Tag Archives: government

Are You Done Yet? (with your taxes, that is)


As I write this, the calendar has flipped to April 15th – Tax Day, our national celebration day where we pay homage to Big Government programs, politics, government waste, cumbersome bureaucracy, and coffers bloated by the special interest  groups.

As a tax professional, I try to avoid preparing Personal or Individual Income Tax returns. My business, Tax Traxx, specializes in business taxes, specifically Sales Tax matters in 45 states. Every year about his time, as other accountant-types work double or triple shifts busily preparing their clients’ Tax Returns, people say things to me like, “I know you’re really busy this time of year,” or “I know you’ll be glad when April 16th gets here.”  Even though Personal Income Tax returns are not my specialty, I suffer along with the ever dwindling number of Americans who actually pay taxes.

I prepare an occasional 1040 or 1040EZ form for a client here or there. In fact, I did one today. Let me tell you a little story. Today’s example is a single 21-year-old, recently moved from home and working her first “real” job. Today’s subject had a little over $6,000 in earned income, and paid a little less than $200 in withholding throughout the year. In preparing her return, I realized that she was entitled to claim the full “Making Work Pay” credit, which is a $400 (max.) refundable credit. This whole thing about refundable credits is pure and simple Marxist wealth redistribution. Taxpayers can claim refundable credits that exceed the amount that they paid in withholding during the year, so that they possible receive a refund greater than the amount they paid in. In today’s example, the subject paid a little less than $100 in Withholding, but received a refund of nearly $500. If only she had been 25, she could have also claimed the “Earned Income credit” as well.

Where did that money come from? You and me, brethren.

That’s why every year about this time, I’m shocked when I hear someone say that they didn’t have to pay any taxes – they got ’em back! They say this, not realizing that each of their paychecks throughout the year was chock full of withheld taxes – money that would have been theirs, had our elected representatives not seen fit to confiscate said money and use it for whichever of their own self-serving political purposes they deem to be more worthwhile than allowing “working Americans” to manage their own money.

This is not meant to be a diatribe against taxation, or against the necessity to fund core government services (the basic functions required by the Constitution, not the fabricated social welfare programs that began to choke us after World War I and have never loosened their grip). There’s plenty of blogosphere out there to host the arguments of the proponents of all the different alternative solutions like the Fair Tax, flat tax options, value-added tax options, etc.

The simple fact remains that the current system is bad. Some would call it “fatally flawed” but I don’t think that is a strong enough description.

So, what will you do to “celebrate” the day today?

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Filed under Tax Issues

JSmith’s Email, The Response


If you’re reading this, I hope it’s because you read last night’s post about JSmith’s Nasy Email. If not, click here. We’ll wait.

One of the most important lessons I learned in my life as a “government insider” was the ability to answer correspondence of this kind of tone with patience and thoroughness. To illustrate, please see the abridged text of my response to my client’s employee’s husband (Oh, and don’t miss the constitutional history lesson!):

“Dear Mr. xxxxxx

“I have just received your email and wish to address your concerns. First, let me say how sorry I am that I have caused you such obvious alarm and concern. Having been in this business for some time, I perhaps take for granted that everyone understands the intricacies and peculiarities of alcohol law.

“Second, I am not an attorney, but an experienced consultant, who specializes in helping his clients navigate the processes of obtaining business and alcohol licenses in various municipal and state governments.  TaxTraxx (www.taxtraxx.com), is a company I started three years ago, after serving approximately eight years in numerous capacities at the Georgia Department of Revenue. My firm facilitates projects like this for a number of business across the southeast. To date, we have an excellent record of providing services to our clients and we work with individuals of many different nationalities. We also file Sales Tax returns for our clients in 44 of the 45 states that collect Sales and Use Tax (North Dakota is the only exception). On our website, you will see some case studies of services that we have provided for our clients.

‘In this case, my firm has been engaged by xxxxxx, whom I am copying on this message. xxxxxx specializes in the sale of convenience stores and other types of businesses. xxxxxx contracted my services for the purposes of securing business licenses and alcohol licenses for several xxxxxxxx stations in metro Atlanta that are being sold to independent owners.

 “The store where Mrs. xxxxxxx works, is being sold to xxxxxxx, which is 100% owned by a resident of xxxxxxx.  

“Because the new owner is not a resident of Georgia, the City of xxxxxxxx requires a United States Citizen who is a current employee of the business to be listed as “Registered Agent” for the purposes of securing the new alcohol license. The main purpose for a registered agent is to have a local (within Georgia) contact for process of service, or to send mail in the event that mail might be undeliverable to the business address. The current owner, xxxxxxxxx, and the new owner asked Mrs. xxxxxx if she would be willing to serve in this capacity on behalf of the xxxxxx. From experience, I know this to be a common practice among municipal governments – over the past three years, I have worked with more than 80 different municipalities in Georgia alone. In the city of xxxxxxx, this requirement is specifically governed by Section x-xx of the City Ordinance. On the state level, this requirement is governed by O.C.G.A 3-4-23.

