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October 2015

I can't believe I'm about to type this, but Donald Trump is right. Here's the caveat. I'm talking about Trump's approach to paying taxes. The pompous billionaire says he pays as little as possible in taxes. Donald Trump, in an Aug. 2, 2015, telephone interview with CBS Face the Nation host John Dickerson, discusses his tax strategy. "I fight like hell to pay as little as possible," Trump said in a CBS Face the Nation phone interview in August. "I am a businessman, and that's the way you are supposed to do it. And you put the money back in... Read more →


Did you watch the wannabe Democratic presidential nominees debate last night? Good for you. And good for America. Although the first Democratic debate drew less than half the audience of the last Republican one, the more than 15 million CNN viewers who tuned in to see Hillary Clinton et al is a record debate viewership for the Democratic Party. Pols top zombies: In fact, there were more eyeballs watching Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee verbally duke it out Tuesday night than tuned in a few days earlier to watch zombies. The Walking Dead fan favorite... Read more →


One thing is certain about tonight's debate between the candidates who want to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016: None of them is Donald Trump. The Republican nominee front-runner has, however, threatened promised to troll cover tonight's event via Twitter. Trump's absence, on stage at least, is good for Democrats. It is bad, however, for the televised spectacle factor. Don't expect any outrageous statements from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee in an effort to stand out. Democratic presidential wannabes face off for the first time on Oct. 13 in Las Vegas, televised... Read more →


Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is still contemplating whether he wants to be Speaker of the House. Meanwhile, opposition to what some had seen as the consensus candidate is growing. Looking for less power in Speaker: Some in the self-named Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans who have chipped away at what they see as establishment members of the GOP, including those in Congressional leadership posts, are not sold on Ryan as Speaker. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the founder of the House Freedom Caucus, told Fox News last week that he viewed Ryan as a... Read more →


Business tax filers are catching up with individual taxpayers when it comes to electronically submitting returns. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that in 2015 around 77 percent of all corporate and partnership returns were filed electronically, based on filing data as of Sept. 20. That's 625,000 more such business filings than last year, or percentage-wise, a 9 percent increase. On the individual tax side, slightly more that 86 percent of U.S. taxpayers had e-filed their 1040s through Sept. 25. That's a 2.2 percent increase over the same period in 2014. And remember that we have a few more e-filing days... Read more →


Computers and taxes are inseparable. Most of us use our computers to file our taxes every year. The Internal Revenue Service relies on its computers, which it keeps telling Congress it needs money to upgrade, to process those millions of electronically completed and filed returns. Now some computer scientists are working on an algorithm that could help catch some tax cheats. Partnership tax shelter troubles: Specifically, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the nonprofit technology research and development organization Mitre Corporation, are focusing on a certain type of tax shelter used by partnerships. "We see the tax code... Read more →


I love that Subaru commercial where the little kid (he's 5!) imagines what it would be like to drive his dad's car. My favorite part is when he exasperatedly utters, "People." That's how I feel today after the Internal Revenue Service felt compelled to issue a warning about possible fake charity scams popping up in connection with the deadly flooding this month in South Carolina and neighboring states. People. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Crooks and con artists look for any hook they can to separate us from our money. It happened after the devastating Haitian earthquake. Criminals also targeted... Read more →


House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) withdrew today from the race to succeed Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker of the House. "Over the last week it has become clear to me that our Conference is deeply divided and needs to unite behind one leader," McCarthy said in a statement released by his office. "I have always put this Conference ahead of myself. Therefore I am withdrawing my candidacy for Speaker of the House. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to help move our Conference’s agenda and our country forward." The surprise move has left the Republican House... Read more →


It breaks my heart as a fan to say this, but professional sports is business. That's true not just for the owners, who look for ways to squeeze every penny out of their teams, but also for the players. I've ranted and raved and yes, cried like a little girl, as I've watched my favorite players take the money and run to other teams. Game opening face-off between the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils on Feb. 21, 2013. The Caps lost 2-3, but the hubby and I enjoyed seeing our team skate again. Photo by Kay Bell. In every... Read more →


A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Frank Pallone called for a Congressional review of fantasy sports operations. The ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is concerned about the relationships of professional sports teams and players with the fake leagues. The New Jersey Representative also is seeking clarification on just how, if at all, playing fantasy sports differs from gambling. Pallone renewed his call for a hearing today in the wake of reports of so-called insider trading of information by employees of fantasy sports providers DraftKings and FanDuel. Dave and Rob Gomes, brothers from Boston, Massachusetts, won $1... Read more →


We love our pets. Too much so, apparently, in the case of an animal care group that was seeking nonprofit status. In order to encourage donors to support its efforts to control domestic animal populations and prevent cruelty to animals, the owners of a pet facility planned to offer a variety of services. But the Internal Revenue Service decided that pet care accoutrements such as a heated spa, penthouse boarding and massages were more tailored to the promotion of a money-making business. Conversion complications: The facility seeking 501(c)(3) nonprofit status previously was a for-profit boarding and veterinary clinic. In changing... Read more →


When Donald Trump finally released his tax plan on Sept. 28, he included a provision he says would encourage U.S. based-companies to companies to bring their overseas earnings -- and jobs and tax payments -- home. Companies nowadays operate, and pay taxes, well beyond the boundaries of the county in which they are headquartered. Image by Effervescent Me via Flickr. Trump's proposal for a one-time repatriation of corporate cash held abroad at a discounted 10 percent tax rate is nothing new. One of his GOP presidential nominee competitors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, previously released his tax plan that calls... Read more →


Fall has arrived. That means in addition to leaves changing colors, some folks will be changing their workplace benefits. Yep, the open season for employer-provided options is or about to be underway in offices across the country. One of the most popular benefits is the tax-favored flexible spending account, usually referred to as an FSA. As the latest Weekly Tax Tip details, these worker accounts offer tax-saving ways to cover some child care or health care costs. The key to both accounts is knowing your, and your family's, needs and then managing the accounts carefully. Putting away pre-tax dollars: Both... Read more →


October is here, finally bringing with it colorful leaves and cooler Fall weather. OK, not so much here in Central Texas, where temperatures insist on hovering in the mid-90s, around 10 degrees above normal. Photo of a colorful park in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada by Paul Bica courtesy Flickr Creative Commons. Much more certain than the weather during this first full month of Autumn is the key tax deadline of Oct. 15. That date is, of course, when procrastinators must finally send in their prior year's tax return. It's also the due date for other important, and tax-related, retirement moves. Here's... Read more →


Hurricane Joaquin, a powerful, late-season tropical storm is pounding the Bahamas and expected to threaten ... well, we don't know for sure. Today, Joaquin became the first Category 4 hurricane to track through the Bahamas in October since 1866, 149 years ago. So where's he going next? As hurricanes are wont to do, Joaquin is not tipping its hand, or path. Storms often make late, and dramatic, turns. The South Florida Water Management District's collection of possible paths, known as spaghetti runs, are literally all over, and even off, the map below. As of this afternoon, the National Hurricane Center... Read more →


Did you notice anything different this morning? No? Good. That's because the federal government is still up and running, at least through Dec. 11. Yesterday, Sept. 30, the end of the 2015 fiscal year, Congress agreed on a stopgap funding bill to keep Uncle Sam operating into the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year. The House voted 277-151 in favor of the continuing resolution, which the Senate had passed earlier in the day by a 78-20 vote. The president signed the bill into law before the federal government ran out of money at midnight. That's the good news. Much... Read more →