Pop Culture Feed

Tom Hiddleston as Loki, left, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor prepare to take down some bad guys in "Thor: Ragnarok." That movie, coming to a theater near you in November, was one of the many Marvel Studios productions that got the lion's share of attention at Comic-Con 2017. (Click image for full Marvel Studios trailer at YouTube) Comic-Con, the geek event of the year, just wrapped up in San Diego. Not surprisingly, Marvel Studios and its stars were the big draws at the 2017 event. I'm not a big fan of comic books and their spin-off products, but I did... Read more →


Some type of marijuana use is legal in more than half of the United States. State and local coffers get associated pot taxes, but that could stop if the feds start cracking down on what is still an illegal drug in Uncle Sam's eyes. (Photo courtesy GreenerCulture.com) U.S. Attorney General (for now) Jeff Sessions apparently really wants federal law enforcement to once again target marijuana. But a return to a tougher prosecution by Uncle Sam could produce some serious push-back from states where pot is legal if they show tax revenue results like Colorado. Since Colorado became the first the... Read more →


Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring. The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns. Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete. Dressing up your... Read more →


Undefeated boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. is trying to avoid a knockout from the Internal Revenue Service. Mayweather still owes the federal tax collector a reported $22.s million for his 2015 taxes. That year, Mayweather reportedly earned as much as $230 million for besting Manny Pacquiao in the heavily promoted Fight of the Century. Floyd Mayweather's official weigh-in before his 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas. Money earned on that match is at the center of an unpaid tax bill battle Mayweather's waging with the IRS. (Photo courtesy Pixabay via Wikimedia Commons) Rich, but tax cash poor: Mayweather... Read more →


Happy Birthday, America! July 4 is special to all of us Americans, the day we declared our independence from Great Britain. Taxes, as everyone knows thanks to James Otis' famous announcement that "Taxation without representation is tyranny," were among the reasons we sought to govern ourselves. And taxes, even after we gained control, continue to play a key part in our lives, politics and popular culture. James Cagney, before he became the prototypical movie gangster, was as song-and-dance man. He showed off those talents in "Yankee Doodle Dandy," the biopic of a man who not only gave us great musicals,... Read more →


Walt Disney attorneys contend that the values of its properties are as inflated as these Disney World balloons and have gone to court to get new assessments. (Photo by Davidlohr Bueso via Flickr) Walt Disney's namesake recreational areas have built their vacation reputations on being the happiest places on Earth. But the company's tax lawyers are in decidedly bad moods after getting what they say are excessive tax year 2016 property value assessments of their Sunshine State parks. So Disney is taking the Orange Country, Florida, property appraiser to court. Dozens Disney tax suits: Disney Parks and Resorts have filed... Read more →


I'm generally a cereal person when it comes to breakfast, cold in the summer and the occasional bowl of oatmeal or Malt-O-Meal in those few months when temperatures drop here in Central Texas. Today, though, I'm going to stop by my local doughnut shop. Why the change to the most important meal of the day? It's National Doughnut Day! Or National Donut Day if you're into texting or Twitter and are looking for a character shortcut. In addition to giving me an excuse a reason to munch on a sweetened round of iced dough, today is a chance to acknowledge... Read more →


Yes, there's the Republican plan to replace Obamacare. And, yes, a serious winter storm is pounding the Northeast. But today, March 14, attention turns to the men's college basketball championship. The quest for that title is known as March Madness and it kicks off with two games later today in Dayton, Ohio. Place your bets: I'm not a basketball fan, college or pro, but long-time readers know what this month means to me — gambling and taxes. While the Super Bowl is the year's single biggest betting day — we're waiting for the final tally, but last February's 51st NFL... Read more →


Whenever I want to escape the crazy that is real life, I turn to the movies. Sometimes it's my favorite tax-themed films. Amanda Abbington and Martin Freeman, pictured here on the set of "Sherlock" with Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the show's title character behind them, have separated. (Photo courtesy PBS Masterpiece) Other times when I can't get away for a couple of hours, I surf entertainment news. Go ahead, judge me. Then admit you've done the same! In perusing the web recently, I stumbled across a list of celebrity couples who have split. In addition to the usual Brangelina and... Read more →


When the Academy Awards are handed out Sunday, Feb. 26, it's a good bet that most of the films already were tax winners. They used special tax breaks to help offset their sometimes enormous production costs. As of Jan. 1, all those credits will come from states. End of the federal film tax break: The only federal tax incentive designed specifically to keep film and television production in the United States ended when 2017 arrived. It was part of a group of extenders — temporary tax breaks that must be periodically renewed by Congress — that lawmakers last year decided... Read more →


