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April 2016

Millions of folks are working diligently these last few days before the April 18 (19th in Maine and Massachusetts) tax filing deadline. Unfortunately, that tax-focused group includes criminals. This afternoon the Internal Revenue Service issued a warning to tax professionals of a new scam that's just started showing up in some tax prep offices. In this latest iteration of tax identity theft, cyber-criminals obtain remote control of preparers' computer systems, complete and file client tax returns and redirect refunds to the thieves' accounts. The IRS says that although it knows of only a handful of cases to date, it wanted... Read more →


If you started off today freaking out because you haven't finished -- or even started -- your 2015 tax return, chill. The federal (and most state) tax-filing deadline this year is April 18. That means you have the whole weekend to work on taxes. Sorry. Taking tax steps: You can, of course, file for an extension. That will let you procrastinate until Oct. 17 (yes, that Oct. 15 deadline is later this year, too, since the 15th falls on a Saturday). But if you think you'll owe Uncle Sam, you'll need to at least do a down-and-dirty tax filing run... Read more →


Tax Day is almost here. If you're one of the millions still to file, I understand. No judging here. I'm part of the last-minute tax crew, too. The key as April 18 nears is not to panic. If you freak out while doing your taxes, you'll likely make a mistake (or two or …) that could be costly. Source: Reddit.com So that you don't end up writing a check like the one above, here are 10 common tax-filing mistakes to avoid. 1. Math miscalculations -- This is the most common tax mistake every filing season. It includes addition, subtraction, percentage... Read more →


Most of us rely on digital services to get us through our days. The Internal Revenue Service has taken advantage of this addiction tendency, making it easier -- and in some cases requiring -- that our federal tax agency interactions be electronic. But some old-school filers persist. Even if they use computer software to complete their tax returns, they insist on printing out the forms and sending the dead-tree docs to the IRS. Such traditional taxpayers have two options. They can snail mail their documents, or they can send them via a private delivery service, or as the IRS calls... Read more →


One man hopes Hillary Clinton's drive for the White House will help him sell her former ride. Hillary Clinton's old Oldsmobile, pictured here in a screen shot from a YouTube video made in a 2011 attempt to sell the vehicle, is being offered once again to buyer. Click image to watch the full video. Mike Lawn of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, worked for the National Parks Service -- he just had to have that job, right, with that surname -- in Washington, D.C., for 29 years, helping with White House landscaping during the terms of seven presidents, including Hillary's husband. Lawn was... Read more →


Tax Day 2016 is a week away. That's seven days to take care of your annual tax duty. It also means you have seven days to complete some other tax-related tasks that have an April 18 deadline, too. Here are eight tax tasks to take care of in this final filing week. The Beatles' most famous tax-related song is Tax Man, but for this post, Eight Days a Week works, too. Click image to watch the YouTube video of the more-than-a-week-long song. 1. File your 2015 tax year federal tax return. If you miss this deadline by more than 60... Read more →


Nearly 10 million households didn't have bank accounts in 2013, according to the latest survey of individuals' banking habits by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). That's a lot of folks for whom cash is king. That's also a lot of people for whom paying a federal tax bill is not that easy … until now. Taxpayers who want to pay their Internal Revenue Service bills in cash now can do so at some 7-Eleven stores. Tax cash: As I noted last week at my other tax blog, the 7-Eleven cash tax payment option is available thanks to an arrangement... Read more →


A group of South Florida rappers allegedly created a music label as a front for a massive tax refund fraud ring. Click image to watch the MoneyKing_GroundUP111 video on YouTube. Maybe the erstwhile rappers should change their musical moniker to Doin' Time since six of them were sentenced to jail last week in connection with the tax fraud scheme. Harlan Decoste of Miramar, Florida, who went by the alias Money King, created the label, according to the federal charges filed against him and his confederates back in August 2015 in the Southern District of Florida. Decoste received the longest prison... Read more →


We're now into the single digit countdown (you are watching the clock in the right column, right?) to the April 18 tax return (and due tax payment!) deadline. That means millions of us are starting to get a little frantic. And that can be really, really bad when it comes to taxes. If we tackle our returns in the same state as this faux Grumpy Cat, we'll make the same costly mistakes he's bragging about to his neighborhood bar buddies. So take a breath. Put down the Cosmo (or whatever adult beverage you prefer) and cigarette. Tax tips time: And... Read more →


