Friday, January 8, 2016
WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’
Another “meaty” BUZZ!
* This bears frequent repeating – DON’T LISTEN TO THE RIDICULOUS TURBO TAX TV ADS!
* Sarah Brenner lists “Six 2016 Retirement Account Rule Changes You Need to Know” at THE SLOTT REPORT.
* Another list with some really good and important stuff (bloggers love lists) – “10 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Taxes” from Kelly Phillips Erb at FORBES.COM.
It appears that many of the FORBES.COM bloggers are posting “10 Things You Absolutely Need To Know” lists, part of a combined “100 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Money Before You're 35”.
* And the list of lists continues – the Landmark Tax Group TAX TIPS provides “7 Steps to Avoid a Tax Audit”. Good stuff here, too.
* Enough with lists. Are there any tax pros out there who have not seen the premiere issue of my new quarterly e-magazine for tax preparers THE TAX PROFESSIONAL yet?
* Oi Vey! WGN reports “No Illinois Tax Refunds Until After March 1”!
“The Illinois Department of Revenue says taxpayers will have to wait until after March 1 to receive income tax refunds.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports the department says the delay is because of efforts to stop fraud. The department says it’s not because of the state budget impasse.”
* Bill Perez goes into detail on the dreaded “Alternative Minimum Tax” at ABOUT.COM.
The existence of the dreaded AMT is a prime example of the laziness of the idiots in Congress – going as far back as the late 1960s.
The dreaded AMT, which should more appropriately be called the Mandatory Maximum Tax, was originally enacted in 1969 in response to testimony by the Secretary of the Treasury that 155 individuals with Adjusted Gross Income of more than $200,000 (over $1 Million in today’s dollars) paid “0” tax on their 1967 tax returns. Congress received more letters that year on the Secretary’s testimony than they did on the Vietnam War!
Of course Congress being idiots, rather than responding by acting logically and eliminating the loopholes in the tax code that allowed the high income individuals to avoid paying tax the fools reacted and created a complicated alternative tax system.
When, or if, the Tax Code is seriously reformed the dreaded AMT must be destroyed.
* And Bill also tackles “Adjusting Tax Withholding from Your Paycheck: How to Accurately Calculate Your Withholding for Federal Income Taxes”.
He correctly describes a federal withholding allowance in the simplest terms -
“A withholding allowance represents your total tax deductions divided by the personal exemption amount.”
* Bill’s fellow ABOUT.COM tax blogger, Jean Murray, reminds us that it is “January is W-2 and 1099-MISC Prep Time” in her newsletter. I am about 75% finished with typing W-2s and 1099s.
* ICYI – the latest TAX FOUNDATION map shows “Which States Rely the Most on Federal Aid?” for Fiscal Year 2013.
“Mississippi, for instance, relied on federal assistance for 42.9 percent of its revenue in FY 2013, the largest share in the country. Also on the high end are Louisiana (41.9 percent), Tennessee (39.5 percent), South Dakota (39.0 percent), and Missouri (38.2 percent).”
New Jersey is #41 on the list. NY is #34 and PA is #29. North Dakota is #50, relying on federal assistance the least of the 50 states – only 19% of its total revenue for FY 2013 came from Washington.
* Renu Zaretsky takes a look at “The Case of Tax Scams, Private Debt Collectors, and Wishful Thinking” at the Tax Policy Center’s TAX VOX blog.
The members of Congress have once again proven themselves idiots with this move. As Renu explains –
“ . . .this is the third time in the past two decades that Congress has ordered the IRS to use private collection agencies, or PCAs. And the past results have been less than stellar.”
The bottom line of this post correctly identifies the solution to many of the current problems with our tax system –
“There is one way Congress could make tax compliance and collection easier and tax avoidance harder, while improving the public’s perception of the IRS. It could simplify the tax code. Unfortunately, that’s a call Congress has not chosen to make.”
* Prof Jim Maule talks about one of the basic problems with the current mucking fess that is our Tax Code in “Same Term, Different Definitions?” at MAULED AGAIN. The post concerns the differing definitions of “qualified education expenses” for the various education tax benefits.
Jim also points out that “in addition to the differences, small and technical as they are, in the definitions of qualified tuition and related expenses, there also is a difference in what qualifies as an educational institution.”
His bottom line gets to the heart of the matter -
“Would it not make sense to have one definition and simplify the rules? The answer is easy. Of course it would. But it’s not the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from Congress.”
The members of Congress certainly are idiots.
THE FINAL WORD-
I miss Dick Clark!
I haven’t gone out on New Year’s Eve for at least 35 years (there is a story there – perhaps another time). I did a couple of years at Times Square in NYC back in the mid-1970s, so I can say “been there, done that”.
I spend the evening watching television, mostly flipping back and forth between the celebrations on 4, 5, 7, CNN, and, surprisingly, FOX NEWS. This year these programs were especially disappointing.
For one thing I had never heard of most of the performers, much more than in prior years. And FOX NEWS, whose only saving grace in the past had been its choice of performers, did not seem to have any during my “visits”. They actually had buffoon Donald Trump on close to midnight – and I promptly changed the channel once I saw him on screen.
The attempts at humor by the roundtable of unknown (at least to me) comics, while discussing the highlights of 2015 with Carson Daly on NBC after the 11PM news, failed miserably. They were not funny at all. And Kathy Griffin’s rants and ramblings on CNN get tired quickly.
I did enjoy a few black and white episodes of Jack Benny and Burns and Allen on Antennae TV. Unfortunately I forgot about the rerun of last year’s “Michael Feinstein New Year's Eve at the Rainbow Room” on PBS, which I wish would become an annual event.
I was asleep by 12:30!
BTW - I always used to know where one of my 1040 clients was on New Year’s Eve.
He is now retired, but for many years he was the person who operated the machine that dropped the ball on top of One Times Square at midnight.