Posts Tagged ‘Steven Rosenthal’

Tax Roundup, 11/23/15: Maquoketa! And, bought and paid-for at year-end insufficient for golf-cart credit.

Monday, November 23rd, 2015 by Joe Kristan
A Maquoketa Cave. Picture by Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

A Maquoketa Cave. Picture by Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Maquoketa! The Day 1 team of the  ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation Farm and Urban Tax Schools is in the northeast Iowa town of Maquoketa, known for its cave system and the 61 Drive-in theater, “one of the few remaining outdoor theaters in the United States.” We then get two weeks off before the penultimate session in Denison, on the other side of the state, and our December 14 final session in Ames. Register here for one of the final schools or for the webcast of the Ames session.


“Ordered” doesn’t cut it for year-end asset purchases. Among the many silly tax rules enacted in the panicked response to the 2008 financial crisis was the tax credit for “low-speed electric vehicles,” more conventionally known as golf carts. This led to panic buying of golf carts to claim the lucrative tax spiff. Last week the Tax Court disappointed one buyer who tried to get a tax credit purchase in under the wire. It provides a lesson for all taxpayers looking at year-end purchases to get a Section 179 deduction or bonus depreciation.

The credit was available only for carts “placed in service” in 2009. Judge Paris sets the stage (all emphasis mine, footnotes omitted):

Respondent determined a deficiency of $6,253 in petitioners’ Federal income tax for 2009. The issue before the Court is whether petitioners are eligible for a New Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle tax credit (PEVC) of $6,253 pursuant to section 30D for 2009. The notice of deficiency did not determine a penalty.

The electric vehicle at issue, a Spark NEV-48 EX, was manufactured by Zone Electric Car, LLC (Zone Electric). Pursuant to Notice 2009-54, 2009-26 I.R.B. 1124 (June 29, 2009), Zone Electric submitted a request on October 1, 2009, to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to certify that its electric vehicles were qualified plug-in electric vehicles for purposes of section 30D, which as of the date of the notice allowed a tax credit for qualified plug-in electric vehicles placed in service from January 1 to December 31, 2009. On October 7, 2009, the IRS issued a letter to Zone Electric stating that the Spark NEV-48 EX model “meets the requirements of the Qualified Plug-in Electric Vehicle Credit as a Qualified Plug-in Vehicle.

$6,253 off if delivery taken by December 31, 2009!

$6,253 off if delivery taken by December 31, 2009!

So the Spark NEV-48 EX qualified — if it beat the deadline. Back to Judge Paris:

The electric vehicle was delivered to petitioners on June 8, 2010, even though petitioners placed an order for a low-speed electric vehicle reflecting their choice of color, radio, and size from Drive Electric, LLC (Drive Electric), through its Web site on December 21, 2009.

On December 21, 2009, petitioners remitted full payment of $7,786.53 for the vehicle with a credit card and promptly commenced insurance on the vehicle on December 28, 2009.

For charitable contributions and cash-basis business expenses, this would normally be all that is necessary, as a credit card transaction is as good as cash to IRS. But not this time:

Petitioners argue they remitted payment and acquired title to a qualified electric vehicle on December 21, 2009. Petitioners assert that legal title passed to them on the date of purchase and therefore they are entitled to a PEVC for 2009 because the vehicle was acquired before December 31, 2009. However, the statute effective on the date of purchase also required a qualified motor vehicle to be placed in service on or before December 31, 2009. 

Petitioners entered into the transaction for purchase of the vehicle just before the close of the year. As previously discussed, they received a bill of sale, which contained a VIN, and a certificate of origin shortly after they remitted full payment. However, a bill of sale containing a description of the vehicle and a VIN is not sufficient to show the vehicle was ready and available for full operation for its intended use. Petitioners have not offered evidence to show the vehicle was available for their use, much less fully manufactured. In fact, the vehicle was not delivered until June 8, 2010, making it impossible for the vehicle to be available for use until that date. Even if the Court were to assume the vehicle was fully manufactured and operational while awaiting shipment to petitioners, Brown and Noell tell us that the vehicle could not be considered placed in service unless and until the vehicle was readily available to serve its assigned function for petitioners’ personal use on a regular basis. The Court finds that the low-speed electric vehicle was not available for its intended use on a regular basis until it was delivered on June 8, 2010. Consequently, petitioners did not place the vehicle in service in 2009 and are not eligible for a PEVC for that year.

So the taxpayer’s golf cart just went up $6,000 or so in price.

The lesson for year-end tax planning is that the same “placed in service” rule applies to year-end fixed asset purchases by taxpayers wanting Section 179 deductions or bonus depreciation. If your business races to buy a big SUV or a new tractor by year-end, it needs to be in your garage or barn by December 31. A new machine has to be on the shop floor, ready to go.  “Bought and paid-for” isn’t enough.

Cite: Podraza, T.C. Summ. Op. 2015-67.



Peter Reilly, Tax Court Denies Exempt Status To Group Using Trading Card Games To Promote Sobriety. Peter has an in-depth exploration of last week’s Gamehearts Tax Court case. It explains that the organization denied tax exemption in the case was involved in non-casino games, including “Magic: The Gathering and similar games such as Pokemon and World of Warcraft Trading Card Game.” I had assumed that it was more of a gambling thing. I have edited my original post on the case accordingly.

