Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Mitchel’

Tax Roundup, 2/14/2013: Happy Valentine’s Day! Oh, and tell me more about your illegal tax shelter, honey!

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 by Joe Kristan
Wikipedia image

Wikipedia image

The TaxProf Reports: IRS Whistleblower Office Issues Annual Report to Congress.  It looks like ratting out tax cheats could be lucrative.  Changes requiring the IRS to issue more awards were enacted in 2006, and it appears that the whistleblowers have done well.  In 2012, for example, 128 awards were paid totalling $125,355,799, according to the report.  That works out to nearly $1 million each.

Awards may well be one of the most effective ways to enforce the tax law, as well as one of the most creepy.  They make every disaffected employee a potential IRS mole.  Sure, it may make employment awkward for the whistleblower, but $1 million cash can be very consoling.

But before you go racing to the IRS, consider this sobering news from the report: From 2008 through 2012, whistleblowers reported 33,064 cases to the IRS, but awards were paid only 630 times.  That means about 1 in 50 claims cashed out.  Because the IRS collection process is slow, some more of those claims will get paid out, but the great majority won’t.

The moral?  If you have a Valentines Day date, be careful how much of your tax life you share.  Love is one thing, but cold hard cash is something else entirely.

 

I’ll start that diet right after I finish this cheesecake:

Treasury nominee Lew calls tax reform top priority (Reuters)

Obama Proposes Tax Incentives for Manufacturing (Tax Analysts, $link)

If tax reform is a top priority, you don’t start the process by adding more gimmicks to the code.

 

You mean not all appraisals are trustworthy?  Ohio Federal Court Bars  Appraiser of Historic-Preservation Easements. From a Department of Justice press release:

A federal court in Cleveland has barred MAI-designated real estate appraiser Michael Ehrmann and his firm, Jefferson & Lee Appraisals Inc., from preparing property appraisals for federal tax purposes, the Justice Department announced today. Judge Dan Aaron Polster of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio signed the civil injunction order against Ehrmann and Jefferson & Lee Appraisals. The defendants consented to the injunction without admitting the allegations against them. 

Federal law allows a taxpayer in certain limited circumstances to claim a charitable deduction for the value of a conservation easement donated to a qualified organization. The easement’s value must be determined by a qualified appraiser. According to the government complaint, Ehrmann’s appraisals repeatedly overstated the value of conservation easements placed on historic properties, including the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit and the Powerhouse Building in the Flats District of Cleveland.

The tax law is very touchy about the rules for appraisals.  The obvious potential for abuse shows why.

 

A sad story from Buffalo.  A tax preparer scammed his own clients, reports buffalonews.com:

Elizabeth Wopperer lost everything. She lost her business. She lost $40,000 in cash. And by the time it was all over, she found herself filing for bankruptcy.

On top of all that, the IRS now wants the money that was stolen from her.

The man she blames is going to federal prison for up to 30 months, but that won’t return the cleaning business she was forced to sell or pay the taxes she now owes because of his fraudulent actions.

What happened?

Mangione, the operator of a North Tonawanda payroll and tax preparation business, was supposed to pay federal income taxes on behalf of his clients but didn’t.

He chose instead to pocket some of the money, which means Schunke, Wopperer and several others are still on the hook for those taxes.

There’s no reason to give money to your preparer to pay your taxes.

 

Gene Steurle, Why Tax and Transfer Programs Often Discourage Work and Savings (TaxVox):

 The tax code also is loaded with disincentives to work, save, and study.  They include PEP and Pease (reductions in tax allowances for personal exemptions and itemized deductions), child tax credits, and the earned income tax credit. These implicit taxes combine with explicit taxes to create incentives for many households that are often inefficient and inequitable, to say nothing of strange and anomalous.

That’s why proposals to increase the earned-income credit are pernicious.  The phase-outs of the benefits as incomes rise punish taxpayers for improving their lot.

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But I thought nobody moved because of state taxes! Two Dozen Companies Announce California Departures, Citing Higher Taxes (Joseph Henchman, Tax Policy Blog).

Cara Griffith, Income Redistribution Has No Place in State Tax Systems(Tax.com) The goal of taxes should be to finance operation of the government.  The tax commissioner is not Handicapper General.  When states try to soak the rich, they’ll rinse them right across the state line.

 

Kay Bell, Mistakes on child tax credit form are delaying some returns

Paul Neiffer, Don’t Forget the “Magic Blurb” on Donation Acknowledgements!  A cancelled check by itself doesn’t get you a charitable deduction over $250.

Missouri Tax Guy, Maximize your Travel & Entertainment Benefits.

TaxGrrrl, The Cost Of Health Care Insurance, Taxes and Your W-2

Patrick Temple-West,  Vital New York City property taxes lost, and more (Tax Break)

Andrew Mitchel, 48% Decrease in Number of Expatriates for 2012

Jack Townsend,  Interview of R. J. Ruble, A Tax Lawyer Incarcerated for Tax Shelter Crimes.  Sobering.

 

Say, what time is it?  Madness Time. (Christopher Bergin, Tax.com)

If you are thinking of proposing tonight, check out An Updated Marriage Bonus and Penalty Calculator for Valentine’s Day from Roberton Williams at TaxVox before you commit!

News you can use. The SEC is Developing an Army of Robots to Replace You (Going Concern)

 

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Tax Roundup, 1/28/2013: Should Iowa rebate its budget surplus? And PTIN limbo.

Monday, January 28th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20130117-1Iowa is collecting more tax money than it is spending.  Iowa House Republicans propose to give the money back as a one-time tax credit.  The Des Moines Register reports:

The proposal would capture the state’s estimated $800 million budget surplus, divide it equally among the state’s income tax payers and issue an income tax credit to every taxpayer for his or her share. Senate Republicans said last week the credit amounts to $375 for individuals or $750 for couples who file jointly.

That means, for example, if a married couple’s state income tax liability was $1,000, they would receive a $750 tax credit, reducing the amount they were actually required to pay to $250. If a payer’s burden was less than $375, he would receive a credit equal only to his actual bill.

It’s a simple plan that treats the surplus as a non-recurring event.  Unfortunately, there is nothing simple about Iowa’s tax law otherwise.  I’d prefer to see it returned as part of a tax reform plan.

