Topic: Tax Compliance

The Turbo Tax Paradox

By :: April 17th, 2012

Like many of you, I just finished my 2011 tax return. Counting worksheets, it was 59 pages long. It occurs to me that our current insanely complex tax rules are made possible by technology. Yes, computer software makes filing easier (both for professionals and civilians). But that may be the problem. The relative ease of filing, […]

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Tax Extenders and Tax Reform

By :: February 2nd, 2012

On Tuesday, I testified before the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing titled “Extenders and Tax Reform: Seeking Long-Term Solutions.” I was already depressed about the state of our tax system before I started preparing. As I drafted my testimony, I became distraught. Our tax system is a mess and unless we send a clear […]

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What the Romney and Gingrich 1040s Tell Us About How We Tax The Rich

By :: January 26th, 2012

Ernest Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich. Mary Colum: I think you’ll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money. It turns out that when it comes to taxes, at least, Ms. Colum, was mostly—but not entirely–right. To see why, let’s take a quick […]

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Many Urban Poor File Their Taxes Early, Use Rapid Refunds

By :: April 18th, 2011

An interesting blog from my Urban Institute colleague Brett Theodos on the use of refund anticipation loans and refund anticipation checks among low-income tax filers:  It’s tax day, and gauging by past years, nearly 20 percent of us have yet to file. But something very different is going on for low-income families. Many were among the […]

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Simplifying Child Related Incentives in the Tax Code

By :: April 14th, 2011

With only a weekend left to settle up with Uncle Sam, figuring out how much you owe (or stand to gain) is far from child’s play—particularly if you have kids. Parents must wade through page after page of rules for the dependent exemption, head of household filing status, the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Earned […]

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Secret Campaign Giving and Abusing the Tax Law

By :: October 26th, 2010

The two big stories of this campaign season are voter backlash against Democrats and the rise of the so-called Super PACs– massive campaign funding organizations that use the tax law to protect the anonymity of their donors. These money laundries, organized as 501(c)(4) groups under the Internal Revenue Code, violate the spirit of the tax […]

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Estate Taxes, Capital Gains, and Paperwork

By :: October 4th, 2010

The one-year lapse of the federal estate tax this year came with the unwelcome requirement that heirs assume their benefactors’ bases for some assets they inherit in 2010, as Howard Gleckman explained in a recent TaxVox post. For some mid-sized estates, that meant higher taxes. But Howard touched only briefly on the burden the new […]

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Shutting Down Virginia’s iFile

By :: April 26th, 2010

Okay, this one’s personal. For years I’ve filed my state tax return using iFile, Virginia’s free on-line tax filing service. I do that partly because I’m cheap—I don’t want to pay Intuit $15 to send my return electronically—and partly because it reduces errors and saves the state money.
But this year the General Assembly, with the concurrence of new governor Robert McDonnell, voted to end the iFile program. So next year I’ll go back to mailing in a paper return. A 44-cent stamp costs just 3 percent of Intuit’s bill. I did say I’m cheap, didn’t I?

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The Homebuyer Tax Credit: When Will They Ever Learn?

By :: October 22nd, 2009

The early returns are coming in on the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. And it appears to be a bigger boondoggle than even I thought it would be.
At a House Ways & Means Oversight subcommittee hearing today, the Internal Revenue Service inspector general reported that the IRS is auditing more than 100,000 of the roughly 1.4 million returns that included a claim for the credit. This is a staggering audit rate for an agency that usually reviews only about 1 percent of returns.

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Sleepless Nights for Tax Evaders

By :: August 20th, 2009

Many people who have failed to pay taxes on funds stashed in overseas bank accounts will likely toss and turn during coming nights, worried that the tax man will soon come knocking at the door. Will they be among the nearly 4,500 account holders whose names Swiss bank UBS has agreed to give to the IRS? And even if their names aren’t on the list, will the IRS learn about them from others seeking amnesty? Should they apply for amnesty themselves, paying large tax bills but at least staying out of jail? Or lie low for fear the IRS will find other problems if they draw attention to their returns?

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