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An entertaining look at taxes and current events
September21
Billionaires behaving . . . benevolently?
On September 29, 1916, John D. Rockefeller became America’s first billionaire. (That was a day after crude oil prices jumped by 10 cents/barrel and Standard Oil of New Jersey stock hit $2,014/share.) Now we have almost a thousand of the Gucci-clad fat cats buying Senate seats and monopolizing prime properties in Nantucket and Jackson Hole. Some of them obsess over their place on the Forbes list. (Oracle’s Larry Ellison would probably do dark, unspeakable things to climb just one place higher in the rankings.) Others would prefer not to appear at all.
September14
Keep Calm and Carry On
The death of Queen Elizabeth II at age 96 last week is truly one of those moments that marks the passing of an era. The longest-serving Queen’s reign lasted through 14 prime ministers and fully 30% of our own country’s entire history. She was best-known for keeping calm and carrying on with a typically British stiff upper lip. Yet her subjects also loved seeing her sly wit, like when "she" parachuted into the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony with James Bond or shared marmalade sandwiches with Paddington Bear.
September7
I, Robot
It’s just a matter of time before artificial intelligence surpasses humankind. (Scientists working to find signs of intelligent life in space might do well to try scaring it up here, first.) What happens when Skynet becomes self-aware? Will it trigger a global nuclear war to eradicate mankind? Will our robot overlords treat us brutally like HAL in 2001: A Space Oddysey? Or will they protect us like in Transformers? Who would win a fight between the Terminator and RoboCop? If you’re looking for answers, don’t ask scientists – they’re the ones causing the problem! Just turn on Netflix.
August31
Namaste
Picture this: you’re an ambitious yogi in New York City, circa 2006. You want to teach Downward Facing Dog to upwardly-mobile students. Never mind that you’re a convicted felon (forgery and car theft) and accused rapist. You’ve had a moment of satori, and you’ll make your brand of inner peace available to everyone, whether they can afford it or not. What could go wrong? You call your studio Yoga to the People. You open a no-frills space on trendy St. Mark’s Place, minus the usual pricey yoga mats and designer leggings. You plaster the words “No Ego No Script No Pedestals” on your website. You tell The New York Times that you truly believe if more people were doing yoga, the world would be a better place.
August24
Cheers!
Governments have love-hate relationships with the activities they hit with so-called “sin taxes.” These include drinking, smoking, and the stuff your children winkingly refer to as “the devil’s lettuce.” On the one hand, none of it is really good for you. On the other, cigarettes and alcohol are genuinely addictive, and we all have that one Falstaffian friend who truly believes that Moon Pies, Ring Dings, and Ho Hos are an official food group.
August17
617 Words About Those 87,000 IRS Agents
Washington has just passed an “Inflation Reduction Act” that includes billions in new spending to cut carbon emissions and extend Obamacare subsidies. The act pays for it with a new 15% corporate alternative minimum tax, a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks, new Medicare drug pricing rules, and enhanced tax enforcement. In fact, the bill should actually cut $300 billion off the deficit over the next ten years. Sounds great, right?
August10
Isn’t It Special?
Remember 1935? Bread lines across a country still mired in depression, dust storms ravaging the Plains, the Lindbergh kidnapping trial. Good times. That’s when Washington passed the Revenue Act of 1935, raising the top tax rate to 79% on incomes over $5 million ($108 million in today’s dollars). Just one American paid that top tax rate, and his name was Rockefeller. Back then, votes meant more than dollars – we didn’t have billionaires buying up governors’ mansions and Senate seats for themselves and their minions. (Today, Forbes estimates that Rockefeller’s descendants are worth just $8.4 billion combined, ranking them behind almost 100 American billionaires.)
August3
Splitting Hairs, Volume #2,379
2022 is a cynical time, full of cynical men and women bending and breaking the rules that govern every aspect of our lives in a cynical race to do whatever cynical thing they can justify to themselves to squeeze out extra crumbs of money, or power, or both. (You’d be amazed to see the things some people can justify.) That’s why it’s so refreshing to stumble across inspiring stories where common sense triumphs over bureaucracy, stories where someone recognizes the injustice in the red tape, rages against the machine, and champions the spirit of the law over the constipated written letter.
July27
Bravo!
The first sighting came from California’s Orange County in 2006. Then quickly spread to New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, and DC. Then Beverley Hills, Miami, Potomac, Dallas, and Salt Lake City. Most recently, more have popped up in Dubai. What are we talking about? TikTok’s hottest meme? The newest COVID variant? Nope – we’re talking about Bravo TV’s Real Housewives. Where will they reveal themselves next? Nashville? New Orleans? Dayton, Ohio?
July20
Sock it To Me
Most of us look back on the 70s as a time of louche excess: garish bell bottoms, deep-pile shag carpets, slouchy conversation pits, and coke spoons on gold chains. But 70s style is back, baby! Fashion houses are rolling out psychedelic prints, flared bottoms, and knotted tops. Interior designers are bringing back nubby textured fabrics, earth tones, and velvet furniture. Somewhere in Hollywood, a rogue producer is probably remaking Soylent Green. (The original was set in 2022, of course.) As the blue-collar poet Bruce Springsteen once wrote: "Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies some day comes back." (Springsteen just sold his song catalog for $500 million, which suggests there’s way more money in blue-collar poetry than any of us realized.)
July13
Excuses, Excuses
A recent poll from the Pew Research Center finds that 54% of Americans think violent crime is one of our country’s biggest problems. You would think the last thing we need is more of it. Yet millions are obsessed with true crime stories, whether we find them on cable TV, streaming video, or podcasts. If a podcast isn’t about murder, is it even a podcast?
July6
Careful What You Wish For, July 4th Edition
On July 4, 1776, a determined group of colonists clinging to the shore of a harsh new world declared independence from the political bonds connecting them to the British Crown. The colonists cited all sorts of injuries and usurpations to justify their revolutionary decision: the King had plundered their seas, ravaged their coasts, burned their towns, and destroyed their lives, blah blah blah. But the real non-negotiable that we remember today is that the King had imposed taxes on the colonies without their consent.
June29
THE Ohio State
On September 17, 1873, the brand-new Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College opened its doors to 24 students. (Future President Rutherford B. Hayes was an early booster, and since you don’t remember anything he did as President, you may as well remember him for this.) Five years later, the school graduated its first class of six. And that same year, the Ohio legislature changed the school’s name to “The Ohio State University.”  Today, it’s one of the finest schools in the country – a Public Ivy. OSU educates the most students who score in the 95th percentile or above on the ACT or SAT of any public university. ESPN ranks OSU’s football rivalry with the Michigan Wolverines as the greatest North American sports rivalry. And if you’ve ever seen the marching band perform “Script Ohio,” you know they really are the best damn band in the land.
June22
Crook on the Hook
Fifty years ago, on June 17, a former CIA officer and four Cuban anti-communists carrying bugging devices found themselves handcuffed outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. What started out as “a third-rate burglary” morphed into “a cancer on the Presidency” and then a “long national nightmare” before President Richard Nixon finally resigned in disgrace two years later. Even now, Watergate is the gold standard of scandals. Controversies don’t go prime time until someone sticks a “-gate” to the end of a word. Remember Nipplegate? Bountygate? Deflategate? (There’s a word for it: gatesuffixing.)
June15
