Tuesday, June 1, 2021

JUNE 2021

I’m back!  The tax filing season – my 50th – is finally over, so I am back to thinking about non-1040 stuff.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FACING AMERICA TODAY!

The biggest problem facing America today is not COVID-19. 

The biggest problem facing America today, and the biggest threat to the future of America, is the sad fact that about 74 Million Americans are either ignorant, racist, have no conscience, or, like the Presidential candidate they voted for in November 2020, all three.

There was, and is, absolutely no intelligent, legitimate, rational, or acceptable reason for anyone to support and defend Trump.  Period.  It has nothing to do with political philosophy or policy.  It has nothing to do with conservative vs liberal.  It has to do with the character, or total lack thereof, of Donald Trump. 

In the history of the United States no one person has ever done more damage to America, American values and American democracy than Trump.

Trump is totally devoid of humanity and integrity.  He does not possess a single redeeming positive human quality or value.  He is clearly the absolute worst human being to ever hold national public office in the history of the United States and obviously the worst US President in history.

Trump and his words and deeds are indefensible.  And support and defense of Trump and his words and deeds is indefensible.

America needs to do better at educating its citizens at all levels.  We need to work harder to combat racism and bigotry.  Intolerance must never be tolerated. 

Religious organizations that profess to follow the teachings of Christ must follow and promote the actual teachings of Christ.  Fundamental to these teachings is that, if there is a God, red, yellow, black, brown, white, gay, or straight all humans are “precious in his sight”.

And tolerance of Trump’s crimes and “sins” must never be tolerated.

What is most important right now is that Trump be investigated, indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated for his multitude of federal, state and local crimes.  Trump MUST be held accountable – and we MUST send a message to the future that his actions will never be tolerated by anyone at any level.

And it is also vitally important that the current despicable and deplorable Republican Party be condemned and that Americans with a brain and a conscience, whether liberal, progressive, moderate, conservative, or libertarian, oppose, denounce and vote against all Republican candidates at all levels who do not publicly and aggressively disavow Trump and his lies.

THINGS NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU

Since it has been a few months since I published BOBSERVATIONS this issue I am giving you a two-fer.

Did you know that the screenplay for 1963 movie THE BIRDS, loosely based on a 1952 short story by Daphne du Maurier, was written by novelist Evan Hunter, the same author who wrote the 87th Precinct police procedurals under the pen name Ed McBain and who wrote BLACKBOARD JUNGLE as Evan Hunter? 

Evan Hunter was itself a pen name.  His real name was Salvatore Albert Lombino.  He used the name Evan Hunter because of prejudice against writers with foreign names.  He also wrote as John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, and Richard Marsten.

Hitch wanted a “serious” novelist to write the screenplay, and Hunter had written episodes of Hitchcock’s tv series. 

The film’s ending has the car with Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren driving slowly out of town in their sports car, crossing a bird-infested landscape as dawn breaks overhead.  But that was not how it was supposed to end.

Evan, or Ed, or Salvatore, told me an original ending of the film had them driving into San Francisco and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge covered in birds, indicating that the havoc was not localized.

Hitchcock also did not want the words “THE END” to appear on screen, but it was added by the studio.

As promised this installment is a “twofer” – two things Evan, or Ed, or Salvatore, told me.  I met him, and his beautiful wife, twice decades ago – as a guest lecturer on a mystery-themed transatlantic cruise on the QE2 and as a participant (playing one of the characters) at a murder mystery week-end at the Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York.

Why did he write the 87th Precinct series under the name Ed McBain?

When Earle Stanley Gardner decided to stop writing the very popular Perry Mason books his publisher wanted a new series to replace this big money-maker.  They approached Evan Hunter, who created the 87th Precinct series.

Back in the 1950s, unlike today, detective and mystery fiction was considered “pulp” and B-list writing, and its writers were considered B-list writers.  The pen name of Ed McBain was used for the 87th Precinct series so Evan Hunter’s reputation as an A-list “serious” and “legitimate” novelist would not be “tarnished”.

That’s what he told us.

IS A PUZZLEMENT

For years I have found myself faced with many questions – longing for answers.

Some answers are self-evident. Why do fools fall in love?  Well, after all, they are fools, aren’t they?

I have determined the answer to some questions based on history and experience. When will they ever learn? Probably never.

Some questions will probably never be answered. What’s it all about, Alfie? A totally unnecessary remake could shed no new light on the question.

With some questions the answers will eventually be revealed over time. Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?   Actually I’m 67 and the answer is yes.  

