Posts Tagged ‘Jack Townsend’

Tax Roundup, 3/8/16: Getting robbed, and again. And: IRS allows retroactive WOTC certification for 2015.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

walnutstreet20160308It’s not enough to get robbed; you have to time it right. A “pump-and-dump” securities fraud victim claimed a theft loss deduction. The IRS said “yep, you were robbed.” But they also said that they didn’t time their robbery deduction properly, and therefore were out of luck. And, it turns out, they were.

Court of Federal Claims Judge Sweeney explains (my emphasis, citations and footnotes omitted):

There is no dispute that plaintiffs discovered the theft loss in 2002.31 And, neither plaintiffs nor defendant disputes that in 2002, there existed “a claim for reimbursement with respect to which there [was] a reasonable prospect of recovery Plaintiffs filed their arbitration claim against Donald & Co., Mr. Stetson, Mr. Volman, and Mr. Ingrassia in February 2002, and by the end of that year, they had neither sought to adjourn the proceedings nor withdrawn their claim. Accordingly, in light of the ongoing arbitration proceedings, plaintiffs could not claim a theft loss deduction in 2002. Instead, they were required to delay their deduction until the “year in which it [could] be ascertained with reasonable certainty whether or not” they would receive reimbursement of their losses from their arbitration claim. Plaintiffs determined that the proper year to claim their theft loss was 2004, and filed amended federal income tax returns reflecting the deduction. The IRS disallowed plaintiffs’ refund claim, and takes the position in this litigation that 2004 was not the proper year for plaintiffs to claim their theft loss deduction.

The court said the victims didn’t prove that they were entitled to the deduction:

Plaintiffs claim that they sustained the loss in 2004 because by the end of that year, they had no reasonable prospect of recovering on their arbitration claim. However, under the factual circumstances presented in this case, the test is not whether plaintiffs had a reasonable prospect of recovering on their arbitration claim in 2004, but is instead whether, in 2004, plaintiffs could have ascertained with reasonable certainty that they would not recover on their arbitration claim. To satisfy their burden under the latter test, plaintiffs were required to produce objective evidence that they abandoned their arbitration claim in 2004. They failed to do so. In the absence of such evidence, plaintiffs are not entitled to a theft loss deduction for the 2004 tax year.

The opinion doesn’t say whether the victims filed protective refund claims for subsequent years to preserve their refund rights. It would be another robbery if they were unable to get their theft loss deduction because they got the year right. The statute in such cases should allow taxpayers to recover in the proper year if the IRS successfully second-guesses the timing of a theft loss.

The Moral? If you are a fraud or theft victim, the timing of the loss deduction is very important. If the IRS disputes the loss on examination, be sure to file protective refund claims for open years to protect your rights.

Cite: Adkins, Ct. Fed. Claims No. 10-851T.

 

Speaking of getting robbed twice: IRS shuts down ID-thief assistance portal. A week after The Tax Foundation pointed out that the IRS IP-PIN online portal made identity theft victims vulnerable to being victimized a second time, the IRS has temporarily shut it down:

As part of its ongoing security review, the Internal Revenue Service temporarily suspended the Identity Protection PIN tool on IRS.gov. The IRS is conducting a further review of the application that allows taxpayers to retrieve their IP PINs online and is looking at further strengthening the security features on the tool.

Nothing to see here, move along.

 

Work Opportunity Credit guidance updated for retroactive 2015 credits. Congress re-enacted the expired Work Opportunity Tax Credit retroactively for 2015. To claim the credit for hiring certain classes of hard to employ workers, employers have to get the employee eligibility verified within 28 days. As this was impossible for an expired credit, the IRS yesterday gave employers until June 29 of this year to get the certification for 2015 hires (Notice 2016-22)

 

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Russ Fox, What Part of “Permanent Injunction” Didn’t You Understand? “Mr. Herrera is being held at ClubFed until he closes his business and complies with the injunction.” That should do it.

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker & Barter Exchange Transactions

William Perez, How to Mail Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service

Keith Fogg, Making Claims and Spending Refunds in Bankruptcy. “The 9th Circuit recently affirmed the district court opinion granting summary judgment to the IRS in a case brought by Mr. Stanley Burrell aka M C Hammer seeking to equitably estop the IRS from collecting on taxes for two years which it failed to include on the proof of claim in his bankruptcy case.”

Jack Townsend, Proposed FinCEN Rulemaking for Rules on FBAR Reporting for Financial Professionals

 

Tony Nitti, Would Hillary Clinton’s Tax Plan Kill The Incentive Stock Option?. Actually, AMT has done that pretty well already.

Robert Wood, President Hillary Won’t Cut Tax Deductions To Charities Like Clinton Foundation. Of course not.

Peter Reilly, Chasm Of Class And Privilege – Clinton Tax Plan Hits Top 1% – Sanders Plan Hits Top 5%. “What I find really interesting is the way in which the proposals reflect the difference in the Sanders and Clinton constituencies.”

Kay Bell, Trump is last holdout as Kasich releases tax returns

 

Jason Dinesen, 6 Things You Might Not Know About Enrolled Agents. “2. We Don’t Work for the IRS

 

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Renu Zaretsky, Budget Chaos, Tax Breaks, Loopholes, and Incentives. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers EU tax investigations of multinationals, IRS tax investigations of multinationals, and scoundrels “patriotic millionaires” against carried interests.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1034

Stuart Gibson, Competition Policy and Tax Policy in The Twilight Zone (Tax Analysts Blog). “From a tax perspective in the U.S. (and probably Europe), this is simply a garden-variety case of a taxpayer negotiating a good deal with a foreign tax authority. From a European competition perspective, the answer is a bit more complicated.”

 

News from the Profession. Why Accountants Suck at Marketing (Blake Oliver, Going Concern)

 

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Tax Roundup, 2/23/16: Governor Branstad reverses stand, now supports Section 179 and other extenders.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 by Joe Kristan

coupling20160213Found money. Governor Branstad started out this legislative session saying the state couldn’t afford the $500,000 Section 179 deduction ever again. He also said the state couldn’t afford to couple to any other 2015 federal tax “extenders.”

Never mind.

The Governor’s office confirmed yesterday that it has decided to support the House-passed coupling bill, HF 2092. The House bill conforms to all 2015 federal extenders, including a permanent $500,000 Section 179 deduction. The Section 179 deduction allows taxpayers to deduct in the year of purchase equipment costs that would otherwise be capitalized and deducted over a period of years through depreciation.