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Every so often, I come across a newspaper headline and think, "I have got to turn that into a Tax Beat story!" Usually, it comes from someplace like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Sometimes it’s from a specialized business publication like Bloomberg or a tax journal. But this week’s "ripped from the headlines" story would be just as appropriate in The Onion as it would in any of those places. I’m talking, of course, about Walmart’s decision to stop selling Chaokoh-brand coconut milk.
June8
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
Americans tend to think of “the taxman” as a single all-consuming Moloch, demanding sacrifices of cash instead of children. In reality, though, our federal system of government gives us tax collectors at national, state, and federal levels, all chasing the same income dollar. And that’s before the taxes we pay to go out and buy something with what’s left over! In New York City, the combined/federal/state/city rate can reach nearly 52%, which is why New Yorkers move to Florida.
June1
Mmmmmm, Donuts
In 1917, the Salvation Army sent 250 volunteers called “Donut Lassies” to deliver donuts to soldiers serving on the front lines in France. They collected excess rations for the dough, used shell casings and wine bottles as makeshift rolling pins, and filled a soldier’s helmet to fry the first batches of crullers. In 1938, the organization sponsored the first Donut Day event in Chicago to commemorate those brave angels. And while Christmas comes just once a year, today there are two National Donut Days – one on the first Friday in June and the second on November 5.
May25
Pummeled By the Bear
On the first day of 2022 trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high of 36,585.06. Since then, markets have dropped like a Paul Walker movie: fast and furious. Last week, the world’s richest dudebro Elon Musk lost $12 billion in a single day. (That might be more than your entire portfolio.) Crypto owners have lost over a trillion; apparently, you really can’t spell “crypto” without “cry.” Bonds are down, too. Home values are still up, but many observers think they’re like the coyote chasing the Road Runner off the edge of a cliff – he just hasn’t looked down yet to see his fate. About the only things going up in Wall Street’s vicinity are inflation, interest rates, and Xanax prescriptions.
May18
The Evolution of the Tax Professional Starts Here
15,000 years ago, ambitious social climbers had just two career tracks to choose from – you could hunt, or you could gather. (Cave painting was a fun hobby, but no one had figured out how to monetize it.) Training was entirely on-the-job. There were no classrooms, written exams, or licensing boards, and "distance learning" meant watching someone else spear a mammoth or saber-toothed tiger while you were safe in a tree.
May11
Injury, Meet Insult
Back in the day, investors looking to realize gold-plated dreams on Wall Street spent hours poring through newspapers and magazines to sniff out promising stocks. By the 1980s, though, many investors grew tired of picking their own and turned management over to mutual funds. Peter Lynch became the iconic celebrity manager after first joining the company as an intern (after caddying for Fidelity executives). Today, the Investment Company Institute reports that Americans have $25 trillion socked away in funds, and there are actually more funds than individual stocks listed on the three major stock exchanges.
May4
A Little Goes a Long Way
Sometimes, when Washington changes tax laws, it’s Big Freakin’ News. Back in 1986, a bipartisan group of senators and representatives rewrote the entire Internal Revenue Code from stem to stern. Publishers killed entire forests printing their analyses in newspapers and magazines, and tax pros spent years catching up with the changes. (Passive loss limits! AMT up!) Five years ago, a Republican majority passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The Lorax breathed a sigh of relief because we all got the news online this time, and tax pros are still digesting the new opportunities. (Qualified Business Income! AMT down!)
April13
Nice Work If You Can Get It
It’s Spring Break, and millions of Americans are doing their best bird imitations and flying south. College kids will find their way to budget motels in places like Myrtle Beach, Daytona, and South Padre Island, where beer is cheap, bar bouncers understand an ID doesn’t have to be perfect to get the job done, and police turn a blind eye to minor misdemeanors in exchange for sweet tourist cash. Grown-ups head to classier resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. Some adventurous spring breakers venture even farther to South American destinations like Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, where, centuries ago, the Incas built their empire.
April6
As Time Goes By
In 1942, Captain Louis Renault, commander of French troops in Casablanca, was “shocked, shocked” to find that gambling was going on at Rick’s Café Americain. As the Captain collected his winnings, he shut Rick down. While that might not sound like a promising start, the pair ultimately joined forces to help the Czech freedom fighter Victor Laszlo and his wife escape to Lisbon. As the Laszlos boarded the plane to safety, Renault shot the German Major Strasser and ordered police to “round up the usual suspects.” For his part, Rick predicted the whole adventure would be “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
March23
From Russia With Love
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made it an uncharacteristically rough time to be a Russian oligarch. Everyone from western central banks to amateur yacht-tracking sleuths has joined the effort to track down their riches. But a former Wall Street Journal columnist caught our attention in one especially entertaining report: “Western governments have quietly contracted multiple teams of ‘combat bookkeepers’ to secure the estimated hundreds of billions of dollars worth of sanctioned assets the Russian president and his oligarch cronies have spent the past 27 years legitimately laundering through international capital markets.”
March16
Fill ‘er Up!
With Vladimir Putin’s troops wreaking havoc in Ukraine, Western governments have hammered Russia with unprecedented sanctions that may have already destroyed the country’s economy for a generation. However, those moves have cost us here at home, too. Russia is the world’s second-largest oil producer, and gas prices have hit all-time highs. Millions of Americans are feeling violated every time they fill their tank, and the war shows no sign of ending soon.
March2
No Good Deed
The ancient Greeks understood that sometimes life calls for sacrifice. In Greek mythology, King Minos of Crete forced the people of Athens to send him seven young men and seven maidens in retribution for the death of his son Androgeos. They can’t have been happy to board the boat, knowing they were destined to become monster chow for the half-human, half-bull Minotaur. But they swallowed their hopes and dreams for the promising futures they had lost, and they did their duty by sacrificing their lives to their fellow citizens.
January26
The Godfather, the Billionaire, and the IRS
Back in the 1980s, sharp-eyed visitors to New York's Greenwich Village might have spotted a disheveled man wandering the streets in pajamas, a bathrobe, and slippers. Sometimes he mumbled to himself. Other times, he talked to parking meters. Who was this sad, strange figure, they may have wondered? One of the throngs of homeless people crowding the Big Apple's streets? Perhaps a kindly grandfather who'd just forgotten to take his meds? Or had he wandered away from a nearby assisted living facility?
January19
Offensive Tax Interference
After eighteen long and grueling weeks, the NFL is finally into the playoffs. The Cincinnati Bengals proved they could finally win a playoff game after 31 years. The Buffalo Bills proved that the Patriots without Tom Brady are just another football team. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers proved that any team is a contender with the GOAT at quarterback, even if said GOAT is reaching an age where other men start contemplating Crestor prescriptions and AARP discounts.
January5
Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?
Sunday night, Paramount+ aired the season four finale of their hit drama Yellowstone. (No spoilers!) The show follows the Dutton family, sixth-generation heirs to the largest contiguous ranch in the United States, as they fight to defend their legacy. On one side, greedy developers want to turn the area into the next Park City. On the other, the neighboring Broken Rock tribe just wants their ancestral home back. Real Montana ranchers report the show is remarkably true-to-life, especially the gunfights, explosions, and occasional "long black train" to the back of the head.

