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September 2019

No, that's not me. I would be the person face down on my exercise mat next to this woman. (Photo by Stefano Montagner via Flickr) My exercise class instructors are trying to kill me. OK, not exactly and not me specifically, but for all practical purposes I'm on their hit list. My fitness club's new teachers are real feel-the-burn, you-can-do-it types. Plus, due to some recent pressing personal matters, I haven't made it to my regular classes for a while. Now that I'm attending again, my out-of-practice aging body is having a harder time keeping up with the reps. I'm... Read more →


via GIPHY The Kansas City Chiefs, with its star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, is among the handful of teams that National Football League watchers say have a shot at winning Super Bowl LIV next February. But the Missouri professional football team could be facing a tougher fight off the field. Last week, the Chiefs' attorneys argued before the Missouri Supreme Court that most of the NFL team's expenditures on items to renovate Arrowhead Stadium almost a decade ago should not be subject to the state's sales tax. This current court tax battle, which started in 2014, is due to an appeal... Read more →


The wealth-tax proposal advocated by Sen. Elizabeth Warren includes a hefty marriage penalty, according to one leading economist's analysis. (Photo courtesy Warren's Facebook page) It's another weekend, so that means it's time for another look at wealth tax proposals. Yeah, I know it seems like I'm in a bit of a rut, having posted about proposals from Democratic presidential hopefuls in recent weekends (on Aug. 18, Sept. 14 and a Monday, Sept. 16). But the suggested ways to get more money from the rich are still getting attention. Wealth tax roadblocks: Personally, I don't think any of these sweeping measures... Read more →


Photo by creditdebitpro Voluntary compliance is the backbone of the U.S. tax system. But when that doesn't work out as Uncle Sam hopes, he knows the Internal Revenue Service has ways to get the money. One of the most drastic ramifications of unpaid tax is the loss of other property. In extreme unpaid tax cases, the federal government places a lien on delinquent taxpayers' other assets. This ensures the Treasury gets something of value to offset the overdue tax bill. Criminals know this process, too. That's why, warns the IRS, we all need to be on alert for a new... Read more →


The tax gap is holding as steady as this gap on the old Florida Keys bridge. (Photo by Ewen Roberts via Flickr) We might want to revise Benjamin Franklin's famous tax saying. The new version could read, "In in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and the tax gap." The tax gap is the difference between the amount of tax that filers should pay and the amount that they actually hand over voluntarily and on time to the Internal Revenue Service. And IRS data continues to show that while tax years come and tax... Read more →


Nonprofits are a bigger part of our lives than we tend to realize. The hospital your or your children were born in likely was a nonprofit. That museum you visited on your last vacation opens its doors as a nonprofit entity. And, of course, the house of worship you attend each week is one, too. In addition, millions annually give time and money to nonprofit groups. In most instances, cash donations to charities are not driven by tax breaks. Folks simply give to a favorite charitable organization because they support its goals. Still, says a new report from the National... Read more →


Lyft and Uber rides would face a new fee in Seattle to help pay for a public transportation option. (Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr Creative Commons) The hubby inherited some gas leases from a distant relative many years ago. It's not quite the same as Texas legend Eddie Chiles' famous urging that "if you don't have an oil well, get one," but the royalties have come in handy. One of the first purchases we made using this money was to buy new bicycles. We got a kick out of fossil fuels paying for a more climate-friendly way to... Read more →


Vaping was once thought to be a safe alternative to cigarettes. That perspective is changing. Dramatically. Nationwide, 530 cases of lung illnesses believed to be from vaping have been reported in 38 states and one U.S. territory. Seven deaths have been reported from six states. When the illnesses and fatalities started surfacing, even the White House reacted. Donald J. Trump initially floated a ban on some electronic cigarettes, but that position apparently has been revised. Some Republican political data show that a no-vaping position could pose a problem with Trump's electoral base. Maybe that's why Trump more recently walked back... Read more →


Law enforcement officers across five U.S. federal agencies successfully concluded a four-month investigation this month with the arrest of 281 people allegedly involved in global email scams. The scams, officially known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes, are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens. Most of the alleged cyber criminals, 167, were arrested in Nigeria. Insert your own fraudulent prince email comments here. Another 74 people in the United States were taken into custody. The remaining arrests were made in France, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.... Read more →


Flooding along I-10 in the Port Arthur, Texas, area due to Tropical Storm Imelda's excessive rain. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via Twitter) Coastal and East Texas is flashing back to 2017. That year, major Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. Many parts of Space City and the Gulf Coast are still recovering. Now it's Tropical Storm Imelda, which now has devolved into a depression, that has dropped way too much rain on the area. At least five people have died and the southeastern part of the Lone Star State is facing record-setting flooding. Google Maps Using nest egg to make... Read more →