The fate of the extender bill now is in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Gronstal, who controls which bills can come to a vote in the Democrat-controlled chamber. Sen. Gronstal and chief Senate taxwriter Joe Bolckom have announced their support for the Governor’s now-abandoned anti-coupling position. That means they now have a bargaining chip. From O. Kay Henderson:

Senator Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, the top Democrat in the legislature, said Senate Democrats are willing to pass these tax cuts, if Republicans are willing to adjust tax policy elsewhere. Gronstal suggested doing away with the $40 million tax break the Branstad Administration unilaterally gave manufacturers.

So now it’s a hostage negotiation.

The Governor’s office hasn’t said where he found the funding for the extenders on his road to Damascus, reports The Des Moines Register:

Spokesman Ben Hammes said in an email Monday that the governor now supports the bill, “given we can still fund the budget priorities of Iowans.” Hammes did not respond to direct questions about how Branstad would calculate the budget differently without funding concerns.

20151118-1I like to think that the Governor’s budget math was altered by a rebellion of his partisans in the General Assembly. Every Republican who voted on the House bill voted against the Governor’s position, and their minority contingent in the Senate would likely do the same thing.

While Section 179 is the biggest revenue item in the extender package, there are a number of other 2015 tax breaks at stake, including:

Exclusion for IRA contributions to charity
Exclusion of gain from qualified small business stock
Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
Educator expense deduction
Exclusion of home mortgage debt forgiveness
Qualified tuition deduction
Conservation easement deductions
Deduction for food inventory contributions

The Department of Revenue has warned taxpayers that they have no authority to claim these breaks until the legislature acts. The Department has so far provided no guidance so far on how to report some of these items, such as the exclusion for IRA charitable distributions.

I think the prospects for eventual Senate passage, which appeared bleak as recently as Friday, now are favorable. House Democrats also voted in favor of the House bill, 26-14. There is no reason to believe Senate Democrats feel differently. So while Sen. Gronstal can be expected to extract concessions, probably in spending priorities, he probably is under some pressure from his own caucus to move the bill. I don’t expect the Governor to surrender the manufacturing sales tax exclusion in any deal.

If the Governor and the legislature need to find some revenue to help make it up, I have a handy list of revenue ideas for them.

Related: Prior Tax Update Coverage.

 

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TaxGrrrl, Presidential Campaign Spending & That Checkbox On Your Tax Return, “In 2007, less than 10% of taxpayers checked the box and in 2013, only about 6% of taxpayers checked the box.”

Robert Wood, Dear IRS: Like Apple And Google, I’m Offshore For Taxes. Moving money offshore for taxes isn’t very practical, despite what some people who want to harass people with non-U.S. holdings even more seem to think.

Keith Fogg, Calculating Interest When the IRS Makes a Restitution Based Assessment (Procedurally Taxing)

Peter Reilly, IRS Rules Bingo Is For Charities Not A Charity In Itself. “Somehow I had managed to get through over 35 years of tax practice without realizing a portion of the Internal Revenue Code is dedicated to bingo –  Section 513(f) – Certain bingo games.”

Jason Dinesen, Glossary: Balance Sheet. “A balance sheet is a summary of a business’s assets, liabilities and equity.”

Kay Bell, 9 states considering gasoline tax hikes

Jack Townsend, NPR Planet Money Podcast on a Tax Protestor. “The show goes through basic tax and criminal law related to tax protestors / deniers.”

Paul Neiffer, If You Don’t Pay Income Taxes, You Lose the Farm! “It is almost always best to pay your taxes when they are due; otherwise you may end up losing the farm, just like Mr. Sanders.”

 

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TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1020. IRS continues to hold up Tea Party exemption applications. 1020 days later.

Scott Greenberg, Who Itemizes Deductions? (Tax Policy Blog). “When it comes to households with incomes over $75,000, a significant majority itemizes deductions:”

Jeremy Scott, A ‘Brexit’ Would Mean More if Labour Were In Power (Tax Analysts Blog). “It’s hard to know exactly what a post-exit United Kingdom would look like because neither political party has spelled out what leaving the EU would mean. But there would probably be much more continuity on the tax side than in other important financial areas — that is, unless the Conservative government fell as a result of the referendum and Labour took its place.”

Renu ZaretskyA Budget, Carbon, Fuel, the Environment… and a Revolt. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers a putative House GOP budget deal, carbon taxes, and gas tax hikes by the states.

 

Caleb Newquist, A Short List of Things Donald Trump Has Said About Releasing His Tax Returns (Going Concern). The list doesn’t include anything about, “they will be awesome,” but “they will be very good.”

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Tax Roundup, 2/19/16: Sen. Bolkcom says Iowa coupling won’t happen. And: An expat writes the First Lady.

Friday, February 19th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

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Accounting Today visitors: Click here for the Presidents Day post.

The Fix is in. Small businesses fighting to retain the full $500,000 Section 179 deduction in Iowa got more bad news yesterday. Senator Joe Bolckom, Chairman of the Iowa Senate Ways and Means Committee, yesterday issued a statement saying it won’t happen:

Statement by Sen. Joe Bolkcom
Chair of the Senate’s Ways & Means Committee

“Based on a recommendation from Governor Terry Branstad and David Roederer, Director of the Iowa Department of Management, the Iowa Senate will not couple Iowa’s tax law with the federal changes for tax year 2015.

“We simply cannot afford to couple with federal changes this year and responsibly balance the state budget.”

I don’t recall Democratic Sen. Bolckom ever being so eager to accept Republican Governor Branstad’s recommendations. It appears that the fix is in. You might recall that the House passed a broad “coupling” bill overwhelmingly last month. I suspect the Senate would also, if it got a chance. Arrangements are apparently in place to ensure that vote never happens.

The Governor proposes (SSB 3107) to follow Congress only with respect to the research credit. Like Section 179 and the other provisions that the Governor proposes to not couple with, the research credit had expired at the end of 2014. Iowa law defines qualified research eligible for the credit with respect to the federal definition.  There may be no such thing as qualified research, and no research credit, for Iowa without retroactive coupling.

capitol burning 10904This means the Governor is proposing to continue big cash subsidies to some of Iowa’s largest corporations with retroactive coupling to the federal research credit renewal, while increasing taxes on Main Street taxpayers by not coupling the the Section 179 renewal.

The Des Moines Register reports on the controversy in today’s edition:

Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, criticized Senate Democrats on Thursday, saying they have failed Iowa farmers and small-business owners by choosing not to couple state law with federal tax depreciation changes. That will cost Iowans millions of dollars in additional taxes, he said.

