Friday, November 30, 2007

Tax Views of Top 10 Presidential Candidates

The Roni Deutch Tax Center Tax Help Blog recently posted an interesting article on the tax views of the top ten presidential candidates. The entry include summaries of each of the candidates proposed tax plans as well as voting records for those who served in Congress. You can check out the article by checking out "Tax Views of Top 10 Presidential Candidates" on the Tax Help Blog.

December Tax Talk Today Topic: Filing Season

Recently the IRS’s website announced that the next Tax Talk Today will be on "getting Ready for the Filing Season 2008." It will broadcast on Tuesday December 11th and will "focuses on individual tax return issues, such as changes to forms, the latest tax law changes and IRS processing issues that affect individual taxpayers. Tax preparers also will get tips on how to avoid common errors that can cost them and their clients time and money."

Panelists will be Kathleen Collins, principal of her own Savannah, Georgia-based tax practice, and president of the Georgia Association of Enrolled Agents; William Stevenson, president of National Tax Consultants, Inc., a tax preparation and taxpayer representation firm for individuals and businesses; Pamela J. Walker, IRS deputy director for Submission Processing at Cincinnati and Carole Barnette, IRS acting chief for Individual Tax Forms and Publications.

For more information check out

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Former IRS Commissioner Fired by Red Cross

Mark Everson, the former Commissioner of Internal Revenue, was recently fired from his position as President of the Red Cross. The reason? According to a Red Cross press release Everson was released after "engaged in a personal relationship with a subordinate employee." The release continues to state that "the situation reflected poor judgment on Mr. Everson's part and diminished his ability to lead the organization in the future."

Those of us in the tax industry know Mr. Everson as the 46th commissioner of the Internal Revenue. President George W. Bush appointed him to the position in 2003 and left the IRS in May of 2007 when deputy commissioner Kevin Brown took the position of Acting Commissioner. After his departure, the Board of Governors unanimously approved Everson as President of the Red Cross.

Everson’s departure from the Red Cross comes less then six months after being approved for the position. Everson also released his own statement on the issue, which has no mention of his personal relationship with a subordinate employee and cites "personal and family" reasons for his departure.

IRS Drops First Quarter 2008 Interest Rates

Recently, the IRS announced that they would be lowering interest rates for the first quarter of 2008, beginning on January 1, 2008. According to IRS codes the interest rate is determined on a quarterly basis and can either be changed or kept the same. This upcoming quarter the rates will drop by 1% and be set as follows:

  • seven (7) percent for overpayments [six (6) percent in the case of a corporation]
  • seven (7) percent for underpayments
  • nine (9) percent for large corporate underpayments, and
  • four and one-half (4.5) percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Honda Hybrid Tax Credit Phase Out

The IRS recently announced that Honda has reached the 60,000 vehicle limit during the calendar quarter ending Sept. 30, 2007. Therefore, the credit for buying any Honda hybrid vehicle begins will begin to phase out beginning January 1, 2008. Vehicles purchased before that date, however, will still qualify for the full credit. For Honda hybrid vehicles bought on or January 1, 2008, the credit is 50 percent of the otherwise allowable credit amount.

The new credit amounts will be as follows:

  • Honda Accord Hybrid AT, Model Year 2007 — $650
  • Honda Accord Hybrid Navi AT, Model Year 2007 — $650
  • Honda Civic Hybrid CVT, Model Year 2007 —$1,050
  • Honda Civic Hybrid CVT, Model Year 2008 — $1,050

Chrysler Releases Sketches Of ecoVoyager Concept

Yesterday Chrysler released sketches of their next concept car, which is expected to be unveiled at the January 2008 Detroit auto show. Check out the sketch below, thanks to Auto Green Blog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Death Tax Conflict of Interests

The death tax, also known as the Federal Estate Tax, has been getting a lot of media attention lately. For those unfamiliar with the death tax, it is essentially a tax levied on the transfer of a taxable estate usually following a person’s death. As part of President’s 2001 tax cuts, the death tax was set to slowly die off and eventually be completely removed by December 31, 2010. However, unless the next President renews Bush’s tax cuts the prior law will reassert itself the next day, January 1st, 2011. Therefore theoretically some one who dies in December 2010 would pay no estate taxes whatsoever, while some one who passes away 24 hours later could have as much as a 55% tax levied on their estate.

Warren Buffet has been one of the strongest supporters of continuing the estate tax, even appearing before the Senate. Which seems odd considering Buffet is worth an estimated $52 billion, meaning when he dies his estate will be hit with some sort of estate tax. So why would he support the estate tax? The truth lies in Buffet’s business dealings. He has major investments in companies that sell life insurance and directly profits from the continued estate taxes.

When people want to avoid loosing large portions of their estate to the death tax, they often put their wealth into life insurance policies. Therefore once they pass the designated heirs are paid the life insurance funds without having to pay any taxes. Therefore Mr. Buffet has a huge conflict of interest and his insurance companies stand to directly profit from a continued death tax. I hope that the Senate will consider this information the next time Mr. Buffet testifies.

