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May 2015

April 2015

Tonight belongs to future National Football League stars. The young men who will be selected during the NFL's annual players' draft in Chicago the evening of April 30 are looking forward to lucrative careers in America's most popular sports league. Earlier today, however, the spotlight was on some former NFL players who were victorious in their tax fight against the home of the Cleveland Browns. Who will my Dallas Cowboys pick in this year's NFL draft? With Jerry Jones in charge, it's always exciting! Cleveland's bad jock tax: Former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff... Read more →


The money saving advice to grocery shoppers is don't go to the market when you're hungry. Today, I found a blogging corollary. Eat before you write about taxes. I didn't get around to having lunch before participating in an early afternoon sales tax webinar. So as I was finally scarfing down my midday meal at my desk, I got to thinking about taxes on food. At the 2015 Sydney International Food Festival, the Australian advertising agency Whybin\TBWA created food-based representations of the flags of 18 countries. I love Italy's green, white and red vertical stripes displayed as basil, spaghetti and... Read more →


What's worse than going to file your federal tax return and discovering your identity has been stolen? Finding out you're dead. OK. Technically you're still with us if you're trying to file a 1040. But when you're as good as dead to Uncle Sam, you are out of luck in collecting your tax refund. That's what happened to Sarah Jewell of Sparta, Michigan. Sarah Jewell explains how being declared deceased poses tax filing and other problems to Darren Cunningham of Fox17. Jewell discovered her mistaken demise when she filed her federal tax return in February. Instead of the refund she... Read more →


What once seemed like a tax Hail Mary pass doomed to fall short is now a game ending completion. The National Football League is giving up its tax-exempt status, which he called a "distraction." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the change, which will take effect with the league's 2015 fiscal year, in a memo to the 32 NFL team owners. Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman and ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means Committee, also reportedly got copies. Goodell cited among the reasons for the change in tax status recent Congressional criticism of... Read more →


As the sharing economy continues to grow, so do the associated tax problems. The Internal Revenue Service obviously is interested in folks who earn money using their autos as on-call car services or rent their homes to out-of-towners. Money collected for special projects via crowdsourcing sites also is generally viewed by Uncle Sam as taxable income, regardless of whether it's for a movie (yay Veronica Mars) or potato salad. Then there are the contributions to help out folks in need. No tax break for donors: Setting up online money-collection sites to help out folks who've encountered a catastrophe is today's... Read more →


Paper is sooooo 20th century. Even recycled paper has lost its cachet. Everything seems to be going digital. Except in Virginia. Specifically, in the Virginia Department of Taxation. The Old Dominion is going back to the future next year when it comes to state tax refunds. On March 10, Virginia's Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law a bill, sent to him by the Republican-controlled assembly, to do away with the state's tax refund debit card. The new law directs the state's tax department to return to issuing tax refunds as paper checks or via direct deposit. The requirement takes... Read more →


Here in Texas, especially the western part of the state where I grew up and communities are many miles apart, you get used to driving. So when roads start deteriorating, motorists tend to get irritated. The rage over road conditions hit a new high when some of Texas' paved roads were left to return to gravel before the citizenry voted last November to direct some of the state's reserve "rainy day" money to transportation projects. On a more local level, counties and cities still appropriate some funds for relatively rocky roads. My particular subdivision street, for example, is one of... Read more →


Today is the day this year when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total 2015 tax bill, according to data analysts at the Tax Foundation. Are you partying? Economists at the Washington, D.C., think tank have been calculating Tax Freedom Day since 1990. They use federal budget projections, data from the U.S. Census and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and projections of state and local taxes. Click image for a larger view. Tax Freedom Day 2015 is one day later than last year, notes the Tax Foundation, primarily because of the United States' continued... Read more →


This post was updated May 10, 2017. Original text can be found here. The 2017 filing season started slowly, but as of May 5 the Internal Revenue Service reports that filings are about on the same pace as last year. In fact, the total number of refunds issued so far in 2017 and the dollar total of all those U.S. Treasury checks is slightly larger than in 2016. The overall average tax refund amount also was a bit bigger. It was $2,771 this year. That's 1.5 percent greater than the average refund taxpayers got in 2016. IRS Action Through May... Read more →


You've got to hand it to New York. The Big Apple truly does have something for everyone and every, uh, predilection. There is, of course, a price. And a tax. The Museum of Sex found that out the hard way. Yes, I know, some of what I will type in this post will be, I swear, unintended double entendres. Please accept my apologies in advance, but I just don't have time to search through my thesaurus for synonyms. The New York Post reports that the New York state tax office slapped an $82,192 tax lien on the Museum of Sex... Read more →


