Law Feed

Thoreau's Cove, circa 1908, on Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. (Photo from the U.S. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons) Nature is a healing touchstone for many. That was especially evident when we reduced our socializing due to COVID-19. A walk in a park was a way to get out of our self-imposed lockdowns and stay safely distant from others while embracing the environment. Many people went further as the coronavirus pandemic continued, moving from crowded cities to suburban or urban retreats where they could work from home. They found, in a fashion, their own modern day Walden Ponds. At... Read more →


The University of Alabama soon might have some new competitors in the SEC. (Pixabay via Pexels) Sure, the COVID-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics are finally underway, but here in Texas we're fixating on, what else, football. The Dallas Cowboys will kick off the NFL's 2021 preseason in a couple of weeks, but it's college football that is dominating the conversation right now. It looks like the Big 12, which only has 10 colleges in the conference, is about to lose two more. Oklahoma (OU) and Texas (UT) reportedly are joining the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Not only would that mess up the... Read more →


Kickback apparently has discontinued its bottled cold coffee with CBD, but still offers the cannabis chemical in ready-to-drink teas and ground coffee. (Photo by Deceptitom via Wikipedia) It's been one of those weeks. That's why when I woke up late this morning – OK, early afternoon — I thought (was hoping) it was Saturday. Once the caffeine kicked in, I discovered that maybe I should be using another energy booster. Cannabidiol, or CBD as it's commonly called. CBD is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. As recreational... Read more →


It's the Fourth of July weekend. The 2021 celebration is getting added attention, since last year most of America's birthday parties were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But July 1 is another date of note. The year's midpoint is the first day of the fiscal year for most states and, according to The Tax Foundation, 13 have notable tax changes that took effect last week. There are individual income tax changes in Idaho and Illinois, corporate adjustments in Indiana and Montana, inheritance tax alterations in Iowa, and revisions of sales, use and gross receipts taxes in Florida, Kansas, New... Read more →


Photo of John McAfee shared by his wife earlier this year as part of a Twitter post arguing for his release from a Spanish prison. Last week, millionaire software developer John McAfee was in a Spanish court arguing that he shouldn't be extradited to the United States to face tax evasion charges. Today, MacAfee was found dead in his cell at a Barcelona-area jail. There's no official word on the cause of death. News reports, however, say a preliminary investigation found no signs of foul play. Early indications are that McAfee hanged himself. Hours before the discovery, Spain's National Court... Read more →


More tourists, including American travelers, are expected this year at the Louvre and other European destinations as countries continue to get a better handle on the coronavirus. (Photo by Dimitry Anikin from Pexels) Most Americans are looking forward July 4th to celebrations this year like the ones they enjoyed pre-COVID. The vaccinated hubby and I are among that group, although I admit that last year's fireworks free festivities were fine with us. Others, however, are planning on declaring their coronavirus independence in a global fashion. The European Union (EU) plans a gradual and partial easing of its international travel ban... Read more →


While one accused wealthy tax cheat awaits a Spanish court's decision on whether he'll be returned to the United States to face charges, U.S. lawmakers look for ways to snare more rich tax evaders. Or at least get more from them up front. Rather than letting the wealthy have more money to burn, efforts are underway in Washington, D.C., to make it easier to catch rich tax scofflaws, as well as to simply tax them even more. Billionaires who've managed to use tax laws to avoid paying any tax have been getting even more attention lately. Some wealthy people, however,... Read more →


The rest of us waiting for less, but just as eagerly anticipated, refunds should use IRS online options to track down their money. One of the biggest taxpayer frustrations every year is having to wait on the Internal Revenue Service to issue refunds. That's been exacerbated during taxes in the time of COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has meant delayed filing deadlines, new tax laws and more jobs for IRS personnel. And that's meant that what used to be considered routine IRS work and customer service has suffered. I wish I could tell you this post was a welcome revelation that... Read more →


Bernie Madoff leaving a court hearing in 2009. Bernard "Bernie" Lawrence Madoff died on April 14 in a federal prison medical facility where he was being treated for terminal kidney disease. The 82-year-old had been in jail since 2009 for orchestrating the world's largest Ponzi scheme. Madoff pleaded guilty on March 12, 2009, to 11 federal crimes, including operating the financial fraud that bilked as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries over two decades. He was sentenced three months later to the maximum 150 years behind bars and ordered to pay restitution of $170 billion. At the time of... Read more →


New York last week became the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana. New Yorkers now can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis for recreational use. But don't expect to pick up some of that legal weed any time soon. While using marijuana is legal for adults age 21 or older, the process of approving dispensaries and establishing precise regulations and tax rules for cannabis distribution will take a while. 17 cannabis OK locales: Still, the Empire State's move is a big one. New York is the 17th jurisdiction to join the legal cannabis club. The toking fraternity includes 16... Read more →


