Friday, December 20, 2013


When donating to charity during the holiday season don’t forget to include your local animal shelter.
* If you haven’t already done so, please check out the December “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING.   

* I discuss “The Cost of Using a Paid Tax Preparer” at MAINSTREET.COM.

* Bill Bischoff, aka Tax Guy, provides a good primer on the alimony deduction in “There is One Tax Break for Divorcees” at MARKET WATCH.

He includes a review of “deemed child support” - a trap that can void the alimony deduction and trigger alimony recapture.

Bill’s bottom line is very important (highlight is mine) -

Just calling payments to your ex deductible alimony in the divorce papers won’t get the job done. Instead, you must jump through tax-law hoops to secure the anticipated deductions. Plus you’ll need to spread out the payments to avoid the alimony recapture rule. Hiring a tax pro with lots of experience in divorce-related tax matters is a good idea when significant dollars are at stake. Many divorce attorneys lack the required tax expertise, although they may be unwilling to admit it.”

* Prof James Maule takes on the policy of temporary tax breaks, and the constant extension thereof, in “Let’s Not Extend The Practice of Tax Extenders” at MAULED.COM, and, as the title suggests, comes up with the correct solution -

Yes, indeed. It is time to stop extending the practice of tax extenders.”

The idiots in Congress need to excrete or get off the pot.  If a tax benefit is appropriate it should be made permanent.  Except possibly in the case of natural disasters there should be no temporary tax laws.

* As part of his continuing coverage of the tax consequences of the death of DOMA, Jason Dinesen asks perhaps the most important question at DINESEN TAX TIMES – “Will Same-Sex Married Couples Pay More or Less in Taxes Now?”.

His answer - “yes, no, maybe.”  Or, as I say is the answer to just about every question about taxes, “it depends”.

Jason goes on to say, as I had expected –

In my practice, approximately 2/3 of my clients in same-gender marriages will owe more in taxes by filing as married than they did by filing as two unmarried people.”   

The “marriage penalty” in action.

* Tax Mama Eva Rosenberg says she lists “Four Ways to Write off Gifts on Your Taxes” at EQUIFAX – but I can only see three identified.

* Shannon from the READY FOR ZERO blog explains “Charitable Giving – How to Make Sure Your Money is Going to the Right Place”.

* USA TODAY brings a TIGTA report to our attention that has some very disturbing news - “Report: IRS Vendor Owed $525M in Back Taxes”.

Altogether, 1,168 IRS vendors owed back taxes totaling $589 million as of July 2012, according to the report released Tuesday. Only 50 were in a payment plan to pay off their debt.”

The article tells us -

The IRS checks whether vendors owe back taxes when the agency awards contracts, the IRS said. But the IRS doesn't continuously monitor whether vendors are current in their tax bills after contracts are awarded, the report said.”

J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration, has recommended the IRS require an annual tax check for all contractors, but the agency says federal acquisition regulations don't authorize them.

Why not?  All government contractors should be subject to an annual tax check, and payments should be garnished to apply toward outstanding tax liabilities if they are found to be delinquent, unless there is an installment payment plan in place and all installment payments are being made on a timely basis.
* Keep on truckin’.  MISSOURI TAXGUY Bruce McFarland gives us a lesson in “Tax for Truckers”.

* ACCOUNTING TODAY reports “IRS Sets the Date: Tax Season Starts Jan. 31”.

That is just fine with me.  For over 40 years now the tax season has always begun for me on February 1st. 

* Jason Alderman asks us “Who's Afraid of the Alternative Minimum Tax?” at Huffington Post’s THE BLOG.

Jason tells is like it is with his opening paragraph –

Year after year, Congress keeps kicking meaningful income tax reform down the road. Consequently, taxpayers continue to be stuck with an archaic, overly complicated mess that pleases no one -- except perhaps some tax accountants who charge by the hour.”

Trust me, I get no pleasure from the dreaded AMT.

And Jason agrees with me that the AMT is truly dreaded.

* Another tax question answered by Neal Frankle at WEALTH PILGRIM - “Is Your IRA A Source for Short Term Borrowing?”.

As Neal says – “there are plenty of reasons to think twice or three times before moving forward with this scheme”. 

Barbara Walters and I certainly disagree on the meaning of the word “fascinating”.

A google search for the definition resulted in “extremely interesting” and provided the following synonyms - interesting, captivating, engrossing, absorbing, enchanting, enthralling, spellbinding, riveting, engaging, compelling, compulsive, gripping, thrilling.

I would certainly not use any of these adjectives to describe Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian or the stereotypical hillbillies of DUCK DYNASTY.  Extremely self-absorbed, extremely self-indulgent, and extremely self-important are better descriptions.  None of them are even mildly interesting, other than in the curiosity of their celebrity.  There are literally hundreds of people who have been in the public eye in 2013 who are much, much more fascinating than these duds.

I believe that Kanye West is a singer, but I do not recall every hearing anything of his.  The only time I have heard his name is in connection with his arrogance and big mouth. 

At least Miley Cyrus is interesting.  And the rest of the list – Jennifer Lawrence (I really do not know who she is other than an actress), Robin Roberts, Edward Snowden, Prince George (should be an interesting interview – can he talk yet?), Pope Francis, Hillary Clinton, and Diana Nyad - are certainly interesting, as well as some of the other synonyms listed above, and worth interviewing.

Barbara’s annual list has always included poor choices.  The Trumpster (perhaps the most extremely self-important of all the “celebrities” who are famous for being famous, and not for any talent, ability, or accomplishment) was on her list twice in the past!

Obviously I did not watch the program, and never do. 


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