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November 2012

Evading taxes apparently is in fashion in Italy. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, founders of luxe Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, are scheduled to go on trial in December for tax evasion. The designers allegedly avoided Italian taxes when they sold their business in 2004 to a Luxembourg-based holding company, Gado Srl, that tax officials contend they created specifically for tax evasion purposes. Meanwhile, the fashion houses of Hugo Boss and Valentino also are tax trouble. Italy's tax police revealed earlier this month that had confiscated $83.5 million worth of land, holdings and real estate, including a 15th century... Read more →


During the Occupy Wall Street movement's heyday and recent presidential campaign, we all became very familiar with how the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans got that way. They tend to let their money work for them via investments. In addition to packing their portfolios with assets that grow in value, they sell at the right time and then they pay lower taxes on their profits thanks to the capital gains tax rules and rates. Old stock certificates photo courtesy J. Money via Flickr Sell an asset that you've held for more than a year and it is classified as a... Read more →


Just more than a year ago Denmark instituted a fat tax. Foods containing more than 2.3 percent saturated fat were subject to the surcharge that was projected to raise billions for the kingdom. Oh yeah. The tax also was supposed to make the country's residents healthier as they eschewed the more costly fatty foods. Now the fat tax is history. A planned sugar tax is dead, too. Danish officials are still concerned about their citizens' health. But the financial well-being of Danes also was a factor. The fat tax, said the Danish tax ministry, had led to inflated food prices.... Read more →


Last week was totally crazy. I was traveling and simultaneously trying to stay on top of tax developments. And there was this thing called a presidential election that kept distracting me. But I was able to post a couple of items last week at my other tax blog, although I'm a bit later than usual in noting those posts here! Hurricane Sandy continued to get attention almost a week after she made landfall and after being redubbed Superstorm Sandy. Whatever you want to call her, she was nasty. And the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged Sandy's effects by issuing some special... Read more →


Long-time readers of the ol' blog know I'm weather obsessed. They also have come to dread welcome my nagging reminders about storm preparation, including the importance of tax material, whenever a natural disaster is imminent. Well, I'm not one to say I told you so -- ignore that laughter from the hubby in the background -- but today I ran across a first-hand account from a Superstorm Sandy victim about what he saved from the storm's flood. Michael Winerip writes in today's New York Times' Booming column about "a few things we rescued" when water from the hurricane started rushing... Read more →


You know it's a wacky election year when folks from disparate parts of the political world start seeing things the same way. Bill Kristol, editor of the neocon Weekly Standard, agrees with my assessment from almost a year and half ago that the Republican Party needs to know when to learn out to declare victory and run with it. The newly reelected President Obama has said he's willing to work on changes to some federal domestic programs, known as entitlements in the spending hawks' dictionary, but that for his part he wants the top two Bush income tax rates to... Read more →


We don't have Doug Shulman to kick around anymore. Shulman, who became Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on March 24, 2008, clocked out for the last time on Nov. 9. Current law calls for IRS Commissioners to serve for up to five years with their terms ending on Nov. 12 of their final year. Since Nov. 12 is a federal holiday (Veterans Day was Sunday, but for pay and leave purposes federal workers get Monday off), that preceding Friday, Nov. 9, was Shulman's last work day. Shulman was the 47th IRS Commissioner. In recognition of Shulman's term, 47 is... Read more →


World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. The actual fighting, however, had stopped seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. That cessation of hostilities on Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of what was then dubbed "the war to end all wars." Unfortunately, the hope that there would be no more wars was not borne out and fighting continues at this moment in too many places across the... Read more →


Outside groups spent more than $1.3 billion on the just completed 2012 elections. More than $715 million went to defeat President Obama and Democratic Senate candidates. Obama won. Two more Democrats will join the Senate in January. And in the House, where the leftover super PAC money went to try to bolster the Republican majority in that legislative chamber, the GOP retained control but actually lost a few seats. So did the outside money not matter? Or was it simply poorly spent? You can be sure that the folks who ponied up the really big bucks to the Republican super... Read more →


Mother Nature has been seriously ticked off recently and the folks in the Northeast have sure been on the receiving end of her temper. On the heels of Superstorm nee Hurricane Sandy, a nor'easter blasted, well, the northeast. And some of the areas that were declared major disasters because of Sandy also were hit by Winter Storm Athena. Winter storm names: What? You didn't know the northeaster had a name? Don't worry; you're not too far behind the curve. The naming of winter storms just began this week. The names are not official christenings from the National Weather Service (NWS).... Read more →


