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August 2017

You’ve had enough of being a wage slave. It’s time to start your own business. That means it’s also time to consider the tax implications of becoming your own boss. Here are four tax matters to think about as you plan your move from the corporate cubicle to your own self-employed suite. 1. Select a business structure. How you’ll run your business will affect your taxes. You have several choices. The most common forms (and the federal tax forms required) are: Sole Proprietorship (Schedule C or C-EZ as an attachment to your personal Form 1040, along with Schedule SE to... Read more →


I’ve mentioned in few posts already this month that it’s hot. Here in Central Texas, we’re in a stretch of triple-digit temperatures that are breaking records every day. That’s why our pantry is full of Cokes — that’s Texan for any kind of soft drink — and bottled water, since I like the carbonated kind. The refrigerator also is stocked with juices and, of course, beer. Our increased liquid diet every summer means that we pay added sales taxes based on what beverages are in our grocery cart. Soft drinks are subject to Texas state and local sales taxes, but... Read more →


Before you can write off your business expenses, you must show that you were indeed trying to turn a profit. That basic business tax tenet was confirmed by a recent U.S. Tax Court decision. In a summary opinion, Special Trial Judge Daniel A. Guy, Jr., sustained the Internal Revenue Service’s accuracy-related penalty against Eric Zudak based on tax that was reduced by incorrect business expenses claims. The judge held that Zudak wasn’t entitled to a deduction for expenses he paid for his film festival activity because he didn’t conduct the activity in a businesslike manner or engage in the activity... Read more →


India tax officials say their effort to reduce large stashes of illicit cash has led to markedly more tax compliance. Such efforts to get more taxpayers to be honest are ongoing globally, including by the Internal Revenue Service here in the United States. 500 and 1000 Rupee notes that were recently demonetized by the Indian government. It’s no secret that the Internal Revenue Service looks much more closely at business that are cash heavy. The IRS, supported by other government studies, has found that cash intensive companies — which are, as the name indicates, businesses that receives a significant amount... Read more →


Study up on ways to pay for your or your child's college costs. Some student aid, like scholarships, typically are tax free. (Photo courtesy On Campus Market/OCM.com blog) Here in Austin, fall 2017 classes at the University of Texas will begin on Aug. 30. But students must meet another important deadline on Aug. 18. That’s the day that UT tuition payments are due, either paid in full or in installments. It’s a scenario playing out across the United States. And it’s one that is a growing challenge. The College Board’s most recent survey of college costs found that a moderate... Read more →


Look out tax criminals, there’s a new sheriff in town. OK, technically Don Fort is not a sheriff. But as the new Chief of Criminal Investigation (CI) for the Internal Revenue Service, he is the tax agency’s top law enforcement officer. Last week, he announced some of CI’s goals, which include going after bad tax guys nationwide and internationally. Fort discussed three areas in which CI will be more involved and touched on how the tax agency’s stretched resources can be supplemented by a data driven investigative strategy. Traditional tax cases remain job one: Some things, however, won’t change. “First... Read more →


Meg White via Giphy It's the first weekend of August and my life is bucking the "take the month off" trend. I've got work to do this Saturday. Plus, the hubby would like me to spend some time with him. But I don't want to short-change you, my loyal readers of the ol' blog, so I'm initiating a new feature I'm calling Shout Out Saturday or, depending on the weekend day I take off, Shout Out Sunday. Regardless of which weekend day it runs, the idea will be the same. Instead of me composing a new post, some weekends I'll... Read more →


Every computer user is familiar with the constant updates to software. So are identity thieves. And now these crooks are targeting tax professionals in a new phishing scam designed to steal usernames and passwords. The Internal Revenue Service and its state and tax industry Security Summit partners say that this latest impersonation scheme variant is a sophisticated scam designed to get information that can be used to file false tax returns and collect fraudulent tax refunds. It's the latest in a series of scams this summer that have targeted professional tax preparers. Software upgrade hook: This is the time of... Read more →


The Trump Administration announced Wednesday, Aug. 2, support for an immigration plan that would dramatically reduce the number of people allowed to live and work in the United States. The president might want to rethink that. Newcomers could be needed to fill the slots left by people who are voluntarily leaving the country. Yes, I know it’s apples and oranges. But the apparently coincidental timing of the effort to limit immigrants as even more citizens and long-term residents permanently leave is striking. Surge in U.S. exits: The announcement of the latest group of expatriates, which will be officially published today,... Read more →


Does the surging stock market mean it's time to take capital gains? Tax reform could complicate the decision. The U.S. stock market passed another notable boundary today, moving above the 22,000 mark. It didn’t stay there long, bouncing around a bit before, yes, finally closing at 22,031. UPDATE, Oct. 18, 2017, 10 a.m.: It's still happening. The U.S. market hit 23,000 for the first time on Oct. 17, 2017, before closing just below that historic mark. Today, major indexes hit intraday records and the Dow industrials returned above 23,000 as the latest round of corporate earnings continued to support the... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →