Wealthy taxpayers now have some legit data that allows them to give the finger to all the rabid populist outrage that’s been going around. According to the most recent data provided by the IRS, the top 1% of taxpayers pay more taxes than the bottom 95%. The wealthiest 1% picks up 40.4% of the tax bill while the bottom 95% gets 39.4%.
This amounts to pretty inconvenient data for lots of
Democrats politicians who have been screaming for years that the wealthiest Americans need to pay more taxes.
Tax Burden of Top 1% Now Exceeds That of Bottom 95% [Tax Policy Blog via TaxProf Blog]
The IRS is saying that wealthy taxpayers are rethinking their sinful offshore banking ways in expectation of a tax evasion rapture.
Last week the Service had 400 applicants for its temporary voluntary disclosure program which is four times the amount they had in all of last year suggesting that some taxpayers are seeing the light.
The IRS evangelism has come about mostly because of their pursuit of the 52,000 secret names held by UBS. While this battle for souls is still continuing, the IRS figured they’d make a run at converting other, non-UBS, sinners.
Seek thy truth, after the jump
Some taxpayers are remaining non-believers however, thanks to their agnostic attorneys:
Yet attorneys say that those who come forward now risk supplying the IRS with more financial information than the agency may have otherwise been able to collect. “These taxpayers reasonably fear that applying to the program could supply the agency with a roadmap it would not otherwise have,” said Barbara Kaplan of Greenberg Traurig in New York, who handles voluntary-disclosure cases. “They worry that they could wind up both rejected for clemency and helping the IRS case against them.”
Ultimately, all taxpayers will have to take their own path but if they find themselves cast into the darkness, they won’t be able to say that the truth wasn’t presented to them.
Tax Evaders Flock to IRS to Confess Their Sins [WSJ]
The whole IRS/UBS tango has gotten to the point where we’ll take any kind of resolution.
Like if the IRS decided that it was too much trouble and said, “We don’t need no stinking names”, we’d be thrilled. Or if UBS decided to hand over a truckload of Toblerones in order to bury the hatchet we’d think, “that was our idea” .
But no, the standoff continues, as the parties confirmed Friday’s meeting today to discuss the progress they’ve made in reaching a settlement. Regardless if a settlement is announced on Friday or the stalemate continues and the case starts on Monday the sooner this thing is over, the better.
UBS, IRS to Meet on Friday [WSJ]
In another demonstration that the rich and famous either hate taxes or simply play dumb to their existence, Brazilian soccer star Romario has been convicted of tax evasion and faces three and a half years in prison. He’s appealing the conviction so it’s likely that he will end up coaching soccer to troubled youth for five years.
The allegations were that he skipped on paying $500,000 in taxes in 1996 and 1997. Romario’s attorney claims he is innocent because “it’s not his fault” which is a similar excuse that might be used by a third grader who tripped someone at recess.
According to USA Today, Romario also has trouble paying child support having been arrested for it twice, once in 2004 and just a few weeks ago. He was released in both instances after paying what he owed or proving that he had already paid.
Can somebody get this guy an accountant? He’s having a hell of a time with non-soccer responsibilities.
This is probably not how Henry Louis Gates wants to move on from his arrest that occurred last week.
A foundation created and run by Gates is amending its 2007 tax return after an investigation showed that some funds that were initially characterized as “research grants” were, in fact, compensation. This little whoopsie increased the administrative costs of the foundation to 40% of the spending, up from 1%, which some might say, is a lot.
All it probably adds up to is another headache for a man who is probably most annoyed that his last name is one letter away from being exactly the same as the suffix applied to every scandal that has ever occurred in this country since the early 1970s.
Foundation Run by Harvard’s Gates Is Revising Tax Return After Questions Raised [ProPublica via Inside Higher Ed and TaxProf Blog]
The town-hall meeting format is getting out of control. It’s been in the political arena for some time now and it seems to fit in fine. But with Ben Bernanke is taking monetary policy directly to the people, apparently now anyone thinks they can just hit the road and talk about complex issues with the common folk.
So when IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman announced that the Service is diving into the populace to get their take on the Commission and give their ideas, comments, and suggestions.
What we’re picturing is a Ricky Bobby-type standing up and having a conversation with Doug Shulman that might go like this:
Ricky Bobby: Why do taxes suck?
Doug Shulman: Taxes are an important part of our system. They pay for things like roads, schools, fire fighters, and police officers. The Vice-President even said that paying taxes is Patriotic.
RB: You know what I think is patriotic?
DS: What, sir?
DS: Are there any other questions?
RB: Oh, wait, I’ve got another question. I heard about an IRS agent that threatened to kill some guys that came to his house. Uh, is that true?
DS: I did see that in the news.
RB: Do you know that guy?
RB: Okay, no, wait. No, okay, I’m done. Thank you. Thanks you, Jesus.
You got questions for the IRS? We’ll have our own little town-hall right here to get things warmed up for the main event on Thursday in DC.
IRS Asks Public for Ideas on Tax Preparer Standards [Web CPA]
ABC/ESPN college football commentator and former Ohio St. QB, Kirk Herbstreit and his wife donated their house to to the local fire department back in 2004 and the Herbstreits took a $330,000 deduction on their tax return.
In an extremely convenient coincidence, the IRS, for the first time, challenged the practice of donating individuals’ homes for such purposes the same year.
The Herbstreits were audited and paid back taxes and interest of $134,606 but are now suing the IRS to get that money back.
Apparently this is a matter of debate amongst tax wonks out there, some saying the donation is kosh and some saying it isn’t. You Michigan fans obviously hope Herbie gets stuck paying the extra scratch but the real question is whether Lee Corso is getting to the age where he’s burning down houses just because he’s totally gone senile.
Herbstreit ‘fire’ puts focus on IRS dispute [Columbus Dispatch via TaxProf Blog]
In 2004, Congress wanted to lay the smackdown on individuals and entities using tax shelters. In order to scare the beejesus out those thinking about the practice, Congress enacted penalties of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for entities per non-disclosure to the IRS.
Problem is, Congress, who often pulls out the jump to conclusions mat, didn’t give the IRS any discretion on enforcement so Mom & Pop (who often don’t have kids) shops were getting hammered with fines they couldn’t pay:
In one case cited by the Small Business Council of America, a husband and wife followed the advice of a consultant and set up a limited liability company and Roth individual retirement accounts. When the IRS challenged the way the transactions were done and found income tax deficiencies of $6,812, it was required to impose a penalty of $1.2 million.
The IRS figured that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t really working the way it was intended and has suspended the collection of fines in order to make the penalties more proportional. Not to worry though, the IRS hasn’t decided whether or not apply the changes retroactively and are only suspending the fines until September 30. They wouldn’t want to tarnish their image as faceless cold-blooded bureaucrats.
IRS Halts Fine Linked To Tax Shelters [WSJ]
Being a celebrity is tough. You see all that money roll in and then when you find out you have to pay almost 50% in taxes on it, that might just piss you off a little. It pisses off some celebrities enough that they just decide they’re not paying Uncle Sam jack. Then there are those that just forget to pay (*cough* Willie Nelson *cough*).
The two newest members of the tardy tax payers are hip-hop artist Foxy Brown and R&B singer Toni Braxton. Brown owes the IRS $641,558 in back taxes for the years 2003 to 2006. Braxton owes just over $71k to the IRS but she’s got some history of financial trubs: she filed for bankruptcy in 1998 with over $1 mil in debts so she’s probably familiar with the collection-type protocols.
Our advice to the two ladies would be take the Lehman Brothers approach on this and get some of that Foxy Brown and Toni Braxton schwag on eBay.
Foxy Brown’s prison jumpsuit from Riker’s? Toni Braxton’s Grammy trophies (or maybe just the underwear-is-optional dress)? We want to hear what kind of mementos you readers would be willing to plunk down your hard earned cash for to help these ladies out.
Perhaps buckling under the mere thought of looking through 52,000 different UBS accounts for tax evasion, an IRS Agent in Valencia, CA threatened Treasury Agents with “I’m going to kill all of you!” when they attempted to search his home.
When the agents tried to serve the warrant, Bront tried to rush back inside his home, where he kept three loaded guns, but a Treasury agent aimed a gun at him and another drew out a baton. After his arrest, he kicked the front seat of the law enforcement vehicle and pounded the door with his elbow before telling the agents he didn’t mean it when he threatened to kill them.
Not withstanding the seriousness of threatening federal officers, the image of a 49 year old man kicking the front seat of a car like a child that didn’t get any ice cream is almost too much for us to bear.
The whole UBS/IRS tug of war has achieved a whole new level of ridiculousness because now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with the Swiss Foreign Minister on July 31, just prior to the deadline settlement date of August 3rd.
We’re expecting a lovely exchange of smiling, glad-handing, back-slapping, etc. but would implore with Secretary Clinton to do the right thing and get the Swiss Minister to pony up the Toblerones.
The Swiss deserve part of this blame for not seeing the genius in this offer but our American representatives in this case have not been pushing for it, deciding instead, that our need for a reformed healthcare system should motivate our Swiss friends to turn over the 52,000 American names.
