Current Affairs Feed

The market is still volatile, dropping a bit today because … heck, who really knows exactly why this time? It's likely to keep bouncing a bit until the current and threatened trade wars and associated tariffs are resolved. I definitely am not a financial adviser, but even I know that you shouldn't try to time the stock market. Just when you think you've hit the bottom and cashed out, it drops more. Or it recovers and you miss a run back up that would have replaced (or more) your assets' losses. But if, after careful consideration and consultation with your... Read more →


With markets down, it could be time to harvest tax losses or perhaps convert a traditional IRA to a Roth retirement account. What's scarier than Superman, the 415-foot tower roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, that hits triple digit speeds? Some investors might say the recent stock market gyrations. (Photo courtesy Six Flags) Is the recent stock market drop freaking you out? How about the roller coaster ride back up, at least for a while, today? Yeah, it's worse than many stomach-churning amusement park rides and I'm right there, holding a barf bag, with you. But... Read more →


After the vigils for victims of mass tragedies, efforts to help the victims and survivors appear. Make sure your gifts to such campaigns, especially online crowdfunding ones, go to those who need help and not scammers. (Photo by Catholic Church of England, Mazur/CatholicNewsUK via Flickr CC) Gilroy, California. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. In an eight-day span, three separate shootings by lone gunmen in these cities left a total of 35 people dead, 54 injured. Residents in these cities are dealing with unspeakable horror and grief. Most of the rest of us in the United States and across the world... Read more →


Mortimer M. Caplin was the 34th commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. He passed away on July 15, 2019, at age 103. (Photo courtesy Caplin & Drysdale via Wikipedia Commons) Fifty years ago this weekend, two Apollo 11 crew members became the first people to set foot on the moon. In doing so, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fulfilled the dream/challenge that President John F. Kennedy had issued in 1961 of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." While Kennedy didn't live to see that historic accomplishment, another event last week made... Read more →


New parents Harry and Meghan don't have to worry about the expense of their new bundle of joy. But for us non-royals, raising children is costly. We former colonists here across the pond can get some help covering those costs thanks to several U.S. tax breaks. An obviously elated Prince Harry announces the birth of his and wife Meghan's son. (Screen shot from the Sussex Royal Instagram) It's a boy! Watchers of the Royal Family in the United Kingdom, here across the pond and yes, worldwide, are celebrating today's announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now parents... Read more →


Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! The choices you make in today's mi... Read more →


Fifteen years ago today, terrorists hijacked four planes and killed 2,977 people in New York City, the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. and in a field near rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The view across the south pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, former site of the Twin Towers, looking toward the National September 11 Memorial Museum. (Photo by NormanB via Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons) As has been tradition on each Sept. 11 since 2001, commemorative events will be held today across the country. The recognition became official on Dec. 18, 2001 when Public Law 107-89 took effect designating... Read more →


Americans, and particularly the families who suffered incomprehensible loss in the horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, are still trying to cope with the tragedy. Forty-nine families are struggling emotionally with the loss of their loved ones at the hand of a crazed and heavily (and legally) armed gunman. Families of 53 more people who were wounded, some gravely, also are trying to cope with the effects of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Help for affected families: Not only must these people work through the personal loss and pain, many also will face practical challenges.... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via BroadwayBox.com) And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →


It's always been a challenge to teach kids history. They truly live in the moment. History is what happened to old people. But on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015, tens of thousands of young people have an opportunity to see and hear some remarkable representations of history. "Selma," the acclaimed new movie of the Dr. King led historic march for civil rights, is screening nationwide. In an effort to get kids into movie theaters to see the film, groups in around two dozen cities are offering free tickets to middle and high school students. Click the image to... Read more →


What the most important policy issue to you this year? According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, it's defense against terrorism. Seventy-six percent of those who responded to Pew's annual policy priorities poll named terrorism as their top concern. It is the first time in five years that Americans have focused so much on terror, probably in large part because in recent months violent attacks have been in the news. The poll was conducted between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11. The move to the top spot, however, is not totally unexpected. Pew notes that there has been little change... Read more →


About a month ago, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen met with the media and warned that the coming tax-filing season was going to be a pretty miserable few months for both his agency and taxpayers. That same day, Dec. 18, the commissioner sent the same gloomy message to his staff. Now, in what could be one of the worst employee pep talks ever delivered, Koskinen has reiterated to IRS employees the dire outlook for the 2014 filing season. In his latest email to IRS works, sent yesterday (Jan. 13), Koskinen offered "some important new details about what the 2015... Read more →


Just when we think we've got a handle on Ebola, the disease wins a round. Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who contracted the deadly virus while performing his duties as chief medical officer at United Methodist Kissy Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has died in a Nebraska hospital. Salia, a Sierra Leone native who was a permanent U.S. resident, was transferred Nov. 14 to the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit where two other Ebola patients were successfully treated. Unfortunately, Salia's symptoms were far more advanced and the hospital announced his death today. However, sometimes there is good in times of... Read more →


I was a novice reporter back in February 1979 when thousands of American farmers converged on Washington, D.C. That 18-day tractorcade through messy winter weather produced not only global recognition of U.S. farming issues, but also an office for the organizing American Agriculture Movement in the nation's capital. We also ultimately got Willie Nelson's Farm Aid concerts. Since that angry grassroots beginning, AAM has played a part in shaping federal ag legislation. Viva la ag protests: Recently, farmers in France decided they, too, needed to protest. In addition to general tax policy complaints, they are concerned about falling prices, brought... Read more →


And so it begins. After a relatively quiet spring, more than two dozen tornadoes and other severe storms walloped primarily the center of the United States over the weekend. Damage from deadly tornado in the Mayflower, Arkansas, area on Sunday, April 27. Photo by James Bryant via @nlrweatherman on Twitter. The worst, and deadliest, storms stuck Sunday, April 27, which also was the third anniversary of a 122-tornado outbreak. On that late April day in 2011, twisters hit parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia and killed 316 people. Not to start off the week on a down note,... 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 →


The hubbub over the Internal Revenue Service's inept and ill-advised vetting process for groups seeking nonprofit status no longer dominates the news cycle. But make no mistake, the issue has not disappeared. TaxProf blogger Paul Caron has been keeping a daily tally of coverage. We're now up to Day 256 in the so-called IRS scandal. Fiscal costs to IRS: And there are more direct implications for the IRS other than just a public relations nightmare. The recently enacted $1.1 trillion spending bill that keeps the federal government running through Sept. 30 includes provisions directly related to the IRS 501(c)(4) nonprofit... Read more →


The tax world has just been turned on its head. A recent survey of New Jersey residents reveals that high property taxes are NOT their biggest concern. The results are a first for the Monmouth University-Asbury Park Press poll. In other recent polls, real estate bills at least tied for the number-one worry of New Jerseyans. The latest poll, released on Dec. 10, asked New Jerseyans to identify in their own words what they see as the state's most pressing issues. Job creation came in first at 35 percent. Taxes lower on the list: The state's property tax system came... Read more →


Despite the dysfunction on Capitol Hill some things never change. Today hundreds of lobbyists are hitting Representatives' and Senators' offices. This group, however, isn't of the typical Gucci Gulch variety. The folks looking for favorable legislation are from nonprofits and charitable organizations. Today has been deemed "Protect Giving Day" by the philanthropic sector. More than 200 folks from that arena are in Washington, D.C., alerting members of Congress of what they say are the "cascading consequences that could be set off by harmful limitations to the charitable tax deduction." Donation deductions on chopping block? The possibility of cutting or capping... Read more →