Monday, August 15, 2016
WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’
Another “meaty” BUZZ!
* Just call me "Rambing Rob". Please check out my RAMBLINGS. And share with friends, family, and co-workers. Here's an idea - why not subscribe to the posts. Thanks!
* Let me begin with an excerpt of a recent post from a state-specific tax professional FACEBOOK group to which I belong (highlight is mine) –
“Client got a CP-2000 and quickly agreed and paid the amount asked for. Then they showed me the notice. Turns out the IRS added the same item twice, so the amount due is about half.”
I share this with you as a reminder to never assume a balance due notice from the IRS or a state tax agency is correct and just pay it! In my experience 2/3 – 3/4 of all notices are at least partially incorrect. If you receive a notice from the IRS or a state agency give it to your, or a, tax professional immediately!
* A “Special Edition Tax Tip” from the IRS – “IRS Offers Tips to Help You Prepare for Hurricanes, Natural Disasters”.
* A pop culture milestone - the SURLY SUBGROUP announces “the Beatles’ hit song Taxman has just turned 50” in “Taxman at 50”.
This is a new, to me, tax blog by tax academics who teach at law schools around the country that I discovered via Joe Kristan’s weekday daily BUZZ-like “Tax Round-up”.
* A request from Jim Blankenship at GETTING YOUR FINANCIAL DUCKS IN A ROW – “If your hobby makes money, read this”.
“If you have a hobby that makes money, you may need to claim this money as income, net of your expenses, on your tax return.”
The post is actually a reprint of an IRS “Summertime Tax Tip” – but does include important information for hobbyists.
* Kay Bell is correct when she says “Tax holidays mean use taxes for out-of-state shoppers” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.
However, between you and me, I expect that only a very small handful of shoppers, if any, are actually paying state use tax.
* And at Kay’s BANKRATE.COM blog we find “Tax phishing scam mimics software providers”.
Once again I am glad I do not use flawed and expensive tax preparation software to prepare client 1040s.
* The CCH week-day daily Headline News reports “Wyden Touts Tax Proposals for Housing” -
“Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee (SFC), continues to promote his renewed first-time homebuyer tax credit while Congress is in recess. The First-Time Homebuyer Credit Bill of 2016 (Sen 3175) would allow qualified first time homebuyers to receive up to a $10,000 refundable tax credit.”
This legislation must never pass. Refundable tax credits are fraud magnets.
Back in 2010 CNN Money quoted a Treasury Department report finding that “more than 1,200 prison inmates, including 241 serving life sentences, defrauded the government of $9.1 million in tax credits reserved for first-time homebuyers”.
In 2011 the Washington Reporter announced “more than 100 employees of the Internal Revenue Service cheated the government by fraudulently claiming a first-time homebuyer tax credit included in the 2008 and 2009 economic stimulus packages, according to federal investigators”.
And it was not successful. An article in the John Marshall Law Review by SJ Webber from 2011 suggests that the credit failed to deliver on its promises.
If you want to provide money to encourage individuals to purchase a home then offer a direct federal point-of-purchase subsidy payment.
Read my lips – NO REFUNDABLE TAX CREDITS!
* Lew Taishoff of the TAISHOFF LAW BLOG reminds us of what I have been telling my self-employed artist clients for years in “An Artist’s Stock In Trade”.
The word, as Lew properly explains, is (highlight is mine) “an artist who contributes her own works to a charity, and can substantiate the contribution sufficiently for Section 170 and Reg. 1.170A-13(b)(1), is limited to a deduction not for the retail or fair market value of the contributed artwork, but only for what would amount to cost of goods sold”.
The artist can only deduct the actual cost of the item donated, and not what he or she could sell it for.
Lew’s post discusses a recent court case and ends with the following good advice that applies to all taxpayers and not just artists –
“Takeaway for artists- Save the receipts for any materials you use. Could be very handy.”
* A "Constipation, Mr Holmes" moment at the Tax Policy Center’s TAXVOX blog, where Roberton C. Williams reminds us of the obvious – “Federal Taxes Are Very Progressive” – and provides some recent statistics –
“Updated estimates from the Tax Policy Center project that effective federal tax rates this year will range from 3.5 percent for households in the lowest-income quintile (or fifth) to 33.0 percent for those in the top 1 percent.
The effective federal tax rate for all households—including individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, and estate and gift taxes—will average 19.9 percent in 2016. Individual income taxes will account for half of total revenue (9.9 percent of income) and payroll taxes will provide just over a third (6.9 percent of income). Most of the rest will come from corporate income taxes (2.1 percent of income) with just 5 percent coming from excise and estate and gift taxes (a combined 1 percent of income).”
I have continually supported a more flat tax rate over a highly progressive tax system. Entrepreneurship, success, and ambition should not be punished. The “wealthy” should not be more highly taxed merely because they can afford it.
* And from the Tax Foundation’s TAX POLICY BLOG, in a take on a previous entry in the series, the Foundation’s newest map shows “The Real Value of $100 in Metropolitan Areas”.
The post identifies the ten most expensive cities in the United States. Not surprising #3 on the list includes my former home - $100 in the “New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA” metropolitan area is worth only $81.77. Still more proof that moving to northeast PA was a good idea.
* FYI - IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2016-17 helps you to “Find Easy-to-Use Online Tools on IRS.gov”.
* Let me end with Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 2015 federal income tax return (click here). The return shows that the couple had an AGI of about $10,600,000 and donated $1,042,000 – 9.8% of AGI - to charity. They paid about $3,323,000 in combined federal income tax and Obamacare surtaxes – 31.4% of AGI – and $301,700 in self-employment tax.
Of course, Dangerous Donald’s return still remains a mystery, and I expect will never be released.
THE FINAL WORD
I realize it looks like I am obsessing on Dangerous Donald. But I just can’t turn my head and pretend I just don’t see. I truly believe, for the future safety of America and the world, that this message needs to be constantly repeated until it is finally understood.
I will say it again - regardless of your political beliefs, it is vitally important that Trump NEVER become President!
The reason is not his alleged political policies. The problem is truly with the man and not with his politics (however unacceptable his politics may be).
Donald Trump suffers acutely from “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. Because of this he is incapable of acting or speaking intelligently, maturely, truthfully, and rationally. And, part of his disorder, he is incapable of dealing with criticism and challenges like a mature adult.
Even if Hillary is as bad as her worst critics make her out to be (which I personally do not believe), a President Clinton is a hundred times better, and safer, for the country, and the world, than a President Trump.
Before I go – kudos for another Republican with a conscience and balls. Click here. We need more Republican Congresspersons and candidates to follow!