Politics Feed

It seems the Internal Revenue Service, or at least its Direct File program, has a new public relations agency. It’s a group of Capitol Hill Democrats and Independents. The U.S. Senators and Representatives signed a May 15 letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel lauding the IRS free online tax preparation and e-filing option. The Direct File pilot program, created and run by the IRS, was rolled out this filing season in 12 states. When it wrapped on April 15, almost 141,000 taxpayers had used it. Direct File users received more than $90 million in refunds.... Read more →


The coming Memorial Day break is seen as the unofficial start of summer in the United States. It’s also usually been the start of higher summer gasoline prices. That’s not the case this year. So far. Pump prices rose nationwide this spring, but actually have fallen a tad recently. Today’s AAA national average of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.598. That was up a smidge (0.008) from yesterday, May 20, but less than the $3.612 recorded a week ago. Record road trips: Will the lower gas prices hold? An expected record number of drivers hope so, at least until... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with George Dagerotip President Joe Biden last week endorsed the Department of Justice's (DoJ) move to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug. Biden said in social media posts — X (aka Twitter) and YouTube — that the move would reverse “long-standing inequities” under the current criminalization of cannabis. "Look folks, no one should be in jail merely for using or possessing marijuana," the president said in his video statement. Not legalization, but lowering federal interest: The Justice Department move would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use, which currently is the... Read more →


Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all the moms out there got everything they wanted today. Of course, we should be grateful for all that our parents do for us every day of the year. In additional to the emotional support, moms (and dads) literally pay for parenthood. A recent calculation of the average cost to raise a child to age 18 came to $312,202. That figure is for a middle-class family, and doesn’t include college expenses. Yikes! Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow emeritus in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, told WTOP News that the true price could be... Read more →


Our annual property tax protest has been filed. Not by us. We finally hired a company to take care of it. But the hubby and I and our neighbors are not the only ones concerned about property taxes. So are the government officials in charge of levying and collecting them, albeit for different reasons. Property tax problems: Real estate taxes are the primary financing source for city, county, and other local governments. Tax Foundation analysts found that in fiscal year 2020, property taxes comprised 32.2 percent of total state and local tax collections in the United States, more than any... Read more →


Among the nearly 141.4 million tax returns that the Internal Revenue Service had received by the week ending April 26, were 140,803 Form 1040s that arrived via the tax agency's Direct File pilot program. The IRS and Treasury Department in separate releases said these Direct File taxpayers claimed more than $90 million in refunds, and saved an estimated $5.6 million in tax preparation fees on their federal returns alone. OK, those Direct File returns were a minuscule part — 0.09960386 percent — of the more than 141 million 1040s filed as of last month. But it’s a start. And it... Read more →


Those who enter the New York Criminal Courts building are greeted by Thomas Jefferson's words engraved on the façade. The third U.S. president cited "equal and exact justice to all men of whatever state or persuasion" as one of the essential principles of American democracy. (Photo by Carl Mikoy, Flickr Creative Commons) In September 2019, Donald J. Trump changed his official residence from New York to Florida. The then-president gave no official reason for the paperwork move. However, one reason likely was the Sunshine State’s lack of a personal income tax. Though Trump refused to release his federal or state... Read more →


Yelena Blinovskaya and Alexei Blinovsky in happier times shared on her Instagram account. I'm confident that the hubby loves me. But does he love me enough to head off to war? I don't ever want to find out that answer for many reasons, including the "what the what?" follow-up questions it would raise. But that startling scenario just played out in Russia. And yes, it involves taxes. Influencer tax evasion charges: Yelena Blinovskaya, a self-help coach and Instagram influencer, was arrested at the Russian-Belarus border in April 2023 for allegedly trying to flee her native country to avoid paying a... Read more →


Earth Day 2024 is tomorrow, April 22. But today is so nice — we finally got some rain, and the butterflies and hummingbirds are taking over our backyard — that I decided to celebrate a day early. This special day dedicated to the ecological issues facing our planet was first held on April 22, 1970. Back then, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson came up with the idea separately. But they agreed that Americans should join en masse in grassroots demonstrations to highlight environmental threats. McConnell wanted Earth Day events to happen on March 20, which... Read more →


April 15 was Tax Day for most of us. That included President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. When Biden and Harris took office, they reinstated the annual tradition of our country's top elected officials voluntarily releasing their tax filings. The 2023 tax year returns of the Bidens and Harris/Emhoff earn this weekend's Saturday Shout Out. You can see the details at the White House's official Tax Returns online page. In addition to this year's filings, there are links to the returns filed by the president and... Read more →


