Posts Tagged ‘Tyler Cowen’

Tax Roundup, 4/29/14: Funding what we do anyway edition. And: the real IRS crisis.

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 by Joe Kristan

Remember, Iowa 1040s are due tomorrow!  They extend automatically, with no need to file an extension, to October 30 if you have at least 90% of your 2013 tax paid in.  If you need to pay in some more, use Iowa 1040-V.

 

Via Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia

O. Kay Henderson reports on a New state tax break proposed for Iowa parents who adopt:

The legislature has voted to establish a new tax credit for Iowa parents who adopt a child. If the governor signs the bill into law, Iowans could claim a credit of up to $2500 per child for adoption-related expenses.

The bill would allow the credit for expenses like legal fees and the medical bills for the birth mother.

So the legislature is boldly addressing the lack of available parents wanting to adopt children by subsidizing the process.  Except there is no lack of willing prospective adoptive parents.  In fact, the high cost of adoptions is largely driven by the lack of U.S. babies available, forcing parents wanting to adopt to pursue expensive overseas adoptions.

Adoptive parents do a wonderful thing, taking a stranger’s child into their house as their own.  But all good things don’t necessarily need their own tax break.  This break pays people to do what they are already doing.  If the tax law needs to encourage something, is this the most important thing to do?  Should it instead encourage something people wouldn’t do otherwise?  Should people choose what to do without tax law involvement?  Is it really worth making the Department of Revenue an overseer of the adoption process?  Nobody cares, apparently, as HF 2468 flew through the Iowa Senate 48-0, and the Iowa House, 95-1.  Governor Branstad will come out against farmers before he vetoes this one.

 

I’m sure they are.  Iowa Renewable Fuels Group Pleased With Biofuels Bill Approval. More special favors for special friends.

 

A scene from the heydey of Iowa energy independence.

A scene from the heydey of Iowa energy independence.

 

Kay Bell, Maryland pays $11.5 million to keep House of Cards.  Some people never learn.

 

This Koskinen isn't the IRS commissioner

This Koskinen isn’t the IRS commissioner

Janet NovackThere’s A Crisis At The IRS And It’s Not What You Think:

The IRS is, however, an insular, often tone deaf and sometimes bumbling bureaucracy which is being starved of the resources it needs to do its job.  Since 2010, its Congressional appropriations have fallen 7% —-and that’s in nominal dollars, before any adjustment for inflation. During the same period, its appropriations funded workforce has shrunk by 10%, with enforcement staff down 15%, according to numbers Congress’ Government Accountability Office released last week. Meanwhile, the tax agency’s workload has increased with the explosion of identity theft tax refund fraud; a 4% growth in returns filed; and new laws to administer, including the Affordable Care Act  (a.k.a. Obamacare).

That is precisely true.  It’s also mostly the agency’s own fault.   The agency been shown to have used its powers against political opponents of the administration.  It refuses to back off of proposed regulations that would make its political role permanent.  Until it swears off that approach, it can only expect short funding.  The House GOP would be fools to fund an agency dedicated to the other party.  Untill Commissioner Koskinen can rise above pro-administration partisanship and pull the proposed regulations, the agency will continue to be shorted.

 

Annals of Public Service.  Rep. Grimm charged with tax fraud, says he won’t quit (USA Today):

Republican Rep. Michael Grimm was indicted Monday on federal charges of tax evasion and perjury for allegedly hiding more than $1 million in revenue from a New York City restaurant he owned where, prosecutors said, he also hired undocumented immigrants.

Grimm, a former FBI agent who has been under federal investigation regarding campaign contributions, said he is the victim of a “political witch hunt” and said he would not resign his seat.

While you can’t rule out a political explanation, the man is a politician, so the charges are at least plausible.  If it is an unsupported political prosecution, that will become apparent quickly.

Even if the charges are supported, that doesn’t rule out political bias.  After all, Democrat Charlie Rangel was never indicted, in spite of failing to pay his taxes for years.  That’s why arguments that the Tea Party persecution was OK, because some Tea Party groups didn’t qualify for exempt status, are unconvincing.  When a law is enforced only against opponents,  it is a gross injustice, even if the selective enforcement catches some actual violators.

 

IMG_1944Peter Reilly, Tax Court Denies Amway Losses – Again.  Peter ponders the Amway couple I discussed last week.  Peter has actually attended an Amway presentation, and he explains how the program works – or doesn’t.

Tony Nitti, Tax Geek Tuesday: Tax Planning For Mergers And Acquisitions, Part II.  This post discusses the tax-free kind.

TaxGrrrl, Let’s Go Places: Toyota Workers Could Save Big Tax Dollars With Move.  Food for thought for those who think state taxes are irrelevant.

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 355

Tyler Cowen, Accounting for U.S. Earnings and Wealth Inequality.  “So much of the current Piketty debate is simply forgetting that…science exists and has already offered a wide range of insights on these topics, as well as having rendered some of the more extreme claims unlikely.”

Richard Borean, Does a Flat Income Tax Create Income Inequality? (Tax Policy Blog).  Short answer: no.

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Jeremy ScottThe Most Expensive Extenders (Tax Analysts Blog).  “Temporary tax policy is generally bad, but temporary policy that is designed to encourage long-term investment decisions is even worse. ”

 

It’s Tuesday!  That makes it Robert D. Flach Buzzday!

 

Russ Fox, It’s Probably Not Good for Your Case When the Court Considers Sanctioning Your Attorney.  When  your lawyer angers the judge, he may not be helping.

News from the Profession.  This Off-Kilter Accounting Firm Just Launched a New Website Begging to Be Judged (Going Concern)

 

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Tax Roundup, 2/17/14: Big tax subsidy edition. And: the $70 million doggie treat!

Monday, February 17th, 2014 by Joe Kristan

20120906-1Do you think the legislature would approve an $12 million annual subsidy to support the operations of a publicly-traded corporation?  Trick question!  They already have.

The Department of Revenue last week released its listing of claims for the Iowa research credit over $500,000 for 2013.  Unlike the federal credit, the Iowa credit is “refundable” — if the company claiming the credit has less tax due than its credit, the state writes the company a check for the difference.  Of the $58.2 million in credits claimed, about 65% of them exceeded taxes due and were granted as refunds, according to the report.

Two John Deere entities combined to claim over $18 million in credits in 2013; assuming the 65% figure applies to them, that means the got a net $12 million subsidy from Iowa taxpayers.

The Des Moines Register reports:

Twelve of Iowa’s major employers accounted for more than 86 percent of tax credit money awarded for research and development last year, according to a new Revenue Department report.

Companies claimed a total of $53.3 million in credits for research and development in 2013, with 12 companies claiming $46.2 million of that amount. Including individuals who claimed credits, the total rises to $58.2 million.

While recipients of the credits will always argue passionately for their virtues, it’s impossible to justify cash operating subsidies from the state for a dozen well-connected corporations.  The Tax Update’s Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform Plan would benefit all taxpayers, not just those who hire tax credit harvest consultants to get cash for what they would do anyway.