House Democrats prefer to spend the money, and the Governor wants some of it to fund his education reform plan.  ISU economist David Swenson says the money should be run through the government:

Drawing on a statistical model that predicts economic impacts, he said  $780 million in government spending could support roughly 2,000 more jobs than the same amount of spending by households.

Yes, the magical power of the government to transform your money into jobs.  If we just gave the government infinite money, we’d get infinite jobs.   If that worked, you’d think we’d have more jobs than ever, considering that Federal and state governments are spending more money than ever.

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Link: Text of HF 1.

 

Tax Notes, Preparers in Limbo as IRS Shutters PTIN System After Loving Decision ($link):

     Tax return preparers who just recently were rushing to get their preparer tax identification numbers from the IRS before it starts accepting 2012 tax returns on January 30 are in limbo after a federal district court enjoined the Service from enforcing requirements under the registered tax return preparer (RTRP) designation.

     The IRS’s online PTIN system appears to be unavailable. People familiar with the system are uncertain why the IRS took it offline and what its unavailability means for the hundreds of thousands of potential PTIN registrants.

     “From a practical point of view, [the IRS] has already shut the [PTIN] system down,” said Dan Alban of the Institute for Justice and the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Loving v. IRS, No. 1:12-cv-00385 (D.D.C. 2013)  “Whether they are legally required to do so is the question.”

Well done, IRS!  Preparers are required to have a PTIN.  The IRS apparently tied it’s PTIN software to the preparer regulation system overturned earlier this month.  Another triumph for tax administration.

TaxProf,  What’s FATCA Got To Do With It? Tina Turner Renounces U.S. Citizenship.  It’s always easier for the wealthy to avoid the ridiculous paperwork the tax law imposes on Americans abroad.  It’s the little jaywalkers that get shot to ensure the serious money-launderers get slapped on the wrist.

Andrew Mitchel has posted two videos explaining Form 5471.  Think that sounds dull?  If you fail to report your interest in a foreign corporation, the $10,000 fine will make it interesting.

Martin Sullivan, UK Conservative Policies in Trouble (Tax.com)

Brian Mahany, Tiger Woods and Tax Migration – The Wealthy Flee High Tax States (tax planning post)

Patrick Temple-West,  Republican governors open new front in tax debate, and more

Paul Neiffer,  AMT Causes a Few More Capital Gains Tax Rates!

Robert Goulder, The Pepperdine Papers: Advice for Obama’s Second Term (Tax.com)

Kay Bell, Deducting sales tax on your new car … or boat or airplane or home

Jim Maule,  Tax Planning: A Chore That Never Sleeps.  I think it works better if it does.

Trish McIntire,  Who Do You Believe?.  If your tax advisor contradicts your bar buddy on a tax issue, go with the tax advisor.

Dan Meyer, Will Tax Benefits Later Cost You Now?

Robert D. Flach,  THE RESIDENTIAL ENERGY CREDIT IS BACK FOR 2012 (AND 2013)!

Joseph Henchman,  Municipal Bankruptcies Since 1988. (Tax Policy Blog).  He lists about 43.

Russ Fox,  Cash and Carry Doesn’t Work for Strip Club Owner.  I don’t think it’s allowed for the patrons either.

Worth a try.  Shop Till Your Taxes Drop  (TaxGrrrl)

 

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Tax Roundup, 1/2/2013: Yay, we didn’t fall off the cliff! Too bad we’re still doomed.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 by Joe Kristan

So tax season can go on.  The IRS will have to activate some of the “reserved” boxes on its forms, but with the passage of HR 8 yesterday, filing season should be able to continue without catastrophic disruption.  I summarized the key pieces yesterday here.

So what did they accomplish?  They permanently “patched” the alternative minimum tax, and that is a real accomplishment.  Far better to repeal a deeply dishonest tax, but at least now they have stopped placing a time bomb in the tax law set to go off every year or two.

They raised the top marginal rate on “the rich” to something over 40%, with a stated top rate of 39.6% and the dishonest phase-outs of itemized deductions and personal exemptions.  They redefined “rich” as single filers with incomes over $400,000 and married taxpayers over $450,000.

They raised the top dividend and capital gain rate to something over 24%, taking into account the 3.8% Obamacare levy, the 20% rate on the rich, as newly defined, and the phase-outs of deductions and personal exemptions.  In doing so, they left the top rate at 15% (or 18.8%) for other taxpayers.

They delivered another kick in the teeth to successful entrepreneurs.  Taxpayers who operate successfully as pass-through entities represent much of the income hit by the new tax rates, and much of business income in general.  They have that much less after tax income to take chances on new locations, new employees, new products.  That means there will be less of all of these.

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Source: Tax Foundation, “Putting a Face on America’s Tax Returns: A Chartbook

Most people don’t realize just how big a part of the economy pass-throughs run by “the rich” are.  This might give you an idea:

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Source: Tax Foundation, ‘Putting a Face on America’s Tax Returns: A Chartbook”

This isn’t exactly going to help hiring.

They once again passed the dishonest batch of “expiring provisions.”  These provisions, from the windmill subsidy and research credits to special breaks for speedways, are passed with annual expiration dates, enabling the politicians to pretend that they are temporary so they don’t have to face the real costs of these breaks for their freinds.

What they failed to accomplish is just as important.  They failed to pass the wretched ideas of dollar caps on itemized deductions or a limit on the rate benefit of the deductions.  They failed to apply the top rates to incomes of $200,000 and up, which was their initial plan.

Most importantly, they utterly failed to address the ongoing fiscal catastrophe.  The new revenues will barely touch the $1.2 trillion annual deficit.  It’s not clear whether there will even be any deficit reduction when all of the pieces of the deal are added together.  That means we careen almost immediately to a new debt-ceiling battle and ultimately to a confrontation with arithmetic.

Perhaps that will ultimately be the benefit of this deal, though not one that is intended.  The President finally got his tax hikes on “millionaires and billionaires,” and they won’t do a thing to deal with the fiscal crisis.  If people finally realize that the choice is between bringing spending and entitlements under control or higher taxes on everybody, there might actually be some value to this mess.  After all, the rich guy isn’t buying.

 

Fiscal Cliff Notes

TaxProf, House Approves Fiscal Cliff Tax Deal

Tyler Cowen, Ross Douthat asks

If a newly re-elected Democratic president can’t muster the political will and capital required to do something as straightforward and relatively popular as raising taxes on the tiny fraction Americans making over $250,000 when those same taxes are scheduled to go up already, then how can Democrats ever expect to push taxes upward to levels that would make our existing public programs sustainable for the long run?

