Category Archives: Internal Revenue Service

The only thing worse than talking to the IRS is NOT talking to the IRS

Will taxpayers need to “pay to play” in dealing with the IRS?

Nina Olson is head of the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the office of the IRS that actually reports on how the IRS performs in dealing with taxpayers. She is your voice within the IRS. So when she says something, I pay attention.

Patricia Cohen of The New York Times writes that in her annual report to Congress, Olson said her office “has been left with the distinct impression that the I.R.S.’s ultimate goal is “to get out of the business of talking with taxpayers” altogether.

Fewer taxpayer services. More incorrect processing of returns. Higher costs to taxpayers who wind up having to use tax pros to deal with problems that consumers used to be able to handle themselves. No good spin on this story, but the report is highly readable and you can find it here. I recommend having an adult beverage by your side while you read.

Don’t believe everything you read about the tax code — even in the New York Times

Reporting in 2014 on a proposed tax overhaul that went nowhere, The New York Times  referred to “the 70,000-page federal tax code.” People, I come bearing good holiday tidings:  The federal tax code is nowhere near that long. As Andrew L. Grossman, an attorney with the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, points out in Slate,… Continue Reading

Republican fantasy tax plans all “puppies and rainbows”

Let me paraphrase Josh Barro of The New York Times in summing up the tax talk you’re hearing in the Republican Presidential Debates: It’s all puppies and rainbows. As Barro points out here, Marco Rubio would eliminate all taxes on capital gains, which of course would benefit those in the U.S. who have accumulated the most… Continue Reading

Boston Bruins and IRS facing off over meal deductions

Businesses can deduct 100% of most ordinary expenses, but only 50% of the cost of business-related meals. When is a meal not a meal for tax purposes? One definition is when it’s an ordinary expense and provided for the convenience of the employer. That’s what the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins say about the costs… Continue Reading

IRS plays dead on campaign finance

Any small business that has been audited knows the IRS can be a junkyard dog when examining records for deductible meals, travel, mileage, and other business expenses. Not so when it comes to reviewing political organizations. As The New York Times summarizes, the IRS has pretty much rolled over on groups that use nonprofit “social… Continue Reading