Tax numbers Feed

Sure, you're happy to tell your friends about the online bargains you get, but not so much your state's tax officials. That essentially will happen in Colorado this summer. But it won't be shoppers revealing their internet purchases. It will be the companies that sold them the stuff. Colorado online shoppers oppose the state's new sales tax reporting law because it violates their privacy. And oh yeah, now they'll have to pay more tax. The online purchase info is part of a creative way Colorado lawmakers devised to try to collect the almost $173 million in tax revenue they say... Read more →


Phishing. Phone scams. Identity theft. Unscrupulous tax preparers. Sound familiar? It should. Those illegal actions once again top the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen list of tax scams. Today's tax con artists are the modern day equivalent of yesteryear's snake oil salesmen, hustlers who convinced folks to buy products that could not possibly work as advertised. In all cases, past and present, the victims end up losing their money. ("The Snake Oil Salesman" by Morgan Weistling is available for purchase at Artifacts Gallery. The link to the artwork is not a paid endorsement.) As I noted back on Groundhog's... 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 →


Super Bowl LI will kick off in a few hours. Get your guacamole made and place your bets! I obviously don't need to encourage folks to chow down or gamble on Super Bowl Sunday. Every year, it's the single largest day for U.S. avocado consumption and for betting. Yes, I've wandered through the betting section of a couple of Las Vegas casinos, but usually confine my money losing to the one-armed bandits. Last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Commission, a record $132.5 million in total bets were placed on the Super Bowl. Remember, these were legal bets made in... Read more →


Every year, the Internal Revenue Service makes a concerted effort to hand out more Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) money. The reason, says the tax agency, is that around 20 percent of eligible filers consistently fail to file for this refundable tax credit. But what about those who do claim the EITC? The IRS says that nationwide last year, 27 million U.S. workers and their families got $67 billion thanks to this tax credit for lower- and middle-income workers. Where EITC money goes: Not surprisingly, the most populated states account for the most EITC claims and actual dollars returned to... 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 →


It's been 10 years since the Internal Revenue Service Whistleblower Office was created to reward those who turn in tax cheats. It's been a pretty good decade. In particular, notable advances were made last year, according to the Whistleblower Office's fiscal year 2016 annual report. More rewards, less money: The Whistleblower Office awarded more than $61 million to 418 whistleblowers in the last fiscal year. That's a 322 percent increase from fiscal 2015, in which only 99 total awards were paid. The number of whistleblower claims filed last fiscal year also was up 6.4 percent from those submitted the prior... Read more →


The 115th Congress has been in session less than a week, but the Representatives and Senators are wasting no time in introducing legislation. The 115th Congress convened on Jan. 3. During their first short week of work, Representatives and Senators have introduced eight tax measures. (Photo by Ottojula via Wikimedia Commons) Since the Jan. 3 swearing in (and my Congess.gov search this afternoon), 490 bills have been introduced, 428 in the House and 62 in the Senate. And even though there's greater hope that we'll finally get some sort of comprehensive tax reform, that's not stopping individual lawmakers from putting... Read more →


One of the big sticks that the Internal Revenue Service wields is penalties for our mistakes or willful disregard of tax laws. Some of the penalties were increased in 2016 thanks to law changes. Others are hiked each year if inflation so warrants. Here's a roundup of some major tax penalties changes ahead in 2017. Don't file, pay more: The biggie for individual taxpayers is the charge for late filing. In 2016, if you filed a return more than 60 days after the due date or any extension to file that you got, then you faced a penalty of the... Read more →


A couple of days ago when I blogged about Amazon's decision to start collecting sales tax amounts in 2017 on products it ships to Louisiana, I noted "…and counting" in the list of states where this already is happening. I didn't, however, expect to have to do some more sales tax math so soon. Online shoppers in Louisiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Utah will see sales taxes added to their Amazon invoices beginning Jan. 1, 2017. (Photo by Keith Williamson via Flickr Creative Commons) But Jan. 1, 2017, is the day that the online retail giant also will add sales tax... Read more →


