Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I do not plan to provide daily updates on the progress of the tax extender package. To avoid confusion I prefer to wait until the fat lady sings before reporting in any detail. However my fellow tax bloggers have been, and will continue to, bring you day-by-day updates on this debacle.

FYI, as of this writing (Tuesday at noon) it appears that the Senate version will pass easily and the ball will be back in the House court. The clock is ticking!

* A CPA serial killer? Not so far-fetched. ACCOUNTING WEB tells us “Accountant/Serial Killer is the Focus of Stephen King Short Story”.

Hey, CPAs have been murdering 1040s for years.

FYI, many years ago I attended a murder mystery week-end at the Mohonk Mountain House in upstate NY. Famous mystery authors acted out a murder (and also gave lectures as themselves) and teams of us participants had to guess the “perp” and do a presentation on the murder solution. Stephen King and family were there. SK was not one of the authors acting out the mystery – he was just along for the ride with his family, his sons playing along on one of the teams. For a multi-millionaire celebrity SK and his family appeared very down-to-earth and normal.

* Will this idiot ever go away?

Kay Bell reports that “'Survivor' Tax Scofflaw Violates Probation”.

Maybe Richard Hatch just couldn't take some other tax evader **cough, Wesley Snipes, cough** getting all the attention.”

A law should be passed that the press coverage of any idiot who appears on any reality show (and by definition anyone who appears on a reality show is an idiot) must be limited to the “fifteen minutes”.

* Must I remind you to check out Bruce McFarland’s Sunday “Week In Perspective” at THE MISSOURI TAX GUY?

BTW, Bruce was the subject of my Friday TWTP post, the first in a series on “Tax Blogosphere Buddies”. Coming this Friday is Professor James Maule of MAULED AGAIN.

* Bruce’s WIP led me to “5 Money Moves to Make Before Year-End” by LaToya Irby at the blog ALL FREELANCE WRITING (Your Secret for Freelance Writing Success).

LaToya includes “a special move for 2010, only” for the self-employed that is worth repeating here -

Pay your January health insurance premiums in December. This year only, self-employed workers don’t have to pay self-employment taxes on health insurance premiums. We always get to deduct this amount from our Federal income taxes, but this year there’s a special provision to extend the deduction. Paying your January premiums in December lets you get a savings you wouldn’t get if you wait until 2011 to pay that premium.”

* Please let it be so!

According to “Obama: Tax Overhaul Talks Should Start Next Year” at FOXBUSINESS.COM -

Democrats and Republicans should begin a conversation next year about a broad overhaul of the U.S. tax code that would involve lowering rates while eliminating tax breaks for favored groups, President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Friday.”

I would love for Congress to prove me wrong and show America that they are not a bunch of self-interested idiots by actually sitting down and carrying out a serious conversation about substantive tax reform early in 2011. What are the odds that this will happen?

I can dream, can’t I?

* In line with the last item, I came across an editorial in USATODAY titled “After 25 Years, Time Has Come to Clean Up the Tax Code (Again)”.

From the editorial -

In the quarter-century since federal taxes were last simplified, scores of credits, deductions, exclusions and exemptions have attached themselves to the tax code like barnacles on a ship. The instruction booklet for filling out the Form 1040 has swelled to 175 pages, from 52 in 1985.

Now, for the first time since the 1986, the stars might be coming into alignment for sweeping changes that could simultaneously simplify the code and help rein in budget deficits.

It's hard to think of any action — or at least any affordable one — that would please more Americans, or help on as many fronts, economic and political alike.

A rare window is opening to clean up the tax code. The only thing we have to lose is our accountants

As I have said time and again – I do not fear that a much simpler tax system will hurt my tax preparation business. I would very probably make more money, with certainly less potential for agita, if all I did during the tax season was prepare 1040As.

* I recently did some research into the higher Medicare premiums for those Social Security beneficiaries that Dubya considered to be “high income” in response to a request from a client, who received his annual notice from SSA and couldn’t figure out WTF was going on.

Two new items for 2011 -

(1) While “non-high income” beneficiaries cannot, under law, receive an increase in the Medicare Part B premium deducted from their checks - so continuing SS recipients will again pay $96.40 per month for Medicare Part B - first-time Medicare payers and those with “high incomes” will have a “base” Medicare Part B premium of $115.40. And,

(2) for the first time “high income” beneficiaries will also have to pay a surcharge on Medicare Part D drug coverage, whether or not they are actually having Part D premiums withheld from their SS checks (this one thanks to BO and not Dubya– part of the health care “reform” debacle).

Janet Novack does a good job describing the mess in “Higher Income Seniors Hit with Medicare Doctor and Drug Premium Hikes For 2011” at her blog TAXING MATTERS.

* NJ employees and employers should check out my NJ TAX PRACTICE BLOG post “2011 NJ Department of Labor Employee Contributions”.

* TAX GIRL Kelly Phillips Erb answers the question is BO’s “Health Care Bill Unconstitutional?”.

* Kelly also begins her annual “12 Days of Charitable Giving” series with the charity Hardy Girls, Healthy Women.


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