Henry Paulson was running the U.S. Treasury when the country encountered its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Now he's warning of a climate crisis that could be even worse. Paulson served as Treasury Secretary during the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency, but is most widely known as the man in charge during what came to be known as the bailout of the U.S. financial system. During that 2008 crisis, Paulson directed billions of dollars to banks and other financial institutions to cover their losses from distressed assets, primarily especially subprime mortgage backed securities. A worse,... Read more →


Capitol Hill is in the throes of contentious budget negotiations. The process is complicated not only by the differing political priorities of Democrats and Republicans, but also the somewhat competing stances of GOP members, some of whom have higher political aspirations. Both sides of the Hill agreed on their fiscal plans in late March. Now they must reconcile the two. With the GOP in control of both chambers, the House and Senate fiscal year 2016 budgets actually are pretty similar. Both want to fast-track a measure that would repeal Obamacare, as well as add more money for defense projects. Balanced... Read more →


The IRS commissioner wasn't kidding. Weeks before the 2015 tax filing season started, John Koskinen warned both his employees and the taxpaying public that many calls for help were likely to be ignored. "For the upcoming filing season, we estimate that only about 50 percent of taxpayers who call can reach us over the phone," Koskinen said in an email to Internal Revenue Service staff back in December. Turns out he was being optimistic. Telephone tax help troubles: A new Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, examination of the interim results of the 2015 filing season found that... Read more →


Everything is bigger in Texas. While millions of Americans were filing their annual tax returns on April 15, Internal Revenue Service lawyers were in Dallas Bankruptcy Court filing what is believed to be a record $3.23 billion in tax liens against a Dallas man and his late brother's estate. Sam Wyly and his older brother Charles, who died in a car crash in 2011, were well-known Dallas businessmen, philanthropists and at one point very rich. They amassed fortunes buying, expanding and then selling companies, including Bonanza and Ponderosa steakhouses, Michaels arts-and-crafts stores, Green Mountain Energy and Sterling Software. In 2006,... Read more →


The next time you're in Sin City, take a break from the casinos to check out The Mob Museum's "Follow the Money" exhibit. The display opened April 17 and is a permanent part of the downtown Las Vegas museum. It spotlights the work of legendary agents in the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Unit. You know the ones, the Treasury Men or T-Men who palled around with Elliot Ness. They were key in taking down mobsters such as Al Capone, who eventually was convicted and sent to jail not for alleged murders and other violent crimes, but on tax charges... Read more →


April came and went without your tax return. Either you filed Form 4868 to get an extension until Oct. 15 to finish your paperwork. That's good. Or you didn't file anything. Not good. Here's a look at what you should do next in either situation. Before we get to specifics, however, a quick caveat. This advice is aimed at folks who owe taxes. If you don't owe or are due a refund, you still should file, but since penalties and interest are based on taxes you still owe, you're not in as dire shape. Now, ultra tax procrastinators, let's get... Read more →


Admit it. You'd love to know how much taxes your friends, coworkers, family members pay. Sorry. I can't help you find out those amounts. But I can offer an alternative to your tax voyeurism. Check out the president's and vice president's 2014 tax returns. What the Obamas owed: President Barack Obama and wife Michelle filed their joint Form 1040 a few days before the April 15 deadline. Click image to see the Obamas' complete 2014 tax return. The 38 pages, which includes worksheets, gives you a good idea of how the First Family gets its money and what steps the... Read more →


April 15 is for more than just filing last year's taxes. There are six other individual tax-related tasks that are due today. Ready. Set. Go. 1. Open and/or contribute to an IRA The April filing deadline is the last chance you get to make a contribution to your traditional or Roth IRA and have it count as if you put the money in by last Dec. 31. For some filers, that prior year traditional IRA contribution could count as an above-the-line deduction on Form 1040 or 1040A. And that could help lower their tax bills. 2. Pay your estimated taxes... Read more →


"Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release." Although that Joni Mitchell line from People's Parties has no connection to taxes, the sentiment seems perfect for April 15. Today's filing deadline is full of gnashing teeth, cries of frustration, fits of anger and sighs of relief. For better or worse, the annual tax task is over for most taxpayers. Broad City animated image courtesy Giphy For millions, however, the tax rite has only been postponed. File for an extension: If you find today that you just can't finish your 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ; yes, even some filers of... Read more →


Electronic tax filing continues to grow. The Internal Revenue Services had received almost 91 million e-filed returns through April 3. That's slightly ahead of the e-filing numbers at the same point a year ago. And it represents more than 91 percent of filers. But that means 9 percent of folks -- literally millions of filers -- are sticking with old fashioned snail mail. Reasons for paper tax returns: Some people resist e-filing their taxes because they're concerned that their personal tax and financial data might be compromised. Others simply prefer pull out the old adding machine and run their tax... Read more →