2019 is here, and it’s almost time to file your first tax return under the new law. Washington sold the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as “tax simplification.” And really, who can’t raise a toast to that? Lower rates! Higher standard deductions! A 1040 you can fill out on a postcard! But many taxpayers, especially those in high-tax states like New York and California, can be forgiven if they feel like they woke up with a massive hangover. Deductions for state and local income and property taxes are now capped at $10,000, regardless of income. And employee business deductions are nixed entirely. That’s going to be pricey for the Very Large Men we mentioned in the title.Continue reading →
In Finland, tucked between the Baltic Sea and the Arctic Circle, they have decided to discourage the sort of income inequality that’s growing across the world. So, in the interest of transparency, they publish everyone’s income tax returns!
The Finnish Tax Administration schedules their big reveal for 8:00 AM on November 1. The New York Times calls it “National Jealousy Day,” which seems appropriate, and Finnish newspapers assign up to half of their staff to covering the event. This year, taxpayers reported earning a total of €140 billion and paying €46.8 billion in tax, making Finland one of the highest-taxed countries in the world. But of course the real fun lies in snooping through the individual returns: your bosses, your neighbors, and your friends and family.Continue reading →
Mother Nature knew exactly what she was doing when she made babies cute. In fact, evolutionary biologists at Oxford University recently concluded they evolved that way to survive by encouraging the rest of us to look after them. “This is the first evidence of its kind to show that cuteness helps infants to survive by eliciting care-giving, which cannot be reduced to simple, instinctual behaviours,” says professor Morten Kringelbach. (And couldn’t Oxford have found something less obvious to study?)
Half the fun of meeting a new baby is looking to see what features they inherit from their parents. Daddy’s bright blue eyes? Mommy’s adorable button-nose? (Hopefully not the next-door neighbor’s goofy jug ears!) But did you know that some babies inherit more than their parents’ physical features? In California, some babies inherit their parents’ tax breaks!Continue reading →
Last month, we wrote that New York money manager AllianceBernstein is moving its headquarters and 1,100 employees from a slick black Manhattan skyscraper to the steaming concrete jungles of Nashville, TN. It’s going to be culture shock for the firm’s employees, who have to trade their harsh winters and corned beef sandwiches for milder weather and hot fried chicken. But AllianceBernstein promises employees they’ll love the financial climate most of all: lower housing costs and no personal income tax. Of course taxes played a big part in that move!
And now, Chipotle announced they’re moving their headquarters and 400 jobs from Denver to Newport Beach, CA.
What do you think? Would high state taxes be enough to make you move? Or do the quality of your life and breadth of opportunity mean more than mere taxes? Either way, we’re here to help you pay less. So call us when you’re ready for a plan, and see where your wasted taxes have kept you from visiting!Continue reading →
Michael Shvo may be the most theatrical real estate guy of all. He started out as a brash Manhattan broker, squiring buyers in a chauffeur-driven limo and trademarking the slogan, “Let’s Shvo.” He enlisted celebrity designers like Giorgio Armani and musicians like John Legend to help sell showy condos to showy buyers. Now he’s reinvented himself as a developer, with current projects designed to make everyone else’s projects look like college dormitories, or maybe Soviet-bloc worker collectives.
So we know that Shvo likes buying showy stuff. It turns out, though, that he doesn’t like paying tax on it. Back in 2016, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. indicted Shvo on 28 counts of criminal sales tax fraud. And on April 26, he plead guilty to two of those counts. “Michael Shvo’s brand of tax evasion was an art form unto itself,” said Vance. “Through ornate ruses — like creating a sham Montana corporation to avoid taxes on a Ferrari — the defendant dodged more than a million dollars in state and local taxes.”Continue reading →
Tax Day 2018 has come and gone. Have you cleaned up the mess from the celebration? Has your hangover faded into memory? Now all that’s left is to box up those records and store them somewhere safe, for . . . how long? Storing tax records is lots of fun, said no one ever, but it is important. The IRS says you should generally keep your records for three years from the date you file your return, or indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return. Having said that, some tax records have lasted a lot longer than that!Continue reading →
By all rights, “Tax Day” ought to be one of our favorite holidays, like “Christmas in April” without the carols, the hype, or the eggnog. That’s because eighty percent of us get refunds, averaging $2,782 each in 2017. (When was the last time Santa Claus left three grand in your stocking?) Of course, that means 20% of us are writing checks to the IRS. And if you’re among that 20%, we sympathize. We know it hurts. But we’re confident it does’t hurt nearly as much for you as it does for a “master of the Universe” named John Paulson.
paying more than you have to still stings, no matter how much it is. That’s where we come in. We give you a plan to pay less, no matter which of your three homes you’re enjoying right now. So call us for that plan, and let’s see how much we can help you save!Continue reading →
St. Patrick’s Day is here, and every “Irish for a day” tippler in your social circle will take advantage of this convenient excuse to haul grandma out of the house for a little day-drinking. (It seems unnecessary on a Saturday, but whatever.) Faux-Irish saloons across America are tapping kegs of Guinness, pouring shots of Jameson, and covering their walls and ceilings in every Celtic cliche they can find: the shamrocks, the hats, the green beads, and of course, the leprechaun jealously guarding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Now, leprechauns are usually pretty happy little fellas. Wouldn’t you be happy if you found a pot of gold in some misty bog? But this isn’t always true, as you’ll see if you look at the University of Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” mascot. Have you ever wondered why that little guy is so hostile? Maybe it’s because he just discovered the IRS wants a share of his stash!Continue reading →
We Americans have fought with our internal revenue code since 1913. But slicing and dicing income, deductions, and a dizzying array of business and personal credits is hardly the only way that Uncle Sam could raise the money he needs to pay for guns and butter. State and local governments also use sales taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, and “gross receipts” taxes to fill their hungry coffers, too.
And then there are the more exotic taxes, the kind that sometimes live only in philosophers’ heads. The nineteenth-century economist Henry George argued that a land-value tax would raise wages, improve land use, and eliminate taxes on economic activity. More recently, economists and politicians have proposed carbon taxes, consumption taxes, and European-style value-added tax alternatives.Continue reading →
Two hundred and forty one years ago, we declared our independence from Mother England — over taxes, of course. But here on our side of the pond, we’ve never completely lost our affection for all things British. We applauded as the Queen celebrated her 70th wedding anniversary. Netflix fans who just finished binge-watching Stranger Things are eagerly awaiting Season Two of The Crown. And now, we’ve learned that Prince Harry and his longtime girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle, are getting married in May.
Here’s the issue: Markle isn’t a Brit. She’s a Yank. Buckingham Palace has already announced that Markle will become a British citizen, which involves passing a test with questions like “What did the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 lay the basis for?” The real problem with expatriating is the bloody exit tax. If your net worth is over $2 million, or your average annual income for the five years before you leave tops $162,000, you’ll owe tax on any appreciated assets you own, calculated as if you had sold them on the day you leave. That could make it frightfully expensive to move into a palace!Continue reading →