Yellowstone has everything you'd expect in a modern western. There's Kevin Costner, playing patriarch John Dutton, riding through gorgeous mountain scenery. There's a comic side plot following the wranglers living in the bunkhouse, which usually winds up with someone bleeding on the floor. (Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.) There's a terrific soundtrack, full of edgy, energetic country music and lonesome cowboy ballads. (Conspicuously absent: any of that watered-down Nashville pop that drives so many people nuts.)

And Yellowstone has something else that might surprise you — plotlines that turn on taxes instead of ridin', ropin', and shootin'. Do you think Clint Eastwood and John Wayne would be impressed?

Here's the problem. The Dutton property is the size of Rhode Island, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (In one episode, the greedy developers offer half a billion to turn a 50,000-acre slice into an international airport.) But ranch operations don't turn a profit, leaving the Duttons land-rich but cash poor. So, how do you force the family out? Just build a casino or ski resort next door, push up the value of the Dutton land to raise their property tax, and watch them slink off in defeat.

Of course, in the real world, it's never that easy. For starters, have you met John's daughter Beth Dutton? It's too bad she's not in the tax business — it would be fun to watch her gut an auditor like a grizzly guts a fish.

But the real blocker comes from Montana law. Properties bigger than 160 acres automatically get agricultural use valuation unless they're clearly being used for something else. Once agricultural use is established, the land is valued according to its ability to produce crops or sustain livestock. That means it doesn't matter what the greedy developers put next door as long as the Duttons continue using the property for ranching — they can't be forced out by higher golf course or ski resort taxes.

There's another tax threat, though, that could bring the series to early cancellation. When John finally takes his last trail ride, his estate will owe a tax of 40% on anything above $12 million. Ranch heirs can claim special-use valuation discounts and defer taxes for up to 14 years. But there's still no way the Duttons can come up with that sort of cash. We might suggest premium-financed life insurance to prepay the bill without dipping into current operations. But that takes someone healthier than John, who's survived enough cliffhangers to kill any character who isn't played by the Executive Producer.

Season five is already in the works, and Yellowstone has spawned an origin story (1883) and a spinoff (6666). What adventures lie in the Duttons' future? Will a different developer propose mining the ranch? Will the Broken Rock tribe — headed by a chief with Harvard MBA — launch a hostile takeover? Will a crooked accountant loot the ranch of what little cash it has left? Stay tuned for more, and call us to pay less when the greedy developers come for your land!
December29
Resolutions for 2022
2021 is almost over — a dank, foul, depressing funhouse mirror of 2020 — and for most of us, it can't end too soon. Covid is still here, taunting us with new mutations every time we finally think we've turned the corner. Americans still hate each other as much as ever. The "Real" "Housewives" still burgle our dignity with each episode that airs. NFL teams have turned into quarantine clinics, and Tom Brady is still winning games. Is it any wonder so many people have started rooting for a comet to hit the planet and wipe out anything larger than the rodents?
December22
A Visit From St. Nicholas
'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through the house, not a client was stirring, not even a mouse
December15
The Twelve Days of Taxmas
Every year, PNC Bank publishes its "Christmas Price Index" to track the cost of the Twelve Days of Christmas. For 2021, it's a hefty $41,206 — up 5.6% since we looked two years ago. (Have you heard about the "supply chain"?) The index may not be completely accurate — for example, the ten lords-a-leaping are valued using the cost of male ballet dancers rather than board-certified British lords. As for the eight maids-a-milking, well, "cows not included." But still, it got us wondering . . . what sort of taxes are we looking at on the whole affair?
December8
Say Yes to the Dress
The men and women who write our nation's tax laws aren't known for their sartorial style. Ohio Representative James Traficant, who served 17 years in the people's House before serving seven years in the "big" house, raised eyebrows with an occasional denim suit. (We're pretty sure a Canadian tuxedo would get him fined today.) And Texas Representative Charlie Wilson rocked a unique collection of custom shirts featuring epaulets to hold his suspenders and button flap pockets. But most of the men, at least, are content to settle for a gray suit, blue shirt, and red tie straight off the nearest Brooks Brothers rack.

That all changed for a hot minute this fall. New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leader of her party's progressive wing, has called for raising top tax rates to 70%. On September 13, she showed up at the Met Gala wearing a white off-the-shoulder gown by Aurora James emblazoned with the words "Tax the Rich" in bold red satin on the backside. AOC, as she's universally known, is used to flattering appearances in Mother Jones and Rolling Stone. Now you'll find her in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, too.

Many of AOC's critics have called her a hypocrite for showing up at a $35,000-per-plate dinner calling for higher taxes. They seem to think her fellow attendees would be offended at her call to pay more. That attack seems misplaced — if you wanted to start a 12-step program for limousine liberals, you probably couldn't find a better place than the Met Gala. But there's another tax story here, too: it turns out that designer James, who also dresses Beyonce, Rihanna, and Megan Markle, doesn't like paying her own taxes. Maybe she just doesn't consider herself rich?

In 2011, James formed an LLC to manage her business. From April 2018 to April 2019, the IRS has placed $103,220 in liens on the company for failing to pay withholding taxes on her employees' paychecks. That didn't stop her from claiming $41,666 in federal Paycheck Protection Program aid. PPP money was supposed to go primarily towards retaining workers and maintaining payroll, which makes you wonder if she sent Uncle Sam the withholdings on any of those wages, either.

The State of New York has piled on, too. The Department of Taxation and Finance has hit the company with 15 warrants for failing to pay state withholding taxes. They're still waiting for $14,798. And the state Workers’ Compensation Board has fined James $17,000 for not carrying coverage between March 2017 and February 2018. She owes another $62,722 on the account itself.

The good news is, everything's cool on the tax front with the $1.6 million house that James bought last year in California. Oh wait, it's not. It turns out she's already $2,504 behind in property tax on the Tudor-style house in the Hollywood Hills.

James doesn't seem to like paying her rent, either. In 2018, her former landlord sued her for over $5,000 in unpaid rent at her shop on West 38th Street in Manhattan's Garment District. Her next landlord filed to collect $25,000 in holdover rent and evict her from a location in trendy Brooklyn.

Here's one thing that's true no matter what you think about AOC's politics. Those couture gowns the guests wear to the Met Gala can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you can't afford them if you're wasting money on taxes you don't have to pay! The good news is, all you have to do is accept our invitation to plan better, and you'll have a better shot at wowing the paparazzi lining the red carpet.
December1
Duck!
Roughly 180 million miles into space, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, astronomers have found millions of asteroids — solid rocks that failed to form a planet. Most of the time, those asteroids coexist quite peacefully with earth. However, occasionally one drops out of the belt to check us out a little closer. If one hits us, it could literally mean the end of civilization. So it behooves us to learn as much as we can about these celestial companions. Sixty-five million years ago, the dinosaurs failed to plan — we all know how that turned out!

Last week, NASA launched an unusual probe towards one random rock. Next September, the probe will hit the asteroid at approximately 15,000 mph to test the limits of kinetic impact deflection. In other words, we're trying to nudge it out of orbit just slightly enough to see if that could protect us from a planet-killer heading straight towards us. The test can't come soon enough. In August, scientists announced that the asteroid Bennu, the size of the Empire State Building, has a 0.037% chance of making September 24, 2182, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

You can guess by now that the news made our mind wander to where our friends at the IRS would be if one of those game-changers decides to ruin our day. And we know you'll be pleased to discover that our friends at the IRS have planned for that sort of disaster and more!