“This is shameful,” Feenstra said. “This affects every small business and farmer in this state. Senate Democrats failing to move this bill will create significant hardships for many Iowans who anticipated we would pass this coupling legislation like we have in past years.”

The Register article closes:

Ben Hammes, Branstad’s spokesman, said late Thursday that the governor is working with the House and Senate to resolve their differences.

As the Senate and the Governor seem to be on the same side, resolution may be elusive.

The Department of Revenue has not issued guidance on how to deal on 2015 filings with non-coupled provisions, which include:

Exclusion for IRA contributions to charity
Exclusion of gain from qualified small business stock
Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
Educator expense deduction
Exclusion of home mortgage debt forgiveness
Qualified tuition deduction
Conservation easement deductions
Deduction for food inventory contributions

What to do? While efforts continue to prevent the unexpected tax increase caused by the Governor’s decision, that’s not the way to bet. If you have a big refund coming, or if you are a farmer who must file by March 1, file assuming that coupling won’t happen. But otherwise it may wise to wait for further guidance, especially for issues where the proper Iowa non-coupled treatment isn’t entirely clear — such as for IRA charitable distributions. And who knows – maybe the legislature will change its mind yet.

Related: Paul Neiffer, Why Won’t Iowa Couple Section 179?!

 

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Robert Wood, Dear Mrs. Obama, Why I Gave Up My U.S. Citizenship:

I have lived abroad most of my life. This is my 46th year in Canada. I married Canadian, my kids are Canadian, not American, I have worked my entire life in Canada. I invest here, and will retire here. I am Canadian, but as you are likely aware, giving up that USA brand is not easy. I have many relatives living in the 50. I used to love to visit them. At the moment, I couldn’t care less if I ever cross that border again.

This brings me to my main reason for handing in my passport: you are still taxing me.

Mrs. Obama couldn’t care less.

Kay Bell, IRS issues an extra tax phishing alert on the heels of its annual Dirty Dozen tax scams list

TaxGrrrl, IRS Issues ‘Dirty Dozen’ List Of Tax Schemes & Scams For 2016

Jack Townsend, IRS Issues Publication Warning of Abusive Tax Shelters and Scams

Keith Fogg, Trustee Personally Liable Based on Application of Insolvency Statute (Procedurally Taxing). “It can trace its roots back further into English common law and the statement ‘the King’s debtor dying, the King comes first.'”

 

Joseph Henchman, Letter to IRS Commissioner Re IRS Website Data Vulnerability

Howard Gleckman, How The GOP Candidate’s Tax Plans Stack Up Against One Another (TaxVox)

Jeremy Scott, Obama’s Oil Barrel Tax Would Be Extremely Regressive (Tax Analysts Blog)

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1016

Robert Goulder, Revenue Losses From Profit Shifting: The Numbers Tell a Story (Tax Analysts Blog)

 

Career Corner: L’Affaire Denim: Accounting Firm Dress Code Debates Span Borders, Decades (Jim Peterson, Going Concern).

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Tax Roundup, 2/17/16: Nationwide ‘unregulated’ tax practice regulated out of business. And: Where’s Roger?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20150921-1The Wild West of Unregulated Tax Practice. Well, not entirely: Federal Court Shuts Down Nationwide Tax Preparation Business (Department of Justice):

A federal court in Chicago has ordered Servicios Latinos Inc. to close its nationwide tax preparation business, the Justice Department announced today.  The order comes after the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the business and its owners, Georgina Lopez, Pamela Miranda and Jorge A. Miranda, alleging that the defendants falsely understated their customers’ tax liabilities or overstated their customers’ entitlement to a tax refund.  The injunction also prohibits Lopez, Pamela Miranda and Jorge Miranda from acting as federal tax preparers, owning or operating tax preparation businesses and employing tax preparers.  The defendants agreed to entry of the injunction, but did not admit the allegations in the complaint.

The abortive IRS preparer program had an ethics component. I’m sure that this would never have happened if the barred preparers had attended a one-hour ethics CPE course.

They were successful, until now:

According to the complaint, Servicios Latinos operated out of approximately 84 stores in as many as 30 states, with locations including Kennet Square, Pennsylvania; Kansas City, Missouri; and Las Vegas, Nevada. 

They probably had many clients who were delighted at the big refunds that the stodgy preparers down the street were too timid to claim. The press release says the now-closed firm’s alleged stock in trade included phony child tax credits and earned income tax credits. Sometimes a big refund can turn out to be expensive. Now their satisfied clients can look forward to their “Dear Taxpayer” letters.

This shows that the government has powerful tools to shut down bad actors. Regulation would not improve the conduct of good preparers, but it would saddle them with useless expense and paperwork. It’s just another form of occupational licensing, this time to the benefit of the national tax prep franchise outfits.

 

RMceowenPaul Neiffer, Welcome Aboard Roger McEowen:

Roger just recently left the Center For Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT) at Iowa State University and I am pleased to let everyone know that he has agreed to join CliftonLarsonAllen as a tax director for our Agribusiness and Cooperative group.  He will be based out of Des Moines and will continue to do his normal seminars around the country and provide additional advice for our clients on income and estate tax and succession planning (along with other advice).

Roger recruited me as a speaker for the CALT Farm Tax Schools for the past several years. Congratulations, Roger, on your move to the private sector!

 

186 companies get refunds under Iowa R&D tax credit (Des Moines Register):

Critics of the program have questioned why so few companies claim such a large part of the tax credits. They’ve also questioned why the state is providing companies with money when it faces tight budgets.

Supporters of the research activities tax credit, however, have said the tax credit helps the businesses decide where to locate and where to conduct their research. Providing the tax credit helps spur investment in Iowa, some have said.

People who get free money always have good reasons why it should keep coming.

Related: What Iowa considers more important than Sec. 179. 

 

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Jason Dinesen. Glossary: Form 8332. “Form 8332 is a tax form signed by a custodial parent to release their claim to a dependency exemption for a child and give it to the non-custodial parent.” It’s a wonderful way to enable parents to continue fighting long after the divorce is final.

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: Form 1099-INT, Interest Income. “The ‘FATCA filing requirement’ box is ticked if the information reported on this form is required by rule or statute to comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). If this box is checked, you may have your own FATCA related reporting requirements, including the filing of a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).”

Russ Fox, Board of Equalization Excoriated for Ignoring the Law and Binding Precedents, “This is just another reason why the business climate in California is so dreadful.”

Kay Bell, Louisiana budget gap could shut down LSU football. The most important function of the state university system, apparently.