Peter does not agree with the decision:

This is another example to me of the IRS EO group being out of touch with the modern world.  Magic the Gathering has been a thing since 1993.  You will also see IRS giving a hard time to not for profits dedicated to open source software.  It also turned down a sorority that wanted to operate on-line and a group planning to provide free wi-fi.

The whole exempt organization function is in disarray.



Kay Bell, Is Alaska getting closer to enacting a state income tax? The oil bust has clobbered Alaska revenues.

Jason Dinesen, From the Archives: Issuing 1099s to an Incorporated Veterinarian

Jim Maule, Old Tax Returns Have Value. I keep my tax returns forever; Prof. Maule explains why being a tax hoarder can be useful.

Robert Wood, Your Passport Could Be Cancelled If You Owe IRS. Because Congress apparently feels we need one more poorly-considered bill that will hugely inconvenience honest taxpayers and will be impossible to undo.

Russ Fox, The Turf Monster Striketh. With a caution against sending tax ID numbers via e-mail.

TaxGrrrl, Jay Z Loses On Alvarez-Cotto Boxing Bet As Charity Gets Big Win.

Robert D. Flach, YEAR-END TAX UPDATE WORKSHOPS. With some sound year-end planning reminders.


Me, How your calendar might help you beat the IRS. My newest post at, the Des Moines Business Record’s business professional’s blog, covers the importance of keeping track of your time to document “material participation” to take tax losses and to avoid the 3.8% Obamacare Net Investment Income Tax.


TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 926Day 927Day 928, Day 926 discusses the ties between Lois Lerner and the architect of Wisconsin’s Kafkaeske partisan “John Doe” witchhunt.


Steven Rosenthal, Treasury Pulls its Punches on Earnings Stripping (TaxVox). “Treasury made only small technical changes to the definition of an inversion.  News reports suggested something much larger—namely limits on earnings stripping, which would have made inversions (and other combinations of U.S. firms with foreign corporations) much less profitable.”


Career Corner. Let’s Enjoy Some Intern Reviews of Various Accounting Firms (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).


Tax Roundup, 10/9/15: If you don’t e-file your business return, you may stand out. And: FATCA follies, Friday fun.

Friday, October 9th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

e-file logoI shouldn’t e-file, they might notice me. There remain some people who worry that by filing electronically, they make it more likely that the IRS will cause them trouble. Their numbers are shrinking, according to this IRS press release:

The Internal Revenue Service announced today the number of tax returns e-filed by businesses rose nearly 9 percent this year, continuing the growth in the number of corporate and partnership returns filed electronically. This year, an additional 625,000 corporations and partnerships chose to e-file their tax returns.

As of Sept. 20, almost 8 million corporations and partnerships e-filed their income tax returns. The IRS estimates that e-file accounts for 77 percent of all corporate and partnership returns filed during 2015. Many corporations and partnerships operating on a calendar year receive filing extensions. The due date for filing a return after filing for an extension is usually Sept. 15.

I like e-filing for a number of reasons. I like that we can be sure the return is actually filed and received on time by the IRS, especially when there is a time-sensitive election, or a foreign information return that can trigger a $10,000 penalty if filed late. As you can now e-file most extra forms, like elections and signed charitable contribution Form 8283 appraisal statements, it’s become more convenient. And I think that any time an IRS employee has to touch your return, you increase the risk of an IRS mistake, or of IRS curiosity.



Russ Fox, IRS to Tax Professionals: Rules for Thee but Not for Us. Russ discusses the IRS rules for preparers on safeguarding taxpayer data, including this:

6. Do not mail unencrypted sensitive personal information.

Russ comments:

There’s nothing wrong with these recommendations; in fact, they’re excellent. But note that the IRS says that authorized e-file providers that participate in the role as an Online Provider must follow these rules.

I highlighted the last rule (#6, above) regarding mailing unencrypted sensitive personal information. Why? Because the IRS is one of the biggest offenders in this area.

Yet serious people think that this agency, which can’t even run its own shop, should regulate preparers more.


Robert D. Flach offers fresh-picked hand-crafted Friday Buzz. His links today range from the effects of high tax regimes to the early distribution penalty for IRAs

TaxGrrrl, The Last 10 Things I Bought: How A Busy Working Mom Spends Her Money

Kay Bell, McCarthy ends House Speakership quest; Ryan still says ‘no’




Colleen Graffy, The Law That Makes U.S. Expats Toxic (Wall Street Journal):

Aimed at preventing money laundering, the financing of terrorism and tax evasion, Fatca requires foreign financial institutions such as banks to report the identities of their American customers and any assets those Americans hold. Institutions that don’t comply are subject to a 30% withholding tax on any of their own transactions in the U.S.

This provision was enacted without regard for its effects on the 8.7 million U.S. citizens living abroad, who have essentially been declared guilty of financial crimes unless they can prove otherwise. Many institutions no longer consider their American clients worth the burden and potential penalties of the law, and are abandoning them in droves.

