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September 2014

Fashionistas are wrapping up a month of shows that have taken them from New York to London to Milan and now Paris. One big name designer, however, might not be paying as close attention as usual to the City of Light's catwalks this week. A couple of Prada executives have taxes instead of tailleur on their minds. A month of global fashion weeks, during which designers preview their coming spring and fall clothing lines, concludes this week in Paris. Click the image for a glimpse of what the rich and famous might be wearing in early 2015. Prada chairwoman Miuccia... Read more →

UK's top financial officer kills 'death tax' on pensions

I've been keeping a close eye on the United Kingdom for the last week because the hubby was in Scotland covering the Ryder Cup international golf tournament. That event got a lot of attention, especially since it came on the heels of Scotland's vote to remain part of the UK. Then there was the European golfers' trouncing of their U.S. counterparts. Now financial and tax folks are focusing on our closest European ally because of the decision by the UK's top financial officer to abolish its tax on some inherited pensions. George Osborne announces to the gathering of the Conservative... Read more →

Smokers are an easy and popular target for state tax collectors. Whenever they want to raise some added revenue, they bump up the sales tax on cigarettes. That's why nicotine addicts are always looking for ways around their states' sin taxes. Many thought they had found the perfect cigarette sales tax work-around: just buy the tax-free smokes from an Internet seller. Well, that isn't working out so well for some Arizona smokers. They now are facing stiff tax bills on cigarettes they bought online, sales tax-free, almost a decade ago. Old purchases, current tax bills: The Arizona Republic reports that... Read more →

UPDATE, April 7, 2017: Michael Sorrentino is in tax trouble. Again. Mike, or "The Situation" as he was known when he was one of the stars of the MTV hit "Jersey Shore", and his brother Marc were indicted Friday, April 7, 2017, on additional charges of alleged tax evasion. As noted in this post from 2014, the Sorrentino brothers were indicted in 2014 for tax offenses and conspiring to defraud the United States. Under the new charges, Michael now also faces charges of tax evasion and structuring funds to evade currency transaction reports. Marc is now also charged with falsifying... Read more →

Kansas' rapidly diminishing state treasury is about to get a boost from an unlikely and decidedly adult source. The Sunflower State will be getting the money from the auction of thousands of adult novelty items, from lingerie to handcuffs to remote-controlled vibrating thongs. The items, which the Kansas City Star reports are all new and in their original packaging, were seized in July from a company that didn't pay $163,986 in state sales, income and withholding taxes. The Kansas Department of Revenue confiscated the inventory from five adult stores owned by United Outlets, LLC in July. The company, which does... Read more →

Taxes and politics are inextricably linked. Raising them, or even saying you might think about doing so, generally dooms campaigns. Lowering them, of course, is seen as a political plus. And actually giving people real tax money back goes a long way toward a ballot box win. At least that's what some New York incumbents no doubt are hoping happens this election year. Family tax credit rebates: Millions of Empire State residents soon will be $350 richer. Tax rebate checks for that amount are going out this week to New Yorkers who, among other things, had a child younger than... Read more →

Attention Amazon customers in Maryland a Minnesota. You might want to get your orders in now. On Oct. 1, those two states will bring to 23 the number in which the online retail giant collects sales taxes. Photo by MikeBlogs via Flickr Creative Commons Currently, Amazon is tacking state sales tax amounts on invoices of products delivered to: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. South Carolina Amazon taxes are on the calendar for Jan. 1, 2016. Getting around useless... Read more →

I was a novice reporter back in February 1979 when thousands of American farmers converged on Washington, D.C. That 18-day tractorcade through messy winter weather produced not only global recognition of U.S. farming issues, but also an office for the organizing American Agriculture Movement in the nation's capital. We also ultimately got Willie Nelson's Farm Aid concerts. Since that angry grassroots beginning, AAM has played a part in shaping federal ag legislation. Viva la ag protests: Recently, farmers in France decided they, too, needed to protest. In addition to general tax policy complaints, they are concerned about falling prices, brought... Read more →

The good news is that in 2013 the Internal Revenue Service was able to stop $24.2 billion worth of fraudulent tax refunds. The bad news is that in that same year, the IRS still paid an estimated $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds. Not to dwell on the negative when the federal tax collector is doing a better job at stopping fraud, but that disturbing fake refund dollar amount is this week's By the Numbers figure. The dubious honor is not only for the $5.2 billion, but also the hassles that the real taxpayers endured because they were victims... Read more →

I am a firm believer in the cliché adage truth that you're as young as you feel. Age is an artificial construct, devised by humans to set limits. I realize that sometimes age requirements are necessary -- driving, voting, drinking. Don't combine these dangerously! Personally, I don't celebrate birthdays. I don't hate them, but making a big deal of the day on which you just happened to appear screaming into (at?) the world seems silly. As a friend from Washington, D.C., (miss you, Maxine!) once said and I repeat often: Age only matters if you're wine or cheese. "Is the... Read more →

