173 Pairs of Shoes – a Non-Cash Charitable Deduction Tax Case

173 Pairs of Shoes - a Non-Cash Charitable Deduction Tax Case
Right now, sitting in my garage, I have an unused microwave (works, just doesn’t match the other appliances we had to replace) and a washing machine (works great as an unsightly shelf, not so much as a washing machine). We’ve been planning to donate them to anyone who wants them, preferably to a charity that’ll ...

American Atheists, Inc. v Shulman Fizzles

American Atheists, Inc. v Shulman Fizzles
I get it. Life isn’t fair. Filing taxes is the worst. I can understand American Atheists, Inc.’s frustration that they’re filing a return as a non-profit organization while the church down the street has no such obligation. Just like when someone has that toy that you want, it’s human nature to want it too. But when, instead ...

Is Cosmetic Surgery Tax Deductible

Is Cosmetic Surgery Tax Deductible
I recently saw a question on Quora asking if cosmetic surgery is tax deductible. The answer to the question is almost always ‘no’, but it reminded me of an old landmark tax court case known as Hess v. Commissioner. I’d heard about it in college, but the actual case is even more interesting than the summary. ...

Dispute on Horse Racing Tax Turns into Memoir

Dispute on Horse Racing Tax Turns into Memoir
I don’t even know where to start with this case. It begins a standard hobby loss dispute on whether a Merrill Roberts can take a deduction on his horse racing losses, but turns into a full blown novel. I’ve even come up with a catchy title: “From Strippers to the Triple Crown: the Story of My ...

Tax Court: IRS Not Immune from Using Common Sense

Tax Court: IRS Not Immune from Using Common Sense
Side note before starting: You might be interested in my write up on my tax blogging experience posted over at Going Concern. The honor for best tax quote of the day goes to Justice William O’Kelley in court case Music v. U.S.: “this statutory and regulatory framework does not immunize the IRS from using common sense.” Oh, if ...

Lying On Your Taxes

Lying On Your Taxes
I’m not sure if this latest case (TC Memo 2013-80) is an example of outright tax lying or typical lawyer douche-baggery. It’s hard to tell when it comes to lawyers. Either way, his tax return would have been about as accurate if it were prepared by a whole squad of untrained monkeys. First, the guy ...

Church of the Immaculate Haven

Church of the Immaculate Haven
Every time some minister slips out a political opinion (or perhaps shouts it from the pulpit), the media fills the cablelines with talking heads clashing on whether or not churches should be tax-free entities. While enlightening arguments may exist on both sides of this debate, this post is not one of them. Instead, we’ll poke ...

Fighting the Sixteenth

Fighting the Sixteenth
Paying taxes tends to be one of those activities done grudgingly. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a conservative district of California, then moved to an even more conservative area in Utah, but I’ve yet to run into anyone excited about writing their check to the Internal Revenue Service. Not even here in swing-state ...

Business Expenses–Hollywood Got It Wrong

Business Expenses–Hollywood Got It Wrong
I enjoyed the movie Stranger Than Fiction—anything that manages to merge Tax Accounting and Writing together in a cohesive and entertaining way gets four stars in my book. Unfortunately, since “entertaining” and “taxes” are rarely synonymous, movies and books, including the one mentioned above, generally take the easy route and make stuff up to make ...

Ignoring the IRS won’t make them go away

Ignoring the IRS won’t make them go away
We tax preparers often get annoyed with the IRS and their sometimes unwillingness to listen to reason; however, the more I actually read these frivolous tax cases, the more I realize they probably don’t deal much with reason, which probably makes it harder to recognize when it occurs. In the latest case, TC Memo 2012-292, ...