Politics Feed

When Amazon starts collecting sales tax from internet buyers in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine and New Mexico on April 1, it will mean the online retailer will be a tax collector for all 45 states and the District of Columbia that have the levies. No, it's not a bad April Fools' joke targeting online shoppers. On this April 1, Amazon really will start collecting state sales taxes nationwide. The Seattle-based internet retailer already was adding the tax line to invoices in most of the 45 states and District of Columbia that have sales (or similar) taxes. Now, final deals have been... Read more →


Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, have increased in popularity since they were created in 2004. More than 20 million people now have these particular medical savings plans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey last fall. KFF's analysis also found that the average account balance grew by more than a third last year to more than $1,800. Growth of HSAs could speed up under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Various GOP alternatives for Obamacare call for expansion of HSAs. High deductibles required: HSAs not only offer a way for account owners to pay medical bills, they... Read more →


Let me make this very clear from the get-go. I never, ever, ever recommend that anyone cheat on his or her taxes. But if you're inclined to be a bit aggressive with your Form 1040 strategies, your odds of catching a tax examiner's eye are decreasing. The Internal Revenue Service's audit rate has been dropping for years and that trend likely will continue, due in part to more agency funding cuts in the latest federal budget proposal. Fewer audits yet again: Recently released IRS data shows that in 2016 the number of individual audits dropped for the fifth straight year.... Read more →


Are we having tax fun yet? We did for while last night when it looked like we finally might get a look at Donald J. Trump's taxes. OK. We did get to see part of the new president's 2005 tax return, courtesy tax journalist David Cay Johnston and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes talk Trump taxes on March 14 with Pulitzer Prize winning tax journalist David Cay Johnston. (Click screenshot to view a segment of the Maddow show.) Trump tells tax all? The tax return provides some basic info, but raises a lot more... Read more →


Have you called the Internal Revenue Service for help this filing season? Your chances of getting through are markedly better than they were a year ago. After years of declining telephone assistance, an IRS executive and two other federal agency reps told a March 8 joint hearing of two House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees that taxpayer telephone service has been improving. Internal Revenue Service Deputy Commissioner John Dalrymple and reps from TIGTA and GAO testified this week before a joint hearing of two House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees about IRS service. You can watch the full hearing, but... Read more →


Republicans took a major step toward tax reform on Monday, March 6, with their health care replacement plan that kills more than a dozen Obamacare taxes. Donald Trump greets House Speaker Paul Ryan before the new president's first address on Feb. 28 to a joint session of Congress. The two men now must work together to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo courtesy Speaker of the House) Not only would the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes erase some levies from the tax reform slate, passage of a GOP replacement health care plan also would clear the decks... Read more →


Remember that assurance from the Internal Revenue Service that its agents never call you about an overdue tax bill. That's changing. A call from a bill collector can seem as terrifying as the one Drew Barrymore received in "Scream." Even worse? A collection agency call about an overdue IRS bill. The IRS is about to turn over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. Again. And those companies' employees, as subcontracting agents of the IRS, will be calling folks about the money they owe the U.S. Treasury. Bill collecting concerns, scams: If you think this opens the door --... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is charged with putting tax and other financial crooks behind bars. That job has gotten tougher, according the man who heads the CI, primarily because of the loss of experienced agents. "We're at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it," CI Chief Richard Weber said during a press this week in conjunction with the release of the division's 2016 annual report. "There's still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It's very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated... Read more →


Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that America's voters didn't care about his taxes. He wishes. After hearing from angry constituents during a town hall meeting on Feb. 23, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) now says the president should release his tax returns. A GOP Senator says Russian hacking investigations could lead to just that. (Image from CNN Twitter post) Although the 45th president is the first presidential politician in almost 40 years to keep his Internal Revenue Service filings secret, folks remain curious as to what's on Trump's 1040s. 'We the People' and real people: The first petition filed... Read more →


Although separation of church and state is a key constitutional tenet in the operation of the United States government, God regularly plays an unofficial role at tax filing time. There are those folks who take his name in vain as they struggle with a particularly complex part of the tax code. Guilty! Then there are those folks who seek his divine guidance in figuring out their annual tax liability. Or, once they've done that, pray for a miracle to pay what they owe. Guilty again! But religion shouldn't have any part in defending criminal tax evasion. That's not just my... Read more →


