Sunday, December 6, 2009


I’m back – and so is the BUZZ. It seems a lot happened on the tax front while I was in Atlantic City.

* And the beat goes on!

Stacie Clifford Kitts and Mary O’Keeffe continue the debate on taxing cosmetic surgery with “Babbling Incisively on About Fuller Lips, Larger Breasts, Slimmer Thighs and H.R.3590” and “More on Taxing Cosmetic Surgery, Subsidies, and Tax Simplification”.

Check out Stacie’s letter to “the government”. We should all send one like this.

I printed out the entire debate (so far) and took it with me to AC to read. I will post my take on the issue at TWTP next week, after reporting on the AC seminars.

This has been a great example of how a tax blog debate should be conducted. {Hint to a couple of tax bloggers who shall remain nameless so as not to provide them with undue attention}

* While I was gone the IRS finally announced the optional standard mileage allowance rates “used to calculate the deductible costs of operating a vehicle for business, charitable, or moving purposes”.

Beginning January 1, 2010, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (or van, pickup or panel truck) will be:

50 cents per mile for business miles driven
16.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
14 cents per mile driven for charitable purposes

You will note that the new rates for business and medical/moving mileage are lower than the rates used for 2009. The charitable mileage rate is determined by Congress and not the IRS and has remained at 14 cents per mile for many years now (with brief adjustments for volunteer work in or for Presidential disaster areas).

The new rates were reported in most tax blogs – but I like Kay Bell’s post “2010 Deductible Mileage Rates Released” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

* The CCH daily email tax newsletter reported that “Hoyer Says Some Tax Issues May Get House Consideration Before Recess”.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., laid out an ambitious agenda of tax legislation for House lawmakers to complete before the Christmas recess starts in about three weeks. Hoyer told reporters on December 1 that he hoped to finish bills dealing with estate tax reform, job creation and expiring tax provisions before the House's scheduled adjournment date of December 18.”

There is nothing like rushing through such important and complicated issues.

* CCH also reported that “Estate Tax Bill Wins Approval in House”.

House lawmakers approved the Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Businesses Bill of 2009 (HR 4154) by a vote of 225-to-200 on December 3. The legislation would permanently extend the current exemption for estates up to $3.5 million per individual and $7 million for married couples and set a maximum rate of 45 percent on estates above this threshold.”

Now on to the Senate.

* Russ Fox brings us the latest word on the application of the “Cohan Rule” (see my post “I’m a Yankee Doodle Tax Pro”) in “Thank You, George Cohan: A Gambler Gets Lucky”.

The bottom line of this recent tax court case - “The petitioner prevailed without records thanks to the Cohan rule”.

* I came across an interesting item from TRUTHANDPOLITICS.ORG that lists the “Top US Marginal Income Tax Rates, 1913—2003”. It is a “table of the top marginal tax rate faced by married couples”.
* Trish McIntire tells us about “MSRRA” – aka the “Military Spouses Residency Relief Act” (signed into law by BO on November 11th) - at OUR TAXING TIMES.

* Joe Kristan reports on another tax lesson learned in his post “If You Need Time to Read, An Extension You Need” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG.

Joe tells us - “It's common for procrastinators to get their returns on April 15, sign them without a second glance, and go on their way”, and reports on a related court case

The moral of the story –

If you don't have time to read your return before April 15, get an extension.”

* The December 2nd “Tip of the Day” at the Small Business Taxes and Management site is a good one (highlight is mine) -

Gifts to needy individuals not deductible . . . You can help victims of disaster or hardship by making gifts directly to the victims. But this type of assistance does not qualify as a tax-deductible contribution since a qualified charitable organization is not the recipient. However, individual recipients of gifts are generally not subject to federal income tax on the value of the gift. If you make a gift directly to an individual, you are not subject to federal gift tax unless the total gifts made in a year exceed the annual exclusion amount.”
* Don't forget to check out the weekly "Reads from Last Week" from Bruce, the MISSOURI TAX GUY.


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