Greg Mankiw, President rejects his bipartisan commission

Stephen Entin, Measuring the Economic and Distributional Effects of the Final Fiscal Cliff Bill (Tax Policy Blog)

Howard Gleckman, Congress Kicks the Fiscal Can off the Front Stoop (TaxVox)

William Perez,House Approves the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

Journal of Accountacy, Congress passes fiscal cliff act

Andrew Mitchel, Senate Fiscal Cliff Bill Includes Retroactive Reinstatement of CFC Look-Thru Rule

Kay Bell, House passes tax bill to avoid fiscal cliff

Paul Neiffer, Some Major Tax “Goodies” in Senate Bill For Farmers!

Robert D. Flach, SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE!

Joseph Thorndike, Is Obama the Worst Legislative Negotiator of the Last Century?

Finally, this from Daniel Shaviro, a tax man of the left, on the fiscal cliff and the larger budget picture:

The biggest problem, as others have noted, is that Obama appears to be a once-in-a-generation lame and inept bargainer, who can take even a strong hand and not get all that much, because he is so predictably ready to fold.  But again this is not mainly an issue about the New Year’s Eve deal itself, which is more or less defensible as a one-off solution.  Rather, it’s about the debt ceiling crisis to come in a few weeks.

That is the one that really counts.  I think the Administration should play that, not merely as hard as they are saying they will now, but about 20 levels harder.  I would not just refuse to negotiate, but would have Administration officials use words such as treason, sabotage, and terrorism.

Mr. Shaviro is a very bright man.  He knows that the present fiscal course is unsustainable.  The solutions are some mix of spending less or taxing more.  If a guy that smart is ready to equate “spending less” with “treason, sabotage and terrorism,” the debate will get very ugly.  Maybe we aren’t far behind Argentina and Greece.

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Tax Roundup, 12/14/2012: I want to lose weight. And I want more dessert!

Friday, December 14th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Flickr image courtesy seriousbri under Creative Commons license.

Cause and effect: the Iowa Chamber Alliance can’t quite put them together.  The umbrella group for Iowa’s chambers of commerce has issued its 2013 legislative agenda.  The Des Moines Register reports (my emphasis):

TAXES: Iowa’s tax system is among the highest for businesses, the alliance contends, and commercial and property tax relief are needed. In addition, the group supports addressing unfunded mandates, public employee pensions and other measures to help offset rollback effects on local governments. The alliance also supports efforts to simplify and reduce corporate income taxes, and to streamline the personal income tax code.

So far, so good.  But then:

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The Iowa Economic Development Authority needs money for flexible incentives to compete for investments and jobs, the allliance said. It backs a variety of tax credits to retain, grow and attract investments in Iowa, including restoration of the $185 million cap on economic development tax credits.

Let’s spell this out: Iowa’s tax code needs simplification because it is larded with “economic development” provisions, including dozens of “economic development tax credits.”  The rates are high because if they weren’t, the special breaks would keep it from raising any revenue.  To say you want lower rates, a simpler tax code, and economic development credits is like saying you want to lose weight and you want some more cookies.

There is a better way: The Tax Update’s Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform Plan.

 

Fiscal Cliff Notes

Tax Offer for Firms Pits Big vs. Small (Wall Street Journal):

If ideas proposed by the White House take hold—a long shot—rates for big companies likely would fall next year while those paid by many small-business owners through the individual tax system would rise.

That potential gap could encourage more companies to organize as corporations. For now, the prospect is strengthening alliances between Democrats and big-company CEOs on the one hand, and Republicans and small-business groups on the other.

It’s Warren Buffett and Goldman Sachs vs. the entrepreneur — influence and pull vs. the rest of us.

Patrick Temple-West,  Tax offer pits big companies against small, and more (Tax Break)

Martin Feldstein,  The Tax Hike Canard (via Mankiw)

Janet Novack,  Will Your Retirement Be Thrown Off The Fiscal Cliff?

Howard Gleckman,  Why the Senate’s Tax Bill is No Way Out of the Fiscal Impasse

 

IRS reminds taxpayers of “Savers Credit” (IR-2011-121)  This non-refundable credit matches as much as 50% of taxpayer contributions to their IRA or 4o1(k) accounts.  It works on joint returns with incomes up to $57,500 and single filers with incomes up to $28,750.  Savings made when young can do great things when compounded over a career, and this credit makes it painful.  Giving your recent grad starting out in the world some cash to fund an IRA can help build a nest egg and net a nice tax refund.

 

Andrew Mitchel,  Doctrine of Constructive Receipt.  You can’t avoid the income this year by waiting until next year to cash the check.

Kay Bell,  Reindeer year-end tax tip games 2012: Dasher says use up your FSA funds

Paul Neiffer,  Some Interesting Ag Cooperative Facts.  Iowa leads the nation with total co-op sales of $22.4 billion.

Jason Dinesen,  This Accountant’s Idea for Eliminating Kickoffs in the NFL.  Without kicking, where does the “F” in NFL go?

The Critical Question:  When a Tax Argument is Nonsense, Why Not Say So? (Jim Maule?

Why not?   The 2012 Holiday Kitchen Gift Guide (Megan McArdle)

I can quit any time.  I just need six more drinks.  Wind Energy Association Says Industry Can Survive Without Tax Credit” (Tax Analysts, $link):

The wind energy industry could be self-sustaining over the long term if its primary federal incentive is renewed in 2013 and then gradually phased out over six years, the industry’s trade association said December 12.

Because the last 20 years of the tax credit just weren’t enough for a good buzz.

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Tax Roundup, 11/28/2012: Did you report that 1099-K income? Also: tax deductions and giving levels.

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

IRS starts data-mining the 1099-Ks.  From Tax Analysts ($link):

     A new IRS compliance program aimed at finding underreporting of gross receipts by taxpayers who receive Form 1099-K information returns from credit card companies or third-party transaction networks launches this week, a senior IRS official confirmed November 27.

     Ruth Perez, deputy commissioner of the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Division, told Tax Analysts that the first notices under the program will be sent out later in the week of November 26. “Our initial footprint in this area is going to be small while we learn,” she said, adding that the initiative will touch a variety of businesses of different sizes.

If prior matching programs are any guide, many of the notices will be incorrect, giving gray hairs to compliant taxpayers.  Even so, it’s likely to smoke out some eBay entrepreneurs who haven’t bothered to report their income.  If that sounds like you, now is a good time to get into compliance.

 

Learning From a Wrongful Criminal Tax Prosecution.  Tax Analysts has made available to nonsubscribers a great piece by a New York attorney who defended a business owner from a baseless state tax prosecution that was later recanted by the district attorney.  It’s the piece I mentioned earlier this week; kudos to Tax Analysts for making it more widely available.  Sobering reading for practitioners and entrepreneurs.

 

Via the TaxProfThe Millionaires Who Pay the Highest Tax Rate:

 The more your make, the more taxes you pay as a percentage of your income. According to new data from the IRS, people who make $1 million or more had an average tax rate of 20.4% in 2010. Tax filers who earned $30,000 to $50,000 paid an average rate of 4.8%, while those who made between $50,000 and $100,000 paid 7.7%. Those making under $30,000 had a negative effective rate, meaning they paid no federal income taxes after deductions and credits. Put another way, millionaires pay a rate that’s more than four times that of the middle class.

The millionaires pay a higher rate than Warren Buffett’s secretary, I’d wager.

 

Kay Bell,  Would a limit on tax deductions mean less charitable giving?  Of course it would.  The only question is how much.

The guy quoted by Kay doesn’t think it would have a big impact.  I think it would, especially for bigger gifts.   We can’t know for sure, but a paper in the December 11 National Tax Journal estimates that capping the rate benefit of contributions at 12% would reduce individual giving by 5.8% to 14.2%.  A hard deduction cap would reduce the tax benefits of large gifts much more drastically than the 12% credit.

 

Patrick Temple-West,  On ‘fiscal cliff,’ both sides lay groundwork, and more

Wall Street Journal, Dividends Come Early to Avoid Fiscal Cliff:

Faced with a possible tax increase on dividends next year, boards are approving bigger payouts and cutting checks faster to avoid 2013 rates.

On Monday, retailer Dillard’s Inc. and casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp.  LVS -0.26% said they would pay new, one-time dividends next month. Dillard’s also broke with long practice to pay its regular fourth-quarter dividend in December after paying it in the new year for at least a decade.

Wal-Mart did the same thing last week.  (Via Tax Break)

 

Jack Townsend,  Daugerdas Denied Access to Funds Subject to Forfeiture.  Mr. Daugerdas, whose conviction on tax charges was thrown out based on juror misconduct, says he needs the money to pay for his defense in his retrial.

Jason Dinesen,   Are Donations to a 501(c)(4) Deductible? (No.)

Tax Trials,  Tax Court: Legal Fees Not Deductible for Conduct of S Corp. Sole Shareholder.  This is a great case that I plan to write up in the next few days.

Both?  Education Foundation Or Estate Tax Dodge – Remains To Be Seen (Peter Reilly)

 Jim MauleTithing and Taxing: What is (Gross) Income?

Andrew Mitchel,  Summary of Form 8938 Filing Thresholds

Joseph Henchman,  Connecticut Revenue Commissioner Admits that “Amazon” Tax Has Raised Zero Revenue

In other news, Wednesday ends with “y”:  Another South Carolina Politician Guilty of Tax Charges (Russ Fox)

 

David Brunori, Fetal Craziness:

The recent craziness in Michigan illustrates all that is wrong with tax policy in America. A group of Republican lawmakers have proposed (HB 5684 and HB 5685) a tax credit for unborn fetuses of 12 weeks gestation. What is wrong with such a measure? Everything. First, Adam Smith, who I doubt was pro choice, said that the tax laws should be used to raise revenue. They should not be used to make political statements.  Why do we know this is political statement? Because only a nincompoop would think the tax laws could be administered in such a manner.

I suspect the miscarriage rate would go through the roof, at least as reported on tax returns.

 

A 529 plan would have worked better:  Attorney Disbarred For Submitting Falsified Tax Returns For Financial Aid (TaxGrrrl)

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Tax Roundup, 11/15/2012: Austerity: I don’t think that word means what you think that means. Also: Harleys!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Scott Hodge, President’s $1.6 Trillion Tax Bid Lowers GDP, Wages, Living Standards (Tax Policy Blog):

According to this morning’s Washington Post, President Obama’s opening tax offer in his negotiations with Congress over the Fiscal Cliff is the $1.6 trillion in new taxes that were the centerpiece of his FY 2013 budget. Recently, Tax Foundation economists used our Tax and Macroeconomic Model to simulate the long-term economic impact of the President’s proposals – specifically, his proposals to increase taxes on high-income taxpayers [full report here].

In short, the model results indicate that the President’s plan would not only lower GDP and capital formation, but it would reduce after-tax incomes for every household – not just families hit by the higher taxes.  

No, we’ll just sink the rich guy’s end of the boat!

 

Linda Beale,   Calling all Americans: we face an “austerity crisis” not a fiscal “cliff”; we need a piecemeal solution, not a “grand bargain”.  Austerity?  Really?

Source: Heritage Foundation

If that’s austerity, I’d hate to see what free spending looks like.

 

We’ll never know, will weWould Mitt Romney Have Wanted to Raise Taxes Too? (Ed Krayewski, Reason.com)

Going Concern,   The Fiscal Cliff: As a CPA, People Expect You to Know this Crap

Anthony Nitti,  More On The Fiscal Cliff.

Patrick Temple-West,   Essential reading: Senate Finance chair sees flexibility on Bush tax cuts, and more (Tax Break)

Paul Neiffer,   No AMT Extender May Prevent Farmers From Filing on March 1

Daniel Shaviro,   Obama’s reply to the Republicans on closing income tax “loopholes”

Andrew Mitchel,   I.R.S. Rules that Mexican Fideicomiso is Not a Trust.

This ruling has broad implications for many taxpayers owning real estate in Mexico.  Taxpayers for years have had questions about whether Mexican fideicomisos are trusts.  Some if these taxpayers may have even entered into voluntary disclosure programs and paid significant penalties over the fear that they may be subject to various penalties.  However, if a Mexican fideicomiso is not a trust, then it is not a foreign trust, and no Form 3520 or Form 3520-A would be required to be filed.

Of course, private letter rulings are directed only to the taxpayer requesting it and they may not be used or cited as precedent. However, Rev. Rul. 92-105 is a ruling on which taxpayers can rely and can cite as precedent.  Because there can be huge penalties for failing to file Forms 3520 and 3520-A and because the terms of each fideicomiso will vary, taxpayers should be cautious in determining whether they need to file Forms 3520 and 3520-A for Mexican fideicomisos.   

