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Tax news of note

I've got to finish up some things, work and personal, today, so in case I don't have time to ramble on here in the ol' blog, I wanted to at least pass on some recent tax news of note.

Trojan Horse trick still works: The eight-month standoff between a couple of tax protesters and Uncle Sam finally ended last week when U.S. marshals posed as supporters of the anti-tax cause and managed to get inside the couple's home.

Once across the threshold of Ed and Elaine Brown's Plainfield, N.H., residence, the lawmen arrested the pair without incident.

In January, the couple was convicted of tax evasion for not paying taxes on nearly $1.9 million in earnings. The pair, ages 65 (Ed) and 67 (Elaine), were sentenced in absentia to 63 months of jail time.

Rather than spend a chunk of their golden years in stir, in February the Browns holed up in their house. They frequently brandished firearms when making public statements from the house, and there was concern the whole situation would end badly. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

You can read more on the Browns and the end of the tax protest standoff in these stories:

Edwin_Starr_War_CDWar. What is it good for? Apparently, a a new federal tax.

Representatives David Obey of Wisconsin, John Murtha of Pennsylvania and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, all Democrats opposed to the Iraq war, argue that the Administration has unfairly burdened military personnel and their families when it comes to sacrificing for the war.

So they've proposed that the rest of the country share the war weight somewhat via a new tax.

Details are sketchy, but Obey said low- and moderate-income taxpayers would pay about $2 more for every $100 of income taxes; wealthier taxpayers would pay an extra $12 to $15. Military service members and their families would be exempt.

The proposal met not only the expected opposition from Republicans, but also from many of the lawmakers' Democratic colleagues.

Read more in this AP report published in the Washington Post and this Los Angeles Times story.

House OKs mortgage debt tax bill: Another tax measure got a more favorable reception last week. The full House approved legislation to permanently eliminate taxes faced by people who have their mortgage debt canceled.

By a 386-27 vote and despite some GOP complaints that the tax break would be offset by new taxes on second-home owners, folks who go through a home foreclosure now will no longer face tax on loan debt that's forgiven in the process.

You can read about the bill in my earlier blog on the topic, and about its passage in these articles in Forbes, AP (via Google) and Congressional Quarterly.


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