It's a wonderful day. In preparation for the 2016 National Football League draft that starts tonight at 8 p.m./7 Central, we step back from the drama of the presidential campaign and get ready for the drama of which young men will become instant millionaires. I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, so the draft fascination for me is what crazy move owner Jerry Jones might make. (Photo by Kay Bell; Cowboys vs. Lions, Nov. 21, 2010, at Jerry World) As ESPN senior writer Mike Sando notes, "Like its predecessors, the 2016 NFL draft has proved to be unpredictable and, come Thursday night,... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


It's official. Much of greater Houston that flooded last week is now a presidentially declared disaster area. Austin didn't sustain the kind of damage from mid-April rains that Houston, about 170 miles southeast, did. But we got enough to fill Lake Travis to the brim, necessitating the opening of a Mansfield Dam floodgate. My video of the released lake water is posted on YouTube. That means that the Internal Revenue Service, which already told taxpayers in H Town not to worry about making the April 18 filing deadline, is providing additional special tax relief for affected individuals and businesses in... Read more →


Trust no one. That X-Files admonition has been co-opted for just about everything, but it's particularly appropriate in this time of increasing tax identity theft and refund fraud. It also apparently is taken to heart by the federal office that keeps an eye on the Internal Revenue Service's operations. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) says its Office of Investigations (OI) examines not only outside threats to the tax collecting agency, but also internal issues. "Specifically, OI investigates misconduct by IRS employees which manifests itself in many ways," said Timothy Camus, a Deputy Inspector General with TIGTA. Insider... Read more →


Tom Brady could be sitting out the start of the 2016 National Football League season. Tom Brady taking the field in Denver Colorado, on Dec. 18, 2011, as the Patriots and Broncos were about to play. Photo by Jeffrey Beall (Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons. If the star quarterback does miss the first four games of the 2015 NFL season in connection with Deflategate, he won't be alone in paying the price. Tax collectors in Arizona and Massachusetts also will be out some money. Commissioner vindicated: This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and millions of taxpayers are breathing easier. Overall, the 2016 filing season went pretty smoothly. A big reason for that was this year's improved taxpayer telephone service. Highways England via Flickr "So far this filing season the telephone level of service is nearly 75 percent, which is a vast improvement over last year," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee during an April 19 hearing to assess the just-completed filing season. The commish is right about the dramatically better phone help. Twice as good: In 2015, the IRS telephone tax help... Read more →


To be, or not to be, a tax cheat, that is the question that William Shakespeare might have asked himself. It seems he answered, "To be." One version of Hamlet's soliloquy from season one of the brilliant Canadian comedy/drama "Slings and Arrows." Click image to watch the full clip on YouTube. In commemorating the 400th anniversary of The Bard's death today, we rightly celebrate his literary genius. But he also was a mere mortal. And as such, according to research from Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, Shakespeare was prosecuted for evading taxes and for hoarding grain during a famine... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2016. April 22 marks the anniversary of the birth in 1970 of the modern environmental movement. For farmers, however, every day is earth day, says Naomi Starkman, founder and editor in chief of Civil Eats, a news outlet that focuses on sustainable agriculture. "Farmers work every day to care for the Earth and steward the land that sustains us," writes Starkman in an opinion piece for MSNBC. Farmers like Donald J. Trump. Donald J. Trump's goat farm helps him get tax breaks on two New Jersey golf properties. Photo courtesy Columbia Economic Development Corporation, Columbia County, New... Read more →


Timing is everything. Just ask all the Texans coping with the aftermath of recent spring storms and the unfortunate timing of the state's first storm-related tax holiday. Hail and its damage in Wylie, Texas, earlier in April. (Photos by Mary Ann Olson, left, and Wes Stephens, right, via The Weather Channel) On April 11, the Dallas-Ft. Worth areas was pummeled by storms, some of which produced softball size hail. Law enforcement agencies, media outlets and insurance companies were inundated with reports of shattered car windshields, broken windows in buildings and even holes in roofs. The next night, hailstones larger than... Read more →