Senators and Representatives are headed back to their states and Congressional districts for the long President's Day weekend. Tucked into the bags that Republicans are taking home are some talking points on how they plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare. Image by Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons The Grand Old Party's policy paper says it aims to "provide relief from all the Obamacare tax increases." That's a big list. 4 targeted ACA taxes: The independent website Obamacare Facts lists 21 taxes, seven of which directly affected individuals. I've culled that individual... Read more →


Donald Trump is batting .500 for cabinet members who screwed up nanny tax reporting. This morning, the Senate narrowly confirmed Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-South Carolina) to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. The vote was 51-49. At least Vice President Mike Pence didn't have to up to Capitol Hill to break a tie this time. Click image to watch the C-SPAN video of Mick Mulvaney's confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. His testimony apparently convinced just enough Senators to approve him on Feb. 16 for the White House budget post. Did Mulvaney's... Read more →


Donald J. Trump got an early, though not unexpected, Valentine's Day gift from the head of Congress' chief tax-writing committee. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) on Feb. 13 rejected a maneuver by a Democratic member of that committee to get a look at a decade's worth of Trump's 1040s. U.S. Rep Bill Pascrell addresses constituents during a visit to his New Jersey district. Pascrell wants to use an obscure tax code provision to gain Congressional review, and possible public release, of Donald Trump's tax returns. (Photo courtesy Pascrell's Office via Flickr) The full House tax-writing... Read more →


This post updated 10 p.m. CT, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Donald Trump has promised to deliver in a few weeks a tax plan that would "lower the overall tax burden on American businesses big league." The effusive description notwithstanding, some corporate tax reform would be welcome. It's long been accepted that the U.S. tax code needs work when it comes to business. The new Republican president and GOP-controlled House and Senate are promising business and individual tax reform. Analyses of the proposals so far, however, show that rich folks, personified in the character Jay Gatsby portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in... Read more →


Oh, c'mon people! What is so hard about hiring a legal household worker and then paying the proper taxes for such help? Mother with a baby and toddler hauling, in her words, "a lot of crap." If she hires childcare help, she'll need to pay attention to nanny tax rules. (Photo by Mrs. Flinger via Flickr Creative Commons) However, some high-power folks with political aspirations apparently cannot get this right. Not even three weeks into the Trump Administration and we have a second nanny tax scofflaw. Puzder joins Mulvaney with household help issues: First there was the South Carolina Republican... Read more →


Sunday is a big day not just for football fans, but also food fans. Super Bowl party snacks rank right up there with the specially-created television commercials, crazy prop bets and the game's halftime show. These items I regularly purchase are, according to my local H.E.B. grocery store's labels, hecho en Mexico. Heck, a lot of people look forward to those events more than the annual NFL championship game itself. Literally loading up on guac: In fact, it's a major day for guacamole. "Guacamole has become one of the most popular Super Bowl snacks," Ramon Paz, spokesman for the Association... Read more →


Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, has been selected by President Donald Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left last year by the death of Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump explains why he chose Neil Gorsuch, at right with his wife Marie Louise, to server on the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch, 49, an Ivy Leaguer from Colorado, has a conservative judicial track record. He also formerly clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. If Gorsuch is confirmed, which is expected given that the... Read more →


As the Internal Revenue Service began accepting tax returns this week, the agency's commissioner noted that "the dedicated employees of the IRS look forward to serving taxpayers this filing season." IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's staff, however, apparently is not going to be as large this year as he had planned. Some federal job seekers got an icy reception after President Donald Trump instituted a federal hiring freeze this week. (Icy branch photo by J. Carmichael via Wikimedia Commons) On Jan. 23, the same day that the 2017 tax filing season officially began, President Donald Trump instituted an immediate hiring freeze... Read more →


Not to run Donald J. Trump's penchant for tax secrecy into the ground -- OK, maybe just dig a shallow little hole and kick some on dirt on it -- but I couldn't resist the latest bit of info about the new prez's still concealed tax returns. We are not now or ever -- that's never, just in case you're unsure in our new alternate facts world -- going to see his tax returns. Click image to watch interview on YouTube. During an interview this morning on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" political news show, White House counselor Kellyanne... Read more →


When Donald J. Trump assumed the U.S. presidency at noon on Friday, Jan. 20, he and his staff also took over the White House website. This is the only glimpse of Donald Trump's taxes the new president has provided, a photo via Twitter of him signing his purported 2014 federal return on Oct. 15, 2015. Although the 45th president's people made some major changes to the content Trump's predecessor had posted, they did leave one feature untouched, the We the People petition generator. This option lets people petition the White House for action on whatever is near and dear to... Read more →