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July 2016

Alaska is one of seven states that doesn't tax any workers' earnings. Lawmakers in The Final Frontier plan to keep it that way. Mt. Denali, formerly known as Mt. McKinley, is the highest point in North America and is located in Denali National Park in Alaska. America's largest state has lots of spectacular views, but not enough revenue, so lawmakers are considering possible new taxes in a special session. (Photo by Albert Herring courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Flickr) The latest question is whether they now will also fend off attempts to have Alaska collect a state sales tax. While not as momentous... Read more →


Sports fans tend to be, well, fanatic. To many, it's what a player does during the game, not his or her off-field antics that matter. Moment of the Champions League final with FC Barcelona's Leo Messi, left, going against Patrice Evra of Juventus at Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 6, 2015. (Photo by Biser Todorov via Wikimedia Commons) That kind of no-questions-asked support was what the Barcelona football -- or soccer, as most Americans call the sport -- team was counting on in the wake of its star player's tax evasion conviction. Public outreach, tax backlash: Last week after Lionel... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service says taxpayers should use any legitimate tax break to which they're entitled to help reduce their tax bills. Professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr., however, seems to be pushing that recommendation. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fighting Juan Manuel Márquez on Sept. 19, 2009, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada, just south of Las Vegas. (Photo by Ian McWilliams via Flickr CC) Mayweather, who counts Money among his nicknames (and shows why in his Instagram account), reportedly sent a Las Vegas strip club a 1099 tax form in an apparent attempt to write off a visit... Read more →


It's been a good few days for lottery players. The Mega Millions $540 million jackpot was won last night, Friday, July 8, by a ticket buyer in Cambridge City, Indiana. Yokasta Boyer holding her big check from the New Jersey Lottery. (Photo courtesy N.J. Lottery Commission) And just the day before, Thursday, July 7, the New Jersey Lottery announced that a woman discovered a $472,271 winning ticket for one of that state's lottery games as she was going through some papers in order to file her tax return. Mega mystery: We don't know yet who bought the Indiana winning ticket.... Read more →


New York City handed out more than $59 million in residential tax breaks to thousands of deceased individuals and corporations between fiscal years 2011 and 2017. The improper tax benefits were supposed to go as property tax exemptions for senior citizens, according to an audit by the New York City comptroller's office. Around $36 million in tax revenue was lost when the city granted more than 3,000 Senior Citizen Homeowners' Exemptions (SCHE) to older property owners who had died, according to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. The same properties, Stringer said during a July 7 press conference announcing the audit findings,... Read more →


Do you work in one state but live in another? Lots of folks do. In addition to some interesting commutes, they also face some special tax issues. Many states make it a bit easier for border-crossing employees. They have income tax reciprocity agreements. These arrangements allow residents of one state to request exemption from tax withholding in the other reciprocal state where they work. The practical implication is that they then don't have to go to the trouble of filing multiple state returns. What Reciprocity Means to Taxpayers Federation of Tax Administrators 2013 Report With reciprocity, the taxpayer files a... Read more →


If you thumb through Internal Revenue Service instructions -- since we all want to make sure we get our taxes right, who doesn't? -- you're likely to run across photos of missing children. Man answering phone at a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children call center. Click image for info on how you can help. This is a public service provided since 1999 by the IRS through its partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The photos, selected by the Center, are placed on tax document pages that otherwise be blank. As the text accompanying the... Read more →


The Fourth of July is over, but if your neighborhood is anything like mine, you'll be hearing fireworks for another week or so. Yes, my neighbors are pyrotechnic scofflaws. Even if you don't participate in the literal lighting of firecrackers or bottle rockets post-July-4, there are still plenty of metaphorical tax fireworks that you can take advantage of as we head into the heart of summer. Here are five easy tax moves to consider in July. 1. Get storm ready. We've had four named tropical systems so far this Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. So far, thank goodness, there's been... Read more →


It's July 4th, a day of family gatherings, fireworks and grilled goodies. For most of us, that's hot dogs and hamburgers. And for most of us, our home-grilled meats and toasted buns are tax-free. That's fitting, since Independence Day was sparked by the belief that taxation without representation is tyranny. Only a handful of states tax groceries. However, if you opt to buy your hot dogs or hamburgers ready-made, you'll likely pay sales tax on those eats. States that collect sales tax on consumer purchases -- that's 45 out of 50, plus the District of Columbia; plus, 38 of those... Read more →


The United States of America tomorrow will celebrate 240 years since independence was declared. Here's wishing all my fellow Americans a safe and fun July 4, especially since our break from Britain was based in large part on the battle cry that "Taxation without representation is tyranny." But another important date arrived just a few days earlier. On July 1, the first of the Baby Boomers turned 70½. Judging by this cake's flames, this guy looks to be a bit older than 70½. That half birthday date is crucial because it means owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts like traditional IRAs... Read more →


The Founding Fathers are getting renewed attention, thanks in large part to the award-winning smash Broadway hit musical "Hamilton." And while George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the titular Alexander Hamilton, who became the new country's first Treasury Secretary, deserve much credit for our independence, on this Fourth of July also save some praise for James Otis, Jr. Quotable colonial attorney: Otis, pictured above, was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts who contested the law and power of the British by arguing that Writs of Assistance, what we now call search warrants, were a form of tyranny. He represented 53 Boston merchants... Read more →


If you're reading this, thank you. You could be one of the 43 million Americans who've already headed out this long Independence Day holiday. I appreciate you delaying your trip, or at least checking this post, fittingly, on your mobile device. More states are exploring mileage taxes to replace gas taxes. Maybe they should look at taxing dangerous drivers like this guy! AAA's travel prediction this year represents the biggest July 4th travel volume on record and includes 5 million more travelers than we saw during the Memorial Day break, generally seen as the unofficial start of the summer vacation... Read more →