Tax numbers Feed

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 →


Computer users, which nowadays means almost everyone, used to be told to follow the X-file's advice when it came to cyber security: Trust No One. IRS is moving to two-step authentication for more of its online services beginning in late October. That's still true, but unfortunately, it's not enough. Crooks cracking everyone's computer codes: Nowadays, as First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton and millions of Yahoo email account owners know, in today's increasingly hackable electronic world, the operable phrase for online life is No One is Safe. And Uncle Sam's tax collector is not immune from... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is pushing via its Future State plan a transition to digital tax systems. That's life in the modern world to which all of us, in doing our taxes and other transactions, are adjusting. Unless paperwork suddenly becomes this magical (don't hold your breath), electronic tax transactions will continue to advance. But the down side of moving more tasks online is that current paper-intensive operations -- and the jobs for people who shuffle those actual documents -- are becoming obsolete. That's the fate awaiting around 7,200 IRS workers. E-filing advances kill paper jobs: The IRS announced last... Read more →


$10,162. That's how much of a federal tax refund that Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and his wife Karen received on their 2015 tax return. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, GOP vice presidential candidate, campaigning among Ohio State tailgaters during a stop earlier this month in the key Nov. 8 election state. (Photo via @mikepence Twitter account) Since the Pences' refund is almost four times the amount of the average tax refund of $2,732 (per Internal Revenue Service filing data through May 13), the $10,162 that the Pences are getting back from Uncle Sam also earns this week's By the... Read more →


Remember back in July when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie indicated that he might end the Garden State's tax reciprocity agreement with neighboring Pennsylvania? The Benjamin Franklin Bridge spans the Delaware River and connects Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden, New Jersey. It is used by commuters who live in one state and work in the other. He wasn't kidding. Friday, Sept. 2, was the last day for either state to stick with or pull out of the agreement for another year. And as the long Labor Day holiday began with lots of folks heading off for one last summer hurrah --... Read more →


Ezekiel Elliott's visit to a Seattle marijuana retailer was the big weed news this week, and yes, pot has received lots of headlines lately (more on this a little later). Apparently amazed visitors to the cannabis display at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, the first time pot plants have been open for public viewing at any U.S. state fair. This is just one piece of pot news so far this month. Click image to view the AP video via USA Today. I admit that as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I spent an inordinate amount of time following the first-round... Read more →


Need time to pay off a big tax bill? It could cost you a lot more next year if fee hikes proposed by the Internal Revenue Service go into effect. The IRS today announced plans to add a couple of new installment plan options and increase existing payment arrangement fees beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Some taxpayers could see an 87.5 percent price hike, which would produce a top fee of $225 instead of the current maximum fee of $120. And while the proposed $225 fee is the top dollar amount, the charge for another type of installment payment option would... Read more →


Only one thing is worse than getting a notice from the tax collector. Getting a notice that says you owe. OK, there is something that's even worse. That's the tax man telling you that you owe $18.4 trillion dollars. The United Kingdom's tax office recently sent a British taxpayer a notice saying he owed trillions. He handled the apparently erroneous tax bill notice in the right way. (Photo by Images Money via Flickr Creative Commons) Yes, trillion with a T. An amount with at least 13 digits before the decimal point. That's what happened this month to Giles Hembrough. Britsh... Read more →


A married couple who helped the federal government collect more than $74 million from a tax criminal finally got their financial reward last week. U.S. Tax Court building in downtown Washington, D.C. On Aug. 3, after fighting for the whistleblowing payment for four years, the anonymous tax tattletales, referred to as Petitioner 21276-13W and Petitioner 21277-13W in court documents, were awarded $17,791,607. The U.S. Tax Court ruled the husband and wife deserved the nearly $17.8 million whistleblower award, which is this week's By the Numbers figure, despite the federal government's argument that the claim was outside the scope of the... Read more →


