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Be still, my heart. Daveed Diggs talked about taxes! Diggs, one of the Tony-nominated stars of the Broadway smash "Hamilton," was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night. He of course talked about his dual roles as America's favorite fighting Frenchman Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Lin-Manuel Miranda's $10 Founding Father musical. Pre-Broadway jobs: However, just before getting the "Hamilton" parts, the accomplished rapper was at home in Los Angeles and was between gigs. To make ends meet, Diggs delivered catering "in my tore-up Honda Civic … mostly fajitas … at minimum wage, no less." When he got... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


Here's a tax-related travel tip. Mail your return before you head out to your favorite festival. Some of the attendees of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival's opening weekend, April 15-17, tried to fulfill their tax-filing duties. Unfortunately for them, the Coachella campground's post office is not a full-service facility. Instead, the small operation is more of an intermediary between festival-goers and the real local post office in Indio, California, proper. The temporary Coachella post office this year is housed in a life-sized version of a Lincoln Log cabin, according to The Orange County Register. It was put together,... Read more →


When the idea to honor an American woman by placing her image on the $10 bill was raised back in mid-2015, it seemed like a great idea. The bill would be redesigned to feature a deserving woman and unveiled in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Then "Hamilton" happened. Click-boom! "Hamilton" star Lin-Manuel Miranda and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew pose for a photo in front of the Alexander Hamilton statue on the south side of the Treasury Department, March 14, 2016. (Official Treasury Photo by Chris... Read more →


Art and life have intersected once again, this time on Broadway. The hot new show on the Great White Way is "Hamilton," the musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. It's getting rave reviews not just from the critics, but also the public, including some guys who have a special perspective. Three Treasury Secretaries, two former and the current, have been to see the show. Treasury Secretaries who've attended the Broadway musical "Hamilton" about the first man to hold their job include, from left to right, Timothy F. Geithner, who served from 2009-13; Robert E. Rubin, secretary... 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 →


You can't blame tax cheats if one of Martha and the Vandellas' biggest hits has been playing on a loop in their heads of late. Thanks to a new global effort, tax evaders will have nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. Click image to view Martha and the Vandellas YouTube video. Crossing borders to chase down tax cheats: Tax Inspectors Without Borders, or TIWB, is a new initiative from the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Its goal, is as its name indicates, is to send trained tax professionals from richer OECD nations... Read more →


MTV News and NPR explain the power of taxes

MTV is still around? And it still has a news department? Apparently so. And it's teamed up with NPR to talk taxes. My, my, my how things have changed since we all wanted our MTV. What taxes buy: "Nobody likes paying taxes. Paying taxes is a bummer no matter who you are," says Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR's Planet Money tells MTV in the video Rock Your Brain: Taxes = Power = You. But, notes Davidson, in order to provide services the government has to pay for them in some way. That way generally is taxes. As the video notes,... Read more →


HBO's John Oliver defends the IRS as April 15 nears
And Grammy winner Michael Bolton serenades the tax agency

Wednesday is Tax Day. Those of us who've yet to file (guilty!) our taxes have until midnight our local time on April 15 to get our returns (and money) to the Internal Revenue Service. That means that these next three days are filled with frustration and anger, much of it directed at the IRS. That's understandable, notes John Oliver, comedian and host of HBO's Last Week Tonight. Dealing with the IRS is a dreaded obligation, says Oliver. "It often functions badly and it combines two of the things that we hate the most in life, someone taking our money and... Read more →


Calling all history and fiscal policy geeks. If you're in New York City, stop by the Public Theater where "Hamilton" is in previews and see if you can get a ticket. It will be hard. It's a hot show right now. That's pretty amazing considering that the title refers to Alexander Hamilton, America's first Treasury Secretary. Most folks know only two things about Hamilton. First, it's Hamilton's historic face on the $10 bill. And second, on July 11, 1804, Hamilton was shot and mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr in one of the most famous duels in American history.... Read more →


It's always been a challenge to teach kids history. They truly live in the moment. History is what happened to old people. But on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015, tens of thousands of young people have an opportunity to see and hear some remarkable representations of history. "Selma," the acclaimed new movie of the Dr. King led historic march for civil rights, is screening nationwide. In an effort to get kids into movie theaters to see the film, groups in around two dozen cities are offering free tickets to middle and high school students. Click the image to... Read more →