Even with three extra days to complete taxes this year, some folks missed the April 18 (or 19) tax filing deadline. Did you just give up on tax filing this year? You need to get a return to the IRS ASAP or you'll pay the price. Maybe a personal emergency took precedence. Perhaps you meant to get the job done, but it took longer than you planned and exasperated, you just said, "Later!" Or you discovered you owe, but don't have the money and thought, "What's the point?" The point, regardless of why you didn't get your Form 1040 (or... Read more →


Here's a tax-related travel tip. Mail your return before you head out to your favorite festival. Some of the attendees of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival's opening weekend, April 15-17, tried to fulfill their tax-filing duties. Unfortunately for them, the Coachella campground's post office is not a full-service facility. Instead, the small operation is more of an intermediary between festival-goers and the real local post office in Indio, California, proper. The temporary Coachella post office this year is housed in a life-sized version of a Lincoln Log cabin, according to The Orange County Register. It was put together,... Read more →


There are many nicknames for marijuana. Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. Cash cow. OK, that last one isn't an official moniker for pot. But it is how many state legislators see the mood altering herb. And it could be a reason why 4/20 could one day be celebrated nationwide. Photo by GoToVan via Flickr CC Pot's tax payoff: Nearly $700 million of medical and recreational marijuana was sold in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot, in 2014. Data through last November shows that the 2015 numbers have already passed the 2014 mark, with nearly $895... Read more →


While millions of Americans on Monday, April 18, were worrying about getting their taxes to Uncle Sam on time, folks in Houston had bigger problems. Tax Day 2016 coincided with deadly flooding in Texas' largest city. Rescuers head out in boats, rafts to help motorists stranded on flooded Houston streets. Click image to watch CBSN video. The Internal Revenue Service on April 18 announced that taxpayers affected by the severe weather in the Houston area, as well as in other hard-hit parts of Texas, may qualify for relief from the usual late-filing penalties. Penalty relief for flooded late filers: If... Read more →


Finally! Tax Day 2016 has arrived for folks in Maine and Massachusetts. While procrastinators in the other 48 states and District of Columbia were working to finish their 1040s yesterday and get them on their way to the Internal Revenue Service, folks in Maine and Massachusetts had a literal and tax holiday. Monday, April 18, was Patriots’ Day in those two New England states. The annual state holiday commemorates the 1775 Revolutionary War battles at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. That celebration of the start of America's birth, as well as the running of the Boston Marathon and a day game... Read more →


Finally! Tax Day 2016 has arrived. Here are three things to do to make sure you and the Internal Revenue Service are happy today. Don't worry. You don't have to do all of them! 1. File your 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ) If you can finish your taxes -- and do them correctly, not making mistakes or missing out on some tax breaks -- then get your return on its way to the IRS. If you're e-filing, you can hit the send button by midnight your local time, although I don't recommend waiting that late in case you have technical... Read more →


Tax returns are due tomorrow. Most of us have filed. But there are around 10 million procrastinating holdouts. Part of the reason we put off taxes is that it's a pain in, well, just about every body part. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) wants to make the process easier, especially for folks with simple returns. She's introduced the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016, which would require the Internal Revenue Service provide these taxpayers with prefilled 1040 forms, based on their tax documents that also are copied to the IRS. The process would be even easier next year, when a provision... Read more →


The 2016 filing (or extending, but not tax paying!) deadline is tomorrow. I know many of you are working diligently on your 2015 return. But it never hurts to take a break. So I thought you might enjoy this brief tax facts video. Click image to watch the Plante Moran video on YouTube. That beard tax tidbit might terrify today's hipsters, but it's also a good example of how so-called Pigovian taxes have always been used to modify, or at least try to shape, our behavior. Nowadays we have sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol in part to discourage those... Read more →