Bankrate Taxes Blog Feed

A recent report on how the rich are able to take advantage of the U.S. tax code to keep their bills lower has (re)generated a lot of talk about replacing our current system. That's easier said than done, but lots is still being said about the options. One of the more popular replacement proposals is a flat tax. As I noted last week at my other tax blog, several Republicans who want to be their party's 2016 presidential candidate support some sort of flat tax. Essentially, they want to scrap our current system employing seven progressive tax rates and enact... 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 →


Congress is still working on a compromise to put the 50+ expired tax extenders back into the tax code, some permanently. The plan is to attach the extenders to the fiscal year 2016 omnibus federal spending bill that must be OK'ed by Dec. 16. Then Representatives and Senators can head out of Washington, D.C., for holiday celebrations back home. Before that happens, though, another bill that also has tax ramifications is likely to clear Congress. The House on Friday afternoon (Dec. 11) handily passed H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. Also referred to as the... Read more →


Sin taxes are supposed to encourage help force people to break what are generally perceived as bad habits. One of the most common sin taxes is an added levy on cigarettes. It has long been argued, and shown in some studies, that the tax is effective in keeping young people from starting to smoke. They tend to have lower incomes, so a hefty tobacco tax makes the habit too expensive for them, especially when they consider other ways they could use the money that otherwise would turn to ash. Now it looks like cigarette taxes also can improve the health... Read more →


How are those Thanksgiving leftovers holding up? While you might be sick of the excess turkey, dressing and countless side dishes, too many people face the opposite problem. They don't have enough to eat every day. Food pantries and soup kitchens get a lot of attention during the holidays, and that's good. But they welcome help throughout the year. And some are getting it from nontraditional sources. Many hunters and the organizations that support them have charitable offshoots through which game meat is donated to help feed the hungry. A volunteer serves game meat at soup kitchen. Click image to... Read more →


Thanksgiving is next week. You know what that means. Tax filing-season is just around the corner. Before we all get lost in family gatherings and football and gift giving, the Internal Revenue Service wants to remind us that it's working on new ways to protect our tax data. It also wants us to know that we can help. Last week, the participants in what the IRS has named its Security Summit announced a new tax safety public awareness campaign: Taxes. Security. Together. "We all have a part to play in fighting identity theft," said Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen... Read more →


The Browns are in Pittsburgh today. That's good news for Cleveland tax officials. On this given Sunday, they don't have to worry about taxing visiting National Football League players. Cleveland officials are revising their jock tax system, through which they've collected money from athletes and entertainers who've come into town to perform over the years. The city lost a court battle over its jock tax methodology and could end up refunding, by one estimate, as much as $2.4 million to previously taxed NFL players. Before it was challenged, Cleveland had taken its tax portion from visiting pro footballers' pockets based... Read more →


A highway funding bill is finally moving through Congress. It was stalled for months following the Senate's approval this summer of a transportation bill, but yesterday (Nov. 5) the House approved its highway measure. The two bills must be reconciled by a conference committee. But at least there's some time to smooth out policy potholes. The Highway Trust Fund has money, thanks the latest in a series of short term funding measures, through Nov. 20. One fiscal provision, however, won't have to be hammered out. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill require that the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is among 13 federal offices that is using high-tech cell phone surveillance devices. As I noted over at Bankrate Taxes Blog, the ability of the federal tax collector to gather metadata from mobile phones has a lot of folks worried about just what data is being collected, from whom and how it is or will be used. Such concerns came up in a Senate Finance Committee's Oct. 27 hearing that was already on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's schedule. The session was arranged to discuss the Senate panel's report on how badly the IRS handled Tea Party... Read more →


I'm a big believer in lists. I can't grocery shop without my piece of paper detailing all the edibles the hubby and I need or want. Yes, I still buy things that don't make the list, but if I forget it, I always have to make another trip to pick up a critical comestible I forgot. Yes, that's my current grocery list on an Earned Income Tax Credit notepad I picked up at an IRS Nationwide Tax Forum. No judging, please, of our food choices. I also keep track of my story assignments via a computer spreadsheet, as well as... Read more →


Tax evasion is a global problem. Around the world, countries are struggling to make sure that their citizens are paying the taxes they owe. Here in the United States, we try both the stick (audits and even criminal prosecution in some cases) and the carrot (tax breaks) to encourage compliance. The Internal Revenue Service has sweetened the tax reporting pot, especially for those who are hiding their funds in out-of-country accounts. While many tax havens are in tropical locales, you can find places to hide money from the tax man all over the world. For some, the United States is... Read more →