Some are no longer relevant. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Joe went to his “final audit” in 1999.

And I have given up on others. Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost over night?  Easy enough to find out – but who cares? Actually, I don’t have a “headboard” as I sleep on a convertible couch.

There are still questions that haunt me.

I, too, wonder how are things in Glocca Morra.  But I have yet to pay a visit to the Emerald Isle. 

I would really like to know what the mama saw. All I know is that what the mama saw it was against the law.

I also want to know what Billy Joe MacAllister and friend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge when they were seen by Brother Taylor.

And while we are at it – I always did wonder why Mr. Baker’s secretary had to leave Harper Valley.

Actually, I did get an answer to one question.  One of my long-time 1040 clients has told me what Billy Joe MacAllister and his friend were throwing off the Tallahatchie Bridge when they were sighted by Brother Taylor.

Here is what Bobbie Gentry told an interviewer -

"It's in there for two reasons.  First, it locks up a definite relationship between Billie Joe and the girl telling the story, the girl at the table. Second, the fact that Billie Joe was seen throwing something off the bridge -- no matter what it was -- provides a possible motivation as to why he jumped off the bridge the next day."

I suppose that, like “what the mama saw” in the Paul Simon song, there was no specific item in mind when the song was written.

The song was so popular that nine years after its release, in 1976, Warner Bros adapted it into a movie, directed and produced by Max Baer, Jr (aka Jethro Bodine) and starring Glynnis O’Connor and Robby Benson. In the screenplay, and its novelization, Billy Joe kills himself after a drunken homosexual experience, and the object thrown from the bridge is the narrator's ragdoll.

FYI, according to Wikepedia -

The song ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ was originally intended as the B-side of Gentry's first single recording, a blues number called ‘Mississippi Delta’, on Capitol Records. The original recording, with no other musicians backing Gentry's guitar, had eleven verses lasting seven minutes, telling more of Billie Joe's story. The executives realized that this song was a better option for a single, so they cut the length by almost half and re-recorded it with a string orchestra. The shorter version left more of the story to the listener's imagination, and made the single more suitable for radio airplay.”

Now I still want to know why Mr. Baker’s secretary had to leave Harper Valley.

WE’RE NOT IN KANSAS NEW JERSEY ANY MORE

I moved from metropolitan New Jersey – across the “pond” from the Big Apple - to rural North East Pennsylvania in 2012, going from a “blue” state to a “red” state.  Things are a bit different here in “the country”.  For example -

(1) I never thought I would hear this in a holiday season radio advertisement -

A new luger under the Christmas tree will mean a lifetime of pleasure!

The thought had never occurred to me. 

I realize here in the country guns and hunting are often a part of everyday life, but this still sounds wrong to me.

My first introduction to the proliferation of guns in my new home was when I learned that one of the items you can use to verify your identity when renewing your PA driver’s license is your gun license.

(2) One day while reading the “Do Something” column of the local newspaper I came across the announcement for a “Manure Management Workshop”.

And it had nothing to do with politics. 

(3) My first time voting as a Pennsylvania resident was the 2012 Presidential election. 

As I introduced myself to the panel at my polling place and was signing in the Republican challenger, who had overheard that I was a new PA resident, came over to welcome me, publicly announcing (I assume jokingly) –

Here in Pennsylvania the Republicans pay $20.00 per vote.”

My response –

I just came from Hudson County, NJ where the Democrats paid $25.00 per vote.”

FYI, in Hudson County NJ it is, or at least at one time was, practically illegal not to vote Democrat.  And we were told by the local Democratic Party to vote early and vote often, and to remind our deceased relatives to also vote early and often.

I was not upset or offended by the challenger’s greeting, and accepted it as a joke.  But I couldn’t help thinking that if he had said that to me at a Jersey City polling place he would have been promptly evicted and escorted to jail.

By the way – I actually did vote Republican in that election (I will NEVER vote for a Republican again – see http://bobflach.blogspot.com/2021/05/the-no-gop-pledge.html), but never got my $20.00!

(4) All kinds of weird stuff happened locally when I lived in Jersey City, and nothing I would read in the Jersey Journal would surprise me.  I thought I had escaped all the crazy people and happenings when I moved from the city to the country

But what is described in the following headline, which appeared shortly after my move, never occurred (to my knowledge anyway) anywhere in Hudson County NJ -

“Pennsylvania Man Jumps Out of Window, Gnaws Woman’s Head in Bloody Attack.”

What happened?

Richard Cimino Jr., 20, was arrested in Hawley, Pa. after he allegedly broke into a house before emerging from a window naked and bloody then began to chew on a passing woman’s head in a so-called ‘cannibal’ attack.”

