Lohan has since deleted her online plea for tax relief for Forbes-list millionaires, but not before it was captured in screen shots.
It's unclear exactly what Lohan wants -- 140 or less characters does have its drawbacks in dealing with complex topics such as taxes -- but the quotation marks around the word millionaire seem to imply that not all folks on the Forbes' annual list of the rich deserve to be there.
Consequently, according to Lohan's reasoning (and you don't know how hard it was for me not to put quotes about that word!), these not really wealthy folks need a tax break, too.
The National Football League kicks off its 2012 season tonight, so naturally I'm thinking about taxes.
it's my Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants. Given the Pokes
recent history with their NFC East rival, I'll be much less angry and
frustrated dealing with taxes than what probably will happen on
the field tonight.
Photo my ME! at Cowboys vs. Detroit game in Jerry's World. We won!
The good tax news is that current NFL players apparently are meeting their tax responsibilities.
But for some former NFLers, it's a different story.
Hoffman & Co., LLC, a tax advisory firm in Plantation, Fla.,
reports in its blog that Plaxico Burress, late of the New York Giants
and still hoping to catch on with another team this season; Jamal "Dirty
Bird" Anderson, a running back for eight seasons for the Atlanta
Falcons; William James, a journeyman cornerback for six NFL teams; and,
for all you old-time football fans, former Oakland Raiders quarterback
Kenny Stabler are all in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.
former NFL players allegedly made millions from their on-field days and
post-football careers but either didn't bother to file returns or
shortchanged Uncle Sam.
Uh-oh O.J.: And everyone's favorite football felon also is in trouble again, this time with the IRS.
celebrity gossip website TMZ says the IRS last month filed a tax lien against O.J. Simpson for allegedly failing to pay nearly $180,000 in
federal taxes from 2007 through 2010.
This alleged tax debt accrued
while Simpson was serving time in a Nevada jail for his conviction on robbery
and kidnapping charges after a confrontation in a Las Vegas casino hotel room
in September 2007 over some of his sports memorabilia.
while O.J. has been cooling his heels in government housing, his money
has been working but, says the IRS, not paying its fair share of taxes.
Simpson's yearly tax debt breakdown by the IRS per TMZ is:
2007 - $15,927.89
2008 - $105,119.71
2009 - $49,490.27
2010 - $8,897.20
players are taxpayers, too: It's always a good idea to get tax and
financial advice when you find yourself making a more money than you
ever imagined, be it from an unexpected windfall or starting out your
career as a professional athlete.
Sink, Gillmore & Gordon, LLP, a
Manhattan, Kan. (not N.Y.), is one of the many firms that specializes
in financial services for pro athletes. Its Pro Sports Tax division
created a handout with Tax Information for the NFL Rookie.
But the basics on deductions still looks to be good advice.
the firm points out the jock tax that states collect on athletes and
other performers who stop by their states to put on a show. It's not an
issue for NFL players playing out of town games in Texas, Washington,
Florida and Tennessee because those states don't tax wage income.
other NFL stadiums, however, the players (and coaches) could face jock
tax rates ranging from 3 percent in Illinois (Da Bears) to 10.3 percent
when they visit California to play the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco
49ers or San Diego Chargers.
Speaking of stadiums: While players,
current or former, who don't pay their taxes get lots of attention, we
can't ignore how we fans also pay some of our hard-earned money even
when we don't buy tickets to the actual games.
I'm not trying to get into the class warfare of funding
stadiums. Heck, I voted for such funding for the Ravens home when I was a
Maryland resident. Sometimes fan craziness trumps tax savvy. And I'm
Bloomberg reports that 64 major-league teams, including
baseball, hockey and basketball and 22 NFL teams that call stadiums
built or renovated in the past quarter-century, are paid for in part by
The taxpayer cost? Bloomberg says:
on interest paid by muni bonds that were issued for sports structures
cost the U.S. Treasury $146 million a year, based on data compiled by
Bloomberg on 2,700 securities. Over the life of the $17 billion of
exempt debt issued to build stadiums since 1986, the last of which
matures in 2047, taxpayer subsidies to bondholders will total $4
billion, the data show.
Those estimates are based on what the
Treasury could have collected on interest from the same amount of
taxable bonds sold at the same time to investors in the 25 percent
income-tax bracket, the rate many government agencies assume. In fact,
more than half the owners of tax-exempt bonds pay top rates of at least
30 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. So they save
even more on their income taxes, a system that U.S. lawmakers of both
parties and President Barack Obama have described as inefficient and
You might want to consider that the next time you're at the
game and about to buy a $10 beer. Perhaps a cheaper beverage might be a
better choice since you've already paid so much in taxes for the game.