 

Liz Malm, Richard Borean, Lyman Stone, Map, Spirits Excise Tax Rates by State, 2014 (Tax Policy Blog)

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It looks like Iowa hits the sauce pretty hard.

 

Annette Nellen, State income tax filing post-Windsor.

Jason Dinesen, Glossary of Tax Terms: Enrolled Agent   

Kay Bell, IRS’ first batch of 2014 tax refund checks averages $3,317

 

Russ Fox, Tax on the Run Owners Run to ClubFed:

Here’s a scheme for you: The government has set up this new tax credit worth thousands of dollars. What if we find some impoverished individuals, have them fill out tax returns claiming this credit, and we pocket all that cash? We’ll just phony up some other parts of the return to make it look real. They’ll never catch us!

As an aside, this sort of thing happens with all refundable tax credits. It’s one of the reasons why they attract fraudsters like moths are drawn to bright lights.

Yes, this really happened…except for the part about never being caught.

But even if you catch them, that money is gone.

 

taxanalystslogoChristopher Bergin, To Fix the IRS, You Have to Fund It (Tax Analysts Blog)

This agency is so mismanaged that there may very well be corruption. But I have no proof of that. I do, however, agree with those who are calling for a special prosecutor. Because the way House Democrats are behaving – ignoring that there is any problem at all – is almost scandalous, and what the Obama administration is doing is useless.

And that brings me to the House Republicans. They think it’s a good idea to punish the IRS by cutting its budget. That won’t fix the problem, and it’s the classic cutting-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face move.

We tax practitioners deal with the degrading IRS service levels every day, and it’s clear the IRS should be better funded.  It won’t happen, though, unless the IRS finds a way convince Republican appropriators that it isn’t a political arm of the other party.  Dropping the proposed 501(c)(4) regulations is probably a necessary, though not sufficient, first step.

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 284

Tax Justice Blog, Congress Is About to Shower More Tax Breaks on Corporations After Telling the Unemployed to Drop Dead.  Apparently the “extenders” bill is showing some life.

Jack Townsend, Government Files Protective Appeal in Ty Warner Sentencing 

 

Via Wikipedia.

Via Wikipedia.

The $70 million doggie treat.  The greyhound industry is a legacy of the early days of gambling in Iowa, but as opportunities to lose money recreationally have expanded, gamblers have lost interest in the doggies.   Yet state law still requires two casinos to retain their dog tracks.  Now the Des Moines Register reports that the casinos are willing to buy out the dogs for $70 million:

Combined betting on greyhound races in Dubuque and Council Bluffs has dropped from $186 million in 1986 to $5.9 million in 2012, a 97 percent decline. Both dog tracks typically have only a scattering of fans in grandstands that once held thousands of patrons.

The proposed legislation envisions a payment of $10 million annually for seven years for Iowa’s greyhound industry. This would include a total of about $55 million from Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs and about $15 million from the smaller Mystique Casino in Dubuque.

The casinos say they are losing $14 million annually on the dogs.   I would guess that horse racing in Iowa has a similarly hopeless economic model.

Somewhat related: Tyler Cowen, Triply stupid policies.

 

News from the Profession: Just What Every Accountant Wants for Valentine’s, Another Calculator (Going Concern)

 

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Tax Roundup, 1/23/2014: Ideas edition. And: why are we taxing pot?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 by Joe Kristan

20130117-1Bad idea.  Refundable tax credits are the favorite kind of credit for tax fraudsters because they generate tax refunds even when there is no tax paid or withheld.  The earned income tax credit is refundable, and that feature has something to do with 20-25% of the credits issued annually being improper.

An intrepid group of Iowa legislators isn’t letting that stop them.  They have introduced HF 2027 to create a new refundable tax credit in Iowa — a piggyback credit equal to 25% of the als0-refundable (and fraud-ridden) American Opportunity Tax Credit.

The AOTC is based on a percentage of tuition paid for the first four years of college.  It phases out at higher income levels.

Politicians can’t resist using the tax law to pass out political favors.  But even the best-intended ones make the tax law more complicated and, by creating a class with something to lose, they make it that much harder to reform.  When there already countless tuition aid programs, not to mention state-funded colleges and universities, it’s unwise to just throw in one more program willy-nilly.

 

Good idea.  Republican Party to vote for repeal of U.S. anti-tax dodging law (Patrick Temple-West).  

Approved in 2010 after a tax-avoidance scandal involving a Swiss bank, FATCA requires most foreign banks and investment funds to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about U.S. customers’ accounts worth $50,000 or more.

Criticized by banks, libertarians and some Americans living abroad as a costly and unneeded government overreach, FATCA is on the books, but its effective date has been delayed repeatedly, with enforcement now set to start on July 1.

I hate the headline on the article.  I would have written it “Republican Party to vote to decriminalize personal finance for Americans abroad.”  FATCA makes outrageous demands of non-U.S. institutions that have made Americans unwelcome at many foreign banks.

Related: Republicans Target FATCA As Another Windmill to Attack  (Jack Townsend)

 

haroldWorse idea: film tax credits.

Accounting Web, Film Credits: Your Tax Dollars at Work Making Movies:

Actor/director Ben Affleck told the Los Angeles Times he’s filming part of Live by Night in Georgia, a state that is popular for its film credit availability.

“It comes down to the fact that you have X amount of money to make your movie in a business where the margins are really thin,” he said.

Understood – but there’s a disconnect here. Affleck and his fellow actor/director, Matt Damon, both advocate and participate in using film credits to reduce taxes so they can make their movies. But both are also on record saying, because they are wealthy, their taxes should be raised.

What’s wrong with this “picture?”

Why is the film business, of all businesses with thin margins, entitled to special breaks?  Because politicians are suckers for celebrities.

Joseph Henchman, The Economist Reviews State Film Tax Credit Programs (Tax Policy Blog):

The report notes that it’s getting tougher to compete with Louisiana’s 30 percent refundable credit or New York’s $420 million annual budget to subsidize film and TV, and that independent analyses find these do little on net for job creation or economic growth.

But you can’t forget the intangibles!  As a Des Moines columnist breathlessly reported at the high point of the Iowa film credit looting spree:

But some benefits can’t just be measured on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The movies provide employment to local actors, construction crews, artists, caterers, drivers and a host of others. They expose non-Iowans to what the state has to offer. More intangible is the benefit of interactions in a state that can be cut off from the trends and centers of power. Not to mention the excitement factor. We’ve relied on caucuses every four years to bring action and celebrities to town. Now, sightings are anytime, any place.

Fortunately, Iowa is sadder but wiser now.

 

20130916-1Russ Fox, More Work for Tax Professionals: Submission IDs for Efiled Returns:

In the past, the taxpayer signs the 8879, the tax professional signs it and files it away. Now, the taxpayer signs it, the tax professional signs it, and the return is filed. Once the IRS accepts the return, the software company will assign the Submission Identification Number (SID) to the return. The tax professional must either print another copy of the Form 8879 (this one would have the SID on it) and attach it to the Form 8879, print a copy of Form 9325 (Acknowledgement and General Information for Taxpayers Who File Returns Electronically), or the tax professional must write the SID on the original 8879.

