Business Feed

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 →

Diane L. Kroupa was appointed as judge to the U.S. Tax Court in June 2013. Her term was supposed to have run for 15 years, but in June 2014 she retired early. This week Kroupa, 60, was indicted on two counts each of tax evasion, filing false returns and obstruction of an IRS audit. Her husband, Robert E. Fackler, 62, also was indicted on the same six tax-related charges. The couple is accused of understating their income by approximately $1 million on tax filings for the 2004 through 2010 tax years. Much of that too-low amount was arrived at by... Read more →

Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was supposed to be a key factor in the 2016 presidential election. It still might be one in the general election once Democrats and Republicans have settled on their respective candidates. So far, though, health care has received only cursory mention and, surprisingly, that's been on the Democratic side. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent challenging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wants to replace Obamacare with a more expansive universal health care system. Among the reasons that Obamacare so far hasn't been a hot button campaign issue is that... Read more →

"Millions flee Georgia for the safety of North Carolina's bathrooms," quipped New Yorker columnist Andy Borowitz after the Tar Heel State's governor signed into a law a measure that, among other things, revokes local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The part of the bill that's gotten most attention is, as Borowitz notes, the one that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender they were born with rather than the one they identify with. North Carolina is the first state to require this. Last year, Houston, Texas, passed a similar law for facilities... Read more →

The animal heralding March's arrival this tax-filing season is not a lion or a lamb, but a fish, or rather a phish. Yep, a new phishing scam has emerged, with tax crooks trying out a new scheme that targets payroll and human resources professionals. The Internal Revenue Service today issued an alert to the folks who handle employee data to be wary of a phishing email purporting to be from company executives seeking personal information on employees. I know it's thrilling -- or terrifying if your big boss is anything like The Donald (and I've also worked for a few... Read more →

One of my favorite faux inspirational sayings suggests a way to deal with stress, which is a major issue for many folks at tax time. "When life is stressful, do something to lift your spirits. Go for a drive. Go two or three thousand miles away. Maybe change your name." It actually works, the taking a short drive, I mean. Thankfully, neither my taxes nor the rest of my life has gotten so overwhelming (yet!) that I've been tempted to follow the rest of the tongue-in-cheek advice. And in addition to the mental and emotional relief, some of the driving... Read more →

If you work in the world's oldest profession, finances can be problematic. First, your job is illegal, so you don't want to do anything to draw unwanted attention to your line of work. Neither do your clients. So escorts, prostitutes and other types of sex workers tend to operate on a cash basis. That, however, raises the question of what to do with all those loose dollars. Even with today's minuscule interest rates, you don't want to keep cash under a mattress. Tracing cash transactions: Banks, despite all their problems, are generally safer than having a lot of dollars stashed... Read more →

Go big or go home. That's not just a catchy tune. It's President Barack Obama's philosophy regarding his eighth and final fiscal year budget blueprint. Click image to watch American Authors' hit "Go Big or Go Home" via YouTube. Even when Congress and Commander in Chief get along, getting everything in an administration's annual budget is tough. When things are outright hostile like now -- in an unprecedented move, both the House and Senate budget committees, headed by Republicans, announced they won't hold hearings on Obama's proposal -- the chances of a lame-duck president getting what he wants fiscally is... 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 →

I hope you enjoyed your online holiday shopping spree last month, South Carolinians. Amazon is now collecting sales tax on products you order. Palmetto State shoppers have been buying from the online retail giant tax free since 2011. That year, South Carolina lawmakers agreed to the tax collection waiver as part of a deal that encouraged the Seattle-based company to build a distribution center in Lexington County. The e-tailer now has a second South Carolina facility in Spartanburg. Both operations employ more than 1,500 workers. S.C. sales tax time: But effective Jan. 1, South Carolina shoppers have had to include... Read more →

