Tax rates Feed

While most of the world this week was watching the court battle begin over pop icon Prince's estate, some U.S. House members were trying to reconfigure federal law to capture more tax money from more estates. "Requiring more of the wealthiest estates to pay the estate tax and raising the estate tax rate are commonsense steps we can take toward making our tax code fairer," House Ways and Means Committee ranking minority member Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) said in announcing introduction of H.R. 4996, the Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2016. The estate tax has been around in some form... Read more →

The presidential candidates are duking it out for their parties' nomination, with things heating up on both the Democratic and Republican sides as the hopefuls look to New York's primary. So far The Donald and Cruz and Hillary and Bernie haven't gone head-to-head over their tax plans. A couple of publications, however, are facing off, over ways to calculate what we'd pay under their various tax proposals. Figures don't lie, but…: Last month, Vox published a candidates' tax calculator that it created in conjunction with the Tax Policy Center (TPC). The folks at Vox and TPC made it clear that... Read more →

All of us tax procrastinators -- and yes, I use "us" because I'm one of them -- still have three weeks to file our 2015 returns. But in the spirit of delaying my current personal tax task a bit longer (c'mon; 21 days is plenty of time!), I'm taking some more time today to look at what the top four presidential candidates' tax plans might mean for my future tax bills. Projected tax bills for a jointly filing married couple with no kids making $150,000 a year. The Tax Policy Center and Vox have made finding out easy with a... Read more →

Happy New Year! No, I haven't hit a time warp, although that could be cool! But I digress. Today is the start of the Year of the Monkey. Although 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, Chinese New Year parades still tend to be led by dragons. The Lunar New Year that began today is the biggest holiday in China. Thanks to the large communities of Chinese heritage throughout the world --- and because folks will jump at any chance to party -- it's a festive time worldwide. Although China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar... Read more →

If you're feeling the Bern, you count Bernie Sanders's effective tie with Hillary Clinton in last night's Iowa caucuses as a win. However, Sanders is a loser on Capitol Hill when it comes to his tax plan. The party's leadership in Washington, D.C., has made it clear that it won't run on any platform that supports raising taxes on middle-class voters. Wealthy are the traditional tax target: Democrats have long argued for higher taxes, but the target has always been the wealthy. In recent years, that has been the $250,000 earnings mark for families. Higher taxes for the rich was... Read more →

Here's one of the fun things about taxes -- and no, I am not using "fun" and "taxes" in the same sentence because the 2016 filing season has already driven me to drink (that'll come later) -- you need to think about two tax years simultaneously. It's the 2016 tax filing season, but it's our 2015 tax returns that we focus on finishing. The annual meeting of two tax years also is apparent in the income tax brackets. These Internal Revenue Service tables show us how much of our money will be taxed at what rates. The IRS usually issues... Read more →

A recent report on how the rich are able to take advantage of the U.S. tax code to keep their bills lower has (re)generated a lot of talk about replacing our current system. That's easier said than done, but lots is still being said about the options. One of the more popular replacement proposals is a flat tax. As I noted last week at my other tax blog, several Republicans who want to be their party's 2016 presidential candidate support some sort of flat tax. Essentially, they want to scrap our current system employing seven progressive tax rates and enact... Read more →

Alaska is notable for many things, especially when it comes to taxes. The Last Frontier is the only state that does not have an individual income tax or collect a state-levied sales tax. Instead, Alaska relies primarily on oil money to keep its coffers full. Oil rig drilling in Alaska's deep snow (circa 1940–1970). Photo courtesy Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks That personal petroleum reserve, however, is dropping. And that means the 49th state is considering some potentially painful tax changes. Alaska's costly oil subsidies: There's already talk about scaling back the subsidies the state offers oil... Read more →

I can tell the holidays are just around the corner. I'm getting, and making, lots of call about our Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. In most cases, the phone conversations are on my and my relatives' cell phones. We are not alone. Wireless service is becoming the sole means of telephone communication for a growing number of Americans. Surveys by the Centers for Disease Control found that at the end of 2014, more than 44 percent of all adults relied solely on mobile phones. The percentage is even greater, more than 59 percent, among lower income individuals. Cellular taxes at all... Read more →

Time, and time shifting, is always a factor when it comes to taxes. We filed our 2014 taxes in 2015 (some of us earlier than others!), simultaneously looking at what we need to do now so that when we file our 2015 returns in 2016, our tax bills are as small as possible. Keeping up with the tax calendar is as important as tracking all the tax numbers. So it's no surprise that the Internal Revenue Service chose today, Back to the Future Day, to issue its 2016 inflation adjustments for more than 50 tax provisions. Countdown clock in Back... Read more →