The Trump Administration currently is embroiled in a whistleblower controversy. But another situation where a witness to tax wrongdoing — not any alleged Donald J. Trump activity! — has worked out much more satisfactorily. A $11.5 million award has been presented to a person whose information led to the government collecting over $44.4 million in taxes, penalties and interest, according to the whistleblower attorneys involved in the case. In announcing the award, attorneys Stephen M. Kohn of the Washington, D.C. firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto and Dean Zerbe of the Houston-based firm Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav, lauded... Read more →


Yo ho, all ye salty sea dogs and scalawags. Just a quick reminder on this annual Talk Like a Pirate Day that the Internal Revenue Service wants its cut of your ill-gotten gains, be they pillaged pirate loot or otherwise criminally obtained. Click image to watch the ESPN ad. I know Andrew McCutchen is no longer a Pittsburgh Pirate, but the daring attack the former MLB National League MVP and his crew of sports team buccaneer mascots launched on an ESPN meeting back in 2013 still is one of my favorite television ads. And while Cutch, who's now plays for... Read more →


One of my previous jobs was an office manager. I was in charge of reviewing expenditures before they were approved and then making sure they were paid once the services were provided. Every month or so I'd get an invoice for some office supplies. Every month I threw it in the trash. It was from a scam company that tried to sneak the paperwork into my to-pay file. Occasionally, people representing these "suppliers" would call about the allegedly overdue bill. When I told them I had forwarded the bill to our legal department, they quickly hung up. That was 30... Read more →


Some Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees in Washington, D.C., are being offered financial incentives to move to the agency's Grand Junction, Colorado, office, which is near the scenic McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area pictured above. (BLM photo) Despite objections from workers and some members of Congress, the Interior Department is moving forward with its plan to relocate about 250 Washington-based Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees to western states. The Trump Administration says the move ultimately will save taxpayer dollars, but it's willing to spend some federal cash in the short-term to win over employees who have concerns about... Read more →


U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) during a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing. (Screenshot from Wyden's YouTube channel) Most of the tax the rich action has been coming from Democrats who want to move into the White House in 2021. Now a top Senate tax committee member has joined the call to collect more from wealthier Americans. And he has specific plans for the new revenue. Sen. Ron Wyden's proposal would tax ordinary income and capital gains at the same rates. Currently, capital gains generally are taxed at lower rates, ranging from zero for some lower-income investors to 15 percent for... Read more →


Darth Maul apparently — spoiler alert — was killed in The Phantom Menace, but later showed up in subsequent Star Wars productions. His persistence is akin phantom investment transactions that are created simply to lower multinational companies' tax bills. (Photo via Lucasfilm) What I consider the real Star Wars trilogy came out when I was in college. That's why I've not bothered to see any of the subsequent sequel/prequel movies. But they came to mind last week when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the University of Copenhagen released a new study on the growth of so-called phantom capital and... Read more →


via GIPHY If you've been following the pack of politicians seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, you know that ways to tax the wealthy is a common thread. But there are as many proposals to do that as there are White House wannabes, although Elizabeth Warren is leading in suggested changes to get more tax money from the rich. There's the general wealth tax, corporate book profits tax, new Social Security wage tax, new Social Security net investment income tax (NIIT), new estate tax and every Democrats' favorite, repealing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) lower rates for higher... Read more →


It's Friday the 13th and a full moon will rise late tonight. Werewolves and Friday the 13th. Scared yet? Take a breath. Depending on where you live, and how superstitious you are, tonight might not be so bad. The Farmers' Almanac says folks in the Pacific, Central and Mountain time zones will get to gaze on the full moon before midnight this Friday, Sept. 13. However, if you live in the Eastern time zone, the moon won't be full until 12:33 a.m. on the less spooky Saturday, Sept. 14. Micro Harvest moon: Plus, it won't be a very big full... Read more →


If you read last week's September tax moves post (thanks), you might remember that one of the four suggested actions was to pay your estimated taxes. Not to be a nag, or a reminder as I insist to the hubby, but I'm putting that tax task out there again today. The third installment for the 2019 tax year is due Sept. 16. Yes, that's a day later than normal, but the usual 9/15 due date falls on Sunday. So you get an extra day, next Monday, to either snail mail your 1040-ES voucher and check or money order to the... Read more →


What's worse than losing your home to a disaster? Having to pay taxes on the destroyed property. That's what a Southwestern Pennsylvania family is dealing with now. After losing their home and all its contents to a fire last November, Rich and Catherine Hooks recently learned that they are responsible for the 2019 property taxes due on their no long in existence Westmoreland County home. "The taxes should be lower because the house isn't there," Mrs. Hooks told TribLive.com. But the county tax assessor didn't know that. So the prior tax valuation stood. When a significant change occurs on a... Read more →