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

Letter perfect

  • Tax Policy: A “wonkish” review of a new NBER paper on sales taxes’ effects on services. Research found that exempting some services (like health and education) from a hypothetical national sales tax would amount to only a 3 percent revenue loss and that charging different rates on different categories of goods rather than a flat sales tax rate can significantly improve people’s sense of financial well-being.
  • Taxable Talk: A look at the new and improved Circular 230. “The one thing that all my clients will notice,” says this blogger, “is the elimination of the Circular 230 notice … This change is welcome and kudos to the IRS on this.”

It’s a living

  • Tax Girl: A look at the recent House vote to make permanent a tax break for small businesses. Plus, how a Seattle business sticks a “Living Wage Surcharge” on receipts after the local mandatory minimum wage hits $15 an hour and the recent European Union investigation into Apple, Starbucks and Fiat tax deals.
  • Liberty Tax blog: A reminder that by no means are all emergencies financial. Preparing for the worst in all ways.
  • Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders: “Do People Want To Follow You?” And no, not just on Twitter.

All in the Game

  • H&R Block blog: Ser Kevin the Death Tax Explainer (with a nod to “Game of Thrones”) explains the estate tax and what would happen if the land of Westeros had the same estate tax rules as those under the U.S. Code (“It might seem unlikely that there is a Westorosi equivalent of the IRS, but every kingdom [even a fictional one] needs to generate revenue somehow.”).
  • Mauled Again: How New Jersey wants to drive to the hoop with $82 million in tax credits for the Philadelphia 76ers, who in turn will build a practice facility in Camden, N.J., provided that the team employ at least 250 people in Camden and remain in that city for at least 15 years. The city can sure use the help as much as the Sixers can use the practice to make the playoffs – but how much can we believe in the soundness of “funneling tax dollars to wealthy owners of professional sports teams (rather) than … educating children or feeding the hungry”?

Student bodies

  • The Income Tax School: Congrats grads on that spanking new as-yet-unyellowed diploma. As you mull career options (and getting nosy, relentless relatives off your back), consider a worklife in tax prep. There’s job security and you’ll sure learn how to spell “EITC.” As this blog shows, you’ll also work at something far beyond just numbers.
  • TaxMama: TaxMama answers a reader who wants to know if interest remains deductible even if a taxpayer pays off a student loan using a home equity line of credit.

Have and withhold

  • Backtaxeshelp: Wedding season brings parties, fun, bliss and often sticker shock when the nuptial bills come due. One thing couples can do to save on tying the knot: Claim qualified expenses as a tax deduction. A look at what your clients can and can’t write off.
  • Don’t Mess With Taxes: By-the-numbers rundown of single dads (most figures are up except one constant: their divorce rate of 44 percent) and tax tips for helping this sometimes romanticized yet overlooked demographic.

Court count

  • Procedurally Taxing: How ongoing disputes regarding TEFRA and sham partnerships took an interesting turn when the taxpayer in Petaluma FX Partners v. United States argued that the Tax Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. The blogger’s previous article on the subject actually contributed to building the argument.
  • Due Diligence: In this week’s roundup: “Bad Embassy Security Equals Whistleblower Opportunities”; “FATCA – Is Your Bank On The List Of Cooperating Banks?”; “Do Foreign Retirement Plans Need to Comply with FATCA? Maybe!”; “Bank Leumi to Settle Foreign Reporting Allegations”; “Just How Bad Is Your Brokerage Firm?”; “Medicare Fraud Whistleblower Suit Settled”; and “150% Civil FBAR Penalty? Unfortunately, It’s True.”
  • John R. Dundon II EA: Alter ego allegations and how to defend against them, with lessons from the California Supreme Court’s recent Minifie V. Rowley, including control by one person, disregard of corporate formalities, fraud, asset shifts, and lack of corporate or partnership returns.
  • Roth & Co.: How the “IRS expects us to believe that they are so monumentally incompetent at information technology that they can’t produce Lois Lerner’s e-mails from January 2009 through April 2011 … Even the best possible interpretation of this – taking the IRS at its word – is a damning indictment of the agency.” Something’s just plain off in this matter.

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