If you're staying home this Memorial Day long weekend and home is Texas or a town near the Lone Star State border, you could save some tax dollars on energy efficient appliances. Texas' annual Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, May 28. It runs until midnight Memorial Day Monday, May 30. Energy and tax savings: During these three days, shoppers won't owe state or local sales tax on certain energy-efficient products with the Energy Star logo. The state sales tax in Texas is 6.25 percent. Local jurisdictions -- cities, counties, special purpose districts, and transit... Read more →


Tax scams that invoke the Internal Revenue Service get a lot of attention. That's understandable. The tax code is complicated and the IRS is a source of fear for most Americans. That combination makes it easy for crooks pretending to be with the federal tax agency to scare us into paying them to resolve a purported tax bill. But there are 43 other official government tax collectors out there, and crooks know that they also can use state taxes to scare us into sending them our money. Multitasking small business owners make good targets for state tax focused con artists.... Read more →


If you're reading this post, thanks. You could be out there on the road, getting a head start on the long Memorial Day weekend. Click image for 20 things you probably didn't know about "National Lampoon's Vacation" The annual three-day weekend at the end of every May is the traditional, although unofficial, start of the summer vacation season. And most of still take our mid-year trips in our autos. Near record on the road: AAA expects more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That's about 700,000 more motorists this May 26-30 compared to the holiday weekend... Read more →


Just in time for Memorial Day, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has made good on his promise to donate $1 million of his own money to a veterans' charity. "We got the check yesterday," James Kallstrom, chairman of the board of directors for the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation (MC-LEF), told The Washington Post today. "It's arrived, and it's in the bank." Welcome cash surprise: The donation was finalized the evening of May 23, according to the Post, nearly four months after Trump's campaign held a televised fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, that the candidate attended instead of participating... Read more →


It's Wednesday. Fans of the fourth hour of NBC's Today show with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford also know it as Winesday. In addition to regular Winesday on their own show, Kathie Lee and Hoda shared their vino love with Anderson Cooper on his program. And lucky for Hoda and Kathie Lee (and apparently Anderson, too), today also is National Wine Day. It's no secret that the two morning show hosts are big wine fans. So are federal and state tax collectors. Uncle Sam's wine taxes: The federal excise tax on table wine is $1.07 per gallon. That works... Read more →


Uh oh! The Internal Revenue Service has filed a lawsuit against me for unpaid taxes! Uh no. The call I got today was just another sad attempt to scam me into calling the crooks and giving them personal information or, more likely, sending them a prepaid debit card to cover my fake tax bill. This pervasive and persistent telephone tax scam, as today's message -- my fifth so far this year; haven't the criminals realized by now that I'm a total tax deadbeat?! -- is still making the rounds. Ignore it. But some con artists do tweak their schemes in... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen has decided not to present his side of the story during the House Judiciary's Committee's look tomorrow into how he's doing his job. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has been a regular fixture at Congressional hearings since he took over as head of the tax agency in December 2013. He won't however, be at tomorrow's House Judiciary hearing to examine how he has fulfilled his duties. The IRS chief was expected to be grilled (again) by angry GOP committee members about alleged false statements and a perceived lack of cooperation at previous hearings. I can... Read more →


Federal drug officials are considering removing marijuana's Schedule 1 classification, reports USA Today. A DEA agent carries confiscated marijuana plants to be destroyed. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision, which is expected this summer, would make it easier for researchers to work with the plant. Currently, weed is in the same legal category as heroin, LSD and bath salts. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana is deemed to have "no currently accepted medical treatment use." Residents and lawmakers in 24 states and the District of Columbia disagree; they permit some form of medical marijuana use. Recreational weed and taxes: Colorado,... Read more →


Milwaukee Bucks players' tax information is now in the hands of identity thieves. The Milwaukee Bucks and fans celebrate a win. (Photo by Jeramey Jannene via Flickr Creative Commons) The National Basketball Association team is the latest victim of an email phishing scam in which crooks pose as corporate executives and ask payroll offices for employees' financial and tax information. Phishing for tax form details: Team officials confirmed reports, first in Yahoo Sports and then at other sports and technology websites, that a Bucks' employee complied with an email request from a person impersonating team president Peter Feigin seeking 2015... Read more →


Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominees, skipped the Des Moines, Iowa, debate back in January. The Donald was feuding with Fox News, the debate's host, then and opted instead to hold his own event. Click image for full CNN report and video. Trump's alternate televised gathering at Drake University, also in Des Moines, was promoted as a fundraiser for veterans' charities. So how did that turn out? How much was donated? Which charities got some of the cash collected almost four months ago? The answers are, apparently, pretty good from a political posturing standpoint, not as much as... Read more →


Back in the late 1970s, around the time Donald J. Trump was proclaiming he was worth more than $200 million, two federal tax returns showed his income as -$3.8 million -- yes, that's a minus sign, not a dash -- meaning Trump was in the hole as for his earnings. Donald Trump's 2014 taxes, which he's signing in this photo from @realDonaldTrump's Twitter feed, presumably show a lot more income than he reported in the late 1970s. But we don't know for sure. And that lack of money meant that The Donald didn't owe the Internal Revenue Service any income... Read more →


Rep. Jason Chaffetz is hedging his bets on getting John Koskinen kicked out of his Internal Revenue Service office. Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been seeking the impeachment of the Internal Revenue Service commissioner for almost a year. That could be closer to happening after two upcoming House Judiciary Committee hearings (the first is set for May 24; the other sometime in June) on how Koskinen has been doing his job. But just in case this latest impeachment effort bogs down, Chaffetz also has introduced H.R. 737, a resolution to formally... Read more →


If you had any doubt that Donald J. Trump plays by his own rules, this will convince you that he's totally doing things his, and his only, way. While Trump is insistent that he won't release his own personal tax returns -- because the audits, all the never-ending audits! -- he expects potential VP candidates to reveal their filing info. Katy Tur, the reporter covering The Donald for NBC News, confirmed Wednesday, May 18, that Trump will ask all potential vice presidential picks to release, at least to the campaign, their tax returns. It's part of the presumptive GOP candidate's... Read more →


Sure, King George III's pesky tea tax served as a catalyst for the United States' rebellion against Great Britain. King George III in 1755, courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. Click image to hear G3's first song, which mentions the tea to-do, in the Broadway musical "Hamilton." But once we worked through that independence thing, we Americans discovered that we still have a lot in common with the United Kingdom. And that includes, unfortunately, tax scams. U.K. HMRC tax phishing: Taxpayers across the pond have been getting phishing emails from tax crooks encouraging them to download an attached document in order... Read more →


This time it's personal. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) introduced the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act of 2016 last year after he became a tax identity theft victim. Rep. Jim Renacci, at right, talks with Cleveland WOIO anchors about being a tax identity theft victim. On Monday, May 16, Renacci watched as H.R. 3832, the bill based on his and his wife's bad filing experience, cleared the full House by voice vote. In addition to talking with media in Ohio and elsewhere, Renacci testified in April about his tax ID theft experience before the House Ways and Means Committee, of... Read more →


It looks like Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen is not going to have a good summer. IRS John Koskinen testifying before one of many previous Congressional hearings he's attended during his tenure. The House Judiciary Committee plans to hold two hearings to examine what committee leaders say is misconduct by the head of the tax agency. The first is scheduled for May 24. The second will be sometime in June, with the precise date to be named later. The findings of the Judiciary panel could lead to impeachment proceedings against Koskinen. With that potential goal in mind, it's no... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's a common mantra down here in Texas. A variation applied this week in a federal bankruptcy courtroom in Big D. The judge there ruled that a former Lone Star billionaire's big attempt to shelter money offshore means he owes the Internal Revenue Service a big bill. Sam Wyly, a once legendary Dallas businessman, philanthropist and one of the wealthiest men in the country (shown at right on the October 2015 cover of D CEO magazine), was found on May 10 to have defrauded the IRS by shuffling assets among a network of offshore trusts... Read more →