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California agent filed fake tax returns for relatives and claimed false deductions for mortgage interest and alimony.

By Teresa Mears Jan 6, 2011 4:00PM

This post is by William P. Barrettt of the Forbes Informer blog.

 

The annual Internal Revenue Service seasonal P.R. campaign to scare taxpayers into properly filing their tax returns is kicking off with an example uncomfortably close to home. California newspapers citing official press releases report that IRS agent Albert Bront, 51, of the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita, pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns, not only for himself but for members of his family.

 

Blont was more creative than many. Sure, he left off income. But according to court documents, he took a $17,000 mortgage interest deduction concerning a house -- a gift from his mother -- that in fact had no mortgage. He claimed a $12,000 deduction for alimony that in fact was not paid.

 

Other reported ploys included filing phony tax returns in the names of relatives who thought he was just being helpful and pocketing $10,000 in claimed refunds.

 

The government wants to collect more revenue, but spiritualists are fighting back with curses, hexes, spells and cat excrement.

By Teresa Mears Jan 5, 2011 5:45PM

This article is by Alison Mutler of The Associated Press.

 

Everyone curses the tax man, but Romanian witches angry about having to pay taxes for the first time are planning to use cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government.

 

Also among Romania's newest taxpayers are fortune tellers -- but they probably should have seen it coming.

 

Superstitions are no laughing matter in Romania -- the land of the medieval ruler who inspired the "Dracula" tale -- and have been part of its culture for centuries. President Traian Basescu and his aides have been known to wear purple on certain days, supposedly to ward off evil.

 

Romanian witches from the east and west will head to the southern plains and the Danube River on Thursday to threaten the government with spells and spirits because of the tax law, which came into effect Jan. 1.

 
Tags: taxes

Liens for unpaid taxes rose 14% last year. The IRS says it gives people ample chances to pay, but advocate decries practice.

By Teresa Mears Jan 5, 2011 4:11PM

This article is by Stephen Ohlemacher of The Associated Press.

 

A government watchdog says the Internal Revenue Service is tormenting struggling taxpayers in the midst of a slumping economy by increasing the number of liens the agency has filed against people who owe back taxes.

 

The IRS filed nearly 1.1 million liens in the budget year that ended in September, a 14% jump over the previous year. Liens punish taxpayers and often hurt their ability to pay back taxes, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson said Wednesday in her annual report to Congress.

 

"By filing a lien against a taxpayer with no money and no assets, the IRS often collects nothing, yet it inflicts long-term harm on the taxpayer by making it harder for him to get back on his feet when he does get a job," said Olson, an independent watchdog within the IRS. "Absent data that show liens make a meaningful contribution to revenue collection and especially in this economy, I find it unacceptable that the IRS continues to torment financially struggling taxpayers in this way."

 

Hike raises cost of goods ranging from a pint of beer to a cell phone call. Politicians argue over whether it will hurt economic recovery.

By Teresa Mears Jan 4, 2011 2:53PM

This article is by Jane Wardell of The Associated Press.

 

Britons are being slugged with a sales tax hike that is increasing the price of everything from beer to clothing from Tuesday -- a downbeat start to a year that many economists warn could feel rougher than the recent recession.

 

Prime Minister David Cameron's government said the rise in so-called value added tax is "tough but necessary" to bring down Britain's massive deficit.

 

But the opposition argues it puts the economic recovery at risk just as the country is struggling to get back on its feet.

 
Tags: taxes

Those who itemize with Schedule A can't file until mid- to late February. This year's filing deadline is April 18.

By Kay Bell Jan 3, 2011 9:25PM

Mark your calendars, fellow taxpayers. 2011 is an interesting year when it comes to filing dates.

 

The most notable tax timing issue primarily affects folks who itemize using Schedule A. The IRS says these taxpayers, as well as those who claim some specific deductions -- tuition and fees and educator expenses claimed directly on Form 1040 or 1040A -- will have to wait until mid- to late February to file.

 

Yes, this year the IRS is imitating a cable TV technician, giving us taxpayers a vague, open-ended time frame in which to cool our heels while we wail for service.

 

But it's not all the IRS' fault. In fact, it's mostly Congress' fault.

 

The IRS has to wait until laws are firmed up before it can program its computers. If it jumps the gun and the laws change, then the delay to undo/redo the programming will be longer.

 

New Illinois law taxes mobile homes on private property the same as stick-built homes. Owners will see much higher bills.

By Teresa Mears Dec 31, 2010 4:33PM

This article is by Jim Suhr of The Associated Press.

 

Larry and Carolyn Herrin bristle at chatter that a future highway construction project could cut through their one-acre spread in Fairview Heights, Ill., forcing them to move their mobile home along with its two covered porches and attached two-car garage.

 

A new state law could make them pay dearly for it.

 

The measure, scheduled to take effect Saturday along with nearly 200 other new Illinois laws, requires a factory-assembled home on private property and not part of a mobile home park to be assessed and taxed as real property. Gone would be the days of such affected properties being taxed by counties at 15 cents per square foot -- a rate that drops over time as the home ages.

 

Dec. 31 is the deadline to sell losing investments, open a Keogh account or donate to charity for the 2010 tax year.

By Kay Bell Dec 30, 2010 4:41PM

Assuming you can find businesses and government offices that aren't closed for the New Year's holiday, Friday is your final chance to make some last-minute 2010 tax moves. 

 

Here are some suggestions.

 

You have until Dec. 31 to go through your stuff and make a noncash tax-deductible donation. Here's how.

By Money Staff Dec 29, 2010 8:14PM

This post comes from Meg Favreau at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

If you've ever thought about moving during December, I have one contraction for you: Don't.

I was stupid enough to do so this year, taking the stress of hauling my belongings to a new apartment, finding a storage unit, and trying to remember how my bed frame fits together and adding it to an already busy schedule of shopping, baking and holiday parties.

 

There is, however, one great thing about moving during December: It forced me to go through my belongings and make a substantial goods donation to my local Goodwill store.

 

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