Being terrible with money set Will Smith on the path to super stardom

Will Smith never planned on being an actor. He never planned on being broke and in debt to the IRS, either. In this video, Smith breaks down how being bad with money started him down the road to becoming one of the biggest TV and film stars in the world. Read the rest

Stolen Department of Revenue hard drives used for storing Xbox games

A few weeks back, a number of external hard drives full of state taxpayer information were poached from the offices of Florida's Department of Revenue. Why these drives full of sensitive data were left out in the open where anyone could walk with one is a question I'm betting there's a really entertaining answer to. Maybe we'll get to hear it someday. In the meantime, here we go: the drives have been recovered and the criminal mastermind behind the theft was a janitor that wanted more storage in which to download Xbox games.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida man (of course) Andru Rae’sion Reed was cleaning the offices of the Florida Department of Revenue when he saw the hard drives and decided to take it upon himself to liberate them from the day-to-day drudgery of storing a whack of taxpayer information. As he took them to their new forever home, Reed promised the hard drives that they could spend their days chewing on game files while they were attached to his Xbox.

On March 30, FDLE agents dropped by Reed's home to see how he was doing and see if he, I don't know, knew anything about the missing hard drives. Reed came clean on the fact that he did indeed have the drives, stating that he had no idea of what was on them. From what the FDLE has to say, it doesn't look like any of the taxpayer information on the drives was shared by Reed, but they're going to do a little more digital digging, just to make sure. Read the rest

IRS E-File system crashes on Tax Day because LOL nothing matters

Congratulations, America! The electronic federal tax filing system offered by the Internal Revenue Service so you can file your taxes today just crashed. Read the rest

Now that public companies must publish the CEO-median worker wage ratio, cities and states can tax the most unequal firms

The Dodd-Frank act mandated that publicly listed companies would have to publish an annual figure listing the ratio between their CEO's pay and their median worker's pay: now, after nearly a decade of stalling tactics from corporate lobbyists, those figures are emerging, and they're equipping cities with the tools they need to crack down on the most unequal companies in the world. Read the rest

Colorado is a land of private affluence and public squalor

Colorado has a booming economy and high employment, yet its schools and infrastructure are seriously underfunded. The reason, according to this Full Frontal segment, is that 25 years ago an amendment to the state constitution was added requiring any tax increase to be voted on by the people of Colorado. As you might guess, people hardly ever vote to raise their taxes. The segment focuses on the man who fought to get the amendment added to the constitution, Douglas Bruce. He's quite a character. He was imprisoned for tax evasion, once charged with assault, calls himself a freedom fighter ("Martin Luther King and I are both freedom fighters."), and thinks an invitation to hug is a "homosexual encounter." Read the rest

Architect of Reagan's tax cuts reminds us that tax cuts don't stimulate the economy

Bruce Bartlett served in Reagan's White House as domestic policy adviser and was an aide to Rep. Jack Kemp [R-NY], co-sponsor of the Kemp-Roth bill, which turned Reagan's campaign tax promises into law in 1981. Read the rest

Trump teases “massive” tax cut, “big announcement,” bigger than “any tax cut ever“

Former reality television star Donald J. Trump promised late on Friday to reveal plans for a “massive” tax cut for Americans next week. “Tax reform is way too complicated,” he added. Seriously. Read the rest

Rachel Maddow has 2005 Trump tax return; White House publishes details in advance of her show

President Trump refused to release his tax returns during the election campaign despite promising to do so, raising suspicion that anything from embarrassing business failures to compromising foreign debts could be revealed in them. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow tweeted that she's received Trump tax returns from 2005.

That'd be personal federal taxes. She'll be presenting the details at 9pm EST on her show. Any bets on what they contain?

UPDATE: The White House released information Trump's 2005 taxes to pre-empt the show.

Trump reported $150 million in income and $38 million paid in taxes, according to a statement from the White House. ...