It doesn’t seem like much, but that extra minute for every tax return probably equates to an additional 500 minutes of time if you efile 500 returns in a tax season.

And anybody who’s been around a tax prep office during tax season knows there aren’t all that many extra minutes lying around.

 

TaxGrrrl, 11 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Tax Preparer .  A good list.

Leslie Book, The Ban on Claiming the EITC: A Problematic Penalty (Procedurally Taxing).  “We have not addressed the special EITC ban that arises when a taxpayer inappropriately claims the EITC.   The following gives some context, with a focus on the two-year ban for reckless or intentional (but not fraudulent) errors.”

William Perez, Which Tax Form to File?

 

Peter Reilly, Is Tax Court Rebelling Against Supreme Court?  Short answer: no.

Tyler Cowen, Income inequality is not as extreme as many citizens think.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 259

Cara Griffith, When State Taxes and Interstate Compacts Collide (Tax Analysts Blog).  “But states can’t have their cake and eat it too; a compact cannot be both binding and offer states significant choices on whether to follow its terms.”

Tax Justice Blog calls the IRS budget cut The Dumbest Spending Cut in the New Budget Deal.  It’s bad policy, but it’s asking a lot of Congressional Republicans to fund an organ of their opposition.

 

20130607-2Because they can.  Why Exactly Are We Taxing Pot? (David Brunori, Tax Analysts Blog):

But I must ask: What is the rationale for imposing special taxes on marijuana? Excise taxes are appropriate to pay for externalities – the costs to society of using the product that are not borne by the market. But it is unclear what, if any, externalities are created by smoking pot.

Economic development in the Doritos aisle?

 

Kay Bell, IRS audit results in $862,000 lawsuit award for taxpayer.  Because he tripped over a phone cord.

 

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Tax Roundup, 10/28/13: Maquoketa! And the experts in preposterous.

Monday, October 28th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

Today is the first session of the ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation 2013 Farm and Urbane Income Tax Schools.  Once again I am on the Day 1 team with Roger McEowen, the ringleader of the Center, and Kristy Maitre, the Iowa IRS Stakeholder Liaison.

We are starting in Maquoketa this year.  This is our first visit to Maquoketa, the county seat of Jackson County.   This replaces our former Muscatine session; we had to move when the conference center we were using closed.

Most Iowans know Maquoketa for Maquoketa Caves State Park.

Picture by Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Picture by Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

If the session goes well, we won’t have to hold our next one underground.  If you can’t make it to Maquoketa, register today for one of the seven other farm school sessions!

 

Peter Reilly,  Organizing Junk Mail Does Not Qualify As Manufacturing.  Peter discusses the ADVO case we mentioned last week on the Section 199 “Domestic Production Activities Deduction.”  I like this:

The fact that what was being produced was 90,000 tons of crap, that was going to be quickly thrown away after annoying someone did not seem to be of any significance.  

It’s bad enough that the tax law has to distinguish “production.”  Imagine if the IRS agents had to distinguish crap.

 

Paul NeifferNow Congress is Calling the IRS “Preposterous” (At Least the Delay)!  Well, Congress would know about preposterous.  Paul will be one of the Day 2 speakers at the Farm and Urban Tax Schools in Sheldon, Mason City, Ottumwa and Ames.

 

Kyle Pomerleau, Low and Moderate Income Taxpayers Face High Marginal Tax Rates Too

Yesterday, the CBO released an interesting graphic showing the share of income earners below 450 percent of the federal poverty line. (Incomes up to $87,885 for a family of three).

From a sample of tax returns, they found that nearly 40 percent of those making 450 percent of the FPL and lower face a 30 to 39 percent marginal tax rate.

They also find that a good number of taxpayers face marginal tax rates that are even higher. More than 10 percent face a marginal tax rate between 40 and 49 percent. Some even face rates higher than 80 percent.

 

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This marginal rate is part of the poverty trap caused by the phase-out of means-tested welfare benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit.  These cause programs touted as helping the poor to punish taxpayers who try to stop being poor.

 

Phil Hodgen,  Expatriate without filing FBARs? Sure thing

Kay Bell, Almost 700 IRS contractors owe $5.4 million in back taxes 

TaxProf, WSJ: States You Shouldn’t Be Caught Dead In

Trish McIntire explains her recent blogging silence.  Get well soon, Trish!

 

Jack Townsend,  Outlier Foreign Account Conviction Affirmed; Making a Witness Unavailable to the Defense.  He discusses prosecutorial success via intimidation.

Quotable.  From a comment by Dan Hanson at Marginal Revolution (via Tyler Cowen):

Failure isn’t rare for government IT projects – it’s the norm. Over 90% of them fail to deliver on time and on budget. But more frighteningly, over 40% of them fail absolutely and are never delivered. This is because the core requirements for a successful project – solid up-front analysis and requirements, tight control over requirements changes, and clear coordination of responsibility with accountability, are all things that government tends to be very poor at.

 

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Tax Roundup, 9/3/2013: Iowa’s multi-talented revenue examiners. And social media dos and don’ts.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 by Joe Kristan

 

The Hoover Office Building, the warm and cuddly home of the Iowa Department of Revenue.

The Hoover Office Building, the warm and cuddly home of the Iowa Department of Revenue.

Iowa income tax examiners don’t just deal with state issues.  In recent years the Iowa Department of Revenue has been examining hobby loss issues by itself.  This is a departure from past practice, where Iowa usually only examined state-specific issues, like residency and allocation of multistate income.

A new protest resolution released last week shows that while the Department may start an examination on hobby loss issues, it doesn’t have to stop there.  The department examined a couple’s horse operation and concluded that it wasn’t operated for profit, disallowing the resulting “hobby losses.”  That’s not a shocking result, as horse operations are often challenged on hobby loss grounds.   But the department wasn’t done (my emphasis):

In regards to the day care business, the Department explained in previous correspondence that the taxpayers cannot take a deduction for the business use of the home, except for real estate taxes and mortgage insurance which are allowable on Schedule A.  The taxpayers have already filed amended returns reducing the meal expense claimed on the original returns.  The Department accepts the amended meal expenses.  The Department also denies several other items because they are not ordinary and necessary business expenses, such as landscaping, auto repair, and picture frames.  All items denied are on the enclosed schedule. 

The final adjustment is to charitable contributions on Schedule A.  The Department denies the  “Haiti” contributions for all three years because there is no evidence the contributions were made to a qualified  charitable organization.  See IRC Sec. 170(c).  Contributions made directly to an individual or to groups of individuals are not deductible.  Also, the Department denies the contributions to Covenant House on the 2009 return.  There is not enough information to confirm that Covenant House is a qualified organization.

If the Department comes for the hobby losses, they just might stay for the whole return.

Cite: Van Veldhuizen, Document Reference: 13201028

 

Peter Reilly, $10,000,000 North Carolina Domicile Case Shows Importance Of Planning   If you want to move to low-tax Florida before selling a business, you need to do it early and do it right.