Let’s hope the IRS provides more guidance so we can know what needs to be filed.

 

When “thank you” doesn’t cut it:

When a charity receives a gift, it needs to say more than a simple thank you.

The Internal Revenue Service requires that a donor produce a record from the charity to show a gift over $250 had no strings attached. A thank you note can be a good enough record, as long as it includes the magic words: “No goods or services were received in exchange for the contribution.”

Without the magic words, you get no deduction, even with a cancelled check.  Arden Dale explains in the Wall Street Journal (Via Tax Break)

 

Robert D. Flach,  LOCK IN 2012 MEDICAL DEDUCTIONS.  “… did you know that beginning with tax year 2013 the AGI exclusion increases to 10% for taxpayers under age 65?”

Kay Bell,   Zero capital gains tax rate set to disappear on Jan. 1, 2013

Russ Fox,  FTB Appeals Gillette Decision.  This is a big deal to any multistate business with California taxes.

TaxGrrrl,  Janeane Garofalo Finds Out She’s Been Married… For 20 Years.  Tax hilarity ensues.

 

IRS, vintage Harley Dealer. The IRS will be auctioning a bunch of antique motorcycles in Elkmont, Alabama on December 1, including this “1946 Flathead”:

 

Details here.

 

Isn’t it immoral to send money to the tax man that should be going to the shareholders?  United Kingdom M.P., Margaret Hodge, has an odd moral code.  She thinks that it is immoral to — I don’t know?  Not leave a tip after you compute your tax bill?   She thinks that Starbucks should give the State more of their cash. From Rachel Moran at Reason.com:

In the past three years Starbucks has paid no corporation tax in the UK. Amazon has paid £1.8m, despite bringing a total revenue of £200m in the UK in 2011. Starbucks global chief financial officer Troy Alstead insists the company remains “an extremely high tax payer globally” but, as UK profits have been far from substantial, claims, “respectfully, I can assure you there is no tax avoidance here.” Similarly, Matt Brittin, the head of Google’s northern European operation, defends the company’s practices. “Like any company you play by the rules [and] manage costs efficiently to offer fair value to share holders.”

Google‘s Brittin told the committee that “we comply with the law in the U.K.” and “it would be very hard for us to pay more tax here based on the way we are required to structure by the system.” ABC News reports that Hodge responded by saying that the committee was “not accusing you of being illegal, we are accusing you of being immoral.”

If we are going to start talking about morality, let’s start with the morality of forcing people to hand over their money to politicians so they can buy votes with it.  If I ever have an IRS exam where the agent offers no change to the return but says I’m a bad person, my client won’t be too upset.

 

Not just any Tom, Dick or Terry.  “In a story Nov. 14 about a wind energy tax credit, The Associated Press misidentified Iowa’s governor. He is Terry Branstad, not Tom Branstad.”  (Associated Press story).

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Tax Roundup, 11/1/2012: IRS walks away from defined-value fight.

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by Joe Kristan

IRS withdraws appeal of non-charitable defined value gift case.  The IRS hates “defined value” charitable gifts of property.  These gifts specify that a donee will receive a certain amount of property; if the IRS successfully challenges the gifts, the donor agrees to give more property to make up the difference, so the charitable deduction stays the same and the IRS gets nothing for its efforts.  This result has been upheld in three different circuits.

But what if you have a non-charitable donee?  Then you would want to make the donee pay back part of the gift if the IRS challenges the value to avoid an increased gift tax.  The Tax Court upheld the concept in the Wandry case.  Now the IRS has withdrawn its appeal, reports Tax Analysts ($link).  Does this mean you can use a defined-value clause to limit gift tax exposure safely?  The article says it may be premature to think so:

“Practitioners will not be comfortable with the Wandry clause until at least two circuits have approved it, or at least one circuit and the full Tax Court,” said estate planning consultant Howard M. Zaritsky. “I feel that a Petter-style defined value clause, with a charitable residuary gift, is very safe, after the Tax Court and three circuits have approved it. I simply do not have that same degree of comfort about Wandry,” he said.

Stay tuned.

Related:  IRS loses another ‘defined value’ gifting case

 

Who says you can’t make money in your vacation home in the off-season?  A North Carolina couple found a lucrative use for their cottage while the neighbors were away.  From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

A Western North Carolina couple pleaded guilty to an elaborate scheme in which they filed some 1,000 false tax returns, bilking the government out of more than $3.5 million.

 Senita Birt Dill and Ronald Jeremy Knowles used tax preparation software programs and fraudulently obtained personal identification information to obtain refunds, according to a criminal complaint.

They rented a home on a lake surrounded by vacation homes in Polk County and used neighboring addresses on the fraudulent tax returns, then surreptitiously collected government checks from mailboxes.

Sure, we’ll pick up your mail while you’re away!  There must have been a flaw in their cunning plan, as both face potentially long prison terms for tax fraud and identity theft.

 

Just another hard-working public servant.  If you ever think a municipal income tax would be a great idea, this story from the Washington Examiner might give you pause:

An employee at the District’s Office of Tax and Revenue pleaded guilty Wednesday to filing more than a thousand fraudulent tax returns that netted more than $4 million in unwarranted refunds from D.C. and the federal government.

Kimberle Y. Davis, a “control technician” at the OTR, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and first-degree theft through her part-time job at a District-based tax service. She’s at least the third employee in Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi’s 12-year tenure to be caught stealing, prompting Mayor Vincent Gray to press Gandhi for plans to overhaul the tax office.

It is apparently against the rules at OTR to have a tax-prep job.  I can’t imagine why…

Sacrebleu — More French Taxes.  David Brunori notes that the barbarians have crashed the gates in Paris:

 It is bad enough that the French have a 75 percent top marginal tax rate. Now the Socialists in power want to raise the tax on beer.

Because beer is apparently a big problem in France?

 

Brutal Assault on Reason Watch: 

TaxProf, Fleischer: The Winners and Losers Under Romney’s Tax Plan

 

TaxGrrrl,  Helping Out After Hurricane Sandy

Daniel Shaviro,  Post-storm update.  He lives in Manhattan and remains without power.

