Posts Tagged ‘Peter Pappas’

Tax Roundup, 8/24/2012: taking a bite out of crime, for herself. And dust off that cavalry sword!

Friday, August 24th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

She probably didn’t walk McGruff either: Former Dallas officer who ran — and stole from — Crime Stoppers pleads guilty to wire fraud, income tax evasion (  More from an FBI press release:

Theodora Ross, 52, of Rowlett, Texas, and a former senior corporal with the Dallas Police Department, pleaded guilty this morning, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud stemming from her role as head of Dallas Crime Stoppers office and one count of willfully attempting to evade assessment of income taxes, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

According to plea documents filed in the case, beginning in February 2005 and continuing to May 2010, Ross and Delley conspired together to defraud the NTCC. Ross determined which tips would be presented to the NTCC for cash reward approval and prepared the list of Crime Stoppers cash rewards that were to be paid each month and sent the lists to JP Morgan Chase Bank. These lists contained both bogus tips that Ross had created as part of the scheme and legitimate cash reward tip numbers and code words. Ross provided the bogus tip information to Delley, who then presented that information to the bank and collected cash rewards. Afterwards, Delley, per Ross’ instructions, divided the cash with Ross.

That’s one way to make crime pay…

New York Local Income Tax for Transit Ruled Unconstitutional (Tax Policy Blog)

TaxProf:  Confidential Bain Financial Documents Released on Romney Family Trust Investments.

Going Concern:  Let’s Take a Peek at Some of Mitt Romney’s Investments

Dan Shaviro, The Bain document drop

Kay Bell,  Republicans drop support for mortgage interest deduction from party platform.  A good deed sure to be punished.   Robert D. Flach gets the punishment started.

Peter Pappas,  More Lies about Tax Lies

News you can use:  You’d Better Start Saving Those Home Depot Receipts (Anthony Nitti)

Jack Townsend,  Prominent Neurosurgeon Convicted for Offshore Accounts

 In Section 1301, silly. Where Are You, Income Averaging? (Jim Maule)

Look on the sunny side!  Gloom or Doom from CBO (Roberton Williams, TaxVox)

Regrets:  I Should Have Been a Manufacturer of Traffic Cameras  (Jason Dinesen)

Does that mean we can finally stop worrying about the Redcoats? Judge Wants Tax Increase To Defend Against (Possible) Civil War  (TaxGrrrl):

In Lubbock County, Texas, there’s talk of a tax increase. The increase is to be 1.7 cents per $100 for the next fiscal year, boosting the rate to 34.6 cents from the current rate of 32.9458 cents.

The increases have been touted for a number of reasons. This week, on Fox TV, Lubbock County Judge Tom Head explained why he favors an increase. He wants additional funding to retain attorneys at the county level, expand the sheriff’s deputy staffing to decrease call times and minimize officer fatigue, prevent a civil war…

Interesting county they have there.



Tax Roundup, 8/10/12: Herbert Hoover birthday edition!

Friday, August 10th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Herbert Hoover was born 138 years ago in West Branch, Iowa.  They haven’t elected another Iowan as President since for some reason.  Arnold Kling ponders the Hoover presidency:

Price V. Fishback and John Joseph Wallis write,

Federal budget outlays in real dollars rose 88 percent under Hoover between 1929 and 1932, faster than the growth in the first three years under Roosevelt (although starting from a lower base). Budget deficits under Hoover look more Keynesian than Roosevelt’s deficits, although likely not by Hoover’s design.

The conventional wisdom is that Herbert Hoover sat back and did nothing, and then Roosevelt cured the Depression with the New Deal.  In fact, I think that economic historians tend to see both Presidents making similar mistakes.  The most common view among economists today is that going off the gold standard was President Roosevelt’s best policy move, while many of the other New Deal policies, most especially the National Recovery Administration, were a hindrance.

President Hoover will always be linked to the depression.  That’s fair, though the story is much more interesting than the comic-book version of popular history.


State rejects Windsor Heights’ bid for revenue cameras (Des Moines Register):

The portion of I-235 that goes through Windsor Heights has the highest crash rate in the county, according to the city’s proposal.

(Windsor Heights Police Chief) McDaniel said that while the cameras will likely pay for themselves, the city wasn’t thinking about additional revenue when they proposed the project. Any potential revenue would go toward equipment purchases for public safety entities, he said.

