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August 2015

Could the U.S. Supreme Court hear yet another Affordable Care Act, or ACA, case? If opponents of Obamacare, as the law is popularly known, have their way, yes. Last Friday, Aug. 7, the judges on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear a suit challenging the legislative process by which the ACA became law. Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, filed by Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of Iowa artist Matt Sissel, argued that because the ACA is expected to generate $473 billion in its first 10 years as law, it is a... Read more →


If you thought the legal wrangling surrounding Obamacare was fun, hang on. The U.S. Supreme Court soon could consider another tax case, this time involving the most popular sport in the United States. Cleveland plans to ask the country's highest court to decide whether it can continue to assess its current jock tax, the money it collects from visiting professional athletes. NFL players who come to Cleveland for games face not only a jock tax, which is under legal challenge, but also the Browns' Dawg Pound fans like this guy. In April, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland's games-played... Read more →


As Greece continues its efforts to get its finances in order, the country still is struggling with tax collection. Many businesses throughout the Mediterranean nation try to do as much business as possible in cash. The lack of record keeping for cash transactions makes it easier for them to avoid paying tax. Apparently, though, it's not just sellers of goods at Greek markets who are looking for ways to skirt the country's taxes. A component of a respected cultural institution has come under scrutiny. Greek officials have launched a tax fraud inquiry into one of the country's most visited archaeological... Read more →


The only thing we Texans take more seriously than our football (high school, college and pro) and politics (equally crazy at local, state and federal levels) is our barbecue. So it's no surprise that two of the three converged in George W. Bush's Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. A handwritten note from W's brother, then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current candidate to follow in his father's and sibling's White House footsteps, alerted Bush 43 of a Georgia barbecue joint's "Dubya's Texas Specials" and the meals' associated tax breaks. "Some people support that tax plan!," Jeb tells his older brother,... Read more →


If you thought the Supreme Court's OK back in June of all Obamacare tax subsidies, whether issued by the federal or state insurance marketplaces, settled things as far as the national health care law goes, think again. The Affordable Care Act, as it's officially named, still poses complications -- or at least some extra tax work -- for folks who are looking to get help from Uncle Sam to pay for their health care coverage. Nationally, the ACA financial aid averages $272 a month and takes care of roughly three-fourths of a qualifying taxpayer's premium. Two credit payment methods: That... Read more →


This weekend is prime sales tax holiday season. Shoppers in 13 states will get a chance to trade beach bags for backpacks as part of the popular back-to-school tax-free events. Nine 3-day holidays: Starting today, Friday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 9, nine states -- Alabama, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia -- are offering their residents three full days to pick up eligible products sans sales tax. Tax holidays also begin today in Iowa and Louisiana, but they end at midnight Saturday, Aug. 8. A week or more: Shoppers in Florida and Maryland get... Read more →


The Republicans who want to sit in the Oval Office in 2017 and beyond are gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, for tonight's first, and I use this term very loosely, debate. As everyone knows by now, the star of this quasi-reality show being broadcast at 9 p.m. Eastern Time by Fox News is real estate magnate Donald Trump. He's fourth from the left in the bottom row of photos above in case you don't recognized the hair. He will be joined on stage by (left to right starting on the top row and skipping Trump) former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired... Read more →


Mark Everson served as Internal Revenue Service commissioner from 2003 to 2007. Before that appointment by George W. Bush, he served in the Reagan Administration, as well as headed two Indiana state agencies, the Department of Administration and Department of Workforce Development. Everson also was the first Republican this year to announce that he wanted to be his party's nominee to run for president in 2016. He filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on March 10, 13 days before Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tossed his hat into the ring. Everson also is the only candidate not... Read more →


Tax identity thieves are quick studies. They've been listening to the Internal Revenue Service warn us that the tax agency will not send e-mails or call us to discuss tax problems. Instead, notes the IRS, it always contacts taxpayers first via old-fashioned snail-mailed letters. So that's what tax crooks now are doing, too. Evolving tax scams: I first heard of this tactic last month at a seminar about tax identity theft during the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in Denver. One of my fellow attendees mentioned that a client had received an official looking letter ostensibly from the IRS about a... Read more →


2015 was supposed to be the year of tax reform, specifically simplification of our complicated tax code. Instead, Congress has been tucking tax provisions into recently enacted pieces of non-tax legislation. The most recent was the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, popularly referred to as the short-term highway funding bill. That measure, signed into law on July 31, contains several new tax provisions, including changed filing deadlines, additional information reporting rules for mortgages and more time for the Internal Revenue Service to audit certain types of underreported income. But a month earlier when a... Read more →


And here we are, into August. School will start in some places this month. Elsewhere, folks are sneaking in one final vacation trip. Regardless of whether you're packing the kiddos' lunches or packing for a final seasonal jaunt, you're probably just trying to stay cool during these Dog Days of summer. You also should be looking at some August Tax Moves that could help you keep you cool now and at filing season next year. Here are some ideas. Tax-free shopping: Few things are cooler than getting a tax bargain. That's possible for shoppers in 18 states that this summer... Read more →


More than 32,000 people petitioned the White House asking the president to take an hour to talk with conservative talk-show host and author Neal Boortz about the FairTax plan (yes, it's referred to as one word). The request was posted Jan. 8, 2013, on We the People, the White House's online petition site. The 32,421 digital signatures it collected earn this week's By the Numbers honor. That total, however, was not enough to convince President Obama to make room in his schedule for the requested meeting. "We've taken your request seriously and while we appreciate the suggestion, we respectfully decline,"... Read more →


From a tax standpoint, Alaska is a pretty cool location. The Last Frontier doesn't collect any individual income tax. It also doesn't have a state sales tax. Local Alaskan governments, however, do have the option to collect sales and other taxes. The additional local levies in Alaska cover such things as raw fish (you did see that Deadliest Catch episode featuring the tax collector, didn't you?), hotel and motel occupancy, fuel, gambling proceeds, liquor and tobacco. Right now, one of the most popular local tax collections is on tobacco. More tobacco taxes in Alaska: A dozen years ago, reports Jeannette... Read more →