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July 2015

"The 2015 filing season was akin to A Tale of Two Cities. For the majority of taxpayers who filed their returns and did not require IRS assistance, the filing season was generally successful. For the segment of taxpayers who required help from the IRS, the filing season was by far the worst in memory." That comment was National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson getting all literary in her 2015 mid-year report to Congress. If you prefer a celluloid take on Charles Dickens' classic novel about politics, class conflicts, sacrifice and, yes, love amid the French Revolution, click the screen shot... Read more →

A couple of years ago I made some lifestyle changes to improve my overall health. I started exercising more and I reduced sugar consumption. That second part was relatively easy. All I had to do was drink no more than one can of Coke -- and yes, while the brand name is how we Texans refer to all sodas, I truly am a Coca-Cola devotee -- a day. The Coca-Cola collection in our kitchen pantry. The hubby occasionally mixes in a can of Cherry Coke. I stick with the original. And yes, I have cut consumption. Our stash is big... Read more →

Disney is known for its princesses. That's fitting, because from a corporate tax position, the entertainment behemoth is a king. Beast and the Disney princess beauties by Jennie Park via Flickr And boy is it good to be king. Disney just got a royal tax deal from Anaheim. Tax deal for possible future tax: The Southern California city that is home to Disneyland just extended its entertainment tax agreement, which has been in place since 1996 and which was set to expire next June, with Disney for 30 more years. In the original deal almost 20 years ago, Anaheim promised... Read more →

Greece's future, both financially and as part of the Eurozone, remains unclear as the Mediterranean country and its creditors struggle to come to an agreement on what should be done about its persistent inability to pay its bills. UPDATE Monday, July 13, 2015: European leaders agree to tough Greek rescue plan. In simplest terms, the Greeks borrowed more money than they can pay back. The New York Times offers a more detailed look at how Greece got to this financial crisis point. At issue now is a three-year bailout of 53.5 billion euros, or $59 billion. It's not a new... Read more →

Five U.S. Senators who represent states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana have introduced legislation to make it easier for pot-selling businesses to obtain banking services. Photo of marijuana retailer at his shop courtesy Since federal law still considers marijuana an illegal Schedule 1 drug, most U.S. banks won't accept marijuana businesses as customers. But if the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015 makes it into law, that will no longer be a problem. Western lawmakers lead the way: S. 1726 was introduced by Colorado Sens. Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner, Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and... Read more →

More teenagers are working this summer. There aren't any jobs out there for young workers. Employers are struggling to find teens to work at traditional summer jobs. Google "teens and jobs" and you'll find all three of those reports on seasonal youth employment. So just what is the youth employment situation for the summer of 2015? Great, good or terrible depending on where you and your teenage live and the type of work you and your youngster are seeking. The ebb and flow of youth jobs: The Pew Research Center recently looked at what's happened over the years to the... 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 2015, 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 →

Trading at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has been, for the most part, halted. While the situation that the NYSE says is a technical glitch is a boon for Twitter quipsters, it's legitimately freaking out traders and investors. The trading issue is entering its third hour as I type. NYSE officials, however, are hoping to open before the day ends. Floor trading finally resumed around 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time. NYSE issued a statement after the 11:32 a.m. Eastern Time problem occurred: "The issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber... Read more →

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has received, for the second time, the Supreme Court's imprimatur. Following the high court's 6-3 decision on June 25, President Obama declared that the health care law that unofficially bears his name "is here to stay." Obamacare opponents, however, aren't convinced and are still trying to chip away at the law. The latest anti-ACA approach is to repeal some of the narrower portions of the bill. Repeal of the medical device tax, an excise tax on manufacturers of items such as artificial joints, pacemakers and defibrillators, has a decent shot of making it through both... Read more →

Welcome back from the July 4th break. I hope you had a great Independence Day. Our country's birth was brought about in part as a protest against taxation without representation. We still have taxes 239 years later, but at least we now have a Congress and state legislatures that are, sometimes, more receptive to our tax concerns. And while most of us will never be totally independent of taxes, we can make some moves to reduce our tax hassles and bills. July, the heart of summer and the beginning of the second half of the tax year, is the perfect... Read more →

It was a long holiday weekend, but that didn't stop workers at the Travis County Clerk's Office. They were at their Austin, Texas, posts to help same-sex couples get their marriage licenses. "I don’t remember anything like this," County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir told the local NBC affiliate KXAN. "This is the first time we have had a specific opening on a specific holiday for a specific reason." "The staff has hung in there even though they are tired," DeBeauvoir said. "The excitement and adrenaline carries them through the days." Click image to watch video of Austin's Big Gay Wedding preparations.... Read more →

NASCAR fans are gearing up for tonight's night race at Daytona International Speedway. Still referred to as the Firecracker 400 by veteran stock car fans, the corporately renamed Coke Zero 400 marks NBC's return to the sport after a 10 year hiatus. While some race fans are grumbling because the top-tier NASCAR race was bumped from its traditional first Saturday night in July to Sunday to capture a bigger TV audience, it still should be a good show. And it will give those at the track as well as those of us watching on television a chance to see what's... Read more →

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, marking the newly-formed America's official break from British colonial rule. We all know that taxes and the original Tea Partiers were a major part of the creation of the United States. But what is less well-known is why communities across the country tonight will celebrate the nation's birthday by setting off pyrotechnic displays. Because Founding Father John Adams said so. Image courtesy via Giphy Adams as fireworks advocate: On July 3, 1776, a day after the Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted for independence (the declaration document itself was transposed... Read more →

Ins explaining the United States to non-Americans, the quirky online comic website The Oatmeal notes that the Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence through alcoholism, concussive explosions and by scaring the crap out of our pets. I thought the characterization was just part of cartoonist Matthew Inman's exaggeratedly offbeat sense of humor, which is further demonstrated by his July 4th drawing there to the left. But Inman nailed it. All across the country this long weekend we have the fireworks and terrified pets and, yes, the over-consumption of booze. Biggest booze days: Independence Day is one... Read more →

Are you hitting the road this long Independence Day weekend? You are not alone. AAA Travel projects 41 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, with more than 80 percent of them traveling by auto. That's the highest level of Fourth of July road trippers since 2007. The number of drivers this holiday weekend also is nearly 14 percent more than those who took auto trips over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The increase in July 4th motorists also is good news for gasoline producers, as well as the treasuries in... Read more →

Jeb Bush really did have 33 years of tax returns on hand and he opened them up for public inspection yesterday. When the former Florida governor announced that as part of his campaign to be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee that he was going to go to the extreme on personal tax transparency, I immediately wondered why he selected that particular number of years. I also wondered how come he had that many years of tax records on hand. I was not alone. CPA and Twitter pal Deanna Richardson also was intrigued by the massive amount of tax records. Most... Read more →