Jack Townsend, The Revenue Rule: Is It Relevant Any More? Should It Be? “Historically, the ‘Revenue Rule’ has been a barrier to one country seeking to collect taxes in another country.”

Keith Fogg, Why is the IRS Collecting Taxes for Denmark? ({rocedurally Taxing)

Peter Reilly, How Valid Is Tax Foundation Dynamic Scoring? It’s all modeling, which is always questionable. Still, taxes do matter. The same people who insist 70% tax rates won’t be ruinous insist soda taxes affect behavior. They’re half right that way.

Robert Wood, Kim Kardashian + Kanye West File Taxes Separately. Maybe You Should Too. If I were married to Kim Kardashian, I absolutely would.

 

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Ajay Gupta, Justice Scalia’s Tax Law Jurisprudence—Just as Acerbic and Prophetic (Tax Analysts Blog). “In cases involving the interpretation of federal tax statutes, Scalia brought to bear his general disdain of legislative history.” And he was not a friend of commerce clause challenges to state taxes.

Michael Schuyler, What Would The Administration’s $10 Oil Tax Do To The Economy And Federal Revenue? (Tax Policy Blog). It would go into, among other things, “high-speed rail.

Howard Gleckman, Cruz’s Flat Tax + VAT Would Cut Revenues By $8.6 Trillion. If only there were a candidate with a plan that would improve the tax system and not increase the deficit

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1014

Tax Justice Blog, Tax Justice Digest: Voodoo Economics — Corporate Tax Watch — Social Contract. Check out what the left side of the tax conversation is up to. Oddly, the words “social contract” don’t show up in the post. Maybe because I never signed it?

 

News from the Profession. Would an Accountant Ever Fall for a Phony IRS Call? “And if a CPA did get duped, it’s not like he or she could tell anyone about it. If they did, they’d literally die from the embarrassment.”

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Tax Roundup, 2/4/16. Confirmed: Governor opposes coupling to ALL 2015 changes. And: Are hipsters really flocking downtown?

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

coupling20160129Worst Iowa tax policy decision ever. Governor Branstad doesn’t want to conform Iowa’s tax law to any of the extender provisions passed in December for 2015. A reliable source has confirmed our earlier report that the Governor wants to skip coupling entirely for 2015, and then conform to everything except Section 179 and bonus depreciation in 2016 and beyond.

It’s bad enough that he doesn’t want to conform with the $500,000 federal Section 179 for the first time in years — imposing a big tax increase on small businesses and farmers in every county. But conforming to nothing means a whole host of separate Iowa computations for 2015 returns — and 2015 only. Without spending a lot of time, I come up with these:

Exclusion for IRA contributions to charity
Exclusion of gain from qualified small business stock
Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
Educator expense deduction
Exclusion of home mortgage debt forgiveness
Qualified tuition deduction
Conservation easement deductions
Deduction for food inventory contributions

I have asked the Department of Revenue for a complete list of affected provisions, and I will provide it if they send one.

These will have effects on thousands of taxpayers ranging from minor annoyance and more expensive tax compliance to major unexpected Iowa tax expense. To take a common example, the exclusion fo IRA contributions to charity allows taxpayers aged 70 1/2 or older to have their IRAs make contributions to charity directly. This means the contributions bypass their federal 1040s altogether. But for Iowa, the Governor would have the IRA holder include the contribution in taxable income and then, presumably, add it to their itemized deductions — if the taxpayer itemizes in the first place.

Some of these can be very costly. For example, the exclusion of gain for qualifying C corporation stock sales can apply to up to $10 million of capital gain. The exclusion benefits start-up businesses, which Iowa allegedly supports with at least four separate tax credits. Failure to couple would clobber a $10 million 2015 gain with an unexpected $898,000 tax bill.

There is bipartisan support for coupling with all federal provisions other than bonus depreciation for 2015. The Iowa House of Representatives has already passed such a bill on a bipartisan 82-14 vote. But Governor Branstad and Senate Majority Leader Gronstal have apparently reached a little bipartisan deal of their own to keep the Senate from ever voting on 2015 conformity. The Senate tax committee meeting yesterday was cancelled, which I hope means the Senate leadership is getting pressure to back off this stupid policy.

If you are affected, or if your clients are (they are), I encourage you to let your Iowa Senator know how you feel.

Related Coverage:

Iowa House passes $500,000 Section 179, but prospects bleak in Senate.

Iowa Governor reportedly opposes 2015 coupling for anything.

Branstad budget omits $500,000 Section 179 deduction for Iowa; no 2015 conformity.

 

20130218-1What do you mean, IBM doesn’t stock the vacuum tubes anymore? IRS Systems Outage Shuts Down Tax Processing (Accounting Today):

The Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday evening its tax-processing systems have suffered a hardware failure and that tax processing could be affected into Thursday.

“The IRS experienced a hardware failure this afternoon affecting a number of tax processing systems, which are currently unavailable,” said the IRS. “Several of our systems are not currently operating, including our modernized e-file system and a number of other related systems. The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible. We anticipate some of the systems will remain unavailable until tomorrow.”

The IRS says it’s confident that it will have the system restored by the weekend and that any refund delays will be minor.

Related: IRS Having One of Those Days (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern); TaxGrrrl, IRS Website Hit With Hardware Failure, Some Refund & Payment Tools Unavailable.

 

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Jason Dinesen, The Iowa Trust Fund Tax Credit is $0 for 2015

Robert Wood, Perfectly Legal Tax Write-off? Lawyer Fees — Even $1,200 An Hour

Russ Fox, A Tale of Three States. “Hawaii, Indiana, and Mississippi are three states where daily fantasy sports (DFS) is being debated. The three states are representative of what is likely to occur in every state.”

Keith Fogg, Verification of Bankruptcy Action in a Collection Due Process Case (Procedurally Taxing). “Because Appeals employees often have very little knowledge of bankruptcy, this case points out the need to pay careful attention in CDP cases that follow bankruptcy actions and challenge verifications where the Appeals employee fails to acknowledge the impact of the bankruptcy case.”

Bob Vineyard, Aetna Not Pulling Plug on Obamacare …. Yet (InsureBlog). Many Iowans get coverage through Aetna’s Coventry unit. But as the company expects to lose $1 billion over two years on Exchange policies, their willingness to continue to provide ACA – compliant policies on the exchange will be sorely tried.

Jack Townsend, Another Taxpayer Guilty Plea for Offshore Account Misbehavior

Peter Reilly, Tax Dependency Exemptions For Noncustodial Parents – It Is All About Form 8332. It really is. Form 8332 provides a way for couples to continue fighting long after the divorce is final.