The first level of IRS emergency preparedness deals with day-to-day disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. These responses focus on helping taxpayers manage business as usual until things return to normal. They include predictable strategies like helping protect and reconstruct records, documenting valuables and equipment, checking fiduciary bonds (to protect yourself if your payroll processor goes bust), and updating your emergency plans. The Service also generally pushes back filing deadlines in affected areas to give taxpayers more time to recover.

But the real action for IRS planners involves "continuity planning" for existential threats like biological warfare, nuclear winter, or an asteroid strike. IRS officials have been planning since the Cold War days for solutions to help restart tax collections within 30 days of the emergency. These include stationing government agents in the usual hollowed-out mountain bunkers to hand out cash to restart the economy and deciding which pre-disaster taxes to give up trying to collect.

The ultimate "Plan B" in case an asteroid makes its way through our defenses involves ditching income taxes altogether in favor of a sales tax, probably in the 20% range. Sales taxes would certainly be easier to collect in a land with no more 1099s or expense reimbursement forms. And, like any consumption tax, it would encourage survivors to save as much as they can, which they could use to help rebuild the country. Just think — rooting for Team Asteroid might finally mean the end of those annoying Black Friday mall crowds!

Until then, you're just going to have to suck it up and pay under the regular system. But there's good news, too. For starters, about half a penny out of every tax dollar goes towards NASA, including their efforts to defend us from killer space invaders. And second, you don't have to launch a rocket to nudge your tax bill down, sometimes by a lot. So, call us before the air raid sirens start blaring, and let us help you prepare for some more predictable financial threats!
November24
Gobble, Gobble
Four hundred years ago, a group of 50 pilgrims sat down with 100 Wampanoag guests for a three-day feast that we now celebrate as the first Thanksgiving. It was a mostly young, mostly male group that survived the colony's harsh initial year in New England. The menu featured venison and shellfish — while Governor William Bradford reported sending four men "fowling" to stock up for the meal, there's no evidence actual turkeys ever made it to the table. There were no potatoes or pumpkin pie, and Thanksgiving football didn't appear on TV until 1953. (The Lions actually beat the Packers!)
November17
That’s Hot!
Back in The Good Old Days, fame was something you earned by throwing a ball, selling a million records, lighting up a cinema screen, or landing on the moon. Then Paris Hilton decided she wanted to be famous without all that bother. So, armed with little more than a famous family name and fortune, a sex tape, and some good old-fashioned moxie, she set the dial on her transporter to "celebrity" — and probably much to her surprise (and certainly ours), she actually got there!
November10
A Rose, By Any Other Name
Ronald Reagan won the White House in 1980 partly by campaigning against incumbent Jimmy Carter and partly by campaigning against the 70% top income tax rate. Reagan preached a new gospel of "supply-side" economics, arguing that tax cuts would put money back in the pockets of ordinary Americans and unleash a wave of new economic activity and growth. And while Reagan's own running mate originally mocked it as "voodoo" economics, for forty years, that philosophy has influenced American tax policy, leading to more recent rounds of tax cuts in 2001, 2003, and most recently, 2017.
November3
Safety in Numbers
Democrats in Congress are working on an impressive list of spending priorities they hope to pass as soon as this week. There's an infrastructure bill with $1 trillion for roads, bridges, climate resilience, and broadband access. There's a budget reconciliation package with another $1.75 trillion for fighting climate change, child care and universal pre-kindergarten, and extending the expanded child tax credit. And those numbers don't include proposals they dropped for free community college, paid medical and family leave, and expanding Medicare to cover dental and vision care.
October27
Capital Games
Back in 2000, a scrappy little startup named Netflix was losing millions every month on their business renting DVDs online, mailing them to subscribers through something called the "Post Office." (Remember them?) The founders had the bright idea to sell their company to Blockbuster video — for the princely sum of $50 million — and turn themselves into "Blockbuster.com." Blockbuster said no, and now they're corporate roadkill. Netflix is the 800-pound-gorilla in the streaming video world, spending billions annually to create new content in 37 different languages.
October20
Beam Me Up, Scotty!
Fifty-five years ago, NBC debuted a new series that producer Gene Rodenberry called "a Western in outer space — a so-called Wagon Train to the stars." Star Trek starred a journeyman Canadian actor named William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, helming a crew of comically diverse stereotypes (the Russian! The Scot! The Vulcan!) aboard the Starship Enterprise. Shatner went on to play the defining role of his career throughout the series' three-season run, as well as an animated spinoff and seven feature films.
October13
Making the Grade
People have always aspired to "make the grade" and take their place on the lists of the world's most famous and accomplished people. A generation ago, business executives and politicians aimed for Who's Who in America, while athletes aimed for the Hall of Fame and entertainers pined for stars on the Walk of Fame. Today, the internet has brought those lists online, made them searchable, and added new ones: Wikipedia.com for general noteworthiness, IMDB.com for Hollywood players, and the Forbes 400 for billionaires.
October6
Time is Money
In 1895, H.G. Wells launched his sci-fi career with a tale about a Victorian gentleman who travels to Earth in the year 802,701AD. The "Time Traveler" discovers that humanity has evolved into two different species: the Eloi, elfin descendants of the upper-classes, and the Morlocks, ape-like descendants of the working classes who live underground and feed on the Eloi. Wells' story,  The Time Machine , coined the term we now take for granted and popularized the notion of using such a device to travel back and forth in time.
September29
The Changing Face of Fortune
Captains of industry like John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and JP Morgan created enormous fortunes before dying and passing their wealth to their heirs. A century later, most of that money is so old it's gone, vanished into the spray of mansions, parties, and philanthropy that defined Gilded Age and Gatsby-era wealth. Forbes estimates today's Rockefeller clan of 70+ descendants is worth just $8.4 billion. Brother, can you spare a dime?
September22
I Am the Captain Now
Everyone knows that Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer — one last blowout weekend for trips to the beach or lake, cookouts, and carefree fun. So which holiday kicks off fall? Obviously, that's National Talk Like a Pirate Day, which we celebrate on September 19. Talk Like a Pirate Day kicks off a whole series of year-end celebrations that peaks on Halloween, continues with Thanksgiving (really, just an excuse for tryptophan-fueled napping in front of TV football), and finishes up with the commercial-fueled madness of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Festivus.
September15
Overachiever
To paraphrase Tolstoy, "All honest taxpayers are alike; every dishonest taxpayer is dishonest in his own way." But what happens when a dishonest taxpayer is dishonest in every way? Turn on your speakers and cue the theme from Cops while you enjoy this week's story.
September8
Work on This
Back in the early 1880s, American workers toiled as much as 12 hours per day at the coal mine or the bobbin factory. Peter J.
September1
FILING LATE CAN COST YOU
FILING LATE CAN COST YOU DEARLY
Many people choose to file late. But it can cost you.

