Business Feed

Sunsets like this one at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California, make many Golden State coastal properties prime rental investments. But Golden State limits on property taxes on inherited homes cost cities and other jurisdictions billions of dollars. (Photo by Alex Beattie via Flickr CC) Californians love Proposition 13, the grandfather of tax-limiting ballot initiatives. Since its passage in 1978, it has kept a tight cap on property tax increases. But an expansion of the original Prop 13, enacted eight years later, and its unforeseen consequences have cost Golden State school districts, cities and counties of billions of dollars in revenue,... Read more →


Amazon makes money hand-over-fist year after year and that has propelled founder Jeff Bezos to the top of myriad "richest person" lists. But a portion of its success also can be attributed to the billions his company has received in state and local tax subsidies over the years. And that tally will balloon when eventual HQ2 tax subsidies are included. Even at Google in San Francisco, Amazon packages dominate the delivery cart. (Photo by moppet65535 via Flickr CC) Amazon has been promised or received almost $1.6 billion in subsidies from state and local governments over the last 18 years. And... Read more →


Click screenshot to watch Boston CBS affiliate WBZ's report on this weekend's just-enacted Massachusetts Sales Tax Holiday. Massachusetts has had a difficult relationship with the sales tax holiday concept. Over the years the Bay State's lawmakers have struggled with the need to retain as much tax revenue as possible versus giving residents (and possible voters) a brief break from taxes on some of their purchases. The even has been regularly approved one year, only to be dropped the next, with lawmakers often deciding to hold a tax holiday at the very last minute. That's the case this year. For the... Read more →


Congressional Republicans are still fleshing out additional tax law changes, dubbed Tax Reform 2.0, that they hope to enact later this year. As for the first round of tax laws embodied in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), taxpayers, tax pros, many lawmakers and even the Internal Revenue Service are still sorting exactly what the tax code changes mean. Big and small biz tax breaks: The latest example is the Section 199A deduction. This 20 percent deduction for certain qualified business income ostensibly was created to give certain small businesses, known as pass-through entities, the same type of tax... Read more →


If you've been thinking since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) about devising a way to do your current job as an independent contractor instead of as an employee, think again. The Treasury Department today dashed many such tax-driven work-related dreams. Treasury issued (finally!) proposed regulations on the new Section 199A deduction that it says will prevent employees from improperly reclassifying themselves as independent contractors. Lower tax on self-employment income: That work recharacterization seemed appealing in the immediate aftermath of the new tax law. Amid all that was included in the hastily written TCJA, it was... Read more →


Your tax responsibilities as a freelancer can be a hassle, but at least they mean you're making money via your self-employment venture. But what about those clients who ignore your invoices? Here are some ways to deal with problematic payers. You've done your research — including checking into all the new entrepreneurial tax tasks you'll have to handle — and decided, yes, freelancing is the way you want to go. Welcome to my world! Overall, I highly recommend the self-employed life that involves a variety of clients. Even when you specialize like I do, you still get an interesting array... Read more →


Freelancing means more flexibility, such as where to work and the option to wear more comfortable attire. It also means you have some new tax responsibilities. (Photo by Lulu Hoeller via Flickr) The gig economy in the United States is growing at a phenomenal rate that shows no signs of slowing down. That's the analysis of BMO Wealth Management. A recent survey commissioned by the international wealth management company found that gigs — defined as jobs of short or uncertain duration — are the new normal. BMO's findings appear to support Upwork's annual Freelancing in America study, which was released... Read more →


July is almost over. The first day of school is just around the corner. And on this final July weekend (or at least part of it), some southern shoppers will be out in force as Mississippi and Tennessee hold their annual sales tax holidays. Regular readers know that these two states' events are included in my earlier overall look at this summer's back-to-school tax holidays. But since these are the final no-tax shopping appetizers before a buffet of a dozen other such events in August, they get a bit of a spotlight. Same start, different endings: Both start at 12:01... Read more →


Republicans unveiled their outline for additional tax changes on July 24 and it's just that. A bare bones framework. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) acknowledged the skimpy structure. That was by design, he said, with the outline to serve as a starting point for his GOP colleagues to offer feedback. Yes, he said Republican feedback. As with the original Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was enacted last December, Democrats were excluded from the legislative writing process. Once things are fleshed out, Brady said he expects a Tax Reform 2.0 bill to go before the... Read more →


Rep. Bob Goodlatte opens the hearing on what Congress should do about interstate sales taxes and remote sellers in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that upended prior standards. (House Judiciary hearing video screenshot) If you thought the interstate collection of sales taxes from remote sellers was going to get easier following the recent high court ruling on the matter, think again. Now Congress is getting involved. Again. And if you thought any decision on how federal lawmakers should address the thorny issue of taxes and interstate commerce would be easy, think, yes, again. Long and winding remote sales... Read more →