IRS Reminds Charities and Churches of Political Activity Ban

Recently the Internal Revenue Service put out a press release reminding charities and churches, and other section 501(c)(3) organizations, that federal law prohibits them from becoming directly or indirectly involved in campaigns of political candidates. However, these organizations can engage in advocating for or against issues and, to a limited extent, ballot initiatives or other legislative activities. "The political contests, especially for president, are starting earlier than usual. The IRS, as it has in the past, wants to remind charities and churches of the ban on political campaign activity. We also want to urge nonprofit and religious organizations to review the guidance we have issued to help them avoid any problems," notes Steven T. Miller, Commissioner of IRS’ Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Green Car of the Year: Chevy Tahoe Hybrid

Green Car Journal founder Ron Cogan announced yesterday that this year’s Green Car of the Year Award is the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid. It received the award for demonstrating that a large vehicle with could still offer fuel economy equivalent to that of a much smaller car. Five cars were nominated for this award including the Saturn Aura Green Line, Chevy Malibu Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Mazda Tribute Hybrid.

IRS Has $110 Million In Unclaimed Refunds

According to the latest IRS news release, there are 115,478 taxpayers that are owed refunds from the IRS totaling over $110 million. The refunds averaging $953 per person were returned to the IRS as undeliverable, leaving the IRS no way to get the checks to their rightful owners. "Taxpayers should not miss out on getting their money back," said Richard Morgante, commissioner of the IRS Wage and Investment Division. "The IRS makes it as easy as possible for taxpayers to update their addresses and claim their refunds." Some taxpayers even have multiple checks waiting for them from numerous years back. The IRS is now encouraging taxpayers who think they should have received a refund to use the " Where’s My Refund?" tool on Taxpayers can also access a telephone version of "Where’s My Refund?" by calling 1-800-829-1954.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Department of Treasury Responds to Letter

As you may recall I sent an open letter to congress and the Department of Treasury asking them to update their expense standards. Less then a month after I sent the letter the IRS announced they were indeed making the change, and on November 1st I received a letter from the Department of Treasury regarding my open letter. The message claims that Secretary Paulson had requested they respond to my letter informing me of the new changes and explaining the delay. According to the letter the delay was necessary to implement significant improvements that will enhance the accuracy and fairness of the standards. In addition the letter claims that Automated Collection System (ACS) personnel have been instructed to use judgement when applying standards, which was another complaint of my letter. I’m glad to hear the Department of Treasury is treating this issue with the importance it deserves. Hopefully the new standards will help make the process a little easier on taxpayers that need to negotiate IRS tax settlements.

Wesley Snipes Claims Race Discrimination in Tax Liability Cases

Wesley Snipes, who we all know is in trouble with the Federal government for not paying income taxes, has used numerous reasons to try and explain his tax debts but now he is claiming racial discrimination in an attempt to throw out his criminal case. According to this article from the Smoking Gun, Mr. Snipes and his legal team have claimed that prosecutors "deliberately chose the most racially discriminatory venue available" for his trial to take place. The documents claim that the current location in Florida is a "hotbed of Klan activity" where "substantial pockets of prejudice exist." These are all reasons cited in an attempt to get Snipes trial moved from the Ocala, Florida to the Southern District of New York.
In the motion Snipes attorneys claim the Federal government’s lawyers are trying to get an "all-white Southern jury" to hurt Ms. Snipes chances at a fair trial. But, as if the motion alone wasn’t enough, Mr. Snipes also conducted a public opinion roll comparing racial attitudes in both Ocala and New York. This is Snipes second attempt to get the venue for his trial changed; a federal judge rejected the first.

Friday, November 09, 2007

IRS Announces Record High E-filers

According to an IRS new release, in 2007 57.4% of taxpayers filed their tax returns through e-file. This number was up about 9 percent from the 73 million returns filed for the same period last year. Overall in 2007, 139.3 million returns were filed – 79.98 million of which were filed electronically. "It was another record-breaking year for e-file," said IRS Acting Commissioner Linda E. Stiff. "Paper returns continue to drop year after year. E-file is the safe, accurate way for more and more taxpayers to quickly complete their taxes and get a refund faster." Additionally, more people this year chose to have their tax refunds directly deposited than ever before. So far this year the IRS has directly deposited 61.4 million refunds, up 8 percent from last year.

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR Pictures

Although Dodge’s new Viper SRT10 ACR will not officially be unveiled until the November 13th auto show in Los Angeles, numerous sites have already posted leaked pictures of the impressive new vehicle. It features an 8.4-liter V10 engine with 560 LB-ft of torque. According to Chrysler the car generates 1,000 pounds of down force at 150 mph and can generate 1.5g while cornering. This vehicle is expected to retail for under $100,000. Check out some pictures below, thanks to Jalopnik.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Top 10 Costumes from My Firm's Annual Halloween Party

10) Whoopie Cushion

9) Beer Keg

8) Mario Brothers

7) Geisha

6) Easter Bunny
5) Surf Board

4) Borat

3) Nintendo Controller

2) Lindsay Lohan

1) Geico Cave Man

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