Back then, my main arguments were (a) that most candidates don't do their own taxes so their filings offer no insight as to their personal understanding of the tax code or their ability to fill out the forms and (b) "you can be sure that if returns are released, there will be no hint of any potentially questionable tax-cutting moves."
Cut to summer 2012 where the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has released just his 2010 return and preliminary 2011 filing. Mitt Romney says he'll turn over his final 2011 filing (he got an extension) when it's done. But that, he insists, is it.
I still believe that the main reason we -- voters, the media, the opposing political parties -- want to see candidate tax returns is primarily the global fascination with all things celebrity, and make no mistake, politicians in this day and age are celebrities.
And thanks to reality television, there's no such thing as too much celebrity information, so we want to know everything possible about every candidate.
But in my previous post, I let my personal appreciation of privacy sway my position.
Yes, everyone deserves to keep some things from public view. But when the person who might lead the United States wants to keep secrets about a process, paying taxes, that each of us must participate in, how can he or she expect us to continue to have faith in that system or his or her ability to change it?
That faith, a leap of which we all take when we vote for every candidate, is critical. And knowing that the candidate indeed walks the voluminous campaign talk is vital in keeping that faith.
More harm than good? The irony in Mitt Romney's no-open-return position is twofold.
Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois says he is considering ways to add language to existing disclosure rules that would require all federal candidates and members of Congress to disclose any investments in a tax haven country.
I'm not saying that Levin and Durbin don't sincerely believe in their in-the-works legislation, but their comments also are conveniently political.
Their proposals won't pass this election year, if ever. Members of Congress are among the worst when it comes to making things, including their finances, clear and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has flat-out rejected such manndatory disclosure for herself and her Capitol Hill colleagues.
Plus, we don't need more politics in this or any campaign. What we need is more information. And that includes more voluntary info about candidates' tax returns.
We need openness and honesty. So I've changed my mind.
Romney's tax returns from years when he headed up Bain Capital Management or ran the Salt Lake City Olympics or has just been campaigning for the White House probably won't show any impropriety. I suspect what we will see is that as he prepared for the 2012 campaign, Romney moved his money around so that he's only incredibly wealthy, not incredibly mind-blowing "are you kidding me?" wealthy.
But even without some scandalous tax admission, Romney's and any other candidates' tax returns might reveal where a candidate's public rhetoric and his or her private finances diverge.
That's probably not going to be the case with Romney. Again he's on the record as supporting the creation, retention and expansion of tax laws that benefit the wealthy, of which he solidly is a member.
So what else might we learn from Romney's 1040s? And why doesn't he want us to?
Those are legitimate questions that American voters deserve to have answered before Nov. 6. For that to happen, Romney needs to release a representative array of his tax returns now.
Mother Nature produces her own pyrotechnics via severe weather. Alabama found that out firsthand last spring when it was hit by deadly tornadoes. So this year, Alabama officials decided to hold a Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday.
And divorces are famous for the flames thrown by soon-to-be ex spouses. When it comes to celebrity breakups, it often is even more fiery. That's why all eyes are on TomKat, aka Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
From a tax geek standpoint -- yeah, that's why I tune in to TMZ, for the tax-relates stories; that's my story and I'm sticking to it -- we get to watch whether Holmes' divorce filing in New York will pose major tax troubles for Cruise.
You can check out my posts over at Bankrate Taxes Blog each Tuesday and Thursday. If you happen to miss them on those days, you can find a wrap-up here the following weekend.
They are having a terrible time in courtrooms. And that's leading to a worse public perception about our federal justice system.
Are the Department of Justice folks simply unprepared?
When federal prosecutors have a say over litigation, are they picking cases that too complicated?
Are they falling into a pop culture celebrity cycle, opting for glitzy cases that might grab public attention instead of focusing on cases that have stronger legal foundations?
Are jurors just bored, as apparently was the case when a couple of jurors nodded off during Clemens' plodding second trial? Or are they confused by topics such as the arcane election laws in the Edwards' case?
Or could it be, as Daniel Fisher tosses out in his Forbes piece, that empaneled citizens simply are sending the federal government a message via "not guilty" decisions about what they think of the federal government?
Whatever the reasons, it's clear that federal investigators and prosecutors are spending an awful lot of time and taxpayer money without anything, at least from Uncle Sam's point of view, to show for it.
Money, of course, is not a reason to avoid making cases when laws are broken. There shouldn't be a price on justice.
And folks beyond the juries who believe Edwards, Clemens and Stevens were not guilty say that those verdicts (or subsequent government reversal in Stevens' case) produced the appropriate return on each legal investment.
