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June 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is today's entrant into the ever-expanding Republican field to be the party's 2016 nominee for the White House. He's the 14th official major GOP candidate. Click image to watch Chris Christie's announcement that he's seeking the 2016 GOP nomination for president. On the one hand, it's good so see so many people interested in contributing to the country's political dialog. On the other hand, with so many candidates who don't have any chance of ever sitting in the Oval Office, and that includes you Donald Trump, the odds of conducting any substantive policy debate are... Read more →


While most of us were focused on the recent Supreme Court health care and marriage rulings, and I plead guilty here, some other tax-related events were quietly taking place, like a look at those still-missing Lois Lerner emails. We're now into the second year of this mess (781 days so far by TaxProf's count), and Lerner, the now-retired/fired Internal Revenue Service executive in charge when the Tea Party tax-exempt status scandal broke, is still under the gun The latest revelations about missing IRS emails that might shed some light on the agency's process for assessing and approving 501(c)(4) not-for-profit status... Read more →


Any time there's a big event, it's always followed by clean-up tasks. That's true for all the wedding celebrations held after the Supreme Court's granting of nationwide marriage equality in its June 26 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. It's also true of the tax laws that now apply to all the new same-sex newlyweds. Specifically, the Internal Revenue Code, officially known as Title 26 of the U.S. Code, needs a major search-and-replace so that references to "husband and wife" become "spouses." You can peruse the tax code at either the Government Publishing Office's 3,837-pages PDF document or the House of Representative's... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service hasn't always followed the law when it comes to making business deals. Uh oh. Specifically, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the IRS has violated the federal law that prevents it from doing business with businesses that haven't paid their taxes. The IRS also ignored the other portion of that law, enacted in 2012, that prohibits agency contracts with companies that have been convicted of felonies. In total, during fiscal years 2012 and 2013 the IRS awarded 57 contracts to 17 corporations that weren't eligible because of their tax debts or prior... Read more →


In an historic 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that all couples, regardless of gender, have the right to be married in all 50 states. Marriage equality advocates celebrate the Supreme Court ruling that all 50 states must allow and recognized same-sex marriages. (Photo courtesy Human Rights Campaign) The victory for marriage equality advocates was expected, given the number of lower courts that have ruled that way and the dramatic shift in public support for same-sex marriages. However, no one wanted to get out ahead of this Supreme Court, which has had a habit of issuing decisions, read... Read more →


June 26 could be the day that marriage equality officially arrives in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges either today or Monday, June 29. Supporters of same-sex marriage rallied outside the Supreme Court in April when oral arguments were presented. Photo courtesy Human Rights Campaign video via YouTube. The case actually is a consolidation of four same-sex marriage federal lawsuits, one each from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan. But the ramifications of the high court's ruling ultimately will affect all 50 states. The imminent decision is the culmination... Read more →


It's official. The Supreme Court of the United States loves Obamacare. OK. So maybe the justices, or at least a majority of them, don't love the Affordable Care Act, as the controversial health care act is officially known. But they couldn't find a legal reason to kill it. Again. Tax geeks probably recall, about this time back in 2012, that it was the tax component that led the court then, by a 5-4 decision, to let the ACA stand. This time, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined his colleagues Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, as well as... Read more →


Most folks are bargain hunters, but women face some definite obstacles in getting the best price on many common consumer goods. For years, studies have consistently shown that women pay more than men for items like shampoo, deodorant, razors and shaving gel. The only thing that's changed is just how much more we pay, as inflation ups the prices every year. NBC correspondent Jeff Rossen's May 28 report for the Today Show details the price differentials between men's and women's personal hygiene products. This so-called pink tax now stands at around $1,400 a year more that female shoppers pay for... Read more →


The economy has picked up, but times are still tough for many, including Uncle Sam. He loses millions every year in tax money because people don't pay what they owe. Some of these so-called tax gap losses come from accounts U.S. taxpayers have in other countries. The Internal Revenue Service has been trying for years to locate these accounts and get the taxes due. Remember, we have a worldwide tax system instead of, like most other nations, a territorial tax system. Territorial vs. worldwide taxes: Under a territorial system, taxes are paid to the country in which the money is... Read more →


Today's news is that there's no news from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the tax subsidies offered to folks who used the federal insurance exchange will continue or be eliminated. UPDATE, June 25, 2015: The Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act tax subsidies for insurance purchasers at both federal and state exchanges. But just across the street on Capitol Hill, another part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it's popularly known, is a bit closer to repeal. The House voted on June 18 to get rid of the medical device tax. This 2.3 percent levy has been... Read more →