Our beloved cat Zeke was part of our family for 19 years. He's been gone for 15 now and we still think about him every day. Zeke chilling out in a box at our Maryland condo back in 1984. Our human family and friends are stunned we never adopted another cat. When I've broached the subject of a new kitty over the years, the hubby's reaction has remained consistent and firm: "Do people get another kid when they lose one?" Sometimes, but that's a topic and blog post for another time. Today's focus is on our collective devotion to our... Read more →


Well that was fun. Nineteen tax seminars in a little more than two and a half days. I've parceled out a few Nationwide Tax Forum tidbits, both here at the ol' blog and over at Bankrate Taxes Blog, while I've been in Orlando this week. I promise to review my notes and provide some more substantial session posts in the coming days. In the meantime, let me toss out a thought about what filing or not filing Internal Revenue Service tax returns says about a person. During a session on immigration and taxes, the question was raised as to why... Read more →


Hello New Orleans! I mean, hello Orlando! That geographic confusion reminiscent of Spinal Tap happened at day two of the Internal Revenue Service Nationwide Tax Forum in, you got it, the House of Mouse land. Yep, all of us, including presenters, are finding ourselves a bit overloaded, occasionally flummoxed and feeling a bit dislocated. Still, we're hanging in there and here. Here's an overview of my Wednesday at the final tax forum of 2014. First thing we do, let's mute all the lawyers: Thank god for tax attorneys. Really. That's not a joke or sarcastic slam. These folks definitely come... Read more →


I'm back in Florida this week for the Internal Revenue Service Nationwide Tax Forum in Orlando. It's a bit of a homecoming. My very first tax forum was here in 2000 when we lived in Palm Beach Gardens. I try to attend at least one continuing education tax conference, either run by the IRS or by one of the tax professional organizations. I always learn stuff, plus it's fun to be among a large gathering of tax geeks. Things have gone pretty well so far, aside from my smartphone freezing up unexpectedly this morning and me losing my reading glasses... Read more →


Thirty-seven years ago the musical world was in shocked mourning. Just a day earlier, Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Aaron Presley had died. Many people can still tell you where they were on that Tuesday afternoon more than three decades ago when they got the news that the King was dead. I can't. I was probably in a class at Texas Tech University. But I wasn't then and am not now a big Elvis fan (despite what I've discovered is a surprising number of Elvis-related blog posts), so it doesn't stick in my memory. Still, I recognize his place in the... Read more →


KISS' Gene Simmons' tax tongue wagging is off base

KISS sure knows something about putting on a good rock and roll show, but apparently the band's bassist Gene Simmons doesn't know quite enough about taxes. In a July 4 interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Simmons wagged his famous tongue about, among other things, the joys of being wealthy. The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of KISS, Simmons told the newspaper that even in the band's early days back in the '70s he was doing alright financially. "I'm duly diligent. I do a better job of balancing my budget than the U.S. government... Read more →


Mama Mia! Swedish tax break prompted ABBA's wild outfits

What do you remember more about ABBA? The 1970s Swedish pop quartet's outrageous outfits or the catchy songs? If you answered the wild clothing, the band and its tax adviser thank you. Those platform boots, brightly colored jumpers, ruffled bell bottoms and the occasional cape helped Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson reduce their taxes. The clothing tax break was revealed in ABBA: The Official Photo Book, published to mark the 40th anniversary of the group's Eurovision song contest win singing Waterloo. Swedish laws allowed performers to deduct the cost of outfits as long as the clothes... Read more →


I'm old enough to remember many momentous things, including the storming of America by the British. No, even though I'm a fan of Sleepy Hollow, I'm not that old. But I am plenty old enough to remember 50 years ago when the The Beatles arrived in the United States. I was too young to attend a Fab Four concert, but my parents, younger brother and I did watch John, Paul, George and Ringo perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. And my mom bought me Meet The Beatles! OK, so she listened to it as much as I did, but officially... Read more →


Married couples filing joint returns share all tax liability, too

Singer, songwriter and political and social activist Pete Seeger died last week. He was 94. Seeger was as well known for his commitment to causes that at the time were unpopular as he was for his songs, and that's saying a lot. After being blacklisted for being a "godless communist," Seeger turned to the Bible (and gave co-writing credit to Ecclesiastes) to compose Turn, Turn, Turn, one of the most beautiful and timeless songs ever. It became a No. 1 hit for the Byrds in 1965. Other widely beloved Seeger songs include "If I Had Hammer" and "Where Have All... Read more →