Fortunately, it was a truly unique incident and nothing near as bizarre has been reported since.

Of course, now that I live in NEPA my auto insurance premiums have been cut in half (and, before Obamacare, so were my health insurance premiums), the total real estate taxes on my condo are just slightly over $600, the air is cleaner, life is more relaxed . . . the list goes on and on.

SURFIN’ USA 

So, you filed your 2020 tax returns and, good news, your Uncle Sam owes you a refund.  But you haven’t gotten it yet.

DO NOT contact the tax professional who prepared your returns and ask where your refund is!!!!! 

There is absolutely nothing any tax preparer can do to expedite your refund, and nothing he or she can do to learn the status of your refund that you cannot do yourself. 

Be aware that returns requesting a “Recovery Rebate Credit” will take longer than “normal” returns to be processed.

To find out the status of your federal tax refund go to http://sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp and enter the requested information.

The website of each state tax agency should also have a similar “Where’s My Refund?” feature.  For example, for NJ state returns go to http://www20.state.nj.us/TYTR_TGI_INQ/jsp/prompt.jsp.   

ALWAYS LEAVE ‘EM LAUGHING

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip. After a good dinner and a bottle of wine, they retire for the night and go to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend.

"Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

"I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes," replies Watson.

"And what do you deduce from that?"

Watson ponders for a minute.

"Well, astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe. What does it tell you, Holmes?"

Holmes is silent for a moment. "Watson, you idiot!," he exclaims. "Someone has stolen our tent!"


TALK TO YOU NEXT MONTH


Please share this “issue” with your friends and family.  Your comments on this issue are welcomed – email me at rdftaxpro@yahoo.com with BOBSERVATIONS COMMENT in the “Subject Line”.

 

Copyright © 2021 by Robert D Flach














Monday, February 1, 2021

FEBRUARY 2021

FREE AT LAST!
 
Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God almighty, free at last! 
 
Free of the danger and damage of the Trump presidency and the Trump Administration.  Now that Joe Biden has been sworn in as President our 4-year national nightmare will finally be over.
 
Donald J Trump has proven every single day of his presidency with every single word, tweet and deed that he is totally worthless, completely devoid of humanity, and does not possess a single redeeming positive human quality or value.  Trump has been the most ignorant, the most incompetent and the most corrupt – the absolute worst – President in US history.  I will go further - he has been the worst human being to ever hold national public office in US history.
 
Trump did not care about America – he never has.
 
Trump did not care about the American people – he never has.
 
Trump did not care about American democracy, American values, or the Constitution – he never has.
 
Trump did not care about the Republican Party – he never has.
 
Trump did not care about conservative or Christian beliefs, values, or policy – he never has.  
 
Trump did not care about his core cult of ignorant racists – he never has.
 
For his entire adult life Trump has cared about one, and only one, thing – Trump.  Period!  Trump is the ultimate textbook example of a malignant narcissist and a sociopath.
 
Every bad thing that has happened in America in the past 4 years is the direct or indirect result, or was exacerbated by, the words and deeds of Trump.  In the history of our country no one individual has done as much damage to America, American democracy and the American people as Donald Trump.
 
The major legacy of the Trump presidency is the emboldening, empowering and attempted “legitimization” of racism, bigotry and white supremacy.  He has organized racists, bigots and white supremacists, his core cult or “base”, into a unified voting bloc that has held, and still holds, the Republican Party hostage.
 
Sadly, for the rest of my life I will judge the intelligence and character of every person based on whether they supported or opposed Trump and his presidency.  There was, and still is, absolutely no intelligent, legitimate, rational or acceptable reason for any American, regardless of party affiliation or political philosophy, to support, defend or vote for Trump.
 
The Republican Party has totally abandoned all credibility, integrity and honor by supporting, defending and enabling – by embracing – Trump and Trumpism consistently over the past 4 years.  The Republican Party, and every Republican member of Congress almost to a man and woman, is directly responsible for every single bad act committed by Trump as President.  The entire current leadership of the Republican National Committee must resign and be replaced by consistent never-Trumpers, and every single Republican in Congress who supported, defended and enabled Trump as President must be voted out of office and replaced by never-Trumpers, if the Party is to survive.   
 
Going forward Trump must be aggressively investigated, indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for his multiple federal and state crimes.  He must be held accountable for his multitude of “sins’.  We must forcefully say “never again”. 
 
