There are very few times when folks are on the Internal Revenue Service's side, but this might just be one of them. The IRS has slapped pharmaceutical bad boy Martin Shkreli with a tax lien totaling more than $4.6 million. Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli in happier times. Shkreli became a global villain last year when he jacked up the U.S. market price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill overnight, a 5,556 percent increase. The anti-parasitic drug is used in AIDS treatment and at was produced by Turing Pharmaceuticals, which Shkreli founded and served as chief... Read more →


If you live in Maryland and your significant other isn't particularly romantic, you might be able to pick up a useful Valentine's Day gift and save on some taxes. The Old Line State this long holiday weekend is waiving its 6 percent sales tax -- which is this week's By the Numbers figure -- on purchases of qualifying energy efficient items. The sales tax holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 13 (sorry for the late notice; I had a busy day!) and continues until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. The Comptroller of Maryland special Web page says the... Read more →


Everyone was reminded last week of Albert Einstein's brilliance. Almost exactly 100 years after the wild-haired physicist posited the existence of gravitational waves, scientists confirmed their existence. Tax folks, however, always acknowledged Einstein's genius. He did, after all, note that even he was baffled by the U.S. tax code. That's one of the biggest problems with taxes. They often make even the smartest among us feel like idiots. Tax software helps. The computer or online programs walk you through the filing process, tying your real-life experiences to the tax breaks that could save you some money. If you feel more... Read more →


Super Bowl winners get it all. More fan adoration. Parades. A flashy piece of jewelry. Trips to Disney World. More taxes. Around a million Denver Broncos fans, including 24,000+ truant schoolchildren, thronged the Colorado capital on Feb. 9 to welcome home their NFL Champions. Photo by Enrico C. Meyer via Twitter. For many of the players in the NFL championship game, that last "benefit" is more than they bargained for. In fact, note a couple of tax attorneys, some of the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers players actually lost money by playing in Super Bowl 50. Wait. What? How is... Read more →


The legislative merging of international manufacturing and the Internet is complete. The Senate this afternoon finally approved H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which the House handily passed last December. Part of the bill permanently prohibits any tax -- and even removes the few existing levies -- on Internet access. Internet access vs. Internet sales taxes: Senate action on the measure, which primarily streamlines the U.S. Customs system and eases the border clearance process for much shipping and international commerce, had been slowed by lawmakers who also wanted to consider Internet sales taxes as part... Read more →


And the tax hacking continues. The Internal Revenue Service says that crooks recently unleashed an automated attack upon its Electronic Filing Personal Identification Number, or e-filing PIN, application Web page. The cybercrime attempt failed. IRS stopped an automated bot attempt by identity thieves to obtain e-file ID numbers that could have been used to claim fake refunds. As all taxpayers who e-file their returns know, the IRS must verify your identity by your entry of your Self-Select PIN or your adjusted gross income from your prior year tax return. If you don't have either of those pieces of info, you... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's not just a catchy tune. It's President Barack Obama's philosophy regarding his eighth and final fiscal year budget blueprint. Click image to watch American Authors' hit "Go Big or Go Home" via YouTube. Even when Congress and Commander in Chief get along, getting everything in an administration's annual budget is tough. When things are outright hostile like now -- in an unprecedented move, both the House and Senate budget committees, headed by Republicans, announced they won't hold hearings on Obama's proposal -- the chances of a lame-duck president getting what he wants fiscally is... Read more →


Happy New Year! No, I haven't hit a time warp, although that could be cool! But I digress. Today is the start of the Year of the Monkey. Although 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, Chinese New Year parades still tend to be led by dragons. The Lunar New Year that began today is the biggest holiday in China. Thanks to the large communities of Chinese heritage throughout the world --- and because folks will jump at any chance to party -- it's a festive time worldwide. Although China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar... Read more →


