Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Happy 11/12/13!

* Did you know the November “issue” of my online “magazine” THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING has tax articles – “Is An MBA Deductible” and “Evaluating Tax-Exempt Investments”?  Check it out!  And be sure to see my editorial.

If you like the “issue” please tell your friends, family, and co-workers about it.  Your comments are welcomed.

* I never get tired of seeing these 4 words in print – “Robert is exactly right”!  This time around they were said by Joe Kristan in yesterday’s “Tax Roundup,11/11/13: Sheldon Edition. And: Masterminds!” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG.  Joe was talking about my “I Hate K-1s” post.

* Disturbing news from the NEW YORK POST – “IRS Refunded $4B to Identity Thieves”.

Prompt refunds are nice – but avoiding fraudulent refunds is more important.  The IRS should not begin to process refunds until employer W-3 information has been submitted and can be matched to W-2 information on returns.  If this means refunds cannot be issued in January then so be it. 

For over 40 years I have not even begun to prepare tax returns until February 1st, with less than a handful of exceptions. 

And the IRS should have special matching safeguards for returns with foreign addresses. 

Russ Fox, who covers this story in his TAXABLE TALK post “Dear Mr IRS”, offered a good recommendation in his September 2012 post “A Modest Proposal on Tax-Related Identity Theft” –

The IRS should check the address of every filed return versus the address on file for the taxpayer {as it does with names and Social Security numbers – checking the name on the return with SSA records – rdf}. If the . . . return is filed with the same address as used last year, it’s likely the return is legitimate. If not, then the IRS should put a hold on processing the return, and send a letter to the taxpayers at the address used in the prior year (with forwarding requested). The letter would note that the IRS received a return from the taxpayers, but the address does not match the address on file with the IRS. The letter would further state that processing of the tax return is being held awaiting confirmation of the address change. (The post office does this with all submitted change of address forms; there’s no reason why the IRS can’t do this, too.)

* Kevin Hagen talks about the “Tax Consequences of Distributions from a Traditional IRA that Are Given to Charity” at YAHOO VOICES.  He quotes a popular veteran tax pro and tax blogger in his article.

* Please heed Jim Blankenship’s plea at GETTING YOUR FINANCIAL DUCKS IN A row – “C’mon America! Increase Your Savings Rate by 1% More!

Click here for more 1% solutions.

* Professor Jim Maule discusses the “Prospects for Tax Reform?” at MAULED AGAIN.

The Professor’s standard response when asked about such prospects –

““Don’t hold your breath.”

Sadly I agree with the Professor.

Here is what he had to say about the idiots in Congress-

As revealed in this calendar, the House of Representatives had scheduled 126 working days for the First Session of the 113th Congress, which meets during 2013. For 2014, according to the recently published legislative calendar, the House plans 113 working days. In comparison, the typical American fortunate enough to have full-time employment works, assuming a two-week vacation, 250 days each year. Or more. Tax reform requires a heavy investment of time. It is a major project. It’s not something that can be done, even in a slipshod manner, by a legislature that is absent most of the year.

If there ever was a need for proof that members of the Congress is more concerned with getting themselves re-elected than with buckling down to do what needs to be done for the common welfare of the American people, the legislative calendar is Exhibit A-One. There’s no denying that the Congress has become the servant of the moneyed interests, and in its present configuration and mentality, will bring nothing of value in terms of tax reform.”

If these idiots are working less than half the number of days of a normal full-time government employee why are they receiving the employee benefits of a full-time worker?

* THINKADVISOR offers its take on the “10 Best & Worst Tax States for Retirees”.  Some surprises on the lists.  Neither my former home state, NJ, or my current one, PA, made either list.    

* A great quote on tax reform and the idiots in Congress from FORBES.COM’s TaxGirl Kelly Phillips Erb from her post “GAO Evaluates Tax Deferrals & Graduated Tax Rates, Concludes: Its Complicated” –

Imagine that you took your car to the repair shop for a pervasive rattle. And let’s say that the mechanic took a good look under the hood and said that your best bet was to completely replace the engine. You know how much that’s going to cost. And you know that means you’ll be out of commission for a bit. And you know that it’s probably the best thing for the car. But you balk. Instead, you ask, what if I just replace the spark plug? Or the oil filter?

That, in a nutshell, sums up Congress’ latest approach to corporate {and individual – rdf} tax reform.”

Sadly, ain’t it the truth.

* Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Susanne Craig of the NYTIMES “Business Day” warns that “Con Men Prey on Confusion Over Health Care Act”.

* Kay Bell, the yellow rose of taxes, lists “12 Charitable Groups That Would Love to Take Your Tax-Deductible Typhoon Haiyan Relief Donations” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

* CPA Ben Rugg warns of a local “Corporate Minutes Scam” at RUGGNOTES, which sounds similar to the corporate annual report scam I received in the mail and reported here earlier this year.

* My item on the IRS 2014 inflation-adjustments has still not been published at the www.MainStreet.com Tax Center.  If you can’t wait for my piece, PARKER PUBLISHING gives us a good comprehensive summary of the “2014 Inflation-Adjusted Amounts and Pension Colas”, including some which I do not report in my item.


If you did not see the NY Philharmonic production of the Stephen Sondheim musical COMPANY on PBS’ “Great Performances”, with Neil Patrick Harris, John Cryer, and Patti Lupone (in the Elaine Stritch role), last Friday night do keep an eye out for a rebroadcast.

I saw both the original production (with Dean Jones) and the 2006 revival (with Raul Esparza) on Broadway.  It is a special favorite of mine because I produced it locally back in 1973, with a full orchestra of college music professors and students and a constructed bi-level set similar to the Boris Aronson original.

Stephen Sondheim said at a lecture series at NYU I had attended that he enjoyed seeing local productions of his shows, so I sent two tickets to SS as well as to Hal Prince, producer/director of the original.  I never heard from Prince, but I did get a note from Sondheim thanking me for doing the show and apologizing for being unable to attend, as he would be in London working on the Angela Lansbury production of GYPSY on the night of the performance.  I have the framed letter on display in my condo.

I lost money on COMPANY.  At the same time that I was mounting COMPANY I received an offering from Alexander Cohen to invest in the review GOOD EVENING with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, a sort of sequel to their earlier BEYOND THE FRINGE.  If I had invested my money in GOOD EVENING instead of COMPANY I would have done quite nicely.  But the experience of producing a full-scale musical comedy, and receiving the letter from Stephen, was worth the money I lost.

Some trivia.  The song that ends Act One in the PBS production, “Marry Me A Little”, while written for COMPANY, was not in the original Broadway production.  It was added to the 2006 Broadway revival.


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