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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash Remember the Paradise Papers? They are part of the alliterative financial revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Per the ICIJ’s blurb, the Paradise Papers reveal in 2017 exposed the “secrets of the global elite” hidden in the files of “prestigious offshore law firms, a specialized trust company and 19 company registries in secrecy jurisdictions.” That ICIJ financial scoop was preceded in 2013 by the Panama Papers, and followed in 2021 by the Pandora Papers. Now, best-selling Swedish author Håkan Nesser, whose name appeared in the Paradise Papers, has been sentenced to... Read more →

Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Unsplash My favorite Christmas carol is "We Three Kings." As most know, especially the youngsters who donned paper crowns to play Christmas pageant rulers traversing afar, the song tells the tale of the biblical Magi in Matthew 2:1-12. John H. Hopkins, Jr. wrote the song around 1857. It was part of the United Methodist Hymnal, which was part of my childhood. As a youngster, I was fascinated by these three travelers, often referred to (though not in the carol) as the Magi. It was the first time this West Texas desert dweller had heard of... Read more →

Screenshot from an interview in 2011 of Georgist economist and professor Mason Gaffney (Posted on Vimeo by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation) Not to be morbid, but I like reading obituaries. They reflect not only on peoples' lives, but also provide a look at the worlds and times in which they lived. Well-written obits essentially are mini history lessons. I came across one such commemoration last week that introduced to me the late Mason Gaffney, as well as Henry George and the economic concept of land-value-only taxation. A tax to pay for progressive goals: Gaffney, who passed away on July 16,... Read more →

This U.S. Department of Justice mug shot of Al Capone was taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. It's 89 years, later and Scarface still gets our attention, most recently in a movie about his later days. If there's one tiny sliver of silver lining in coronavirus self-isolation, it's that I feel a bit better about shelling out money for added television features. During our stay-home time, the hubby and I are taking advantage of premium cable, as well as the multiple streaming platforms to which we subscribe. Right now, my viewing tastes are winning.... Read more →

Merry Christmas Eve to all who celebrate this late December holiday. I must confess that, despite my grandmother's and, to a slightly lesser degree, my mother's best efforts, I love Christmas for mainly secular reasons. I love the lights, especially the gaudy, multicolored ones that glow and flash. I love the ornaments, particularly the kitschy ones that remind me of special times, events and people. And, of course, there are the presents. Over the years I've enjoyed more than my fair share of delightfully packaged goodies. But I've also come to realize that I like searching for, finding and giving... Read more →

I hope you're having wonderful holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas for religious reasons or secularly. I've bounced between the two motivation over the years, usually tending toward the 'tis the season for joy and goodwill for all. However, every December I do put out our Nativity. Yep, that's it pictured above, our Raku pottery depiction complete with a photograph of a Texas sunset, Lone Star State star, Zapotec textile background and Mexican folk-art armadillo joining the usual stable animals. Universal, time-honored tale: Church doctrine aside, I love the story of Jesus' birth and what it tells us about handling difficult... Read more →

Al "Scarface" Capone at his sentencing for tax evasion. Back in the Prohibition Era, federal agents — notably those from the Internal Revenue Service — took down the notorious gangster. The tax agency's armed Criminal Investigation agents are still on the job. (Photo courtesy All That's Interesting: 25 Al Capone Facts) Paul Manafort's tax evasion (and bank fraud) trial is shining a spotlight, at least in the tax world, on the Internal Revenue Service's unit that goes after tax criminals. In most cases, like that of Donald J. Trump's former campaign manager, it's white collar tax crime. U.S. taxpayers don't... Read more →

In his new book, "The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis — and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance," Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse says young people in the U.S. are failing to launch. He explained to Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" how we ended up here and what Americans can do to prepare for adulthood. (Click image to view CBSN video) Sen. Ben Sasse swears that his book is not just 320 pages of old man "get off my lawn" rants at neighbor kids. First of all, the 45-year-old Sasse is far from old. Plus, says the Nebraska... Read more →

Eighty-five years ago today -- Oct. 17, 1931 -- a federal jury in Chicago convicted gangster Al "Scarface" Capone of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, ultimately ending up in fabled Alcatraz. Al Capone's U.S. Department of Justice mug shot, taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. Keep that in mind if you're thinking of blowing off today's extended filing deadline for getting your 2015 tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. All these years later, the IRS and Treasury still proudly point to Capone's conviction. It was T-men who put... Read more →

Christmas is Friday!!! Those exclamation points aren't just for show. The holidays have sneaked up on me this year. Yes, it's beginning to feel a lot like mid-April here, with last-minute shopping panic replacing the annual tax-filing freak-out. If you're in the same fix and are still trying to find a gift for the tax and/or financial person in your life, here are some suggestions that might help make Dec. 25 a bit less stressful than April 15. Dress the tax part: Tax preparation can often tie the best of us up in knots, so your pro might appreciate some... Read more →

