Randall S. van Reken, EA, CFP, ATP

Tax Man LLC

* Courts in New York are trying to decide if lap dances are “artistic expression” and therefore exempt from sales tax as a “dramatic or musical arts performance.”  Normally this would include theatrical plays and musicals, the ballet, concerts, etc.  Some of the issues being considered in the case are: choreography, training, and the cultural anthropology of lap dances(?).  I think the club lawyer had the best quote on the matter.  “What we’re saying is the state of New York doesn’t get to be a dance critic.”  Hmmm, I wonder if they need auditors for this?

* Not really a tax issue, but with a local connection to Las Vegas, the estate of Huguette Clark (Clark County is named for her father, William Andrews Clark) is being disputed in court.  She died in May of 2011 at age 104 spending the last 20 years of her life in a hospital in New York.  While most of the estate goes to charity, there is a fight over the rest between her long-time nurse of 30 years and a “grand-half-nephew” and two “grand-half-nieces.”  I wonder how often they visited her.

* More of your government at work for you - The IRS has over $14,000,000 in unpaid payroll taxes due to it from . . . are you ready . . . 70 federal government agencies!!  You’d think the IRS could easily collect these, but think again.  Agencies cannot use current year’s funding to pay old years’ bills and the old funding for the delinquent year has all been spent.  And the IRS cannot charge them penalties or interest.  Nor can the IRS lien or confiscate government property.  Instead they “educate” and “encourage” them to pay in full and on time.

* An example of classic political hypocrisy: Nancy Pelosi said that Romney releasing only two years of tax returns made him unfit for the cabinet, let alone to be President.  Harry Reid said that it made him unfit to be a dogcatcher.  But apparently refusing to release your tax returns is perfectly fine for a Speaker of the House or Senate Majority Leader.  Both Pelosi and Reid (and 516 other members of Congress) refuse to release their tax records.  While I rarely agree with Harry Reid, I do find myself concurring that a dogcatcher does reflect a higher ethical standard than the Senate Majority Leader.

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