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skbell1
Native Texan, professional journalist, tax geek.
Interests: leafs, go!), crossword puzzles<br>cats<br>music, especially jazz and texas-based and/or inspired singers, songwriters and tunes<br>movies, especially independent and foreign films<br>birding<br>sci-fi (films, television and books and short stories)<br>dallas cowboys (still america's team)<br>houston astros (2005 nl champs!)<br>nhl hockey (go
Recent Activity
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The annual Memorial Day weekend is almost here. The three-day holiday, officially marked the last Monday in May, unofficially marks the beginning of summer. Millions of Americans, restive after years of COVID-19 precautions limited their celebrations, are heading out today. But the name of the holiday underscores what it's really about. Memorial Day is about honoring military service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. The United States total military war deaths are nearly 1.4 million. The National Moment of Remembrance Act was enacted in December 2000, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The... Continue reading
Posted 7 hours ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Shutterstock The billionaire charged in the largest U.S. tax fraud case ever is one step closer to facing trial. Robert J. Brockman, the former CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds, a software company for auto dealerships, was indicted on Oct. 1, 2020, on 39 counts of evading taxes on $2 billion of income. The 20-year scheme, according to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Instigation unit, also involved alleged wire fraud, money laundering, evidence destruction and tampering, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) violations, and failure to disclose assets held overseas. Brockman pleaded not guilty and was released on a... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The Internal Revenue Service says that it is "opening mail within normal timeframes and all paper and electronic individual refund returns received prior to April 2021 have been processed if the return had no errors or did not require further review." That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that as of May 14, the IRS also reports on its mission-critical web page that "we had 9.8 million unprocessed individual returns which include returns received before 2022." But the agency also has a bit more good news if you're still waiting on a refund based on your tax year 2021... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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This coming Memorial Day long weekend is the first in more than two years that millions of Americans are treating as more-or-less normal. (Remember that?) And people's pent-up travel wishes are pushing aside COVID-19 pandemic worries in a big way. AAA Memorial Day 2022 forecast AAA predicts 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day three-day holiday. This is an increase of 8.3 percent over 2021, and brings travel volumes almost in line with those in 2017. But another year also comes to mind. Back in 2012, gasoline was $3.64 per gallon. When adjusted... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Photo by Pixabay Today the hubby got a disconcerting mailing from one of his investment accounts. It had paperwork for survivor claims. The last we checked (a few hours ago), he is very much alive. And since neither he nor I asked for this information, we immediately thought someone might have stolen his identity and tried to cash out this account. That doesn't seem to be the case (whew!). Our initial checks into the account, both ourselves online and by calling the investment company, indicate there's no security issue. But it's a good reminder to stay on top of your... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The 16-year tax fight between a former pizza franchise mogul and the state of Kansas is over. The Sunflower State owes Gene Bicknell $63 million. At least that's the amount that Bicknell, who at one time owned the most Pizza Huts in the world, says he's due from the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) after it erroneously taxed him as a Kansas resident when he lived in Florida. Kansas vs. Florida tax residence status: Bicknell's legal tax residency was at the heart of the multimillion-dollar tax matter. The KDOR said Bicknell was a Kansas resident. Bicknell, however, argued that his... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Jamie Lee Curtis plays an IRS examiner in the new indie hit Everything Everywhere All at Once from A24 Films. She even gets a fight scene in the movie. Check it out at the May item in my tumblr blog Tumbling Taxes. Tax Day 2022 has come and gone, and most of us, for better or worse, are done with taxes for another year. But if you want a little more tax in your life — fictional, not real — then you always can take in a movie. Yep, taxes show up in movies a lot. Sometimes our revenue obligations,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The Small Business Administration's annual Small Business Week events ended earlier this month, but another federal agency now is doing its part to support companies. The U.S. Treasury Department this week announced five states will receive the first round of newly-reauthorized State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) money. SSBCI was first established in 2010. The program was reauthorized and expanded in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). It now has nearly $10 billion that will go to states for programs that promote entrepreneurship nationwide. Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, and West Virginia are the first states... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Don't Mess With Taxes