This isn’t news for regular readers here, but it is for almost everyone else. Yet the politicians who smugly imposed this outrageous regime blithely move on to other targets, like the “carried interests.” And so many people trust the politicians to “solve” the “problem” without doing massive damage — despite all history and evidence to the contrary.


Glenn Reynolds, If You Tax It Too Much, They Will Go (USA Today). “IRS data show that taxpayers are migrating from high-tax states like New York, Illinois, and California to low-tax states like Texas and Florida. And it’s not just sports stars or star scientists, doing that, but fairly ordinary people — though, of course, people who earn enough money to pay taxes.”


TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 883. In which he features Peter Reilly’s discussion of whether his scandal coverage has “jumped the shark.” So meta. I get a mention.




Kyle Pomerleau, The Key Component of the Estonia’s Competitive Tax System (Tax Policy Blog).

There are many impressive features in the Estonian tax code. It has a flat individual income tax rate of 20 percent, a broad-based 20 percent value-added tax, and has few distortive taxes such as the estate tax or financial transaction taxes.

All of those features contribute the Estonia’s high score. However, the most important and competitive feature of the Estonian tax code is its corporate income tax system. And not only is its corporate tax system competitive with a low, 20 percent rate, it is unique among OECD countries in how it works.

The Estonian corporate income tax is what is called a cash-flow tax. Rather than requiring corporations to calculate their taxable income using complex rules and depreciation schedules every single year, the Estonian corporate income tax of 20 percent is only levied on a business when it pays its profits out to its shareholders.

I prefer that corporations be taxed as income is earned and that they be allowed to deduct payments to shareholders, but the Estonian way has an advantage. The business owners are never taxed until they actually get something out of the business. There is no possibility of income tax exceeding corporation income over its life that way, which can easily happen in our system.


Steven Rosenthal, Making Wall Street Pay—Proposals from the Campaign Trail (TaxVox). There’s no shortage of stupid out there on the trail.


Career Corner. Reminder: Please Take Vacation So You Don’t Die (Leona May, Going Concern).




Tax Roundup, 1/29/15: Iowans, fill ’em up now. And: lessons from the Obama Sec. 529 retreat.

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

dimeFill me up. ‘Overall consensus’ toward 10-cent hike in state gas tax O. Kay Henderson reports:

 Key legislators say a 10-cent increase in the state gas tax has a good chance of passing the legislature in February and going into effect as early as March.

“I think the overall consensus is to go 10 cents now…We’re so far behind that we need to implement it right away,” Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said this morning.

At the opening of this session of the General Assembly, I guessed that there would be no gas tax boost. It’s looking more likely every day that I was wrong. I asked a few legislators and lobbyists about it when I attended the Iowa ABI Legislative Reception, and they all said a 10-cent gas tax boost was a done deal.

That would test my alternative forecast – that if there was a gas tax boost, it meant Governor Branstad will not run for a seventh term.


csi logoAlan Cole, President’s Plan to Tax 529s Was Not a Distraction (Tax Policy Blog):

While the issue was, perhaps, a distraction from the administration’s priorities on community college, it was not at all a distraction from the administration’s priorities on tax policy. It is deeply philosophically consistent with virtually every tax policy proposal, proposed or enacted, from the administration.

The administration’s proposals all tend to follow a particular blueprint for tax policy: simply put, that when Americans save by investing in some kind of asset, that they should be taxed at ordinary income rates on both the initial value of the asset and all the future returns on the asset. (For example, with 529 plans, the initial investment is taxed, and the Obama Administration’s proposal is to tax the returns as well.) This view is mistaken, in that a financial asset’s value is precisely in its future returns. The value of the financial asset, then, is taxed twice. 

The difference here is that the administration has dressed up its tax grabs by saying only “the rich” would have to pay. That’s never really true, but it was so obviously wrong here that even the President’s allies couldn’t support it with a straight face.


IRAJoseph Thorndike, What Obama’s 529 Flip-Flop Says About Your Roth IRA (Tax Analysts Blog):

The bursting of the 529 trial balloon should serve as an object lesson for anyone hoping to rein in other tax preferences. In particular, proposals to scale back Roth IRAs – popular among liberal analysts – seem hopeless in the extreme.

I think the dumbest thing was pairing the elimination of a tool to enable people to save for education costs with the unwise “free” community college proposal. That was pretty much saying those who want to pay their own way through college without government grants are chumps.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 630. It has become an issue in the hearings for the Attorney General nominee.


Jason Dinesen, What I’m Asking My Clients Regarding the ACA. Pretty much what we are asking our clients.

TaxGrrrl, Form 3115 Adds Confusion & Cost – But May Be Required For 2015. “Since there’s no user fee – and virtually no risk – I tend to agree with those who suggest that businesses owning real and/or tangible property err on the side of caution and file form 3115 to obtain automatic consent.”

Robert Wood, Missing A Form 1099? Why You Shouldn’t Ask For It “Nevertheless, if you don’t receive a Form 1099 you expect, don’t ask for it. Just report the income.”

Tony Nitti, Super Bowl XLIX Tax Tale Of The Tape: Who Ya’ Got? Meh. My football rooting interest ended in Seattle. But for socially-awkward tax nerds (but I repeat myself) who are going to Super Bowl gatherings, Tony has a lifeline.