An historic interplanetary business trip 49 years ago prompted an astronaut to submit some travel expenses to his NASA bosses. Such claims still happen every day for more Earth-bound business travelers, but a tax break for unreimbursed work-related expenses is gone. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on Earth's Moon, photographs the lunar module at Tranquility Base on July 20, 1969. (Photo courtesy the National Aeronautics and Space Administration/NASA) On a hot July afternoon 39 years ago today, my brother and I were ordered to come in from our play in the West Texas sun so that we could... Read more →


UPDATED to include the Massachusetts' sales tax holiday that was enacted Aug. 10, just in advance of that Bay State's Aug. 11-12 tax-free event. The annual sales-tax-free events generally billed as back-to-school tax holidays kick off the 2018 summer shopping season this week. There are 17 this year, three in July and 14 in August. Yes, kiddos, your summer holiday is winding down. Parents and school officials are getting ready for the resumption of classes in, for some jurisdictions, just six short weeks. That also means that it's time for back-to-school sales tax holidays. These annual events offer shoppers a... Read more →


Yes, it's just TV. But I like it. A lot. I know a lot of folks, including many of my friends, still look down their noses at television. But like any creative enterprise, it can provide much more than just entertainment. From the get-go, television has been a reflection of every country's cultural, political and social perspectives. That's why I always look forward to the annual announcement of the Emmy nominations. (More on this year's prospective winners later. You can take this a threat or promise, depending on your personal opinion about TV and its awards.) At its most elemental... Read more →


With apologies to Charles Dickens, it is the best and worst of times for soda taxes. News out of Washington State today is that Seattle's sweetened beverage tax raised about $1 million more than predicted in its first three months. Seattle's tax — similar to others across the United States that tax a variety of sugary beverages but are popularly called soda taxes — took effect on Jan. 1, 2018. In its first three months as law, it reportedly raised almost $4.5 million. If that pace holds throughout the rest of the year, it will blow past the city's budget... Read more →


One of those hammocks has my name on it, after I finish a few July tax tasks. (Photo by Roberto La Forgia via Flickr CC) School is out. The fireworks have been shot (except for the stashes of my neighborhood's teens, which based on prior post-July 4 experiences, probably will last another week). And the heat is definitely on. That means it's finally, fully summer. And that means that it's time to get down to some serious summertime tax moves. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just... Read more →


Instead of my usual cup of coffee, I'm celebrating America's 242nd birthday this July 4th with a spot of tea. Yes, the British beverage and phrasing is intentional, since as we all know, the taxation of tea without representation was the final act of tyranny that sparked the American colonies' revolt. Tea other British taxes: Our colonial forebears had long dealt with British taxes. The passage in 1767 of the Townshend Revenue Act imposed taxes on glass, lead, oil, paint, paper and tea. But while all those other duties were repealed in 1770, the British decided to keep the tax... Read more →


U.S. Supreme Court photo by Phil Roeder via Flickr CC Sorry most* U.S. shoppers. Whether you buy from your main street brick-and-mortar retailer or your favorite cyber mall, you're probably going to owe sales tax. Sorry, too, many U.S. businesses that rely on online, catalog and phone sales. You're going to have to devise ways to collect and remit sales tax (or at least report) on your remote transactions. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today ruled in South Dakota vs. Wayfair that the nexus standard established in 1992 by the High Court's Quill vs. North Dakota decision... Read more →


June generally is a good time to review your tax situation and make moves while there are months for them to make a difference to your upcoming tax bill. That's particularly true this year, what with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes in full force. Unfortunately, questions remain as to just how the new tax law changes will affect some folks. Business change uncertainty: Businesses in particular are among the taxpayers still unsure about TCJA provisions. Many are waiting for clarification of the new law's elimination of business entertainment expenses. The tax community is divided as to whether... Read more →


June's a busy month for me. Lots of family birthdays. Father's Day. Graduations. Taxes. Yep. Taxes. In June. Specifically, June 15. The midpoint of the first month of summer is a major tax deadline. Estimated taxes: The biggie for a lot of taxpayers (including me) is the second installment of 2018's estimated taxes that's due by June 15. You have several ways to make this payment — six, actually, according to the current Weekly Tax Tip. I'll let you check out the details in that other post at your leisure, but here are some of the more popular options: Credit... Read more →


Tired of being a wage slave? Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), some disgruntled salaried employees are looking into becoming independent contractors. But before you take the leap into a new way of working, you need to take tax and other matters into account. "Congress flipped traditional tax-planning upside down" with the new tax law, noted the Tax Policy Center's Steven M. Rosenthal in a TaxVox post soon after the new tax law took full effect earlier this year. "Many moderate-income workers may be able to exploit a tax break that higher-income workers cannot. And by shifting... Read more →