I'm a bit slow today. I got up at O'dark-thirty to catch a flight home from San Diego, California, where I had spent four fantastic days at FinCon, an annual conference of fellow financial bloggers and other money and media folks. View from my San Diego FinCon hotel room last week. I almost -- almost -- didn't come home! It's a great opportunity to learn best practices, pick up tips (for stories, blog posts and growing your business), meet people you've only known heretofore online, make new friends and reconnect with old ones. And, almost best of all, the business... Read more →


Computer users, which nowadays means almost everyone, used to be told to follow the X-file's advice when it came to cyber security: Trust No One. IRS is moving to two-step authentication for more of its online services beginning in late October. That's still true, but unfortunately, it's not enough. Crooks cracking everyone's computer codes: Nowadays, as First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton and millions of Yahoo email account owners know, in today's increasingly hackable electronic world, the operable phrase for online life is No One is Safe. And Uncle Sam's tax collector is not immune from... Read more →


Saving is the key to the kind of retirement you want. The earlier you start, the better. Among the goals posted during this year's FinCon, an annual gathering of creators (including me!) of various personal finance material and advice, is to, as a couple of participants noted, retire soon. Retirement savings that receive special tax code treatment can help folks put away money for their post-work years. In fact, a recent survey by Harris Poll for Scottrade found that nearly half of investors (46 percent) wish they had started saving earlier. More than a third (38 percent) wish they had... Read more →


Place your Amazon orders soon D.C. residents. On Oct. 1, the Seattle-based giant e-commerce operation will begin tacking the District of Columbia's 5.75 percent sales tax onto most purchases delivered to District buyers. Amazon box photo by MikeBlogs via Flickr That will bring to 29 the number of jurisdictions across the United States in which Amazon will collect sales tax. Amazon's further incursion into nation's capital: "Amazon will be required to collect sales tax in Washington, D.C. beginning on October 1," according to a statement Amazon emailed to D.C.'s news radio station WTOP. The company would not elaborate further. Neither... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen gets his day in court, I mean before a House panel, today. The appearance comes after an effort to bring a vote on impeaching the 48th IRS commissioner to the full House floor last week was deferred so that the House Judiciary Committee could hear testimony from Koskinen. The opportunity to present his side was a key reason that Koskinen visited the House earlier this month. With today's hearing, at which he's the only witness, he'll be able to do that, presuming, of course, that hostile GOP questioners give him the chance. Koskinen, who... Read more →


If you follow celebrity news, you've already heard about the impending dissolution of the marriage of one of Hollywood's highest profile couples. Angelina Jolie is seeking a divorce from her husband of two years, Brad Pitt. Brangelina's divorce likely will be much more difficult than separating their Madame Tussaud wax representations. (Photo by Cliff via Flickr) I'll leave it to the internet and tabloids, both print on television versions, to hash out the exact sordid "irreconcilable differences" Jolie cited in her Sept. 19 filing in Los Angeles Superior Court. The couple, who share six children, was together for 12 years,... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is pushing via its Future State plan a transition to digital tax systems. That's life in the modern world to which all of us, in doing our taxes and other transactions, are adjusting. Unless paperwork suddenly becomes this magical (don't hold your breath), electronic tax transactions will continue to advance. But the down side of moving more tasks online is that current paper-intensive operations -- and the jobs for people who shuffle those actual documents -- are becoming obsolete. That's the fate awaiting around 7,200 IRS workers. E-filing advances kill paper jobs: The IRS announced last... Read more →


On lazy Sunday afternoons, my thoughts -- after I'm through cursing the idiotic plays my Dallas Cowboys make -- often turn to retirement. Retired couple enjoying a lazy day outdoors. (Photo by Pug50 courtesy Flickr CC) The hubby and I have been saving for a long time with the goal of making all our days like Sundays, without, of course, the 'Boys' frustrations. The tax code offers many ways to help us save for what we hope will be our golden years. Sen. Ron Wyden, however, thinks Uncle Sam needs to revise some of the retirement related tax provisions. The... Read more →