Windsor Heights has long been notorious as an incorporated speed trap.  Why would anyone think that the cameras would be there just for revenue?  They are also there to award special favors to other government agencies!

Yes, that stretch has a lot of accidents — because of the design of the road, where having one too few lanes to accommodate three exits in a short stretch causes daily traffic backups.  Why are there too few lanes?  If my memory serves, it’s because Windsor Heights objected to an extra lane through their fair city.


Yes, government programs require government regulation.  The Quad City Times concludes an editorial on the film program this way:

Iowa, like many states, wheels and deals with tens of millions of dollars in tax credits every year to encourage senior housing, economic development, energy efficient homes and businesses and countless other initiatives. Witter’s jury acquitted a professional, degreed and licensed accountant of any criminal culpability for submitting expenses the state auditor later documented as unfounded.

So without extensive government regulation, Iowa’s tax credit programs seem ripe for the picking.

So what government is supposed to regulate a state government program?

It came out in the most recent film credit trial that the man who brokered 2/3 of the $36 million of tax credits issued — 80% of them improperlyreceived over $400,000 in commissions for his efforts.  So while the programs are advertised as benefiting “senior housing, economic development, energy efficient homes and businesses and countless other initiatives,”  remember that the real beneficiaries are well-connected fixers and middlemen.


Josh Barro asks, “Is Iowa Necessary?”

What’s so great about the wind credit? Well, according to Branstad, it has encouraged the construction of wind turbines all over Iowa, which means jobs for Iowans and rental income for Iowa farmers. If that sounds to you a lot like the arguments for subsidizing solar power — and the arguments for every industrial subsidy ever — you’re not alone.

Of course, the really important difference between wind subsidies and solar subsidies is that Iowa is windy and not especially sunny. If the purpose of the federal government is to do nice things for Iowa, then obviously it should prioritize wind over solar.

His solution for the problem of Iowa extortion:

 We could reduce Iowan tyranny by taking away its status as the first state to hold presidential caucuses. But Iowa would remain a swing state with outsized influence in the general election. The only way to really be safe is to revoke Iowa’s statehood, returning it to a territory whose representatives in Washington, D.C., would play a purely advisory role — and whose residents would have no part in choosing the president.

OK, we have our faults here, but put California and Illinois in receivership first, then we can talk about Iowa.  Update: Josh Barro Declares War on Iowa (Reihan Salam)


Kay Bell: IRS ignored fake tax ID numbers, potentially costing Treasury billions.  Good thing we have open-book competency exams for tax preparers.  More from Peter Pappas.  Meanwhile, Jason Dinesen has a new installment of the saga of how IRS negligence on the refund fraud front led to a nightmare for a widowed client.  A Ways and Means Republican has called for the resignation of IRS Commissioner Shulman to resign in the wake of the new revelations of IRS malfeasance.  It’s long overdue.

Russ Fox, What a Drag:

Write a business plan, have a separate bank account, and keep good records!  Trust me, you’ll be happy you did

If you want to deduct your expenses, that is.

Howard Gleckman, The Bowles-Simpson and Romney Tax Plans Have Almost Nothing in Common (TaxVox)

Jim Maule, You Get What You Vote For.  The good professor just can’t imagine why voters would distrust the government to spend more money wisely.

But you still have to pay the rent somehow. It Is Never Unreasonable to Quit a “Good Job” If You Hate Your Life   (Going Concern)

News you can use: Strippers of America, Get Your W-4s Ready. You’re Employees Now(Anthony Nitti)



Tax Roundup, 7/31/2012: Does the Shulman power grab threaten CPAs?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Robert D. Flach has another CPA-bashing post, making the far-fetched assertion that the new “registered tax return preparer” designation created under the lame new power-grabbing IRS preparer regulation rules will displace CPAs in the tax market.  Jason Dinesen, an Iowa enrolled agent, responds with CPAs: Don’t Fear the RTRP.   I think enrolled agents have more to worry about, because most people don’t know that they are held to much stricter standards than RTRPs, with their open-book  literacy competency test.