20140512-1Peter Reilly, Don’t Use The IRS To Address Koch Political Spending. Whether it’s Tom Steyer, George Soros, or the Brothers Who Must Not Be Named, the government has no business telling them what causes they can fund.

Russ Fox, Caesars Wins Round One: Chicago, not Delaware. Caesars Entertainment’s bankruptcy litigation, that is.

Carl Smith, Unpublished CDP Orders Dwarf Post-trial Bench Opinions in Uncounted Tax Court Rulings (Procedurally Taxing). Insight on what Tax Court judges do that those of us who don’t do that sort of litigation for a living don’t see.

Jack Townsend, Unreported Offshore Accounts Remains on IRS Dirty Dozen” List

Kay Bell, Illinois shoppers to start paying state sales tax on Amazon purchases on Feb. 1; federal online tax bill still stalled


Tax Trials: Georgia Tax Tribunal Rules that Electric Utility’s Machinery and Equipment Used in Transmission and Distribution System Not Exempt from Georgia Sales & Use Tax. Bad tax policy all over. Business inputs should not be subject to sales tax.

Cara Griffith, Tax Appeal Reform May Be a Possibility in Washington State (Tax Analysts Blog)


David Brunori, Regressive Taxes Are Neither New Nor Good (Tax Analysts Blog): “States should also broaden the sales tax base to tax things rich folks buy, while lowering the tax rates on the things the poor consume the most. But the rich will remain rich.”

Steven Rosenthal, Is Obama Closing Retirement Savings Loopholes or Just Curbing Congress’ Generosity? (TaxVox). How about another choice – he’s just looking to increase taxes on “the rich” any way he can get away with?

Richard Phillips, Congress Should Pass the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act to Combat International Tax Avoidance. (Tax Justice Blog). I have a better idea: a less onerous tax system that would make international tax avoidance less attractive.


Career Corner. The Public Accountant’s Definitive Guide to Disclosure of Past Convictions (Adrienne Gonzalez, Going Concern)


Tax Roundup, 8/18/14: Tax Credits for housing. And for Elvis!

Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Joe Kristan

The Des Moines Register is running a series on Jack Hatch, the Democratic nominee for Iowa Governor, focusing on subsidized housing projects he developed.  The stories include Jack Hatch’s record shows no clear conflicts of interest and Review shows Hatch followed public financing rules.

The Register finds no evidence of illegality in Sen. Hatch’s tax credit-driven deals.  That’s unsurprising, as the tax credits are shared with investors, who want clean tax projects and impeccable tax breaks.  As usual with tax incentives, though, the scandal is what is perfectly legal.

The series describes the financing of some projects.  For example:



A $6.5 million development with over $8 million in government aid.  A sweet deal, if you are one of the lucky participants of an oversubscribed subsidy program.

While such projects are touted as achieving “affordable housing,” the real beneficiaries are arguably well-connected developers and tax shelter investors.  It’s all legal, and all paid for by the rest of us.

If the real goal is to help the poor, there are better ways than a Rube Goldberg tax credit system running the aid through tax shelter developers and investors.  Arnold Kling’s idea to provide the poor with a universal flexible benefit “to replace all forms of means-tested assistance, including food stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid, and the EITC, with a single cash benefit,”  is a more promising approach.  It is what a program designed to help the poor, rather than the connected, would look like.


Elvis20140818-3Kay Bell, Elvis estate seeks tax breaks for Graceland expansion.  Or what?  Graceland is going to leave Tennessee?  Elvis will leave the building?  But, but, jobs!  Or something.

Robert D. Flach, KEEP COPIES OF YOUR W-2s FOREVER!  Robert explains how he was able to use old W-2s to help a client show that his retirement contributions were “after tax” for New Jersey purposes, preventing a second tax on withdrawal.

Tony Nitti, New Opportunities Exist For S Corporation Shareholders To Deduct Losses

William Perez, Got a Call From the IRS? It’s Probably Not the IRS.  A client of our office got such a scam call last week.  We told them to hang up if they call back.

Jack Townsend, Tidbits on the New Streamlined Procedures

Annette Nellen, Better identity theft efforts – S. 2736


20140818-1Jason Dinesen, Why an LPA?  Jason answers the question “Why did I pursue an Iowa “Licensed Public Accountant” designation? LPAs are an obscure lot, in that we only really exist in 3 states (Iowa, Delaware and Minnesota).”

Peter Reilly, IRS Stampedes A Cattle Shelter.  Peter explains why losing a hobby loss case is extra bad.  With a bonus quote from me (Thanks, Peter!).

Tax Trials, Record Your Easement: Tax Court Adjusts Timing & Valuation of New York Facade Easement


TaxGrrrl, From AR-15s To Rubber Bullets: How Did Police End Up With Military Gear On American Streets?  Your tax dollars at work.  Amazingly, no tax credits appear to be involved.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 466.  It appears the judge who told the IRS to explain what happened to the Lois Lerner emails isn’t yet satisfied with the IRS response.  More from Russ Fox: Judge Sullivan Not Impressed by the “Dog Ate my Homework” Excuse.