It's going to be a special New Year's celebration for hard cider aficionados. They will be raising a glass of their favorite bubbly fruit beverages not only to celebrate the arrival of 2016, but also to cheer tax law changes that should help their industry. Hard cider, like its cousin wine, is made from fermented juice. In cider's case, that's apples or pears instead of grapes. But hard cider's main competitor really is the craft beer sector. And cider makers have long argued that the tax law imposed an excise tax that put their specialty beverage at a disadvantage to... Read more →

Today is the first day of winter and it's supposed to hit 76 it hit 79 degrees here in Austin. Similar temperatures are forecast for the rest of this Christmas week. I thought we left such winter warmth behind us 10 years ago when we moved from South Florida back home to Texas. And for most winters over the last decade, we've had our share of the cold, like in 2011 and 2013 when we had snow and temperatures low enough to freeze our backyard fountain. Some winters in Austin, Texas, like this one in 2011 have been cold. But... Read more →

Yes, I know we're in the midst of college football's bowl season. And many NFL teams are still in the hunt for a spot in professional football's playoffs. But baseball recently got my attention. Part of my sporting focus shift is that the two NFL teams I cheer for, the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens, are incredibly sucky this year and out of the playoff picture. The main reason, though, that I'm looking at Major League Baseball in late December is because 2015 is a record-setting year for the league's luxury tax. Multiple luxury tax records: The Los Angeles Dodgers... Read more →

The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →

When we think about tax-related inflation adjustments, we typically expect amounts to bump up, at least a little. But, as the Federal Reserve made clear yesterday when it finally hiked interest rates for the first time in almost a decade, inflation has not been a big deal for a while. So it's not such a big surprise that the Internal Revenue Service's annual inflation adjustments for the rates used to figure tax deductible driving looked like some earlier Fed moves: they will drop in 2016. A young driver knows what it takes to keep his vehicle on the road. The... Read more →

In the largest ever gathering of world leaders, the global representatives of 196 nations on Dec. 12 signed a historic climate change pact. The consensus of great global powers and some of the planet's poorest nations alike was that the landmark agreement is necessary to make changes in human behavior that will slow and limit the earth's increasing temperature. A new study, however, suggests that people worldwide need to make a change in their eating habits. And one way to accomplish such a dietary change might be a meat tax. Would a tax on your steak and other meat cause... Read more →

One of the year-end tax tips that I've been talking about in recent days is to defer income, such as a workplace bonus, into the next year. That will give you 12 months to figure out how to handle the taxes on the added income. However, I don't think the employees of Hilcorp Energy Co. will be deferring the $100,000 each received this year. Big reward for goals met: The privately held oil and gas exploration and production company gave every one of its 1,399 workers the hefty cash thank you for helping the company achieve its five-year goals earlier... Read more →

No business sector is off limits when it comes to taxes. That's the message from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which last week announced formation of an adult entertainment task force. The special investigative unit of Great Britain's version of the Internal Revenue Service will target strip clubs and online escort agencies that it suspects are covering up thousands of pounds a day in profits, thereby evading value added tax (VAT), income tax and national insurance payments. Billions in unreported earnings: HMRC says the adult entertainment industry, including but not limited to strippers, escort agencies and lap dancing clubs,... Read more →

It's officially Cyber Monday, but it looks like a lot of shoppers this year have already headed to their keyboards instead of stores. More than 103 million people reported that they had shopped online or planned to do so starting on Thanksgiving and through Sunday, according to the National Retail Federation's consumer sentiment survey. That bests the nearly 102 million people who shopped in stores during the four-day period holiday period. The main reason folks shop via Internet instead of heading to stores is convenience. No traffic. No crowds. And in some cases, no sales tax. But that last reason... Read more →

Mom and Pop shops across the United States are hoping that today's Small Business Saturday will boost their bottom lines. The day was created by American Express five years ago as a way to encourage shoppers who frequent major chains on Black Friday to also spend some of their holiday budgets the next day at locally-owned firms. The added income definitely will help, especially if Small Business Saturday 2015 comes close to 2014's numbers. Last year, 88 million people got out to, as the marketing phrase says, shop small. But regardless of the take today, small businesses already had something... Read more →