Previous month:
December 2008
Next month:
February 2009

January 2009

So much for a "new" post-election Washington. When the House approved its stimulus bill last week, not a single Republican voted for it. Over on the Senate side, a measure to provide medical coverage to 7 million children from poor families was approved on a party-line vote. But such partisan posturing isn't limited to votes. Some members of Congress are getting their political licks in simply by introducing legislation. Last week, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) dropped H.R. 735, The Rangel Rule Act of 2009, into the hopper. It which would add a new section to the tax code that would... Read more →

This is getting unreal. Yet another Obama appointee has, or rather had, a back tax issue. Tom Daschle, tapped by Obama to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, earlier this month paid more than $100,000 in back taxes and interest. Daschle, a former U.S. Senator from South Dakota, determined that he owed the taxes on free use of a car and driver that was provided when he was on the board of and consultant to InterMedia Advisors. In a financial disclosure statement filed with the Office of Government Ethics, Daschle reported that he had received more than $2 million... Read more →

A few days ago,we looked at how tax experts and economists rated the House's stimulus plan Now it's the Senate's turn. And just like the House version, the Senate's proposal gets a C+ grade. Actually, the Tax Policy Center (TPC) gave the Senate Finance Committee plan 14 different grades on 14 separate provisions in that legislative body's proposal. As I did with the grades that TPC issued the House Ways and Means measure, I averaged them. "Each grade depends on both timeliness and targeting," says TPC in its notes on Senate stimulus report card. "To receive an A, a provision... Read more →

Times are tough, so squeezing every cent you can out of your paycheck is critical. So why are you letting Uncle Sam hold onto some of your hard-earned money? That's what way too many folks do every year by having their employers overwithhold payroll taxes. You know that nasty line item on your pay stub that shows how much of your money doesn't make it into your hands. It's a necessary evil. This collection process is in place because our tax system is pay as you earn. Uncle Sam has found that it's the best way for him to get... Read more →

I have been married a long time. In fact, when the hubby and I celebrated our last wedding anniversary, it meant that we've spent more of our lives married to each other than we ever lived as singles. It's been mostly great, but, as with every relationship, there were some downs to go along with all the fun ups. That's cool. We both took that vow about for better or for worse seriously. Now I'm not so young (obviously!) or naive as to believe that every marriage can weather every storm. I know that sometimes that other part of the... Read more →

The stimulus plan approved by the House Ways and Means Committee last week gets a C+ grade from one tax policy group. While that's probably not a grade you would want to take home to your parents, another group is a bit more forgiving, at least by comparison. It says the House Democrats' stimulus package is better than what Republicans offered. A so-so grade: The middling grade comes from the Tax Policy Center (TPC). Actually, that's my averaging of the 10 separate grades the nonpartisan group gave different sections of the proposal. The TPC, a joint project of the Urban... Read more →

Geithner sworn in as Treasury Secretary

By now you know that Timothy Geithner was confirmed by the Senate yesterday afternoon and immediately sworn in as the new Treasury Secretary. But in case you missed the ceremony, here are his first official remarks. They aren't long, starting at six minutes into the video below, or here if you can't see it in your browser or are reading this via a feed rather than the blog page. There were no big surprises in Geithner's remarks. Obviously, Treasury's first and major task is helping implement programs to get our economy back on track. Geithner also hit all the right... Read more →

Today's media reports are full of horrible employment news. Heavy machinery giant Caterpillar says it will eliminate 20,000 jobs (12,000 employees and 8,000 contractors). Sprint Nextel says 8,000 of its workers will be out of work by March 31. And the housing-dependent Home Depot plans to lay off 7,000 workers, including positions that will be lost when it closes its Expo Design chain. If you're thinking it's just workers lower on the job ladder that are in danger, think again. The dismal economy is knocking people off all employment rungs. The Wall Street Journal even has a feature, Laid Off... Read more →

My book, "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes," is out, at least from mail-order outlets. I've gotten some copies (note to friends and family: guess what you're getting for birthday presents!). And now comes the fun part -- waiting. Waiting for sales numbers. Waiting for reviews. That latter wait is over. The first review (that I know of) is in from fellow blogger Jim at Bargaineering. Now it's time to get more "Truth" out, literally. If you'd like your own copy of my book, just leave a comment here at this post by 10 p.m Central, Wednesday, Jan. 28. I'll... Read more →

A former advertising giant says the current approach to stimulating the American economy won't work. His idea: government certificates. Philip H. Geier, Jr., chairman emeritus of the Interpublic Group and chairman of The Geier Group, a marketing communications and venture capitalist firm, placed a full-page ad last Thursday in the New York Times. Such non-editorial items are why I still get the old-fashioned paper copy thrown onto my driveway every day. It starts out: Geier then goes on to explain his proposal: A three-tiered, across-the-board tax cut for folks who make up to $250,000. But the cut would be in... Read more →

There are lots of stories each tax season about how taxpayers can find a reputable, qualified tax preparer. Heck, I've done them myself, here on the ol' blog and elsewhere . But there's a flip side to this coin. How do tax professionals find good clients? Unfortunately, as business people, many tax preparers, accountants, CPAs and tax attorneys too often don't have the luxury of vetting the folks who hire them. Oh, sure, there's an interview process, some give and take and expectations enunciated on both sides. But in many cases, the client -- the person who is gong to... Read more →

Sing along, y'all, to The TARP Song!

