Safari time; better answers for military taxpayers; multinational slackers; and other highlights from our favorite tax bloggers.

Over the rainbow

  • H&R Block (https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/): In fiscal 2017, 31 million taxpayers who filed individual, estate or trust tax returns faced penalties totaling more than $11 billion — and an additional 6.7 million paid $3.1 billion in Affordable Care Act penalties and 1.2 million people paid $1.6 billion in additional tax on early distributions from their IRAs. Talk about a booming business! What to tell them about avoiding penalties.
  • Turbotax (https://blog.turbotax.intuit.com): The folks at South African Tourism have unveiled six new packages priced between $1,700 and $3,200 — to match the average refund.
  • The Income Tax School (https://www.theincometaxschool.com/blog/): Tinseltown has a storied history of glitter, glamor and the legends of the screen. Oh yeah, and tax evasion. A glance back at what skirting the taxman did for some stars, from Wesley Snipes and his sentence of three years in prison to Judy Garland living out her days in rental homes and hotels.
  • Don’t Mess With Taxes (http://dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com/): How new laws affect estimated payments, the key modification being new rates and brackets. Not to mention revised business expense deductions, increased standard deduction amounts, the elimination of personal exemptions, the increased child tax credit, and certain limited or discontinued deductions.
  • Houston Tax Blog (http://www.irstaxtrouble.com/category/tax-blog/): Yes, instead of requesting a refund, taxpayers can ask the IRS to hold the overpayment and apply it to their tax liability for the following year. Trouble is, these payment credits can result in significant headaches, as shown in Schuster v. Commissioner.

Answers and questions

  • National Taxpayer Advocate (https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/about/nta-blog): Our military personnel suffer a number of issues we think about, such as separation from family, and a number we don’t think about, such as often-subpar health care and stilted promotion opportunities. What can the IRS do in providing military taxpayers with better info about tax issues they face?
  • Rubin on Tax (http://rubinontax.floridatax.com): Our favorite opening of the week: “During happy days, one spouse (call him or her the ‘Donor Spouse’) sets up an irrevocable trust for the benefit of the other spouse (call him or her the ‘Donee Spouse’) … Fast forward, and the happy couple is not so happy.” After splitsville, in what form does a trust live on and how nasty a post-divorce surprise can it be?
  • TaxBuzz (https://www.taxbuzz.com/blog): And while on the subject, what big changes are ahead for how alimony is treated for tax purposes?
  • Tax Vox (http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox): “Does the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Pass the Tests of Good Tax Policy?” Consider the four basic tenets of good tax policy: revenue adequacy, efficiency, equity and simplicity.
  • Boyum Barenscheer (https://myboyum.com/blog/): “Blockchain” may sound like something to do with car tires in snow, but pundits say this technology may help drive business worldwide soon. What should we know?
  • Mauled Again (http://mauledagain.blogspot.com/): The Department of the Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget have reached agreement on a Memorandum of Agreement. Under the agreement, the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will review tax regulations that may “create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency,” “raise novel legal or policy issues,” or “have an annual non-revenue effect on the economy of $100 million or more.” Does anyone think this will speed up the need for tax guidance?
  • Bloomberg BNA (https://www.bna.com/news/#!topic=tax&type=blogpost&page=1): The recent exchange of consulate closures between the U.S. and Russia highlights the complexity of domestic and international law governing foreign-owned property. What are the property tax implications of “diplomatic status?”

‘Core idea’

  • Taxjar (http://blog.taxjar.com/): “Sales tax is complicated, but a few states really take the cake when it comes to complexity. One of those states is Colorado.” What the Rocky Mountain State’s folks told these bloggers.
  • Avalara (https://www1.avalara.com/us/en/blog.html): Taxing more services could increase Kentucky sales tax revenue, which the state needs. Taxing sales by out-of-state internet sellers could do the same. Both ideas recently made it into a reform measure that the state’s governor swiftly vetoed.
  • Procedurally Taxing (http://procedurallytaxing.com): A recent Tax Court case highlights the difficulty a claimant will have if the IRS determines that the information is privileged and the claimant disagrees.
  • Wolters Kluwer (http://news.cchgroup.com/): A look at New York’s 2018-19 budget package, which contains Internal Revenue Code-conformity amendments and changes regarding corporate franchise tax, personal income tax, property tax, and sales and use tax, among others.
  • Tax, Society & Culture (http://taxpol.blogspot.com/): A timely presentation in progress: “Subscribing to the core idea that income should be taxed where value is created, the international community has devised a set of tax base-protecting rules to counter a world in which highly profitable multinational companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon pay very little in taxation ...”
Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson is a veteran freelance journalist who previously served as editor of The Practical Accountant.