AN ENTERTAINING POST ABOUT WHY YOUR DISHES DON’T COME OUT OF THE DISHWASHER CLEAN, AND WHY THE SITUATION MAY GET WORSE…
Can be found here.
Sometime I’ll have to post about my ideal kitchen set-up. It’s original as far as I know.
DIDN’T THE ROMANS TRY OUT THE IDEA OF GIVING TAX COLLECTORS A CUT OF WHAT THEY COLLECTED? I DON’T THINK IT WORKED OUT VERY WELL
Apparently, some lawmakers in Washington DC think giving private debt collectors a crack at collecting back federal taxes in exchange for a cut of their collections will improve on the IRS’ collection rate. I am skeptical of that proposition. Apparently the IRS has tried it before, with not-so-good results. For one thing, it sounds like a way to cut costs, but anyone who has been an outside contractor for a large organization (or who has worked in a large organization that hires outside contractors) for this type of thing (such as, outside attorneys for a large company) will tell you that the large organization will probably expend a lot of resources supervising the performance of the outside contractor. In an organization as large as the IRS, I have no doubt that they will set up a whole department to work with the outside collectors. That’s a whole department of IRS employees who get paid even if the collectors produce nothing. So while the collectors don’t cost anything if they don’t produce, that doesn’t mean that the whole scheme is without cost to the IRS.
What is it about trees in California?
Some regional park authority in the East Bay is planning to cut down thousands of Eucalyptus trees. Why? Because they are flammable. Or because they are non-native. I’m not sure. It's hard to tell from the reports I have seen.
Of course, there are protesters in Berkeley trying to save the trees. Even though the trees are non-native. Environmentalists usually want to eradicate anything that’s non-native.
Be careful if you go looking for news on this controversy. Some of the protesters have apparently used some rather unconventional (NSFW) methods to dramatize their cause.
Via Powerline Blog.
GIVING AN 18 YEAR OLD $90,000 AND TELLING HER IT’S UP TO HER TO USE IT TO PAY FOR COLLEGE MAY NOT BE THE BEST IDEA
I don’t know any of the details of the story, but the way it has been described, a 22 year old college student was given $90k by her grandparents, spent some of it on stuff other than school, and is now broke and wants her parents to give her the funds she needs to finish school.
I’m going to ignore the problem of what should happen now. My focus is on what should have happened four years ago.
What should have happened four years ago is that her grandparents should have arranged the gift of the money so that it would be controlled by a responsible adult. This is not complicated. A good estate planning attorney can set up an appropriate arrangement. A good financial adviser can also help with a plan for such a situation.
On the other hand, if the student’s grandparents wanted to give her a life lesson, maybe their approach wasn’t so wrong, assuming that she now figures out where she went wrong and what to do about it. But if her parents bail her out like she wants them to, I don’t think they are doing her any favor.
I don’t know whether it’s legal or not, but it certainly merits some attention: the IRS has contracted with a law firm in LA to assist it in an audit of Microsoft’s books. The audit is being conducted as part of a complex tax dispute between the government and Microsoft. The dispute involves the taxation of Microsoft’s transactions with offshore subsidiaries.
Leaving aside whether or not Microsoft has done anything wrong in the transactions being investigated, it strikes me as more than a little strange for the IRS to hire outside lawyers to help with an audit. That would be a little like the FBI hiring a private investigator to help catch Al Capone. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with it, but why is it necessary? Isn’t catching Al Capone what the FBI exists to do? And isn’t policing compliance with federal tax law the reason that the IRS exists?
What organization would refer to disconnecting the telephone calls of its constituents, because its switchboard can’t handle the volume of calls, as “courtesy disconnects?”
Why, the IRS, of course.
I’m not making this up. Quoting from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson’s FY 2016 Objectives Report to Congress: “The number of ‘courtesy disconnects’ received by taxpayers calling the IRS skyrocketed from about 544,000 in 2014 to about 8.8 million this filing season, an increase of more than 1,500 percent. The term ‘courtesy disconnect’ is used when the IRS essentially hangs up on a taxpayer because its switchboard is overloaded and cannot handle additional calls.”
That’s not a quote from some partisan Congressperson who just wants to bash the IRS. It’s from a government official whose job is to evaluate the IRS’ treatment of taxpayers.
Via TaxProf Blog.
It’s no surprise that the Antiplanner would be negative on the proposed tax increase to pay for more light-rail lines in the Valley of the Sun. He makes his case here.
I HOPE THE FUEL CELL POWERED VEHICLE IS A COMING TREND, AND THAT THE PRICE COMES DOWN
I somehow missed this when it was first announced: Toyota is producing a vehicle powered by a fuel cell. The price isn’t even all that high, substantially less than for a Tesla Model S.
If the price comes down even somewhat, and hydrogen refueling infrastructure spreads (a big ‘if’), this could really change things. Bye-bye, Tesla. Bye-bye, Prius.
The United States Postal Service has a very helpful brochure titled How to Package and Ship Cremated Remains. You can find it here (html) or here (pdf). The pdf version is easier to read.
The brochure begins with this helpful information: the Postal Service “offers the only legal method of shipping cremated remains domestically or internationally.”
Just because I think the USPS should not be providing banking services doesn’t mean I don’t rely on it for the services that it was created to provide. I probably send more snail-mail letters than most people do, anymore.
I covered the related topic of burial instructions in a recent post on this blog and in my monthly newsletter.
Your feedback is welcome, as always.
A PLACE WHERE I WANT TO BE
“The premier site for information on autonomous and connected vehicles and their underlying technologies.”
I found it via the Antiplanner blog, which had a post about the use of dedicated spectrum or WiFi for communication between driverless vehicles, a subject I had not heard about.
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.