It’s an old discussion that hasn’t progressed much.  My position is here,  but this illustration works as a summary:

Gallup: Increasing Taxes on the Wealthy Is Lowest Priority Issue, Even Among Obama Voters(TaxProf) That’s good, because the rich guy isn’t buying anyway.

Tax evasion: “tastes great” or “less filling?”  Left-side tax prof and blogger Linda Beale says Tax evaders (and those who aide them), not regulatory complexities, cause tax evasion.  That’s true as a tautology, but Peter Pappas correctly notes that complexity is a co-conspirator.  When any set of rules gets too complex to follow short of unreasonable effort and expense, people cut more corners — and some ignore them altogether.

Jim Maule explains The Importance of Tax Record Keeping.  It’s sad how many taxpayers cost themselves money by being unable to support their deductions on audit.

William Perez: Sales Tax Holidays in Twelve States.  Iowa’s two day holiday for clothes starts Friday.

TaxGrrrl: Why I Don’t Believe That Anonymous Hacked The IRS For Romney’s Returns:

If you’ve ever tried to access records from the IRS, you’d know that the likelihood of finding 25 years of data in one place is practically nil. Prior to 1987 (that 25 year mark), tax returns were processed manually. Since that time, the IRS has become much more efficient, but a never ending supply of records isn’t generally available at the push of a button – even on the IRS side. Don’t believe me? Try ordering your old tax records.

So true.  KayBell has more, “Romney tax returns obtained by IRS database hacker? Just kidding!


Tax Roundup, 7/27/2012: Congressional preening, California refund dreaming; corn squeezers squeezing.

Friday, July 27th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Flickr Image by Bryan Villegas used under Creative Commons license

Christopher Bergin ponders our congresscritters:

The point is that you could set these folks pants on fire and they still wouldn’t get it. Our tax system is a mess, and we are heading into another recession (yes, I’m “doubling down” on that bet!). And these folks squabble like children.

The tax world is a microcosm of what is going on in Washington. Our political system is completely dysfunctional. Congress, when it manages to pay attention, is totally reactionary. Our lawmakers will do nothing but bicker until catastrophe hits. Bet on it.

But, sincerely, let’s all try to have a nice summer.

Maybe setting their pants on fire wouldn’t help, but it’s worth a try.

 But Political Preening Season is. Middle Class Tax Cuts Not Extended (TaxGrrrl)

Jason Dinesen: Enrolled Agents – The Lichtenstein of the Tax World:

In terms of name recognition, EAs are far, far behind. We may outnumber attorneys but that doesn’t mean our name recognition is better than that of attorneys, and we are light years behind CPAs.

The IRS’s program to “professionalize” unenrolled preparers will help enrolled agents, with their stricter requirements, not at all.

No. Any more questions? Do Higher Education Tax Credits Make Sense? (Kim Reuben, TaxVox). 

Unfortunately, we are flying blind in our efforts to reform these subsidies. There are limited data to help  evaluate the effects of these programs, including  recent expansions.  We know little about what the grants and credits mean for students over time. A key question is whether either or both programs result in higher tuition.

The key answer is almost certainly yes.

California refund claim opportunity? A California court rules that California’s double-weighted sales factor apportionment factor is optional, reports Russ Fox.  The traditional three-factor formula weighs payroll, property and sales equally.  Extra weight on the sales factor punishes out-of-state corporations, which is why Iowa uses only sales.  Brian Strahle has more.  If the decision holds up, taxpayers may want to file amended California returns to use the traditional three-factor formula.

Got Drought? Roger McEowen explains the rules for deferring crop insurance and disaster payments for farmers.

So stop making it. Ethanol Makers are Getting Squeezed (Paul Neiffer)

Kay Bell: Mississippi sales tax holiday begins today.  Iowa’s holiday for clothes is August 3 and 4.

Joining the rest of us:  Senate, House Take Turns Hatin’ On One Another (Anthony Nitti)

Peter Reilly says  Lowell Yoder Has Some Great Tax Posts – Read Them.  And he’s right.

