Tuesday, September 18, 2018

WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’?


* Good news - there is a new “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING!

* Jeff Stimpson of ACCOUNTING TODAY posed the question “The art of the steal: Will reform fight tax cheats?” to tax professionals. 

Like many of those who responded, I, too, am pessimistic.  The so-called “tax reform” of the GOP Tax Act will not reduce tax cheats - it maintained and increased the refundable tax credits, which are magnets for tax fraud, and added substantial complication with the Section 199a deduction.  

* The third failure for this inappropriate program.  ACCOUNTING TODAY discusses a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that found “Private collectors aren’t collecting much tax revenue”.

This program is clear proof that the idiots in Congress firmly believe that “if it doesn’t work keep on doing it!”

* An ACCOUNTING TODAY trifecta.  It also reported “Senate confirms Rettig as IRS commissioner”.

* MOTLEY FOOL correctly identifies “3 Reasons Your Higher 2018 Standard Deduction Might Not Help You at Tax Time”.  However motley “he” may be, he is certainly no fool.

It is a fact that taxpayers will not receive the full tax benefit of the advertised nearly doubling of the Standard Deduction – due, as the post explains, to the loss of the personal exemption deduction.

* As Kay Bell says, this information is a bit too late for some businesses, but still important information for future reference - “5 disaster preparedness moves for businesses”.

* Kelly Phillips Erb expands the issue to include all taxpayers in “As Hurricane Florence Approaches, All Taxpayers Should Take Steps To Protect Important Documents” at FORBES.COM.

* Staying with FORBES’COM’s TaxGirl, KPE reveals the “Projected 2019 Tax Rates, Brackets, Standard Deduction Amounts And More".

As Kelly points out, these are only projected numbers for 2019 – not the official IRS numbers – calculated by Bloomberg Tax based on the announced change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  A Bloomberg spokesman explains –

While the IRS won’t announce actual inflation adjustments for next year for some time, our projections help taxpayers and tax planners get a jump start on the 2019 tax planning season by allowing them to more accurately estimate their tax liabilities for the upcoming year,”

Another trifecta – this time for TaxGirl KPE – “Helping Out After Hurricane Florence: Where, What & How To Donate”.

* If you haven’t already heard, the IRS is providing “Tax Relief for Victims of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina”.


The success of this targeted federal tax amnesty program should cause Congress to look at a general federal tax amnesty program, with elimination of penalties and reduced interest charges, for taxpayers with current outstanding balances and previously unreported income – similar to the many successful state amnesty programs. 

I have been calling for a general federal tax amnesty program for years.  For example, my 2014 TWTP post “What About A Federal Tax Amnesty?”.  

THE LAST WORD

Wow – a Republican with intelligence, courage, and actual concern for the country and the world!  There are sadly too few.

I am talking about former NJ Governor Christie Todd Whitman, who I used to refer to with my tax clients as “Aunt Christie” when she was in Trenton.

Here is some of what she has recently said (highlights are mine) - 

I’m someone who has served as a Republican governor. I’ve served two Republican administrations, I grew up as a Republican.  There are times when you just put policy ahead of politics. You’ve got to call out this man. I believe he should resign and I think Republicans should at least start to move in that direction.”

The language that he uses, his demonizing people, his dismissing people and marginalizing them has always been problematic as far as I was concerned.  His attitude toward government has been an issue. I think he’s undermining some of the very basic tenets that really form our democracy.”

Privately there’s a lot of frustration on Capitol Hill. There are a number of members who know that this behavior is not benefitting the presidency. They know it’s doing damage to us long-term on several of the policy issues and the environment and other areas.”

She calls on fellow Republicans to put “the country ahead of your party.” 

Right on, CTW!

TTFN













Monday, September 17, 2018

IT'S HERE!


It’s here! 

The latest “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING.

Click here to check it out.

BTW - it does include some tax "stuff".

TTFN














Friday, September 14, 2018

JUST A REMINDER

I OWE HOW MUCH !?!


The federal income tax withholding tables have been revised to reflect the new lower rates enacted by the GOP Tax Act.

