updates

A Trip to San Diego and A Review of the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum

I spent a fantastic week in San Diego in August, though the trip was more business than pleasure. As part of my Enrolled Agent continuing professional education requirements, I have to take courses in tax law and ethics. I take these courses every year, to keep my skill set sharp and to find out about the latest tax law updates.

This year, as opposed to completing online courses to fill the requirement, I decided to attend the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum. This was my first forum and I attended the San Diego session. The event was held at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. I stayed at the Town and Country during the week, so that I could walk downstairs to attend the training instead of driving to the location. The forum featured 40 different training topics, with each session lasting 50 minutes. There were also two networking receptions where attendees can enjoy light refreshments. I was pleasantly surprised by the effort that the vendors and IRS put into creating an enjoyable experience.

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My thoughts

The forum was very informative. What I really liked was the fact that these brief sessions made it easy to customize my learning schedule. The speakers were knowledgeable and there were enough topics to satisfy all attendees at varying knowledge levels.

My only points of dissatisfaction were the hotel itself and the location. The staff at the Town and Country were excellent but even they couldn’t make up for the old rooms and less-than-pristine hotel exterior. Also, the hotel was conveniently located across the street from a major mall, but there weren’t many other attractions that could be easily accessed on foot. Many of San Diego’s main attractions could only be accessed by rental car or by extensively coordinating public transportation. Washington DC may have spoiled me a bit: I like being able to walk to everything that I want to see!

The upside of this hotel is that there were beautiful flowers everywhere. Here are a few pics that I snapped while walking around.

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If I attend next year (and I probably will), I will choose a different hotel that is closer to downtown San Diego and just rent a car to get around. Given the perpetually wonderful weather, I’m sure that any hotel I choose will be even more beautiful than the Town and Country.

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Well, that’s my quick review of the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum, the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, and, of course, what little of San Diego I got to see. Here’s hoping that my next trip to San Diego will include more sightseeing!

This Week in Tax & Finance

Here’s a quick rundown of the most interesting tax and finance articles I’ve read this week:

Special taxes for soda? Well, Mexico implemented a 10% soda tax, which meant that any sugary, carbonated beverages costs consumers more than the price of a bottled water. According to the article posted by Wired, the US could learn something from how the Mexican soda tax was implemented. Berkeley, California already has a version of this tax, but, without nationwide uniformity, the effects of a soda tax are limited. The researchers remain hopeful about the US implementing something similar, but I remain a skeptic. I know how Americans, in general, feel about any tax. They also believe it is their right to guzzle toxic products, so long as said toxic product tastes good.

The takeaway? A soda tax is highly unlikely in the US, where personal freedom reigns over collective wellbeing.

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Kids are benefiting from “drugs” (marijuana sales) in Colorado. The Cannabist reports that the 2015 excise taxes collected on marijuana sales totals $3.5 million so far, with numbers expected to increase over the upcoming months. The funds are being used for school construction. There is some additional proposed legislation that will help facilitate the continued use of the excise taxes for school, but it’s very likely that the proposition will pass.

The takeaway? Since marijuana purchases in Colorado mean school funding, purchasing cannabis is now a civic duty.

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Do you find that, at the end of the month, you always end up with more month than money? Well, that seems to be a national epidemic, as the federal government managed to overspend its tax revenue by $313 billion dollars. According to CNS News, the feds collected nearly $2.5 trillion dollars in tax revenue over the past 9 months, and still managed to overspend. The largest tax collected came from individual income taxes, followed by payroll (Social Security and Medicare) taxes, then corporate taxes. Despite so many tax streams, the government still spends too much. Let’s hope that this fiscal mismanagement gets under control.

The takeaway? Bouncing checks is a national trait, and it’s detrimental on any level.

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That’s all for this week. Look out for another post this week!

This Week in Tax & Finance …

More of the amusing and interesting stories in the world of tax and finance that I’ve read this week…

If you think that your last speeding ticket was a doozy, just imagine paying $58k for wanting to get to your destination faster. Forbes reports that Finland assesses speeding fines based on a percentage of personal wealth, rather than the fixed rates that most countries impose. This fine was imposed for going just 14 miles over the speed limit. It may sound odd, but since fines and penalties are designed as a deterrent, it makes sense that these fees would be proportionate to income.