Singer-songwriter Bill Zucker has put into verse and set to music what every American has been saying for months: I want some TARP! Yes, it does indeed seem, as Bill sings, that the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program is "giving away money for free." The song debuted, as you can see from the video, on CNBC's Power Lunch program. Zucker told the Boston Herald that the idea came to him as he watched the cable business news channel and saw "my life savings dwindle in front of my eyes. I was pretty heavily invested in the real estate and... Read more →

A new federal financial package to try, once again, to kick start the economy is on pace to become law just before next month's Presidents' Day break. The $303 billion measure, $276 billion of it specifically dealing with taxes, was approved yesterday by the House Ways and Means Committee. House leaders are planning a full vote next Wednesday, Jan.28. Then it goes to the Senate, where pressure is coming from not only colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill, but also the new Administration to get a bill on President Obama's desk by Feb. 16. Another prepaid credit: So... Read more →

Geithner's apology works

"These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes. But they were unintentional." So began Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's mea culpa to Senate Finance Committee members who had been grilling him over his failure to report and pay tax on self-employment income. Let's just let him speak for himself: It apparently worked. By an 18-to-5 vote, the panel endorsed Geithner's nomination and sent it along to the full Senate where confirmation is expected next week. See, your mom was right. Own up to your mistakes, make good when you can and try to sound sincere when you say you're sorry.... Read more →

Wesley, Wesley, Wesley. When a judge is kind enough to let you travel abroad while you're appealing your tax-evasion conviction, you really need to follow orders. Back in July, Judge William Terrell Hodges said Snipes could head to London and Bangkok in connection with movie roles for which he had contracted. Hodges said nothing about side trips. But Snipes detoured anyway. Apparently, the lure of the "party of the decade" last November was just too strong to resist. The grand opening of the Atlantis Resort on Dubai's Palm Island, an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree, cost... Read more →

Prospective Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was back on Capitol Hill today making his case for becoming the country's new top money man. And again, his self-employment tax troubles drew fire from some members of the Senate Finance Committee, which is conducting the confirmation hearing. Geithner has admitted to making more than $40,000 worth of mistakes on his tax returns filed in connection with his employment by the International Monetary Fund. Economy Watch, the Washington Post's blog following the economic crisis, reports there was a "20-question exchange that could best be described as restrained, but intense." Geithner reiterated what he made... Read more →

Good news in 2009! The hubby got a pay raise. And judging from my e-mails, so did some other folks. But the little bit of extra coin didn't come from the usual or expected source. It showed up in the first paycheck that my wage-earning better half got this year. When I first looked at the slightly larger amount on his pay stub, my initial thought was that he got his annual raise a bit early. Then, after doing the per-pay-period math, I wondered what kind of cheap so-and-so's does he work for!? I took a breath. Maybe it was... Read more →

America’s biggest move is taking place today, and I’m not just talking about Dubya handing over the keys to the Oval Office to Barack Obama. There’s an actual move of personal belongings going on, too, just like the process that millions of us experience each year. Of course, POTUS 43 and 44 and their families are finding that getting their stuff out of and into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a lot easier than previous moves. People are at their disposal to take care of every relocation detail and in record time. The complete transfer takes around five hours. In years... Read more →

Each year, many Americans spend the Martin Luther King holiday as a day of service with nonprofit groups. This year, the MLK volunteer effort got an added boost from President-elect Barack Obama, who reiterated that call to service. Obama, like countless others, is following up his words with action. Today, Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and their families are doing their parts by volunteering at various project in Washington, D.C. Tax credit for good works. Now I realize that tax considerations don't matter to most folks who volunteer for their favorite cause. Tax benefits are secondary (or lower on the list)... Read more →

Tax preparers are about to be seriously bogged down as filing season kicks into high gear. And in many cases, these folks also are going to be fighting the urge to tell off some of their clients. Why? Because too many folks head to their tax pro's office totally unprepared. Since it's unprofessional for you customer-dependent tax pros to light into these annoying clients, I want to give you the chance to do so from a safe distance. You can vent here! Drop me an e-mail (the link's about midway down the right column) or add a comment to this... Read more →