20140818-2Ajay Gupta, Demagoguing the ‘I’ Words. (Tax Analysts Blog) “If an inversion exploits a loophole, then so does every other corporate reorganization that painstakingly adheres to the requirements of the code and regs.”

Steven Rosenthal, Can Obama slow corporate inversions? Yes he can.  Silly rabbit.  The idea isn’t to slow corporate diversions; it’s to demonize them for political fun and profit.  And his idea of reviving the moribund Sec. 385 debt-equity regulations for this purpose shows how much the inversion panic has parted from reality.


News from the Profession.  Here’s Further Proof That Accounting Firms Need a Charge Code for “Wasting Time on Internet” (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern)



Tax Roundup, 4/22/14: $418,000 per-job edition! And: AGI and farm subsidies.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by Joe Kristan

20120906-1Iowa Watchdog reports Iowa to give Microsoft millions in exchange for 86 jobs:

The West Des Moines City Council on March 24 approved asking the IEDA to award Project Alluvion $18 million in sales tax rebates, the maximum amount possible under the IEDA’s High Quality Jobs Program.

Neither the city nor the IEDA questioned why Microsoft, which had $24.5 billion in revenue and $8 billion in profits in the most recent fiscal quarter, needed taxpayers’ support to build its data center.

By the time the new data center opens for business, Microsoft will have received from the state and the city more than $418,000 for each of the 86 jobs it says it will create.

There’s a good argument that businesses shouldn’t have to pay sales taxes on their purchases. There’s no good argument that only businesses who know how to pull strings in city hall and at the statehouses should be able to avoid sales tax on their inputs.  Yet that’s what Iowa’s “economic development” policy is all about: special deals for special friends.  The rest of you suckers without lobbyists and pull, pay up!


Tax Justice Blog, State News Quick Hits: Tax Breaks for Expensive Artwork and Apple Inc.



Roger McEowen, Farm Service Agency Adjusted Gross Income Calculation Could Influence Choice of Entity:

Beginning with the 2014 crop year, producers whose average adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $900,000 are not eligible to receive payments or benefits from most programs administered by FSA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Previous AGI provisions distinguishing between farm and non-farm AGI are no longer utilized.  Average AGI for crop year 2014, for example, will be based on a producer’s AGI from 2010, 2011 and 2012.

This is an incentive for business owners receiving substantial farm subsidies to use C corporations, which don’t increase AGI, at least not immediately.  But C corporations do increase the effective tax rate on business income for most people who have enough AGI to worry about this problem.  It would be a lot easier to get rid of the subsidies and let farmers just grow what the market demands.


Yesterday was the national commemoration of The Tax Foundation’s Tax Freedom Day.   Not surprisingly, it’s later than last year.

Tax Freedom Day is “the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for year.”  It varies by state.  Iowa’s day was April 13.  Connecticut and New Jersey will be the last states to finish paying their tax bill, on May 9.

Tax Freedom Day 2014 Map_0


TaxProf, GAO: IRS Audits 1% of Big Partnerships, 27% of Big Corporations

Jeremy Scott, The Misleading Debate About the Corporate Income Tax (Tax Analysts Blog):

Congress must consider passthroughs when discussing business tax reform. You can’t complain about high U.S. corporate tax rates or declining corporate tax revenues without looking at how the shift to passthrough entities is affecting the U.S. tax system. Passthrough reform is just as critical as corporate reform, even if it doesn’t receive nearly as much attention in congressional speeches or front-page news stories.

It won’t happen until the inane quest to hammer “the rich” is decisively rejected in tax policy debates  — because with pass-throughs, taxing “the rich” means taxing away employment.  Yet the same high-tax redistribution schemes have led to disaster over and over are enjoying a new vogue among people who just can’t stand other people having more money.


20140321-3Jack Townsend, GE Ducks Any Penalty for Its (BS) Tax Shelter — For Now 

Brian Mahany, Is the IRS Whistleblower Program a Failure?

TaxGrrrl, Higher Or Lower: How Do You Think Your U.S. Tax Burden Compares To Other Countries?   

Steven Rosenthal, A Flash Tax for the Flash Boys (TaxVox).  Never mind that high-frequency traders make for more efficient markets and lower transaction costs for other traders.  We need to screw up the capital markets even more.

Annette Nellen, Tax Day – April 15, 2014 – It Can Be Easier.  It sure could be.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 348


William Perez, Obamas, Bidens Release 2013 Tax Returns.  I still say they should have had to prepare them by themselves in a live webcast — as should all congresscritters.

Russ Fox, If You Can’t Get the Refund, Why Not File Some Liens?  After all, it is a foolish and futile gesture, so go for it!

Peter Reilly, Court Approves Tax Sale Of New Mexico Property For Less Than 1% Of Its Value.  Peter sheds light on the sleazy practice of what amounts to stealing property to pay petty amounts of tax.

Jason Dinesen, On Schedule C’s and Setting Rates.  If your 1040 is really a business return, you can’t expect to pay the same as a 1040A filer.   In many ways Schedule C’s are harder, because they rarely have a balance sheet to provide a reality check.



Robert D. Flach’s Buzz is Back!  Welcome back, Robert!

Kay Bell, How are you spending your federal tax refund?

