Summer is winding down. That means school soon will be back in session. And that means several states are holding sales tax holidays. A young man double checks and checks off school supplies from his back-to-school shopping list. That's a great way to make the most of your state's sales tax holiday. (Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr Creative Commons) Seventeen states have scheduled these annual tax-free shopping days in 2016, ranging from a couple of days to a full week. You can check out the complete list of the events on the ol' blog's new, dedicated State Sales... Read more →


It's official. Or as official as anything ever is with Donald J. Trump's run for the White House. The Republicans' 2016 presidential nominee will not be releasing his personal income tax returns. Click image to view the full interview. Tax question/response at 1 minute, 27 seconds. Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, appeared today on CBS This Morning and, in response to a query by Norah O'Donnell, reiterated his candidate's position on keeping the returns private. "Mr. Trump has said that his taxes are under audit and he will not be releasing them," said Manafort said. Trump originally indicated he would... Read more →


It's been a good couple of years for Philadelphia tourism officials and for folks who rented out their homes to the city's visitors. Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers debated and adopted both the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Click image for a montage of other notable Philly sites. (Photo by J. Leon via Wikipedia) Last September, Pope Francis included the City of Brotherly Love in his U.S. visit itinerary. This week, the Democratic National Convention has taken over Philly. Making money-making space: When big events like these are held, many full-time residents decide to literally... Read more →


Cyber criminals are getting added attention this week in the wake of Democratic National Committee emails that hackers stole and then leaked to the world. But the Internal Revenue Service has been concerned about hackers for a while. It formalized its cyber security worries last year with the creation of its Security Summit, a coalition of federal and states tax officials, as well as the tax industry. One of the Security Summit's goals is to alert and tax professionals about tax identity theft threats and encourage their involvement in fighting the electronic epidemic. The most recent IRS warning was to... Read more →


The Republicans still want to repeal Obamacare, or as it's officially known the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They say so every chance they get, be it on Capitol Hill, the campaign trail or in the Party's 2016 official platform. The Democrats want to extend and, according to that Party's platform, move the 44th president's namesake legislation toward even broader universal health care. President Barack Obama meets with doctors at the White House. (Photo by White House photographer Pete Souza) But until either of those comes to pass, we've got to work with what we've got. And that means coverage requirements... Read more →


One thing you can say for California is that its impressive diversity also extends to disasters. San Francisco houses built on loose ground sustain damage in the massive 1906 earthquake. Compared to other damage from the 7.8 magnitude temblor, this was minor. (Photo courtesy National Archives) The only good thing about such widespread destruction is that affected residents might be able to claim some disaster losses on their taxes. And in a recent decision, the Internal Revenue Service has offered some additional tax relief for Californians who got private relief in connection with an historic natural gas leak. Earthquakes, fires... Read more →


Those of us outside the Old Dominion are getting to know Tim Kaine, the junior senator from Virginia who on July 22 was selected by Hillary Clinton as her vice presidential running mate. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine on their first 2016 campaign stop in Florida. (Photo courtesy Hillary Clinton campaign Facebook page) Two decades+ in elective office: Before his election in 2013 to the U.S. Senate, Kaine served in a variety of other public positions. His first elective office was in 1994 as a Richmond, Virginia, city council member. He was elected mayor of Richmond in 1998, a post... Read more →


Fact checkers got a head start last night when Donald J. Trump's speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination was leaked to the media. Click image to see NBC News' fact check highlights of Donald J. Trump's Republican presidential nominee acceptance speech. Of course, folks still had to watch the full 76 minutes that Trump talked in case he decided to deviate from the teleprompter. So few tax remarks: As a tax geek, I was disappointed that Trump had so few words about taxes. The word "tax" or "taxes" only showed up eight times, and not until well into (about the... Read more →


Victims of tax identity theft must use a special tax number when they file since their Social Security number has been appropriated by crooks. This new six-digit tax ID is known as the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN. Others who aren't ID theft victims, but who want to use that number instead of their nine-digit Social Security ID for added security when they file, also can opt in to the program. But that option has been on hold for months because, you got it, concerns about tax identity thieves hacking into Internal Revenue Service systems. Now the... Read more →