There must never be any degree or act of respect or honor usually provided a past President given to Trump.  No building or street must ever be named for him.  No Presidential Library or presidential portrait in the White House.  He must be publicly vilified and disgraced.  History will condemn America if this is not done.  
 
President Joe Biden and his Administration has a big job ahead – to undo the substantial damage done to America, American values and American democracy by Trump and his Administration, and to restore America’s credibility, stature and standing on the world stage. 
 
I wish Joe luck and give him my complete and total support, and hope you will join me.
 
THINGS NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU
 
Since February 1st is the, or at least my, official beginning of the “tax season” here is something appropriate no one ever told you.
 
When I first started preparing tax returns, in February of 1972, if you owed the government a balance due on your 1040 or 1040A, or any other tax form, you were told to make the check payable to “Internal Revenue Service”.  
 
But beginning with 1998 tax returns this changed and taxpayers are now instructed to make checks payable to “United States Treasury”.
 
Why was this change made?
 
It appears several crooked tax preparers had told clients with a balance due to make their checks payable to “IRS” instead of “Internal Revenue Service”.  They also told the clients to leave the signed return and check with them and they would mail it to the government.
 
Once the client left the office the preparer would carefully change the IRS on the check to MRS, followed by a name in all caps (i.e. MRS JOAN TAXPAYER).  The crooks would then cash the check and “take the money and run”.  When taxpayers eventually received notices from the IRS and attempted to contact the tax preparer, they would discover that the office had been closed and the preparer was nowhere to be found.
 
MY BEST TAX ADVICE
 
Continuing with the tax preparation theme -
 
As a veteran tax professional who has been preparing 1040s for individuals in all walks of life since 1972, I am often asked by friends, family, clients, readers, and cocktail party guests, “What is your best tax advice?”
 
As an answer I have written a compilation of my best tax advice to share wisdom accumulated from my almost 50 years (2021 will be my 50th “tax season”) of preparing 1040s.
 
This book does not discuss specific deductions (well, I do talk about gambling losses and IRA contributions), credits and “loopholes”, which are revised, changed, deleted and reinstated frequently at the whim of whichever political Party is in power.  And it is not specific to 2020 or 2021 or any individual year’s tax returns.  It is concerned with universal tax planning and preparation concepts and advice that remain constant year after year.
 
It also includes the best tax advice of fellow tax bloggers and a listing of online tax planning and preparation resources, a section on “Cool Tools” (online tax planning and preparation resources), a history of taxes in America, and a basic introduction to the federal income tax.   
 
Here is what a couple of fellow tax pros and tax bloggers have said about my advice -

The . . . pages of tax advice within the e-book (a pdf document) are full of good, common-sense advice  . . . any individual who follows Robert’s advice will be far, far better off than those who don’t.”
 
Russ Fox, EA of Nevada – author of TAXABLE TALK
 
I think your book is great. What I like most is that it is in plain English. You are not trying to appear like a ‘know-it-all’.  It is simple enough for non-tax professionals to understand. However, it is informative enough to help tax preparers learn something new.”
 
Jamaal Solomon, EA of JS Tax Corporation
 
The cost of this book is only $8.95 sent as a pdf email attachment.  A print version sent via postal mail is available for $11.45
 
Send your check payable TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, INC, and your email or postal address, to –
 
TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, INC
TAXSMARTS
PO BOX A
HAWLEY PA 18428

The book is also available in e-book format for reading on Kindle from AMAZON.COM.  Go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FBHXVRK for more information.
 
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT
 
The 2nd Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with the right of an individual citizen to own a gun.  It was written to appease those among the Founding Fathers who opposed a national Army.
 
This amendment does not simply say “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  It says "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  The important wording in the Amendment is “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”. The Founding Fathers preferred state militias to a national army.
 
They were afraid of a standing army and wanted to maintain the authority of the individual state militias that had made up Washington’s Revolutionary Army.  The members of Congress during that first gun debate believed that “standing armies in a time of peace are dangerous to liberty”. Those were the exact words used in the state of New York’s amendment to the gun debate.
 
James Madison, political theorist, American statesman, and the 4th President hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his role in drafting and promoting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, believed, “Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace.”
 
Had the early framers of the Constitution supported a standing army during times of peace there would be no need for a “well-regulated militia”, and thus no need for the 2nd Amendment.
 
In the entire Constitution, there are no time limits on the power of Congress to raise money and pay for anything – except an Army. We can have a Navy forever. We can have roads or bridges or post offices or pretty much anything else that supports the ‘general welfare’ without limit and in perpetuity. But an Army? That had to be re-evaluated every two years, when all spending for the past two years of army was zeroed out. It's right there in Article 1, Section 8, line twelve reads that Congress has the power: "To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years."
 