Six bad things can happen when you file your tax return late.
September1
Big Yellow Taxi
A century ago, America was "a nation of shopkeepers." Beginning in the 1950s, we became a nation of malls. Today, we're a nation of big-box stores.
August25
Tax Policy Lessons From Horseshoe Crabs
Scientists recently announced finding a fossilized horseshoe crab brain from 310 million years ago. As the New York Times reported, "Siderite, an iron carbonate mineral, accumulated rapidly around the dead creature's body, forming a mold.
August18
Olympic Gold
The much-anticipated 2020 Tokyo Olympics have come and gone. As usual, the quadrennial celebration of sport included a few surprises. For starters, there were no spectators in the audience.
August11
Infrastructure Week
We've talked here a time or two about how taxes factor into every financial choice you make.
July28
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan quipped that the government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases, including, "If it moves, tax it." Well, Uncle Sam is already chasing income, payrolls, corporations, gifts, estates, imports
July21
Help Wanted
Fifteen months of COVID-19 have changed the face of employment here in America. The pandemic wiped out 20 million jobs, yet employers are struggling to hire while employees reevaluate their post-pandemic plans.
July14
Overstuffed
Back in 1997, Delaware Senator Bill Roth sponsored a new kind of retirement savings account with a back-end benefit.
July8
Where Angels Fear to Tread
Writing a funny tax column every week, and keeping it as consistently brilliant as we do, is actually harder than it looks. (Less glamorous, too.) Sometimes there just isn't an obviously fun story to cover.
June30
Pure Imagination
Fifty years ago on June 30, Paramount Pictures released an enchanting spun-sugar delight of a movie that remains a classic.  Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory  features Gene Wilder as the reclusive confectioner who hides five Golden Tickets in his
June23
Liquid Assets
The post-punk philosopher and M&Ms enthusiast David Lee Roth once said, "Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it." So, if you like big boats and you
June21
Monthly Advance Child Tax Credit Payments
MONTHLY ADVANCE CHILD TAX CREDIT PAYMENTS

CAUTION:  FOR SOME THIS COULD CAUSE YOU TO OWE MONEY ON YOUR 2021 RETURN

 

Many taxpayers are receiving letters from the IRS (called L6416) which tells them they will be receiving advanced monthly
June16
Eat the Rich
Most Americans would agree that capitalism is the greatest wealth creation engine the world has ever known.
June9
And Baby Makes Five
In 1979, China launched what would become the world's toughest population control measure, the "one-child policy." Families with just one child got rewarded with a "one-child glory certificate" and five yuan per month (about as exciting as a stack of
June2
Rope, Shoot, Fry, Tax
Taxes were in the news this Memorial Day weekend: the new administration leaked word that the higher capital gains taxes included in their American Families Plan would be retroactive to April when they first rolled out the bill.
May26
Free Advice
People have loved advice columns, in print and elsewhere, since Daniel Defoe launched the "Scandalous Club" back in 1704. Since then, we've lobbed questions to Abby, Ann, Polly, Prudence, Miss Manners, Dr. Phil, Dr. Ruth Dr. Drew, Dr.
May19
The More Things Change…
The Biden administration has rolled out an ambitious set of tax hikes to support new spending on infrastructure, families, and other priorities. While the plan includes raising rates, much of the action focuses on closing loopholes, especially for corporations.
May12
The Price of Fame
This is a story about a boy, a dream, a voice, and a legend. It has no beginning or end but opens under the boundless California sky on a June afternoon in 2009.
May5
Unintended Consequences
Prussian Minister Otto von Bismarck once said that laws are like sausages: it's better not to see them being made. Frankly, that comparison is unfair to sausage makers.
April28
Let’s Be Honest
Americans love holidays — so much that if we see a blank spot on the calendar, someone is ready to fill it.
April22
Poetry That Is Seen
The punk philosopher Iggy Pop once said, "When it comes to art, money is an unimportant detail.
April7
Something to Celebrate?
This time of year, millions of Americans celebrate Easter and Passover, the holiest days of their faith. But the calendar is loaded with plenty of "Hallmark holidays," too, usually invented by companies looking to sell something.
March31
Penny for Your Thoughts
In 2017, country singer Luke Bryan scored a #1 hit with "Most People Are Good." Certainly, most people consider themselves good.
March24
O Canada!
Time to play a word association game: what jumps into your mind when you hear the word "Canada"? If you're like most Americans, it's ice hockey or curling.
March22
FEDERAL AND STATE ESTIMATED TAXES STILL DUE APRIL 15, 2021
2021 Quarter 1 Federal and State Estimates are Still Due April 15, 2021.

Many states are now joining the Federal government in moving the due date of tax returns for Individual Only (1040) returns to May 15, 2020.
BUT all
March19
American Rescue Plan (ARPA provisions)

American Rescue Plan (ARPA provisions)
The following is a brief summary of key provisions included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, called ARPA for short.
All provisions are for 2021 only unless stated for 2020.
Unemployment Benefit
March18
2020 Federal Filing & Payment Deadline Extended to May 17, 2021 – Individual returns ONLY
2020 Federal Filing and Payment Deadline Extended to May 17, 2021
Individual returns ONLY.

 

The IRS has issued IR-2021-59 concerning the delay for FILING AND PAYMENTS on taxes due for 2020.

Filing is extended to Monday, May 17, 2021
March11
NEW COVID BILL MAY AFFECT YOUR 2020 RETURN
THE NEW COVID BILL MAY AFFECT YOUR 2020 RETURN

The new covid relief bill has one item that may affect your 2020 return and one that has a tax planning opportunity.

UNEMPLOYMENT:
The bill includes $300 per week in unemployment
March10
Moonlighting
Over the years, we've written a fair number of stories about frustrated taxpayers choosing to cut their bill the old-fashioned way: by cheating.
February24
Shouldn’t This Be In People Magazine Instead?
Back in 1788, George Washington turned down his chance to become King of the new United States of America.
February17
Trimming the Hedges
2020 was a tough year all around. Coronavirus cast a pall over every aspect of life. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, and the stock market dropped 26% in just four days.
February10
Monkey Business
Walk into any suburban supermarket, and you'll find entire aisles of food you wouldn't have seen when you were a kid.
February3
It’s All Fun and Games . . .
Last week, hell broke loose on Wall Street as an online flash mob of mostly-rookie traders took on the hedge fund elite — and won.
January27
Punch Drunk
Odds are good that if you hear the words "Mike Tyson" and "money," you think of the huge purses ($685 million!) that Iron Mike won, then squandered, in his colorful career.
January25
Employee Retention Credit 2020 and 2021
IF YOU HAVE EMPLOYEES, THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO READ.

In the spring, under one of the many stimulus bills, there was a new credit announced called the Employee Retention Credit.  It was designed to help businesses continue to
January20
Use Your Words
It's a common misconception that accounting and taxes are all about numbers. Looking at a balance sheet or a tax return, it's an easy mistake to make.
January13
It’s All About Perspective
There's a saying, usually attributed to Lenin, that "nothing can happen for decades, then decades happen in weeks." These last few weeks certainly feel like decades happening in weeks.
January6
Success Secrets for 2021
It's not just a new year, folks. 2020 is finally . . . finally . .
January6
PPP CHAPTER 2 – WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES?
PPP CHAPTER 2 – WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES?

Congress just passed the new Covid Relief bill in December.  We will discuss separate parts of the bill in several communications.