The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) helped many companies keep workers during the difficult COVID-19 pandemic days. But some ERC claims wrong, and the IRS is successfully recouping some of those incorrectly claimed and/or issued funds. The Internal Revenue Service closed out its Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) on Friday, March 22, on a high note. Going into the day, the VDP, which allowed those who got improper ERC payments to pay back most of the money, had produced more than $225 million from 500+ taxpayers. Another 800 submissions were still being processed, and even more being filed... Read more →


Are you having second thoughts about an ERC claim your company made? It so, it's time to review your records, and if you find you received an incorrect tax credit amount, let the IRS know by this Friday, March 22. (Photo by Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent) With the deadline to let the Internal Revenue Service know you got an improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) fast approaching — it's this Friday, March 22 — business owners who are concerned need to act fast. Recipients of wrong payments can apply for the IRS' ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program by that deadline. If accepted, the businesses... Read more →


Expensive homes are subject to higher mansion taxes in 17 locales across the United States. (Photo by Daniel Barnes on Unsplash) A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about growing opposition to higher taxes on expensive real estate in Los Angeles and Chicago. So naturally, a recent Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) piece on these so-called mansion taxes caught my eye. Local mansion taxes have been around since 1982, notes ITEP local policy analyst Andrew Boardman in his article for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. However, the momentum for them has built in recent years. Nearly all of today's... Read more →


Photo: President Joe Biden/White House Facebook page In his State of the Union address on March 7, President Joe Biden touched on how he wants to spend our money in the coming 2025 fiscal year. The Biden Administration followed up the next week with its formal budget proposal in the Treasury Department's General Explanations of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2025 Revenue Proposals. The Green Book, as it's popularly known, describes the tax proposals in the budget, along with associated revenue estimates. While a president is required by law to present a budget, what it includes — both in Biden's remarks... Read more →


Did you discover you got an improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) payment? You still have time to get out of the tax jam by applying for the ERC voluntary disclosure program. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) ERC voluntary disclosure deadline is March 22 Last December, the Internal Revenue Service announced that businesses that received improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) amounts could let the agency know about the error. In these cases, many of which were created when companies got bad tax advice from aggressive ERC promoters, the companies would have to repay only 80 percent of the... Read more →


President Joe Biden has targeted capital gains tax laws in his fiscal year 2025 budget. But don't freak out if you have some money in the markets. For the most part, Biden's looking to get more from really wealthy market mavens who typically pay lower capital gains tax rates on the long-term assets they sell. Collecting billionaires' unrealized capital gains: When you sell an asset for more than your paid for it, that profit is a capital gain. The tax rate for these gains typically is less than ordinary tax rates that apply to earnings like wages. In most cases,... Read more →


The first Direct Filer was a satisfied IRS employee who got a $400 tax refund. However, GOP opponents of the program say it was wrongly established and misspends tax dollars. Following a soft launch, the Internal Revenue Service today, March 12, officially opened Direct File to all eligible taxpayers in the pilot program's 12 participating states. The no-cost tax preparation and e-filing program cuts out the commercial tax middleman, allowing certain taxpayers able to complete their annual filing task by dealing, as the name says, directly with the IRS. Right now, that's only taxpayers in 12 states with relatively simple... Read more →


The Recovery Rebate Credit also is available until April 15, 2025, for unclaimed 2021 tax year amounts. Economic impact payments, or EIPs, issued in 2020 and 2021 helped millions deal with the financial damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some people didn't get the coronavirus stimulus money to which they were entitled. These eligible individuals still have a chance to collect the cash by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit. But time is running out. The Internal Revenue Service is alerting those who didn't file a 2020 tax return need to complete that form and claim the COVID funds by... Read more →


Update, Wednesday, March 20, 2024: The ruling that the Chicago housing ballot measure was invalid was overturned on March 6 by the Illinois First District Appellate Court, so the matter went to the city's voters on March 19. The latest count shows it failing by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. The election board will finalize vote totals by April 9. Photo by Rachel Davis on Unsplash A person's home is the owner's castle. Some homeowners think that's how tax collectors view their properties, especially when it comes to real estate tax assessments. In some places, local officials want... Read more →


Tax laws are full of unintended consequences. That became painfully clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when a variety of tax relief provisions were created to help individuals and businesses deal with the virus' economic effects. Such was the case with the Employee Retention Credit, or ERC. "The ERC provided a financial lifeline to millions of businesses and exempt organizations during the pandemic," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in his prepared testimony for the Feb. 15 hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. "The IRS has worked hard to implement this credit, and we have processed about 3.6 million ERC... Read more →