Politics Feed

Since Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced on April 19 that he won't seek reelection in 2018 and then the next day suggested he may even leave before his term ends, there has been much speculation as to what this might mean for additional Congressional investigation into possible questionable ties between the Trump Administration and Russia. Chaffetz is, after all, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is one of the Capitol Hill panels with jurisdiction over the international conflict of interest questions. To many, Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, seemed reticent to dive into such inquiries, although today he... Read more →


At midnight on Donald J. Trump's 99th day in the Oval Office, the federal government could shut down. That would be a public relations disaster for the 45th president, who's struggling to show that he and his administration can get things done as he promised in his 100-day contract with voters. "Saw this at my school's accounting career fair," wrote LittleNuclearReactor in a Reddit post during the last government shutdown Oct. 1-16, 2013. But it could be a bigger disaster for folks waiting on their federal tax refunds. Millions left waiting for tax cash: The Center for American Progress (CAP)... Read more →


Around 25,000 people gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds Saturday, April 15, as part of a nationwide Tax March demanding the president release his tax returns. (Photo courtesy Trump Tax March via Twitter) Donald J. Trump fell back on his "I'm president and you're not" argument in rebuttal to the tens of thousands who marched Saturday, April 15, to demand the president release his federal returns. The morning after the gatherings in almost every state, @realDonaldTrump Tweeted, "Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!" Trump had said during the campaign that... Read more →


Judge Neil Gorsuch, nominated by Donald J. Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the unexpected death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia, was sworn in April 10, 2017, becoming the 113th person to serve on the nation's highest court. Image courtesy White House Facebook video Gorsuch's wife, Marie Louise Gorsuch, held the family bible as Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the oath of office to his former law clerk during a White House Rose Garden ceremony with the president watching. The 49-year-old Gorsuch no doubt will have a say on many tax matters during his lifetime tenure... Read more →


It was supposed to be the annual Capitol Hill review of how the current tax filing season is going. It was supposed to be a time for the Internal Revenue Service to shine since, as the IRS commissioner said during a public speech yesterday, it's been the smoothest filing season since he took the top job in December 2013. It wasn't. During a Senate Finance hearing today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen revealed more details of security breach connected to federal student aid applications that require inclusion of tax data. Student loan tax data security concerns: While 2017 filing season specifics... Read more →


And so it starts. Again. As mandated by Congress, the Internal Revenue Service has turned over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. These collection agencies will begin calling affected individuals this week. Yes, private debt collectors are again calling about unpaid federal taxes. Worried much? I am. New tax scam potential: I spelled out my primary concern in a post last month about the private collection letter the IRS had finalized. "If you think this opens the door -- and windows and attic vents -- wide for tax scammers, you are probably correct. And you are not alone.... Read more →


Californians who just can't kick their nicotine habit are now paying substantially more for their addiction. Effective April 1, the Golden State's tobacco tax went up by $2 per a pack of cigarettes. The state's tax on smoking now is $2.87 per pack. And while that is indeed a massive jump, it's just catching up on years of a low tax rate. It's been 20 years since California increased its cigarette tax. The tax increase, the final tax amount and the years it's taken for California to get here each were in the running for this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


The Congressional investigations into alleged improper Russia-Trump Administration connections are attracting worldwide attention. Click image to watch the NBC News clip of Vladimir Putin paraphrasing a famous U.S. tax quote. Even Vladimir Putin, Russia's president and Donald J. Trump's sometimes bromantic partner, chimed in on the issue of his country's hacking of computers during America's 2016 presidential election. "Ronald Reagan, debating about taxes and addressing the Americans, said, 'Watch my lips.' He said, 'No. Watch my lips. No,'" Putin said through an interpreter during a CNBC-moderated discussion March 30 at the annual Arctic Forum in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk.... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service collected more than $3.3 trillion during the 2016 fiscal year. That tax tidbit is part of the agency's 2016 Data Book, which details IRS activities from Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016. After taking a dive in 2009, IRS collection of taxes has increased each of the last five fiscal years even though it's been forced to so with smaller budgets. Bringing in tax dollars and making sure that you, I and all the other U.S. taxpayers comply with the nation's tax laws are two of the IRS' major jobs. But for the last few... Read more →


Everybody saw this coming. The Republican-controlled Ways and Means Committee killed the latest effort by Democrats to get a glimpse of Donald J. Trump's tax returns. The tax-writing panel held a hearing Tuesday, March 28, afternoon on H. Res. 186, a measure sponsored by committee member Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-New Jersey), that would have ordered the Treasury Secretary to provide 10 years of Trump's tax returns to the House. New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell makes a point during the markup of his resolution seeking to see a decade's worth of Donald Trump's tax returns. In addition to the president's... Read more →