The back-to-back Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions are more than just must-see TV for political wonks. They also are two extra weeks that Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen doesn't have to worry about possible impeachment. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen making one of his many Capitol Hill appearances. When the Senate and House decamped from D.C. on July 15, the scheduling change added two extra weeks to Congress' annual official August vacation. Sorry, I mean Congress' annual district work session. It also pushed until September the latest effort, this time by the House Freedom Caucus (HFC), to push Koskinen... Read more →


Dog lovers in Greece beware. That pooch you're petting could be working for the tax collector. Greece, which by some estimates is losing up to 16 billion euros ($17.62 billion U.S.) each year to tax evasion, is now looking for four-legged help. Dogs are assigned many tasks, like the ones the canines in this U.S. Army video are being trained to complete. Click image to watch what these Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois going through their military paces. Greek tax officials are recruiting dogs to sniff out potential tax dodgers who are hiding untaxed money, reports Reuters. Intertwined... Read more →


The 2016 Republican National Convention started today. So did the latest round of stories about what the GOP must do to make Donald J. Trump, its expected presidential nominee, more electable. Richard Hatch (far right, front row), winner of the first "Survivor" show in 2000, makes his case as a contestant in 2011 on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice." Hatch was fired by The Donald, but some suggest Hatch's "Survivor" strategy could help Trump win the presidency. There's the typical approach of moving toward the political center. That the path that's been taken over the years by both Democratic and Republican... Read more →


Happy National Ice Cream Day! Yep, it's a real holiday, celebrated each year on the third Sunday in July as part of National Ice Cream Month. So many ways to enjoy ice cream on National Ice Cream Day and any/every day. The yummy dairy product day and month were so designated in 1984 by a proclamation from then President Ronald Reagan. Like we, or me anyway, need an official sanction to dive into a pint or half-gallon or gallon of our favorite frozen treat. For most of us, when we buy our ice cream at our local grocery store, we... Read more →


Attention Pennsylvania digital aficionados, your electronic addictions are about to cost you a bit more. Gov. Tom Wolf on July 13 signed into law his state's fiscal 2017 revenue package. Among its provisions is an extension of the Keystone State's 6 percent sales and use tax to digital downloads of books, music, satellite radio and video and audio streaming. The new tax collection will take effect Aug. 1. It's expected to bring in nearly $47 million in its first year. Those millions of dollars in extra revenue are tempting targets for this week's By the Numbers honor. So is the... Read more →


Short-term residential rentals are seen by most state and local lawmakers as a great tax revenue source, but not in the United States' island paradise. Rather than stay at a resort like Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, some visitors to Hawaii prefer untaxed home share rentals available through Airbnb and other online accommodations brokers. (Photo by Darren Thompson via Flickr CC) Hawaii Gov. David Ige this week vetoed a bill that would have made collection of taxes on Airbnb rentals easier. The veto puts the 50th U.S. state, arguably one of the world's most visited spots, in... Read more →


The political version of The Apprentice is in high-gear today as Donald Trump prepares to name his vice presidential pick. Donald J. Trump will soon have help on the campaign trail from his vice presidential pick, whom he's scheduled to name on Friday, July 15. UPDATE, Friday, July 15: It's official. Trump taps Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for GOP veep spot. UPDATE, Thursday, July 14: Trump has postponed announcement of his running mate in light of the attack in Nice, France, on Bastille Day. However, if Indiana Gov. Michael Pence is the pick, we should get some indication by noon... Read more →


I've reached a milestone age where doctors seem to think a person suddenly needs every test medical science has so far devised. Routine blood tests were the least of my worries after my last doctor visit. I am pushing back on some of my physician's suggestions for several reasons. They range from "I feel fine" and "I have no family history of that particular ailment/disease/condition" to "Ewwwww!" to "I don't have time" and "Wow, that costs an awful lot." As for the expense argument, even though I have medical insurance, it has a deductible. A sizeable one. My medical approach... Read more →