Greg Mankiw, Marginal Tax Rates under Obamacare.  He quotes a new paper: “Measured in percentage points, the Affordable Care Act will, by 2015, add about twelve times more to average marginal labor income tax rates nationwide than the Massachusetts health reform added to average rates in Massachusetts following its 2006 statewide health reform.”

What does that mean?  Tyler Cowen quotes the same paper:

The law increases marginal tax rates by an average of five percentage points (of employee compensation), on top of the marginal tax rates that were already present before the it went into effect. The ACA’s addition to labor tax wedges is roughly equivalent to doubling both employer and employee payroll tax rates for half of the population. 


I’m sure that half is all in the top 1%.


The great Ronald Coase has died at a still too-young 102.  An appreciation. (via Tyler Cowen)

Courtney Strutt-Todd, IRS Provides Answers to Filing Questions for Same-Sex Couples (Davis Brown Tax Law Blog) 







After a big three-Buzz week last week, Robert D. Flach Buzzes again!



20130903-1Finland follies.  Finns normally sensible and wonderful people.  Our Finnish exchange student is terrific.  But like everyone else, they have politicians who won’t mind their own business,  reports Lyman Stone (Tax Policy Blog):
The Wall Street Journal reports that Finland’s 2011 tax on sugary goods is driving ice cream trucks out of business, and that Mexico is considering implementing its own sugar and sweets tax under the auspices of curbing obesity. In 2014, Finland will add more products, like cookies and jam, to its list of taxed goods. These taxes are particularly notable because Mexico has the second highest per capita soda consumption in the world, while Finland has among the highest rates of ice cream consumption.

Finland has some of the worlds highest consumption rates of alcohol and coffee.  And there’s no sugar in vodka.

TaxGrrrl, Would ‘Very High Taxes’ Keep Unemployment Rates Low?  Ask the Finnish ice cream truck drivers.



Career Advice Department, Social Media Section.  In my recent interview, I answered the question “what advice would you offer to the new accountant concerning the role of social media in their profession.”   If I were answering the question today, I would just say don’t do this.

 

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Tax Roundup, 8/19/2013: You may already be a Californian! And the amazing tax secrets of Jeff Bezos.

Monday, August 19th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20130819-1California is so short of cash, they aren’t just looking under their sofa cushions for spare change.  They’re looking under yours, too. Paul Neiffer reports that California is Out of Control!

In Swart Enterprises, Inc. v. Franchise Tax Board, the taxpayer was an Iowa  corporation with a farming activities in Kansas and Nebraska.  They also had various passive business investments including an .02% interest in a California LLC (Cypress) that acquired, held, leased and disposed of capital equipment in various states.  This LLC had 435 members of which 384 members were out-of-state.

The Franchise Tax Board asserted that Swart had enough business activity through their .02% interest in the Cypress LLC to require the filing of a California LLC tax return.  Normally LLC’s filed as a partnership do not owe any state tax, however, California charges $800 simply for the privilege of filing a return.  In addition, based upon the gross revenue of the LLC an additional fee is owed.  Since Swart was a corporation, that particular fee would not apply, but they would owe the $800 filing fee plus interest and penalties plus paying a person to prepare the tax return.

 That’s one of the dangers of investing in a partnership.  You buy the chance to pay state taxes in any state where the partnership does business.  In most states it may not matter because it the tax may round down to zero, but even a whiff of California can cost you $800.

Russ Fox has more at California Goes After Flow-Throughs with Passive Investments in California.

 

Stephen J. Dunn, Fraudulent Tax Returns?:

The IRS most commonly learns of alleged fraud in a tax return from an insider—a disgruntled former employee, spouse, or romantic interest of the taxpayer.  In one case, the taxpayer’s estranged daughter came to the taxpayer and asked him for a job.  The taxpayer hired her, and eventually placed her in charge of a business.  But the daughter mismanaged the business, and the taxpayer closed it.  The prodigal daughter became enraged, and reported her father to the Internal Revenue Service. 

Business tax fraud is hard to do without accomplices.  Each “helper” is one more chance for the IRS, one more potential informer.  Payroll fraud, where you pay employees “in cash,” with no taxes, may be the worst, as it gives every employee an opportunity to snitch.

 

Is the concept of “deadweight loss” a right-wing conspiracy?  “I am sorry, but this is absurd” (Tyler Cowen).  

Deadweight loss” is economic loss from tax, as  Megan McArdle explains here.  Mr. Cowan says it exists, even if fellow economist Charles Manski doesn’t care for it:

Manski also ignores that a belief in deadweight loss is fully compatible with the view that government spending may bring economic benefits.  In fact you often cannot understand the benefits of (some) government spending without first grasping the deadweight loss concept.

If you don’t think taxes have a cost, then there’s no helping you.

 

Kay Bell,  Employers in 17 states could face higher unemployment taxes

 

Missouri Tax Guy,  DOMAs Death, There Are Questions.  “It’s been nearly two months since the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, but there are still many things we don’t know when it comes to how this affects the taxes of couples in same-gender marriages.”

 

Jack Townsend,  Simon’s Last Hurrah / Fizzle?  “So I am not sure what lessons it teaches except as a variation of the old saying, ‘Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered.’”

Phil Hodgen, Email and Encryption.  An interesting discussion of the problem of preserving email confidentiality in a world of hackers and NSA snooping.

TaxGrrrl, Death & Taxes: Elvis Presley Topped Charts And Tax Brackets  

Janet Novack,  IRS Agent Faked Pastor’s Letter To Claim Charity Deduction 

Russ Fox, IRS Scandal Update

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 101

 

Martin Sullivan, A Dark Cloud Over Silicon Valley (Tax Analysts Blog)

 Nobody in Washington D.C. has a wish to make enemies with tech companies that are the crown jewels of the American economy. Nobody is deliberately targeting them. But there is a basic dynamic of corporate tax reform that will be hard even for the tech sector to overcome: those who are the biggest winners under the current system have the most to lose from tax reform.

Of course.

 

Alan Cole, The Standard Deduction Undermines Itemized Deductions (Tax Policy Blog):

The standard deduction makes a lot of sense, though, if you believe itemized deductions are arbitrary and confusing. In that case, the standard deduction restores some fairness and reduces paperwork, bringing the tax code more in line with our Principles of Sound Tax Policy – particularly, neutrality and simplicity.

The standard deduction is an interesting half-step towards eliminating itemized deductions, suggesting that America is actually quite ambivalent about them.

There’s something to be said for eliminating itemizing.  It adds a lot of complexity, especially with AMT and phaseouts.  If a deduction is really needed, move it above the line and make it available to everyone.

 

Robert D. Flach, WHAT CONGRESS SHOULD DO, BUT PROBABLY WON’T.  “I have recommended limiting the mortgage interest deduction to acquisition debt on a principal primary residence.”

Me, Walnut Street is back! For lunch, anyway and Because your safety is the most important thing.

