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September 2010

Democrats who support Bush tax cuts

While most of y'all were out enjoying your weekend, I blogged about some recent economic data and how that might affect Congress' ultimate decision on what to do about the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Some of you might have missed that item because, as I said, you were spending your time off doing other things. Good for you; to each his or her own concept of fun. But now that it's Monday, I thought that as tax geeks, political wonks or both (I proudly wear both labels!), you'd want to keep track of the impending vote on Dubya's... Read more →

Giants, Jets face off-field foe: NJ town wants NFL teams to pay property taxes

The NFL is full of owners and fans celebrating not only the start of the new football season, but also the debut of fancier pigskin palaces. Down here in Texas we have the new Cowboys Stadium, while the 'Boys' NFL East foe the Giants share new digs in the Meadowlands with the Jets. Standard operating procedure for most professional sports teams is to increase the prices each year that fans pay to actually attend games. According to, a family of four this football season can expect to pay more than $400 to go to an NFL game. That's nearly... Read more →

Some quick tax cut calculations

Taxes are all about the numbers. So I thought it would be interesting to look at some other numbers released last week that could affect our future tax laws. Inflation's effects: Let's start with some relatively good news on inflation. The Labor Department on Friday said consumer prices were up 0.3 percent last month, the same as July. Meanwhile, core inflation, which excludes the more volatile prices of energy and food, didn't increase. Not to be a buzzkill, but while you and I are happy that our upcoming purchases might not cost us any more, some economists say that a... Read more →

Ensuring members of Congress pay taxes

How can you tell Capitol Hill is in full election year mode? Members of Congress introduce legislation that has no chance of passing but which will produce good sound bites for campaign ads and rally speeches. Heck, even lawmakers who are shoe-ins for their seats still like to have something that will energize the voters. And what better get-out-the-vote issue than taxes? One thing: Folks on federal payrolls who don't pay their taxes. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who apparently is on his way to a second term, last week introduced two bills targeting federal employees and Members of Congress and... Read more →

Popular fashion designer Vera Wang (right) presented her Spring 2011 collection during New York's just completed Fashion Week, but another collection could cost, rather, than make her lots of money. The IRS has hit Wang with an almost $350,000 tax lien. Federal tax collectors allege that Wang's unpaid taxes are from her 2008 individual tax return filing. As one of my financially-savvy fashionista friends (you are sooo mahvahlous, Danny!) noted, "I hear prison stripes are the new black." Related posts: Donation deduction don'ts from a philanthropic fashionista Beauty on a Budget (AW magazine) NYC gets ugly ... Ugly Betty, that... Read more →

Another stab at extenders, this time without the expanded S Corp tax

The controversial Form 1099 reporting requirement might still be on the books, but another tax proposal that ticked off businesses appears to be on its way out. Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today released a new version of tax extenders legislation. It includes the popular individual tax breaks that expired at the end of 2009: Tuition and fees above-the-line deduction, State and local sales tax itemized tax deduction, Additional standard deduction for real property taxes, Educators out-of-pocket expenses above-the-line deduction, and Tax-free roll over of IRA distributions directly to qualified charities. Business, however, will be thrilled to learn... Read more →

Jon Stewart's look at "The Summer of Recovery" and the brewing tax cut battle

Jon Stewart skewers "The Summer of Recovery" and the upcoming battle over expiring tax cuts. The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cFaces of Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party Thank you, Jon, for yet again making us laugh through our tax, financial, political and, yes, even our social media tears Video player note: When I click start, the Daily Show video clip's volume is totally turned down, which is better than being at the highest level, especially if you work in a cube farm! Related posts: OMG! What will happen to my tax bill if... Read more →

My very, very bad! Today, Sept. 15, is the due date for the third estimated tax voucher (sometimes called quarterly payment), known as Form 1040ES. The reminder is in the left column there under September Tax Moves, but I like to give y'all a separate blog post notice, too. My excuse for forgetting: I set up my payment last week via the IRS' Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS, so I totally forgot about today's deadline. It's too late now to use EFTPS, but if you plan to mail your third estimated tax payment, you've got time. Your 1040-ES... Read more →

Congress creates tax cheats

I'm not talking this time about actual Representatives and Senators and White House administration staff who fudge their taxes or misfile or don't file their 1040s or other tax forms. Rather, I'm pointing a finger at the actions or inactions on Capitol Hill that subvert our voluntary tax payment system. That word "payment" is usually omitted by the loopy tax protesters who latch onto "voluntary." In reality, we don't have the choice to not file or not pay what the tax laws say we owe. That's why the IRS audits returns and has all sorts of mechanisms (liens, refund offsets)... Read more →

Senate uses Form 1099 as political bludgeon, fails to fix reporting problem

Judging from what happened today in the U.S. Senate, I guess my bold prediction about the future of the expiring 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts is going to miss the mark. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as the White House, agree that changes need to be made to the impending requirement that businesses file more Form 1099s. But Senators on both sides of the aisle are acting like spoiled schoolchildren instead of working together on a realistic way to fix the problem. Didn't we just see this act back in July? Plus, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky... Read more →