Jim Maule, “Can a Clone Qualify as a Qualifying Child or Qualifying Relative?”

 

Scott Greenberg, The Tax Benefits of Having an Additional Child (Tax Policy Blog). In case your decision hinges on this.

Renu Zaretsky, Debates, Energy, Credits and PrepToday’s TaxVox roundup covers tonight’s Democratic Debate, energy tax policy, and a shutdown of 26 Liberty Tax franchise operations in Maryland.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1,001

 

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Is Hip, Cool Des Moines Really Attracting Migrants? (Lyman Stone). I haven’t seen any local media pick this up, but this is a fascinating look at migration and population patterns Downtown and across Polk County. It is inspired by the recent Politico piece on how hip and all we are (emphasis in original):

In fact, throughout the article, there’s an interesting claim made that the population of downtown Des Moines has risen from 1,000 at some unspecified time in the 1990s, to at least over 10,000 as of 2016. In fact, throughout the article, there’s an interesting claim made that the population of downtown Des Moines has risen from 1,000 at some unspecified time in the 1990s, to at least over 10,000 as of 2016.

The claim turns out to be exaggerated, but only a little:

Downtown Des Moines probably did not gain 10,000 residents from the late 1990s to 2016, nor does it seem likely that it had just 1,000 residents at any time in the last few decades. However, that doesn’t mean the essential claims of Woodard’s story are wrong. Au contraire, Des Moines has gained about 10,000 people since 2000, and has about 9,000 more people than we would expect had 1987 growth rates continued. That’s a meaningful acceleration in urban growth, and a significant number have been headed to the very center of the city.

It’s a great read with some surprising observations about how suburban and downtown growth complement each other.

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Tax Roundup, 2/1/2016: Caucus day, and other plagues.

Monday, February 1st, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20160131-1Is there such a thing as snow locusts? Today is the last day Iowa will be plagued by presidential candidates and their relentless ads and emails. Tonight, blizzard and winter storm warnings across the state.

Lots of things go into choosing a candidate. We kid ourselves if we think it is all rational. Many voters put as much thought into their political preferences as they do into choosing a favorite sports team. Most voters are much more informed about their sports teams than their votes.

But Tax Update readers are different!  You especially want to know about candidate tax policies. Fortunately, the Tax Foundation has an excellent Comparison of Presidential Tax Plans and Their Economic Effects. I like this chart they provide:

taxplanchart

You’ll notice that only one plan is projected to have positive economic effects while reducing the budget deficit over 10 years. I like that one.

 

Other Caucus-related links:

Tax Policy Center Major candidate tax proposals, a center-left analysis.

TaxProf, Clinton (47%), Sanders (54%) Propose Highest Capital Gain Tax Rates (Now 24%) In History

Tyler Cowen, My favorite things Iowa (Marginal Revolution). “The bottom line: Who would have thought ‘jazz musician’ would be the strongest category here?” Speak for yourself, buddy!

 

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Russ Fox, The Liberty to Commit Tax Fraud:

This story does show two things. First, requiring every tax professional to obtain a license won’t stop tax fraud. The alleged fraud here was started by an individual with a PTIN, someone who assuredly could obtain the former RTRP designation or the current AFSP “seal of approval.” Second, the Department of Justice news release notes, “In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers.” This is absolutely true, and the DOJ should be commended for their work. It also shows that licensing every tax professional isn’t needed to get rid of unscrupulous ones.

Amen.

William Perez, When Does an 83(b) Election Make Sense? 

Paul Neiffer, Pre-1977 Purchases May Get 100% Step-up or Not! Involving old joint interests in property.

Kay Bell, W-2, 1099 forms delivery deadline is here

Jack Townsend, 60 Minutes Exposé on Money Laundering Into the U.S.

Jason Dinesen, Not All Donations to Charity Are Deductible. Time, for example.

Kristine Tidgren, Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit Gets More Complicated (AgDocket)

Peter Reilly, NorCal Tea Party Patriots V IRS – Grassroots Or Astroturf?

Leslie Book, Migraine Caused by Improper IRS Collection Action During Bankruptcy Stay Triggers Damages for Emotional Distress

Robert Wood, Worst Lottery To Win Is IRS Audit Lottery, So Decrease Your Odds

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: 1098-T, Tuition Statement

Tony Nitti, IRS Rules On Whether Trade-In Of Private Jet Qualifies For A Tax-Free Like-Kind Exchange

Happy Blogiversary! to Hank Stern for 10 years of Insureblog.

 

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Matt Gardner, International Speedway Reaps Benefits of Revived “NASCAR Tax Break” (Tax Justice Blog). In which the Tax Justice people sctually make a lot of sense: “In the context of our growing budget deficits, the annual cost of the NASCAR giveaway is a drop in the bucket at less than $20 million, making it a small part of the $680 billion extenders package. But because its benefits are narrowly focused on a few privileged companies, the damaging effects of this tax break go way beyond its fiscal cost.”

Donald Marron, What Should We Do with the Money from Taxing “Bads”? (TaxVox)

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 996Day 997, Day 998. Day 997 links to  IRS’s New Ethics Chief Once Ordered Records Be Illegally Destroyed. These are the people who think they need to regulate tax preparers to keep us in line.

 

Scott Drenkard, David Bowie: Tax Planning Hero (Tax Policy Blog). “Taxes really matter, especially for an artist like Bowie who had a lot of options for where to reside and earn income.”

Robert D. Flach, THE TWELVE DAYS OF TAX SEASON

 

Finally, in honor of the Iowa Caucuses I quote the great Arnold Kling, who captures my feelings about these proceedings perfectly:

To me, political campaigns are not sacred events, to be eagerly anticipated and avidly followed. They are brutal assaults on reason. I look forward to election season about as much as a gulf coast resident looks forward to hurricane season.

Only the beginning of a wise and profound post. Read it all.

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Tax Roundup, 1/25/16: Four steps to a quicker, cheaper 1040. And: ID theft – prevention vs. punishment.

Monday, January 25th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

1040 corner 2015How to make your tax return cheaper. If you don’t have all of your 1099s, brokerage statements and so on, there’s a good chance you’ll have them by the end of the week (but if you’re waiting on K-1s, forget it). Then you will want to send it all to your tax pro and get it back right away. If you want to get it back quickly, and keep your fee down, the best way is to provide everything your tax pro needs the first time.

Every time we have to ask you a question or track down a document, it slows things down, and the fees start to creep up. Here are a few things taxpayers commonly forget to do or include.