The Swiss, who no doubt laugh at our bureaucratic nightmare of a healthcare system, are instead more concerned about their sovereignty and their long tradition of client confidentiality. They have vowed not to turn over any names and this doesn’t really fit in with the IRS’s plans to get billions in back taxes on the UBS accounts, hence the need to call in the big guns.
Swiss minister to meet Clinton ahead of UBS deadline [Reuters]
If you’ve got a offshore bank account and are less than with it when it comes to tax compliance, it might be advisable that you talk to your accountant.
The IRS, who is becoming increasingly less cuddly under the Obama Administration, is stepping up its scrutiny of Americans with income derived from offshore accounts greater than $10,000.
However, because the Service doesn’t want to come off as a big meanie, it is giving everyone late to the game until September 23rd to file their Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR). If you’re the type that doesn’t concern yourself with such matters, here are some things you can look forward to:
Those who have inadvertently failed to report offshore income, even just a few hundred dollars, could be subject to a $10,000-a-year penalty going back several years. For those the IRS considers willful tax evaders, it is much worse. The IRS can impose a penalty of $100,000, or one half the value of the account, whichever is greater, per year.
Those of you that have been scofflaws on your offshore accounts, don’t fret. The IRS is allowing to confess your sins and report yourselves under their “voluntary disclosure program”. However, you will still have to be investigated by the Service’s criminal division which sounds about as pleasant as a rectal exam in front of all your friends.
IRS Gets Tougher on Offshore Tax Evaders [WSJ]
“Rich people, I want your money.”
No, seriously. Hand it over.
We’ve covered the failure (so far) of the IRS to get UBS to name names on 52,000 Americans and we’ve heard some good suggestions but maybe chocolate isn’t what the Service is interested in.
The House passed a pricey healthcare proposal yesterday and B to the O wanted it to be “budget neutral” which means, “We’re in a deep hole you clowns. Don’t make it deeper.”
Charged with said task, they
went to a cocktail party got to work and came up with a solution that they super-duper rich will foot the bill via taxes. That means, IRS, get your shit together, because Nancy Pelosi has had enough of rich people, that aren’t her, not paying their fair share of taxes. Swiss bank account holders beware, here are the gory details that you’ll be getting in on if your name gets dropped:
Under the $1.2 trillion plan passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, the wealthiest 1.2 percent of U.S. households would have to pay an additional $540 billion in taxes over the next 10 years via an income surtax of between 1 and 5.4 percent. For the super-elite, those in the top 10th of 1 percent (and presumably the type of taxpayers who have Swiss bank accounts), that works out to an additional $280,000 a year in taxes on an average annual income of $2.3 million a year, according to the Tax Policy Center.
So basically it looks as though the IRS needs to close the tax gap because…wait for it…there’s shit to pay for! We’re not slapping healthcare on the Federal Reserve credit card, no, no. Right here and now we start paying for stuff out of our own pockets. So get on these Swiss banks and get the names because they’re avoiding their patriotic duty.
Obama’s self-defeating war on the wealthy [James Pethokoukis/Reuters]
We’ve been able to avoid the whole Michael Jackson debacle up until now. We couldn’t, in good blogging conscience, avoid this particular story.
The estate of Michael Jackson is probably going to have to turn over at least $80 million to the IRS and they get to cut the line right to the front to collect.
“As in a bankruptcy case, Jackson’s creditors will jockey for first crack at his fortune. But the estate’s initial obligation will be to pay the late star’s taxes, said Beth Kaufman, a Washington-based attorney specializing in estate tax issues. ‘There is no question that the U.S. government has first priority,’ she said.
Oh, and the Service is not going to take the royalty rights to She Loves You or I am the Walrus either:
To settle his tax bill, the executors of his estate may have to sell or borrow against lucrative but hard-to-value assets or ask the IRS for a multi-year extension. That could allow the estate to pay the tab over time with earnings from Jackson’s share in rights to songs by the Beatles and his own music — prized properties whose value will likely make the estate’s tax bill only bigger. “The government is not going to take a Beatles record as payment. They want to be paid in cash,” said Roy Kozupsky, a veteran estate lawyer in New York who has worked on behalf of several wealthy clients.
Reportedly, Jackson still made $40 million a year from his ownership of the recordings. This will no doubt make the calculation of the tax bill more complicated and thus, we’ll continue to be saturated with all the excruciating details about this story that we just don’t want to hear.
Death and taxes: Big IRS bill looms for MJ estate [AP via TaxProf Blog]