Trish McIntire,  Sandy Adjustments

Andrew Mitchel,  Expatriates for the Third Quarter of 2012

Robert D. Flach,  A YEAR-END TAX PLANNING RERUN – AVOIDING AN UNDERPAYMENT PENALTY

Kay Bell,  Happy Halloween tax breaks!

RIP: Remembering the DECEASED Iowa Pumpkin Tax (Joseph Henchman, Tax Policy Blog)

Going Concern, Dumb: Iowa Once Tried to Implement a Pumpkin Tax

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Tax Roundup, October 22, 2012: can houses have cowl lamps? And why Iowa tax reform will be hard.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012 by Joe Kristan

20110119-1.jpgIt’s the housing version of “cowl lamp violations.”  A few years ago an Iowa county prosecutor ended up in hot water over the practice of rewriting serious traffic offenses, like drunk driving, down to “cowl lamp” violations, sometimes in exchange for contributions to charities or government agencies.  Cowl lamps are something your great-grandpa’s car might have had.

That may have given the Iowa Civil Rights Commission an idea.  From Reason.com:

The Des Moines Register reports that for five years ending in February 2011, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission shook down landlords for “voluntary contributions” in exchange for dropping discrimination complaints. The Register obtained copies of 27 settlement agreements involving about $20,000 in contributions. Unlike money from fines, which end up in the state’s general fund, the donations went directly to the commission, creating “the impression that justice is for sale,” as state court administrator David Boyd puts it. The commission ended the practice after Winterset attorney Mark Smith questioned its propriety.

Creates the “impression?”  Creates the fact.   Instapundit explains:

I think that all revenue collected by all agencies should go to the general fund.  Otherwise, it doesn’t just give the impression of corruption, it’s corrupting. 

 

Why Iowa tax reform will be hard.  The politicians will no longer get articles like this from Radio Iowa:

State economic development officials approved financial help for six companies Friday. The Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded tax benefits to Alfagomma America to move its stainless steel tube production from its plant in Italy to its only U.S. plant in Burlington.

The company is investing 1.3 million dollars and is expected to create 14 new jobs.

With a non-corrupt system where everybody is treated the same, there would be no more press releases.  The state economy would be much stronger, but the politicians wouldn’t get to cut any ribbons.

In a more just world, the economic development bureaucrats would have to call a press conference any time a business closed or fled as a result of Iowa’s whimsical, byzantine and sometimes punishing state tax system.

 

Crime doesn’t pay, but turning state’s evidence might.  The ex-wife of a Minnesota real estate magnate gets three months after cooperating in the case against him.  He got 4 1/2 years.

 

That won’t stop them for a minute?  “Do education tax benefits produce more educated Americans? Congress has no idea.”  (Marie Spirie, Tax Analysts – subscriber link)

 

Andrew Mitchel,  Repatriate Now? (Before the Bush Tax Cuts Expire).  “There may never be another opportunity for individuals to pull cash out of foreign corporations at such a low U.S. tax cost.”

Roberton Williams,   Understanding TPC’s Analysis of Limiting Deductions (TaxVox)

Anthony Nitti,  Tax Court: Spec Home That Was Never Built Was Not A Trade Or Business

Jim Maule,  The Expensing Deduction is an Expensive and Broken Idea

Peter Reilly,  Beware Of Partnership Status Sneaking Up On Your Business Venture

Alisa Martin,  Things That You Can Do To Get Ready For Tax Season (Guest post at the Missouri Tax Guy)

TaxGrrrl,  Gun and Ammo Tax Proposal Draws Fire.  Yes, that will put Chicago’s violent criminals out of business…

The weekend Buzz from Robert D. Flach.  This part is very true: “In my 40+ years in ‘the business’ I have found that IRS notices are more often than not incorrect (and state notices even more so).”

And I’m eight feet tall!   Maryland Governor O’Malley Says State Has Third Lowest Taxes in the Country! (Joseph Henchman,Tax Policy Blog).

Going Concern,  Arthur Andersen’s Bones Still Have Some Meat on Them.  Not very tasty by now.

Fortunately, the election will be over in about two weeks.  Smelly, destructive bug entering Iowa (TheBeanwalker.com)

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Tax Roundup, 10/8/12: Ottumwa gets a Ponzi scheme. Also: Service, it’s in our name.

Monday, October 8th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

“Inheritance investment?” Are you serious?

Ottumwa man pleads guilty to tax charges in connection with Ponzi scheme.  Known to TV viewers of a certain age as the home of Radar O’Reilly, Ottumwa, Iowa now also has its own Ponzi scam.  CBSNews.com reports:

An Ottumwa, Iowa investment manager is likely heading to prison after pleading guilty to charges of wire fraud and tax evasion stemming from a $1.1 million Ponzi scheme.

John Francis Holtsinger pleaded guilty Friday during a hearing in federal court in Des Moines as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

The plea deal says that Mr. Holtsinger told people that he would invest their money, and he instead spent most of it.  On what?  Things that might be sold to recover funds for the investors?  The indictment doesn’t offer much hope for recovery (my emphasis):

Of the $493,000 in funds received from investors, only $155,000 was transferred to an investment account at Interactive Brokers.  The remainder was deposited into accounts controlled by Holtsinger and used by him to further his scheme and for his personal use including, but not limited to, legal expenses, cas withdrawals, payment of living expenses, trips, accessing web-based “dating” sites, and other purposes different than he represented to investors.

Interesting scare quotes around “dating.”  In any case, it’s not an investment likely to produce anything that his victims would want.

The indictment and plea deal together show that there were warnings to his investors.  He wasn’t a registered investment advisor, for starters.  And this from the indictment should have triggered BS detectors:

After conducting trades on behalf of investors for a short period of time, Holtsinger offered and sold investments to the investors in the form of promissory notes.  He represented that the notes would yield high returns with no risk including, but not limited to, what he called an “inheritance investment” that would be invested through his mother and pay out upon her death.  The “inheritance investment” required a $20,000 deposit and was to pay annual returns of 9% with automatic liquidation and payout if the investment dropped below 3% of its initial value.

The “high returns with no risk” fairy is the Tax Fairy’s evil twin sister.   When she shows up, it’s time to back away quickly from whoever brings her into the room.  Other red flags:

– When he couldn’t come up with cash, he came up with excuses, like “informing investors… that their funds had been frozen as a result of actions taken by state or federal authorities.”

