Category Archives: Creative

How complex is the tax code?

Each year more than a few clients will say something to me along the lines of, “Well, the tax rules are pretty much the same as last year, right?”

Sometimes I smile; sometimes I laugh. This year, thanks to my friend and fellow tax professional Tony Johnson, a Lincoln, California, CPA, I can tell you just how much the tax code changes every year.

Tony says that since 2001, there have been at least 4,680 (!) changes in the tax code. That’s about one change per day for more than a dozen years.

No wonder it seems like most tax pros have all the work they can handle.

A winning tax picture for money-losing artists

You are an artist, or a photographer, or a writer who is trying to make money from your venture but usually don’t succeed. Can you still claim losses on your tax returns? I’ve often told clients that the answer is yes, if you are conducting yourself in a businesslike manner, attempting to make a profit,…Continue Reading

Multinationals seek tax heavens, er, havens . . . oh, what’s the diff?

More and more U.S.-based corporations are growing wings and flying away from their U.S. tax obligations. Bloomberg puts it as simply as possible: “U.S. companies looking for lower tax bills are heading for the exits, and Congress is doing nothing to stop them.” The immediate impetus for the story was Pfizer’s proposed purchase of AstraZeneca,…Continue Reading

Could government-gathered tracking info show up in your tax audit?

As ProPublica points out, despite the veritable explosion of stories about secret government surveillance programs, there’s a whole lot we still don’t know. We don’t know how long the government has been collecting our phone records or how much is collected. It would be nice to know what government officials think they can do under…Continue Reading

Apple avoids billions in taxes, and it all looks legal; those guys really are smart

Lawmakers are using words like “gimmicks” and “schemes” to describe how Apple Corporation has used a web of subsidiaries spanning the globe to avoid taxes. There are hearings this week at which Congressmen are expected to say they are shocked, shocked, to hear of tax loopholes being exploited. As The New York Times reported, Congressional…Continue Reading

Now that’s a home run: McCourts back in court over billion-dollar Dodgers franchise

Nasty multi-million dollar divorces make for some great financial insights, especially when they wind up in court. Today’s lesson: How profitable it can be to own a professional sports franchise, and how the tax code’s preferential rates for capital gains benefit the super-wealthy. Frank McCourt owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. When he and his wife…Continue Reading

Sex and the IRS: making “friends” with your IRS auditor, extreme version

Dear IRS: I’ve Read About This In Your Manuals, But I Never Thought It Would Happen To Me… Sometimes I sort through tedious tax court cases looking for some mildly interesting nugget to share, and sometimes a thing of sheer weirdness lands in my lap. An Oregon man has filed a lawsuit claiming that an…Continue Reading