It's Wednesday. Fans of the fourth hour of NBC's Today show with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford also know it as Winesday. In addition to regular Winesday on their own show, Kathie Lee and Hoda shared their vino love with Anderson Cooper on his program. It's no secret that the two morning show hosts are big wine fans. So are federal and state tax collectors. Uncle Sam's wine taxes: The federal excise tax on table wine is $1.07 per gallon. That works out to $2.54 per case. Qualifying small wineries are entitled to a credit which reduces their tax... Read more →


Uh oh! The Internal Revenue Service has filed a lawsuit against me for unpaid taxes! Uh no. The call I got today was just another sad attempt to scam me into calling the crooks and giving them personal information or, more likely, sending them a prepaid debit card to cover my fake tax bill. This pervasive and persistent telephone tax scam, as today's message -- my fifth so far this year; haven't the criminals realized by now that I'm a total tax deadbeat?! -- is still making the rounds. Ignore it. But some con artists do tweak their schemes in... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen has decided not to present his side of the story during the House Judiciary's Committee's look tomorrow into how he's doing his job. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has been a regular fixture at Congressional hearings since he took over as head of the tax agency in December 2013. He won't however, be at tomorrow's House Judiciary hearing to examine how he has fulfilled his duties. The IRS chief was expected to be grilled (again) by angry GOP committee members about alleged false statements and a perceived lack of cooperation at previous hearings. I can... Read more →


Federal drug officials are considering removing marijuana's Schedule 1 classification, reports USA Today. A DEA agent carries confiscated marijuana plants to be destroyed. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision, which is expected this summer, would make it easier for researchers to work with the plant. Currently, weed is in the same legal category as heroin, LSD and bath salts. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana is deemed to have "no currently accepted medical treatment use." Residents and lawmakers in 24 states and the District of Columbia disagree; they permit some form of medical marijuana use. Recreational weed and taxes: Colorado,... Read more →


Milwaukee Bucks players' tax information is now in the hands of identity thieves. The Milwaukee Bucks and fans celebrate a win. (Photo by Jeramey Jannene via Flickr Creative Commons) The National Basketball Association team is the latest victim of an email phishing scam in which crooks pose as corporate executives and ask payroll offices for employees' financial and tax information. Phishing for tax form details: Team officials confirmed reports, first in Yahoo Sports and then at other sports and technology websites, that a Bucks' employee complied with an email request from a person impersonating team president Peter Feigin seeking 2015... Read more →


Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominees, skipped the Des Moines, Iowa, debate back in January. The Donald was feuding with Fox News, the debate's host, then and opted instead to hold his own event. Click image for full CNN report and video. Trump's alternate televised gathering at Drake University, also in Des Moines, was promoted as a fundraiser for veterans' charities. So how did that turn out? How much was donated? Which charities got some of the cash collected almost four months ago? The answers are, apparently, pretty good from a political posturing standpoint, not as much as... Read more →


Back in the late 1970s, around the time Donald J. Trump was proclaiming he was worth more than $200 million, two federal tax returns showed his income as -$3.8 million -- yes, that's a minus sign, not a dash -- meaning Trump was in the hole as for his earnings. Donald Trump's 2014 taxes, which he's signing in this photo from @realDonaldTrump's Twitter feed, presumably show a lot more income than he reported in the late 1970s. But we don't know for sure. And that lack of money meant that The Donald didn't owe the Internal Revenue Service any income... Read more →


Rep. Jason Chaffetz is hedging his bets on getting John Koskinen kicked out of his Internal Revenue Service office. Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been seeking the impeachment of the Internal Revenue Service commissioner for almost a year. That could be closer to happening after two upcoming House Judiciary Committee hearings (the first is set for May 24; the other sometime in June) on how Koskinen has been doing his job. But just in case this latest impeachment effort bogs down, Chaffetz also has introduced H.R. 737, a resolution to formally... Read more →