Before Tuesday's votes were cast, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was talking tough on taxes. "We're not raising taxes on small-business people," Boehner told POLITICO during an election-eve interview in Columbus, Ohio. "Ernst and Young has made this clear: It's going to cost our economy 700,000 jobs. Why in the world would we want to do that?" Predicting Republican victories, Boehner said his party would have "as much of a mandate as [President Obama] will — if that happens — to not raise taxes." Boehner's election crystal ball was right on both counts. Before the election, Republicans had 241 House... Read more →


Let me start by making it clear that I am not a stock guru. If I were, the hubby and I would be catching some rays right now from a Costa Rican beach. But we do have investments and we watch them closely because we hope they one day will help us end up on a tropical shoreline full time. Like a lot of investors we are not thrilled today to see the stock market tanking. Photo by Alex Proimos via Flickr Creative Commons Jim Wang, founder of the personal finance blog Bargaineering, noted over on Facebook: "Stock market falling... Read more →


Welcome to the ol' blog's annual election edition of the Tax Carnival. While many of you voted early (me too), this collection of tax tips and advice got bumped back to today, Nov. 6, actual election day. That's fitting, since the president and the members of Congress elected today will shape our federal tax bills. At the state level, there also are a lot of important state tax ballot initiatives. So while the polls are still open, let's kick off Tax Carnival #108: Election 2012 with the political posts. Manny Davis presents a visual comparison of Barack Obama's and Mitt... Read more →


Not only are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney glad that Nov. 6 has finally arrived, so are all of us voters. Folks in the swing states are finally done with incessant television commercials for the presidential candidates. The rest of us are done with the overload from more local candidates and ballot issues. All of us will be glad to see and hear more nonpolitical stories in our newspapers, online and on our TVs and our radios. And we definitely will be thrilled to see all the negativity start to fade as we get back to our normal lives. True,... Read more →


We've paid a lot of attention to the tax proposals of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. But regardless of which man wins the presidency, he'll have to work with the Congressional tax-writing committees. Most of the current members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees are expected to return to Washington after Nov. 6. But some other member changes due to resignations could give the panels a slightly different look. Senate tax status quo: Seven members of the Senate Finance Committee are up for reelection. They are ranking minority member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Democrats Maria Cantwell... Read more →


Almost 200 various ballot questions made or will make it onto 39 statewide ballots in 2012. The states with most propositions are Alabama and Florida with 11 each. California has 10. Arizona, Louisiana and Oregon voters will decide on nine ballot questions in their respective states. Ballot questions 2012 word cloud courtesy Ballot Initiative Strategy Center The hot issues are marijuana, health, marriage and, of course, taxes. Thirty-four of the 2012 ballot initiatives involve tax issues. Four were decided by voters earlier this year. That leaves 30 tax-related referenda for voters in 15 states to decide when they go to... Read more →


Forget the polls, go with the winning sports teams presidential predictions

Are the conflicting presidential poll numbers driving you crazy? Forget 'em. This is America, where athletic champions get invited to the White House to meet the president. So I'm turning to sports for an indication as to whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will win on Nov. 6 and spend the next four years lauding the accomplishments of U.S. athletes in special photo-op ceremonies. Obama is a fan of the Chicago sports franchises, but since neither the White Sox nor the Cubs made it to the World Series, the prez probably was glad to see the San Francisco Giants win... Read more →


A mix hurricane and fiscal news were the featured topics last week at my other tax blog. Hurricane Sandy kicked off the week, making landfall on Oct. 29 in New Jersey. The Garden State took the brunt of the storm, but New York also was hard hit. Memories of botched reaction to Katrina's assault on New Orleans, not to mention an election in a few days, led to quick reaction by the federal government. Several counties in New Jersey and New York were declared major disasters on Oct. 30. That meant that affected residents get federal assistance, as well as... Read more →


Tired of all the campaign commercials? Hang tough. They're almost over. As a diversion from the Obama, Romney and Super PACs ads, check out presidential TV spots from campaigns past. The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012 is an online exhibition of more than 300 television commercials from every election year since 1952, when the first campaign TV ads aired. Yes, the most famous of all political commercials, the Daisy Girl ad that President Lyndon Johnson's campaign ran only once as a paid ad, is there. The ad ran on NBC on Sept. 7, 1964, during Monday Night at... Read more →


Things are really getting exciting in North Carolina. Not only are Tar Heel State residents getting added attention from the presidential candidates -- it's still considered a swing state -- purchasers of energy-efficient appliances this weekend won't have to pay any sales tax. That's right. North Carolina's annual fall Energy Star sales tax holiday begins today, Friday, Nov. 2, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 4. During these three days, certain appliances that meet energy-saving standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy are sales tax free. Just look for the Energy Star label on clothes washers,... Read more →