One lucky Powerball winner tonight could pocket $478 million if the jackpot is paid out over 39 years. Some of my old Powerball tickets. And yes, I do have one for tonight's big drawing. It's more likely, however, that any winner will take the immediate lump sum option. That's a cash prize of "just" $330.6 million. That taxable lump sum amount also earns this week's By the Numbers honor. A handful of folks have won relatively smaller amounts in the three months that the main Powerball jackpot has been growing. Just this last week, a Florida ticket matched enough numbers... Read more →


One thing you can say for California is that its impressive diversity also extends to disasters. San Francisco houses built on loose ground sustain damage in the massive 1906 earthquake. Compared to other damage from the 7.8 magnitude temblor, this was minor. (Photo courtesy National Archives) The only good thing about such widespread destruction is that affected residents might be able to claim some disaster losses on their taxes. And in a recent decision, the Internal Revenue Service has offered some additional tax relief for Californians who got private relief in connection with an historic natural gas leak. Earthquakes, fires... Read more →


Attention Pennsylvania digital aficionados, your electronic addictions are about to cost you a bit more. Gov. Tom Wolf on July 13 signed into law his state's fiscal 2017 revenue package. Among its provisions is an extension of the Keystone State's 6 percent sales and use tax to digital downloads of books, music, satellite radio and video and audio streaming. The new tax collection will take effect Aug. 1. It's expected to bring in nearly $47 million in its first year. Those millions of dollars in extra revenue are tempting targets for this week's By the Numbers honor. So is the... Read more →


It's been a good few days for lottery players. The Mega Millions $540 million jackpot was won last night, Friday, July 8, by a ticket buyer in Cambridge City, Indiana. Yokasta Boyer holding her big check from the New Jersey Lottery. (Photo courtesy N.J. Lottery Commission) And just the day before, Thursday, July 7, the New Jersey Lottery announced that a woman discovered a $472,271 winning ticket for one of that state's lottery games as she was going through some papers in order to file her tax return. Mega mystery: We don't know yet who bought the Indiana winning ticket.... Read more →


The Founding Fathers are getting renewed attention, thanks in large part to the award-winning smash Broadway hit musical "Hamilton." And while George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the titular Alexander Hamilton, who became the new country's first Treasury Secretary, deserve much credit for our independence, on this Fourth of July also save some praise for James Otis, Jr. Quotable colonial attorney: Otis, pictured above, was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts who contested the law and power of the British by arguing that Writs of Assistance, what we now call search warrants, were a form of tyranny. He represented 53 Boston merchants... Read more →


If you have substantial funds in foreign bank accounts or investments, you may need to file a Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. And you need to do so by next Wednesday, June 30. That's a firm deadline. No filing extension is allowed. Because of the no-give for this filing, the due date earns this week's By the Numbers honor. FBAR triggers: The filing is known as the FBAR, which is a sort-of scrambled acronym for the form's name. Although the Internal Revenue Service is intensely interested in tracking potentially taxable money wherever in the world it's... Read more →


Being a parent is tough. Being a single parent is even tougher. Beach-combing with dad. Photo by YoTuT via Flickr. So on this Father's Day 2016, here's a shout out to the millions of dads who are taking care of their kids on their own. There were almost 2 million single fathers across the country in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That, according to the nation's official people counters, represents 16 percent of the single parent population. In conjunction with the annual day to honor dads, those 1.9 million single fathers also earn this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


A few years back, the Internal Revenue Service revamped its website and did a pretty good job. IRS.gov won some awards and is better than many other federal agency online presences. Andrew Miller's winning redesign of IRS.gov via the Tax Design Challenge. (Image courtesy Miller's Organizer Sandbox) But the IRS decided that as more of us taxpayers are online every day, it wanted to make sure it was remains part of our cyber interaction. Getting public design input: In March, the IRS announced the Tax Design Challenge, its first foray into crowdsourcing. The competition offered a variety of cash prizes,... Read more →