– After learning he was being investigated, “…he attempted to convince investors to lie to law enforcement and under oath regarding the purpose of the funds they had given to him.  The defendant instructed these individuals to describe their payments to him as ‘interest-free loans,’ when in reality they were investments.  The defendant also threatened that anyone who cooperated with law enforcement would not be repaid.”

Unfortunately, the not getting repaid part was already true.  The plea deal says that Mr. Holtsinger faces a four-to-seven year sentence.

 

Service: It’s in our name.  Victims of Identity Theft Get Little Help From IRS

Service: It’s in our name (II):  Report Fraud to the IRS? Watchdog Says IRS Flubs Over 100,000 Tips Annually (Robert W. Wood,Forbes).

They can take it, but they can’t dish it out.   Indiana Public Officials Indicted for Tax Fraud and Other Offenses  (FBI press release)

Andrew Mitchel, Form 1099 for Payments to Foreign Contractors for Services?

One question that often comes up is how a domestic U.S. business should treat payments to a foreign contractor for services performed outside the U.S.  Is a Form 1099 required?  Is withholding required?

As long as the foreign contractor is not a U.S. person and the services are wholly performed outside the U.S., then no Form 1099 is required and no withholding is required.

Jason Dinesen,  Connecting Strange Baseball Rules to Taxes   The infield fly rule is involved.

Martin Sullivan,  Ways and Means Chairman To Cut Corporate Interest?

Russ Fox,  Gillette Decision Upheld, But Beware.  Important news for taxpayers with California activity.

Kay Bell,  Pastors’ tax break for housing under renewed fire

TaxGrrrl,  WWJD*? Pulpit Freedom Sunday Likely to Bring Slams Against Obama, Romney

Anthony Nitti,  Crunching Numbers on a Hypothetical Cap on Deductions

William McBride,  More on How to pay for Romney’s Tax Cuts

Trish McIntire,  EFTPS Changes

Daniel Shaviro,  Follow-up on the financial transactions tax

Jim Maule,  Say One Tax-and-Spending Thing, Do Another

Robert D. Flach has a new Buzz tax roundup.

The Tax Update is so awesome, our comment trolls have Pulitzers.

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Tax Roundup, 9/5/2012: Laying it on thick for the fertilizer plant. Math is hard. So is tax, even with TurboTax.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Governor Branstad’s administration is making a big push to promote STEM education: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  This headline in the Des Moines Register today shows how badly we need math education, especially in Iowa’s “Economic Development” bureaucracy:

165 jobs, $110 million in aid

Officials mull boosting incentives to keep $1.3 billion fertilizer plant project in Iowa

This is the worst kind of smokestack chasing, which is always the preferred approach of “economic development officials.”  Never mind that Iowa already has competing fertilizer plants — as Sioux Citian Debi Durham, Iowa chief official economic developer, surely knows.    Never mind that Iowa and Illinois are getting played shamelessly by Orascom, the fertilizer company.  Never mind that the money comes from taxes paid by existing competitors, and by thousands of unsubsidized businesses like ours, and our employees.  Never mind all that — it’s about buying a ribbon-cutting, not about making the state a good place for everyone to do business Unless, of course, Roth & Company gets a nice state check for $21.3 million for the jobs we have already created.

At least some folks are catching on to the game.  From the article:

Orascom has attracted a diverse group of opponents, from parents, environmentalists and liberal groups such as Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Iowa Policy Project, to conservative groups such as Public Interest Group, Lee County Tea Party and Americans for Tax Reform.

So there’s agreement from left to right that it’s a bad idea for the state.  But if politicians think it’s a good idea for them, it will go through.

Related: Taking your wife’s purse to buy drinks for the girls and  LOCAL CPA FIRM VOWS TO SWALLOW PRIDE, ACCEPT $28 MILLION

 

Who catches the identity thieves?  Hint: it’s not Doug Shulman’s IRS.  From the Bradenton (Florida) Patch:

Det. B. Pieper from the police department’s gang unit put together the case by paying close attention during a routine drug bust…

Pieper was one of several detectives watching traffic coming to and from a house where police suspected drugs were sold. He said he and his partner watched a car leave the house and then run a stop sign. When they pulled over the car Brydson was in the passenger seat with a laptop and a bag of marijuana on her lap.

Brydson quickly closed the laptop, which made Pieper suspicious. When he searched her purse, he said he found several TurboTax debit cards with different names on them. He also noticed a 60-step instruction sheet on how to perform tax fraud through TurboTax.

So local cops have to do the IRS’s job of stopping the thieves who take $5 billion of our taxes annually while the IRS is busy building a new preparer regulation bureaucracy at the behest of the national tax prep firms.  Priorities!

 

 Courtney A. Strutt Todd: Congratulations on Your Scholarship. Don’t Forget to Pay Uncle Sam (Davis Brown Tax Law Blog)

TaxProf, Tax Planks in Democratic Party Platform

Andrew Mitchel, Partnership Definition

Martin Sullivan, The Effects of Interest Allocation Rules in a Territorial System (Tax.com)

Linda Beale, Romney and Private Equity’s Questionable Schemes for Paying Very Little Tax

Kay Bell, Tax moves to make in September 2012

Robert D. Flach has a new Buzz roundup of tax blog posts.

Jim Maule offers A Peek at the Production of Tax Ignorance.  It’s booming.

I think spending less than you earn works even betterDo Mandates or Tax Subsidies Do a Better Job of Boosting Savings?

Have a nice dayCBO: Federal Healthcare Spending Will Exceed Discretionary Spending by 2016 (William McBride, Tax Policy Blog)

GIGO: it’s Tax Court Doctrine!  From a case rejecting a taxpayer’s use of TurboTax as an excuse for a bad return:

It is apparent that a portion of the information petitioner entered into the TurboTax program was incorrect; hence the mistakes made (which resulted in the underpayment) were made by petitioner, not TurboTax. TurboTax is only as good as the information entered into its software program. See Bunney v. Commissioner, 114 T.C. 259, 267 (2000). Simply put: garbage in, garbage out.

Tim Geithner, call your office.

Cite:  Bartlett, T.C. Memo 2012-254.