First, don't panic. I know all of us Congress watchers said Washington, D.C., wouldn't let the estate tax die; that lawmakers would take action in time. OK. We blew that prediction. But this time more than 2 percent of the country will be affected -- and by affected, I mean pay bigger tax bills -- if the 2001 and 2003 tax laws revert to their previous levels. Most of the country facing higher tax rates plus midterm elections for most of Capitol Hill's current residents on Nov. 2. Well, it doesn't take an advanced degree to do that math. So,... Read more →

In advance of Congress' return this week and the upcoming tax cuts smackdown, another Obama Administration official took to the airwaves this past weekend and actually provided a little bit of new info. Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy Michael Mundaca, appearing on C-SPAN's Newsmakers program Sunday, said that giving taxpayers an option to pick which year's estate law, 2009 or 2010, they want to apply is "one possibility." The federal estate tax, as everyone knows by now, died this year. It's scheduled to return on Jan. 1, 2011, but in a much less favorable form (with only $1 million... Read more →

Weekend tax roundups

I meant to post this yesterday, but got distracted with some personal tasks and then spent the evening in the bathroom puking thanks to the Cowboys' horrific play. But my personal issues are in no way a reflection on the fine tax and financial compilations posted this past weekend by a couple of fellow bloggers. Joe Taxpayer Blog offers a nice collection of recent money notes in A Super Longevity Roundup. In addition to his website version, you can give Joe's post your support on Tip'd. And The Wandering Tax Pro's weekend version of What's the Buzz? has a lot... Read more →

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Macbeth Act 4, scene 1 OK, the witches who recently faced potential taxation were Romanian, not Scottish. But Romania's sorceresses escaped a new tax because lawmakers in that eastern European country apparently were worried that a similar incantation (the Shakespearean version does include "wool of bat") might conjure up all sorts of trouble. That's right. Romania's Senate rejected a proposed revenue raiser that would have required the country's witches and fortune tellers to produce receipts, as well as be held liable for wrong predictions, because legislators feared they would be... Read more →

Tax cuts smackdown!

While Representatives and Senators have been out on recess working in their home districts this month, the battle over the extension, or not, of Dubya's tax cuts has been fought mostly in the media. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson from England (R), fights with Brazil's Edson Barbosa during the UFC Rio, a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) competition in Rio de Janeiro August 27, 2011. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: SPORT) It's been a give and take struggle, much of it choreographed a la professional wrestling. Much of the fighting has been among Democrats. No... Read more →

Although most of us won't have to worry about the federal estate tax, regardless of what it finally looks like pending Congressional action or inaction, almost everyone needs a will. The "Your Money" column in today's New York Times examines four will-writing software programs and found that getting legal counsel to draft your last will and testament is usually a good idea. Even even though the four programs that reporter Tara Siegel Bernard used -- Quicken Willmaker Plus 2011, LegacyWriter, LegalZoom and BuildaWill -- made drafting a will easy, Bernard says she "still needed a lawyer to help decode some... Read more →

Hey! Don't go overboard with that headline instruction! There's no need to make lewd recommendations as to what the IRS can do with the added Form 1099s it will start collecting from businesses in 2012. The tax agency didn't come up with the idea; Congress did. But just in case Congress doesn't repeal this requirement -- it tried to do that, sort of, this summer -- before it takes effect, the IRS does want to hear from taxpayers about implementation of the impending law. In case you need a refresher, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act... Read more →

Yet another tax cut what-if calculator

I've got some personal errands to run this morning, so until I get back to blog more, I thought you might want to entertain yourselves with another tax calculator. The Tax Policy Center's calculator lets us compare today's law, that's the 2001-2003 tax cuts still in place, against two alternatives to see how different taxpayers would make out: If all the 2001-2003 tax cuts, aka Dubya's tax cuts, expire as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2011, or If tax law changes proposed in Obama's 2011 budget are implemented, meaning the 2001-2003 tax cuts expire only for high-income taxpayers. Like any good... Read more →

Inquiring minds want to know just which federal employees aren't paying their taxes. As I mentioned yesterday, one way of parsing the IRS debt numbers revealed that Capitol Hill workers top the unpaid tax list. But as the old saying about figures and liars (c'mon; even though I loved my years in the nation's capital, you knew I had to use that phrase in talking about Washington, D.C.!), there are many ways to crunch numbers. The Washington Post's Post Politics feature provides a breakout of federal workers -- by category, not name -- who owed money to the IRS in... Read more →

This coming tax filing season, we're going to enter a new phase of the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Why should the next round of this tax boondoggle break be any different that from the confusing claim process? OK, maybe it won't be full-fledged chaos when the IRS starts processing 2010 tax returns upon which repayments of the original 2008 faux $7,500 credit begin. Y'all do remember that when it was created, the so-called credit was really just an interest-free federal loan, don't you? And loans, despite what some homeowners think, must be paid back. But I'll guarantee that this coming... Read more →