I do believe that the new rates are a bit too “liberal” and may reduce withholding too much in order to provide a bigger paycheck and give the appearance of a bigger tax cut.

And, with the elimination of the personal exemption deduction, previous withholding allowances that may have been appropriate under the old law may no longer apply to the new law.

If you do nothing you may be surprised at tax time with either a smaller refund or actual tax due.

It is important to check your withholding now to make sure you are not surprised next year.

You can use the new “IRS Withholding Calculator” to do a “paycheck check-up”.

TTFN















Thursday, September 13, 2018

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO . . .


Donald T Rump’s daily delusional lies, empty vain boasting, and belittling of those who oppose, question, challenge, or disagree with him is a constant embarrassment, destroying the honor and credibility of the office of the President and the honor and credibility of America in the eyes of the world. 

But sadly, not only is America, and Congress, becoming numb to the constant unethical, unconstitutional, unpresidential, and unAmerican behavior of Trump, with new outrageous words and deeds daily, but we have forgotten about addressing some of the basic issues of the Trump presidency.

What has happened to action, including legislation, to –

(1) Repeal the Electoral College

Trump lost the election to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 Million votes, but was put in office by the Electoral College. One of the reasons the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College was because they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power, in other words to keep a dangerous demagogue like Trump out of the White House, so it obviously does not work. What it can do is negate the actual “will of the people”, as it clearly did in 2016.

(2) Require Presidents to totally divest themselves of all business holdings before taking office

Trump’s actions as President are guided by personal financial interests, and his business investments clearly benefit from his being presidency. Every week-end he plays golf at one of the resorts he owns he is taking money out of the pockets of the American people and putting it into his own pocket. Trump’s ownership of active business assets violates Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution which prevents the President from accepting ‘presents’ or ‘emolument’ from foreign countries and interests.

(3) Require Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates to publicly release three years of tax returns

During the campaign Trump promised to release his tax returns, but once elected he decided to instead “just say no”. Since Trump’s only concern is about his perception, it is obvious that there is information on his tax returns that would at the very least embarrass him, indicating that he is not as rich and successful as he wants everyone to think he is. Or, as is suspected, information that would tie him to Russia.

We must vocally and aggressively express our outrage at each and every one of Trump’s past, current and ongoing unethical, unconstitutional, unpresidential, and unAmerican acts on a daily basis, and continue to express outrage at each new unethical, unconstitutional, unpresidential, and unAmerican act.

And we must continue to aggressively seek the changes necessary to correct the mistake that put Trump in office and require transparency and ethical behavior by Trump and all future Presidents.

TTFN









Wednesday, September 12, 2018

WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’?


BUZZ, BUZZ – the BUZZ is back!

* ACCOUNTING TODAY reports “House GOP unveils Tax Cut 2.0 bill” - 

House Republican lawmakers introduced legislation Monday that would make the 2017 tax cuts for individuals permanent in a bid to highlight their signature economic policy achievement ahead of the November elections.”

The TAX FOUNDATION also discusses the GOP legislation in "Tax Reform 2.0 Takes Shape".

Actually, there are three (3) separate bills.  

“The Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018” makes permanent the individual and business provisions of the GOP Tax Act that are currently set to expire in 2025.  House Speaker Ryan wants to hold a vote before the end of September.   The timing is clear.  The House wants the bill passed before the mid-term elections – to provide a partial victory to tout during the campaign, and to assure passage before the political mix of the House is changed by the election and, hopefully, the Democrats gain control.  This bill will not succeed in the Senate even now because 60 votes are needed for passage.

The original GOP Tax Act was written so quickly, without any review or discussion, or even actual serious thought.  Pushing through a bill to make it permanent again with minimal if any serious review and debate, even if only for a strictly political purpose, is unacceptable.  I don’t like temporary tax law.  But I also don’t like laws that are basically written and passed almost overnight, with Party leaders dictating their members’ votes without giving them time to actually read and digest what they are voting on and to allow for discussion and debate, as the original GOP Tax Act, and to be fair the ACA, was.  

“The American Innovation Act of 2018” concerns start-up costs and capital investment.