If you had any doubt that Donald J. Trump plays by his own rules, this will convince you that he's totally doing things his, and his only, way. While Trump is insistent that he won't release his own personal tax returns -- because the audits, all the never-ending audits! -- he expects potential VP candidates to reveal their filing info. Katy Tur, the reporter covering The Donald for NBC News, confirmed Wednesday, May 18, that Trump will ask all potential vice presidential picks to release, at least to the campaign, their tax returns. It's part of the presumptive GOP candidate's... Read more →


Sure, King George III's pesky tea tax served as a catalyst for the United States' rebellion against Great Britain. King George III in 1755, courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. Click image to hear G3's first song, which mentions the tea to-do, in the Broadway musical "Hamilton." But once we worked through that independence thing, we Americans discovered that we still have a lot in common with the United Kingdom. And that includes, unfortunately, tax scams. U.K. HMRC tax phishing: Taxpayers across the pond have been getting phishing emails from tax crooks encouraging them to download an attached document in order... Read more →


This time it's personal. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) introduced the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act of 2016 last year after he became a tax identity theft victim. Rep. Jim Renacci, at right, talks with Cleveland WOIO anchors about being a tax identity theft victim. On Monday, May 16, Renacci watched as H.R. 3832, the bill based on his and his wife's bad filing experience, cleared the full House by voice vote. In addition to talking with media in Ohio and elsewhere, Renacci testified in April about his tax ID theft experience before the House Ways and Means Committee, of... Read more →


It looks like Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen is not going to have a good summer. IRS John Koskinen testifying before one of many previous Congressional hearings he's attended during his tenure. The House Judiciary Committee plans to hold two hearings to examine what committee leaders say is misconduct by the head of the tax agency. The first is scheduled for May 24. The second will be sometime in June, with the precise date to be named later. The findings of the Judiciary panel could lead to impeachment proceedings against Koskinen. With that potential goal in mind, it's no... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's a common mantra down here in Texas. A variation applied this week in a federal bankruptcy courtroom in Big D. The judge there ruled that a former Lone Star billionaire's big attempt to shelter money offshore means he owes the Internal Revenue Service a big bill. Sam Wyly, a once legendary Dallas businessman, philanthropist and one of the wealthiest men in the country (shown at right on the October 2015 cover of D CEO magazine), was found on May 10 to have defrauded the IRS by shuffling assets among a network of offshore trusts... Read more →


The 2016 presidential campaign has been an unusual one in many ways. The so-called political establishment has been under fire on both the Democratic and Republican sides. Usually reliable pollsters and pundits have seen their projections upended by a new type of electorate. And social media has become a major player in the race for the White House. But one thing hasn't changed. The presumptive GOP nominee is as reluctant in 2016 to release his federal tax returns as was the 2012 candidate. This year, it's Donald J. Trump who says he won't release his tax returns until the Internal... Read more →


Getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service can be scary, whether it arrives on Friday the 13th or any other day. Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. And the IRS has lots of questions in these areas. It sends out millions every year. And while there's no official clinical name for a tax notice phobia (unlike the various Friday the 13th fears of paraskevidekatriaphobia, triskaidekaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia) the truth is that there's usually nothing to be afraid of as long as you don't ignore the letter. To help you over your tax notice fear,... Read more →


Everybody loves pay day, even Uncle Sam. That's essentially what the annual tax filing season is. And the one that ended on April 18 was pretty good. Graphics courtesy U.S. Treasury Department. The U.S. Treasury Department's monthly statement for April, released May 11, shows receipts of $438.4 billion, thanks in large part to large individual tax deposits. That income, notes Treasury, produced a monthly surplus of $106.5 billion. The current budget surplus, however, is down 32 percent from the same period last year. In April 2015, the surplus was $157 billion. Shifting federal payments: Some of that could be attributable... Read more →


Donald J. Trump has built his brand on being a successful businessman who's made billions. Republican presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump campaigning in Nebraska. He won the Cornhusker State's GOP primary. We're just going to have to take him at his word that he makes billions. That's asking a lot, since Trump regularly, shall we say, deviates from the truth. But that's where we are and apparently will remain. Trump told the Associated Press in an interview published today (May 11) that he likely won't release his tax returns before the Nov. 8 general election. Who's surprised that Trump is... Read more →