July 20, 2018

Taxes: Here is how the IRS Contacts Taxpayers

Tax schemes abound; don't become a victim.  Many tax scams are masterminded by criminals posing as fake IRS agents.  We've all gotten these tax scam phone calls, right?!

From just-published IRS Tax Tip 2018-111, here is how the IRS contacts taxpayers:
  • The IRS doesn't normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email.
  • The agency does not send text messages or contact people through social media.
  • When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.  Fraudsters will send fake documents through the mail, and in some cases will claim they already notified a taxpayer by U.S. mail.
  • Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In some instances, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance, but not always.
  • IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.
  • Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities, but only after the taxpayer and their representative have received written notice.
  • IRS revenue officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayers should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.
Tax Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 17, 2018

2018 Individual Income Taxes: Changes if you have taken certain itemized deductions

Individual Income Taxes have been greatly impacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Trump in December 2017.  Some items have been talked and written about significantly in the press, news programs, and on social media, but very little has unfortunately been said about certain Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions.

Which may make for an unpleasant surprise for some taxpayers when they file their 2018 individual income tax returns.

I'm talking about Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions that, in the past, were able to be deducted from an individual income tax return on Schedule A if the total amount of such deductions was more then 2% of the taxpayer's Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).  Tax regulations often speak of these Misc. Itemized Deductions being subject to the 2% AGI floor.  These deductions were an important tax planning vehicle for certain groups of people, particularly those who had unreimbursed employment expenses (employed taxpayers), and people searching for a new job in their current field of employment.

Here are a few for the many Misc. Itemized Deductions subject to the 2% AGI floor:
  • Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses;
  • A Portion of Union Dues;
  • Tax Preparation Fees;
  • Job Hunting Expenses for a Job in Same Employment Field;
  • Certain Nonbusiness Legal Expenses;
  • Investment-Related Expenses;
  • Uniforms and Similar Work-Related Clothing.

There are many more deductions, the above are just a few.

But you know what?  Did you notice my use of the past tense?  They're gone.  GONE.  Yes, the new tax regulations signed by President Trump repealed all ... ALL ... of the Misc. Itemized Deductions subject to the 2% AGI floor beginning on January 1, 2018.

If you have taken these deductions in the past, and still plan to file an itemized individual income tax for your 2018 taxes, these Misc. Itemized Deductions will not be available to you.  I welcome your call or email if you have questions about this topic.

Tax Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 14, 2018

Power to the Clothesline! English Townspeople Support Woman who was Anonymously Shamed for Drying Laundry Outside

Claire Mountjoy
Photo credit:  nytimes.com
Reading this article - about laundry, of all things -  in last month's New York Times really made me smile! 

I use a clothesline in my backyard to dry laundry whenever possible.  I love the smell of outdoor dried bedding and clothing.  Well, except for a couple of weeks ago when my sheets picked up a faint smoky smell when smoke from Northern California wildfires blew into the area!  Plus using nature's natural drying cycle saves money on your utility bills, and is gentler on your bedding and clothing.

Anyhoo ... Apparently Colyton, England resident Claire Mountjoy shares my love of drying laundry outside. But some anonymous person did not. You see, she received an anonymous letter in her mailbox asking that she use a dryer, or dry her clothes inside, so that the town would keep "looking good".

That letter .... from a person too much of a coward to sign it ... didn't sit well with Claire's neighbors and Colyton's business community.  There was a true laundry revolt in the town, with people supporting Claire by hanging clothing all around town.  Heck, apparently one person even place a bra atop a flag pole!

Read the entire NYT article in the link above.

I guess I'll just call this one "Power to the Clothesline!".  And thanks to all of he Colyton residents and businesses who supported Claire Mountjoy!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 12, 2018

Walmart Becomes the Latest Boneheaded Retailer. Just What Did Walmart Do?

Walmart may be the largest retailer in the world (Bet you thought it was Amazon, didn't you?!), but that didn't stop them from making a very boneheaded move.

Just what did Walmart do?

Well, looks like Walmart has been tone deaf to the reactions other retailers have experienced with controversial clothing lines.  You know, like fast fashion retailer H&M's decision to market a child's hoodie that said "Coolest Monkey In The Jungle" using a black young boy as the model.

H&M's "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" Hoodie
Really, really NOT cool!

That went over well.  Really really well.  Not!

Getting back to Walmart ... The mega giant decided to dive head first into the bonehead category by introducing an "Impeach 45" clothing line.  As in Impeach President Trump.

Here's a peek:

Walmart's Impeach 45 Apparel Line
Shouldn't the world's largest retailer know that retail + politics = trouble?

Backlash has been fierce from conservatives.  The apparel has been pulled from Walmart's website sales, but is still available on Amazon through other vendors.  Apparently the impeach 45 clothing line was not sold in Walmart stores.

Regardless of my opinion of President Trump ... and I'll keep that to myself ... shouldn't retailers have figured it out by now that mixing retail and politics equals trouble?

Once again I am reminded that those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 10, 2018

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue: Takes in 28 dogs from a beloved local dog rescuer who passed away.

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco, California is a beyond fantastic non-profit dog rescue organization.  With a passel of volunteers, Muttville is dedicated to rescuing, caring for, and re-homing senior dogs ... including  dogs other shelters may have euthanized.

And they do the world's greatest at it!

Ready to some inspirational news?  Last month, Muttville took in 28 senior dogs from just one location, the large rural home of a beloved Solano county, California dog rescuer who had passed away.  So grab a tissue and watch the heartwarming video below about the late dog rescuer Marline, Muttville, and Marline's 26 senior dogs!


About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  She has 2 Faithful Canine Companions, Husky-Malamute mix Sid and Chow Chow-Pomeranian mix Lexi.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts