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February 2008

Valentine's Day: Love and taxes

Diamonds might be some girls' best friends, but for us fiscally minded femmes, we want our true love to put a pragmatic spin on our Valentine's Day gift. So here are some tax-related presents that might get your sweetie's heart pumping a bit faster on this most romantic of holidays. And remember, they're not restricted to guy-to-gal giving. Women who keep an eye on their relationship's cash, and there are a lot of us, can give them to our favorite fellas, too. Take over tax chores: Yes, this year, you be in charge of this necessary but time-consuming task. From... Read more →


Rebate plan is official

Dubya signed the economic stimulus bill today, so the rebate/advance credit checks are now the law. Get to work on your return so your check will be in the first batch mailed! The IRS also announced (in FS-2008-15) how it's going to issue the checks. A couple of important notes: Folks who don't usually file a return because their only income is Social Security, certain Railroad Retirement or certain veterans’ benefits, or they don't make enough earned income to file, must -- repeat, MUST -- file a 2007 return to get a rebate. The rebates will be direct deposited for... Read more →


Rebate pressure on preparers

Yes, Kristine, the new tax rebate law means extra work for you and all your tax preparer colleagues. That unwanted response is to Kristine's comments on my earlier post on tax rebate winners and losers: "Hmmm... I just noticed that this rebate is based on your 2007 income. So does that mean if you file an extension, you won't get the rebate check? This could be a much longer tax season than usual if I have to file everyone ON TIME. Geesh!" Sorry, Kristine. I know it's not exactly the news you and all the other already swamped tax professionals... Read more →


Tax the annoying

That's the fabulous idea of New York Times writer John Schwartz. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Schwartz looks at the treatment of taxes in an election year. In doing so, he offers politicians -- whom he calls "a bunch of wussy-heads" (that description alone is reason enough to keep reading) -- some advice: "If we're going to get rid of the deficit, pay off the national debt and rebuild our treasury, we're going to have to take some truly bold moves. So here are a few modest (yet, as I said, truly bold) proposals. "The first element of... Read more →


Tax Carnival #30: Ever-changing taxes

Welcome to Tax Carnival #30. In this edition we celebrate the one tax law constant: They are always changing! Take today, for example. Feb. 11 is phase two of the 2008 filing season. Most folks were able to fill out (or at least start working on) their 1040s as soon as they got their 2007 tax statements. And many have even sent them in to the IRS. But millions more had to wait until today because Congress changed the applicable laws too late last year as they applied to the alternative minimum tax. And lawmakers are still messing with the... Read more →


Tax Guide 2008

We're right in the midst of one of the traditional twin peaks of filing season. Each early to mid-February, millions of taxpayers have all the statements they need to file and have done so or are about to. Today, in fact, is the day many filers have been waiting for because they use one of five AMT-related forms. As blogged about here, IRS computers weren't able to handle that paperwork until now. The hubby and I had to wait because we will claim the tax credit for the new energy efficient A/C we bought last summer. But truth be told,... Read more →


Paying the tax man

If you end up owing the IRS this tax season, how will you pay? Many folks now charge their tax bills. Even though a service charge is involved when paying with plastic, they find the amount is more than offset by reward points or airline miles they earn. And as long as you pay your credit card bill in full each month or at least pay it off relatively quickly, the associated interest charges aren't an issue. If a credit card is the appropriate payment method for you, the IRS has authorized two companies to process the charges: Link2Gov Corporation,... Read more →


IRS service center changes continue

If you live in Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Wisconsin and plan to snail mail your federal tax return this year, your envelope will have a new address. Now most of us don't pay any attention to the address on the envelope or label that comes with our tax package. But it matters to the IRS. Sure, your return will eventually be forwarded to the correct service center for handling, but a misdirected mailing will slow down the process a tad. And if you're expecting a refund, you definitely don't want that. Folks of a conspiratorial mindset... Read more →


Tax rebate winners and losers

As you know by now, Representatives and Senators on both sides of the aisle put aside their natural animus and agreed last night to a stimulus plan that includes tax rebates. Dubya is OK with the deal, too, even though it is slightly different from the one he and House leaders originally hammered out. Here's the basic framework: Individual taxpayers will receive rebate checks of at least $300 and up to $600. Married couples will get up to $1,200. Taxpayers with children will receive an additional $300 per kid. You'll be eligible if you have at least $1 of tax... Read more →


More tax troubles for Snipes

Geez, this guy's becoming the tax collection poster child. Both Newsday and the New York Post report that a $70,000 tax lien on one of Wesley Snipes' properties in suburban New Jersey was sold at auction. Snipes has two years to pay back the purchasing company, Crusader Lien Services of Jenkintown, Pa., or the firm can initiate foreclosure proceedings. The home is described as a sprawling, $8 million estate in Alpine, N.J. But don't worry about Snipes sleeping on the street. Apparently he has other accommodations since it's no longer his personal residence. According to real estate records, the "Blade"... Read more →


Tornadoes and taxes ... too soon!

