Business Feed

The Internal Revenue Service wants the money you owe. It prefers you pay your taxes on time and in the conventional manner. But Uncle Sam's tax collector is not averse to working with delinquent taxpayers so that it can get the due taxes without an undue hardship on the debtors, such as via an installment payment plan. There are, however, limits as shown in two recent U.S. Tax Court cases. Within weeks of each other, two companies on opposite sides of the country, found their efforts to pay their very large tax bills over time overruled for basically the same... Read more →


Checking out food bank offerings. (Photo by Michael Losch-KOMUnews via Flickr CC) All of us here in Texas, especially lovers of Mexican beers and avocados, are breathing a bit easier now that the threatened tariffs on our Southern neighbor are, for now, off the table. The Chinese trade situation, however, is still simmering. As that standoff continues, American shoppers are paying higher prices for many consumer goods. That's because tariffs essentially are taxes. The higher prices we're already seeing due to the Chinese charges could go up even more if the self-proclaimed Tariff Man holds firm in his belief that... Read more →


Taxes are a pain in the derriere, regardless of what form they take. Most folks tend to focus on — and hate — income taxes more than other types. That's because the majority of workers tend to pay a portion of our earnings to Uncle Sam. Then there are the myriad state and local taxes (SALT). SALT covers income taxes from these lower taxing jurisdictions, as well as real estate and, to some degree, personal property taxes. SALT taxes have come under renewed scrutiny since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which has limited the amount... Read more →


Killmonger and crew steal a Wakandan vibranium ax in 2018's "Black Panther." This scene was filmed in Atlanta's High Museum of Art. (Watch full museum heist scene at YouTube) If you spend part of this long Memorial Day weekend watching a movie or two, chances are good that it was made in a particular place thanks to tax breaks. Movie makers have been getting tax incentives, at both the federal and state levels, for decades. The practice, however, is controversial. Supporters see the films, traditional television shows, streaming productions, commercials and even video games made in some part within their... Read more →


This is a big week for Lone Star State businesses. The state's franchise tax is due May 15. For my fellow Texas business owners, that's tomorrow. Unless you're a Wolters Kluwer CCH software client. Then you have until May 22. See my prior post for more on the recent CCH malware problems and the filing accommodations being made by the Internal Revenue Service and Texas tax officials. I don't want to bore all y'all that don't live here, but since other states have business levies similar to ours, here's a quick, general take on Texas' tax system. The privilege of... Read more →


Around two dozen tax breaks are now in a legislative zombie state, much like these creatures in George Romero's classic zombie film "Night of the Living Dead." The tax versions are waiting for federal lawmakers to bring them back to life or finally and completely put an end to them. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) A dozen groups spanning the political spectrum are urging Congress to let zombie tax extenders remain dead. Are you still waiting on expired tax provisions to be resurrected? If a motley crew of public policy, tax and advocacy groups get its way, you'll be waiting forever.... Read more →


Today is the start of the annual Small Business Week. And yes, you can combine it with Cinco de Mayo and raise a margarita to your favorite entrepreneur. These 30 million or so smaller companies are hailed as America's backbone. Approximately 10 million are women-owned, 29 percent are minority-owned and nearly 10 percent are veteran-owned. Running a small business has never been easy. In fact, their size tends to put more pressure on such operations. Profit margins are thin. The ability to offer benefits to workers is stretched. And small companies tend to be more at the mercy of the... Read more →


UPDATE, Sept. 11, 2019: A California bill is on its way to becoming law and remaking the gig economy in the Golden State. Once it goes into into effect Jan. 1, 2020, workers must be designated as employees instead of contractors if a company exerts control over how they perform their tasks or if their work is part of a company's regular business. Other states could follow California's example. Here's what the IRS says about delineating between employees and contract workers. Independent contractor life could be for you if you're tired of having the boss constantly over your shoulder and... Read more →


It was a gorgeous sunset at this Astros game at Minute Maid Park, but the Houston MLB franchise and other professional sports teams are looking at a recent IRS ruling that provides them a bright new dawn for favorable tax treatment of player trades. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's a busy time for professional sports fans. National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs are in full swing. Major League Baseball's (MLB) early season is already full of surprises. Just what is wrong with the World Series champion Red Sox and Chris Sale? The National Football League (NFL)... Read more →


Thanks to much larger standard deduction amounts under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), fewer filers are itemizing deductions. But that doesn't mean they aren't still writing off some tax-deductible expenses. During this first filing season after the many changes wrought by the latest tax reform law, taxpayers are still claiming what used to be called above-the-line deductions. Technically, they are and always have been adjustments to income. They got the above-the-line moniker because they previously appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your... Read more →


