Tax numbers Feed

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 →


Current state and local taxes deduction limit on federal Form 1040 Schedule A. We're wrapping up the second full year of living with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) but some things still feel unfinished. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service continue to issue guidance on various provisions, tax forms still are being tweaked, economists can't agree on the tax bill's economic effects and a key legal battle is still raging. The courtroom drama is about, you guessed it, TCJA's $10,000 limit on state and local taxes itemized federal deductions. Fighting a low-SALT tax diet: In July 2018, New... Read more →


These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their agribusiness operation. In the case of drought, they might get some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," observed Hartford Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner back in the late 1800s. More than a century later, that meteorological quip is still applicable. Long-time readers know I'm one of the guilty weather complainers. Heck, I do it so much that it's earned its own category on the ol'... Read more →


This summer the Internal Revenue Service launched an effort to make sure cryptocurrency owners comply with tax law. The IRS treats the online money as an investment, not cash. It sent more than 10,000 Bitcoin et al investors letters to educate them of their tax responsibilities, encourage them to report their transactions and get payment where due. The IRS crypto asset outreach appears to have worked. Positive taxpayer and IRS responses: Not only did the IRS get responses to the letters (which is what you should always to when you get a notice from the federal tax collector), in many... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 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 changes to some popular tax-related medical matters. 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. Yeah, you've seen this photo before. It's from about this time last year, the last time I had a medical maneuver that required I... Read more →


The National Debt Clock is a billboard-sized running total display installed on the western side of One Bryant Park, west of Sixth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets in Manhattan, New York City. On Oct. 31, 2019, its numbers topped $23 trillion for the first time. The national debt is the total of all the money the U.S. government has borrowed and owes to its creditors, as well as the interest on that debt. Going from the macro to micro level, it's analogous to the total you might owe on a mortgage, a car loan and credit cards. And the... Read more →


Governments are always looking for ways to raise more revenue. That's true at every level. Those lawmakers also are always looking for ways to get the cash without antagonizing too many taxpayers, aka voters. So they come up with some creative taxes. Chicago leads the way with its unique tax of businesses on their use of remote computing services. Innovative tech tax: Known as the Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax, it applies to company data held on out-of-state provider stored on the internet — that still mysterious cloud that so many of us still don't understand — instead of on... Read more →


Using taxes to try to shape people's actions is not new. A British monarch tried it back in 1678 with a beard tax. In modern times, governments worldwide have focused on sin taxes that typically are applied to things that aren't healthy, like cigarettes, fatty foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. One of the so-called soda taxes was approved by Philadelphia in 2016. It took effect on Jan. 1 of the next year, adding a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax to not just Cokes, as we Texans refer to all sodas, but also to sugary beverages like bottled and canned iced tea and sports drinks.... Read more →


Attention, tax preparers. Next week is a big one. The filing extension deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 15. Then the very next day, the renewal season opens for paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) applications and renewals. Also note that while there won't be any requirement to pay a user fee to obtain or renew a PTIN, this likely is the last time that the identification number assignments will be free. Last week, as the U.S. Supreme Court began its new term, the justices decided not to hear the case that reinstated the fees for PTINs. That means the ruling affirming... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners have made major strides in recent years in fighting tax-related identity theft. Much of the effort has been in educating taxpayers and businesses about ways to recognize and avoid scams and other tax ID schemes. The IRS also has improved the way it works with taxpayers who do fall victim to identity thieves. Now Uncle Sam is expanding a way that taxpayers can be more proactive in fighting identity theft. The IRS' opt-in Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) now is available for the 2020 tax-filing season to taxpayers in... Read more →


via GIPHY The Kansas City Chiefs, with its star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, is among the handful of teams that National Football League watchers say have a shot at winning Super Bowl LIV next February. But the Missouri professional football team could be facing a tougher fight off the field. Last week, the Chiefs' attorneys argued before the Missouri Supreme Court that most of the NFL team's expenditures on items to renovate Arrowhead Stadium almost a decade ago should not be subject to the state's sales tax. This current court tax battle, which started in 2014, is due to an appeal... Read more →


Law enforcement officers across five U.S. federal agencies successfully concluded a four-month investigation this month with the arrest of 281 people allegedly involved in global email scams. The scams, officially known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes, are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens. Most of the alleged cyber criminals, 167, were arrested in Nigeria. Insert your own fraudulent prince email comments here. Another 74 people in the United States were taken into custody. The remaining arrests were made in France, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.... 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 →


Al "Scarface" Capone at his sentencing for tax evasion. Back in the Prohibition Era, federal agents — notably those from the Internal Revenue Service — took down the notorious gangster. The tax agency's Criminal Investigation agents are celebrating their 100th birthday this year. (Photo courtesy All That's Interesting: 25 Al Capone Facts) The United States' tax system is based on the premise that all income is taxable, including illegally earned income. Our tax system also relies on the voluntary reporting of that income, including ill-gotten gains. But human nature being what it is, that doesn't always happen, even with legally... 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 →


When California last year joined the literal growing ranks of states that have legalized marijuana, initial projections were that the state soon would be raking in $1 billion annually from weed-related taxes. That apparently was a pipe dream. The report on Golden State cannabis excise taxes collected between April and June was just $74 million. That disappointing revenue amount is this week's By the Numbers figure. Even more discouraging, California Gov. Gavin Newsom's office sharply scaled back projected tax dollars from the state's legal weed market. That's been the case in other states, too. In pushing through legal marijuana, both... Read more →


Arizona home to be auctioned to pay federal tax debt. I've seen a lot of estate sale signs lately. Either it's an indication of the changing demographics of my part of Austin or folks are trying to fancy up their garage sales. An estate (or renamed garage) sale basically is a way to dispose of most of an owner's property either because family doesn't want their deceased relative's items or the goods need to be sold to make a move easier. Uncle Sam regularly holds his own versions, but in many instances these government sales are to settle tax debts.... Read more →


This February 2016 photo on Twitter of Donald J. Trump signing a tax return is one of the few, and unrevealing, looks we've gotten of his federal filings. The focus of Donald J. Trump and his White House change quickly. Issues that were boiling over just days ago quickly get pushed to a back burner by something else that's hotter. But some of those old topics are still simmering. And one of them, Trump's tax returns, saw the heat turned up a bit recently. It was, however, a former college student, not Trump, who was put on the hot spot.... Read more →


Image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard via Twitter Today is the birthday of one of America's earliest tax collectors, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). That's right. The force that we know as the coastal defense and maritime law enforcement branch of the United States Armed Forces had its beginnings as Revenue Marine. It was created by Alexander Hamilton on this day 229 years ago. Its job was to collect taxes at U.S. seaports. Lin-Manuel Miranda did drop a few tax references into his smash Broadway musical, but unfortunately for us tax and seafaring geeks, he didn't elaborate on our first Treasury... Read more →


Historic Saratoga Race Track main stands as depicted on a 1907 postcard. (Scanned by Dave Parker; available via Wikipedia Commons) Remember Tax, the horse that ran in this year's Kentucky Derby? The 3-year old gelding didn't fare so well at Churchill Downs, coming in 14th. He did better in another Triple Crown race, coming in 4th in the Belmont Stakes. On Saturday, July 27, Tax finally notched another win. Tax pulls off the upset in the G2 $600K Jim Dandy! pic.twitter.com/AAmPOqwBiz — TVG (@TVG) July 27, 2019 He took the Jim Dandy in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was Tax's... Read more →