House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is confident that tax reform will happen this year. And here's a note for your tax planning purposes. Brady sees any changes made in coming months to the Internal Revenue Code as being retroactively effective from Jan. 1, 2017. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) talked tax reform tactics and timetable with Fox News' Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, March 26. Click image to watch the full interview via YouTube. That will make tax moves this year, uh, exciting. Effective dates are always a pain any time Congress changes laws. Retroactive... Read more →


When Amazon starts collecting sales tax from internet buyers in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine and New Mexico on April 1, it will mean the online retailer will be a tax collector for all 45 states and the District of Columbia that have the levies. No, it's not a bad April Fools' joke targeting online shoppers. On this April 1, Amazon really will start collecting state sales taxes nationwide. The Seattle-based internet retailer already was adding the tax line to invoices in most of the 45 states and District of Columbia that have sales (or similar) taxes. Now, final deals have been... Read more →


Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, have increased in popularity since they were created in 2004. More than 20 million people now have these particular medical savings plans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey last fall. KFF's analysis also found that the average account balance grew by more than a third last year to more than $1,800. Growth of HSAs could speed up under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Various GOP alternatives for Obamacare call for expansion of HSAs. High deductibles required: HSAs not only offer a way for account owners to pay medical bills, they... Read more →


Let me make this very clear from the get-go. I never, ever, ever recommend that anyone cheat on his or her taxes. But if you're inclined to be a bit aggressive with your Form 1040 strategies, your odds of catching a tax examiner's eye are decreasing. The Internal Revenue Service's audit rate has been dropping for years and that trend likely will continue, due in part to more agency funding cuts in the latest federal budget proposal. Fewer audits yet again: Recently released IRS data shows that in 2016 the number of individual audits dropped for the fifth straight year.... Read more →


Are we having tax fun yet? We did for while last night when it looked like we finally might get a look at Donald J. Trump's taxes. OK. We did get to see part of the new president's 2005 tax return, courtesy tax journalist David Cay Johnston and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes talk Trump taxes on March 14 with Pulitzer Prize winning tax journalist David Cay Johnston. (Click screenshot to view a segment of the Maddow show.) Trump tells tax all? The tax return provides some basic info, but raises a lot more... Read more →


Have you called the Internal Revenue Service for help this filing season? Your chances of getting through are markedly better than they were a year ago. After years of declining telephone assistance, an IRS executive and two other federal agency reps told a March 8 joint hearing of two House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees that taxpayer telephone service has been improving. Internal Revenue Service Deputy Commissioner John Dalrymple and reps from TIGTA and GAO testified this week before a joint hearing of two House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees about IRS service. You can watch the full hearing, but... Read more →


Republicans took a major step toward tax reform on Monday, March 6, with their health care replacement plan that kills more than a dozen Obamacare taxes. Donald Trump greets House Speaker Paul Ryan before the new president's first address on Feb. 28 to a joint session of Congress. The two men now must work together to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo courtesy Speaker of the House) Not only would the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes erase some levies from the tax reform slate, passage of a GOP replacement health care plan also would clear the decks... Read more →


Remember that assurance from the Internal Revenue Service that its agents never call you about an overdue tax bill. That's changing. A call from a bill collector can seem as terrifying as the one Drew Barrymore received in "Scream." Even worse? A collection agency call about an overdue IRS bill. The IRS is about to turn over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. Again. And those companies' employees, as subcontracting agents of the IRS, will be calling folks about the money they owe the U.S. Treasury. Bill collecting concerns, scams: If you think this opens the door --... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is charged with putting tax and other financial crooks behind bars. That job has gotten tougher, according the man who heads the CI, primarily because of the loss of experienced agents. "We're at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it," CI Chief Richard Weber said during a press this week in conjunction with the release of the division's 2016 annual report. "There's still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It's very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated... Read more →


Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that America's voters didn't care about his taxes. He wishes. After hearing from angry constituents during a town hall meeting on Feb. 23, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) now says the president should release his tax returns. A GOP Senator says Russian hacking investigations could lead to just that. (Image from CNN Twitter post) Although the 45th president is the first presidential politician in almost 40 years to keep his Internal Revenue Service filings secret, folks remain curious as to what's on Trump's 1040s. 'We the People' and real people: The first petition filed... Read more →