Tuesday, January 10, 2012
KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!
Many years ago I travelled cross country on an escorted rail trip on Amtrak. Among my fellow travelers was a retired couple from a suburb of our capital city of Trenton (TRENTON MAKES - THE WORLD TAKES).
The husband’s doctor had told him he needed to walk more. So every day he would take a walk through the streets of his town. As he walked he kept his head down to see where he was going. In the course of a year he found about $123.00 literally “at his feet”! Money, coins and bills, on the ground.
I do not walk much, now less than then, but once I heard that story I, too, began to walk with my head down, looking for coinage on the street. In a year I had accumulated a little over $12.00 in found money. Hey – it equaled two free movie tickets at the time (when I went to the movies). And even today it’s a free ham and cheese omelet breakfast at my local diner.
When you go to the drive-up window of a fast food joint to pay do not park too close to the window. Leave enough room to be able to open your door a bit – you will usually find coins on the ground under the window.
You can also find coins, often quarters, on the ground underneath the basket at toll booths. When I would travel late at night and come upon a Garden State Parkway toll that cost 35 cents I would often be able to pay the toll and pocket 25 cents with what I found on the ground.
Since this is a blog about taxes, to justify this post perhaps I should discuss if this found money is taxable.
Yes, it would be income, and you would have to report it as miscellaneous income, much like gambling winnings or a prize won on a tv game show, on Line 21 of Form 1040.
Generally increases in wealth are taxable. I do believe there is a Tax Court case concerning a "hidden hoard". A person bought a piano somewhere and later found a pile of money hidden inside, which was determined to be taxable.
The bottom line - found value is taxable.