Peter Pappas is posting again: Obamacare Will Cost Taxpayers $1 Trillion Over Next Ten Years

Tax Policy Blog has Updates to Bush Tax Cuts Calculator

TaxTv, Self-Directed IRAs: Prohibited Transactions Can Get You in Trouble

Young Buck’s IRS auction raises $53,000 (, via Going Concern)


Tax Roundup, 7/3/2012: A solution to ID-theft refund fraud? Plus lots of Obamacare, and Zombies!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 by Joe Kristan

And yet our leaders don’t lift a finger to stop it. Olson: Death master file data encourages tax fraud (

In making public the death master file, the Social Security Administration is actually facilitating tax-related identity theft, said Nina Olson, taxpayer advocate for the Internal Revenue Service. Olson testified June 28 before the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

There are some legal questions as to whether or not SSA can restrict access to the DMF, which includes recently-deceased individuals’ full names, social security numbers, dates of birth, dates of death, and the states and zip codes of the last address on record, said Olson.  

“For that reason, I strongly support legislation to restrict public access to the DMF. However, I believe the SSA has at least a reasonable basis for seeking to limit public access to the DMF and if legislation is not enacted, I encourage SSA to act on its own,” she said.

This has been common knowledge among practitioners for years.  Many parents have had the heartbreak of child death compounded by identity theives filing refunds for their dead kid off the master file, leading to long paperwork duels with the IRS.  Yet IRS Commissioner Shulman has been too busy creating a government-controlled class of tax preparers to care.

So maybe citizens are taking matters into their own hands?  “Signs of tax refund fraud found in home of man targeted in shooting” (Tampa Bay Times)  More from

Taxpayer Advocate Service Warns Congress About Late Tax Changes (Tax Policy Blog):

With wholesale changes to American tax law scheduled for January, many tax analysts are rightly concerned about the serious complications that will arise, both for individuals and the IRS. Tax Analysts published an article (subscription required) on June 28th covering a report by the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which argued that Congress’s “continual enactment” of tax law in late 2011 delayed millions of tax returns, a disturbing trend that threatens to add a significant compliance burden to the public at large. 

Just one more reason to require congresscritters to prepare their own returns in a live, archived webcast with a rolling comment bar to enable us to provide running commentary and, um, encouragement.  Update, 7/11/12: full article available here.

What the tax changes in Obamacare mean for entrepreneurs in 2013.  My latest post at, the Des Moines Business Record blog for entrepreneurs.

TaxGrrrl: Professionals Offer Thoughts, Perspective on Supreme Court Health Care Ruling

State 29: Obamacare Screws Families Who Use Health Flex Spending Accounts In 2013

Anthony Nitti: The Clock Is Ticking on the Investment Income Surtax. What Should You Do?

William Perez, Tax Impacts of the Supreme Court’s Health Care Decision

Martin Sullivan: The Economic Case for Unlocking Foreign Profits (

Peter Reilly, prepared for anything: Zombies And The Estate Tax – Law Professor Questions How Dead Are The Undead ?

Today in History: Union troops at Gettysburg broke Pickett’s Charge 149 years ago today, marking the “high water mark” of Vampire power in the U.S.

Because boredom isn’t frightening?  Yes Auditors, It Is Possible to Explain Your Job Without Scaring People Away (Going Concern)


Tax Roundup, 6/19/2012

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

20071101-5.jpgIowa cracks down on marshmallow scofflaws.  Radio Iowa reports:

Victoria Daniels, at the Iowa Department of Revenue, briefed a state legislative committee. “It’s very important that the department maintains its compliance pretty much to the letter and what this rule has to do with is the definition of candy,” Daniels says.

Under the revised guidelines, candy-coated fruit, candy-coated popcorn and marshmallows will now be called candy and taxed accordingly. One lawmaker asked about a snack he was munching on.

“That’s candy,” she says, laughing. “Chocolate-covered peanuts, that’s candy.” States can choose whether to tax groceries. Iowa does not. Retailers will also be advised that energy bars may need to be taxed if they don’t contain flour.

The distinction between candy with flour and candy without is a critical part of Iowa tax law, without which the whole edifice would collapse.  If Milky Way (with flour) and Milky Way Midnight (flour-free) were taxed the same, next it will be dogs and cats living together.

But government spending has been cut to the bone!  Tax Policy Blog releases an eye-opening map of the real increases in state spending from 2000 to 2010, inflation-adjusted, per capital.  Shockingly, Alaska’s real increase in state spending over that period was 17%.  More shocking:  That was the smallest increase in real spending by any state.  Iowa was #31, at a 34% increase in real state spending.  Oklahoma lapped the field with a real spending increase of 74%.

