Previous month:
September 2016
Next month:
November 2016

October 2016

I spent almost two decades working in Washington, D.C. I also have covered taxes for most of my writing career. So I love acronyms. That's why I'm jazzed that the current presidential campaign has highlighted a tax-related nickname for some rich taxpayers. Here's a HINT. Got it yet? For normal folks who speak regular English, it's High Income, No Tax, aka HINT. GOP HINT: David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and current thorn in Donald J. Trump's side, notes in a recent column for The Daily Beast that the Republican nominee is an extreme example of a HINT. Before... Read more →


UPDATE: The Oakland Raiders received conditional approval from the National Football League on March 27, 2017, to move to Nevada. The team, however, will play in Oakland possibly through the 2018 season while its Las Vegas stadium is built (using taxpayer money; see below). At least the Northern California stadium use will justify for a while the $83 million in taxpayer-funded bonds, dating back two decades, issued for renovations to the Raiders’ current Golden State home field. Hmmm. Speaking of the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, the top seating deck already is blocked off because the team couldn't draw enough fans, partly because... Read more →


It's almost here, the Oct. 17 tax extension filing deadline. Since the regular 15th due date is Saturday, procrastinating filers get a couple of extra days to do their tax jobs. Don't waste them. UPDATE: Some filers in states where major natural disasters were declared also get time beyond 10/17. Details in Oct. 17 is final filing deadline for most, but is extended further for folks in FL, LA, NC and WVA disaster areas IRS grants more tax relief for Hurricane Matthew filers in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina But also don't be in such a last-minute panic... Read more →


Many tax laws might be absurd, but overall, taxes are no laughing matter, especially when it comes to filers who use frivolous tax arguments. Some things crack up even Star Trek's usually stoic Data, but not frivolous tax arguments. The Internal Revenue Service defines frivolous tax arguments as misinterpretations or disregard of tax laws in order to evade paying taxes or claim refunds to which they aren't entitled. To date, the IRS has identified 50 frivolous tax arguments used by taxpayers. And those improper refunds have cost the U.S. Treasury -- and responsible taxpayers -- more than $27.2 million. Millions... Read more →


If earlier this year you asked the Internal Revenue Service for an extension to file your 2015 tax return, you're running out of time. That deadline is next Monday, Oct. 17. Unless you live in parts of Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina or West Virginia. UPDATE: Or in other areas of Florida and North Carolina, as well as South Carolina and Georgia. The IRS on Oct. 17 announced tax relief for these added Hurricane Matthew disaster areas. North Carolina, which has been hard hit by flooding from Hurricane Matthew rains, is the latest state where taxpayers are getting special consideration when... Read more →


It's one of my favorite times of the year. Major league sports seasons overlap. The National Football League season is underway (How 'bout them Cowboys?!). Major League Baseball teams are battling for the World Series crown. Pucks drop in National Hockey League arenas across Canada and the United States this week. But the big sports news recently, at least from a tax perspective, is about the Olympics. On Sept. 29, an apparently not-that-limber President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama looking on, welcomed four of the United States' Women's Gymnastics team members -- left to right, Aly Raisman, Laurie... Read more →


Donald Trump acknowledged during Sunday's second presidential debate that he had avoided paying federal income taxes for years thanks to a claim in 1995 of nearly $1 billion in business losses. Click image to watch Newsy video report on Warren Buffett's response to Donald Trump's tax charges. The Republican presidential nominee then pivoted from his 1040s, which we still haven't seen, to wealthy supporters of his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Trump specifically accused his fellow billionaires of also using tax laws to their advantage. Duh! That's not unusual. Nor is it illegal. It's just a bit infuriating in many cases.... Read more →


Donald J. Trump, as the huge signage on his buildings demonstrates, loves his surname. But a smaller Trump representation is about to be dismantled. The honorary identifier on Chicago's Wabash Avenue went up in 2006 while the Trump Tower was under construction down the road. The 92-story high-rise at 401 N. Wabash Avenue bearing Trump's name was completed in 2009. Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly initiated the effort to remove the city street sign that recognizes the Trump Tower in the Windy City. The now-offending marker bears the street's original name, Wabash Avenue, along with a slightly smaller second honorary plate... Read more →


"An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means. There is no such thing in the country." That observation on the American penchant for (over)sharing was made by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw long before reality TV shows and social media. It's taken on new significance this election year as we have a major party candidate who, years before he launched his White House quest, was introduced to the electorate as star of his own television program. Donald Trump's former accountant, in an interview with CNN, refutes the Republican presidential candidate's claim of his... Read more →