The takeaway? Drive at the speed limit.

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Usually, being the first person to do something is a privilege. It’s a source of pride for years and gives you serious bragging rights. However, Plaxico Burress, NFL wide receiver and New Jersey resident, is finding out that being the first isn’t always a good thing. Burress has been indicted for “willful failure to pay state income tax”. The law went into effect September 2014 and Burress is now the first person to be charged for willful nonpayment. According to the NJ Prosecutor’s Office, Burress filed his state income taxes but experienced a failed Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). The state views failed EFT similarly to writing bad checks.

The takeaway? Make sure that your checks and EFTs are clearing properly, so you won’t be left with fees and (in the case of Burress) legal woes.

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Is it possible to get hooked on doing GOOD for others? According to this Reuters article, microfinancing addictions are REAL and the urge to do more can quickly become consuming. The author mentions that the desire to help as many budding entrepreneurs around the globe can spiral out of control. He suggests that microlenders set a cap to their spending, be patient with issuing loans and receiving repayment. and consult others before going all in with your lending.

The takeaway? Pace your do-gooder inclinations so that you can do good for a longer time.

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That’s all for this week. There will be more posts VERY soon!

This Week in Tax & Finance …

This post is just a summary of the more interesting articles I’ve read about tax and finance over the past few days.

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According to this article published yesterday (April 26, 2015) on NBC News, the Clinton Foundation had errors on its tax return. The errors weren’t of the calculation sort, but were due to misidentified income. I’m fairly certain that someone will lose a job over this, especially since this is the beginning of the Clinton presidential campaign and there is NO room for errors that may make the organization look unethical or careless.

The takeaway lesson? Grant money IS NOT a charitable donation. Identify it properly!

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Next, an article posted by Accounting Today highlights the tax effect of the marijuana business. 27 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana usage in some form, though it is still considered a controlled substance under federal law. Marijuana businesses get taxed on their income as gross income (similar to gambling winnings and alimony) instead of net income (like businesses that aren’t selling controlled substances). This means higher taxes for marijuana retailers- unless they get creative with their taxes. There is also speculation that any providing tax advisory services to a marijuana business could be found in violation of federal law, as they may be found to participating in “aid[ing], abet[ting], counsel[ing], command[ing], induc[ing] or procur[ing] the commission of a federal offense”. Tax preparation isn’t so problematic, as it is done AFTER business transactions have occurred. It’s tax advisement (which occurs BEFORE the taxes are filed) that may punishable by federal law.

The takeaway lesson? A good tax preparer may help marijuana retailers avoid a heavy tax burden, but tax advisors could get in hot water over their advice.

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Say it isn’t so! Hershey’s stock is down and they are hurting. CNN reports that Hershey has recently purchased several other companies, including Mauna Loa, the macadamia nut processors (imagining the tasty treats that can come from that merger). Unfortunately, Hershey isn’t making any money off of those purchases yet. Nestle, however, has seen a 10% overall in stock value, due to the euro weakening and making chocolate production cheaper.

The takeaway lesson? The US dollar is up, the euro is down, and even though Hershey is suffering, this is a great time to take a trip to Europe (perhaps you can enjoy some more affordable Nestle products while you’re there).

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That’s my quick recap of the most interesting articles I’ve seen over the past couple of weeks. Look out for even more fun stuff in May, including some great FREE gifts to subscribers!

This Website is One Month Old!

I’m so excited to announce that this website is officially one month old!

I’m still learning so much, as I have never worked on WordPress so extensively. I have found myself accidentally submitting blog posts when what I meant to do was save them as drafts (that has happened more than once, and actually happened earlier today)! I found out- the hard way- that the beautiful colors I’d selected were only available under Premium accounts. I learned about email forwarding, sharing on social media, and the amazing convenience of scheduling posts.

Working through the details of a business, then going into the creation of a website, was quite the undertaking. I’m just glad that I’m finally on this path. I look forward to sharing more valuable information with you all in the future! In the meantime, I will be celebrating this one month anniversary!