Toxic Deductible Sludge

Back in 2010, British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and spilled millions of barrels of oil off the Louisiana coast. Countless small business owners, including fishermen, hotel operators, restaurants, rental companies, and seafood processors, suffered and went bankrupt. State and local governments lost billions more in tax revenue. Lawyers, who may be some of the few people to actually profit from the disaster, are still fighting over compensation and claims, and will probably still be fighting until long after anyone reading these words is still alive. BP has been gushing cash ever since the spill to clean up its
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IRS = Customer Service – NOT!

Nina Olson is the most important person you’ve never heard of at the IRS. She’s the “National Taxpayer Advocate,” and she heads up an organization created to cut through the red tape when the Service can’t get the job done itself. If you’re stuck between cogs in the IRS machine, Olson and her staff of 1,400 Case Advocates are poised to pull you out. She’s like the Lorax, except she speaks for the taxpayer instead of the trees. Last week, Olson released her mid-year report to Congress. It’s hundreds of pages long, full of dense bureaucratese and government jargon, all
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Forensic Filings

We tend to think of the Internal Revenue Service mainly as Uncle Sam’s “collections department.” But it’s also a true law enforcement agency. Special agents from the Criminal Investigations unit take on obvious crimes like tax evasion and tax preparer fraud. They also partner with local police, the FBI, the DEA, and even foreign governments to combat public corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, and international terrorism. The tax cops are good at what they do — the IRS boasts the highest criminal conviction rate of any federal law enforcement agency (93.4% in 2014). But sometimes the IRS plays a surprising
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A Tax in a Pineapple Under the Sea

You know what’s even worse than paying tax on money you make? Try taking a loss on money you lose. Make $100, pay a 40% tax, and you’ve still got $60 left. But lose $100, take a tax loss, and you’re still out your $100. Yeah, you can deduct it against future income. But it’s kind of like those “mail-in” rebates you get when you walk out of Staples with a new printer. It sounds good when you’re still in the store. But in the back of your mind, you realize you’ll probably never actually mail it in. It’s no
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What Goes Around Comes Around

Ask anyone what makes them happy. (Go ahead, see who’s around and ask them.) We’re pretty sure they didn’t say “paying taxes.” Most of us just grumble and pay up. But millions of citizens from all walks of life express their unhappiness by choosing not to pay. The IRS currently has over 12 million accounts in collections, with state and local governments managing millions more. That’s a lot of money not getting paid. Of course, tax collectors are hardly powerless to collect those debts. They can garnish wages to pay back taxes. And they can seize property. Usually, this means
Read More

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Toxic Deductible Sludge

Back in 2010, British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and spilled millions of barrels of oil off the Louisiana coast. Countless small business owners, including fishermen, hotel operators, restaurants, rental companies, and seafood processors, suffered and went bankrupt. State and local governments lost billions more in tax revenue. Lawyers, who may be some of the few people to actually profit from the disaster, are still fighting over compensation and claims, and will probably still be fighting until long after anyone reading these words is still alive. BP has been gushing cash ever since the spill to clean up its
Read More

IRS = Customer Service – NOT!

Nina Olson is the most important person you’ve never heard of at the IRS. She’s the “National Taxpayer Advocate,” and she heads up an organization created to cut through the red tape when the Service can’t get the job done itself. If you’re stuck between cogs in the IRS machine, Olson and her staff of 1,400 Case Advocates are poised to pull you out. She’s like the Lorax, except she speaks for the taxpayer instead of the trees. Last week, Olson released her mid-year report to Congress. It’s hundreds of pages long, full of dense bureaucratese and government jargon, all
Read More

Forensic Filings

We tend to think of the Internal Revenue Service mainly as Uncle Sam’s “collections department.” But it’s also a true law enforcement agency. Special agents from the Criminal Investigations unit take on obvious crimes like tax evasion and tax preparer fraud. They also partner with local police, the FBI, the DEA, and even foreign governments to combat public corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, and international terrorism. The tax cops are good at what they do — the IRS boasts the highest criminal conviction rate of any federal law enforcement agency (93.4% in 2014). But sometimes the IRS plays a surprising
Read More

A Tax in a Pineapple Under the Sea

You know what’s even worse than paying tax on money you make? Try taking a loss on money you lose. Make $100, pay a 40% tax, and you’ve still got $60 left. But lose $100, take a tax loss, and you’re still out your $100. Yeah, you can deduct it against future income. But it’s kind of like those “mail-in” rebates you get when you walk out of Staples with a new printer. It sounds good when you’re still in the store. But in the back of your mind, you realize you’ll probably never actually mail it in. It’s no
Read More

What Goes Around Comes Around

Ask anyone what makes them happy. (Go ahead, see who’s around and ask them.) We’re pretty sure they didn’t say “paying taxes.” Most of us just grumble and pay up. But millions of citizens from all walks of life express their unhappiness by choosing not to pay. The IRS currently has over 12 million accounts in collections, with state and local governments managing millions more. That’s a lot of money not getting paid. Of course, tax collectors are hardly powerless to collect those debts. They can garnish wages to pay back taxes. And they can seize property. Usually, this means
Read More

Archives

Categories