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I have a stock app on my phone. Yeah, that's it above, with all those ugly, jagged red lines. I'm smart enough not to get alerts, but now and then when I check other news, I see it. Like today, which got me thinking it's time to delete this piece of electronic info, at least for a while. But while I'm not enjoying the prospect of delaying the start of my golden years, the declining stock market is good news for some retirement account owners. If they have traditional IRAs, the current down market could be a good time for... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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One of our neighbors made sure we all knew they had a new, cool graduate. (Photo by Kay Bell) I swear, my nieces and nephews were just in kindergarten. And wasn't that neighbor kid trick-or-treating as a dinosaur a couple of years ago? So how am I getting high school and college graduation announcements for these young people? Most of them will get a nice, actual paper congratulations card. A few will find a gift card tucked inside. However, a couple of these newly minted young adults will get actual gifts. But they won't be items that have to wrapped.... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Billowing smoke from the wildfire ravaging norther New Mexico. (Screen shot of video posted on The Weather Channel, provided by Jackson Mathey via Storyful) The Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon wildfires that have merged and been burning a large swath of northern New Mexico for weeks now has been designated as the largest in the state's history. The combined blazes, driven by straight-line winds, have engulfed nearly 300,000 acres, or around 469 square miles, of the Land of Enchantment as of this morning. Only around a quarter of the fire area has been contained, according to InciWeb, a U.S. government... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Crypto currency aficionados thought the worse thing happening to their holdings lately was the crashing market prices. Sorry. There's more. Tax investigators say they've discovered a possible $1 billion Ponzi scheme focusing on the crypto market. More than 50 potential crypto tax offences have been uncovered by international tax inspectors, according to reports out of a recent London conference of leaders of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) countries. The J5 was created to fight transnational tax crime through increased enforcement collaboration. The participating tax agencies — the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), France's... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Unemployment benefits can help relieve some of the sting of losing your job. But there are downsides. The monthly amounts again are fully taxable. And during the COVID pandemic, criminals have had a field day getting fraudulent payments, and causing tax troubles for those individuals whose identities they stole. The COVID-19 pandemic and employment still are inextricably linked. When the coronavirus hit the United States in 2020, the concern was for the companies that had to shut down, and their employees who suddenly were without paychecks. Congress passed a series of COVID relief bills that provided relief options for companies... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Photo by Karolina Grabowska Interest payments are a part of almost every person's life. If you carry a credit card balance, you pay interest on it. If you have a mortgage, interest is probably the largest (but, for now, still tax-deductible) part of your monthly payment. And if you don't pay all the federal tax you owe on time, interest adds to you total U.S. Treasury bill. But with taxes, the reverse also is true. When the Internal Revenue Service is slow in getting your overpayment processed, your refund will include interest payments to you. And right now, due to... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Here are this weekend's full Flower Moon eclipse stages. The moon moves right to left, passing through the penumbra and umbra, leaving in its wake an eclipse diagram with the times (Eastern time zone) at various stages of the eclipse. Visualizations by Ernie Wright, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio. Click here for the video version. And if it's cloudy where you live, you can livestream the eclipse. It's Friday the 13th, the only one in 2022. A total lunar eclipse will turn the full Flower Moon red Sunday night. The only thing that could amp up our combined superstitions and natural... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The Child Tax Credit (CTC), already a popular tax break, was enhanced for the 2021 tax year. In addition to being larger — up to $3,600 for each child younger 6 and up to $3,000 for each youngster age 6 through 17 instead up the usual $2,000 per qualifying child — it was available to more families. Most eligible households got half of their qualifying CTC amount last year as monthly advance payments. They were sent automatically to taxpayers who had filed returns in prior years. Families who didn't have to file, usually because they earned less than the amount... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Electric vehicle charging in a workplace garage. (Photo by Kay Bell) One of our errands this week was getting the hubby's vehicle inspected. It's required to renew the auto's annual state registration. We get to repeat the process in six months for my car. But when it comes to my Chevy sedan, I soon might be writing the state of Texas a larger check. I drive a hybrid and there's renewed interest in adding an annual surcharge to vehicles that don't rely solely on fossil fuel. Welcome, but pay, please: Sure, Lone Star State officials were thrilled when Elon Musk... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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With Tax Day over, most U.S. taxpayers are done with their annual Internal Revenue Service interaction. Some, however, are dealing with non-filing issues. For those who need help resolving those tax matters, the IRS is opening some Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) doors across the United States for one more Saturday. This coming one. May 14. TACs in 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, will be open and offering face-to-face help from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (local time) on Saturday. Unlike other TAC sessions that require weekday appointments, there's no need for such scheduling on May 14... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Not in the Lone Star State? IRS also looking to add personnel in Ogden, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; and Puerto Rico. Looking for a job with the Internal Revenue Service? Good news. The tax agency, which earlier announced plans to fill 10,000 staff positions, is hiring. And it's starting in my backyard. The IRS has more than 900 open slots at its Austin, Texas, processing center. To get folks at these jobs as soon as possible, the agency is holding an In-Person Direct Hiring Event, its version of a job fair, on Wednesday, May 11, and Thursday, May 12. Specifically,... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Photo by Jess Bailey Designs The only thing worse than getting a surprising high property tax appraisal — which, as one of April's tax tips advises, you definitely should protest for venting, as well as potential lower tax, purposes — is having your local tax collector tell you that your tax payment is overdue. That happened to 2,400 homeowners in upstate New York, according to LocalSYR.com. Tax rebate endangered: Technically, the property owners in Onondaga County didn't get a past due bill. Instead, they incorrectly received notice from the Empire State's Department of Taxation and Finance that they could lose... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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For more than 50 years, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has celebrated National Small Business Week, which recognizes the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. The theme for this year's week, which wraps up today, May 7, is Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship. As part of the May 1 through 7 recognition of small businesses, SBA Administrator Guzman visited nine cities across the United States to participate in, along with SBA local office personnel and local elected officials, celebrations of the country's 32.5 million small businesses. Since taxes are a critical component of small businesses, the... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. Yes, it's a cliché, one with an origin attributed to many. But for the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) this week, it applies. Finally. After 21 years as a fugitive, convicted tax felon Robin J. McPherson was once again in a U.S. federal courtroom. He had been evading the justice system since December 2000, when he and two co-codefendants were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and of tax evasion that totaled more than $1 million. But before his scheduled sentencing in March 2001, the former... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Photo by Pixabay Taxpayer privacy and our records' security apparently are top of mind on Capitol Hill. A couple of Democratic House oversight committee leaders are demanding operation details from a firm the Internal Revenue Service uses, for now, to authenticate taxpayers' identities. You can read more on that inquiry in yesterday's post on the investigation (and continuing tax pro ID.me requirements). Meanwhile, ranking Republicans on the House and Senate tax-writing committees also want answers, this time on how taxpayer records were stolen from the IRS last summer. That information ended up in ProPublica exposé on taxes paid (or not)... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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House Oversight Committee members also investigating ID.me contracts, verification methods Photo by cottonbro In early February, the Internal Revenue Service announced plans to transition from ID.me's facial scanning identity verification system. The third-party service's scanning technology raised privacy concerns. A few weeks later, the IRS elaborated on its taxpayer identity process. It said the facial recognition would remain, but as an option, not a requirement. Taxpayers instead could participate in a live, virtual interview to prove they are legitimately opening their own online taxpayer account. The IRS also indicated that it eventually would join other federal agencies in using Login.Gov,... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes
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Back in the classroom. (Photo by Max Fischer) Today, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, is annual National Teacher Appreciation Day. It's actually part of a full week focusing on saying thanks to the men and women who are dedicated to educating young (and older) people. And it got President Joe Biden's official acknowledgement, which isn't a surprise since First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is a community college educator. The teaching profession has always been challenging. I personally saw how much time, effort, and love my grandmother put into being a first-grade teacher. She did that labor of love for almost six... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2022 at Don't Mess With Taxes