But let's be honest, lawyers do not head into court on a high-profile case with the intention of losing. Yet losing seems to be all that federal prosecutors have done of late.
I suspect that it will be a while before we see another big federal case go before a jury. And that reticence might not be a bad thing.
One woman received a multimillion state tax refund. Another woman allegedly didn't pay her federal taxes for years on the millions she earned. Both were subjects of posts last week at my other tax blog.
Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill says she went underground for personal and creative reasons. It also, contends the Internal Revenue Service, was a way for Hill to escape paying federal taxes in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
During those three years, Hill reportedly earned an estimated $1.8 million in income, mostly from recording and film royalties. But according to charges filed against her, she never reported the earnings to the IRS.
Oregon's problem comes from millions that were reported to the state tax department. However, the state says those earnings were fake.
Things, however, appear to be working out for the federal and state tax collectors.
Hill says she intends to make things right with the IRS. And Oregon got most of its erroneous refund money back when the alleged scam perpetrator reported the debit card onto which the refund money was loaded as missing.
You can check out my new tax posts at Bankrate Taxes Blog each Tuesday and Thursday. If you happen to miss them on those days, you can find a wrap-up here the following weekend.
Congratulations to the couple, who pulled off the surprise wedding at the perfect time.
While all the world was watching the hoopla surrounding the Facebook IPO, Zuckerberg and Chan invited around 100 people to his Palo Alto house, ostensibly to celebrate her graduation, also last week, from the University of California, San Francisco medical school. The couple then sprang the ceremony on the guests.
The May 19 nuptials also were good timing from a financial perspective for Zuckerberg.
California is one of nine community property states. The others are Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Wisconsin and my home state of Texas.
Community property law and taxes: Most of the time, the community property focus is on the rule that applies to assets after tying the knot. Basically, everything acquired after the I do's are exchanged is owned by both spouses, except for specific gifts to or inheritances by an individual spouse.
But community property also means that everything a person owns before marriage belongs solely to that individual, even after exchanging wedding vows.
In Zuckerberg's case, all of his billions of Facebook bucks are his alone.
Of course, whenever legal matters like matrimony and taxes coincide, it's never cut and dried.
Joint or separate tax lives: Like all married couples, Zuckerberg and Chan can file their 2012 federal tax returns jointly. But should they?
In most cases, it's more tax advantageous for a couple to file one 1040, but not always. You can be sure their accountants will be crunching numbers next filing season to see whether a joint tax return or two married filing separately 1040s are better.
And income that will be reported on next year's tax filings also can complicate community property issues.
"Separate property can be transmuted into community property not only by agreement but by actions too," writes tax attorney and Forbes blogger Robert Wood. "Seemingly innocuous acts, like one person making a mortgage payment on their spouse's separate residence, can have an impact."
I wonder if Zuckerberg's financial advisers have put together a cheat sheet to help him avoid any costly community property marital money missteps?
What I'm sure they have created for him and his new bride is a prenuptial agreement.
And as part of that agreement likely covers not only what happens in the event of divorce, but also with regard to estate issues.
Never too early to consider estate issues: The newlyweds are still kids -- he's 28, she's 27 -- but estate planning is critical for everyone and especially for those with lots of assets to eventually pass along.
And if the couple stays in California or moves to one of the other community property states, the shared vs. separate ownership rules come into play. Deborah L. Jacobs, a tax attorney and writer at Forbes, explains:
"In a community property state, the total value of your assets when you die includes both your separate property and half the value of any community property. There's a huge tax advantage here: When the first spouse dies, both halves of the property are entitled to an adjustment in basis to their value on the date of death.
If the property has appreciated, there will be a step-up in the cost basis, which could reduce or eliminate the capital gains tax heirs have to pay if the surviving spouse sells the property – such as the Facebook stock."
Remember, however, that property left to a spouse doesn't escape the estate tax.
If the estate's total value exceeds the exclusion amount -- $5.12 million for 2012; changes must be made by Congress to prevent tougher estate tax laws from kicking in on Jan. 1, 2013 -- estate tax, current at 35 percent (scheduled to go to 55 percent next year) will apply when the inheriting spouse dies.
Before it's time to worry about estate distribution, though, the billionaire groom can give his lovely bride a monetary gift without any tax concerns.
A married taxpayer in any U.S. state, community property or not, can give as much property as he or she wishes to a spouse without triggering the gift tax.
I'm sure Zuckerberg came up with something much more romantic than cash or stock as a wedding gift for his new wife. But if he did decide to share some of his new IPO money with her as a gift, I suspect she didn't object.
Paul Hogan, better known to American moviegoers as Crocodile Dundee, and Australian tax officials have reached a settlement.
Hogan and Oz tax officials have been going at each other for eight years over the $150 million in Australian currency ($156 million in the U.S. and £96 million in Great Britain) that national tax officials said the actor owed in taxes and penalties.
Hogan's lawyer on Monday issued a statement saying a settlement "without admission" had been agreed to by both sides after mediation before a former Australian High Court judge. That means that neither side takes any blame.
Terms of the settlement are confidential, but Hogan was happy.
Opening Day 2012 begins in Miami with the renamed Marlins meeting the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in a new $650 million ballpark in South Florida.
The only thing missing is Albert Pujols. The slugging first baseman opted during the off season to sign with the Anaheim Angels, or as they pretentiously were renamed, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Despite his success in St. Louis and the fan adoration, it's not surprising that Pujols moved. The Cardinals' bank account wasn't big enough to sign the aging (yes, early 30s is old in major league sports) star to a long-term deal.
Pujols might have been in Miami tonight if the Marlins had agreed to a no-trade clause as part of their 10-year offer. The team, prone to fire sales every couple of years, said no, so the three-time MVP instead inked a 10-year deal with Anaheim.
For his move west, Pujols will get around $254 million. He'll also get a bigger tax bill. Edward Zelinsky of OUPblog explains:
"Since his salary will, for federal income tax purposes, be characterized as ordinary income, he will pay roughly a third of his income to the federal government. Pujols will play in California, a high tax state. Even if he does not become a California resident, he will owe nonresident California income taxes on the portion of his salary properly allocable to his time and effort in the Golden State. When Pujols deducts his California income taxes from his federal taxable income, he could trigger, for federal income tax purposes, the alternative minimum tax (AMT)."
And things could get even worse, tax-wise for the slugger.
"Taxes may be on the verge of rising in California just as Mr. Pujols dons his new Angels jersey," writes Mark Schoeff Jr. in the Investment News. While a proposed ballot referendum to raise the state's top tax rate to 11.3 percent on residents making more than $1 million a year has run into trouble, Pujols and other wealthy residents shouldn't get too comfortable. California is a traditionally activist state when it comes to taxes.
I suspect that's still plenty for him to live very, very comfortably. And although athletes typically hold out for bigger paychecks, they're really more concerned about winning on the field, not in the ledger.
Plus, I'm sure Pujols' accountants and attorneys immediately went to work on ways to soften the tax hit. Hey, they've got to earn their big bucks, too.
Baseball memories: Friday, April 6, will be the 20th anniversary of the first Opening Day in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The hubby and I were there in 1992 to see the Orioles take on the Indians.
To be honest, neither of us can remember who won. Wait, the hubby just looked it up. Baltimore beat Cleveland 2 to 0.
That's what happens when the game gets one-upped by architecture. But I have to admit it was a fun day in a wonderful new ballpark.
We had spent the previous decade going to Baltimore's games in the shared MLB-NFL Memorial Stadium, so it was nice to have a baseball only park, especially in such a fun part of Charm City. And we kept going until we moved from the area in 1999, even though the Orioles haven't been able to put competitive teams on Camden Yards' grass.
What we both remember more vividly was that last game in the old park. On Oct. 6, 1991, generations of Orioles greats filed out of the dugouts and took their positions en masse on the Memorial Stadium field. The packed house was rocking. Orioles Magic was truly there that day, as were lots of tears and no one wanted to leave.
We saved those tickets (heck, we've got boxes of MLB, NHL and NFL tickets from all the games we attend/attended) and put those 1991 ducats together with the 1992 Orioles Park ones, along with pocket schedules for both seasons and a print of the new park signed by Boog Powell into the display below.
One day we'll get back to Baltimore and see the Birds again. By then, maybe they'll have rediscovered the legendary Orioles Way of winning.
On March 21, 1963, the most famous U.S. federal prison slammed its doors for good.
Alcatraz Island was home to the first lighthouse on the West Coast. That beacon is still there, but The Rock also housed military installations, was the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement and remains a bird sanctuary.
Alcatraz Island at dawn via Wikimedia
But most of us know Alcatraz for one thing, its infamous penitentiary.
Johnny Be Goode in jail: Rock legend Chuck Berry pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1979 for willfully falsifying income information on a tax return. Berry spent four months in jail and then performed 1,000 hours of community service. Thank goodness for Berry, the added hours were via benefit concerts.