The annual arrival of Father's Day emphasizes just how much being a dad has changed. When I was a kid, a father's main role was being the breadwinner. And dads back then weren't all that emotional, or at least mine wasn't. But that was OK. I didn't need dad around all the time telling me he loved me. My brother and I both knew it and we cherished the time we spent with Dad, either on our own or in family gatherings. Today, however, a lot of fathers take a more hands-on approach to raising kids. Good for them and... Read more →


The wheels of tax justice continue to grind along, with federal law enforcement officials celebrating what is believed to be the stiffest jail term ever handed out in connection with tax fraud. James Lee Cobb, III (at left), a 37-year-old Tampa, Florida, resident was, sentenced last week to 27 years in federal prison for his role in a scam to claim more than $1.8 million in tax refunds that were filed for by using stolen identities. He pleaded guilty to the charges last December. Stiffest tax fraud sentence ever: That sentence tops the 21 years self-proclaimed tax fraud queen Rashia... Read more →


My fellow Texan Kinky Friedman, as well-known for his often outrageous comments and political dalliances as for his writings and music, declared his support for marriage equality because same-sex couples "have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us." However, unhappily married gay and lesbian couples don't have the right in the Lone Star State to get a divorce. Or do they? Texas, like 13 other states, does not sanction same-sex marriages. Neither does it recognize such marriages that were legally performed in other states. So, argue some Texas officials, the state cannot grant a same-sex couple... Read more →


Many workers, me among them, enjoy being independent contractors. Businesses also like these arrangements. It relieves them of having to pay the employer's portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes, state unemployment and workers' compensation insurance. Plus, there are no workplace benefits to cover. All those costs of hiring a person as a full-time employee can, by some estimates, increase a company's payroll costs by 30 percent or more. So it's not surprising that sometimes companies improperly categorize theirs workers as contractors when they really treat them as employees. Uber, the popular transportation option available contracted via its smartphone app,... Read more →


Gambling is big business. It's also big tax money. But the Internal Revenue Service gets the short e... Read more →


About the only thing that gets people more worked up than the amount tax they pay is the amount of tax that others don't pay, specifically because the nonpayers are cheating on their returns. That's why the Internal Revenue Service has a whistleblower program, where you can turn in suspected tax cheats. If your information pans out, you might even collect a nice reward. The United States is not alone in offering financial incentives for leads on tax scofflaws. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the United Kingdom's version of our IRS, also pays for information on tax dodgers and... Read more →


OK, how did I wake up today in my Austin house but in South Florida? This is the most humid and tropical feeling it's been in the 10 years we've lived in Central Texas. Depending on what happens in the Gulf of Mexico in the next couple of days, it could get worse. Screen shot from The Weather Channel's coverage of a developing tropical system that might turn into the second named storm -- it would be Bill -- of the season. Hurricane hunters are still looking into the system, officially known at this stage as Invest 91-L. The National... Read more →


The hubby says my dream of a rural retreat, miles and miles and miles from other people is BS. I wouldn't be able to survive, he contends, without neighbors to spy on. OK, maybe he has a point. I do sometimes seem like Gladys Kravitz's much younger sister. But, honestly, you wouldn't believe some of the things that the people on my block do! They are demanding to be watched! I know I am not alone. Let's all be honest here. Humans are nosy. That's why reality television rules the airwaves. Magazines full of quasi-celebrities fill store racks. Heck, our... Read more →


MTV News and NPR explain the power of taxes

MTV is still around? And it still has a news department? Apparently so. And it's teamed up with NPR to talk taxes. My, my, my how things have changed since we all wanted our MTV. What taxes buy: "Nobody likes paying taxes. Paying taxes is a bummer no matter who you are," says Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR's Planet Money tells MTV in the video Rock Your Brain: Taxes = Power = You. But, notes Davidson, in order to provide services the government has to pay for them in some way. That way generally is taxes. As the video notes,... Read more →


Looking for something to do this weekend? The Internal Revenue Service has some suggestions. If you pay estimated taxes or are a civilian or military taxpayer living outside the United States, you should spend the coming Saturday and Sunday working on your taxes since they're due Monday, June 15. Yeah, I know. It's not really the start of summer celebration you were hoping for. But it's one that must be heeded or you'll find yourself owing Uncle Sam more. Here's the calendar scoop. Estimated taxes If you get income that's not subject to payroll withholding, you need to make these... Read more →