Go through the tax organizer and at least answer the questions. Many taxpayers just return a blank organizer with their 1099s. That’s unwise. The question part is there for a reason. For example, it identifies life events that don’t show up on 1099s or W-2s. Once a client mentioned his wife in a phone conversation. I had improperly prepared returns for him as single for two years. Of course, the “change in marital status” question on the questionnaire had been returned unanswered on his blank organizer both years.

Double-check your estimated tax payments. The standard answer tax pros get from taxpayers who return blank organizers is “I sent in all the payments you said on the dates you said.” And sometimes that’s actually true, but quite often it isn’t. That leads to IRS notices, tax penalties and extra tax pro fees. Go through your check register and bank statements and write down the actual dates and amounts on the organizer — or send copies of the cancelled checks from your statements.

Spend a few minutes culling your information. You don’t want to pay your tax pro to dig through your utility bills, cable provider statements, and junk mail to find your charitable contributions and information returns. Clear out the junk before you bring it in.

Make sure your contact information is current. If we do have to ask you questions, it’s a lot easier if we have your current email address and the right cell phone number.

This is the first of our 2016 filing season tips. Look for these occasionally until April, when they will come thick and fast. 

Related: Robert D. Flach, DON’T BE IN SUCH A HURRY – BUT DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. “I have a strict long-standing rule that all returns that are not literally in my hands, with all the necessary information, by March 19th will be automatically extended!”

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Jim Maule, Will Providing a Driver’s License Number Reduce Tax Return Identity Theft?:

The problem is two-fold. On one side, better systems of identification are necessary, and need to be based on information that is not as easily stolen. Databases need to be secured more carefully than at present. On the other side, identity thieves and those thinking of engaging in that behavior need to be presented with changes in their risk analysis. Not only are better methods required to track them down, they also need to face more severe consequences for their behavior.

I think the penalties in place are already severe enough. The problem is that it is too easy to steal tax refunds. The grifters that go in for identity theft aren’t known for impulse control or careful weighing of benefits and costs. They just know that with the right personal information and a copy of Turbotax, they can make prepaid debit cards rain on their mailboxes. And, of course, the overseas crime syndicates don’t care about the penalties, because they are unlikely to ever face them.

It’s much more important to improve IRS procedures to thwart I.D. theft in the first place. The IRS is finally taking needed steps here, but lots of horses are already out of the barn.

TaxGrrrl, 11 Tips To Protect You From Identity Theft & Related Tax Fraud

 

Russ Fox, An Entity a Day Will Keep the IRS Away, Right? “Here’s a scheme that’s sure to work to avoid remitting payroll taxes to the IRS. Every day (or week or month), I’ll form a new business entity that’s collecting the tax. Once the amount due to the IRS gets large, I’ll just use a new entity. The IRS will never catch on, right?” As Russ explains, wrong.

Kay Bell, Taxpayers want up-front pricing from paid tax preparers.

William Perez, Taxes When Hiring Household Help

Matt McKinney, Anonymous ownership in an Iowa LLC (IowaBiz.com).

Jack Townsend, More on Transparency for Entities Acquiring Valuable Real Estate in Some U.S. Markets

Robert Wood, Trump Is Unapologetically Aggressive On Taxes, Like Buffett And Bono. All the sort of folks who are happy to increase taxes, on other people.

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Kadri Kallas-Zelek, Incorrect Claims for Earned Income Tax Credits Are Likely to Become More Costly (Tax Policy Blog). “The IRS estimates that for the fiscal year 2013, improper payments from EITC amounted to $13.3 to $15.6 billion, or 22 to 26 percent of total EITC payments.”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 989Day 990Day 991. Hard drives as doggie treats.

Renu Zaretsky, Snow, Settlements, and Sales Taxes. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers Snowzilla, online sales tax cheats, and Oregon liquor taxes, among other things.

Matt GardnerAdobe Shifts Hundreds of Millions Offshore, Revealing, Like PDF Documents, Its Profits Are Portable Too (Tax Justice Blog). For some reason, this only inspires the Tax Justice folks to do what’s failing more and harder.

 

Career Corner. Let’s Review: Deloitte Demotivation, Denim, Bad Managers (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 1/21/16: Defying Governor, House conformity bill includes $500,000 Section 179 limit.

Thursday, January 21st, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20151118-1Reason to hope, reasons to despair. The Iowa House Ways and Means Chairman introduced a “code conformity” bill yesterday (HSB 535) that includes the federal $500,000 Section 179 limit. This defies the wishes of Governor Branstad, who says the state can’t afford the expanded deduction. He would only allow a $25,000 deduction for asset purchases that would otherwise have to be capitalized and depreciated.

The bill, as expected, does not adopt bonus depreciation for Iowa.

The Section 179 conformity proposal is is good news. It appears that Ways and Means Republicans sense that their business and farm constituents won’t appreciate a big tax increase, especially in a year that looks like it will be a down year around the state. Now attention will turn to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Gronstal controls what legislation reaches the floor. If he supports the legislation, it is likely to pass. The Governor would probably be able to kill it with a veto, but would he?

That brings up my first reason to despair. Unless the Governor backs down or some compromise is reached, the conformity bill is likely to be delayed. Affected taxpayers will have to wait to file their 2015 Iowa returns until they know what the tax law is; if they guess wrong, they will incur the expense of amending their returns. It compresses the filing season into an ever-narrower window and delays refunds.

The biggest issue is likely to be the budget impact. While I haven’t seen a current figure, last year’s Section 179 conformity bill was estimated to reduce state revenues by $88.5 million.

capitol burning 10904I certainly have a list of possible pay-fors, starting with the newest proposed credit, a $10 million  “renewable biochemical tax credit” (SSB 3001). It is refundable, meaning it isn’t just a tax reduction, but an actual cash subsidy to taxpayers whose credit exceeds their Iowa tax. That easily could happen, as it is based on pounds of qualifying stuff produced. It will only go to taxpayers who “enter into an agreement” with the economic development administration. In other words, for insiders who know where to pull strings.

And here is another reason to despair. It appears this new boondoggle is going to slide right on through. From the Des Moines Register (my emphasis):

More than a dozen lobbyists representing businesses, farm organizations, economic development groups and other expressed support, and there was no opposition. Gov. Terry Branstad has listed renewable chemical manufacturing tax credits as a key item in his 2016 legislative agenda.

Under the bill, the maximum amount of state tax credits available annually to any one business for the production of renewable chemicals would be either $1 million or $500,000, depending how long the company has operated in Iowa.

