Even before the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers players step onto the field at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, we'll already have one big winner. Click screenshot to view full NFL Super Bowl 50 trailer on YouTube. The National Football League will pocket millions thanks to the Super Bowl host city's agreement to hand over all its big game-related sales tax revenue to the league. Yep, the NFL, which made $12 billion over the 2014-15 season, demands that cities awarded the Super Bowl waive or reimburse sales tax on ticket sales and parking passes. What Super Bowl cities lose:... Read more →


Technology is great. Until it isn't. That's what the Internal Revenue Service learned yesterday afternoon, when what the agency describes as a hardware failure led to the shutdown of several parts of its tax processing systems. The big blow was to the IRS modernized e-file system. Insert your own joke here about the IRS and modern. The good news was that it happened during the afternoon of Feb. 3, not on April 18. The better news is that some of the affected areas, like Where's My Refund?, now appear to be working. The best news is that while a number... Read more →


North Pole officials have decided to tax pot. No, not that North Pole, although that would explain why Santa eats so many cookies in a single night. Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. (Photo by Nicole Bizinski/Santa Claus House) We're talking North Pole, Alaska, a community of around 2,200 just southeast of Fairbanks. The treasury of the town with the official motto "where the spirit of Christmas lives year 'round" got an early gift on Feb. 1 when city council members decided to tax both wholesale and retail marijuana transactions. The 6 percent sales tax will apply to pot... Read more →


If you're feeling the Bern, you count Bernie Sanders's effective tie with Hillary Clinton in last night's Iowa caucuses as a win. However, Sanders is a loser on Capitol Hill when it comes to his tax plan. The party's leadership in Washington, D.C., has made it clear that it won't run on any platform that supports raising taxes on middle-class voters. Wealthy are the traditional tax target: Democrats have long argued for higher taxes, but the target has always been the wealthy. In recent years, that has been the $250,000 earnings mark for families. Higher taxes for the rich was... Read more →


What do hearts and flowers, leaping amphibians and taxes have in common? February! The shortest month of the year is upon us. In 2016, however, it's a day longer because it's Leap Year, hence the frog allusion, adding a 29th day to our calendars. Then, of course, there's Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. And February also is a traditionally busy time for taxes. This is the month that most of us finally get all the tax statements we need to file our returns. And folks who filed early are anxiously awaiting their refunds. Whether you're working on your 2015 taxes or... Read more →


Have your snail mail and email boxes been filling up lately with tax statements? Mine have. That's good. As soon as we have all these documents detailing our 2015 tax transactions in our hands, physically or digitally, we can file our tax returns. The deadline for employers and other folks who must send out tax documents to affected taxpayers technically is Jan. 31. When that date falls on a federal holiday or, like this year, a weekend, then it gets pushed to the next business day. So Monday, Feb. 1, is the deadline this year, meaning our W-2 and 1099... Read more →


Looking for a creative way to get your taxes done this year? Here's an idea from xkcd.com. "Yes, it took a lot of work to make the cards and pieces, but it's worth it. The players are way more thorough than the tax prep people ever were," says the cartoon creator. I'm a big fan of board games. But I'm not sure I agree with xkcd's creative way to take care of the annual filing duty. I know lots of very thorough tax preparers. I am, however, all for anything that helps folks get their returns done quickly, correctly and... Read more →


Here in the United States, the income gap between the very wealthy and the rest of us is getting a lot of attention, thanks in large part to the Democratic presidential nominee race. Sen. Bernie Sanders has made the wealth gap a key part of his effort to dislodge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the front-runner spot. Image source: ZMEScience But the battle is waging far beyond the U.S. borders and the 2016 presidential campaign. Global inequity off the charts: There's also a global inequality crisis, says Oxfam in a new report, and it is reaching new extremes.... Read more →


