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July 2018

The role of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in preventing the Internal Revenue Service from aggressively regulating tax preparers has prompted some questions about such oversight. Currently, the IRS uses a voluntary tax professional oversight system, but is expected to continue to push for Congressional authority to implement more stringent tax preparer regulations. Those who agree with the IRS (like the agency's National Taxpayer Advocate) argue that regulating tax pros is necessary in order to protect taxpaying clients. It also, they contend, would lead to more accurate tax returns and ensure a fairer and more efficient tax system Opponents of... Read more →


Judge Brett Kavanaugh spoke at the White House after being nominated to be the next Supreme Court justice. (Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen via White House Instagram) Federal judge Brett Kavanaugh was tapped last night (July 9) by Donald J. Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Kavanaugh, 53, has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, a position for which he was nominated by the last Republican Oval Office occupant, President George W. Bush. Like Trump's prior Supreme Court justice nominee, Neil... Read more →


With apologies to Charles Dickens, it is the best and worst of times for soda taxes. News out of Washington State today is that Seattle's sweetened beverage tax raised about $1 million more than predicted in its first three months. Seattle's tax — similar to others across the United States that tax a variety of sugary beverages but are popularly called soda taxes — took effect on Jan. 1, 2018. In its first three months as law, it reportedly raised almost $4.5 million. If that pace holds throughout the rest of the year, it will blow past the city's budget... Read more →


The trade war with China is on. At midnight on Friday, July 6, the $34 billion tit-for-tat between the world's two largest economies took effect. The Trump Administration placed added charges mostly on Chinese aerospace products, information technology, auto parts and medical instruments. Beijing retaliated with its own tariffs primarily aimed at on American farm products, cars and crude oil. But if China doesn't blink, the White House says it could ultimately impose charges on up to $500 billion of Chinese goods. Business opposition continues: For months, potentially affected U.S. companies and the organizations that represent their economic sectors have... Read more →


Couples by Michael Lehet/Flickr CC The hubby and I basically have a pretty equal, albeit traditional gender swapped, marriage. He's more persnickety when it comes to cleaning. So he does much of those household duties, including bathrooms and whole-house vacuuming. I hate that noise, so he vacuums when I'm out; that's one of the reasons I love him! We split kitchen duties, with the person who doesn't cook dinner doing the cleanup. We collaborate on investments, deciding how much and where our money goes. As for the day-to-day expenses, I take care of making sure the bills are paid on... Read more →


Two days ago, Americans celebrated our declaration of independence from Great Britain. That July 4th revolutionary spark was ignited, of course, by our protests against taxation by King George III without adequate representation. Over the years, however, the words of our 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, have proven prophetic. "The nation which had fought a revolution against taxation without representation discovered that some of its citizens weren't much happier about taxes with representation," noted my outspoken and observant fellow Texan. Still, most of us have come to realize the importance of taxes, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.... Read more →


One of those hammocks has my name on it, after I finish a few July tax tasks. (Photo by Roberto La Forgia via Flickr CC) School is out. The fireworks have been shot (except for the stashes of my neighborhood's teens, which based on prior post-July 4 experiences, probably will last another week). And the heat is definitely on. That means it's finally, fully summer. And that means that it's time to get down to some serious summertime tax moves. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just... Read more →


Instead of my usual cup of coffee, I'm celebrating America's 242nd birthday this July 4th with a spot of tea. Yes, the British beverage and phrasing is intentional, since as we all know, the taxation of tea without representation was the final act of tyranny that sparked the American colonies' revolt. Tea other British taxes: Our colonial forebears had long dealt with British taxes. The passage in 1767 of the Townshend Revenue Act imposed taxes on glass, lead, oil, paint, paper and tea. But while all those other duties were repealed in 1770, the British decided to keep the tax... Read more →


Traffic jam. (Photo by Danielle Scott via Flickr CC) If you're on the road today, sorry. AAA is projecting a record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday. That's an increase of more than 5 percent over last year and the highest number since AAA started tracking July 4th travel 18 years ago. And Tuesday, July 3, travel is the worst day to be hitting the highway, at least when it comes to major metropolitan areas. INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in... Read more →


UPDATE, Jan. 28, 2019: The Internal Revenue Service has approved the final version of the 2018 tax year Form 1040. You can read more about the new form and its six schedules in New filing season + new tax law = new Form 1040, schedules. Has anyone really been as happy as this couple when filing their taxes? The IRS hopes the new, shorter Form 1040 will put smiles on more taxpayers' faces. Did you spend your weekend looking at the new Form 1040, which the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service officially unveiled on June 29? I didn't think... Read more →


Charles Rettig, Donald Trump's choice to head the IRS, is expected to be confirmed, despite not originally revealing that he has an ownership stake in properties in a Trump-branded Hawaiian hotel. (Photo of Trump International Hotel Waikiki via Hotels.com) The Internal Revenue Service may soon have a new commissioner, almost eight months after the last tax agency chief retired. But before Charles P. Rettig gets his new title, some lawmakers want more information from him about his ties to Donald J. Trump. Specifically, they want to know whether Rettig would maintain his independence from the man who nominated him. That... Read more →