Monday, January 2, 2017


Welcome to the first BUZZ of 2017!  We begin the New Year with a “meaty” BUZZ.

I think I join many of you when I say thank God 2016 is over.  It was truly a very sad and horrible year, for many reasons.  Unfortunately, with Trump becoming President, 2017 has the potential to be a lot worse.  Let us hope that is not the case.

* Want to make 2017 less taxing?  Learn how to start the year off right in the January 2017 issue of my new quarterly newsletter ROBERT D FLACH’S TAX INSIGHTS.

* Russ Fox announced “The 2016 Tax Offender of the Year” at TAXABLE TALK – and, to my surprise and disappointment, it wasn’t Trump!  To find out who won, and the two runners-up, read the post.

* Kelly Phillips Erb tells you “What to Consider Before Paying Christmas Bills With a Tax Refund Loan” at MSN MONEY.

My take – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER get a Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) or Refund Anticipation Check (RAC) – this is one of the few times it is appropriate to say “never”.

Why?  As KPE points out –

While some states limit the amount of interest that a lender can charge, in some instances, the annual percentage rate (APR) of an RAL can hit triple-digits.”

* More from KPE.  As you probably know, there are 50 ways to leave your lover.  But did you also know that there are “50 Perfectly Legal Ways To Get Money & Benefits Without Paying Taxes”?  KPE lists them at FORBES.COM.

* Check out the January 1, 2017 issue of LIBERTY TIMES to see how the Republican Party, by pandering to the religious right, has perverted true conservative philosophy, and to learn the “theme song” of the upcoming disastrous Trump administration.   

* Emily Brandon identifies “3 Little-Known Retirement Savings Tax Breaks” at US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT.

* Did you see my annual review of The Year In Taxes 2016 last week?  If not check out Part I and Part II.

* At DON’T MESS WITH TAXES Kay Bell provides a review of specific relief for specific states in “IRS offers tax relief to 2016's many disaster victims: Re-filing option, later deadlines still available to some in FL, GA, LA, MN, NC, SC & TN”.  

* And Kay also reminded us that “4 popular homeowner, education tax breaks end{ed} Dec. 31”.

In my opinion it is good that these, and the other expired “extenders”, were not extended at year end, however “popular” they may have been.

Here are the 4 expired tax benefits to which Kay refers -

(1) Tuition and fees deduction – This option could provide a better tax benefit than the education credits in some situations.  Yet, while providing social and other welfare benefits via the Tax Code is bad policy, I hope that, if they are to remain there, the various education tax benefits will be combined and consolidated in the upcoming tax reform legislation.

(2) Mortgage insurance premium deduction – This should have never been allowed in the first place.  There is absolutely no reason to allow a tax deduction for life insurance premiums. 

(3) Mortgage debt relief exclusion – Individuals should not be rewarded for inappropriate and irresponsible financial behavior.

(4) Credit for energy-efficient home improvements – With the lifetime $500 cap this deduction was basically ineffective.  Incentives to purchase energy-efficient products should be provided as direct “point-of-purchase” rebates or discounts similar to the Cash for Clunkers program of a few years back. 

* Jason Dinesen lists his “Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016” at DINESEN TAX TIMES.

* Paul D Allen gives you “7 Tips to Help You Be Prepared for Your {Tax} Appointment” next year at the PIM TAX SERVICES BLOG.  Good tips all!

* I agree with Steven J. Fromm when he recommends that All Taxpayers, Tax and Financial Advisers Need To Read This” post from his PHILADELPHIA ESTATE AND TAX ATTORNEY BLOG – “IRS Warns & Updates Taxpayers of Numerous Tax Scams Nationwide”.

* Thinking about using a “box” to prepare your tax return?  Before you do find out “How Tax-Savvy Are You? Find Out Here” with this post from Selena Maranjian at FOX BUSINESS.

Selena makes two very good points in the post -

Clearly, the more you know about taxes, the more you can save. A little time spent reading up on available credits and deductions, for example, can really pay off.”

And –

"Another smart move for many taxpayers -- at least those with non-simple situations (such as multiple jobs, homes, and life changes) -- is hiring a tax pro to prepare your return and help you strategize. Yes, it will cost some money -- possibly a few hundred dollars for a good pro -- but you may well reap much more than that in tax savings and a bigger refund. A good tax pro will be up on the latest tax-law changes and will know far more about the tax code than you do. Don't just hire anyone, though. Ask around for recommendations. Consider hiring an "Enrolled Agent," a tax pro licensed by the IRS who is authorized to represent you before the IRS if need be.”

You can learn more about taxes by subscribing to my THE WANDERING TAX PRO blog posts (enter your email address in the box at the top of the right hand margin) and by reading my tax reports and publications (click here to learn about them).

There is one suggestion from Selena that I very strongly disagree with

Using tax-prep software can also be helpful.”

It most certainly will not, especially if you don’t have sufficient knowledge of the Tax Code.  Remember – garbage-in, garbage-out!

Avoid a “box” – spend the few additional bucks for a good tax pro!

The Last Word –

Is there any doubt that Putin and Russia wanted Trump to be the next President and did whatever it could to make this happen?

I do doubt that this was done with the express knowledge and cooperation of Trump or his campaign. 

Why would Putin want Trump in the White House?  Putin is well aware that Trump is the ultimate narcissist, and that all his thoughts, words, and actions are motivated and guided by this narcissism - as, I would expect, are most world leaders.  He, and they, know that Trump has no political beliefs, convictions, philosophy, or agenda.  Trump’s only belief, conviction, philosophy, and agenda is Trump is great and Trump is good and to promote Trump.

As a classic extreme narcissist it is easy to “play” Trump, which Putin intends to do to his advantage.  As long as you kiss Trump’s ring, and his arse, to his face and in public he will love and support you and do whatever you want.  He would not want to endanger the public ring and arse kissing.  It is only those who publicly challenge, question, or criticize Trump that will be attacked by Trump’s irrational, and proven and personally acknowledged, vindictiveness.

Hopefully the real Republican leaders in Congress also know how to “play” Trump and will so do.


 NO tax software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for knowledge of the Tax Code, and NO tax software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for a competent, experienced tax professional.
Do you need to find a qualified and competent tax professional?

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