 

Tax Justice Blog,  Washington Post Owner Jeff Bezos Does Not Believe in Taxes:

As an organization that follows tax policy, we went looking for the track record on taxes and, as it turns out, Bezos and his company have consistently demonstrated a contempt for taxes and an aggressive interest in avoiding them.  

Sounds suspiciously like almost every client ever.

 

 

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Tax Roundup, 7/22/2013: More fertilizer! And how to finance your party, the tax grifter way.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013 by Joe Kristan
Via Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia

More taxpayer fertilizer.  Iowa board OKs additional $25M in tax credits for Orascom.  (Quad Cities Times):

The unanimous vote by the board on Friday makes a total of $82.5 million in state tax credit benefits available to Orascom Construction, parent of the Iowa Fertilizer Company.

The $1.8 billion plant is expected to employ as many as 165 workers when completed.

In case you’re wondering, that’s about $500,000 per “permanent job.”  That assumes that the money is actually buying jobs, but the plant almost certainly was going to be built in Iowa without the subsidies.  The $82.5 million only buys politicians press conferences, ribbon cuttings and silver souvenir shovels, with our money.

 

TaxProf, Faber:  ‘Ivory Tower’ Economists Are Wrong: Taxes Play Major Role in Wealthy Fleeing High-Tax States:

Amy Hanauer and Tim Krueger argue that taxes play no role in taxpayer decisions to move from one state to another (The Tax Flight Myth: People Move for Jobs and Family, Not Taxes,  State Tax Notes, July 8, 2013, p. 97 … ). Their conclusions are apparently based on empirical studies and computer models. They are wrong. Based on my experience as a practitioner who works with wealthy individuals and corporations every day, I can assure you that taxes often play a major role in these decisions and that in many cases, they are the sole reason for the move.

That’s right, in my experience.  Taxpayers absolutely take taxes into account when they move, even if it’s hard to isolate in aggregate data.  Tax aren’t everything, but they are definitely something.

Kim Reuben, Detroit’s bankruptcy: What does it mean for other cities? (TaxVox)

Russ Fox, The Flow of AGI from One State to Another

 

Jason Dinesen, Tax Aspects of Renting Your Home for a Day or Two.  Taking in RAGRAI riders can give you some tax-free income.

Robert D. Flach, KEEPING A CONTEMPORANEOUS MILEAGE LOG.  If you want to deduct your mileage, you need to keep your log up to date.

 

Tyler Cowen, Wealth Taxes: A Future Battleground.  Just another way for politicians to cover their profligacy.  Via Arnold Kling, who has more.

TaxGrrrl, Rather Than Tackle Tough Tax Reform, Congress Focuses On The Death Tax. Again.

Kay Bell, The U.S. tax system is not very attractive

William McBride, American Corporations Losing Ground (Tax Policy Blog):

The U.S. corporate tax is the most punitive in the developed world, not just because the statutory corporate tax rate is the highest but also because the effective corporate tax rate is the highest or nearly the highest according to recent studies

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 74.

 

Tax offender of the year nominee.  I no longer choose a Taxpayer of the Year, but Russ Fox still “honors” a “tax offender of the year.”  I hope he will consider Ayawna Webster, former president of the D.C. Young Democrats and staff aide to a D.C. City Council Member, Harry Thomoas Jr.  The Washington Post reports:

The former chief of staff to one-time D.C. council member Harry Thomas Jr. pleaded guilty Friday to falsifying tax documents in connection with payments for a 2009 political ball…

 According to court documents, [non-profit chief Millicent] West worked with Thomas and Webster to send trust money intended to pay for youth programs to help cover the cost of the party.

Just when you think politicians can’t come up with ways to make you think less of them, they come through.  Looting a fund for poor kids to pay for a “political ball” is notably evil.

 

Brian Mahany, Business Owner Pleads to Hiding Offshore Account

Jack Townsend, Liechtenstein Bank In U.S. Cross-Hairs

 

A video report on Rashia Wilson’s sentencing

She had a sixth-grade education and stole millions from the taxpayers.  When that can happen — over and 0ver – there just may be a problem with IRS controls over refunds.

 

The Critical Question.  Lap Dance Tax?  (Jim Maule)

News you can use.  The Data on Bar Fights (Freakonomics Blog)

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Tax Roundup, 7/5/2013: Iowa preparer meets her Waterloo. And a sixty-nine year anniversary.

Friday, July 5th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20130705-3Waterloo preparer to plead to preparing return with bad deductions.  From the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier:

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa filed a criminal complaint against Victoria A. Jones, age unavailable, in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday.

She is charged with one count of aiding in the preparation of a fraudulent return. An arraignment has been scheduled for July 9 in Cedar Rapids.

Authorities allege Jones helped a couple identified only by the initials R.D. and L.D. submit a false tax return to the IRS for 2008. The return claimed the filers had $67,211 in itemized deductions when they had significantly less.

Court document says that she intends to plead guilty, but provides no additional information as to the nature of the false deductions.

 

Iowans Can Now Pay Taxes With Their Phones, Online (The Dwolla Blog).  Only property taxes for now, and only in some counties.  It would be nice if they added income taxes.

 

He shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.  Executive Nullification, Once Again (Arnold Kling)

 

Make everyone poorer, to put the 1% in their place.   From a paper by Karel Mertens (via Tyler Cowen):

A hypothetical tax reform cutting marginal rates only for the top 1% leads to sizeable increases in top 1\% incomes and has a positive effect on real GDP. There are also spillover effects to incomes outside of the top 1%, but top marginal rate cuts lead to greater inequality in pre-tax incomes. 

So cutting top tax rates makes everyone better off.  Yet because it helps the “top 1%” the most, politicians like the President will tell us it’s a bad idea.

 

Ex-Bear Zorich way behind.  The Chicago Tribune reports that former football player Chris Zorich is financially underwater as he faces a July 12 sentencing date on tax charges.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 57

Because it would never pass?  Why is the Carbon Tax Missing from the Climate Change Debate? (Tax Justice Blog)

Gene Steuerle, The Baucus-Hatch “Blank Slate” Approach to Tax Reform Could Be Revolutionary:

 

Kay Bell has posted Tax Carnival #118: July 4th Tax Fireworks!

Christopher Bergin, Gratitude on the Fourth of July (Tax Analysts Blog)

TaxGrrrl, Taxes & Independence: Happy Fourth Of July.   Kelly freely quotes the Declaration of Independence, including this:

 He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Good thing that couldn’t happen today…

 

Why Exactly Do You  Want An Offshore Account?

Jack Townsend, Information on Filing Delinquent FBARs

 

Economic development for Iowa!  Minnesota: Higher Income and Cigarette Tax Making It the Land of 10,000 Taxes? Philip Hammersley, Tax Policy Blog:

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) recently signed  legislation increasing income and cigarette taxes in the Gopher State. The legislature hopes to raise nearly $2.1 billion in revenue from the tax hikes in order to close the budget deficits and fund new spending projects. The average Minnesota taxpayer currently pays 10.79 percent of his income in state and local taxes. This tax burden makes Minnesota the 7th highest taxed state in the nation.

