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The Internal Revenue Service announced in late May that it had sent out more than 152 COVID-19 economic relief payments totaling almost $258 billion Some coronavirus cash, however, went to folks that weren't supposed to get it. This includes relief payments to deceased taxpayers, some foreign-based workers and incarcerated individuals, as well as those married to someone who is in prison. Request, not demand: The IRS wants these folks to send back their stimulus money, although there's no indication, either legislatively or regulatorily, that the agency has any authority to require it. There's also the question of how it would... Read more →


The COVID-19 crisis is global, so it's no surprise that actions by U.S. lawmakers to help taxpayers also have some decidedly global complications. And in some cases, it could work out well for U.S. taxpayers who are living and working in other countries. Worldwide earnings, U.S. taxes: Even though these folks no longer live in the United States, they still pay U.S. taxes. America's tax system for individuals is, for the most part, a worldwide one. That means that if you're an American living and working abroad, the Internal Revenue Service still gets a part of your income as U.S.... Read more →


Confused about who gets coronavirus relief payments? Apparently so is the Internal Revenue Service's distribution system. Thousands of foreign workers, many living overseas, were sent COVID-19 economic relief payments due to an unforeseen glitch that funneled the money, meant for U.S. taxpayers, to other countries, according to a Politico report. That story is this weekend's featured Sunday Shout Out. Former foreign college workers: The payments mostly went to college-age workers who spent time in the United States during the last two years. That's the time period the IRS is using to calculate who gets how much of the stimulus authorized... Read more →


National Guard troops have been deployed to help states meet COVID-19 needs, ranging from personal protective equipment training, support of medical testing facilities and healthcare professionals and assisting with disinfecting and cleaning common public spaces. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Defense) Taxes have been in the public spotlight this week, not because right about now we normally would be nearing the annual filing deadline, but because of how the coronavirus pandemic has thrown normal, including our tax obligations, out the window. By now you know that April 15 is not Tax Day this year. Instead, it's been pushed to July... Read more →


(Pixabay via Pexels) When you're in the military, taxes are likely far down on your list of concerns. Members of the military, however, bear the same tax responsibility as do all U.S. citizens. The one bit of good tax news here is that the tax code and Internal Revenue Service take into account the special circumstances that armed services personnel face. Here are some tax highlights for military taxpayers. Affected armed forces: Military tax benefits typically apply to active duty or reserve members of the armed forces. The eligible forces are: United States Army (including Army Reserve and Army National... Read more →


Oh, Canadians. A recent report on tax attitudes north of the 49th parallel is upsetting my idealized vision of your country. A recent Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) internal memo, first reported by Blacklock's Reporter, found that around 20 percent of Canadians believe the benefits of tax cheating outweigh the risks. In fact, the CRA said 26 percent don't think that tax officials will discover their tax evasion. The CRA also found that many Canadians did not view tax evasion on amounts less than $1,000 to be "serious tax cheating." And it classified 13 percent as outlaws who view tax evasion... Read more →


One of the hallmarks of the Trump Administration is tariffs, either put in place or threatened, on a variety of imported goods. If you have money in the stock market, you're probably pretty happy with 2019. Despite some blips, the market this year maintained its continued upward march. The positive news for investors, however, goes against conventional wisdom that tariffs are bad for the economy. Wall Street bulls say that tariffs eventually will take their toll. And others, including a pair of Federal Reserve economists, cite evidence that tariffs already are costing jobs and hiking prices. No tariff trouble for... Read more →


Greek street market vendors offer just about everything. (Photo: Travels with Gerri-Travellerspoint) Every day, more Americans go digital, at least partially, when comes to their finances. We pay via our smartphone features and apps. Our paychecks or gig earnings are directly deposited. Even the Internal Revenue Service is nudging (and sometimes shoving) us to handle our tax tasks electronically. But we are nowhere near where Greece is going. That Mediterranean country, the one that's been on the financial edge or over it for years, now is forcing its residents to use electronic transactions equal to around a third of their... Read more →


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) this month will mark its 2nd birthday. After two full years of dealing with its provisions, the most tax code changes in 30-plus years, there's still debate over how much it's helped both taxpayers and the economy. One thing is clear, however. The TCJA's focus on lowering tax rates for big business has transformed the United States' global tax ranking. Since the TCJA took effect, the U.S. of A. has gone from a high-tax nation to one of the lowest-taxed countries in the world, according to the latest global tax report from the... Read more →


A walk along Long Bay in the British Virgin Islands (Photo courtesy Long Bay Beach Club Resort) The first Caribbean vacation the hubby and I took was to the British Virgin Islands (BVI). We had a lovely suite on a hillside overlooking Long Bay. The beaches were fantastic, the weather was ideal, the food superb and we — and by we, I mean the hubby — got in some scuba diving during a day-sail trip. I saw that barracuda in the water and opted to stay on deck. Since then, we've hit a few other island getaway spots, but BVI... Read more →