I am not a big gambler. Sure, as long-time readers of the ol' blog know, I buy lottery tickets. Way too many lottery tickets. But when the hubby and I go to Las Vegas, we go for the shows -- Cirque du Soleil, Penn and Teller, Blue Man Group -- not the betting. Today, however, is one of my favorite days of the year and it's not because of the Super Bowl itself, but because of the prop bets. (Full disclosure: That will change when the Cowboys finally get back to the championship game.) Beyoncé's appearance in today's Super Bowl... Read more →


Tax filing season is tax crime season, with yet another tax software company reporting that some of its customers' data apparently has been compromised. Computer hacking ID theft image by Don Hankins via Flickr TaxSlayer notified customers that it became aware on Jan. 13 that hackers had accessed some accounts. The Evans, Georgia-based company believes that the usernames and passwords used to get into around 8,800 accounts were taken from a third party vendor. "We have no evidence indicating that the technical security of TaxSlayer systems has been compromised," the company said in a letter to affected customers. This is... Read more →


Even before the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers players step onto the field at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, we'll already have one big winner. Click screenshot to view full NFL Super Bowl 50 trailer on YouTube. The National Football League will pocket millions thanks to the Super Bowl host city's agreement to hand over all its big game-related sales tax revenue to the league. Yep, the NFL, which made $12 billion over the 2014-15 season, demands that cities awarded the Super Bowl waive or reimburse sales tax on ticket sales and parking passes. What Super Bowl cities lose:... Read more →


Technology is great. Until it isn't. That's what the Internal Revenue Service learned yesterday afternoon, when what the agency describes as a hardware failure led to the shutdown of several parts of its tax processing systems. The big blow was to the IRS modernized e-file system. Insert your own joke here about the IRS and modern. The good news was that it happened during the afternoon of Feb. 3, not on April 18. The better news is that some of the affected areas, like Where's My Refund?, now appear to be working. The best news is that while a number... Read more →


North Pole officials have decided to tax pot. No, not that North Pole, although that would explain why Santa eats so many cookies in a single night. Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. (Photo by Nicole Bizinski/Santa Claus House) We're talking North Pole, Alaska, a community of around 2,200 just southeast of Fairbanks. The treasury of the town with the official motto "where the spirit of Christmas lives year 'round" got an early gift on Feb. 1 when city council members decided to tax both wholesale and retail marijuana transactions. The 6 percent sales tax will apply to pot... Read more →


If you're feeling the Bern, you count Bernie Sanders's effective tie with Hillary Clinton in last night's Iowa caucuses as a win. However, Sanders is a loser on Capitol Hill when it comes to his tax plan. The party's leadership in Washington, D.C., has made it clear that it won't run on any platform that supports raising taxes on middle-class voters. Wealthy are the traditional tax target: Democrats have long argued for higher taxes, but the target has always been the wealthy. In recent years, that has been the $250,000 earnings mark for families. Higher taxes for the rich was... Read more →


What do hearts and flowers, leaping amphibians and taxes have in common? February! The shortest month of the year is upon us. In 2016, however, it's a day longer because it's Leap Year, hence the frog allusion, adding a 29th day to our calendars. Then, of course, there's Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. And February also is a traditionally busy time for taxes. This is the month that most of us finally get all the tax statements we need to file our returns. And folks who filed early are anxiously awaiting their refunds. Whether you're working on your 2015 taxes or... Read more →


Have your snail mail and email boxes been filling up lately with tax statements? Mine have. That's good. As soon as we have all these documents detailing our 2015 tax transactions in our hands, physically or digitally, we can file our tax returns. The deadline for employers and other folks who must send out tax documents to affected taxpayers technically is Jan. 31. When that date falls on a federal holiday or, like this year, a weekend, then it gets pushed to the next business day. So Monday, Feb. 1, is the deadline this year, meaning our W-2 and 1099... Read more →


Looking for a creative way to get your taxes done this year? Here's an idea from xkcd.com. "Yes, it took a lot of work to make the cards and pieces, but it's worth it. The players are way more thorough than the tax prep people ever were," says the cartoon creator. I'm a big fan of board games. But I'm not sure I agree with xkcd's creative way to take care of the annual filing duty. I know lots of very thorough tax preparers. I am, however, all for anything that helps folks get their returns done quickly, correctly and... Read more →