Today, I want to discuss the new PPP rules (called
December30
It Was a Very Good Year
America has always been a land of opportunity, and there are many paths to fame and fortune. If you're physically gifted, consider professional sports. If you're blessed with good looks, Hollywood beckons.
December23
COVID-19 RELIEF BILL TAX PROVISIONS
COVID-19 RELIEF BILL TAX PROVISIONS:

Although the stimulus package known as the Covid-19 Relief bill has not been signed by the President, we expect the legislation will pass with or without his approval.  So we expect the following provisions to
December23
Tax Strategies for the Grinch
Despite the 2020 malaise, holiday season is in full swing, and we expect you're on your best behavior to make Santa's nice list.
December16
Positively Wall Street
The Time: July 25, 1965. The Place: The Newport Folk Festival. Master of Ceremonies Peter Yarrow steps out to introduce the singer-songwriter sensation Bob Dylan. Festival organizers are perplexed as they watch his crew setting up heavy equipment.
December9
You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down
"If at first, you don't succeed, try, try again." That was Thomas Edison's motto — and it's a good thing, considering it took him 10,000 tries to perfect the incandescent light bulb.
December2
Have a Coke and a Tax
In 1886, a chemist named John Pemberton concocted a sweet, carbonated "brain and nerve tonic" made with coca leaves and cola nuts.
November25
Sure, Marcia
Here in our United States, our government is sliced and diced between Uncle Sam, 50 states, 3,141 counties, and 89,000-odd cities, towns, and villages.
November11
To Boldly Tax Where No Man Has Taxed Before
Cross-border tax questions present some of the thorniest issues in tax.
November4
Billionaires! Rock Stars! They’re Just Like Us!
A hundred years ago, billionaires were a big big deal. Tycoons like John D. Rockefeller, worth the equivalent of two Jeff Bezoses in today's dollars, were celebrities, the overachieving substitutes for today's merely overexposed Kardashians and Tiger Kings.
October21
Teach Your Children Well
"If you are truly serious about preparing your child for the future, don't teach him to subtract — teach him to deduct." -Fran Lebowitz
Here in the United States, we spend about $1.3 trillion on education, including early childhood programs
October14
That Fine Line Between Genius and Insanity
Writing a weekly tax column probably looks like effortless fun. But it's not always easy mining comedy gold from the Internal Revenue Code. Believe it or not, sometimes, taxes just aren't funny.
October7
Food Court
Back before Covid-19 shuttered theaters, courtroom dramas were a cinema staple. In Twelve Angry Men, Henry Fonda shines as Juror 8, trying to convince his fellow jurors the case they were considering wasn't so clear-cut.
September30
Crypto-Compliance
Thirty-five years ago, cartoonist Bill Watterson published the very first "Calvin and Hobbes" strip.
September23
There’s An App For That
President Trump's war on Tik-Tok, the Chinese video-sharing app that's loaded with more spyware than James Bond's latest car, illustrates just how ubiquitous those programs have become in our lives. Apple offers 2.2 million apps in their iStore.
September16
You Can Run, But….
The world of law enforcement lost a pioneer last week with the death of Gerald Shur.
September8
Estimates are NOT optional
We want to remind you that these Estimates are NOT optional! The IRS requires that you pay as you earn. If you are a W2 employee, taxes are withheld and paid on your behalf automatically.
September3
NEW Payroll Tax Deferral
Effective 9/1/2020 President Trump, through an executive order, has a NEW payroll tax deferral of 6.2% of your gross W2.

This is your employEE Social Security tax and can be ‘deferred’ 9/1/2020 - 12/31/2020.
The catch is that you will
September2
The More Things Changeth
Living as we doth in this age of Technologie, 'tis easy to believest that many Things we take for granted are new. 1,000 years ago, there was naught Internet. No reality Television.
August26
California Dreamin’
After World War II, a generation of returning veterans turned California into America's golden dream. Industries like shipbuilding and aerospace created thousands of good jobs. California engineers and educators built world-class roads and universities.
August19
What Are the Odds?
Coronavirus has upended nearly every aspect of American life, including of course sports. First was the chaos of interrupting leagues mid-season with no idea when, or if, they would ever return.
August12
Bloody Complicated
In 2004, Stephanie Meyer sparked a bona fide cultural phenomenon with her debut novel, Twilight, recounting the romance between 17-year-old schoolgirl Bella Swan and 109-year-old "vegetarian" vampire Edward Cullen.
August5
Looking For a Lake House?
A century ago, New York's richest families didn't summer in the Hamptons.
July29
Chow Down
One of the delights of living in America is the variety of local delicacies that different places champion as their own. Maine's lobster rolls serve up a briny mouthful of golden summer tucked into a lightly-toasted bun.
July22
Be the Ball
Forty years ago this weekend, Orion Pictures released a comedy producers pitched as "Animal House on a golf course." The movie featured a scrappy bunch of misfit locals battling a group of rich snobs played by ad-libbing comedy legends.
July15
Aloha!
Coronavirus has millions of Americans rethinking where they choose to live, especially crowded cities.
July8
Tax-Free Ninjas
Colleges looking to compete for students have added new fields like cybersecurity, political campaign management, and even beer fermentation.
July1
Bigfoot
This week's story takes us to Verkhoyansk, a frozen flyspeck of a town with 1,300 shivering souls deep inside Siberia, six miles from the Arctic Circle.
June24
Taxcutoseum!
On June 27, 1997, an unknown British author rolled out her first novel, which she wrote in longhand because she couldn't afford a typewriter.
June18
SBA ISSUES LATEST RULES ON PPP LOAN FORGIVENESS
Congress recently passed the payroll Protection Flexibility Act making changes to the loan forgiveness.

Today, the SBA issued new forms and the interim final rules.

You can find the new forms here:

Standard form:
https://content.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/PPP%20Loan%20Forgiveness%20Application%20%28Revised%206.16.2020%29.pdf
EZ Form:
https://content.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/PPP%20Forgiveness%20Application%203508EZ%20%28%20Revised%2006.16.2020%29.pdf
June10
“Reality” Bites
In the world of football, one family stands out among the rest: the Mannings. In tennis, it's the Williamses.
June4
PAYCHECK PROTECTION FLEXIBILITY ACT JUST PASSED
The Senate just passed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act Wednesday night 6/3/2020.

It now goes to the president to be signed.

 

The major changes to the PPP Program are as follows:

You can choose to extend the covered period
June3
When Does 1918 + 1968 = 2020?
In China, it's a curse to say "may you live in interesting times." If that's so, 2020 is surely cursed. It all started with coronavirus in January or thereabouts. April brought the murder hornets to Washington State.
May20
Fraud & Bling: Atlanta
Maurice Fayne, did you think you would get away with it?
May13
Mom Totally Knows Best
In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.
May12
PPP Loan Forgiveness When Employees Refuse to Return to Work
What if your employees don’t want to come back to work because the unemployment benefits are too good?   The federal government is supplementing unemployment benefits with an additional $600 per month for 3 months and some employees may make more
May11
How Did We Do?
HOW DID WE DO?   WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?

A recent survey indicates that up to 20% of tax preparation companies were not ready for working remotely and just chose to close their doors.  Sadly, even among those who stayed
May6
Here’s What Sports Fans Do When Sports Are Canceled
American law schools sponsor over 200 law reviews: dense collections of grim, wooden prose, groaning with footnotes.
May4
PPP LOAN FORGIVENESS MAY COST YOU!
...OR HOW THE IRS SCREWS TAXPAYERS EVEN WHILE ON FURLOUGH.

Kick them while they are down!!!!

Unbelievable, cruel, ruthless and many other adjectives I wish I could think of for the recent IRS ruling under notice 2020-32       https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-20-32.pdf

The
April29
Nowhere Else to Go But Up
Life comes at you fast. Two months ago, the Dow was flirting with 30,000, unemployment was at 3.5%, and the economy was looking forward to spring with the rest of us.
April27
Unemployment FAQs Under the New COVID-19 Legislation
We keep getting asked questions about unemployment under the new COVID-19 rules.