“To answer your specific question about why we asked Mrs. xxxxxxxx for your information, I will direct you to the  Application for Sale of Distilled Spirits, Malt Beverages, and Wine .  Specifically, pp. 3, 6, 9 and 10 are those that Mrs. xxxxxx filled out with me today. Page 3 is the only place on the application that asks for spouse’s information. This information is requested for one purpose only – to provide proof that neither the applicant nor the applicant’s spouse are currently engaged in any other business(es) manufacturing, distributing or serving alcohol. As far as I am aware, none of these agencies are allowed to run credit checks. They are, however, allowed to run NCIC and GCIC criminal background checks, fingerprints, and to check that all tax returns have been filed and tax obligations paid to the relevant local and state governments.

“There is a great deal of legal history related to the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol in the United States. As you know, the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol was prohibited by the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1922 and that prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1934. At the time that prohibition was lifted, the US Government went to great lengths to create a 3-tier system for the production, distribution and sale of alcohol in this country. Because of certain federal laws, still on the books, it is illegal to be a participant in more than one tier of the three-tier system at a given time (i.e. a person who owns a distillery cannot also own a distributorship or a retail establishment. Or, a person who owns a bar may not also manufacture distilled spirits.) There have been some very limited exceptions allowed under federal law, specifically wine tastings at vineyards and brewpubs, wherein malt beverages are both manufactured and sold at retail. However, these exceptions are tightly governed by other, equally stringent laws. (As a side note, both tobacco and motor fuel have similar 3-tier systems and laws in place.)

“To your point questioning the legality of inquiring about marital status, I believe you will find that this exclusion only applies to employment-related matters. Mrs. xxxxxx was neither being interviewed for a job, nor was she told that her job would be in jeopardy if she did not provide that information. As a general rule, it is not illegal to inquire about marital status.

‘Regarding your allegation that I would use your personal information for any benefit, I assure you that the only entities having access to your or your wife’s information will be the xxxxxx County Sheriff’s Department, the City of xxxxxxx and myself. I am keenly aware that this seems like an odd practice. Frankly, I’m surprised that in three years of private consulting, yours is the first protest of this kind that I have ever received.

“At this point, I do not have any of your personal information. I have submitted Mrs. xxxxxx’s information to the xxxxxx County Sheriff’s Office. The City of xxxxxx, though, will not accept this application, because it is incomplete without your information.

“In your message, you requested contact information for xxxxx Realty, which I am providing below:

xxxxxx

“My contact information follows in the signature.

“Mr. xxxxxx I applaud you for your concerns and for your candor. Again, I assure you that you have nothing to fear from me or from my associates regarding this application, your information or your wife’s information.

“I further hope that my response has given you a sample of the thoroughness I employ when completing a project and a feel for my experience level and discretion and that you will feel comfortable in asking any further questions you may have. The choice is yours and Mrs. xxxxxx’s, of course,  whether she continues as the Registered Agent on this application. If she decides to no longer be considered, the new owner will have to find someone else to fill this role. Regardless your decision, I wish you nothing but the best. Sincerely, P. Todd Kelly”

See? I gave him enough data and background information so that he could not object to my objections. I anticipated his follow up questions and answered them in this reply, mitigating his rejoinder. (Note: I don’t talk like that in real life.)

Let me know what you think. In part 3, I’ll share his response.

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Filed under Georgia Government, Government Waste, Tax Issues

JSmith’s Nasty Email


I don’t normally do this, but this was too interesting to miss. I’m going to share an email I received from the husband of an employee of one of my clients today. I believe he thinks I’m an identity theft.

I provide this as a public service to those who might be thinking that their email flames a lot.

“From: jsmithxxxx@xxxxx.com      (I don’t think that’s his real name.)

To: todd@taxtraxx.com
Todd Kelly,
 Why would you ask my wife about her marital status, want my name, drivers license, and social security number today, while discussing the change in ownership for the xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxxx with my wife?
  I am not an employee, nor have I proffered an application.
As you are aware, it is against the law to even ask about marital status,much less ask  very personal questions for which you have no legitimate purpose  and which serve no useful business purpose. 
Perhaps you thought because my wife is naturalised, her husband would not know US laws.I assure you that is not the case.I will legally protect my wife and my interests,and will not tolerate this egregious behavior, Mr Kelly. 
I will be checking to see if you have inquired about any of my personal information,sir, and will hold you legally accountable for any such actions.
 I want copies of everything you have regarding my wife and or myself immediately ,and complete (sic). I also want the name of the company(and principal) that hired you,as well as contact information for their legal council (sic).At this point I do not see a need to contact them, but will if things change.
If my wife suffers any  negative consequence as a  result of this, we will take legal action against you and the company that hired you.”  

So, some of you probably have received similar missives in response to just doing your job. Frankly, I used to get them all the time when I was a “government insider”. This is about the first one I’ve received in private life. And, in this case, I had a legitimate business reason for acquiring this gentleman’s information (his name, SSN and Driver’s License number), that being to complete a form his wife was filing to become a registered agent for a local alcohol license application in metro Atlanta, GA. It’s what I do almost every day. State and local law require that this information be on the form. I know it’s tasteless, but it’s the law.

Oh, and JSmith? It’s not his real name.

Thoughts anyone? I’d love to hear how you would respond.

In a separate post, I think I’ll share my response. Register now (top right corner) to be updated on this continuing saga.

Todd

BTW, I found the greatest marketing idea of all time – in a FREE book http://www.supertips.com/ultimate/x/?id=4781

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Filed under Georgia Government, Government Waste, Social Networking, Tax Issues