Books Feed

'The Pale King,' novel set in IRS office

Thanks to favorable reviews and widespread reader interest, David Foster Wallace's posthumous novel "The Pale King" is available in advance of its scheduled April 15 release date. Yep, the traditional Tax Day (it's April 18 this year because of the Emancipation Day holiday) was intentional. Much of the book takes placed in a Midwesteran Internal Revenue Service office, the setting Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008, chose to address "an America so plagued by tedium, monotony and meaningless bureaucratic rules and regulations that its citizens are in danger of dying of boredom." The novel obviously isn't for everyone. In recounting... Read more →

If your summer vacation includes catching up on your reading and you're a tax geek, here are some tax books to take with you. I must admit I haven't read most of them. I'm taking the word of Laura Saunders in her recent Wall Street Journal article."Believe it or not, two recent books manage to present the history of taxation in ways that not only fascinate but amuse," writes Saunders. She highly recommends The Sex of a Hippopotamus (Twinset Inc.) by Atlanta CPA Jay Starkman. Calling it "the only readable book about taxes that this longtime tax reporter has ever... Read more →

George Orwell, Pennsylvania tax collector

Hey, Pennsylvanians, if you owe back taxes the state wants to make sure you know that it knows all about you. It's May 2010, but the Keystone State revenue office has been airing this "1984" style television ad promoting its tax amnesty program that runs through June 18. I don't know how many folks the commercial has prompted to participate in the amnesty, but judging from reaction I'm reading online, it has succeeded in creeping people out. Yes, we know that based on our past tax returns, various government-issued licenses we hold and even our credit records, Uncle Sam and... Read more →

Not only does the hubby read the ol' blog, he acts on its suggestions! Sometimes. One of my Christmas gifts yesterday was Tax Stories, the book edited by TaxProf Paul Caron. I had mentioned it in my Holiday gifts for tax geeks post earlier this month with a parenthetical note to my sweet spouse. Thanks, dear! In addition to editing the publication, Caron wrote the introduction, Tax Archaeology, in which he concludes that the problematic results in the book's 10 Supreme Court federal income tax cases underscore that "perhaps the fault lies…in our income tax itself." "Instead of chastising the... Read more →

I've been thinking about Charles Dickens today. Not because it's December and he wrote the classic holiday story, A Christmas Carol. And not because it was on this day in 1867 that Dickens gave his first public reading in America, kicking off a four-month reading tour. Rather, the impending attempt by Congress to resolve the estate tax reminds me of Dickens' Bleak House. This week, possibly even today, the House will finally consider how to keep the estate tax from dying. The tax currently has a top rate of 45 percent that's applied to estate values that exceed $3.5 million... Read more →

The stock market has been creeping upwards, which is great news for folks like me, who are hoping one day to kick back and do exactly what we want, not what we have to do in order to pay bills. But there's still a lot of retirement planning work to be done by all of us, regardless of where we are on the road to our hoped-for golden years. When you combine the recent market crash with the fact that many folks used whatever retirement funds they had, both IRAs and company 401(k)s, to live on when they encountered day-to-day... Read more →

Bruce Bartlett, whom I cited last month in my post Fiscal responsibility requires higher taxes, is getting more ink. In today's New York Times Economic Scene column Partisan Economics in Action, David Leonhardt looks at Bartlett's approach to politics and taxes. Not to get into a big political debate here, but I was struck, again, by Bartlett's forthrightness. "So much of what passes for conservatism today is just pure partisan opposition," says Bartlett, pictured there at right. "It's not conservative at all." Bartlett addresses what he believes is conservative in a book coming out next week, The New American Economy.... Read more →

My dear hubby and book PR people keep telling me I need to share more. No, not all the icky personal stuff, but tax- and book-related items that pop up here there, now and then. They're probably right, but don't tell my husband I said that! What with tax season hitting high gear, such reviews, interviews, mentions and stories I've written for places other than my regular Bankrate gig have been piling up. So rather than piecemeal them out, here they are in one comprehensive post for you to enjoy (or ignore! but I hope not!) as you please. First... Read more →

What are you worried about this tax filing season? If you're like the folks who participated in a recent CCH CompleteTax survey, you're concerned that you might be making costly mistakes or overlooking tax-saving breaks. Such worries could be well-founded. The poll of around 1,000 adults, commissioned by CCH and conducted by GfK Roper, also found that most people do not know which tax breaks offer the greatest benefits. Nearly two in three, or 66 percent, of taxpayers fear they may overlook tax breaks or make mistakes that could cost them in fines or penalties. When it comes to a... Read more →

I recently discovered a new financial Web site, FiLife. Well, it's not new; it's been around for a couple of years. But it's new to me. And I didn't exactly discover it. One of FiLife's writers, Kristen Sullivan, got in touch with me. Regardless of how we connected, I'm pleased to say we had a very nice conversation last week and there's online proof of our talk: Q&A with Tax Expert S. Kay Bell. As the FiLife site says, here's the short story: S. Kay Bell, author of The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes offers some advice for first-time tax... Read more →

