Tax numbers Feed

Many of us used to spend Saturday afternoons at the movies. Streaming and on demand options have cut into those ticket sales, but Oscar nominations and wins still boost ticket sales and the taxes collected on those admission slips. (Photo from Keith Page archives via Kevin Dooley on Flickr) It's an honor to win an Oscar. Or, according to those who don't, just to be nominated. It's also usually provides films an economic boost, even before the statuettes are handed out. And that could also help out those states, like Texas, that collect sales tax on movie theater tickets. Nominations... Read more →

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, meets with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Did this July 18, 2011, conversation lead to Obama's proposed Buffett Rule, a surtax on millionaires? (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) If you were wise or lucky enough to get a piece of Berkshire Hathaway, company chairman Warren Buffett has some good news for you. Berkshire's gain in net worth last year was $65.3 billion. And while the Oracle of Omaha deserves kudos for many things, Buffett says the real thanks regarding Berkshire Hathaway's recent financial uptick should go to the Republicans. Specifically,... Read more →

Most taxpayers now are focusing on completing their annual tax returns. But if we have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service to finish that Form 1040, or if the agency subsequently has some questions about it, Uncle Sam's tax collector wants us to know we have some inalienable tax rights. The 10 components of Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) are this week's By the Numbers figure. Here they are: 1. The Right to Be Informed: Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of... Read more →

Elmer Irey headed the Internal Revenue Bureau's Intelligence Unit in the 1930s. It was under Irey's direction that evidence was gathered leading to the conviction of Al Capone for failure to pay his income tax. Read more about Irey and Capone at The Mob Museum. I'm a big sports fan. But sometimes I need a break. So in my channel flipping today to find something other than the Olympics, soccer/futbol, NHL hockey and part 1 of NASCAR's 83-step Daytona 500 qualifying process, I ran across one of my favorite movies, "The Untouchables." I'm talking the 2007 version, with Kevin Costner... Read more →

Throwing a Super Bowl Party? Gunaxin has some tips to help you make it the best party ever, regardless of which team wins. Are you hosting a Super Bowl party tomorrow? If your NFL championship game is typical — and I'm talking expense-wise, not your exemplar hosting abilities! — then you'll probably spend more than 200 bucks. That's what 1,000 folks recently surveyed by LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loan refinancing, said they planned to spend. The precise amount, according the results of the online inquiry conducted by Pollfish, was $207.16. That amount is this week's By the Numbers... Read more →

Photo courtesy Mike via Flickr CC Even though the federal government is shut down, one thing U.S. travelers heading overseas don't have to worry about is getting a passport. The U.S. Department of State says it will continue to issue the blue-bound international travel documents. It has that option since passport services are funded by fees, meaning they essentially pay for themselves and don't rely solely on funds authorized by Congress. But if you're a world traveler who owes back taxes, you could be stuck here at home. The hold comes not from State, but from the Internal Revenue Service.... Read more →

A collection of Enigma machines and paraphernalia on display at the U.S. National Cryptologic Museum. New York tax officials seized and sold one Enigma owned by "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli to cover his unpaid state taxes. (Photographs courtesy Robert Malmgren via en:User:Matt Crypto/Wikipedia) It's no mystery why folks intentionally skirt tax laws. They don't want to pay. New York, however, has managed to get back some of the taxes that officials say former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli failed to pay the Empire State. New York state tax officials seized a rare Nazi Enigma encryption machine and three historical documents... Read more →

The gambling loss tax deduction likely won't help the country's newest multimillionaire trim his or her 2018 tax bill. The write-off, however, still will help winners of smaller amounts. Professional gamblers, though, aren't so lucky. They'll see a limitation on how they offset their taxable winnings under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes. I've been touching base with my Florida friends and former neighbors and none of them won — or is admitting to winning! — last night's Mega Millions drawing. But some lucky Sunshine State resident is $450 million (more likely $281 million lump sum) richer today. Actually,... Read more →

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you have all your presents at least in hand, if not wrapped and under the tree. And I hope they didn't set you back as much as the gifts given by the true love in the classic "12 Days of Christmas" tune. The least expensive of the 12 gifts in the classic Christmas carol was the eight milking maids. Maybe that's because, like farm manager Courtney Biggs at Chapel's Country Creamery in Easton, Maryland, they use modern milking methods. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Bob Nichols via Flickr CC) The annual PNC Christmas Price... Read more →