Map via Tax Policy Blog

Robert D. Flach interviews Enrolled Agent Trish McIntire.  Robert is also interviewing a lawyer and a CPA as he tours the universe of tax preparation. Trish has this useful observation:

There is no real hierarchy in the designations for a taxpayer when it comes to tax preparation. The ability and interest to do a type of return depends on the preparer and their practice. 

Robert will represent “unenrolled” preparers himself.

Trish talks about the Office in Home Deduction at her own blog.

Janet Novack: Target Date Funds And Do-It-Yourselfers Both Beat Brokers’ Advice In 401(k)

Kay Bell: Do you know how much you pay in federal, state and local taxes?


But it already is!Professor Todd Henderson supports the Buffett Rule but says it should be voluntary” (Peter Pappas). Nothing is stopping Warren from writing a big check to the Bureau of the Public Debt right now.


Tax Roundup, 5/24/2012: Vikings pillage taxpayers, Giant, Eagle choose not to help, and why it’s harder to do taxes than to eat right.

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Like the Vikings of Old: Pillaging Minnesota’s Budget (Tax Policy Blog):

This week in Minnesota politics has been instructive in what kinds of projects warrant state money and attention.  Governor Dayton signed a bill approving the construction of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings which he boasted would create thousands of jobs and would not use “a single dollar of General Fund tax revenues“. The state agreed to pay $498 million of the $975 million price tag for the new stadium, with $150 million of their contribution coming from the revenues of Minneapolis’s “hospitality tax” (a sales tax surcharge) and $348 million from electronic pull tabs.

Dayton championed the deal despite the growing body of research that, as academics have observed, “contains no evidence supporting the idea that sports facilities are important engines of economic growth.” That is in part because, as analysts at UBS note, the economic analyses used to support sports stadiums tend to over-estimate the benefit of stadiums by ignoring the substitution effect; individuals who would travel to spend money on live music and restaurants in the downtown area instead spend them on the professional sports team. 

It’s similar to the way Iowa’s economic development officials say they create jobs with tax credits, ignoring the jobs lost by the unsubsidized competitors of the corporate welfare recipients, and the economic activity that would have occurred had the state not taxed the money from us to give away in the first place.

$452 billion tax hike in 2013: Taxmageddon by the numbers (Tax Break):

The expiration of tax breaks like the 2001/2003/2009 tax cuts, as well as the payroll tax cut, estate tax breaks, the R&D tax credit for businesses, combined with the cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and other sundry items, will add up to the overall tax increase in 2013 of $451.8 billion.

Repeal of Tennessee Gift and Inheritance Tax Official (Tennessee Tax Guy).  “Without a true income tax, and now without gift and inheritance taxes, Tennessee will likely be viewed as one of the most taxpayer-friendly states of the nation.”  Are you listening, Iowa?  (No.).

Former Dwarf, Crow believed to be in compliance. Former Giant, Eagle Fails to File Tax Returns (TaxDood)

 TaxVox: A Path Forward on Tax Reform.  We’ll go down that path when there are no others left. 

Peter Pappas:  I Am Aaron Worthing (or My Contribution to “Everybody Post about Brett Kimberlin Day”). Is a convicted deomestic terrorist using a 501(c)(3) and celebrity money to threaten and silence political opponents?  More here.

Brian Strahle: Teeter-Totters, Musical Chairs and Tug of Wars: The World of Multistate Income Taxes

Anthony Nitti: Doctor Done In By Tax Court’s “Too Good To Be True” Logic.  The Tax Court says that there was no reasonable cause to file returns based on the word of a promoter of a Sec. 419 tax benefit scheme.

