One thing is certain about tonight's debate between the candidates who want to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016: None of them is Donald Trump. The Republican nominee front-runner has, however, threatened promised to troll cover tonight's event via Twitter. Trump's absence, on stage at least, is good for Democrats. It is bad, however, for the televised spectacle factor. Don't expect any outrageous statements from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee in an effort to stand out. Democratic presidential wannabes face off for the first time on Oct. 13 in Las Vegas, televised... Read more →

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is still contemplating whether he wants to be Speaker of the House. Meanwhile, opposition to what some had seen as the consensus candidate is growing. Looking for less power in Speaker: Some in the self-named Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans who have chipped away at what they see as establishment members of the GOP, including those in Congressional leadership posts, are not sold on Ryan as Speaker. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the founder of the House Freedom Caucus, told Fox News last week that he viewed Ryan as a... Read more →

Business tax filers are catching up with individual taxpayers when it comes to electronically submitting returns. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that in 2015 around 77 percent of all corporate and partnership returns were filed electronically, based on filing data as of Sept. 20. That's 625,000 more such business filings than last year, or percentage-wise, a 9 percent increase. On the individual tax side, slightly more that 86 percent of U.S. taxpayers had e-filed their 1040s through Sept. 25. That's a 2.2 percent increase over the same period in 2014. And remember that we have a few more e-filing days... Read more →

Computers and taxes are inseparable. Most of us use our computers to file our taxes every year. The Internal Revenue Service relies on its computers, which it keeps telling Congress it needs money to upgrade, to process those millions of electronically completed and filed returns. Now some computer scientists are working on an algorithm that could help catch some tax cheats. Partnership tax shelter troubles: Specifically, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the nonprofit technology research and development organization Mitre Corporation, are focusing on a certain type of tax shelter used by partnerships. "We see the tax code... Read more →

I love that Subaru commercial where the little kid (he's 5!) imagines what it would be like to drive his dad's car. My favorite part is when he exasperatedly utters, "People." That's how I feel today after the Internal Revenue Service felt compelled to issue a warning about possible fake charity scams popping up in connection with the deadly flooding this month in South Carolina and neighboring states. People. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Crooks and con artists look for any hook they can to separate us from our money. It happened after the devastating Haitian earthquake. Criminals also targeted... Read more →

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) withdrew today from the race to succeed Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker of the House. "Over the last week it has become clear to me that our Conference is deeply divided and needs to unite behind one leader," McCarthy said in a statement released by his office. "I have always put this Conference ahead of myself. Therefore I am withdrawing my candidacy for Speaker of the House. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to help move our Conference’s agenda and our country forward." The surprise move has left the Republican House... Read more →

It breaks my heart as a fan to say this, but professional sports is business. That's true not just for the owners, who look for ways to squeeze every penny out of their teams, but also for the players. I've ranted and raved and yes, cried like a little girl, as I've watched my favorite players take the money and run to other teams. Game opening face-off between the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils on Feb. 21, 2013. The Caps lost 2-3, but the hubby and I enjoyed seeing our team skate again. Photo by Kay Bell. In every... Read more →

A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Frank Pallone called for a Congressional review of fantasy sports operations. The ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is concerned about the relationships of professional sports teams and players with the fake leagues. The New Jersey Representative also is seeking clarification on just how, if at all, playing fantasy sports differs from gambling. Pallone renewed his call for a hearing today in the wake of reports of so-called insider trading of information by employees of fantasy sports providers DraftKings and FanDuel. Dave and Rob Gomes, brothers from Boston, Massachusetts, won $1... Read more →

We love our pets. Too much so, apparently, in the case of an animal care group that was seeking nonprofit status. In order to encourage donors to support its efforts to control domestic animal populations and prevent cruelty to animals, the owners of a pet facility planned to offer a variety of services. But the Internal Revenue Service decided that pet care accoutrements such as a heated spa, penthouse boarding and massages were more tailored to the promotion of a money-making business. Conversion complications: The facility seeking 501(c)(3) nonprofit status previously was a for-profit boarding and veterinary clinic. In changing... Read more →