First, I want to say that I am no expert on payments and qualifications for unemployment even under normal circumstances, and I have little or no expert guidance
April23
Don’t Count Your Chickens…
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. It gave us a great opportunity to indulge in the sort of lowbrow humor that made MAD magazine such a hit with 10-year-old boys.
April21
Unemployment Now Available for Non-Traditional Claims (PUA)
Unemployment for Non-Traditional Claims is Now Available!
Massachusetts
Claimants will now be able to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
They can do so by applying online here: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-pandemic-unemployment-assistance

PUA is a program open to the following individuals
April15
Stimulus Money For You (For Real)!
KEY FACTS:

Officially known as Economic Impact Payments (EIP) >> https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments <<
People who filed their 2018 &
April15
Something to Celebrate
Our calendar is full of "Hallmark holidays": meaningless commemorations and celebrations, usually created by marketers and publicists. Just this month, there's National Talk Like Shakespeare Day, National Hug a Plumber Day, and National Wear Pajamas to Work Day.
April11
Latest Updates on the COVID Crisis

As of 4/9/20, the IRS has already begun depositing stimulus money for those with direct deposit/direct debit information on file with the IRS (based on your 2019 or 2018 tax return), so don't be alarmed if you see a
April9
IS THE PPP LOAN FOR YOU?

Many people do not understand the PPP loan program and are rushing to apply for it because of the apparent loan forgiveness and see it as “FREE MONEY.”

There are reasons you need to reconsider if the program is
April8
The Great Toilet Paper Wipeout of 2020
Coronavirus has turned millions of Americans who used to laugh at the doomsday preppers on National Geographic into converts. Your neighborhood supermarket is working overtime to keep shelves stocked as panicked shoppers rush to settle in for stay-at-home orders.
April7
Payroll Deferment Under the CARES Act
Payroll tax delay
Delays payment of 50% of SOME of the 2020 Federal employer payroll taxes until 12/31/2021
The other 50% will be due 12/31/2022

It only applies to federal taxes incurred between March 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020
April3
SBA LOAN DEFINITIONS
DEFINITIONS:

FFCR:  Family First Coronavirus Response Act
EIDL:  Economic Injury Disaster Loan
PPP:   Paycheck Protection Program

Per the regulations put forth by SBA, this is what qualifies for the PPP loan.

For regulations see this: PPP--IFRN FINAL

Payroll Costs   (see
April1
RETIREMENT PROVISIONS IN THE CARES ACT
RETIREMENT PROVISIONS IN THE CARES ACT

While there are some provisions in the CARES act that will allow you to access your Retirement funds, I would strongly advise before you make these moves that you discuss them with your financial
April1
SBA DISASTER LOANS

SBA DISASTER LOANS - IMPORTANT TO READ RIGHT NOW

There are 2 disaster loan provisions you need to be considering right now: the EIDL and the PPP.

Some key notes on the two loans:

Payback is 10 years at
April1
NOT an April Fools Joke
Millions of us who are staying at home in this time of coronavirus are discovering to our dismay just how much the clown car of halfwits, freaks, and grotesques of "reality TV" has taken over our living rooms.
March30
WATCH OUT FOR STIMULUS SCAMS!
WATCH OUT FOR STIMULUS SCAMS
Be very careful about scam artists trying to tell you they can help you get your stimulus check faster.

There is nothing you can do other than filing your 2018 or 2019 tax return to
March30
STRATEGY FOR GETTING THE MOST FROM THE STIMULUS CHECKS, AND THE FASTEST!
STRATEGY FOR GETTING THE MOST FROM THE STIMULUS CHECKS, AND THE FASTEST.

If you have not filed your 2019 check yet consider this option.
THE MOST
The stimulus check you receive this year will be determined by your AGI.

Will
March28
CARES Act Provision: What You Need To Know
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: What you Need To Know
The CARES act is an 800-page document and we are still looking into all the details.
March27
Federal Filing and Payment Deadline Extended — What This Means for You
The IRS has issued Notice 2020-18 concerning the delay for FILING AND PAYMENTS on income taxes due.
March27
Sick Leave Requirement Under FFCRA
SICK LEAVE IS REQUIRED UNDER THE NEW FAMILIES FIRST CORONOVIRUS RESPONSE ACT  (FFCRA)