Iowa’s tax system has more than its share of flaws, but it sure could be worse.

 

Cara Griffith, Taxes and Whistleblower Suits (Tax Analysts Blog).  Should whistleblowers be able to file tax suits against corporations?

Holiday or no, Robert D. Flach has fresh Buzz!  He reminds us that the IRS is closed today.

 

Peter Reilly, Gettysburg Interlude – Understanding Historiography

 

Sixty-nine years ago today, my Dad’s participation in the war ended.  The third stage of the Tour de France went by the place where it happened earlier this week.

The final mission of B-24 42-78127, over the target in Toulon, France.  John Kristan was top turret gunner in one of the planes - likely the one at the bottom of the picture.

The final mission of B-24 42-78127, over the target in Toulon, France. John Kristan was top turret gunner in one of the planes – likely the one at the bottom of the picture.

So my job doesn’t seem so hard today.

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Don’t fire employee #50 just yet: Obamacare employer mandate delayed until 2015

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20121120-2Obamacare employer mandate delayed.  Employers who have been puzzling over how to hide that 50th employee to avoid the expensive Affordable Care Act employee coverage mandate have a one-year reprieve.  The news came in a Treasury blog post hilariously titled “Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner“:

The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin.  This is designed to meet two goals.  First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law.  Second, it will provide time to adapt healthcoverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.

A translation:

“First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law” = The law is so complicated that nobody knows how to comply.

 “Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees” = “Resume hiring people before the 2014 election, people!”

This means the “shared responsibility payment” (what a creepy name) provision for employers with 50 or more employees will not apply until 2015.  As the employee count for the 2015 payments will be based on 2014 payrolls, that gives employers an extra year to figure out how to outsource or automate enough functions to stay under 50.

Additional coverage:

Tyler Cowen, Repeal the employer mandate altogether

Evan Soltas, The Side Effects of Delaying Obamacare

Ezra Klein, Obamacare’s employer mandate shouldn’t be delayed. It should be repealed.

Sara Kliff, The politics of delaying Obamacare:  “The White House just swapped one political headache for another.”

TaxGrrrl, White House Suspends Tax, Other Reporting Requirements For Obamacare

Paul Neiffer,  Employer Mandate Delayed for One Year

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Tax Roundup, 5/9/2013: Gotta start somewhere edition.

Thursday, May 9th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

rand paulGotta start somewhere.  The Hill reports “Rand Paul introduces bill to roll back parts of tax evasion law“:

“FATCA’s harmful impacts cover the spectrum,” Paul said. “It is a violation of Americans’ constitutional protections, oversteps the limits of Executive power, disregards the mutual respect of sovereignty among nations and drains money from the federal treasury under the guise of replenishing it, and discourages overseas investment in the United States.”

“Tax evasion is a problem that should be addressed, but not in such an egregious way,” Paul added.

FATCA has made normal financial life difficult or impossible for many Americans abroad.  Too bad politicians didn’t think of these things before they voted.

Probably related: Lynnley Browning, U.S. Citizens Ditch Passports in Record Numbers (via the TaxProf).  Also this from Phil Hodgen.

Jack Townsend, HSBC India Reported to be Cooperating with DOJ and IRS and Projecting Significant Penalty

 

TaxGrrrl,  Sanctions May Be Least Of ‘Copyright Troll’ Worries As Matter Is Referred To Feds, IRS.  A great article telling the story of an attorney/copyright troll who annoyed a judge enough to get him to call in the IRS to investigate his taxes.  Hilarity ensues.

Cara Griffith, Pot Calling Kettle Black? (Tax.com):

Good Jobs First is just hiding the ball a little bit by trying to get rid of reports on business climate. The Good Jobs First report says that the real issue we should be focusing on is “how to build a tax system that is fair, modern and relevant.” Yes, that’s exactly what needs to be done, but I would argue that reports on business climate add to the debate. And while I do think that such reports must be examined with a critical eye, “business climate” matters.

Related Tax Update coverage here.

 

Tyler Cowen

“When economists are not listened to, that often means strong special interests and/or strong voter sentiment stand on the other side of the equation.  The numerous special deductions in the tax code, most of which have no efficiency justification, are examples.”

True of both federal and Iowa tax laws.

 

Brian Strahle,  MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT:  IMPACT ON NON-INTERNET REMOTE RETAILERS?

Hence, it appears that this Act would apply to any business (not just Internet Retailers) that makes sales into a state in which it does not have nexus.  Therefore, manufacturers or other non-Internet retailers who sell directly to retail customers who do not have sales representatives or any other physical connection with a state may (under this Act) be required to collect sales tax on its remote sales.

It’s not just the e-Bay sellers who would have to deal with this.  If you really want to create “market fairness,” there are two ways that are much simpler: either a straight national sales tax collection regime with uniform rules and rate where the proceeds are allocated to the states based on the sales to the state, or a sales tax based on shipping location.

 

Janet Novack,  Reverse Showrooming: Best Buy, Amazon And The Internet Sales Tax:

Traditional bricks and mortar retailers squander their immediacy edge with indifferent/uninformed sales help, who look even worse compared to the information now available on the web. But they can do well if they integrate their online and in-store services, carry enough inventory and price competitively.

 

Christopher Bergin, No Use for Useless Stances (Tax.com)

Linda Beale,  Senate did the right thing–will the House?

 

Tony Nitti, Boxer Manny Pacquiao Ducks U.S. Taxes, Will Return To Ring In China

Paul Neiffer,  Make Sure to Coordinate Estate Documents with Ag Laws

Kay Bell,  It’s property tax appraisal, and scam, time

 

It’s great to waste money, as long as it’s wasted here.  I dust off my old personal rant blog in response to this.

Going Concern, Groundbreaking CFO.com Survey Reveals Accounting Professionals Desperately Need Communication Skills.  All I can say to that is, pprdrhnt.

 

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Tax Roundup, 2/12/2013: Tax fraud, queens and princesses. And 21 lawyers!

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

Meanwhile, somewhere an ID thief is trying to get cash from an ATM with a peanut butter sandwich.  TBO.com reports:

A 6-year-old pupil at Symmes Elementary School in Riverview was asked to take her homework out of her backpack, according to Cpl. Bruce Crumpler of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The girl reached into her bag and pulled out a baggie containing 52 debit cards, Crumpler said.

The cards, which can be used as accounts for depositing tax refunds are commonly used by people who use stolen personal identities to file tax returns to obtain fraudulent refunds.

20130212-1Maybe she’s the little princess of tax fraud.  Meanwhile, the same TBO.com has an update on Rashia Wilson, who allegedly proclaimed herself the “Queen of IRS Tax Fraud:”

Wilson may not have been the biggest player in Tampa’s income tax fraud explosion, but she was one of the most brazen — “flashy,” a sheriff’s investigator called her, “in your face about it.”

The affidavits show Wilson even had a picture of herself with a cool smile on her face, wearing an oversized jewel-encrusted pendant spelling out her first name as she held bundles of cash.