The White House said Trump had a responsibility "to pay no more tax than legally required."

"Before being elected President, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pya no more tax than legally required," the White House said.

Does he really think he gained anything be pre-empting her by minutes? It just shows there's no impediment at all to him releasing his taxes. Read the rest

How the GOP's simplified Border Adjustment Tax will be instantly riddled with loopholes

The GOP is advocating for a "Border Adjustment Tax," which is something like a complicated Value Added Tax that is meant to encourage companies to on-shore or re-shore their manufacturing, without raising prices for Americans (because the US dollar is supposed to rise by up to 25% (!) as a result), while removing the complexity that allows companies to dodge tax by finding loopholes. Read the rest

Trump's budget eliminates Arts and Humanities Endowments, privatizes public broadcasting

Conservatives often threaten to cut funding for public arts, humanities, and broadcasting, but will Trump actually do it? White House staffers who have seen Trump's proposal say he doesn't like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, so he plans to eliminate all three as federal programs. Read the rest

Calculate how much you'd pay in taxes if you paid the same rate as Donald Trump

Here's an amusing piece of "editorial code" at Hillary Clinton's campaign site: "We’ve developed a formula to calculate how much you would pay in taxes if you paid the same as Donald Trump." Read the rest

Trump tax records reveal "he could have paid no federal income tax for decades"

The New York Times obtained Donald Trump's 1995 tax records. These records show that Trump declared a $916 million loss that year, and because the sum was so substantial, it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income tax for 18 years.

No word on who leaked them or why. Read the rest

Apple told to pay €13bn in back taxes to Ireland

Ireland offered Apple huge tax breaks, but didn't give other companies the same deal. The European Commission concluded this was illegal and the company must pay up the €13bn it would otherwise have owed in taxes.

The Commission said "selective treatment" allowed Apple to pay tax rate of 1% on European Union profits in 2003 down to 0.005% in 2014.

The findings are a result of the culmination of a three-year investigation by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager into tax arrangements for Apple, dating back 25 years.

In a statement, the EC said the benefit is "illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid."

That's 5 cents for every thousand dollars made. Read the rest

An IRS scammer called me and I made him mad

One of those lame IRS scammers called me this morning. Read the rest

Donald Rumsfeld, unconvicted war criminal, is upset with the IRS

Noted horrible shitbag Donald Rumsfeld has one thing in common with you and I, dear reader: he is not happy with the IRS, and wishes he hadn't spent so much money preparing and filing his taxes. Here is his annual open letter to the Internal Revenue Service, no doubt to promote his stupid narcissistic book. Here are my thoughts on the matter. Read Rummy's letter below. Read the rest

Hollywood wants "$400m a year" from the California taxpayer

Hollywood, legendary home of creative accounting, wants a new round of subsidies. David Sirota at Pando Daily:

Now that California has a budget surplus, the question for the state’s lawmakers is pretty simple: Should they use all the new money to reverse recession-era cuts to social programs. Or, should they spend up to $400 million a year of the new resources on more taxpayer handouts to the film industry? Yesterday, 59 California state legislators called for the latter, sponsoring a bill to increase tax credits to the film and television industry. Call it yet another Hollywood heist, this one engineered with a double-shot of chutzpah.

Read the rest

Washington's $52.6 billion "black budget" exposed

The Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Greg Miller detail the vast sums of money America spends on intelligence operations, far from public scrutiny.

Among the notable revelations in the budget summary:

•Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency, which conducts eavesdropping operations and has long been considered the behemoth of the community.

•The CIA and NSA have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber operations.”

•The NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own. The budget documents show that the U.S. intelligence community has sought to strengthen its ability to detect what it calls “anomalous behavior” by personnel with access to highly classified material.

•U.S. intelligence officials take an active interest in foes as well as friends. Pakistan is described in detail as an “intractable target,” and counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.”

Don't miss this incredible, clarifying interactive chart. Read the rest

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