“The Family Savings Act of 2018” appears to have some good stuff when it comes to retirement and savings, including eliminating the age limit on IRA contributions and creating a USA Account.  Click here to see how I would structure a USA Account.

Introducing Tax Reform 2.0 in three separate pieces of legislation is actually smart and appropriate.  Who knew members of Congress could act intelligently once in a while?  Doing it this way provides some chance for the Family Savings bill to be passed in both the House and the Senate without being hampered by the main component of Tax Reform 2.0 - assuming Democrats actually read the bill and use independent thought instead of just “following orders” from the Party leadership.

* On September 1st I posted a new “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING.  Check it out!  

* Kelly Phillips Erb, the FORBES.COM TaxGirl, reports “IRS Issues Guidance on New $500 Credit For Dependents And Head Of Household Status”.

Basically, the guidance verifies what we had expected – that, although there is no longer a personal exemption deduction, the $4,150 that would have been the personal exemption amount for 2018 is used for determining whether a person is a dependent or a taxpayer is Head of Household.

* Still confused about the new tax laws and how they affect your tax return?  Get some clarity and advice in my book “THE GOP TAX ACT AND THE NEW 1040” ADVICE AND INFORMATION FOR DEALING WITH THE NEW TAX LAWS”.


* Let me educate you on how to be a successful year-round tax planner.  Join the National Tax Planning Network.

* For NJ homeowners – the NJ Division of Taxation has tweeted “Starting September 12, we will mail 2016 Homestead Benefit filing information over a three-week period”.

And the NJDOT website tells us – “If you received a benefit earlier this year, you will receive an additional credit or check on or about November 1, 2018, due to the State budget recently signed by Governor Phil Murphy.”

* The need to check your withholding is not limited to employees receiving a Form W-2.  CPA ADVISOR correctly advices “To Avoid April Tax Shock, Retirees Need to Check Withholding on Pensions, Annuities”.

THE LAST WORD


The once “Grand Old Party” has become a “Gutless Old Party” and a “Gang of Pussys” (slang: a weak or cowardly man or boy: wimp, sissy) eager to be grabbed by Trump.

We have been wondering what potential blackmail information Putin has on Trump.  The real question is what potential blackmail information Trump has on McConnell, Ryan and other Republicans.

We must send a message to the Republican Party by voting against all Republican candidates for Congress in November!

TTFN













Tuesday, September 11, 2018

NEVER FORGET!





 Police Officer Maurice Barry - PATH Emergency Service Unit - P.O. Shield #1038

A Port Authority officer for 16 years, Maurice "Moe" Barry, 48, was assigned to the PATH commuter train system. The resident of Rutherford, NJ, upon hearing the reports of the terrorist attacks, was one of the first on scene when he rushed from Jersey City to Lower Manhattan and then into the North Tower to help in the rescue efforts. As thousands fled the searing flames and smoke of the Towers, Officer Barry was attempting to reach trapped and frightened workers on the upper floors. The last time he was seen, he was on his way to the higher floors to get people out.
.
Moe had a history of heroism - he was involved in rescue efforts during an airplane crash at La Guardia airport; he once climbed a bridge to retrieve the body of a person electrocuted there; he was involved in the rescue effort during the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; and he rescued a woman from her home, by boat, during Hurricane Floyd. Moe was also a volunteer for the Rutherford Ambulance Corps.

------------------------------------------------------
Most of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on dates of historic importance.

The day President Kennedy was shot I was on a 6th Grade field trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York City. I was sitting in the theatre at the Hayden Planetarium watching a presentation when the show suddenly stopped. The lights went on and it was announced over the PA system that President Kennedy had been shot. We were all told to go home.

The day President Nixon resigned I was at a Crosby, Stills and Nash concert in Roosevelt Stadium on Route 440 in Jersey City (it no longer exists – it has been replaced by condos). CSN announced that Nixon had just resigned and proceeded to break into a rousing version of "Ohio" (“Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming…).

When the planes crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I was on a Parker Tours escorted bus trip to Ocean City, Maryland. At the time of the attack our group was at the Assateague Island National Seashore. We were not told about it until we had returned to the bus and were driving back to our hotel, where we were supposed to attend a welcome reception. The reception was cancelled and we all went to our individual rooms to watch the tragedy unfold on television.