It's official. House Democrats have formally requested copies of the last six years of Donald J. Trump's personal and business federal tax returns. Trump has steadfastly refused to make public his taxes, breaking a modern-day tradition set by presidential candidates — and in-office presidents (and vice presidents) — of letting the public have a glimpse of White House 1040s. The main reason Trump has given for keeping his taxes private is that his personal and business filings are under audit. Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the... Read more →


Hope springs eternal for MLB fans on Opening Day. I'm looking forward to this season bringing another World Series pennant to join the 2017 one in the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park. (Photo by me, taken at the 'Stros' championship celebration with fans at their home opener on April 2, 2018) Today is a holiday in our house. It's Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Our formal celebration of the sport's first games of the year began when we lived in the Washington, D.C. area. In those days, there were no Nationals. The Baltimore Orioles ruled the MidAtlantic baseball world,... Read more →


Screenshot from a look at some of the people who depend on the gig economy. Watch the full YouTube video here. Everybody is looking for more money. Taxpayers want more in their tax refunds, especially those surprised by smaller amounts this filing season. Donald J. Trump wants more to build his campaigned-promised border wall. People who are unhappy with their current earnings are side hustling to get more income. It's that last group, says the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), that the Internal Revenue Service should be focusing on as a way to get more money into the... Read more →


One of my favorite recent TV shows was The Americans, FX's series on embedded Russian spies during the 1980s Cold War. For six seasons, we fans watched the couple known to their suburban Washington, D.C. neighbors as Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings raise their two U.S.-born children, run their small travel agency and spy, sometimes in deadly fashion, for their native U.S.S.R. One of the underlying themes was how well and easily the Jennings assimilated into the America they were trying to bring down. It's a common trope, but one done well and with nuance by the television program. A radio... Read more →


Much of the mass media coverage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes has focused on how they affect individual taxpayers. There are, after all, 150 million or so of us who, for the first time this filing season, are now dealing with the practical, real-life effects of the new law. But let's be honest. Business taxes were the impetus behind the biggest tax reform measure in more than 30 years. In this area, the 20 percent Section 199A tax deduction for certain small businesses has gotten the lion's share of coverage. It was added to the bill to... Read more →


The tax filing season every year starts with a rush of flings. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service received more than 18 million returns (that's almost 12 percent of all the returns filed in 2018) during the first week the filings were accepted. This year appears to be on a similar track. Through mid-day Monday, Jan. 28, the opening day of the 2019 filing season, the IRS says it received several million tax returns. Those early filers obviously are expecting a tax refund. They also had all the documentation they needed to file their returns. Some of us, however, no... Read more →


We're almost 13 months into the largest tax reform measure enacted in more than 30 years and one thing is clear. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is in no way tax simplification. In fact, taxpayers and the professionals they pay to help make filing less taxing in every sense of the word have been struggling with just what Congress meant in way too many of the tax bill's hastily drafted provisions. Big business bill, with small biz break and confusion: Although the TCJA contains many changes that will make filing returns this year interesting for individual taxpayers, it... Read more →


As the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history drags on with no end in sight, furloughed workers are looking at any and all ways to pay their bills. Some have taken hardship withdrawals from their workplace retirement accounts. Thousands of others have applied for unemployment. Few of us can blame folks who are struggling financially for taking these steps. At some point, many of us or our family members and friends have done the same. There's no shame in taking available help when bills you can't pay continue to arrive. And while such actions can help out-of-work folks make... Read more →


The current, and longest-ever, federal government shutdown has made it painfully clear that many of Uncle Sam's employees don't have an emergency savings cushion. They are not alone. A study released last summer found that only about a quarter of all Americans across nearly all ages and generations have no savings whatsoever in an emergency fund. Just more than a quarter of U.S. residents, 29 percent, had saved enough to cover six months' worth of living expenses. When people do save, they tend to do so for retirement. It's not necessarily that they're looking ahead to their golden years. Rather,... Read more →


Close-up of National Geographic United States wall map. Click image to see all 50 states. Most states tend to operate on fiscal years, with July 1 being an effective date for a lot of law change State leaders, however, realize that their residents follow the Gregorian calendar, so they still make Jan. 1 the effective date for major revisions of law. I was surfing the Web on New Year's Day — doesn't everybody?!? — and ran across some interesting state tax law changes that took effective with the arrival of 2019. Below is a look at what I found. New... Read more →