Another book review and a list, too

Another tax blogger, Jim Maule who authors MauledAgain, has done me the honor of reading and reviewing my book, The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes. I certainly appreciate the assessment of my book by Maule, who is a professor at Villanova University School of Law. And I got a particular kick out of two of Prof. Maule's observations: "The truth is that this book is not a tax protester tome, as the title might suggest." and "It's a small book, and because it doesn't focus on taxes other than income taxes or jurisdictions other than the United States, one must... Read more →

On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico and became a republic. Even though we're now one of 50 U.S. states, this is the date Texans still celebrate. It's a holiday for state workers. In fact, if it weren't for the issuance of the commemorative quarter a few years ago, I suspect many of us Texans wouldn't know exactly when we became the 28th state, although I'm sure that move was part of the state history classes all Texas school children must take. FYI, it was Dec. 29, 1845. Tweed Scott, a fellow author and Texan by choice... Read more →

Fellow tax blogger and tax pro Bruce, known on the Web as taxguy, has done me the honor of reviewing my book, The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes. For the fact that he took the time to read the book, I am grateful. For his very nice review of it, I am enormously thankful. I recommend you give Bruce's review a look, not just from a self-promotional standpoint, but also because there's something in it for you. In connection with the review, Bruce is giving away a signed copy of my book. Thanks, Bruce, and to those who enter his... Read more →

My book, "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes," is out, at least from mail-order outlets. I've gotten some copies (note to friends and family: guess what you're getting for birthday presents!). And now comes the fun part -- waiting. Waiting for sales numbers. Waiting for reviews. That latter wait is over. The first review (that I know of) is in from fellow blogger Jim at Bargaineering. Now it's time to get more "Truth" out, literally. If you'd like your own copy of my book, just leave a comment here at this post by 10 p.m Central, Wednesday, Jan. 28. I'll... Read more →

Yes, it's an old joke about blood-sucking IRS agents. So maybe that's why it seems so fitting that a tax lawyer has just published "The New Annotated Dracula." Leslie S. Klinger is a Los Angeles tax attorney with clients in the entertainment industry. You can insert your own Hollywood blood-letting wise cracks here. After his office closes, however, Klinger turns his attention to genre literature. The Wall Street Journal reports that Klinger's closer look at Bram Stoker's famous vampire novel is the tax lawyer's second such annotation. He previously edited the three volume, 2,700-page "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes." The... Read more →

Kids, money and economic chaos

Forget Wall Street vs. Main Street. The financial battles in this economic downturn are being fought in the trenches of family homes, pitting parents against kids. The hubby and I don't have any children, so I'm relying on other reports, such as a story in today's New York Times about how families are coping with new fiscal realities. According to Jan Hoffman's article The Frugal Teenager, Ready or Not, "Panicked, stressed parents are struggling to explain and impose restraints, just when teenagers are expecting more spending money, not less. Many adolescents respond with anger at what they see as a... Read more →

'Four legs good, two legs bad'

I'm sure all you "Animal Farm" fans immediately recognized that headline as a quote from George Orwell's satirical novel. Today is Orwell's birthday. He was born June 25, 1903, as Eric Arthur Blair. Being a writer and semi-successful rabble-rouser myself, I love Wikipedia's description of Orwell's writing style: "Marked by concise descriptions of social conditions and events and a contempt for all types of authority." The "two legs bad" maxim immediately came to mind when I saw a story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on how pets are the foreclosure crisis' other victims. "When a homeowner has to leave his... Read more →

Amazonian sized state tax battles

I've ordered books and CDs from Amazon since it opened its virtual doors. In fact, I have a collection of goodies the site sent to patrons back in the high dot-com days of exuberant e-commerce, before such niceties were trumped by bottom-line considerations. Even though I haven't gotten a thermal Amazon mug or nifty magnet in a while, and even though there are several very good record and book shops in Austin, I still use Amazon now and then. It particularly appeals to me because I'm a buyer, not a shopper. I know what I want and I just want... Read more →

Liechtenstein is outraged!

Back off! That's the word from Liechtenstein's Crown Prince Alois. The tiny nation, said its ruler, would take legal steps to preserve its tradition of banking secrecy and protect clients from German officials. The larger European nation last week ramped up its investigation into suspected tax evasion (blogged here) by many wealthy Germans believed to be hiding money in the neighboring Alpine tax haven. The prince also tried to redirect attention, according to this story in today's New York Times, by pointing out that most of the German evidence in the tax evasion investigation came from an unnamed, and paid,... Read more →

Financial (and other) books
for holiday getting and giving

An Austin colleague, Liz Carmack, has just had her first book published: "Historic Hotels of Texas: A Traveler's Guide" (Texas A&M University Press). Any writer out there is lying if they say they don't want to one day see their words in hardback. So hearty congratulations to Liz. I'm sure her book will do quite well. I'm going to do my part to help a fellow writer by picking up a couple of Liz's books for holiday gifts. Anyone who's a fan of Texas, travel, architecture or tales of long ago will enjoy it. And who doesn't love at least... Read more →