Even Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa), who has in the past voted against corporate welfare tax credits, is on board with this one.

It will be very difficult to get the Governor to go along with the higher Section 179 limits without spending or tax credit cuts to offset the revenue loss. The Governor seems dead set against cutting cronyist tax credits. If the legislature agrees with him, Section 179 has a very difficult fight this session. Failure to adopt the federal Section 179 limit would represent a triumph of a handful of insiders over the businesses and farms in every county that would have their taxes increased to pay for subsidies.

 

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Iowa increases security to prevent tax fraud (thegazette.com):

The Iowa Department of Revenue has upped its security game after seeing more than 10,000 fraudulent tax returns last year.

This tax season, the agency will use technology to better track fraudsters, validate bank accounts before making direct deposits and share information with the IRS, other states, software providers and banks.

The story says Iowa stopped $11.6 million in fake refund claims last year on 10,600 fraudulent returns.

 

Hank Stern, O’Care in Real Life (InsureBlog):

So, one of my small group clients just lost the last person on his group plan. It had gotten so expensive that no one could really afford to stay on it. Shopping around didn’t help: everything we looked at was at least as expensive for comparable benefits. And the plan was pretty much bare-bones, not a lot of fat to trim.

Tom has been a client – and friend – for almost 30 years. A small business owner, he was proud to be able to offer his employees coverage. Now that’s gone.

He said “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” He didn’t say you could afford it.

Kristine Tidgren, Farm Lease Questions Often Arise This Time of Year (Ag Docket)

Robert D. Flach, A VERY IMPORTANT REMINDER. “Don’t listen to a broker, a banker, an insurance salesman, or your Uncle Charlie!   You wouldn’t ask your butcher for a medical opinion, so why would you accept tax advice from your MD?”

Keith Fogg, Public Policy Cases Accepted by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (Procedurally Taxing). “If you have an issue that raises policy issues for a group of taxpayers, you can bring this to the attention of the NTA in hopes that it will make the policy list and open the doors to TAS assistance.”

Paul Neiffer, Top 10 Reasons You Might Need Accrual Accounting. “Although this list is designed to be humorous, the reality is that all farmers should consider using accrual accounting to manage their farm operation.”

Kay Bell, Smooth tax season start? Not for some TaxAct users. “Just a few days before the filing season and Free File opened for business, the tax software manufacturer sent a letter to about 450 customers, notifying them of a data breach.”

Jack Townsend, Should Proof of No Tax Evaded Be Admissible as Defense in Crime Not Requiring Tax Evaded as an Element

 

Tony Nitti, An Ode To Tax Season: How To Bid Farewell To Your Family.

Tax season is here. Tax season is the worst. But don’t just abandon your family for the next three months with no explanation; make them aware of the series of mistakes that were set into motion long ago that led you to this self-imposed hell. And tell them with rhymes! 

That may be why my grown kid is a musician, and the high schooler wants to be one.

 

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David Brunori, Good Government Developments in the Tax World (Tax Analysts Blog). No Iowa items make the list.

David Henderson, The Economics of the Cadillac Health Care Tax, Part IPart II. “But now that I have done a more careful analysis with some plausible numbers, I am seriously undecided.”

Kyle Pomerleau, Senator Hatch To Introduce Corporate Integration Plan (Tax Policy Blog). “Not only does the double tax on equity investment increase the cost of capital, it creates economic distortions. The most obvious one is the distortion towards debt-financed investments.”

Renu Zaretsky, Market Woes and the Price of Breaks. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers stupid things from proposed financial transaction taxes to the ongoing Kansas budget and tax policy disaster.

 

Robert Wood, IRS Wipes Another Hard Drive Defying Court Order…But You Must Keep Tax Records. Darn right, peasant!

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 987.

 

Career Corner. Stop Doing Other People’s Work Because It Saves Time (Leona May, Going Concern). A classic symptom of Senior Accountant’s Disease.

 

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Tax Roundup, 1/18/15: Popular wisdom and tax rates. And more Monday goodness!

Monday, January 18th, 2016 by Joe Kristan
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Math is hard.

Vox Populi. It’s a slow tax news day, with schools and government offices closed and e-filing not beginning until tomorrow. That enabled me to spend a little time with Peter Reilly’s coverage of Disparate Tax Views At Opening Of Bernie Sanders Worcester Office. Peter chatted up Sanders volunteers about their views on the proper top marginal tax rates. He was surprised by his first conversation:

Deb Bock, my first victim, said 15%.  I hadn’t gotten into the listening groove yet so I failed to hide my shock and asked her why she wasn’t backing Ben Carson – “Because he is an idiot.”

Those of us who live in the tax world can easily forget how poor the knowledge of actual tax law, including rates, is among the general public. The Tax Foundation has printed some fascinating surveys about what people think tax rates should be. Here is some information from their 2009 survey, the most recent available on the Tax Foundation website. It shows that Peter’s friend Ms. Bock is close to the  consensus view of what the effective combined federal, state and local effective rate on taxable income should be: 15.6%:

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Source: Tax Foundation

Of course, effective rates are much higher than this, as The Tax Foundation explains in its 2015 Tax Freedom Day explanation:

In 2015, Americans will pay $3.28 trillion in federal taxes and $1.57 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $4.85 trillion, or 31 percent of national income.

That’s just about twice the average effective rate that people think should apply. Because the tax law is very progressive, many taxpayers pay a much higher percentage.

Still, politicians like Mr. Sanders continue to get votes by convincing us that taxes are too low. Of course, they do so by telling people that those taxes will be paid by somebody else.

Related:

Tony Nitti, Bernie Sanders Releases Tax Plan, Nation’s Rich Recoil In Horror. “Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took a break from yelling at clouds long enough to release his tax plan today, and it’s, how should I put this…aggressive.”

Me, The rich guy can’t pick up the tab.

 

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Kyle Pomerleau, Congressman Nunes Introduces Business Tax Reform (Tax Policy Blog):

Details of the plan:

-Cutting the corporate income tax to 25 percent;

-Limiting the top tax rate on non-corporate business income to 25 percent;

-Allowing businesses to deduct investment costs when they occur (full expensing);

 

-Eliminating most business tax credits and many deductions;

 

-Moving to a territorial tax system like most developed nations;

 

-No longer letting nonfinancial businesses deduct interest costs but no longer taxing them on interest receipts;

 

-Applying the same tax-rate limitation to individuals’ interest income as now applies to their capital gains and dividend income; and

 

-Eliminating the individual and corporate alternative minimum taxes (AMTs).

This would be a big improvement.