Summer's almost over, but there's always time for some recreational reading. Tax geeks who enjoy thrillers might want to check out "The Patriot Threat." Author Steve Berry says he looks for a "cool thing from history" as the core premise in each of his novels. In "The Patriot Threat," the 10th in his Cotton Malone series, Berry uses the ratification in 1913 of the 16th amendment. You know this one. It's the constitutional language that created the income tax. What if someone found a way to use the destruction of our income as a weapon to bring down America, asks... Read more →

CoreLogic made its required June tax payment to the upstate New York village of South Glens Falls, but it made a big mistake. It overpaid the amount due. That overpayment, along with some calendar issues, resulted in the firm owing a fine. South Glens Falls, a village in Saratoga County, New York, is home to Cooper's Cave, shown above in a vintage postcard courtesy Delcampe, which was made famous by author James Fenimore Cooper in the first American novel, "The Last of the Mohicans". It also has strict rules on tax due dates and payment amounts. Paid, more than in... Read more →

Mama Mia! Swedish tax break prompted ABBA's wild outfits

What do you remember more about ABBA? The 1970s Swedish pop quartet's outrageous outfits or the catchy songs? If you answered the wild clothing, the band and its tax adviser thank you. Those platform boots, brightly colored jumpers, ruffled bell bottoms and the occasional cape helped Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson reduce their taxes. The clothing tax break was revealed in ABBA: The Official Photo Book, published to mark the 40th anniversary of the group's Eurovision song contest win singing Waterloo. Swedish laws allowed performers to deduct the cost of outfits as long as the clothes... Read more →

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, passed away on Nov. 30, 2018. He will be lauded for his many political and public service accomplishments. There are two actions for which I will remember the elder Bush. First, he chose to relocate to Texas. Second, he realized that sometimes tax hikes are necessary. Both were smart moves. Rest in peace, Mr. President. Read the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's lips. You, George H. W. Bush, are a recipient of the 2014 Profiles in Courage Award. Each year, the Foundation recognizes public servants who have made courageous... Read more →

Taking time for a literary tax break

There's more to us tax geeks than just the Internal Revenue Code. When we tire of thumbing through Title 26, we go to movies, watch television and even read books. In recognition of how well-rounded tax folks are, I want to recommend for your reading pleasure David Foster Wallace's posthumous novel "The Pale King." Today is a particularly fitting time to note this book. Feb. 21 would have been Wallace's 52nd birthday. So what's the book about, you ask. Boredom. The tedium theme is understandable thanks to Wallace setting much of the book in an IRS office. Other tax tomes:... Read more →

If you can pull yourself away from that DVR of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl -- Hey, don't be embarrassed; I watch it as often as I can myself. -- it's time on this International Talk Like a Pirate Day to discuss some swashbuckling taxes. Yes, taxes and pirates have many connections. Pirates as tax collection catalyst: Let's start with some early U.S. tax history. Before we broke away from Great Britain, we had relied on that country's vaunted naval force to help protect colonial ships from Barbary Coast pirates. During the Revolution, Benjamin Franklin... Read more →

As obsessive-compulsive television detective Adrian Monk learned, public bathroom attendants are a dwindling breed. A German cleaning company owner, however, apparently found the job lucrative enough. The so-called toilet queen is now facing 12 counts of tax evasion on undeclared bathroom tips. Lucrative loos' change: German officials allege that the unnamed 53-year-old woman dodged tax payments on more than €40,000 (more than $53,000 U.S.) in tips reportedly gathered by her team of 60 toilet attendants. The money, in various coin denominations and reportedly weighing more than a ton, was piled in the garage of the woman's Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, home,... Read more →

Stephen King doesn't pull many punches in his tales of terror. So it's no surprise that he goes right to the jugular in a caustic and profane (consider yourself warned if you keep reading) post on The Daily Beast aimed at his wealthy peers who are tired of hearing that they should pay more taxes. "Cut a check and shut up, they said. If you want to pay more, pay more, they said. Tired of hearing about it, they said. Tough shit for you guys, because I'm not tired of talking about it. I've known rich people, and why not,... Read more →

It's Valentine's Day so you know what I'm thinking about. Taxes. And yes, the hubby has learned to live with my idiosyncratic approach to most holidays. One of the Internal Revenue Service's most famous victories was a direct result of one of the bloodiest days in mob history on Feb. 14, 1929. This day for lovers 83 years ago was marred by the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. As the Roaring '20s were winding down, Al "Scarface" Capone was weary of Chicago's escalating gang warfare, so he decided to bring it to an end by eliminating criminal rivals. Although Capone was... Read more →

Today is a special day for fans of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, the various Christmas ghosts and Scrooge, both before and after his holiday epiphany. On Dec. 19, 1843, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" was published. Although this magical, wonderful tale of humanity and the holidays is among the most well-known of books, it only saw the light of day thanks to Dickens' personal persistence. And the way it was published was as prophetic as some of the ghostly tales it contains. Because Dickens was feuding with his publishers, says David Perdue at his website, the author financed the... Read more →