Jana Luttenegger, Are You Curious How Your Tax Dollars Were Spent? (Davis Brown Tax Law Blog)

News you can use.  Timely Filing a Tax Court Petition from Prison (Carl Smith, Procedurally Taxing)

Breaking!  Millennials Don’t Like Grunt Work, Says Millennial Grunt (Going Concern).  Hey Millennials, the rest of us aren’t so crazy about it either.  That’s why they have to pay us to do it.



Tax Roundup, 3/28/14: Trusts beat IRS. And: Seven-bedroom poverty!

Friday, March 28th, 2014 by Joe Kristan

Trusts won big over the IRS yesterday.  The Tax Court ruled that trusts can “materially participate” in business activities.  Taxpayers who materially participate in an activity don’t have to pay the Obamacare net investment income tax on income from the activity.  I have a full writeup, Tax Court decision cuts 3.8% Obamacare Net Investment Income Tax for many trusts.  


20120912-1FATCA: giving the government more ways to shoot jaywalkers.

 We submit these comments in the hope that they will help lawmakers and the public understand that FATCA, while intended to catch tax evaders, is poised instead to impose serious and unjustified harms on people who live around the world as non-resident U.S. citizens and green card holders, as well as their family members and business associates.

After all, you have to shoot the jaywalkers so you can slap the real international tax evaders on the wrist.

Quoted text from “Submission to Finance Department on Implementation of FATCA in Canada” by Allison Christians and Arthur Cockfield, via the TaxProf.


William Perez, Tips for Same Sex Married Couples Filing Their Tax Returns.

Kay Bell, Donating and deducting gifts to current, past disaster victims

TaxGrrrl, Taxes From A To Z (2014): N Is For Name Change and Taxes From A To Z (2014): O Is For Overpayment

Steven Rosenthal, You Could Owe Capital Gains Taxes When You Spend Bitcoin (TaxVox)

Tax Trials, IRS Releases Guidance on Convertible Virtual Currency: Bitcoin Treated As Property for Federal Tax Purposes

Scott Schumacher, Does Equity Have a Role in Offers in Compromise? (Procedurally Taxing)


William McBride,New Study Finds U.S. Multinationals Pay Extremely High Effective Tax Rate. (Tax Policy Blog). Since Iowa corporate rates are the highest in the U.S., that makes us number 1 in the world, baby!

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 323

Tax Justice Blog, Tax Cuts Fall Flat in Idaho

False choice.  The Drive for Tax Reform: Hitting the Breaks or the Gas?  (Renu Zaretsky, TaxVox)

Career Corner.  The More Money Your Parents Made, the Less Likely You Are to Become an Accountant (Going Concern)


monk mountainIf all poverty were like this, monasteries would be more popular.  A Pennsylvania taxpayer is accused of trying the old “I’m a church” dodge.  From

Erik Von Kiel, formerly of Macungie, falsely told the federal government he was a minister with a Utah-based religious organization, and that he had renounced any interest in property or income, authorities said.

He did so while concealing his salary and assets, including a seven-bedroom Macungie home he bought with his wife in 2006 and later sold for $175,000, according to court documents.

Seven bedrooms?  Not bad for poverty.  Probably more accessible than many monastic residences, too.



Tax Roundup, 2/5/2013: Iowa conformity bill clears Senate. Also: the uses of GPS navigation!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20130117-1The Iowa Senate approved the Iowa tax code conformity bill, SF 106, yesterday.  The bill was approved 48-0, which is a good sign that it will pass quickly — enabling Iowans to get on with filing their 2012 business returns.

The bill updates Iowa’s income tax for the Fiscal Cliff tax bill changes passed last month by Congress.    Key items updated to match federal rules include:

– Conforming with the $500,000 federal Section 179 deduction limit for 2012 and 2013.

– Allowing the optional deduction for state and local sales taxes for 2012 and 2013.

– Conforming to federal research credit rule changes

– Continuing the IRA charitable distribution exclusion

– Adopting the federal “above the line” deductions for college tuition and for out-of-pocket expenses of educators.

The bill does not adopt federal bonus depreciation for 2012 and 2013.  The bill does not show up yet on the calendars for the House Ways and Means Committee or for House floor debate, so it may not get to the Governor this week.  Update, 9:00 am: An e-mail from the House floor manager for the bill says the House may take it up as soon as tomorrow.


More boffo reviews for the shutdown of the IRS preparer regulation program! 

The Weekly Standard raves:

It’s hard to choose just one IRS knee-slapper, but here goes. The agency insists IJ’s “suggestion that the return preparer program is the product of a tainted lobbying effort is belied by support for the program from the Taxpayer Advocate, the Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee, numerous consumer advocacy groups, and comments from individual practitioners.”
The ETAAC is an IRS-administered panel whose members include lawyers and CPAs—who weren’t subject to the regulations—and people with connections to H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, big businesses happy to help the government force the little guys out of the industry.

Protecting the taxpayers has never been the point.

The Wall Street Journal weighs in:

Rather than continuing to fight in court, the agency would do better to cashier the rules on legal and economic grounds. They are a classic example of big business harnessing government power to aid the powerful at the expense of small-business competitors. Meantime, won’t someone in Congress tell the IRS to stop exceeding its legal authority?

Sadly, no.

