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November 2015

The Internal Revenue Service's main job is collecting taxes. The agency has long made it clear that it doesn't care where the money comes from. It just wants its share. The IRS doesn't care about the source of your income (ill-gotten gains are still taxable) or your immigration status. The federal tax man just wants his share of your money. That's why the legend of Treasury investigators bringing down Al Capone, one of America's most infamous criminals, persists after all these years. But as Scarface's situation so clearly demonstrates, the IRS wasn't concerned about all the people he allegedly killed... Read more →

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This specific commemoration marked the armistice between World War I's Allied forces and Germany ending the fighting on the Western Front at precisely 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. The poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1922. The date has held firm, withstanding the penchant here in the United States to shift holidays to Mondays to create three-day weekends. But its focus was expanded in 1954. That year Congress, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Armistice Day became Veterans... Read more →

The big question when it comes to fantasy sports is are the popular online operations games of skill or gambling? The answer according to New York's top lawyer is gambling. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (right) on Tuesday, Nov. 10, sent cease and desist notices to DraftKings and FanDuel. "Our review concludes that [the company's] operations constitute illegal gambling under New York law," Schneiderman wrote in the letter sent to the two fantasy sports sites. "Our investigation has found that, unlike traditional fantasy sports, daily fantasy sports companies are engaged in illegal gambling under New York law, causing the... Read more →

If you thought you just watched the Republican presidential candidates go after each other (and the moderators), you're right. They debated, so to speak, economic issues, sort of, on Oct. 28. But they're back tonight. The eight top-polling Republican presidential hopefuls will face each other in Milwaukee in the fourth GOP debate. And the announced topic is, once again, economic issues, including taxes. Ben Carson has been on a book signing tour (pictured at an event in Wichita Falls, Texas; click image to view News Talk 1290's YouTube video, which includes Carson comments on the tax code), but he's made... Read more →

Last week's jobs report for October was surprisingly good. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent, its lowest level since 2008 and half of the 10 percent rate in the wake of the financial crisis. If predictions are correct for seasonal hires this year, even more workers could be having a merrier than usual Christmas. Businesses in San Antonio are following the national trend in hiring for the holiday season. Click image to see KSAT-ABC's report. But that holiday joy could be dashed at tax filing time if you don't pay attention to how you are classified by your temporary... Read more →

One Colorado county is looking to change the traditional linkage of college kids and pot. At a story/suspected crime scene in my first post-college reporter job, smoking Marlboro Lights, not marijuana! Starting in 2017, Pueblo County high school graduates will be eligible for college scholarships funded by money from the local marijuana tax. Wisdom thanks to weed taxes: On Nov. 3, around 60 percent of voters in this county south of Colorado Springs approved a ballot measure that will gradually increase taxes on marijuana growers. The county pot tax rate will top out at 5 percent by 2020. Pueblo County... Read more →

Paying tribute to our troops is not cheap. Recent on-field displays of patriotism at sporting events cost taxpayers almost $7 million dollars, according to a report released last week by two U.S. senators. But the U.S. Treasury will get some of that money back. In the wake of the report "Tackling Paid Patriotism," initiated by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake and released Nov. 4, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has promised that the National Football League would pay back costs for activities beyond recruitment or advertising. More leagues, money involved: McCain and Flake, Arizona's Republican senators, started looking into the... Read more →

A highway funding bill is finally moving through Congress. It was stalled for months following the Senate's approval this summer of a transportation bill, but yesterday (Nov. 5) the House approved its highway measure. The two bills must be reconciled by a conference committee. But at least there's some time to smooth out policy potholes. The Highway Trust Fund has money, thanks the latest in a series of short term funding measures, through Nov. 20. One fiscal provision, however, won't have to be hammered out. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill require that the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) took over as chair of the Ways and Means Committee today (Nov. 5), but he shares several tax-writing traits with his predecessor. Rep. Kevin Brady, new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, flanked by New House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (left) and former/retired W&M Chair Rep. Dave Camp (right) during a committee hearing. Like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan before him, Brady favors making the tax extenders permanent pieces of legislation. And Brady wants to get the extenders, more than 50 tax laws that regularly expire and are, per their name, extended by Congress,... Read more →

Rep. Paul D. Ryan wasn't kidding when he said he didn't want the House Speaker job to infringe on his family time. House leadership has released the chamber's work schedule for 2016 and Representatives will be in official session on only 111 days next. Nice work, or not, if you can get it. The days highlighted in blue are scheduled work days for the U.S. House in 2016. The House's calendar for the upcoming second session of the 114th Congress includes the fewest amount of days the House has been session since 2006, according to those who track such numbers.... Read more →

I'm a little slow posting today. I had to go vote. Have you been to your polling place yet? If not, you need to get out and make your voice heard. Most polling stations are open until 7 p.m. local time. Not only is public participation at the polls key to our democracy, it's also an important tax move for voters in some states. State tax questions on some ballots: Here in Texas, we're deciding on three tax initiatives. The biggie is a proposal to hike the residential homestead property tax exemption from $15,000 to $25,000. Most eyes, however, are... Read more →

The Internal Revenue Service is among 13 federal offices that is using high-tech cell phone surveillance devices. As I noted over at Bankrate Taxes Blog, the ability of the federal tax collector to gather metadata from mobile phones has a lot of folks worried about just what data is being collected, from whom and how it is or will be used. Such concerns came up in a Senate Finance Committee's Oct. 27 hearing that was already on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's schedule. The session was arranged to discuss the Senate panel's report on how badly the IRS handled Tea Party... Read more →

Note: This post was updated Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 "The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dalí (Oil on canvas, 1931) © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. (Image taken from, fair use, Wikipedia) It's baaaaack! At 2 a.m. today (Nov. 5, 2017) most of America switched from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard Time. The good news is that today is an hour longer, unless you're having a really bad day that you want to end ASAP. The bad news is that darkness arrives sooner, just as the naturally shorter days... Read more →