I love that Subaru commercial where the little kid (he's 5!) imagines what it would be like to drive his dad's car. My favorite part is when he exasperatedly utters, "People." That's how I feel today after the Internal Revenue Service felt compelled to issue a warning about possible fake charity scams popping up in connection with the deadly flooding this month in South Carolina and neighboring states. People. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Crooks and con artists look for any hook they can to separate us from our money. It happened after the devastating Haitian earthquake. Criminals also targeted... Read more →


When Donald Trump finally released his tax plan on Sept. 28, he included a provision he says would encourage U.S. based-companies to companies to bring their overseas earnings -- and jobs and tax payments -- home. Companies nowadays operate, and pay taxes, well beyond the boundaries of the county in which they are headquartered. Image by Effervescent Me via Flickr. Trump's proposal for a one-time repatriation of corporate cash held abroad at a discounted 10 percent tax rate is nothing new. One of his GOP presidential nominee competitors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, previously released his tax plan that calls... Read more →


The Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal has brought new attention to alternative fuel vehicles. Conservationists love the vehicles. So do automakers, who have embraced new technologies as a way to expand their markets. And governments, both at the federal and many state levels, have supported alternative fuel automotive options through tax breaks. The most popular tax break was the federal tax credit for hybrid vehicles. Now the energy saving fuel du jour is electricity. My concern about buying an electric car is finding a recharging station. That's not a problem for the owners of these electric cars charging along an Ontario,... Read more →


The ubiquitous ads for fantasy sports companies have attracted some unintended attention. Rep. Frank Pallone, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants that panel to explore exactly fantasy sports differ from gambling. It's a question that literally hits home for Pallone's constituents. The Democratic Congressman represents New Jersey, which has been fighting to make sports betting legal in the Garden State. Supporters of the effort, which was approved by state voters, is seen as another way to bring tourism and tax revenue to the state, particularly Atlantic City and the state's racetracks. Now, in a letter to... Read more →


I was feeling a bit overwhelmed recently, looking at what was on my to-do list and the time left to do it. Then I saw Congress' schedule and thought, I'm in good shape. The House and Senate are facing a series of deadlines that have much more serious consequences than me getting a story or blog post in at the last minute (please don't tell my editors I said that!). There are four major dates on the remaining 2015 Congressional calendar: October 1 -- The end of 2015 appropriations and the return of sequestration. October 29 -- Expiration of the... Read more →


Computer hackers have taken over, in popular culture as well as in real-life situations adversely affecting the lives of millions of individuals. And we're all paying the price. Hacker extraordinaire Eliot Alderson, played by Rami Malek in USA Network's hit show Mr. Robot, crashed the computer system of Evil Corp. to free billions of global consumers from the giant company's financial clutches. Real-life hackers aren't as benevolent, generally opting to take over individuals' identities to access their bank and credit accounts. (Photo courtesy USA Network) The latest case in point is Uncle Sam's decision to pay more than $133 million... Read more →


Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) plans to introduce legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act's Cadillac tax when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, according to National Journal. It's not your grandfather's Cadillac that we're talking about in connection with Obamacare, although having this 1959 finned baby in my garage would definitely make me feel much better. The Affordable Care Act's Cadillac tax is a levy that will affect expensive employer provided medical coverage starting in 2018, unless it's repealed. (Image courtesy Travel and Trade South Africa) The 40 percent tax on high-cost health care coverage (hence the Cadillac nickname) over a... Read more →


Tax fraud has become so profitable that it has replaced drug dealing for many gangs nationwide. Earlier this month, alleged gang members on both coasts -- 32 in Long Beach, California, and 14 in Elizabeth, New Jersey -- were indicted by federal prosecutors on a variety of tax crime charges. It's not a new development. Years ago, Florida criminals acknowledged that they shifted to stealing tax refunds because the crime was less dangerous and more lucrative than dealing drugs. If caught by authorities, though, tax crimes still carry a hefty penalty. Just ask the dude who's spending a record 27... Read more →


For many international travelers, exploring another country offers a bonus: picking up a few items at the airport's duty-free store. Duty-free shopping at the Oslo, Norway, airport; image courtesy Wikimedia Commons OK, for some travelers, the tax-free airport shopping is the best thing about their trips. And they buy much more than a few items. In case you've missed this experience, duty-free shops sell products without collecting the local import tax. In Europe, duty-free shops in airports and ports are tax-free shops, too, which means you don't pay the value added tax, or VAT (aka Europe's version of sales tax),... Read more →