Meanwhile, the IRS has re-opened its PTIN registration system. It appears the IRS will still charge for them, though it’s not clear why anymore.


Nick Kasprak, Weekly Map: Sources of State and Local Tax Revenue: Sales, Excise, and Gross Receipts Tax:



Leave Gennifer Flowers Alone!  Clinton woman pleads guilty to false tax returns.  Clinton, Iowa, that is.  From the Clinton Herald:

Regina Jimenez, 60, of Clinton pleaded guilty to two counts of filing
false tax returns. She faces up to three years of prison, a fine of up
to $1 million and costs of prosecution on each count.

According to court documents, Jimenez operated AA Accounting & Tax
Services, Inc. in Clinton from approximately 2007 through 2011. Jimenez
used the business to facilitate the theft of more than $200,000 from a
client who believed that Jimenez would use the money to pay the client’s

There’s never a good reason to have your tax preparer pay your income taxes for you.  If your preparer tries to get cash from you “to give to the IRS,” ask many questions.


Paul Neiffer, Hedging Versus Speculation:

Remember, if the farmer purchases a corn call option as part of this hedging strategy, this no longer qualifies as a hedge (even though is a normal strategy of selling actuals and buying the “board”, for tax purposes, it is not a hedge)  and is considered speculation.  In many cases, the tax treatment can be harsh since if the option produces income, the IRS will treat it as ordinary and if it produces a loss, it will be considered a capital loss (the worst of both).


Because partnership tax isn’t screwed up enough?    Why the IRS Should be Taxing the Profits of Private Equity Funds as Ordinary Income (Steven Rosenthal, TaxVox).

Robert D. Flach, tax man of La Mancha New Jersey Pennsylvania, chases his favorite windmill: BEFORE I GO – MY “CRUSADE”

Windmills everywhere!  Carl Levin Continues to Play the Role of Don Quixote (Jeremy Scott,

Patrick Temple-West,  Democrats target corporate tax breaks, and more

TaxGrrrl, Guess What Turned 100 This Weekend?

Kay Bell,  Happy 100th birthday federal income tax

Brian Strahle,  The Maryland Wynne Case is Decided, Will The State Appeal Further?  A possible refund for Maryland residents with taxes in other states.

Brian Mahany,  OVDI – It’s Not Just For Unreported Foreign Accounts


Why you should spring for a good GPS unit.  You might get lost otherwise, like a star-crossed couple in my home town of West Des Moines.  The Des Moines Register reports:

The incident occurred at about 2:12 a.m. Friday, when a car pulled into a police station driveway at 250 Mills Civic Parkway marked for “Authorized Personnel,” according to a police report.

Police said the car passed two patrol cars and drove up a private drive before turning around when it reached a garage. An officer in one of the patrol cars then turned on his top lights and stopped the car.

The driver told officers they were trying get to Beach Girls, an adult entertainment venue at 6220 Raccoon River Dr., West Des Moines, according to the report.

The two officers reported that both the driver and passenger had bloodshot, watery eyes and that the vehicle smelled of marijuana.

If they mistook the West Des Moines cop shop for a strip club, either they already had enough fun for the night, or strip joints have changed a lot since my bachelor days.



Tax Roundup, 1/29/2013: The best tax proposal ever. Also: tax season delayed for students and parents.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

Flickr image courtesy Pasa47 under Creative Commons license

A Tax I can support!  Tax the Revolving Door (Glenn Reynolds)

In short, I propose putting a 50% surtax — or maybe it should be 75%, I’m open to discussion — on the post-government earnings of government officials. So if you work at a cabinet level job and make $196,700 a year, and you leave for a job that pays a million a year, you’ll pay 50% of the difference — just over $400,000 — to the Treasury right off the top. So as not to be greedy, we’ll limit it to your first five years of post-government earnings; after that, you’ll just pay whatever standard income tax applies.

Plus make them wear clown clothes to work.  (Via the TaxProf)


Allysia Finley,  Mickelson and the Sports Star Tax Migration (Wall Street Journal):

About 3.5 million Californians have migrated to other states over the past two decades. Almost anywhere they chose to go would allow them to enjoy greater returns on their labor. Is it really surprising that athletes like Mr. Mickelson might be keeping an eye on the leaderboard?

It would be surprising if they didn’t.


Kyle Pomerleau and William McBride:  EITC Awareness Day (Tax Policy Blog)

Research has shown that the EITC is associated with higher workforce participation among certain populations.  However, Casey Mulligan’s research shows there is no free lunch here, since the EITC creates disincentives to work over the income range in which it phases out (roughly $20,000 to $50,000).  And because the EITC is one of many overlapping anti-poverty programs, such as unemployment insurance, they all add up to huge disincentives to work among the poor.

And some Iowa politicians want to increase the Iowa EITC, making it a bigger poverty trap.


Steven Rosenthal,  Chairman Camp Agrees: Too Many Choices Burden our Tax System (TaxVox)

Jeremy Scott, Huffington Post Draws Tenuous Link Between Camp Plan, Fix the Debt Group (


Recognize and acknowledge that the purpose of the federal income tax is to raise the money necessary for the administration of the government and government sponsored programs.  It is not to be used to “redistribute income” or as a method for delivery of social welfare and other government benefits.

