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In the Blogs: Quiet, Please

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Highlights of some of our favorite tax-related blogs from the past week.

What goes around may well come around

  • Tax Vox: They shut us down. They shut us down not. They shut us down. They shut us down not. In a few months government functionality would be right back in the same lifeboat unless, as blogger Howard Gleckman notes, a third choice wins the day.
  • Don’t Mess With Taxes: A recap of the who, what, how (the “why” remains elusive) of the recent shutdown and the changes of it happening just time in time for the New Year’s Eve hangovers to abate.
  • The Wandering Tax Pro: Blogger Robert Flach was thumbing through a mystery in the waiting room “while waiting for the windshield of my car to be replaced” when he stumbled across this passage: “Those in government who thought that the death of [a character] and the suspicion surrounding it could be kept under wraps also believed that politicians made decisions based upon what was good for the country rather than what would help them perpetuate their positions of power.” Echoing millions of us, Flach points out, “After the past few weeks, nobody believes that.”

 

Proceed with care

  • Backtaxeshelp: “Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that most Americans will be required to have health insurance starting in 2014, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.” How the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that on average, Americans will pay $328 per month for individual health care coverage next year. Those worried about this cost may, according to this writer, be able to claim the Premium Tax Credit, which can make your health insurance more affordable. All very good, but we’d like to know that if something bites you while you’re a rock, does Obamacare cover that?
  • Roth & Co.: A report from the Des Moines Register on how Obamacare requirements aren’t going over so hot with local businesses, who have opted to drop employee coverage and let workers fend for themselves in the new open market.

 

Just for fun

  • Taxable Talk: Who audits the auditors? “One of the more humorous … aspects of the Loving case was hearing the IRS argue that it has no means of disciplining rogue tax preparers.” Cook some numbers on a return and you may soon find out that’s just untrue.
  • Mauled Again: In this priceless trip down memory lane, a look at “A Boomer’s History of the World Series” in terms of prices, which in 2012 were as much as 166 times those of 1946 prices. Among the homers: Tickets in 1946 topped at $6.25; in 2012, $1,040. In 1946, a hot dog and a beer cost 50 cents, in 2012, $10.25. Programs in 1946, a quarter; in 2012, $15. Take me out to the old ball game, please.

 

Warnings and reminders

  • Tax Girl: “Losing Your Identity in Five Easy Steps.” Step one, sadly, “Go to the Doctor” and fork over your SSN. Also, how the recent shutdown stemmed not for a moment a massive crackdown on criminal fraud (as opposed to “partisan Washington fraud”) in Florida.
  • Fromm on Taxes: Another reminder that federal tax rules for same-sex couples, recently issued during the wake of DOMA, changed for many same-sex partners. These new tax rules can be found in I.R. 2013-72 on Aug. and Revenue Ruling 2013-17 on Sept. 16 and were effective on those dates. “Note that taxpayers who wish to rely on the terms of this Revenue Ruling for earlier periods may choose to do so, as long as the statute of limitations for the earlier period has not expired.” Never hurts to keep reminding clients.
  • Tax Policy: The Illinois Supreme Court has thumbs-downed the state's click-through nexus law, or “Amazon tax,” as unconstitutional. A headline-maker when introduced for its potential impact on all online shopping, the law requires an out-of-state retailer to collect sales tax on in-state sales if the retailer has paid referral contracts with in-state affiliates. As noted here, most legal challenges focus on whether the state power exceeds constitutional limits under the Commerce Clause, but the Illinois Supreme Court focused on this disparity between Internet advertisers and traditional advertisers.

 

Quiet please

  • Tax Blawg: “Is the IRS getting closer to ferreting out ‘quiet disclosures’ by taxpayers who chose that route to address the problem of previously unreported offshore accounts rather than by participating in the Service’s [Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative]?” A look at how a quiet disclosure involves the filing of new or amended tax returns that report offshore income, and FBARs (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) that provide other account information regarding the taxpayer’s interest in foreign accounts.”
  • Rubin on Tax: Another look at quiet disclosures, including how “a key benefit of the OVDI program is the substantial mitigation of criminal tax prosecution. Those that proceed with a quiet disclosure do not obtain this benefit. Nonetheless, in pursuit of a policy of seeking to have taxpayers become compliant by whatever means, perhaps the Treasury Department would not want to pursue criminal prosecutions against quiet filers since that would likely deter future compliance by other taxpayers.”

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