Amnesty Feed

There weren't any major tax bills in 2016. That's going to change in some form in 2017 now that the Republicans control Congress and the White House. via GIPHY But there still were plenty of tax-related matters that got attention last year. Below is my list of top 10 tax stories of 2016, starting with the one I saw as most important. And as a bonus, I also pulled out my slightly cracked crystal ball -- really, who saw the presidential election turning out like it did? -- to forecast five tax issues that we're likely to see in 2017.... Read more →


While the two major party presidential candidates have focused on corporations' overseas tax strategies, the Internal Revenue Service has been keeping an eye on individual taxpayers and their offshore accounts. Regardless of whether you call them tax havens, tax shelters or offshore accounts, they all mean $$$ for the IRS. And the IRS likes what it sees. Uncle Sam's tax agency announced last week that since it began its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, or OVDP, in 2009, it has collected $10 billion in taxes and had 100,000 taxpayers return to full federal tax compliance. The latest $10 billion in formerly... Read more →


Mother Nature got a jump on the 2016 storm calendar, creating Hurricane Alex back in January and Tropical Storm Bonnie four days before today's official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Seasonal forecast for the Atlantic Hurricane Season from Colorado State University (CSU), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and The Weather Channel. The forecast from CSU includes Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm Bonnie. The Weather Channel and the NOAA forecasts include Hurricane Alex. Does that mean we'll have more storms this year than the dozen or so that are predicted? Maybe. Maybe not. Weather prognostications from a variety... Read more →


December is the start of the holiday giving season and tax collectors in New Hampshire and Louisiana are hoping for some long-delayed gifts. Tax amnesty periods began Dec. 1 in those two states. Actually, Louisiana's tax amnesty started on Nov. 16, but after just one day, the Department of Revenue suspended it until the start of December. The Pelican State's postponement came after tax officials found a mistake in the information included in some of the amnesty invitation letters. Revenue officials decided it would be easier for everyone to hold off on the amnesty until corrected letters were mailed. If... Read more →


Every state collects some type of tax. That means some taxpayers in all states end up in tax trouble. And to help residents out of those tax predicaments, and simultaneously add missing money to state treasuries, they offer tax amnesties. While many folks who pay taxes in full and on time view tax amnesties as unfair, tax collectors are more pragmatic. In order to get the owed tax money sooner and without costly enforcement actions, states (and often municipalities and/or counties) offer their residents a chance to pay their overdue taxes and avoid penalties and interest. Six states kicked off... Read more →


I generally try to stay away from gender stereotyping. Such sweeping observations present, at best, an overly broad, and frequently incomplete, look at groups. At worst, they are flat out offensive. Maybe that's why I was drawn to taxes as a professional focus. It's impossible to make a sweeping statement about all taxpayers or all tax laws. Taxes are intensely personal. Specific details are necessary so that individuals can make the best decisions for their situations. Taxes also are, for the most part, egalitarian. The tax collector doesn't care whether you're a man or a woman. Tax departments, both federal... Read more →


Tax fraud never stops, but Uncle Sam and other government officials are doing decent jobs of stopping, or at least catching, tax refund crooks. A Cobb County, Georgia, grand jury on Aug. 28 indicted four people in what officials describe as massive tax fraud scheme. The four face a total of 3,736 counts, including identity fraud, computer theft, computer forgery, burglary, evidence tampering, money laundering and racketeering, in connection with the alleged scheme that started in 2005. In 2013, the four allegedly stole more than $2 million in state tax refunds using information from more than 1,800 victims, according to... Read more →


Today is the one day that residents of drought-stricken Texas don't want rain. We want our July 4th fireworks! Of course, we ostentatious celebration loving Texans still realize that one errant spark can ignite a whole swath of dehydrated vegetation. That fiery possibility is probably why we don't object to paying the Lone Star State's tax on fireworks. Limited sales, added tax: Texas fireworks retailers have been collecting a 2 percent fireworks tax in addition to the state and local sales taxes since 2001. Specifically, the tax applies to "small fireworks in the U.S. Department of Transportation's 1.4G category that... Read more →


"You now have a Swiss bank account if anybody asks. Crédit Nationale Du Génève code name 'PADDY.' Lavish awkward gesture; all of 15 Swiss Francs in it. But if you ever want to impress anybody, they can find out you have a Swiss account. But Swiss law prohibits the bank from revealing the balance. Thus are all men made equal." Jimmy Dell, a character in the 1997 movie "The Spanish Prisoner," offered that description of the secrecy afforded an owner of a Swiss bank account. Jimmy's words are no longer true. Opening up accounts: Thanks to the Foreign Account Tax... Read more →


I write and blog about taxes, so it's no big surprise that some of those pieces focus on the Internal Revenue Service. And given all that's going on right now in connection with the IRS, it's also no big surprise that the federal tax agency was the topic of three posts last week at my other tax blog. That's right, instead of the ususal Tuesday and Thursday items, I took a look on last Monday at the fallout from the IRS focus on Tea Party groups that applied for tax-exempt status. The next day was a reminder that IRS furloughs... Read more →