The kids are finally back in class. Thanks to a variety of summer sales tax holidays across the country, their parents saved some cash on school clothing and supplies. Now a handful of states is offering energy-related sales tax holidays. In all cases, the eligible tax-free items are Energy Star or WaterSense, certified. These programs, run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, in the case of Energy Star, also the Energy Department Energy, encourage the use of energy- and water-efficient products and practices. Florida kicked off the energy-related sales tax holidays on Friday, Sept. 19. Shoppers can save on... Read more →

UPDATED Sept. 19, 2017 Yo ho, all ye salty sea dogs and scalawags. Just a quick reminder on this annual Talk Like a Pirate Day that ill-gotten gains, including but not limited to pillaged pirate loot, are taxable. I suspect that Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and 2013 MLB National League MVP, and his crew of sports team buccaneer mascots will escape Internal Revenue Service scrutiny for their plundering of ESPN's lox. Click image to watch the ESPN ad. But look out all ye other crooks, both landlubbing and on the high seas. Don't try to show your heels to... Read more →

Yes, we know you love your pet as a family member. And yes, we know your animal is the smartest furry creature in the word. But no, your cat or dog is not talented enough to run a company that you created. That, however, is what a Colorado couple tried. Now they're paying the price. Cat and dog years of tax evasion: Two years ago, Mathew and Sandra Zuckerman of Woody Creek, Colo., were indicted for a variety of alleged schemes to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. Earlier this year, the couple entered guilty pleas in connection with some of... Read more →

It's a crazy day. I'm trying to get a lot of stuff done before I head off to New Orleans tomorrow for FinCon14, the annual conference for personal finance bloggers. By this time tomorrow, I'll be at the hotel that's hosting the get-together. It's handy to stay on premises. Plus I like room service and a chance to sample premium television channels we don't get at home. A lot of folks, however, whether they travel for business or pleasure (or a combination!), prefer smaller, independent accommodations. Many also look for a homier experience and stay in personal residences that are... Read more →

He who controls the purse strings makes the rules. Although this popular quote uses "he" in the general, universal sense to make a money point, the pronoun is the operative word in most domestic violence cases. Not to get all wild-eyed feminist, but as the recent spousal abuse cases in the National Football League have underscored, women generally are the victims when relationships take a physical turn for the worse. No money, continued abuse: In addition to physical violence, abused spouses and partners also often face financial abuse. The spouse or partner who makes the most money uses that resource... Read more →

It's deadline day for payers of estimated tax. The third installment of these four extra tax filings/payments each each year is due today, Sept. 15. This third 1040-ES payment covers money you got but didn't pay withholding taxes on between June 1 and Aug. 31. Those three months and today's third estimated tax deadline earn 3 the latest By the Numbers honor. But there are other figures that come into account as you figure your estimated tax payments. Amounts used to figure estimated tax: The biggie is your expected adjusted gross income, or AGI, for the year. This includes any... Read more →

I remember working in an office. There were the totally open ones, where nothing separated the desks. Then came the cube farms. At a couple of places, I even had my own separate office. Is a private office one of the perks that makes going into work worthwhile for you? Or do you want something else from your employer? My motto generally is "say it with cash." However, a recent survey by BlessingWhite and reported by found there are some common non-monetary ways to motivate employees. I say, "convince me." Keeping employees happy: There are four things, according to... Read more →

Count me among those who were around for the first Saturday Night Live, or SNL as it's known in this acronym age, show 39 years ago. Also count me among those who firmly believe the original cast (plus Bill Murray a few years later) and quality of their skits were the best ever. Tom Snyder interviews Lorne Michaels and the original SNL cast before the show's debut on Oct. 11, 1975. Don't worry. This isn't going to be a nostalgic geezer stroll down TV Land lane. Although I have fond memories of the original, I also happily acknowledge that some... Read more →

Our beloved cat Zeke was part of our family for 19 years. He's been gone for 15 now and we still think about him every day. Zeke chilling out in a box at our Maryland condo back in 1984. Our human family and friends are stunned we never adopted another cat. When I've broached the subject of a new kitty over the years, the hubby's reaction has remained consistent and firm: "Do people get another kid when they lose one?" Sometimes, but that's a topic and blog post for another time. Today's focus is on our collective devotion to our... Read more →

Tax relief for terrorist attack victims and their families

This still painful anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. soil is underscored today by the recent killings of Americans abroad by Islamic State terrorists. President Barack Obama, dignitaries, Sept. 11 survivors, rescuers, and victims' relatives marked the opening of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero in New York City on May 15. Video courtesy Channel 2, CBS, New York via YouTube. As we and our lawmakers debate the next steps in the continuing war on global terrorists, we also must cope with the realities of life going on amid such terrible chaos. Taxes and terror:... Read more →