Kay Bell: Beware unsolicited — and questionable — property tax payment plans

More Americans are very confused: More Americans Believe It’s Easier To Understand Tax Than How To Eat Healthy (TaxGrrrl)


Tax Roundup, 5/8/2012

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Logo via PJ Media

Well, you don’t expect welfare recipients to pay much tax.  Tax Free: G.M Hasn’t Paid Federal U.S. Income Tax Since Bankruptcy (Motor Trend)

But they’re doing a bang-up job with their preparer competency tests: IRS falls down in fight on tax return fraud (Tampa Bay Times)

Going Concern: Memo to The New York Times: The Tax Shaming Has Gotten Old

It still is a bad idea that will never pass: The White House endorses the lame bills to increase taxes on some professional S corporations (Linda Beale)

Weaving a tangled web: “According to the indictment, Barbara Murry owned and operated B&B Weaving Shop, which was in the same building as B&B Tax Service.”  Ms. Murry and nine family members face federal charges of tax fraud and ID theft in Alabama.  Maybe hair weavers don’t make the best return preparers. (Montgomery Advertiser)  Russ Fox has more.

Not ready for Prime Time: Operator of “Prime Time Tax Services” in East St. Louis gets four years.  The Bellevue News-Democrat reports:

 From 2009 to April 2011, Herron and Delaun M. Lelore, of Belleville, engaged in the scheme while operating Prime Time Tax Services in Shiloh and East St. Louis. They helped clients receive inflated federal tax refunds by providing false Schedule C self-employment information, court documents state. In return, clients paid an extra fee, usually $500, to a Prime Time employee who would escort clients to a check cashing business after they received their refund.

If I were going to a check-cashing service in East St. Louis, I’d want an escort too.

No 1099, no tax due?  Not necessarily, explains Robert D. Flach.

It looks like the tax scam that thinks we all have big accounts on deposit with the U.S. Treasury for the asking has hit Iowa.  “Iowan convicted of lying on tax returns” (, via Jason Dinesen’s Twitter feed)

He still thinks she’s hot even after she copped a plea to testify against him?  “Damiani Turns on Wirth” (Russ Fox)

And get off my lawn!  “Message to 99 Percenters: Stop Watching TV and Playing Video Games” (Peter Pappas)

 News you can use:Donating TriBeCa Facade Easement Is Like Renouncing Your Super Powers” (Peter Reilly)


Tax Roundup, 3/30/2012

Friday, March 30th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Nikki Haley

Rumors seem to be rampant that South Carolina governor Nikki Haley will soon be indicted on tax chargesThe TaxProf rounds up the gossipUPDATE, 3/31:  Apparently there’s nothing to the gossip.

Kay Bell and Peter Reilly say a New Jersey decision will throw a damper on telecommuting.  The Garden State imposed income tax on a Maryland company who hired a New Jersey resident as a telecommuter, working at home.  It strikes me as an unsurprising result, and one that has much more support than the tax imposed on KFC and Jack Daniels in Iowa based solely on use on “intangibles” in the state.

There’s a lot more tax to Obamacare than the penalty for not buying insurance that may bring the whole thing down.  Howard Gleckman at TaxVox reminds us of the other taxes, like the 3.8% tax on “passive” income, that take effect in 2014.

21st Century morals: “A new survey suggests Americans consider cheating on their taxes more socially acceptable than shoplifting, drunk driving or even throwing trash out the window of a moving car,” reports Janet Novack.

The IRS is taking a page from the “Occupy” movement and going after the top 1%. Peter Pappas and Dan Meyer have the scoop.

You think you have tax problems?  “Italy in shock after man sets himself alight for tax evasion

A former Dodger pitcher will be sent down for awhile for admitting tax evasion on an illegal karaoke scheme, of all things.

You’ll be shocked, shocked! to learn there is tax fraud in the hip-hop recording business.



They’re on to my evil schemes

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 by Joe Kristan

At least Peter Pappas is:

Some of our more cynical brethren will, no doubt, accuse Mr. Kristan of denigrating sole proprietorships in favor of corporations and LLC



Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Peter Pappas: “Why You Should Never Let a History Major Opine about Taxes
I got my History major (Cornell College, ’82) before I got my accounting graduate degree. I hope that doesn’t mean I have to take down my 7,600-odd posts dating back to November 2001.


Tax debt settlement outfit achieves pennies on the dollar!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Too bad that deal is for creditors, rather than for the hapless clients who paid cash up front to get J.K. Harris to negotiate away their tax debts with the IRS. If the clients are part of the unsecured creditors group, it’s pennies on the dollars the hard way. J.K. Harris, known for late-night spots and back-section newspaper ads promising miraculous reductions in tax debts, apparently is entering Chapter 7 liquidation, reports the TaxProf (via Peter Pappas).

