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Paying taxes is on everyone’s mind, rarely in a good way. Knowing some pithy facts about our tax system and how you fit in may not make you feel any better. Still, as you embark on your own annual tax odyssey you might be surprised about who pays what, who doesn’t pay, and how you fit in according to recent IRS statistics. It could even help you plan.

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Swindlers are manning the phones — or firing up their robo-calling machines — 24/7 to work the IRS scam. As I’ve reported in previous posts, they want to steal your personal information by threatening you with IRS action or arrest. It’s all a scam.

In the summer, fraudsters don’t go on vacation. They keep on stealing information through emails and phone calls. You need to be alert.

Although I know a lot of Americans have issues with the IRS, the agency has been fairly proactive in trying to help taxpayers avoid scams. The agency says “in 2015, the IRS stopped 1.4 million confirmed ID theft returns and protected $8.7 billion. In the past couple of years, more than 2,000 people have been convicted of filing fraudulent ID theft returns.”

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It is generally well accepted that the founders of the United States wanted a federalist system of government. That is, they wanted the national government to concern itself with issues that affect the entire country and the numerous subnational governments to take care of more local issues.  The powers granted to the federal government are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. Article I, section 8 specifically provides that “Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.”

  

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Most active traders make serious errors on income tax returns, whether they self-prepare or engage a local accountant. Many miss out on trader tax benefits and overpay on their taxes. The cost ranges from $5,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When you shop for a tax preparer, ask about trader tax status, Section 475 elections, wash sale loss rules, and tax treatment for forex, options, Section 1256 contracts, ETFs, and ETNs. If they look like a deer caught in headlights, you’ll realize that your tax professional is not proficient enough for your needs. CPAs have a code of ethics requiring them to decline an engagement if they are not proficient, but local tax storefronts do not.

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Facebook is huge, worth billions, and is very lawyered up. And it has ‘tax strategies’ that are at least aggressive. The IRS sure thinks so. In fairness to Facebook, there are other companies facing similar allegations. Zuckerberg’s company is not the only tech company to seek offshore and cross-border deals with tax reduction at their center. Still, in this case, the IRS is looking into whether Facebook undervalued the assets it transferred to an Irish subsidiary in 2010.

This is no small matter and has become more feud than a spat. Plainly, the stakes are huge. Facebook has disclosed that the potential liability at stake is something on the order of $3 billion to $5 billion, plus interest and penalties. The IRS opened an investigation in 2013, but Facebook has

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Where are your finances exactly? Summer is a good time to take the measure of your situation. Anthony Perillo, a financial advisor with Wipfli Hewins Investment Advisors, tell us how:

Is 2016 seriously more than halfway over? It feels like we just got started, and I have proof: while I’m not proud to admit it, I absentmindedly wrote “2015” when I dated a document a few weeks ago. Apparently, this year is going by so fast that my brain can’t keep up.

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Newsflash to Baby Boomers: the roadmap for retirement has changed and you have to change with it.

If you’ve paid attention to the news over the last few months, you probably know a little bit about Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star basketball player and league MVP.

Curry was not only the best NBA player in the league this season; he also redefined a lot of the conventional wisdom about how to play the sport. One example: during the regular season, Curry made 402 3-pointers. It was 126 more 3s than anyone not named Steph Curry had ever made! To achieve this milestone, he also had to take 886 shots, which was about 30% more attempts than anyone had previously tried. So it wasn’t just that he was great

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Someone is holding the single winning ticket for the $540 million Mega Millions jackpot. The ticket worth half a billion dollars was sold at a Speedway gas station near Interstate 70 in Cambridge City, Indiana, 50 miles east of Indianapolis. The numbers drawn late Friday night were 20, 19, 55, 73 and 8. The megaball is 5. The winner has 180 days to claim it, so what can go wrong? Plenty.

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Are insurance bad faith litigation recoveries taxable? It depends on numerous variables. One big question is whether it can be seen as a compensatory recovery for physical injuries or physical sickness. Compensatory damages for physical injuries or physical sickness can be tax-free, and some bad faith cases can relate back to the damages. If the case arises out of health or disability insurance, it may be taxable or not, often depending on who paid the premiums for the policy.

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