Welcome to Part 8 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at considerations of U.S. taxpayers living and working abroad. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. Where's the best place for the world's millions of expatriates? InterNation's latest annual Expat Insider Survey says it's Taiwan. Regardless of where they... Read more →


Around 2 million Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) must be renewed by year's end. Here's a look at these special tax identification numbers, who uses them and how to renew or get one if you're not eligible for a Social Security number. Numbers obviously are what the Internal Revenue Service is all about. There are special identification numbers for a variety of tax circumstances. There are earnings amounts and tax code references and line numbers on forms and of, course, identification numbers of both tax professionals and taxpayers that must go on returns. For most individual filers, a Social Security... Read more →


We've yet to see autumn leaves here in Central Texas. It's still too hot and dry. But the arrival of October does bring another seasonal certainty: the Oct. 15 tax deadline. October is here and I've got to say that although it's still early, the month so far is disappointing. Here in Central Texas, by now we're usually enjoying daytime temperatures in the 80s, with overnight lows dropping into the 60s. That typically means our windows are open 24/7 to get full enjoyment of autumn weather. Not in 2019. We're at least 10 degrees higher both days and nights. One... Read more →


Darth Maul apparently — spoiler alert — was killed in The Phantom Menace, but later showed up in subsequent Star Wars productions. His persistence is akin phantom investment transactions that are created simply to lower multinational companies' tax bills. (Photo via Lucasfilm) What I consider the real Star Wars trilogy came out when I was in college. That's why I've not bothered to see any of the subsequent sequel/prequel movies. But they came to mind last week when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the University of Copenhagen released a new study on the growth of so-called phantom capital and... Read more →


Some of the devastation facing Bahamians following Hurricane Dorian's direct hit on the islands. (Photo courtesy Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance via Facebook) Hurricane Dorian is still traveling up North America's eastern coastline, but it did its most damage on Sept. 2 when it made landfall as a Category 5 storm in The Bahamas. More than 40 people were killed and that toll is expected to rise. At least 70,000 people are homeless. Early estimates of property damage are around $7 billion in losses. Concerned people are looking for ways to help the residents of the island nation. This... Read more →


Russia's Tsar Peter I, popularly known as Peer the Great, was a believer in using tax policy to shape people's behavior. He tried to do that with a beard tax. (Image via Wikimedia Commons) Every time we're hit with a new tax, we immediately decry how damaging it will be to us personally. But it's highly unlikely that any of today's Internal Revenue Code assessments will ever hit as close to home as a Russian tax enacted on this day (or thereabouts) 321 years ago. Sept. 5, 1678, is the day according to most accounts that Tsar Peter I, better... Read more →


The Trump Administration's latest round of tariffs that took effect today, Sept. 1. The additional 15 percent tariff on around $300 billion worth of Chinese goods as varied as batteries, cereal bowls, coals, pajamas and human hair. Kai Ryssdal, host of APM's Marketplace (which I listen to on my local NPR station KUT-FM), took a look some of the industries affected. Actually, since it's radio, the show enlisted Marketplace's foreign editor John Buckley and his sonorous British-accented voice to read some of the items that now cost more. The full list is 122 pages long so, as Ryssdal notes, the... Read more →


Emmanuel Macron, left, and Donald J. Trump at the beginning of the just-completed G7 session in France. As the international gathering closed, the pair announced a deal had been reached to ease U.S. concerns over France's digital tax and French worries about possible U.S. tariffs on Gallic wines. Good news for French wine fans. Donald J. Trump and Emmanuel Macron apparently arrived at a rapprochement at the G7 meeting in France this weekend. The threatened tariffs on French wines won't be imposed. That means the only taxes we wine drinkers will face are the long-standing U.S. federal and state-levied excise... Read more →


Elizabeth Warren is a leader among Democratic presidential nominees in calling for a variety of new and increased taxes on the wealthy. (Photo courtesy Warren's Facebook page) Many of the folks trying to become the Democrat to challenge Donald J. Trump in 2020 support raising taxes on the wealthy. It's a popular U.S. campaign rallying cry, but globally, such taxes on net worth are vanishing. All for taking from the rich: The Democratic Party is bucking the global dying wealth tax trend. One of its top goals remains raising the top ordinary income tax rate, which the Tax Cuts and... Read more →


Colorful houses, like these in Sisimiut, Greenland's second largest city that sits on Kangerluarsunnguaq Bay below Palasip Qaqqaa mountain, are found all across Greenland. (Photo by Algkalv via Wikipedia Commons) Sorry, United States, but Greenland doesn't want to become part of us. Yes, the U.S. buying the world's biggest island is, or rather, was a thing. Donald J. Trump, true to his real estate development roots, has broached the possibility of Greenland, according to The Wall Street Journal. People familiar with the discussion, reports the newspaper, said Trump has, "with varying degrees of seriousness, repeatedly expressed interest in buying the... Read more →