Have you filed your 2015 tax return yet? Don't feel bad. You are definitely not alone. The Internal Revenue Service on Friday, Oct. 7, noted that fewer than a third of the 13 million taxpayers who requested an automatic six-month extension earlier this year have yet to file. This is what my den floor looked like today as I finished up our 2015 tax return with a week to spare before the Oct. 17 extension deadline. Our taxes are done! I am pleased to say that I am no longer part of that group. I finished up my 2015 Form... Read more →


Donald Trump kicked off his ultimately successful bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination with an attack on Mexicans who enter the United States without proper authorization. A small fence separates densely-populated Tijuana, Mexico (right), from the San Diego, California, sector of the U.S. Border Patrol. The building in the foreground on the San Diego side is a sewage treatment plant built to clean the Tijuana River. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde via Wikipedia) Although he's vacillated at times as the campaign has progressed, many Trump supporters are still firmly behind his initial call for a... Read more →


Have global law enforcement officers cracked the biggest U.S. tax scam ever? Probably not, but it appears they have at least slowed one major criminal operation. Indian officials raided several call centers outside of Mumbai and arrested 70 people in connection with the extensive IRS impersonator tax scam. Indian investigators this week arrested around 70 people in the Mumbai suburb of Thane on charges of allegedly calling Americans and pretending to be Internal Revenue Service representatives in order to obtain payments for fake tax bills. The arrests, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and Guardian newspapers, came the... Read more →


Did you watch the vice presidential debate? Stephen Colbert took advantage of a live broadcast of his Late Show on Tuesday night to skewer the vice presidential candidates and some of their, uh, highlights during their lone debate. Click image to watch the YouTube video. Did it deliver? Or were you disconcerted by the Freaky Friday nature (your choice, the original Jodie Foster 1976 flick, or the 2003 remake with Lindsay Lohan) of the event, where Democratic VP candidate Sen. Tim Kaine was very Trumpian, on the offensive and interrupting a lot, while Republican VP candidate Gov. Mike Pence was... Read more →


Sorry, not sorry, to yell at you in my headline, but Hurricane Matthew is going to get awfully close to expected to hit Florida's east coast -- in fact, very near where the hubby and I lived for six years -- in the next few days, so time is short to get ready for him. National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, update of Hurricane Matthew's projected path, aka the cone of uncertainty, or as we called in when we lived in South Florida, the cone of panic. I know I blogged about this storm earlier this week, which... Read more →


Will taxes, specifically, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump's still officially secret federal filings dominate tonight's vice presidential debate? It's showdown time tonight for Sen. Tim Kaine, above right, the Democrats' vice president choice, and Gov. Mike Pence, below right, who is the Republican veep candidate. Maybe. Debate directions for both VP candidates: You can be sure that Sen. Tim Kaine, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's running mate, will try to make it an issue. Kaine and the former secretary of state have released years of their federal and state filings. UPDATE, 9:37 p.m. ET: As expected, Kaine Hits Back... Read more →


This post has been updated throughout with weather and news updates. The good news is that Hurricane Matthew, which was a category 5, has weakened a bit. The bad news is that it's still a very dangerous and destructive storm. GOES radar 4:15 a.m. Central Time, Oct. 4, via National Hurricane Center/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Click image for animated view. Caribbean, and more, threat: Haiti is now feeling Matthew's force. The storm is expected to make landfall on that Caribbean island later this morning. Nearly a foot of rain is expected in parts of western Haiti, Jamaica and eastern... Read more →


No, we still haven't seen Donald Trump's federal tax returns. Donald Trump shared this photo on his Twitter account last October of him signing what he said was his 2015 federal tax return. However, it was old state returns that have given us a glimpse into the Republican presidential candidate's tax bills. The information about his $916 million business loss in 1995 comes from state tax returns filed with New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for that year and which were obtained by the New York Times. While that yuge loss could have, as the Times notes, served as a... Read more →


October is one of my favorite months, as it ushers in crisp, cooler temperatures. This time of year has two names, fall and autumn. October also is a key month for some important tax moves. And there are many names for taxes, too, although not all printable in the ol' blog. I know it's tempting to rant about taxes instead of thinking about or actually acting on the, especially this time of year. I, too, want to be outside enjoying the arrival of fall. But first I have to take care of a couple of tax tasks. Here are four... Read more →


Gasoline prices were amazingly low this past summer. One reason that drivers nationwide paid less at the pump was that state gasoline excise taxes also were down. Incredibly cheap gas at HEB in Marble Falls, Texas, earlier this year. The average state gas tax across the United States was 20.72 for the second quarter of the year. That was 16 cents per gallon less than earlier in the year. But that's about to change in one of the low gas tax states. Big N.J. gas tax hike imminent: New Jersey is set to hike its gas tax by 23 cents.... Read more →