On September 11, 2001, my client, and fellow Dickinson High School Class of 1971 graduate (although we did not discover this until many, many years later when he happened to notice an award I had received from my high school graduating class that was hanging on the wall of the Newark Avenue office and said that he graduated from DHS in 1971 too), Maurice “Moe” Barry was one of the members of the Port Authority Police Emergency Response Team, among the “first responders” to the initial attack, who were killed when the tower collapsed.

Moe always came in to have his tax return prepared on the very last day of the season, April 15, 16 or 17 of each year, a long-standing tradition he first began as a client of my mentor Jim Gill before I “inherited” the practice. Each year when we saw Moe we knew it was almost over. One year he came in on April 10th and we told him to go away and come back on the 15th. To honor Moe’s memory I no longer work on 1040s on the last day of “the season”. For me the tax filing season ends each year on April 14th (or 15th or 16th). 
 
TTFN







Friday, September 7, 2018

IMPORTANT - DEBUNKING MYTHS ABOUT TRUMP


It is important for all Americans to understand and acknowledge these facts about ignorant, incompetent, and totally unfit Donald T Rump.

(1) Donald Trump was NOT elected President of the United States by the American people. 

Trump lost the election to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 Million votes.  When you add the votes for the two major “third party” candidates 8,810,884 more Americans voted against Trump than for him in the 2016 Presidential election.

2016 Presidential Election:

Candidate            Party         Popular Votes

Donald J. Trump      Republican    62,980,160
Hillary R. Clinton   Democratic    65,845,063
Gary Johnson         Libertarian    4,488,931
Jill Stein           Green          1,457,050

Trump was placed in office by the Electoral College.  Ironically, one of the reasons the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College was, according to “Why The Electoral College” from HISTORY CENTRAL, because “they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power”.  So, one of the main reasons for the existence of the Electoral College is to keep a dangerous demagogue like Trump out of the White House.

(2) Donald T Rump is NOT a Republican.

Trump has no consistent political beliefs, convictions or ideology, or any party loyalty.  Trump chose the Republican Party as the best vehicle for his election. 

Trump’s only “agenda” as President is to feed his ego and line his pockets.

During the primary campaign he bragged, unapologetically, about making political contributions to candidates of both parties over the years, not based on political ideology but to buy current and potential future influence and favors.  While voting records are confidential, I expect over the years Trump has voted for whatever candidate would be best for his personal financial interests, or who he thought he could most influence for personal gain, regardless of Party.

Trump literally paid Bill and “Crooked” Hillary Clinton to attend his wedding via a contribution to the Clinton Foundation.

According to the Washington Post in 2011 –

The real estate mogul and ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ host has made more than $1.3 million in donations over the years to candidates nationwide, with 54 percent of the money going to Democrats, according to a Washington Post analysis of state and federal disclosure records.”

And –

The Democratic recipients of Trump’s donations make up what looks like a Republican enemies list, including former senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), Rep. Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.), Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and the late liberal lion Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.).”

Trump’s contributions to Republican candidates increased beginning in 2012 when seriously considering running for President as a Republican.

(3) Donald Trump is NOT a conservative.

It is my understanding, based on published information, that the basic principles of American conservative political philosophy are:

• Protect & Maximize Individual Rights
• Ensure a Limited Government
• Uphold the Rule of Law
• Commitment to Federalism and the Separation of Powers
• Maintain Free & Open Markets (Economic & Social)

It is clear that the actions and policies of Trump as President do not represent conservatism, and are for the most part directly contrary to the above principles of conservative political philosophy.

(4) Donald Trump is NOT a Christian.

Trump is the most “un-Christian-like” of any President in history.

Trump has, constantly, unapologetically and gleefully, broken every one of the 10 Commandments, except perhaps “Thou Shall Not Kill” (only because we have no evidence that he ever actually killed anyone).  And he has most certainly also constantly, unapologetically and gleefully committed all of the “7 Deadly Sins”.  

Trump has never shown any regret or repentance or asked forgiveness for any of his “sinful” behavior.

TTFN