If that principal were vigorously applied to the tax law, the 1040 would fit on a postcard.


Climb in the Cavalcade!  Worker’s Comp Insider hosts the latest Cavalcade of Risk roundup of insurance and risk-management posts, including Insureblog on the Curly Bulb Menace.

Russ Fox,  Form 8863 Added to Returns that the IRS Won’t Accept Just Yet.  The form for tuition credits.

William Perez,  When Can You Begin Filing Your 2012 Federal Tax Return?

Jason Dinesen,  Taxpayer Identity Theft, Part 11.  In which the IRS ignores the change-of-address filing and mails a long-delayed refund to the wrong address.

Martin Sullivan, Taxing Financial PollutionOn the futility of a financial transactions tax. (

Missouri Tax Guy,  What you’ll Need.  A guide to gathering your tax return information.

TaxGrrrl,  Tax Season Kicks Off January 30th: Here’s What’s On Tap

Jack Townsend,  IRS Issues John Doe Summons to UBS (All Over Again)

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

What does his politics have to do with anything?  Liberal man sentenced to federal prison for tax evasion (Topeka Capital Journal Online)

What does his species have to do with anything?  Beaver County sheriff’s deputy convicted of tax evasion (Pittsburgh

Tax Roundup, 12/17/2012: Ames! And fixing the cliff by fudging withholding.

Monday, December 17th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

The expectant crowd gathers in Ames, Iowa for the final 2012 session of the ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation Farm and Urban Tax School. 


350 practitioners are signed up, and the coffee’s on!


Fiscal Cliff Notes

 Because writing big checks in April is always popular.  A few commenters have said that the Treasury Secretary can prevent Fiscal Cliff disaster by just setting the withholding tables to pretend that the tax law isn’t changing January 1.  Marie Sapirie of Tax Notes says it’s not that simple ($link)

Commentators have suggested that Geithner may even be able to prospectively implement the administration’s policy of raising taxes on taxpayers making more than $250,000 per year by increasing withholding only on income above that level. That is almost certainly wishful thinking. Whatever the “most appropriate” amount of withholding to reflect the tax rates in section 1 may be, section 3402(a) does not give the Treasury secretary the power to create withholding tables that have no basis in current or recently expired law.

Of course Secretary Geither hasn’t always been big on following the tax law.

TaxProf,  NY Times: Itemized Deduction Cap: Popular, But Unfair 

KayBell,   National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson discusses fiscal cliff tax complications

TaxGrrrl,  Budget Resolution May Come Down To One Question

Steven Rosenthal,  Paying Taxes on Capital Gains Early: How Investors are Avoiding Tax Hikes (TaxVox): “All of this planning suggests that sophisticated taxpayers are outracing Congress again.” 

Nick Kasprak,Alternative Minimum Tax Increase Looming Over Fiscal Cliff Negotiations (Tax Policy Blog)


Remain calm, all is well.  Deficit Hysteria and Debt Denialism (Joseph Thorndike,


TaxProf,  Sullivan: Why the SALT Deduction Is Always Under Attack

Megan McArldle discusses an interesting pension funding approach:

Big news in pensions today: Silverdex, a major US-based conglomerate with fingers in just about every economic pie, from mining to solar cells, turns out to have been stuffing its main pension fund full of… it’s own corporate bonds

Just kidding. 

I don’t really know how to say this, but sorry, I lied a little bit.  I’m not talking about a private company at all, because of course, if a private company did this, it would be completely and totally illegal.  Regulators would have shut this down decades ago and probably at least a few lower-level executives would have spent a little time in the pokey.  Instead this is, of course, a description of how the United States Social Security “trust fund” works.

Like so many things: private sector does it, it’s scandal and ruin.  Government does it, it’s Tuesday.

Courtney A. Strutt-Todd,  Tax Law Blog: Attacks on the Exemption for Municipal-Bond Interest and Why it is Important to the Average Taxpayer (Davis Brown Tax Law Blog)

Paul Neiffer,  Another Nice Feature of a Living Trust

Brian Strahle,  D.C. Combined Reporting: How Much Will it Cost Your Company?

Missouri Tax Guy,   Capital Gains, What you need to know 

Trish McIntire links to the annoying new 2013 EIC Interview Sheet, so practitioners can double up as welfare caseworkers.

Russ Fox,  What Happens When Cigarette Taxes go Through the Roof?

Martin Sullivan,  Capital Gains Frustration for Tax Reformers (  His “reformers” want to increase the problems inherent in capital gains taxes by increasing them.  May their frustrations endure.

The Critical Question:  Naming Spousal IRAs After Senator Hutchison – Is That A Priority ?  (Peter Reilly)  I still think Roth & Company should get royalties for the Roth IRA…

Linda Beale,   Goggle’s Bermuda hideaway/HSBC’s too-big status: time to rein in the corporations!  Too big, eh?  Google’s entire market capitalization is about $234 billion this morning.  That’s how much the federal government spends in 23 days.  And it’s Google that’s too big? 

 Sorry, I think there’s already a mortgage on it.  A New Way to Reduce Our National Debt — Sell Alaska. (Greg Mankiw)