“J.K. Harris. They’re almost like family to me.”


Taxpayer Advocate starts blog

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Joe Kristan

The TaxProf and Peter Pappas note that Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, has a blog.
Ms. Olson has done good work pointing out the absurdity complexity of the tax law and the foolish ways in which the rules are enacted. Her record is marred by her advocacy of increased preparer regulation, which the IRS is botching with gusto.
So far she has made two posts since the blog opened on January 11. That’s one more than Clarissa Potter has managed since she started Academically Taxing, one of the early tax blogs, in 2004, but she’s a long way short of the TaxProf’s productivity.


‘In short, Commissioner Shulman has declared war on tax practitioners.’

Monday, November 21st, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Peter Pappas lets the IRS Commissioner have it:

In the last two years, the Commissioner has proposed and/or implemented the following:
-Testing, registering and fingerprinting tax preparers;
-Creating an IRS tax preparation software system;
-increasing the due diligence duties of tax preparers; and
-Increasing tax preparer penalties
In short, Commissioner Shulman has declared war on tax practitioners.
Why? Because if he can limit the involvement of outside tax professionals in the tax compliance process, the IRS will have more power to determine the accuracy of tax returns and the efficacy of tax reduction plans.
Everything this Commissioner has done has been designed to shift power from the tax preparation and advice industry to the IRS. And if you think he


Pappas: IRS agent surliness arises from culture, not budgets

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Florida Tax Attorney/CPA Peter Pappas says that the IRS misbehavior noted by TaxGrrrl Kelly Phillips Erb is part of IRS culture:

I am not surprised that an IRS agent unilaterally terminated Kelly


Are you the 99%?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Kiplinger has an on-line calculator that tells where your income rates. (via Peter Pappas and Kay Bell).


Just because you’re President doesn’t make you Warren Buffett

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Echoing Warren Buffett’s complaint that he isn’t paying enough tax, President Obama said that he pays lower tax rates than a $50,000-per-year teacher. says that isn’t quite so:

President Obama


A fingerprint too far

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Florida Attorney/CPA Peter Pappas rethinks his support of preparer regulation in light of the IRS plans to fingerprint preparers:

Up until now I have been a strong supporter of IRS licensing and regulation of unenrolled tax preparers. But that was before I knew how far these power-dizzy bureaucrats would take it.
Fingerprinting people goes too far.
These invasive rules are bound to trickle down to already-licensed and regulated preparers: The CPAs, the tax attorneys and the IRS Enrolled Agents.
It looks like Joe Kristan was right. Preparer regulation is more about power and control than it is about protecting the public from unscrupulous tax preparers.

Hard to disagree with that!



Monday, September 12th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

In this age of rough-and-tumble politics, it’s touching when the parties can agree. Peter Pappas points out a new instance of bi-partisan consensus. He recalls how there used to be a disagreement about whether letting the Bush-era rate reductions expire would be a tax increase. No more!

In his speech to Congress last night President Obama declared that the failure to extend the payroll tax reduction that he signed into law last year is a tax increase.
And just a few minutes ago on MSNBC Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) said it would be irresponsible for Republicans to allow the payroll tax cut to expire because raising taxes on workers would be the wrong thing to do in this economy.
There you have it. In a little more than a year the Democrats have done a one eighty on the issue of whether or not allowing a tax cut to expire amounts to a tax increase.

Truly heartwarming, this new civility.


Not all the rich guys think the government should get more of your money

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Harvey Golub in the Wall Street Journal (Via The TaxProf):

Before you “ask” for more tax money from me and others, raise the $2.2 trillion you already collect each year more fairly and spend it more wisely. Then you’ll need less of my money.

Spend less, spend smarter, then we’ll talk taxes — sounds about right. But Daniel Shaviro has a different view: while taxing the risk is futile and useless in solving the budget crisis, we should do it anyway:

. With an aging population and retirement programs that serve important social purposes (and also are baked in to people’s behavior and expectations), raising taxes just at the top will not be sufficient. But raising them at the top as part of the short-term budgetary response (if anything happens from the Gang of Twelve deliberations) would certainly be a start.

A pointless start, but a start nonetheless!
Related: Look at me! I want the government to take your money! Aren’t I great?
More from Peter Pappas.