There's a tax bill, but there is no tax reform. There's still an estate tax. There are still (some) state and local itemized tax deductions. There's still an alternative minimum tax. And there are enough other tweaks to confuse filers and keep tax pros very busy over the next 12 (and more) months. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) presides over the lone public hearing Dec. 13 of the House-Senate conference committee on H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Final House and Senate votes on the bill are planned for next week. Basically, the Republican tax bill... Read more →

It's Sunday afternoon in America, meaning millions (still) are watching National Football League games Millions more also are betting on them. Unless, that is, they were participants in Ron & Mike's Football Pool. It's one of the largest football survivor pools in the country and it was shut down last week after federal agents seized documentation and the money the pool organizers collected, according to an article by Darren Rovell, senior writer for ESPN. In case you're not a gambler, survivor pools require a bettor to pick one team that is going to win each week of the football season... Read more →

(Image by Rochelle Truong | Reddit) As we continue to plow though the Senate's version of the House tax reform bill, many folks, both on Capitol Hill and across the country, are still upset with the process used by GOP leaders to get the measure through the upper chamber. Changes traded for votes: One of the biggest complaints is about the legislative changes made on the fly to woo enough Senators to the "yea" side. That's not necessarily unusual. Quid pro quo is common in crafting legislation. But the problem for opponents of the bill was that some of these... Read more →

Lewis Hamilton was all hat and F1 2017 champion after he won the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin TX on Oct 29 2017. That was the race where the U.K. driver earned enough points to take another title. A few days later, Hamilton's name showed up in the Paradise Papers as one of the rich and famous individuals around the world who uses questionable tax shelters. (Photo courtesy Formula 1's final race of the year was today in Abu Dhabi (no spoiler here unless you click the link), ending the 2017 season in which Lewis Hamilton claimed the motorsports'... Read more →

As a wife of many years, I appreciate it when a couple likes to share big moments. But such spousal closeness backfired spectacularly when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought his wife, Louise Linton, with him when he went to check out his signature that's now appearing on U.S. currency. But before we get to the drama, let's look at the changes coming to our dollars. Handwriting gets grade A: The good news for Mnuchin is that while folks still might have trouble pronouncing his name, they can at least read his signature. That's more that can be said for his... Read more →

One of the surprise differences in the Senate tax plan as compared to the House bill is in the treatment of state and local taxes, referred to by tax geeks (guilty!) as SALT. Both the House and Senate tax bills would eliminate the deductions for state and local income and sales taxes. The Senate, however, makes no accommodation for real estate taxes. That hard tax line also was originally taken by the House. But GOP leaders there, facing backlash from their members in districts where voters pay big real estate tax bills, acquiesced. The House bill revision allows the property... Read more →

$13 billion. That's how much nonprofits say Republican-proposed changes to the tax code could cost them each year. Even though the GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would keep the itemized deduction for charitable donations, it's one of just a handful that will remain on Schedule A. In exchange for the elimination of most itemized write-offs, the House tax reform proposal calls for almost doubling the standard deduction. That shift in federal tax deduction strategy could pose a major problem for the thousands of U.S. nonprofits that rely on contributions. Fewer itemizers = less donations: Now, about a third of... Read more →

Picking up some extra cash is nothing new. People have always taken on added work when they've needed or wanted a few more dollars. Now, however, side hustles have become a viable employment option. They've also become a problem for the Internal Revenue Service. Growing gigs: The head of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax tax preparation software, noted earlier this year that more than a third of the U.S. workforce participates in the gig economy and it's growing. "We think self-employed [work] has a lot of opportunity for growth as we look ahead," said Intuit CEO Brad Smith said back... Read more →

Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes next year to retirement and pension plans. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. New tax laws also have altered some of the 2018 amounts and are noted in the post below. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 returns due next April. Maxing out your retirement plans, both those offered... Read more →

Aerial view on Oct. 9 of a damaged home in the mountainous area of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, many homes, businesses, roads and bridges suffered major damages due to strong winds and heavy rain. (Photo by Andrea Booher, FEMA) To borrow from James Taylor's plaintive classic, the Internal Revenue Service has seen fire and rain and is making tax accommodations for Americans having to deal with those disastrous aftermaths. Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, pummeling the U.S. territory with category 5 force. Three weeks later, many of the island's 3.4 million residents are... Read more →

A proposal to limit certain business estate valuation discounts is outta here under the Treasury's finalized list of eight tax regulations it wants to eliminate or substantially revise. Remember back in July when the U.S. Treasury announced eight tax regulations it said were burdensome and needed to be changed or axed? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his staff have now finalized what they want to do with these eight rules. Three would be tossed out, including one that many say hurt family-owned and operated businesses. Two would be partially revoked. The final three would be substantially revised. "This is only... Read more →