New COVID-19 laws have been a lifeline for many individuals and businesses as the United States. They've also created new opportunities for crooks. The Internal Revenue Service, specifically its Criminal Investigation (CI) Division, is well aware of the increased tax-related coronavirus crimes. To mark the one-year anniversary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, CI officials today discussed the unit's success in combatting fraud related to the Economic Impact Payments, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and claims of the Employee Retention Credit. The CI's commemoration is particularly timely. It comes just one day after a Texas man... Read more →


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in Washington, D.C., in 1963 where he delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech. (Photo via Wikimedia) It's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021. If there's one tiny, thin silver lining to the terrible times we are enduring due to COVID-19 and political unrest, it's that these awful realities should help us focus on Dr. King's efforts. Equal justice: It is the first MLK Day following the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and too many others that sparked this 21st century drive for... Read more →


Remember when you were a kid and you told mom about the latest misdeed committed by your little brother. Oh, wait. Maybe that's just me reminiscing. And as I recall, while my mother was glad to know when my younger sibling did or was about to do something (I was a proactive big sister!) that was dangerous (he was the more adventurous one), she emphasized that continually tattling about everything Ben did that annoyed me was not productive. And I never got rewarded for my snitching observations. My mother would not have made a very good Internal Revenue Service Whistleblower... Read more →


We don't have an image of D.B. Cooper parachuting from a hijacked jetliner Thanksgiving week 1971, but he did jump out over some dense Oregon woods that likely looked a lot like these. (Photo by ankiyay via Pexels) Last week was the weirdest Thanksgiving holiday ever for many of us. In addition to dealing with possible family confrontations in the wake of the most contentious post-election period in modern memory, we had to adjust to pandemic complicated get-togethers. That's why an anniversary probably slipped by you. During Thanksgiving week 49 years ago, a tall thin man, dressed in a business... Read more →


The coronavirus pandemic has created challenges for Internal Revenue Service's law enforcement branch, but also was part of its successes during the last fiscal year. During the 2020 accounting period, which started Oct. 1, 2019, and ran through Sept. 30, 2020, the IRS' Criminal Investigation (CI) Division initiated nearly 1,598 investigations and identified $2.3 billion in tax fraud schemes. Some of those investigations were into COVID-19 related illegal activity. "Unfortunately, criminals don’t stop committing crimes just because there is a national health emergency. In fact, some criminals pounce on the opportunity to take advantage of others as well as government... Read more →


It's no surprise that bad people take advantage of bad situations. That's why as we continue to cope with COVID-19, pandemic-related scams — tax and otherwise — proliferate. The latest coronavirus tax scam arrives via a text message. COVID-19 text scam warning: It was created by thieves who are trying to trick people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment (EIP), according to the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners. This scam's text message tells recipients: "You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further... Read more →


The coronavirus has affected the U.S. Tax Court again. Last week, the federal court that presides over taxpayer disputes with the Internal Revenue Service announced that it was going back to mail and other deliveries only. "Effective Friday, October 30, 2020, and until further notice, the United States Tax Court will be suspending its in-person acceptance of hand-delivered documents," according to a press release by the court. Timely mailings only: The announcement noted that in addition to the "timely mailing" of petitions or notices to "comply with statutory deadlines … of appeal," the Tax Court's eAccess and eFiling systems remain... Read more →


Marco Verch via Flickr Halloween's tomorrow. Have your youngsters (and you!) picked out who or what they (and you!) want to be? When I was very young, I went trick-or-treating for several years as my favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. Nowadays, though, kiddos tend to opt for other outfits. Over the years, the hubby and I have opened our front door on Oct. 31 to candy-craving athletes, superheroes and the occasional real-life occupation, such as a firefighter or astronaut or physician. With COVID-19 haunting this Halloween, we all might see more health care costumes sprinkled among the traditional goblins and... Read more →


Image by Daniela Hartmann via Flickr I joked on Twitter last week that coronavirus pandemic self-isolation has gotten to me so much that I'm considering buying all the gadgets whose ads keep popping up in my feed as holiday gifts. OK, I half joked. I've always tended to shop online anyway. COVID-19 has just moved me from 95 percent to 100 percent in that direction. And some of the items really are interesting. C'mon, admit it. You, too, wouldn't mind having a solar-power bird bath fountain or a pocket-sized, snowflake-shaped multi-tool. These items are even more appealing when you realize... Read more →


John McAfee's banner image on his Twitter account. If you've waiting until the upcoming October extension deadline to file, chances are you wanted the extra time to ensure that you got your filing right. That's smart. Making mistakes or overlooking tax breaks could cost you, not only money but also time if you end up having to answer Internal Revenue Service questions about your filing. And when an audit — or examination as the IRS likes to call the process — definitely doesn't go your way, you could end up in more trouble. That's what happened to John David McAfee.... Read more →