When Donald Trump finally released his tax plan on Sept. 28, he included a provision he says would encourage U.S. based-companies to companies to bring their overseas earnings -- and jobs and tax payments -- home. Companies nowadays operate, and pay taxes, well beyond the boundaries of the county in which they are headquartered. Image by Effervescent Me via Flickr. Trump's proposal for a one-time repatriation of corporate cash held abroad at a discounted 10 percent tax rate is nothing new. One of his GOP presidential nominee competitors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, previously released his tax plan that calls... Read more →

Fall has arrived. That means in addition to leaves changing colors, some folks will be changing their workplace benefits. Yep, the open season for employer-provided options is or about to be underway in offices across the country. One of the most popular benefits is the tax-favored flexible spending account, usually referred to as an FSA. As the latest Weekly Tax Tip details, these worker accounts offer tax-saving ways to cover some child care or health care costs. The key to both accounts is knowing your, and your family's, needs and then managing the accounts carefully. Putting away pre-tax dollars: Both... Read more →

October is here, finally bringing with it colorful leaves and cooler Fall weather. OK, not so much here in Central Texas, where temperatures insist on hovering in the mid-90s, around 10 degrees above normal. Photo of a colorful park in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada by Paul Bica courtesy Flickr Creative Commons. Much more certain than the weather during this first full month of Autumn is the key tax deadline of Oct. 15. That date is, of course, when procrastinators must finally send in their prior year's tax return. It's also the due date for other important, and tax-related, retirement moves. Here's... Read more →

Hurricane Joaquin, a powerful, late-season tropical storm is pounding the Bahamas and expected to threaten ... well, we don't know for sure. Today, Joaquin became the first Category 4 hurricane to track through the Bahamas in October since 1866, 149 years ago. So where's he going next? As hurricanes are wont to do, Joaquin is not tipping its hand, or path. Storms often make late, and dramatic, turns. The South Florida Water Management District's collection of possible paths, known as spaghetti runs, are literally all over, and even off, the map below. As of this afternoon, the National Hurricane Center... Read more →

Did you notice anything different this morning? No? Good. That's because the federal government is still up and running, at least through Dec. 11. Yesterday, Sept. 30, the end of the 2015 fiscal year, Congress agreed on a stopgap funding bill to keep Uncle Sam operating into the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year. The House voted 277-151 in favor of the continuing resolution, which the Senate had passed earlier in the day by a 78-20 vote. The president signed the bill into law before the federal government ran out of money at midnight. That's the good news. Much... Read more →

Online sales tax collection is about to cross the halfway mark. On Thursday, Oct. 1, Michigan will become the 26th state in which Amazon will collect sales tax. Amazon box photo by MikeBlogs via Flickr The Seattle-based online retail giant, however, isn't the only company affected. Michigan operations, taxes: Michigan's new Main Street Fairness Act that takes effect tomorrow applies to all Internet retailers with a presence in the Great Lakes State. The affected businesses will be required to collect and remit to the Michigan Department of the Treasury the state's 6 percent sales tax on all purchases made by... Read more →

Attention Maryland residents. If you paid taxes to another state between 2011 and 2014 and were denied a tax credit for your county piggyback taxes against the out-of-state payments, the Old Line State is now handing back the money you're due. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, behind podium, and Gov. Larry Hogan held a press conference Sept. 28 to announce creation of a special online site to help taxpayers get the county tax credits ordered earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Joe Andrucyk via Maryland Governor's Office Photo Gallery. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that... Read more →

The Donald sure knows how to sell, that's for sure. As part of Trump's just-released tax plan, in April some taxpayers won't owe the Internal Revenue Service a red cent. But they still will get to send in a form, one that simply says, "I win!" What person wouldn't welcome no taxes and an in-your-face message to the hated IRS? Well, some sane people who question whether, despite Trump's promises, that his repackaging of a trickle-down tax system will work might have their doubts. But The Donald hasn't ever let the haters-gonna-hate crowd stop him. Zero tax bracket: The no-tax... Read more →