Tax con artists apparently like playing in the Internal Revenue Service's backyard. The 2016 tax-filing deadline is just days away and new phishing scams are popping up. Just last month they did so symbolically, pretending to be members of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, a group dedicated to helping taxpayers get better service from the tax agency. They used TAP's good reputation in phishing emails to try to convince unsuspecting recipients to reveal personal tax information. Now tax identity thieves literally are targeting folks living in the national capital area. The IRS' headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and many of its... Read more →


The presidential candidates are duking it out for their parties' nomination, with things heating up on both the Democratic and Republican sides as the hopefuls look to New York's primary. So far The Donald and Cruz and Hillary and Bernie haven't gone head-to-head over their tax plans. A couple of publications, however, are facing off, over ways to calculate what we'd pay under their various tax proposals. Figures don't lie, but…: Last month, Vox published a candidates' tax calculator that it created in conjunction with the Tax Policy Center (TPC). The folks at Vox and TPC made it clear that... Read more →


Diane L. Kroupa was appointed as judge to the U.S. Tax Court in June 2013. Her term was supposed to have run for 15 years, but in June 2014 she retired early. This week Kroupa, 60, was indicted on two counts each of tax evasion, filing false returns and obstruction of an IRS audit. Her husband, Robert E. Fackler, 62, also was indicted on the same six tax-related charges. The couple is accused of understating their income by approximately $1 million on tax filings for the 2004 through 2010 tax years. Much of that too-low amount was arrived at by... Read more →


NOTE: This post was updated Jan. 26, 2017. Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was supposed to be a key factor in the 2016 presidential election. It still might be one came up in the general election once Democrats and Republicans have settled on their respective candidates. Now the Republican-controlled Congress and GOP President Donald Trump are working on repealing and replacing the prior president's signature health care law. So far, though, For the most part during last year's run for the White House, health care has received only cursory mention and, surprisingly, that's been was... Read more →


Uncle Sam's favorite month has arrived. By the middle of every April every year, the Internal Revenue Service has heard from most U.S. taxpayers. Sure, it's not friendly hellos. Millions of us are contacting him to get refunds. Some of us, though, are sending him a few more dollars Either way, Uncle Sam is thrilled. Not so thrilled are those of us who put off our annual tax task. A few more days: This year, we get a few extra days to fulfill our tax responsibilities. Since Emancipation Day, a federal holiday in Washington, D.C., falls on Friday, April 15,... Read more →


We're still waiting for Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, to release any of his personal tax returns. It's not a campaign requirement, but it is a tradition that we, the voting public and media, have come to expect. Failure, or resistance, to do so tends to make us suspect that the White House wannabe is hiding something. The Donald's excuse, recently reinforced by a letter from a pair of is attorneys, is that his personal tax filings are under Internal Revenue Service audit. When that's done, says Trump, he'll make the 1040s public. But another candidate... Read more →


The main 2016 tax filing season is almost over, and things definitely are slowing down, at least form the refund issuance standpoint. The Internal Revenue Service says that through March 25, it had received 89.4 million returns and processed almost 87 million of them. Both those amounts are slightly less than at this time in 2015. Refund amounts, too, are down a tad. The IRS has issued 70.8 million refunds totaling almost $203 billion. The average refund this year is, as of now, $2,866. In late March 2015, the agency had sent out 71.6 million refunds worth a total $204.4... Read more →


The hubby and I took a day trip today to check out a cool exhibit of a William Shakespeare First Folio. The book, produced in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, includes 36 of his plays, 18 of which had never been before published. Title page of the First Folio collection of Shakespeare's works, courtesy Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C. It was a great spring day, so we were treated to gorgeous wildflowers on the drive to and from College Station, where the Folio was on display at Texas A&M University. Plus we topped it off with a great Tex-Mex... Read more →


When the hubby and I head to a sporting event where only young fans are given freebies, say a team-logo cup or a bobble-head doll, we joke that we should be able to rent a kid or two so we could get the goodies. Yes, we would take sports-related candy etc. from children! This baby didn't hamper dad's ability to snag a foul ball. Plus, he provides his parents with several potential tax saving options. Click image to see MLB video of the catch and story about the ensuing controversy. Well, one Missouri man allegedly took our jesting approach to... Read more →