Law Feed

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 →


A White Walker with an ice spear from the HBO show Game of Thrones. A North Carolina man allegedly took his love of the Game of Thrones books and television program too far. He's been charged by federal officials of trying to steal $6.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by setting up fake companies, some of which were named after the popular fantasy series, referred to as GoT by its millions of fans. Tristan Bishop Pan of Garner, North Carolina, has been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, according to officials with... Read more →


A panoramic view of the University of Colorado's Folsom Field. The school has a deal worth more than $1.6 million dollars with an Australian sportsbook. (Photo by MECU via Wikipedia Commons) I hope your college football teams did better than mine did yesterday. I also hope that if you placed any bets on any National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) games, your selections netted you some extra cash. My aforementioned reference to the sad play of my teams is why I don't bet on sports, college or pro. But many people have been wagering legally on amateur college competitions since the... Read more →


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). She was, however, a feminist and pop culture icon, and her death at age 87 is being mourned nationwide. She passed away last night, Sept. 18, at her home in Washington due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Legal and popular recognition: Ginsburg in recent years was referred to by her fans as the Notorious R.B.G., a play on the name of the rapper Notorious B.I.G. who shared her Brooklyn birthplace. Her recognition beyond the bench also came from the Oscar-nominated... Read more →


Tax revenue is critical. It's even more important during a global pandemic when governments worldwide are facing shortfalls due to COVID-19 economic effects. So it's no surprise that tax officials are taking closer looks at possible tax scofflaws. And in many instances, they're getting help from their citizenry. Recent cases in point come from across the pond. Irish tax officials are getting record numbers of so-called good citizen reports of tax evaders. The United Kingdom's HM Revenue & Customs has boosted payments to those tipping it off about tax dodgers. Part of the reason for Ireland's impressive increase in tax... Read more →


Being your own boss is a challenge even in good times. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting your personal and professional life, keeping your individual enterprise operating is particularly dicey. So you probably were thrilled when Donald J. Trump took executive action last weekend to establish a temporary payroll tax holiday. Since you're both the boss and employee, that means that you pay both those components of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes. Getting to hold off paying at least some of your employee portion certainly could help with your cash flow. Or not. Right now, Trump's executive... Read more →


Donald J. Trump announced on Aug. 8 four executive actions to provide COVID-19 relief in the wake of the stalled Congressional talks. (White House photo via Twitter) By now everyone knows that Donald J. Trump decided to literally take COVID-19 relief into his own hands yesterday. Sitting at table in a meeting room at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, surrounded by media and club members who served as a smaller surrogate rally crowd to cheer him and boo the reporters, Trump sign four executive actions. One was a formal Executive Order. The other three were memoranda. He and his... Read more →


Remember the Michigan man who lost his property because he underpaid by $8.41 the overdue real estate tax bill? The state's highest court says the how the tax sale of Uri Rafaeli's house was handled was wrong, at least as far as the transaction's proceeds. Because of that finding, the Michigan Supreme Court said Rafaeli, an 85-year-old retired engineer, is due financial compensation for the loss of his home to the tax collector. That means Rafaeli soon should be depositing more than $24,000 from the county. High Court speaks: "[G]overnment shall not collect more in taxes than are owed, nor... Read more →


Yes, people should pay their bills. Sometimes, though, things happen. Just look at the financial crises the coronavirus pandemic has created for individuals. And yes, in some limited cases turning over way past-due bills to a private collection agency is appropriate. Note the use of the word limited. Full disclosure. For the most part, I hate bill collectors. I've helped family members who were in financial straits deal with them. While things worked out in our favor, those agencies' employees were the total worst. That's why I was disappointed (yeah, let's use that term to keep the ol' blog family... Read more →


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrating his team's victory. (Image via GIPHY) The Kansas City Chiefs are champions again, this time coming out victorious in a courtroom tax match-up. Exactly four months after the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, the Missouri Supreme Court delivered the National Football League franchise a decisive victory in its effort to avoid paying sales taxes. It ends the tax fight that began in 2014 when the Chiefs appealed a Missouri Department of Revenue panel's decision that the team owes more than $1 million in back taxes related to the refurbishment of Arrowhead Stadium. Sales... Read more →


Can't sleep? You're not alone in these trying, tax and otherwise, times. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels) 2020 has been, at best, a difficult year and we're not even halfway through. For these first five months, millions of us have been facing each day a barrage of concerns that are producing a continual level of extraordinary stress. In addition to our normal day-to-day anxieties, we've been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, its unemployment and financial fallout, the recent deaths African Americans at the hands of individuals and while in law enforcement custody, heated and escalating political messaging in a... Read more →


Some people. Trying to survive a global pandemic isn't enough for them. They have to go and break the law, too. I'm not talking about defying a state's closure order or hawking subpar face masks online. Nope, two New England businessmen this week became the first individuals to be arrested and charged with fraud in connection with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The small business assistance program was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help companies struggling due to the effects of the virus. David A. Staveley of Andover, Massachusetts, and David... Read more →


Are you having some trouble getting fired up for Super Bowl LIV? I feel ya. It's hard when your team isn't one of the competitors. But as a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, I've learned over the last 24 years — yes, that's how long it's been since Them Cowboys were in the National Football League championship game — creative ways to pique my interest in the annual match-up. This year, for example, it's pretty easy to find a reason to watch. Kansas City Chief's star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is not only a native Texan like the hubby and me, but... Read more →


Detroit police inspecting illegal alcohol distilling equipment found in a clandestine underground brewery during Prohibition. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration via Wikipedia Commons) Last week was the 100th anniversary of a momentous, and eventually failed, effort by U.S. lawmakers to control public actions. Following ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, Congress followed up with the National Prohibition Act, commonly referred to as the Volstead Act. It outlawed the production, distribution and transportation of alcohol. The United States officially went dry on Jan. 17, 1920. Not only did Prohibition, authorized by the 18th Amendment, fail to stop Americans from... Read more →


IRS building by David Boeke via Flickr CC A lot of former Internal Revenue Service employees take the lessons they learned on that job and create second careers as tax advisers and preparers. That's a nice professional segue. Going from being part of the U.S. tax collection machine to helping folks pay Uncle Sam as little as legally possible. But it needs to be done after IRS employees leave their government job. One current IRS staffer in the agency's Andover, Massachusetts, service center was, to borrow a tax term, double dipping. Worse, federal prosecutors say she filed almost 600 false... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Folks who cheat on their taxes to pocket extra dollars are infuriating enough to those of us struggling to do everything right on our 1040 forms. Folks who go to extremes to evade taxes are even more maddening. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has some good news for us here. It's Criminal Investigation (CI) unit is catching and convicting these tax criminals at a commendable rate. A 91.2 percent conviction rate in 2019, to be precise. That's among the highest of all federal law enforcement agencies, according to the IRS. And CI, which detailed that conviction rate and other successes... Read more →


Record-setting Cyber Monday sales means more porches across the United States will look like this. But the remote sales' boost to state tax coffers wasn't as big as some expected. $9.4 billion. That's how much U.S. shoppers spent on the just-passed Cyber Monday. That was nearly 20 percent more than last year's $7.9 billion tally for the annual and over-hyped Monday-after-Thanksgiving online shopping day. Obviously, the $9.4 billion in sales is a Cyber Monday record. Also obviously, all those online transactions will help out the state treasuries that now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Wayfair 2018 decision, are... Read more →