Yes, it's December. Only eight days until Christmas. Much of the United States is in the grip of a deadly winter storm. That's why I'm thinking about baseball and coming spring warmth and renewed hope, sports and otherwise. The other reason I'm thinking about baseball today is taxes. It costs Major League Baseball clubs lots of money to keep star players like Houston Astros Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio on their teams. But if they spend too much, they'll pay the league's luxury tax. (Photo of Biggio wall in Houston's Minute Maid Park by Kay Bell) Another MLB [tax] record falls: A... Read more →


Good news. A short-term spending bill is in place to keep Uncle Sam's agencies running. Better news. The money will be in place through midnight April 28, 2017, meaning that the upcoming main tax-filing season (set to kick off Jan. 23, 2017) won't be hampered by a government shutdown. President Harry S. Truman pledged in 1946 that the federal government would provide coal miners lifetime health and retirement benefits. Today, around 16,500 retired union coal miners depend on federal health care benefits. The continued federal funding for the miners' health care almost led last week to a government shutdown. (Photo... Read more →


Do you live in Lafayette, Tennessee? Or maybe you know someone who lives in this town of about 5,000 just 60 miles or so northeast of Nashville. Or perhaps you know someone who just happened to pass through there and purchased a Powerball lottery ticket. Don't get too excited if you had 32 and 16 on your Powerball ticket. This Giphy image is from an earlier drawing, not the almost $421 million jackpot won by a Tennessee ticket buyer this weekend. That lucky person bought THE Powerball lottery ticket, which last night (Saturday, Nov. 26) matched all six of the... Read more →


Every presidential year, some of the folks whose candidate didn't make it to the White House swear they're moving to another country. Maybe some of them got a head start this year. U.S. passports have blue covers. Thousands of Americans, however, have become expatriates this year, giving up their U.S. documents, perhaps for a United Kingdom passport like the one shown above. The Internal Revenue Service reported 1,380 expatriations in the third quarter of 2016. That just missed the record of 1,426 Americans who decided to renounce their U.S. citizenship during the same period last year. That's a huge increase... Read more →


Taxpayers will be "trusted customers" when they file their tax returns next year. That's how the Internal Revenue Service and its state tax and private sector Security Summit partners are approaching the 2017 filing season. The group, which discussed upcoming security measures at a press conference Nov. 3, says the filing process next year will focus on and expanded features that will help ensure the authenticity of the taxpayer and the tax return. Paris officials last summer removed the love locks from Pont des Arts for safety reasons, but the IRS and its Security Summit partners are adding heavy duty... Read more →


Alec Baldwin has been having a field day portraying Donald Trump, the presidential candidate with, among other things, some tax issues. Click image to watch the Saturday Night Live skit from which this Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump GIF is taken. Now from the life imitates art files, Baldwin is facing his own allegations of tax avoidance. New York City art dealer Mary Boone filed a motion in New York State Supreme Court last week accusing the actor of "failing to pay sales tax." She alleges that in order to avoid New York taxes, Baldwin had the painting shipped to... 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 →


I spent almost two decades working in Washington, D.C. I also have covered taxes for most of my writing career. So I love acronyms. That's why I'm jazzed that the current presidential campaign has highlighted a tax-related nickname for some rich taxpayers. Here's a HINT. Got it yet? For normal folks who speak regular English, it's High Income, No Tax, aka HINT. GOP HINT: David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and current thorn in Donald J. Trump's side, notes in a recent column for The Daily Beast that the Republican nominee is an extreme example of a HINT. Before... Read more →


Have you filed your 2015 tax return yet? Don't feel bad. You are definitely not alone. The Internal Revenue Service on Friday, Oct. 7, noted that fewer than a third of the 13 million taxpayers who requested an automatic six-month extension earlier this year have yet to file. This is what my den floor looked like today as I finished up our 2015 tax return with a week to spare before the Oct. 17 extension deadline. Our taxes are done! I am pleased to say that I am no longer part of that group. I finished up my 2015 Form... Read more →


Gasoline prices were amazingly low this past summer. One reason that drivers nationwide paid less at the pump was that state gasoline excise taxes also were down. Incredibly cheap gas at HEB in Marble Falls, Texas, earlier this year. The average state gas tax across the United States was 20.72 for the second quarter of the year. That was 16 cents per gallon less than earlier in the year. But that's about to change in one of the low gas tax states. Big N.J. gas tax hike imminent: New Jersey is set to hike its gas tax by 23 cents.... Read more →