retroactive legislative changes.) The only situation in which the answer could conceivably change would be if the correct answer changes from "that has not been decided yet" to "that has been decided and is X".
  2. It is clear which year the question is asking about. Someone who finds that question won't find out later that the answer applied to 2013, not 2016 or 2017. If someone wants the contribution maximum for 2017, they can ask a question about that, and even if the answer happens to be the same, the question won't be a duplicate of the 2013 one because it's asking for something else.

Seems to me to be the best of both worlds.

  • And a part of me feels that if the FAQ works, a single great Q&A "What are the IRA rules (all rules that are dollar based, changing each year) for the 2 years, current and prior tax year, would be enough to keep that one question updated. Right now, 2017 rates are trickling out. So, soon, in theory, we'd edit the 2015 question to reflect 2017. Else, there would be a trail of questions frozen for age and no longer useful. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 26 '16 at 14:12
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    @JoeTaxpayer That solves the "now" problem, but not the problem of someone actually wanting the old information in any convenient form. (Yes, there is the revision history, but even being a long-time user of SE and used to reading diffs, I find that confusing more often than not. For anything except simple block or word changes, diffs are just not at all friendly.) It also requires that someone actually updates at least the answer regularly. – a CVn Oct 26 '16 at 14:19
  • good point, michael, can't argue with that. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 26 '16 at 14:43

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