I hate writing today's blog item. I knew I would have to eventually, but it's way too soon. I'm talking about the tornadoes that tore through the South on Tuesday. It was the worst twister outbreak in more than 20 years. There's nothing any of us can do to console those who lost family and friends. And there's very little we can do for those whose losses were confined to property. But we try anyway. The quickest way to reach out is to give to a charitable group that provides assistance to storm victims. These organizations, such as the American... Read more →


Nevada bookmakers are Super Bowl losers, too

Not only did the Giants upset the Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl, the New York football players and their betting fans upset the bookies, too. Nevada gambling regulators report that the state's sports betting operations lost a record $2.6 million on Super Bowl XLII. Jay Kornegay, the executive director of the Las Vegas Hilton race and sports book, told the Associated Press that "the anticipated large wagers that we expected on the Patriots just never materialized." The sports book losses took several forms: Some bettors picked the Giants to win outright on the "money line," taking home payouts of up... Read more →


Yankees' Jeter off NY state tax hook

The ol' tax blog is looking this week a bit like a New York sports report. The latest Big Apple athletic -- and tax -- news concerns Yankees' captain Derek Jeter. According to the New York Daily News in this gossip, not sports, item, Jeter has cut a secret deal with the state's Department of Taxation to end a probe into whether he paid enough income NY taxes. As blogged about here previously, Empire State tax officials had questioned the MLB shortstop's contention that his legal home was in Florida, a state that attracts as many for its no-income-tax policy... Read more →


IRS: Art investigator

It's true. The Internal Revenue Service is dabbling in high culture. OK. It's actually investigating tax evasion scams tied to donations to Southern California museums. But doesn't it buff up the agency's image a bit to have it connected with the chichi art world? According to a story (here) in today's New York Times: "Criminal enforcement agents of the Internal Revenue Service, the Interior Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement searched the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, as well... Read more →


Still sniping at Wesley's acquittal

Wesley Snipes walked away last week relatively unscathed from his tax evasion trial (blogged here). So that naturally got legal minds across the country commenting. TaxProf has a collection of thoughts (here) from tax law professors, including an educator from my alma mater (Texas Tech), one from Houston, and another from the little school down the road in Austin. My, we Texans sure are chatty, but then I guess you already knew that! Read more →


Congratulations NY Giants

Nice Super Bowl win New Yorkers. All this week, I fully intended to yell for Texas Techsan Wes Welker and his New England teammates. But when the game started, I found myself rooting for the Giants. You'd think since they're in the Cowboys division and beat us in the playoffs, I'd be holding a grudge. But my allegiance to the NFC won out; that and the fact that I tend to go with the underdogs. Yeah, like a lot of football fans, I was pretty sick of all the hype about the Cheatriots Patriots. Now all that's left is the... Read more →


Maximize your medical deductions

Officially, Tom Brady's tender ankle was left of the Patriots' injury report. But speculation is still rampant as to whether it will have any effect on the game. And you can bet that tacklers will probably be aiming a bit low. Hey, it's a tough game. The NFL says it compiles its injury reports so that everyone, fans and teams alike, have all the information they need to, respectively, enjoy and play the game. Reality check. Who really cares about player injuries? Gamblers. And today is their big day. A star player's inability to perform his best certainly would make... Read more →


And you thought it was just the IRS

Remember last April when some TurboTax customers had problems e-filing? Well, tax technological glitches pop up worldwide. Take the United Kingdom's HM Revenue & Customs, that country's equivalent to our IRS. WebCPA reports that British taxpayers who visited the Self Assessment Online section of the site last Thursday were greeted with messages such as "planned maintenance" or "not found." What made the annoying messages worse was that the Web malfunction occurred on Jan. 31, the last day for filing taxes in the U.K. Taxpayers who fail to pay their taxes in time by the deadline are typically fined 100 pounds;... Read more →


Snipes cleared of most serious tax charges, convicted of misdemeanors

Actor Wesley Snipes was found not guilty of federal tax fraud and conspiracy charges this afternoon. He was, however, convicted of three misdemeanor counts of failing to file a tax return. As blogged about earlier here, Snipes lawyers argued that the star of the "Blade" films was himself a victim of bad tax advice in connection with the conspiracy and fraud charges. The jury agreed. While Snipes was acquitted on the most serious charges, his former advisers and co-defendants -- Eddie Ray Kahn, founder of a tax protest group, and Douglas P. Rosile, an accountant who lost his licenses in... Read more →


Super Bowl bets mean IRS losses

Are you planning to drop a few dollars in the office Super Bowl pool before you leave work today? Good luck! Not only do I hope you win big, so does the IRS. You do know that all gambling winnings are taxable, right? And you're definitely going to make sure you give Uncle Sam his cut, right? OK, you can quit laughing now. Who really ever reports the $50 they made in an office sports pool? The bigger problem for the tax collector is those much larger bets, many illegal, that no one wants to talk about about, much less... Read more →