The Donald sure knows how to sell, that's for sure. As part of Trump's just-released tax plan, in April some taxpayers won't owe the Internal Revenue Service a red cent. But they still will get to send in a form, one that simply says, "I win!" What person wouldn't welcome no taxes and an in-your-face message to the hated IRS? Well, some sane people who question whether, despite Trump's promises, that his repackaging of a trickle-down tax system will work might have their doubts. But The Donald hasn't ever let the haters-gonna-hate crowd stop him. Zero tax bracket: The no-tax... Read more →

Somebody is $11.6 million richer and somebody else (or some company) is in big trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. Sorry for the vagueness, but that's basically how things work when you rat out tax cheats. The feds are eager to get the scoop on whoever is not paying up, but the whistleblowers often don't want the world to know who they are. As for the identity of the alleged tax evaders, we're at the mercy of Uncle Sam's willingness to announce his whistleblower-assisted collection success. What we do know about this latest case comes from attorneys Stephen Kohn and... Read more →

Donald Trump has yet to release his tax reform plan, but he dropped a hint during an interview with CBS News on Sunday morning. "The hedge fund guys are getting away with murder. They're making a tremendous amount of money. They have to pay taxes. I want to lower the rates for the middle class. The middle class is the one, they're getting absolutely destroyed. This country doesn't have, won't have a middle class very soon," Trump told Face the Nation. I don't agree with much of what Donald Trump says, either in his personal, TV or political life. But... Read more →

Mad Men's Pete Campbell complains about 1970's tax rates

Thank you Matthew Weiner and Mad Men writers for another tax tidbit in last night's return of the show. When the partners at Sterling Cooper & Partners agreed to merge their struggling agency with advertising giant McCann Erickson, they all became very wealthy. And of course Pete Campbell, the Mad Men character we all love to hate (except when he's dancing), bemoans the burdens of his new tax bracket. His 5 percent share in the company was worth about $1.5 million. Pete and Trudy Campbell show off their mad Charleston moves. To keep any of it, Pete complained in last... Read more →

The stock market has been on a crazy run in 2014. When its wild swings up and down ultimately shake out, many folks will find that their portfolios are going to worth much more. Some folks took their gains earlier in the year. Others are cashing in those positive holdings as part of their year-end tax planning. Either way, they'll face taxes on their investment profits. Granted, the tax rate for long-term capital gains generally is lower than a taxpayer's ordinary income tax rate: 20 percent for higher earners (those in the top tax bracket), 15 percent for most middle-class... Read more →

Have you filled up your car lately? If so, you were probably like me. Very pleasantly surprised. Gas prices have been falling. Just last week when I snapped the price board at a nearby station, a gallon of regular was $2.45. That's 15 cents less than AAA's national average price of $2.60 on Dec. 12. And fuel industry experts expect the prices to drop even more. With pump prices the lowest they've been in four years, many say that now is the perfect time to raise the federal gasoline tax. That tax has been 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993.... Read more →

The Internal Revenue Service recently released its figures on how inflation will affect many federal tax provisions in 2015. But the cost of living also affects states. And these jurisdictions' tax departments deal with annual price increases in different ways. Thanks to the Tax Foundation map below, you can see the various state tax approaches to inflation. Click image for a larger view. The Washington, D.C.-based tax think tank notes that: 23 states fully index brackets to inflation; this number includes the nine states (each marked by an asterisk and listed in the "Notes" box in the map) with single-rate... Read more →

A lot is going on in the next eight weeks. The holidays are almost here. Got your turkey yet? Made your Santa wish list? Meantime, you're also checking out the year-end tax moves you need to make to ensure you pay Uncle Sam the lowest possible 2014 tax bill. And you need to do some 2015 tax planning. Sorry, but it's true. So this week's By the Numbers figure is 2015 in recognition of the many inflation adjustments that will affect next year's tax bill and tax plans. Back on Oct. 30, I posted next year's ordinary tax rates and... Read more →

This is why people hate taxes. OK. There's no one "this" when it comes to tax loathing. But here's one big reason: confusing dates. Right now we're working on ways to reduce our current year's tax bill. To do that, we must make many tax moves by Dec. 31. But some of those moves will depend on what our tax situations will be like in the coming year. So we've got to juggle two tax years simultaneously. That's two too many tax years for most folks. Still, it's a necessary tax evil. And the latest comparison and evaluation of this... Read more →

The 2013 tax year is finally over. That means it's time to turn your tax thoughts to moves you can make to reduce your 2014 tax bill. A good starting point for any tax planning is with the basics, such as knowing what your tax bill likely will be. While there are a lot of variables that come into play, you can get a general idea by checking out the annual tax brackets. We're still waiting for Congress to finalize many 2014 tax laws, but the seven ordinary income tax rates are the same, starting at 10 percent and topping... Read more →