Tax strikeout: Pete Rose, Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader (4,256), "forgot" to claim income from autograph and memorabilia shows. After pleading guilty in 1990 to two charges of filing false income tax returns, he was ordered to pay $366,000 in back taxes, fined $50,000 and sentenced to five months in a medium-security prison camp in Illinois.
Tougher than vampires: Action film star Wesley Snipes found the Internal Revenue Service a much tougher foe than the Hollywood vampires he battled in the Blade movie series. Snipes was indicted in 2006 on several counts of tax evasion, including failure to file tax returns and filing false returns. He was acquitted in 2008 of the most serious charges, but found guilty of three misdemeanor counts of failing to file a tax return. After many appeals, including an attempt to get the Supreme Court to hear his case (it refused), Snipes reported to a federal prison in Pennsylvania in December 2010 to begin his three-year sentence.
Put some clothes on, man! Richard Hatch, the first winner of the long-running Survivor reality television show/contest, still swears that CBS told him it would take care of the taxes due on the $1 million he won in 2000. That argument never convinced a jury, judges or the tax-knowledgeable public and Hatch was convicted of tax evasion. Hatch, known during that inaugural season as the "fat naked guy," began serving his 51-month federal prison sentence in May 2006. After a series of house arrest, supervised releases and reincarcerations, jailers finally had enough and kicked Hatch out for good in December 2011.
Ciao tax collector, jail cell: Italian sex symbol Sophia Loren was convicted of tax evasion charges in 1982 and served 17 days of a 30-day sentence in a Naples, Italy, jail. The screen legend filed a petition for pardon, saying her accountants had made an error. Loren said the tax evasion charges were the result of a $7,000 discrepancy on a 1970 tax return. Like many other wealthy Europeans, Loren eventually established residency in the tax haven Switzerland.
Lots of other celebrities have had run-ins with the tax collector, at federal, state and local levels. But they didn't end up locked away. You can check some of them out under the ol' blog's "celebrity" tag (this post will appear first, so just scroll down a bit; and note that not every entry there is about alleged tax cheats).
Do you know of any other famous folk who actually saw the inside of a cell because of taxes? Please dish by leaving a comment below.
Estimated tax time comes around four times a year -- When you have income that's not subject to payroll withholding, you must file estimated taxes. The extra payments made to the Internal Revenue Service via Form 1040-ES are due four times a year: April 15, June 15, Sept. 5 and the next year's Jan. 15. Yes, four extra tax filings -- and payments -- each year are a hassle. But owing a big tax bill in April, as well as interest and penalty charges for underpaying your annual tax liability, is a bigger pain. Estimated taxes are routine for folks with self-employment income, investment earnings or even gambling winnings. You can pay your estimated taxes by snail mailing the IRS a check or money order, or by making electronic payments via credit or debit card, electronic funds withdrawal or the IRS' Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). (June 12, 2013)
June 5: Welcome to summer. OK. The hottest season doesn't officially begin for a couple more weeks, but some thermometers here in Texas have already hit the triple-digit mark. And a heat wave in the Northeast has many feeling like it's mid-July instead of early June. Since it won't get cooler for a while, get your home in energy efficient shape now.
June 16: Happy Father's Day! Dad might not say so, but he appreciates being recognized, so take time today to let him know you care. If you also show your affection by providing for the bulk of dad's living expenses (or mom's, too, for that matter), be sure you claim him, her or both of them as dependents on your tax return.
June 17: June 15 is a busy tax day, but since it fell this year on Saturday, you get until the next business day, today, to meet the deadlines.
If you're not paying your 2013 income tax through withholding, or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way, your second estimated tax payment of the year is due today.
June 24: Are you a June bride? Since the withholding rates are different for couples, both newlywed wives and husbands should file new W-4 forms at work to reflect their now-married tax status. Also, if the new missus changed her name, she needs to contact the Social Security Administration to make sure her tax ID number matches her new moniker. These tasks are just a couple of ways that marriage affects your taxes.
June 30: If you didn't get around to spring cleaning, you can do it now and donate any stuff you don't need but which is still useable. By giving the items to your favorite charity, your gifts could be tax deductible. Just be sure to get receipts!
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I gotta tell ya ...
I am a professional journalist who has been covering tax issues since 1999. I am not a professional tax preparer. The content on Don't Mess With Taxes is my personal opinion based on my study and understanding of tax laws, policies and regulations. It’s provided for your private, noncommercial, educational and informational purposes only. It’s not a recommendation or endorsement of any company or product. I strongly suggest that when it comes to filing your taxes, you get additional, professional, paid-for guidance from your accountant and other financial advisers who are familiar with your individual circumstances. In other words, don't blame me!