Have you finalized your Valentine's Day plans? Good for you, you fool for love! Hey, I'm not judging. I'm just not that much of a romantic. That's why Valentine's Day is not that big of a deal in our household. Except for an exchange of cards, with the hubby and I each giving the other one humorous and one sentimental Hallmark greeting, Feb. 14 is just another day. Yes, the length of our relationship is one reason why Cupid's big day is predictably boring every year. But it works for us. Plus, our lack of more elaborate romantic gestures means... Read more →


Did you, like the second-half resurgent New England Patriots, come up a winner yesterday thanks to some Super Bowl bets? The New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points and stunned the Atlanta Falcons with an overtime Super Bowl LI win Sunday, Feb. 5, at NRG Stadium in Houston. With the victory, Tom Brady became the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl games. (Photo courtesy NFL.com) Uncle Sam congratulates and thanks you. Gambling winnings, whether thousands of dollars on a sports championship or a few bucks from a lottery scratch-off ticket, are taxable income. Some of the taxable winnings come... Read more →


Super Bowl LI will kick off in a few hours. Get your guacamole made and place your bets! I obviously don't need to encourage folks to chow down or gamble on Super Bowl Sunday. Every year, it's the single largest day for U.S. avocado consumption and for betting. Yes, I've wandered through the betting section of a couple of Las Vegas casinos, but usually confine my money losing to the one-armed bandits. Last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Commission, a record $132.5 million in total bets were placed on the Super Bowl. Remember, these were legal bets made in... Read more →


Will we hear "Houston, we have a problem" during Sunday's Super Bowl LI in H-Town? Oddsmakers say yes, there is a good chance we will hear that NASA-related phrase (popularized by the movie Apollo 13, but not actually uttered during the real ill-fated 1970 mission) during the NFL championship game's live broadcast. Super Bowl LI kicks off at 6:30 ET/5:30 CT, Sunday, Feb. 5 from NRG Field in Houston, Texas. It will be broadcast on Fox. That's just one of the prop bets being wagered on Sunday's (Feb. 5) matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. Total wagering... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


How's your holiday shopping going? If you're still looking for something to impress your true love, consider giving a gift inspired by the classic "12 Days of Christmas." For the 33rd year, the PNC Financial Services Group has analyzed the lengthy Christmas gift list from the song and determined, in its specially devised Christmas Price Index (CPI), just how much the prices have changed from year to year. Poultry prices aren't paltry: Overall, the cost of the song's gifts grew only slightly this year. But be prepared to pay a hefty prices if you opt for a few of the... Read more →


In 1994, Buck Showalter, current Baltimore Orioles (Go Birds!) manager but back then manager of the New York Yankees, had a small role in an episode of Seinfeld. Fans of the show about nothing might remember that this particular episode was, in part, about the Bronx Bombers uniforms. Orioles' manager Buck Showalter talks with MLB Network about his 1994 "Seinfeld" appearance and its tax ramifications. Click image to watch the full clip. Today on MLB Network's broadcast from Major League Baseball's winter meetings in National Harbor, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C., the ebullient Showalter talked about his brief TV career... Read more →


Halloween is a big deal for a lot of folks. I like the holiday, but don't go as crazy as some of my neighbors. Houses are decorated and adults dress up more elaborately than their trick or treating kids. I'm not sure I'd go to this house seeking treats! The hubby and I simply sit on our porch and hand out candy, particularly enjoying the youngest ghouls and goblins for whom this is the first Oct. 31 where they realize they're getting way more candy than they've ever seen before. Candy calculations: I try to estimate the optimal amount of... Read more →


Alec Baldwin has been having a field day portraying Donald Trump, the presidential candidate with, among other things, some tax issues. Click image to watch the Saturday Night Live skit from which this Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump GIF is taken. Now from the life imitates art files, Baldwin is facing his own allegations of tax avoidance. New York City art dealer Mary Boone filed a motion in New York State Supreme Court last week accusing the actor of "failing to pay sales tax." She alleges that in order to avoid New York taxes, Baldwin had the painting shipped to... Read more →


Eighty-five years ago today -- Oct. 17, 1931 -- a federal jury in Chicago convicted gangster Al "Scarface" Capone of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, ultimately ending up in fabled Alcatraz. Al Capone's U.S. Department of Justice mug shot, taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. Keep that in mind if you're thinking of blowing off today's extended filing deadline for getting your 2015 tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. All these years later, the IRS and Treasury still proudly point to Capone's conviction. It was T-men who put... Read more →