So The Donald actually did it. He bailed on the final GOP debate before Iowa voters caucus on Feb. 1 to pick their favorite presidential candidates in both parties. Instead Donald Trump held an event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, ostensibly to benefit veterans' charities. Veterans Day 2015 observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Veterans Affairs photo by Robert Turtil. OK. Props to Trump's people for pulling it all together so quickly. But it was done in a way that, unsurprisingly, kept the focus on Trump. Trump again grabs the spotlight: He set up a special website where his... Read more →


You're going to watch tonight's Republican presidential candidates' debate from Des Moines, right? At least long enough to see if The Donald makes a surprise, showy entrance despite his pledge to hold a competing event. (And to play debate drinking games.) Click image to see NJ.com video on Trump's decision and its possible ramifications on the Iowa caucuses. Even without the GOP White House wannabe front-runner on stage, Donald Trump will likely dominate the night, which begins at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central on Fox News. You can bet the other candidates will bash Trump, both for bowing out, as... Read more →


Uber pitches itself to potential drivers as a way to make cash on your own terms. But one of the popular ride-sharing company's contractors this week found the driving effort was not so personal after all. This Uber driver's 1099-K earnings statement, issued to contractors so they can file their annual tax returns, was made available to other drivers in the ride-sharing company's system. 1099-K forms are the cousins to 1099-MISC statements that independent contractors receive. A Form 1099-K is used mainly to report credit and debit card payments and online transactions, rather than old-fashioned check payments. 1099-Ks also are... Read more →


It's national Spouse's Day. Yes, apparently this is a real day, real in the sense that somebody came up with the idea and managed to get the word out there enough that it's generating some attention. I don't know how I've missed this holiday in previous years, being such a perfect wife to a great husband, but I discovered it today. Thanks Twitter #SpousesDay. And given that this is the first year that all married couples, regardless of gender and in every state, will be filing joint tax returns, it seems like a perfect day to remind folks of their... Read more →


Many state and local governments have taken to taxes as a way to discourage gun ownership, or at least make some money on it. In Arizona, however, one lawmaker wants to give some gun owners a tax break. Rep. Steve Montenegro, Republican from Litchfield Park and House Majority Leader, wants to give a state tax credit to gun owners who take classes to learn how to handle their weapons. Yours truly holding a rifle under Lubbock Police Department supervision. This was when I was the police reporter for the local newspaper, working on a feature on the department's SWAT team... Read more →


Everybody loves a bargain, even when it comes to paying someone to prepare our taxes. But, say consumer watchdogs, too often taxpayers don't have a good way to comparison shop for a tax pro and find the one that provide them the best service for the price. "The price of preparing a tax return is often only disclosed to a consumer after the return is completed," according to the report "Public Views on Paid Tax Preparation," released on Jan. 20 by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). The CFA says that mystery shopper tests have found tax prep fees that... Read more →


Karma can be a bitch. It also can be funny as hell when it involves a writer who matches his considerable wit against some inept tax scammers. Last week, my online pal Malarkey sent me a link to an item on @DaveHolmes' Twitter feed with the note, "You've gotta read this whole thing." Boy, was she right. Holmes, a writer for Esquire magazine, got a phone message from some of the crooks perpetrating the fake Internal Revenue Service agent telephone scam. Or, as Holmes described the encounter, "I just got targeted by the laziest, shoddiest grifters I have ever come... Read more →


The list of states warning taxpayers that they'll have to wait longer for their tax refunds is growing. But don't blame the state tax collectors. Anger should be directed at the increasing number of criminals who are stealing individuals' personal data and then using it to file fraudulent tax returns, at federal and state levels. Illinois, Louisiana and Utah revenue departments were the first to announce that new security protocols would mean more time to verify and process state returns. Now we've gotten similar messages from Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Carolina tax officials. South Carolina: Let's start down... Read more →


"Don't count on getting the refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer." That's the advice from the Internal Revenue Service in its just updated Publication 2043. A few years ago, this document was known as the IRS e-file refund cycle chart. Basically, it told electronic filers when they could expect to get their refunds. Three weeks for refunds: However, as folks started getting antsy when their refund checks didn't... Read more →