 

Russ Fox, Those “Extra Services” Were Great for Business. A massage business.

Jason Dinesen, Choosing a Business Entity: Wrap-up Post

Robert D. Flach, COME IN TO THE OFFICE AND WALK OUT WITH CASH!

Kay Bell, Finding a charity to volunteer with on MLK Day 2016

Jack Townsend, Prosecuting Corporate Employees and Officers, with Focus on Swiss Banks. “Corporations cannot go to jail; individuals can.”

Jim Maule, Birthdays in the Tax Law (and Obituaries?).

Actually, the tax law uses the phrases “attain the age of” and “attain age” far more often that its occasional use of the word “birthday” but few of us talk about “attaining an age” when we are conversing about the anniversaries of our arrival on the planet.

When was the last time you ever said “attain” out loud?

Robert Wood, IRS Lax Controls Enable Targeting Based On Religion + Politics, Claims Report

 

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Len Burman, Ted Cruz’s Business Flat Tax is a VAT. “It’s also important to point out—as Cruz did in the debate—that his plan also repeals the payroll and corporate income tax.”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 982Day 983Day 984.

Tax Justice Blog, Obama Policies Curbed Tax Break for 400 Richest Americans; Choice of Next President Will Reverse or Continue This Shift. Once again Tax Justice Blog entirely misses the point that it’s never the same 400 people who pay tax in any given year.

Career Corner. Let’s Review: Side Gigs, Email, Lunches and Logos (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 1/15/16: Tax credits and their opportunity costs. And: a turnaround in IRS service!

Friday, January 15th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

haroldReport: Tax credit for me would benefit me. Report: Tax credit would help Iowa biochemical industry (Des Moines Register).

The argument that this industry, above the thousands of industries out there, deserves funding at the expense of other businesses in the state, and that Iowa’s elected officials are just the ones to figure that out, is hard to credit. It might almost be plausible if it came at the end of a careful and systematic process where the state looked at all of the possible industries that would be good for the state to have and then carefully selected finalists based on objective and unbiased review.

That never happens.

Instead, the Bio-renewables credit is following a path blazed by the film industry and other credit recipients. Somebody decides a tax credit would be a good thing. It’s never hard to get the industry that would receive the subsidy on board. Local business boosters climb on because they know of a local business that would benefit. They fund studies to prove that this industry offers extraordinary benefits. Economic development officials join in, because that’s what they do. Politicians like giving away money, and soon you have amazing results.

I don’t fault businesses for using state tax credits. If somebody gives you money, you take it. But that doesn’t make it good policy for the rest of us.

There are two little words that credit boosters never bring up: opportunity costs. The money spent on the favored industry isn’t conjured into existence out of thin air. It is taken from somebody else. This year it’s taken from every Iowa business that uses the $500,000 Section 179 limit, which the Governor says the state can no longer afford. There are businesses in every county that will pay higher taxes if Iowa reduces its Section 179 limit to $25,000. Those businesses lose the opportunity to use funds to grow their own businesses and hire their own employees.

If there is to be any benefit here, it’s that it might actually teach the General Assembly about the opportunity costs of benefiting sympathetic industries. Here, it’s the cost of the lost Section 179 benefit to constituents statewide.

Related:

LOCAL CPA FIRM VOWS TO SWALLOW PRIDE, ACCEPT $28 MILLION

List of Iowa incentive tax credits budgeted for 2017.

 

Service: It’s in our nameA new report from the Government Accountability Office documents the decline in IRS service that we’ve all experienced under Turnaround Artist John Koskinen:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided the lowest level of telephone service during fiscal year 2015 compared to prior years, with only 38 percent of callers who wanted to speak with an IRS assistor able to reach one. This lower level of service occurred despite lower demand from callers seeking live assistance, which has fallen by 6 percent since 2010 to about 51 million callers in 2015. Over the same period, average wait times have almost tripled to over 30 minutes. IRS also struggled to answer correspondence in a timely manner and assistors increasingly either failed to send required correspondence to taxpayers or included inaccurate information in correspondence sent.

The picture they draw isn’t pretty:

 

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When you turn around, it’s important to turn in the right direction.

Related: TaxProf, GAO:  Only 38% Of Taxpayers Who Called IRS Got Through In 2015 (Down From 74% In 2010); Wait Time Increased From 11 To 31 Minutes

 

buzz20150804Robert D. Flach has your Friday Buzz! He covers ground from choosing a tax professional to extenders to a certain presidential candidate.

William Perez, How to Know if You Should Hire a Tax Attorney

Matthew McKinney, Iowa’s open records law – who, what, when, and why? (IowaBiz.com).

Kay Bell, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie kills film & TV tax credits. Good. 

Jack Townsend, Updated FAQs for SFOP and SDOP Streamlined Processes. “The IRS has updated the FAQs for the Streamlined Domestic and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures.”

Leslie Book, State of the Union: Tax Administration a Small But Important Part of the Speech

Robert Wood, Beware: IRS Now Has Six Years To Audit Your Taxes, Up From Three. “The three years is doubled to six if you omitted more than 25% of your income.”

Peter Reilly, Conservation Easement Tax Deductions And Valuation Abuse. “I think this is another instance of what Joe Kristan calls using the Tax Code as the Swiss Utility Knife of public policy.”

 

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Megan McArdle, Gaming of Obamacare Poses a Fatal Threat. “The problem: People signing up during ‘special enrollment’ (the majority of the year that falls outside of the annual open enrollment period) were much sicker, and paying premiums for much less time, than the rest of the exchange population.”

Scott Greenberg, The Cadillac Tax will Now Be Deductible. Here’s What That Means. (Tax Policy Blog)

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 981. “Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released two new reports regarding serious flaws in the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) audit selection processes. GAO confirmed that these flaws mean the IRS could continue to unfairly target American taxpayers based on their political beliefs and other First Amendment protected views.”

Robert Goulder, India’s Long Journey to a VAT (Tax Analysts Blog)

Renu Zaretsky, Winners, Losers, and Movers. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers last night’s presidential debate, Missouri earnings taxes, and  innovation boxes.

 

Jim Maule, Powerball, Taxes, and Math:

The expectation that widened my eyes is a meme circulating on facebook, and elsewhere, I suppose, that claims splitting the $1.4 billion evenly among all Americans would give each person $4.33 million. Good grief! This is just so wrong. The responses pointing out the error are themselves amusing, with the best one pointing out that it would generate $4.33 per person, enough to buy a calculator.

This meme:

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This explains more about the political process than I care to contemplate.

 

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