Tax Roundup, 10/17/2012: Zappers!

October 17th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Flickr image courtsy rust.bucket under Creative Commons license

Zappers rampant?   A representative of a company that works with sales tax collectors says that the use of tax-evading “zapper” software is rampant, according to a Tax Analysts article ($link).  No, frying bugs doesn’t help avoid taxes.  The article describes zappers:

Zappers are sales-tax-skimming software often loaded onto memory sticks, CDs, and memory keys, or downloaded from the Internet. Virtually undetectable, the devices are used to eliminate whole transactions or parts of transactions from cash registers and in turn reduce the amount of sales tax known to be owed.

Zappers have received a lot of attention in Canada, where Quebec revenuers required a technical fix, described by CGI representative Bryce Berg as an “ultra-secure” microcomputer that plugs into cash registers:

 Quebec required each of its 18,000 restaurants to install the modules in their 30,000 cash registers, Berg said, adding that in the first year the province saw an additional $160 million in revenue from voluntary sales tax compliance.

It would be surprising if sales tax chiselers in the U.S. were any less creative than those in Canada.

Related: ZAPPED!


More refunds for Des Moines?  The City of Des Moines, already reeling from a court order to refund $40 million of illegally-collected utility taxes, now may have to repay a $15 million federal grant used to build the Seventh Street Park-and-ride garage.



Brutal Assault on Reason Watch: 

TaxGrrrl,  Did The Debates Offer Enough ‘Hope and Change’ for the Obama/Biden Ticket?  She also live-blogged last night’s debate.

Linda Beale,  Romney shows he’s a “know-it-all” who has no real ideas at all

Daniel Shaviro, Cynicism and dishonesty in tax reform debate (although, perhaps, what else is new?)


Richard Morrison,   Chart of the Day: Millionaire Status is Fleeting  (Tax Policy Blog):

Paul Neiffer,   2013 Social Security Changes:

Remember that the Medicare surtax on earnings in excess of $200/$250,000 per year will apply beginning January 1, 2013.  Therefore, the Medicare tax on earnings in excess of those amounts will be 3.8% (split 50/50 between employee and employer).

Janet Novack,  Social Security Benefits To Rise 1.7%; Workers Face Up To $2425 Payroll Tax Hike


TaxProf,  WSJ: Taxpayers Will Lose Twice if Bankruptcy Court Allows Solyndra Insiders to Harvest $975m of NOLs

Kay Bell,   Will popular but costly tax breaks end?

Jason Dinesen,  Would a Name Change Help Enrolled Agents? Part 3

And yes, EAs ourselves bear some responsibility. We need to be less crabby and resentful of CPAs and embrace the uniqueness of our designation.

When I give presentations, I always include a slide at the beginning where I talk about my designation. One of the bullet points on the slide says, in bold words: “I don’t work for the IRS!” This helps break the ice and often draws chuckles from the audience.

Jason never seems crabby.  Robert D. Flach, maybe, but he’s not an enrolled agent.

None of that sounds good.  Do you have any specials today?   Which Do You Prefer: Income Tax, Earned Income Tax, Sales Tax, Property Tax? (Jim Maule)

It’s Wednesday,  so Robert D. Flach is Buzzing!

Tax trouble for Russ Fox!  No, not the tax one.  The fish and chips one.


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