“YES I’M RASHIA THE QUEEN OF IRS TAX FRAUD,” reads a May posting on her Facebook page described in the affidavits. “IM’ A MILLIONAIRE FOR THE RECORD SO IF U THINK INDICTING ME WILL BE EASY IT WONT I PROMISE U!”

Easier than she thought, apparently.  She has been indicted on 57 federal tax fraud charges for collecting $1.3 million through fake tax returns, apparently claiming earned income credits and refundable education credits.  That should make the politicians think twice before they expand these fraud-ridden credits, but it won’t.

 

How many lawyers does it take to lose a tax case?  15.  At least that’s how many lawyers were listed on the losing side yesterday in Bank of New York Mellon Corp., a Tax Court case disallowing foreign tax credits in a tax shelter case.  Six lawyers are listed on the IRS side, for a total of 21.  The losing side was led by former IRS Chief Counsel B. John Williams.  If nothing else, the legal expense deductions should take a bite out of the losing side’s tax bill.  The TaxProf has more.

 

Iowa’s push for a 4.5% optional flat tax — which I call an “alternative maximum tax” – puzzles David Brunori ($link)

Many liberals in Iowa are complaining that a flat tax wouldn’t require the rich to pay their fair share, whatever that means. But a lot of those people seem more interested in soaking the rich than in helping the poor. Personally, I am much more in favor of reducing the tax burdens on the poor and dispossessed than I am in making rich people suffer.


     I think a flat income tax with few deductions (and a sizable exemption for low-income people) is the way to go. I’m unsure why the state would continue its horribly complicated personal income tax system that benefits return preparers, tax lawyers, and tax accountants.

It’s because of a peculiarity of Iowa politics.  The powerful lobbying group Iowans for Tax Relief opposes a repeal of the Iowa deduction for federal taxes paid.  ITR has shown that it can provoke successful primary challenges of Republican legislators who displease the Muscatine-based lobby.  Yet significant rate reduction is impossible if the deduction is retained.  Making the lower rate an “alternative” rather than a replacement appeases Muscatine, though at a cost in incoherence.

 

Will we see a revival in enforcement of the accumulated earnings tax?  The obscure depression-era tax on C corporations that retain cash in excess of their “needs,” as second-guessed by the IRS, is rarely asserted.  With left-side economists like Paul Krugman asserting that corporate cash-hoarding is one reason why the economy remains weak, don’t be surprised if his friends in the Obama administration try to revive enforcement of this archaic and foolish penalty tax. (Via Tyler Cowen).

 

William McBride, CBO Projections of Spending and Tax Credits (Tax Policy Blog):

As the chart below shows, mandatory spending represents the majority of the federal budget, and the part that has grown most dramatically in recent years.  Mandatory spending was about 10 percent of GDP for most of the 30 years prior to 2008.  It leapt to 15 percent of GDP in 2009 and now remains at 13.1 percent.  It is projected to increase to 14.1 percent of GDP by 2023.  Meanwhile, discretionary spending, on programs like defense, roads, and other infrastructure, is on a steady decline.  Discretionary spending is now 8.3 percent of GDP and set to go to a 50 year low of 5.5 percent of GDP by 2023.

 20130212-2

No spending is really “mandatory.”  Congress and the President can always change the “mandatory” programs.  And they will, or we will face fiscal disaster and crushing taxes.

 

Paul Neiffer,  Farmer Filing Due Date Update

Yes.  Will Obama’s Call for Tax Reform Ring Hollow? (Jeremy Scott, Tax.com).

TaxGrrrl, A Beginner’s Guide To Taxes: Do I Need To Hire A Tax Preparer Or Can I Do My Return Myself?

William Perez, Finding the Right Filing Status

Patrick Temple-West,  Sandy damage leads to tax trouble, and more (Tax Break)

Peter Reilly,  Co-op Owner Wins Casualty Loss Appeal

Missouri Tax Guy, Safeguarding Financial Records

Brian Strahle,   Delaware’s NEW Voluntary Disclosure Program for Unclaimed Property:  Should You Utilize It?

Jack Townsend,  Good Faith as a Defense to Tax Crimes

 

The Critical Question:  Would a Carbon Tax and Corporate Tax Reform Taste Great Together? (Donald Marron, TaxVox).

Kay Bell, Man gets $161,392 erroneous tax refund.  And in this case he didn’t even ask for it.

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Tax Roundup, 2/7/2013: Iowa Code Conformity Bill goes to Governor. And: West Des Moines denture tax evasion

Thursday, February 7th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20130117-1The Iowa House of Representatives  passed without changes SF 106, the bill updating Iowa’s income tax to incorporate last month’s Fiscal Cliff tax bill.  The bill conforms to all federal changes except for bonus depreciation, which remains unavailable on Iowa returns.

Now the bill goes to Governor Branstad.  The Governor vetoed a prior conformity bill because it adopted bonus depreciation; he is expected to sign this one.

The early passage of these bills is a relief to taxpayers affected by the federal changes.  Now they know how to file their Iowa 2012 returns.  Among the items affected by the bill:

- Section 179 depreciation.  Iowa now adopts the federal $500,000 limit for 2012 and 2013.

- IRA charitable distributions up to $100,000

- The above-the-line deductions for educator expenses and college tuition

- The optional deduction for state and local sales taxes.

No word yet on when the Governor will act on the bill.

 

West Des Moines denture-maker pleads to tax evasion.  The West Des Moines Patch reports:

Charles R. Barbour, who entered his plea to one count of income tax evasion in a proceeding before U.S. Magistrate Judge Celeste F. Bremer, will be sentenced on May 9.

In it, Barbour admitted that he understated tax year 2006 income in the amount of nearly $81,000, tax year 2007 income in the amount of nearly $51,000, tax year 2008 income in the amount of nearly $52,900 and tax year 2009 income in the amount of $11,300.

From the plea agreement it appears that the charges involve diversion of business receipts from his denture-making business to a personal bank account, and improper deductions:

Barbour willfully claimed false business expenses on the Schedules C for tax years 2007, 2008 and 2009; deducting internet and cable expenses for his residence as advertising expense; rent payments on a condominium and an apartment as rent expense; loan repayments to his parents as equipment repairs and maintenance expense; payments for his daughter’s medical expenses as medical supplies; payments to a local country club as professional development; and child support payments as professional fees and contract labor expenses.

The standard IRS audit programs for business expenses look for personal expenses disguised as business expenses, and an experienced examiner knows where to look.  That makes sneaking personal expenses onto a business return a bad bet — and if you make a habit of it, it can become a much bigger problem than back taxes and penalties.

 

Tyler Cowen,  Will health insurance premia rise for young males?

 Look at Table 1– where it says that the average premium for young healthy males will go from $2,000 to a little over $5,000. Yikes.

When the largely-optional penalty for not buying insurance is $695, it doesn’t seem likely that healthy young males will buy a lot of insurance — especially when they can buy it when they get sick because of the rules against pre-existing condition limits.  It’s hard to imagine this working well.

