The FAQs that the IRS posts on its web site are a trap. If you file a tax return that relines on what the IRS’ FAQs say, the IRS can decide after the fact that it was wrong and therefore you filed an incorrect tax return.
I’m not making this up.
The Taxpayer Advocate thinks that situation is not fair. We’ll see if the IRS, or Congress, does anything about it.
Via TaxProf Blog.
If you don’t follow the news on driverless cars like I do, you may not have heard about, or you may have forgotten about, a fatal auto accident in Florida last year involving a Tesla vehicle that was supposedly on “auto pilot.” A report on that accident has been released that essentially says that the vehicle wasn’t on “auto-pilot” and was in fact being grossly misused by its driver. The Antiplanner lays out the details, and along the way gives a good overview of what the different levels of autonomous cars can do.
ALL I KNOW IS, THEY NEED TO DO SOMETHING TO CLAMP DOWN ON FRAUDULENT TAX RETURNS BEING FILED TO CLAIM THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT
Some genius writing in a major newspaper thinks that congressional efforts to cut down on the abuse of the earned income tax credit (EITC) will harm poor recipients and reduce tax collections. I’m not going to dignify it with a direct link, but I will link to the blog post about it that I saw.
Something has to be done to cut down on the rampant filing of fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities in order to claim the EITC. If you have a better idea than what has been proposed so far, let’s hear it.
I might have to write another newsletter about homeowners’ association foreclosures. A story that was posted yesterday on AZCentral.com indicates that homeowners losing their homes due to foreclosures by associations is a big problem, but I’m skeptical. I haven’t been aware of a large number of foreclosures for failure to pay association assessments, but there are a lot more planned communities in the Phoenix area than there are in the Tucson area, so maybe it’s more of a problem there. And while I do think that the late charges tacked on by associations when assessment payments are in arrears are often excessive, I don’t think that the lawyers who are handling the foreclosures are routinely charging exorbitant fees, contrary to what the linked article suggests.
The article doesn’t mention that the law on what associations can charge, and under what circumstances they can foreclose for nonpayment of assessments, has been changed substantially to the benefit of homeowners in the last several years. In other words, associations can’t just charge whatever they feel like, and foreclose the moment a homeowner falls behind in paying assessments. Associations generally don’t want to take someone’s house, just like banks generally would rather have you make your mortgage payments than they would take your house.
Or if you just need one moved across Tucson, Arctic Cactus can do it, as a story in today’s Daily Star suggests. Unfortunately the only place in that story where you’ll actually see any reference to the company doing the moving is in the photo of the truck hauling the cactus. The name of Arctic Cactus is on the door of the truck.
I offer no comment on the idea of taking a saguaro to Seattle. Arctic Cactus is just doing a job they were hired to do. I’m sure it wasn’t their idea.
I wrote last week about the statement by New York City Mayor DeBlasio that he “would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.” The Antiplanner makes the argument, as he usually does, that the more meddling with the free market government does, the less affordable housing becomes.
I didn’t find the recent comments by Mayor DeBlasio of New York City myself, and I’m not going to go as far in interpreting them as the commentators whose posts alerted me to their existence. I’m just going to say that they reflect an approach to land use planning that may have its adherents, but I believe is pretty far out of the mainstream.
The comments I’m talking about are in a New York Magazine interview, in his response to a question about income inequality. He’s essentially saying that the rights of a property owner to use his or her property as he or she sees fit should be completely subordinate to land use decisions by the city government. In his own words, he says he “would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.”
He does acknowledge that the approach he favors is inconsistent with our system of private property rights.
I PREDICT THAT CONGRESS WON’T ELIMINATE PRE-TAX RETIREMENT PLAN CONTRIBUTIONS, EVEN THOUGH AN AFTER-TAX OPTION ALREADY EXISTS
At least one source has suggested that Congress is considering eliminating the ability to make pre-tax contributions to 401(k) retirement savings plans. At least one commentator has said that’s a bad idea. I agree that it’s a bad idea. I predict that the idea, if it is actually being considered, will go nowhere, as did the idea to tax withdrawals from college savings accounts.
Neither of the discussions linked above mentions, however, that taxpayers currently can choose to make after-tax contributions to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans, if their employer offers the option. It’s called the Roth 401(k). It’s the same idea as the Roth IRA. The employee is trading the ability to make contributions on a pre-tax basis (401(k), conventional IRA) for the ability to withdraw earnings tax-free (Roth 401(k), Roth IRA).
Does the Roth 401(k) produce a better net return than the conventional 401(k)? I don’t know. It probably depends on the individual taxpayer’s circumstances. I do know, however, that eliminating the ability to elect to contribute to a 401(k) plan on a pre-tax basis will be unpopular.
I was under the impression that individuals not saving enough for retirement is a big problem. Is Congress really going to take away what is probably the largest tax benefit currently offered for retirement savings? I doubt it.
A post on a blog that I do not frequent, but that I look at occasionally because other blogs I do frequent link to it from time to time, got me thinking about what’s often the trickiest question for families doing estate planning: who would be responsible for your children if you aren’t around?
The post that got me thinking about that question was one about some survey suggesting that grandparents aren’t up on all the latest parenting tips. My reaction is, why would they be, and so what? Does that make grandparents any less important?
That made me think about the estate planning question because in the wills I draft for parents of minor children, grandparents are probably nominated as guardians more often than anyone else. I doubt that the parents who have made those nominations gave too much thought to whether or not their parents are up on all the latest parenting tips.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.