Americans are, as they should be, focusing on the presidential election that's just over two weeks away. The winner of the White House could determine what income tax rates we'll pay. But some wealthy Americans who might consider moving based on the Nov. 6 election results also should keep an eye on the electorate in Switzerland. That Alpine nation, long known as a tax haven for the wealthy from the United States and Europe, might be making tax changes that could lessen its appeal to foreign expatriates. Passport stamps by hjl via Flickr Creative Commons Swiss residents who say they've... Read more →


The third time is definitely is a charm for the Internal Revenue Service when it comes to bringing bucks back home from foreign tax havens. The tax agency says that its latest offshore voluntary disclosure program, or OVDP which is the term the IRS prefers instead of tax amnesty, has pushed the amount collected in all its efforts to more than $5 billion. In 2009 and 2011, the IRS offered foreign account holders the chance to tell Uncle Sam about their accounts in exchange for lower penalties and the promise of no criminal tax evasion charges. But if folks didn't... Read more →


California's statewide tax amnesty for owners of offshore accounts closes Oct. 31. That Halloween date also is the deadline for Cook County, Ill., which includes most of the city of Chicago and many of its nearby suburbs. But taxpayers who owe in Denver and Los Angeles have a bit more time to pay up and avoid many of the usual associated penalties. California's offshore voluntary compliance initiative: Encouraged by the Internal Revenue Service's success in collecting taxes from hidden offshore accounts, California tax collectors decided to get in on the act. Through Oct. 31, the Golden State is now allowing... Read more →


What a crazy busy time last week at my other tax blog! You'd a-thought a tax hurricane was blowing in alongside insistent Irene. It all started with schools welcoming back kids. That means parents are now dealing with education expenses. But there are some tax breaks that can help cover classroom costs. Then on Thursday, I just had had to address the tax storm brewing because bored politicians decided to start ranting about who is and isn't paying taxes. Guess what? Everyone avoids taxes. And speaking of trying to get away without paying Uncles Sam, on Friday I posted a... Read more →


Tax amnesty for foreign accounts ending

You're not freaking out about the U.S. stock market's plunge in the wake of Standard & Poor's downgrade of America's creditworthiness. You've got most of your investments outside the United States. I'm not here to debate the value of that investment strategy given some of the financial and economic problems in other parts of the world. But I do feel compelled to remind you that if you've been, shall we say, a bit sneaky about your international holdings, the Internal Revenue Service has some news for you. Folks hiding income in undisclosed offshore accounts are running out of time to... Read more →


While most of us are focusing on our annual personal income tax filing tasks, Uncle Sam and Washington State officials are offering some other taxpayers deals with regard to other taxes. Let's start on the state level. Washington doesn't levy a personal income tax (Evergreen State voters last November shot down an attempt to impose the tax), but it does collect taxes from businesses. Or tries to. Some business owners haven't been as conscientious as state lawmakers would like. So now the Washington Department of Revenue is making them an offer it hopes they can't refuse via the state's first-ever... Read more →


Is there a "Money Never Sleeps" companion movie entitled "Every Day is a Tax Deadline"? Probably not. And no, not all 365 days demand tax attention. But neither can you simply think your tax tasks are over once April 15 passes. Take today, for example. Some folks -- certain home buyers and tax delinquents in some states -- have tax matters to attend to on Sept. 30 or they'll pay a price. Get the details in my Bankrate Taxes Blog post Sept. 30 tax deadlines. Related posts: Tax amnesties in D.C., Florida, Nevada and New Mexico end on Sept. 30... Read more →


Tax amnesties in D.C., Florida, Nevada and New Mexico end on Sept. 30

If you owe past-due taxes in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico or Washington, D.C., then time is running out for you to take advantage of tax forgiveness programs in those locales. The tax amnesties in those three states and the District of Columbia end Thursday, Sept. 30. After that, the tax collectors are after you again. My Aug. 17 post has some more info on these soon-to-end tax amnesties, as well as the dates of amnesty programs in Kansas, Illinois and Maine that run a tad longer. Don't dawdle if you're eligible for a tax amnesty. Participating in one could save... Read more →


Sorry for the Postal Service style headline, but states have gone tax amnesty crazy! Which prompts the question, what's up with them and taxpayer friendly programs in this economy? First a batch of states held sales tax holidays this month. Texas' tax-free weekend this weekend will close the August events, but more are scheduled in the fall.Now some states are letting folks who owe off the tax hook. OK, off the hook might be a bit extreme. What's happening is tax amnesty periods. They've been going on for the last couple of months in Florida, Nevada and New Mexico (as... Read more →


As the second half of 2010 rolled in, it brought with it tax amnesty programs in several states. You know the drill. If you owe taxes, your state revenue office will take what's due and forgive at least some of the penalties and interest. The states also usually promise not to file potential criminal charges. Even better, you could get a firm cut-off date with regard to future look backs into your tax filing (or nonfiling) history. Some of the pay-without-penalty programs are for overdue individual taxes. Other states are saying "we forgive you" just to businesses that owe. And... Read more →