 

Jack Townsend,  Article for Canadians with Unreported Canadian Retirement Plans and Accounts.  More news from the foreign tax compliance jaywalker-shooting front.

Linda Beale,  Soon-to-be Google litigation with IRS over 2003-4 returns?  A disclosure in their 10-K.

Kaye Thomas,  Gaps in Cost Basis Reporting.  Don’t just take as gospel what the broker tells you.

Ellen Kant, Super Bowl Loophole (Tax Policy Blog).  On how the hugely-profitable NFL, and other sports leagues, are tax-exempt.

Elaine Maag, The Immigration Debate: Another Reason We Ought to Separate Work and Family Credits (TaxVox).

Have you ever tried to shoot one?  Oh, I thought you said “Quail.”  There Is Nothing Perplexing About Quill (Cara Griffith, Tax.com):

By saying that Quill created a perplexing inquiry gives credence to the idea that states can get around the physical presence requirement, but they can’t.

Try telling that to Iowa.

 

Russ Fox has a new book out, Tax Strategies for the Small Business OwnerCool!

Yeah, that will solve the deficit. Obama repeats call to end tax break for corporate jets, and more. (Patrick Temple-West, Tax Break).  I’m sure that will be wonderful news at the HondaJet North Carolina production facility that is newly up and running.

TaxGrrrl, Taxpayer Alleges IRS Agent Offered Sex In Exchange For Lower Tax Penalties On Audit.  Sounds far-fetched, but based on what I have seen of IRS agents, it would be a human rights offense.

 

You expected “Days of Our Lives?” The Situation Around the Registered Tax Return Preparer Program Has Become a Really Bad Soap Opera (Going Concern)

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

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 by Joe Kristan

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

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

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

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

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

20121019-1

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

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

201130102-1

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

This isn’t exactly going to help hiring.

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

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

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

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

 

Fiscal Cliff Notes

TaxProf, House Approves Fiscal Cliff Tax Deal

Tyler Cowen, Ross Douthat asks

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

Greg Mankiw, President rejects his bipartisan commission

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

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

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

Journal of Accountacy, Congress passes fiscal cliff act

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

Kay Bell, House passes tax bill to avoid fiscal cliff

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

Robert D. Flach, SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE!

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

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

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

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

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

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Tax Roundup, 12/24/2012: the coming preparer crash. Also: a modest fiscal cliff proposal.

Monday, December 24th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

20121224-1IRS preparer rules may create a catastrophic preparer shortage.  A press release last week from the IRS urging preparers to take the new Registered Tax Return Preparer examination saves the real news until the end (my emphasis):

So far, there are more than 48,000 preparers who have earned RTRP certificates. There also has been an increase in the number of people taking the enrolled agent exam.

Starting Jan. 1, 2014, only registered tax return preparers, enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys will be authorized to prepare and sign federal individual returns.

There are currently 739,000 tax preparers with 2012 PTINs. Approximately 350,000 of them are subject to the new testing and CE requirements.

It’s likely the population of authorized return preparers will crash.  That will increase demand for the big national tax preparation franchises, which probably was the real goal the new regulations – written by a former president of H&R Block.  A reduction in preparer supply will increase prices.  It will cause some taxpayers on the margin to prepare their own returns, and some to stop filing altogether.  Hardly a step forward for tax administration.

UPDATE, 12/27: The IRS Regulates Mom-and-Pop Tax Preparers Out of Business, Just in Time for Tax Season!

 

Tyler Cowen: point out that the rich guy isn’t buying.  The economist makes an interesting suggestion for the GOP now that “Plan B” has failed (my emphasis):

 To see how this could work, consider this script: Let’s say the Republicans decide to largely give in to what the President Obama is proposing. There is, however, a catch: the president has to agree to raise marginal tax rates on all income classes, not just on the rich.  The tax increase would be one-quarter of a percentage point, or some other arbitrary small amount, with larger increases possible for higher incomes, as has been discussed. The deal also stipulates that both the president and Congress must publicly acknowledge that current plans for government spending can’t be financed unless taxes on most or all income groups climb further yet, and by some hefty amount.

This highlights the frivolous, depressing and maddening nature of the “Fiscal Cliff” crisis. They will solve nothing, regardless of the outcome.  The President resolutely ignores the continuing fiscal catastrophe.  Nothing he proposes pays for more than rounding error in federal spending.  His only concern is scoring political points, not solving the problem.  A demoralized GOP lacks the nerve, and perhaps the conviction, to call for the spending cuts needed to approach fiscal sanity.

Of course,  “The Rich” simply don’t have enough money to pay for our incontinent government.

 

Joseph Henchman:  Switzerland “Debt Brake” As Consensus Policy Option for America? (Tax Policy Blog)

 

Fiscal Cliff Notes:

Kay Bell,  Average tax bill increase if we fall off the fiscal cliff? $3,446

Patrick Temple-West,  Boehner’s budget ‘Plan B’ collapses, and more (Tax Break)

Janet Novack,  Obama Plays The Adult In The Room–Before Leaving For Hawaiian Holiday

Peter Reilly,  All I Want For Christmas Is An AMT Patch.  Me too.

Trich McIntire,  Congressional Con

Jim Maule, Tax Pledges: Never Say Never.

 

He’s a little people now.  From an FBI press release:

John J. McCauley Jr., 54, owner and co-operator of McCauley and L’Europa  Public Adjusters LLC and PIA Restoration LLC in Providence Rhode Island, and longtime Rhode Island state legislator, was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States of more than $500,000 and filing false tax returns…

Like some other politicians, he can take the taxes, but he can’t dish them out.  He was Deputy Speaker of the Rhode Island House, according to this report.

 

TaxProf, Deconstruction Deduction:  Home Disassembly and Charitable Donation Rather Than Demolition Yields Big Tax Savings

Jason Dinesen, New Preparer Requirements on Earned Income Credit = Higher Fees for Clients

12 Days of Charitable Giving 2012: Fisher House Foundation

Jack Townsend, Evasion of Payment Statute of Limitations Runs from the Last Affirmative Act

Russ Fox,  Fat Joe Takes the Rap

Merry Christmas!  TaxVox’s 2012 Lump of Coal Awards  (Howard Gleckman)

Wow.  From the TaxProf:

Yesterday morning, my son was on a bus on I-80 with 52 other Grinnell College students heading to the Des Moines airport to fly home for the Christmas holiday when the driver suffered a fatal heart attack.  The bus veered off the highway to the right, into a snowbank from the 12 inches of snow that fell in Iowa last Thursday.  Miraculously, none of the students were injured, and after being transported to the hospital in Newton, Iowa, Grinnell arranged for alternative transportation for the students to the airport.

My older son drove that route yesterday coming home from school in Chicago.  Happily, his trip was unexciting.  I hope all of you who are traveling this week arrive safely.

 

That would be sexy indeed.  Too Sexy for Iowa  (The Other McCain).

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The rich guy won’t be buying in 2012 either

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Clive Crook at the Atlantic reports that the rich guy is already footing the bill in the United States:

A new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that in the middle of the last decade

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