For all the information on sick leave due to the Coronavirus, the best information is in the flyer put out by the Department of Labor here: https
March25
Dig This
The Cambridge Dictionary defines "digging your own grave" to mean doing "something that causes you harm, sometimes serious harm." Kids who don't do their homework, politicians who cut popular spending programs, and people who overshare on social media all dig
March18
Stream of Tax-iousness
If you're like most Americans, coronavirus quarantines and "social distancing" mean you're going to spend a lot of time in front of your TV binging on Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Disney+.
March11
Flavor of Money
When talented musicians join forces, they epitomize Aristotle's maxim: "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Collaboration is the essence of music, and even the most technically proficient soloists benefit from an ensemble framing and highlighting their
March4
Overzealous
Four years ago, a consortium of European journalists broke a story based on 11.5 million documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
February26
Powder With a Chance of Tax Breaks
This time of year, most Americans living in the northern half of the country are dreaming of sunshine. But there's a heartier, usually affluent breed that can't get enough snow.
February19
If Only They Had An Oscar For This!
Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, who died last this month, played nearly every role in his career: actor, director, producer, and writer. He was born before the first "talkie" hit theaters.
February13
Would You Take This Betts?
Sportsball fans who already miss NFL action have just weeks to wait until baseball throws out the first pitch on March 26.
February5
“I’d Trade It All for A Little More”
The French newspaper Le Monde called it "the robbery of the century." So what was it? A Mission Impossible-style crew of balaclava-wearing acrobats bypassing sophisticated alarms to burgle a museum or gallery?
January22
“Retirement is Not in My Vocabulary”
Most people who were born on January 17, 1922, have long since passed away. Of those who are still alive, few are still working in any capacity.
January16
Look What’s Hiding Here
Everyone understands the concept of a "tax haven" — a delightfully sunny island somewhere in the subtropics, or a cozy European duchy tucked away on a scenic Alpine lake.
January8
War is Hell. Taxes, Too.
Moviegoers the past few years could be forgiven for thinking comic books had taken over Hollywood.
January1
We’re From the IRS and We’re Here to Help
Holiday season is drawing to a close, and we hope your celebration was exactly what you hoped for, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Toyotathon.
December11
Here’s Where the Bodies Are Buried
Between 1983 and 1985, mobster Whitey Bulger whacked three people and buried them under the dirt-floor basement of a house in Boston's working-class "Southie" neighborhood.
December5
Dirty Money
Let's say you need someone to help you do something really important.
November27
THAT’S A LOT OF GRAVY!
Back in 1621, a group of hardy Pilgrims sat down for a three-day festival of thanksgiving to celebrate surviving plague, starvation, cold, scurvy, Indian attack, and all the other obstacles that made life in the "new world" so delightful.
November20
Cherished Family Holiday Memories
Next week brings us the most quintessentially American of all holidays.
November14
Gold Star Glitch
On Monday, Veterans Day commemorated those brave and selfless Americans who've served in our military. We honor them with History Channel specials, parades, and one-day-only sales on chicken sandwiches and big-screen TVs.
November6
TurboTaxed
Turn the dial on the Wayback Machine to 1849, and join us in California, where "there's gold in them thar hills!" Two kinds of people are getting fabulously rich.
October30
Welcome to the Desert of the Real
Twenty years ago, sci-fi fans geeked out to a new thriller called The Matrix following a dystopian vein established in Blade Runner, Total Recall, and The Terminator.
October23
Pumpkin Spice-Flavored Taxes
October is chock-full of obscure holidays and commemorations. October 3 is National Boyfriend Day. October 15 — the real personal tax filing deadline — is National Grouch Day.
October21
Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction
We added this as an addendum in my book, The Real Estate Investor Tax Guide to include changes made by the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017, which affects returns for 2018 through 2025.  Most
October16
Kids These Days
Here in the United States, we spend a lot of time arguing about income taxes . . .
October9
Teeny Little Slices
Here in the United States, we spend a lot of time arguing about income taxes . . . who should pay, how they should pay, and how much they should pay.
October2
Ornithology
Every fall, in one of nature's enduring miracles, birds fly south for the winter. The Sterna Paradisaea , or Arctic tern, flies as far as three times the distance between the earth and the moon in a lifetime.
September25
The One Where They Bust the Bitcoin Buyers
Today's high-tech economy is all about reinvention.
September18
Couples Therapy
Reddit's r/relationships forum is one of the internet's favorite soap operas. Posters sum up their angst in a snappy shorthand: "I (22M) have fallen in love with the woman I serve (21F). I left to seek my fortune.
September11
Cheap Hits
Chances are good that sometime soon, you'll find yourself in front of a football game.
September4
Deductible Man
"Burning Man" is a celebration of creativity and community that pops up for nine days every year before Labor Day in the Nevada desert.
August28
A Riddle Wrapped in A Mystery Inside an Enigma
Millions of Americans who used to scoff at conspiracy theories (the moon landing was faked! Bigfoot is real!) have finally found one they can embrace.
August21
A Riddle Wrapped in A Mystery Inside an Enigma
Millions of Americans who used to scoff at conspiracy theories (the moon landing was faked! Bigfoot is real!) have finally found one they can embrace.
August14
By the Time We Got to Woodstock…
Fifty years ago, a dairy farmer named Max Yasgur thought it would be a rockin' idea to rent his field to a bunch of kids who wanted to throw a concert.
August7
Now I Know Why They Call It A “Joy” Stick!
Parenting is full of special moments that create lifelong memories. Your heart bursts in joy as you watch them take their first steps, ride their first bike, and bring home their first report card.
July31
Blimey!
Great Britain's new Prime Minister, Alexander Boris de Pfefel Johnson, inspires the same sort of love/hate relationship as a certain novice head of state on our side of the pond.
July24
One Small Step…
Fifty years ago this weekend, in what many people consider the crowning accomplishment in all of human history, astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon.
July17
The Perfect Crime
Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money. Maybe that's why the heist movie is still a Hollywood staple. It's been a while since we thrilled to classics like Heat, or Oceans 11, or The Sting.
July10
Billions
Showtime's hit series Billions invites us into the gilded life of Bobby "Axe" Axelrod, a working-class kid from Yonkers who makes his billions running a hedge fund.
July3
La Dolce Vita
Picture yourself at an “ozmiza,” or “eight-day tavern,” overlooking the Adriatic Sea on Italy’s Carso coast, near the Slovenian border. A guitarist serenades you and your companions with local folk tunes.
June26
Presto Change-o
Back in December 2017, while you were finishing up your holiday shopping and spiking the eggnog, Congress spiked the tax code. The goal was simple: First, eliminate a bunch of deductions that made the whole thing more complicated.
June12
Risky Business
Turn on any television, any time of day or night, and you're likely to see an insurance ad, or two, or a dozen.
June5
Summer Reading for Tax Geeks
Memorial Day has come and gone, and while summer doesn't officially unlock the door and open for business until June 21, who's waiting?
May29
Tax-Free Smarts
Graduation season is here, and grads of all ages are excited to move on! Kindergartners are celebrating mastery of letters, shapes, and not eating crayons. Awkward eighth-graders just want to finish getting through puberty.
May22
May the 21st Be With You, Yes?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (okay, on May 21, 1980), The Empire Strikes Back introduced the world to Yoda, the oldest, most-powerful, and most syntactically-challenged Jedi knight in the universe.
May15
Oh, Baby!
On May 6, England's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan introduced the world to a baby with the delightfully British name of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
May8
Law & Order: Tax Crimes Unit
In the criminal justice system, tax-based offenses aren't considered especially heinous . . . but they still cost the government a ton of money.
May1
Superheroes of Tax
Last weekend, Hollywood made history. Disney's three-hour popcorn epic, Avengers: Endgame sent box-office records scrambling in panic, grossing $350 million here in the U.S. And $330 million in China. And $600 million more in another 43 countries.
April24
Pied-a-Terrible!
When it comes to raising revenue, governments usually find it most efficient to follow the immortal advice of bank robber Willie Sutton and go "where the money is." They turn to income, payroll, property, and sales taxes to fund most
April17
A Song of Fire and Taxes
Sunday night, millions of  Game of Thrones fans who waited breathlessly for 20 months finally got rewarded with their next installment what's become the biggest TV show on the planet. Cersei discovered (redacted). Jon Snow learned that ....
April10
Game of Taxes
On April 14, millions of fans will gather around the biggest screen they can find for the start of one final season in Westeros, the setting of George R.R. Martin's epic Game of Thrones.
April3
Nobody’s Perfect
Nobody really likes to pay taxes. It’s no surprise, then, that so many people work so hard to avoid them.
March27
Change of Address
Moving to a new home can mark an exciting transition in life. Maybe you've just gotten married and you're settling into a real house after a series of walkup apartments.
March20
AP Fraud
Early on a Tuesday morning, FBI agents fan out across the country to arrest dozens of people in six states on racketeering charges and other offenses.
March6
Always in Fashion
She's a long-haired European exotic beauty. She lives a life of glamour and luxury that most of us can only dream of. She has 300,000 followers on Instagram. She's earned $3 million in royalties and endorsements.
February20
Don’t Worry, No One Will Notice
Would anyone in their right mind sit down from scratch and develop the tax withholding system we have today?
February13
Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams
Just a couple of generations ago, it just wasn't polite to discuss money. We mostly knew who was rich and who wasn't.
February6
Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions are Gone for 2018!
With the new tax law, miscellaneous Itemized deductions are now eliminated.

What does that mean for your tax deductions?

If you are a wage earner you used to be able to deduct work-related expenses not reimbursed by your employer such
February6
Kondomania
America's economy has morphed throughout our history, starting from agricultural to manufacturing to service to technology. Now it seems we're moving towards a celebrity-based economy.
January23
Puzzling Questions
Americans love puzzles, games, and brain teasers. Newspapers publish crossword puzzles, word-search puzzles, and word jumbles. Bookstores sell jigsaw puzzles. And airport gift shops stock Sudoku puzzles to pass the hours in the sky.
January16
Do Androids Dream of Electric Audits?
In 1982, the movie Blade Runner presented a technologically advanced vision of the year 2019. There were flying cop cars. (What grim dystopian movie doesn't feature flying cars?) There was commercial space travel.
January10
Never Lose Sight of Survival
Movie fans, quick: what do you get when you combine Night of the Living Dead, Deliverance, and The Mist — with just a hint of Sophie's Choice? It probably looks a lot like like Netflix's newest hit, Bird Box.

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