Related:  Reason #17 to Hire Me: Blaming Turbo Tax Can Not Protect You From Penalties (Anthony Nitti)

 

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Tax Roundup, 8/7/12: sales taxes, Olympian taxes, California fever dreaming.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Iowa’s sales taxes are right in the middle, per this map from the Tax Policy Blog:

 

Roger McEowen: 2012 Drought Raises Questions About Deferring Crop Insurance, Livestock Sales and Cash Forward Grain Contracts 

California ponders suicideCalifornia’s Proposition 30 would raise top income tax rate, sales taxes  (Kay Bell)  California already has one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, but the bill would raise the top marginal rates to 12.3% on income over $500,000 — with no deduction for state taxes.  In a state where over 12,000 public employee retirees have pensions over $100,000, the problem probably isn’t that taxes are too low.

Brian Strahle, Texas “Fresh Start” Amnesty Program Ends August 17, 2012 – What Should You Do?

TaxGrrrl, President Obama Supports Tax Exemption for Olympic Athletes.  It’s too bad that the expats and others victims of the current jaywalker-shooting policy of enforcing offshore reporting requirements never learned to run fast, do gymnastics, or play basketball.   Andrew Mitchel reports that 189 U.S. citizens expatriated in the second quarter of 2012.  No doubt IRS harassment was behind some of these.

TaxTV: The Truth on Taxation of Olympic Gold Medals

Dan Meyer, “And Uncle Sam and his IRS Revenue Agent Buddy Step to the Podium”

Is there a gold medal for this? The Title of Most Awful Accountant in the World Is Spoken For (Going Concern)

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Quick hits

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 by Joe Kristan

There’s much good stuff out there on taxes that I would to spend all day reading and posting about.  Tax returns pay better, though, so here are links to better reading for those of you with more persistence and longer attention spans:

Finally, Andrew Mitchel shows how voluntary expatriations have soared in the wake of the IRS foreign compliance pogrom, with this chart:

http://intltax.typepad.com/.a/6a00e54fb13f5188340168e8ff8a37970c-pi

Courtesy Andrew Mitchel

When you fire into the crowd, the crowd will scatter.

 

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Jaywalkers flee the gunfire

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 by Joe Kristan

From Andrew Mitchel’s International Tax Blog:

In 2011, the total number of expatriates was 1,781, a 16% increase from 2010. Last year had the highest number of expatriates since at least 2004 (when I started keeping these records), and perhaps the most in any year in U.S. history.
According to the I.R.S., an estimated five to seven million U.S. citizens reside abroad. Many of these individuals have never lived in the U.S. and never expect to live in the U.S. However, these U.S. citizens must annually file U.S. tax returns.
For example, I spoke with a Canadian the other day who was born to two U.S. citizen parents in Canada. This individual therefore is a U.S. citizen. However, he has never lived in the U.S. and never expects to live in the U.S. Despite that he has never lived in the U.S., he will have to file U.S. tax returns for his entire working life.

The IRS hits people like these — many of whom had no idea they were supposed to be filing — with severe financial penalties. Meanwhile, it provides relatively cushy deals with actual criminals through its OVDI program, because you have to shoot the jaywalkers to really slap the wrists of the serious offenders. No wonder the jaywalkers don’t want to play anymore.
Update: The TaxProf has more.

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Flight of the jaywalkers

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

The dedication of the IRS to shooting jaywalkers in their foreign account compliance programs is yielding impressive results. From Andrew Mitchel:

The number of Published Expatriates for the second quarter of 2011 was 519. This is the second highest number of quarterly Published Expatriates during the past seven years. The only higher quarter during this time was the second quarter of 2010, with 560 Published Expatriates.
If current trends continue, the number of Published Expatriates for 2011 will exceed 2010 by 30% or more. The following graph shows the quarterly average number of Published Expatriates since 2004.


It’s a tribute to the sensitive and judicious IRS handling of trivial violations of the foreign account reporting rules.

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Big news for Americans in the UK:

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

London may be burning, but there’s one piece of good news for Americans across the pond. Andrew Mitchel explains the new IRS Rev. Rul. 2011-19.

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Hot video: the Big Busted 351 Transaction

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Is tax geekery suited for video? Andrew Mitchel, proprietor of the International Tax Blog, means to find out. He has posted a YouTube video on failed tax-free incorporations. Check it out for yourself.

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Foreign accounts: IRS relaxed some deadlines for old years, but not for this year.

Friday, June 17th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

From Andrew Mitchel’s International Tax Blog:

In Notice 2011-54, the I.R.S. has provided an additional extension for persons having signature authority over, but no financial interest in, a foreign financial account in 2009 or earlier calendar years for which the reporting deadline was extended by Notice 2009-62 or Notice 2010-23. These persons now have until November 1, 2011, to file FBARs with respect to those accounts. The deadline for reporting signature authority over, or a financial interest in, foreign financial accounts for the 2010 calendar year remains June 30, 2011.

LInk: Notice 2011-54
Other coverage:
Federal Tax Crimes Blog: Pre-2010 FBAR Filing Extension to 11/1/11 for Signatories Only

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Mechanics of carried interests

Monday, May 16th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

“Carried interests” of hedge fund and private equity fund managers remain a political hot potato. They are a form of “profits interests” in partnerships. Andrew Mitchel LLC has put up a great chart explaining the mechanics of how these things are taxed.

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Jaywalkers flee the gunfire

Monday, March 7th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

I have likened the government’s brutal penalties for trivial failures to report offshore bank accounts to “shooting jaywalkers.” U.S. Citizens posted abroad for work or living abroad find penalties in the tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, for failing to file the “FBAR” Form TD 90-22.1. The IRS is proposing these penalties even for taxpayers who attempted to come into compliance in the 2009 “amnesty” for FBAR penalties.
Now Andrew Mitchel reports that renunciation of U.S. citizenship is soaring:
20110307-1.jpg
The FBAR rules require U.S. citizens to file an FBAR report whenever they have a foreign bank account with a balance that rises over $10,000 in a year. Penalties can be up to half the account balance for each year the account is not reported. Americans who have move abroad after getting married, or who have taken overseas jobs, have found themselves in violation of a rule that many had never heard of. No wonder many Americans abroad have decided that it’s just too risky and expensive to remain U.S. citizens.
The IRS is conducting another FBAR amnesty. We can only hope this one is better-run than the last one. Meanwhile, an organization called American Citizens Abroad is collecting FBAR horror stories in an attempt to change government policy towards minor FBAR violators.
Update, 3/10/2011: The TaxProf has more.

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Wait – you want me to withold on interest I pay to my broker?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

If you have an offshore margin account, you just might have to withhold and remit U.S. taxes on interest paid to your stockbroker. Andrew Mitchel explains.

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