No need to display the bat signal. All fans of the Dark Knight already know that today is Batman Day. Yes, it started and still is a marketing gimmick for DC Entertainment, but Batman, who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939 and got his own pulpy publication series the next spring, also is a pop culture touchstone now celebrated with an annual celebration day. And yes, there are some tax connections beyond just the sales tax most of us pay on our comic book -- sorry, graphic novel -- purchases. Cinematic savings: Although "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn... Read more →


Music and tax fans have heard by now that rapper Nelly is in big tax trouble. Many have rallied to help the St. Louis rapper. But it's not just Nelly's fans who are coming to his aid as he deals with a $2.4 million Internal Revenue Service tax lien. Stephen Colbert offers rapper Nelly some tax advice in "Debt in Herre," a parody of the singer's hit "Hot in Herre." Click image to view full video on YouTube. Late-night television show hosts also are doing their part. Most notable is Stephen Colbert. The "Late Show" host, with help from his... Read more →


Donald J. Trump finally has released some traditionally private information about himself. No, not his taxes you dreamers. His most recent medical records. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shares his recent medical report during a taping Sept. 14 of the syndicated Dr. Oz show. The program will air today, Sept. 15. Click image for link to YouTube promo; link will be updated for full show viewing when available. But being The Donald, he did it (with apologies to Frank) his way. On TV of course. Trump shared his most recent medical data with television's syndicated, and controversial, Dr. Oz. From... Read more →


Whether Donald J. Trump's admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin is simply a one-sided man crush on Trump's part or a full-fledged bromance between the two is debatable. Click screenshot to watch the full Jimmy Fallon piece on YouTube. But one thing is certain. It's great fodder for late-night television comedy skits. On last night's The Tonight Show, host Jimmy Fallon looked at the pros and cons of the relationship between the Republican presidential nominee and the divisive Russian autocrat. Of course, The Donald's taxes were part of the presentation. As Trump might phrase it, some people say that one... Read more →


Welsh officials are sooooo happy. On Sept. 12, lawmakers in Wales introduced the country's first homegrown tax in 800 years, finally, as a new government fact sheet says, producing "Taxes made in Wales for Wales." Dolwyddelan Castle in Wales, built by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth in the early 13th century to watch over one of the valley routes into Gwynedd. It was in the latter part of that century that the Welsh nation last passed a tax law. (Photo by United Kingdom National Archives via Open Government Licensing/Wikipedia) We'll see how long that excitement lasts. I will, however, cut the people... Read more →


This presidential election year, the candidates' tax focus is, as usual, on how to lower income tax rates for at least some Americans. But, notes the Tax Policy Center (TPC), most U.S. workers hand over more in payroll taxes than income taxes. Payroll tax parts: Payroll taxes are the amounts designated for Federal Insurance Contribution Act, or FICA, funded programs. You know them as Social Security and Medicare. The total FICA rate is 15.3 percent. Workers and their bosses each pay half. The bulk of the tax, 12.4 percent, goes toward the Social Security component. Taxes at a 6.2 percent... Read more →


Fifteen years ago today, terrorists hijacked four planes and killed 2,977 people in New York City, the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. and in a field near rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The view across the south pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, former site of the Twin Towers, looking toward the National September 11 Memorial Museum. (Photo by NormanB via Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons) As has been tradition on each Sept. 11 since 2001, commemorative events will be held today across the country. The recognition became official on Dec. 18, 2001 when Public Law 107-89 took effect designating... Read more →


$10,162. That's how much of a federal tax refund that Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and his wife Karen received on their 2015 tax return. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, GOP vice presidential candidate, campaigning among Ohio State tailgaters during a stop earlier this month in the key Nov. 8 election state. (Photo via @mikepence Twitter account) Since the Pences' refund is almost four times the amount of the average tax refund of $2,732 (per Internal Revenue Service filing data through May 13), the $10,162 that the Pences are getting back from Uncle Sam also earns this week's By the... Read more →


Donald Trump is still refusing to release any of his tax returns, but word is that we could get a look today at some of his running mate's tax filings. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his veep choice Mike Pence do many things together as they campaign for the White House, but they diverge when it comes to releasing their personal tax returns. Click image for a video report of their recent visit to Ohio. "Donald Trump and I are both going to release our tax returns,” said GOP vice presidential nominee Indiana Gov. Mike Pence during an interview... Read more →