The Founding Fathers were well aware, based on the history of Europe, that military coups by a standing army were a great threat to any nation. So, they required a re-evaluation of the need for a national army every two years.
 
America today has a permanent standing army and other legitimate organized and regulated militias for mutual protection in the form of police departments and the National Guard.
 
There is no legitimate reason why any individual needs to own an assault rifle, or a device that turns a “normal” rifle into an assault rifle.  You don’t need an assault rifle to hunt a deer.  You don’t need an assault rifle to protect yourself.  You don’t need an assault rifle for target shooting.  The one and only purpose of an assault rifle is in its name – to assault.
 
Even if we falsely assume the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to guarantee the right of a citizen to own a gun, the government can pass gun control.  The government can ban assault rifles and devices that turn existing rifles into an assault weapon.  Just as the government can pass, and has passed, laws to ban slander and libel, to prevent individuals from abusing the right to free speech and free press to cause harm to others.
 
DELAYS, DELAYS, DELAYS

There will be a delay in processing 2020 federal income tax returns in the following circumstances:

* You use 2019 income to calculate the 2020 Earned Income Credit and/or Additional Child Tax Credit, as per the latest stimulus package. The IRS must verify that the amount of 2019 income reported on the 2020 return matches what was reported on their 2019 return.

* You claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on uour 2020 federal return.  The IRS must verify the amount of EIPs sent to the taxpayer match the amounts reported on the 2020 return.

Apparently, the amount of delay depends on the number of returns that are being processed at any one time.

There are always delays in issuing refunds on returns that include the EIC and the ACTC, due to the PATH Act.

Refunds in general will be delayed this year, regardless of what is claimed on the return, as the IRS will not begin to process returns until February 12th this year.

And IRS processing of 2019 returns and calendar year 2020 correspondence is still be backed up.  It is more important than ever to carefully review IRS correspondence – much is wrong and based on outdated information.  Be sure to give/send your tax preparer any correspondence you get from “Sam” immediately. 

SURFIN’ USA
 
Let’s stay with tax preparation.
 
* Obviously, the best websites for tax planning and preparation information and resources are www.irs.gov and the websites of your state of residence and any state for which you must file a non-resident or part-year resident return.  You can access and download tax forms, instructions and publications.  And after you have prepared and submitted your returns you can check on the status of any requested refunds. 
 
Go to http://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies for links to the state tax agencies and state tax forms for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US Territories. 
 
Regardless of what you may think of the IRS or your state tax agency, their websites are well-done and an excellent resource for both taxpayers and tax preparers.   
 
* You can claim a deduction for the “fair market value” of used appliances, books, clothing, computer hardware and software, electronics, furniture, household items, toys, videos, etc. donated to a qualifying church or charity.  According to the IRS, fair market value is the price a “willing, knowledgeable buyer would pay a willing, knowledgeable seller when neither has to buy or sell.”    You are responsible for determining the fair market value of the items you are donating.  The charity to which you make the donation is not required to provide you with a value.  Here are some websites to help you figure the tax value of your donated stuff:
 
 
 
* There are several weblogs, or “blogs” that deal with federal, and sometimes state, tax issues.  The Wandering Tax Pro blog, which I write, provides up-to-the-minute advice, information, resources and commentary on federal and New Jersey state income taxes and the NJ property tax rebate and refund programs, and updates on federal and state tax legislation, IRS and NJ Division of Taxation rulings and regulations, and federal and state tax court decisions. 
 
Here are a few tax blogs for you to check out, beginning with mine (FYI, I do not post during the “tax season”, but you can check my archives for tax preparation advice and information) –
 
 
ALWAYS LEAVE ‘EM LAUGHING
 
Trump and Graham are in a rowboat on a lake.  The boat overturns in a deep section of the lake.  Neither Trump nor Graham can swim. 
 
You are in a nearby boat when this happens.  You can only save one of them from drowning. 
 
What do you do – eat your lunch or read the paper?  
 
TALK TO YOU NEXT MONTH
 
 
 
Please share this “issue” with your friends and family.  Your comments on this issue are welcomed – email me at rdftaxpro@yahoo.com with BOBSERVATIONS COMMENT in the “Subject Line”.



















Friday, January 1, 2021

JANUARY 2021

  

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 
 
2020 was a year of devastation and despair.  The COVID-19 pandemic affected the life of every single person on the globe.  And Donald T Rump was still President.  The actions of Trump and his Administration exacerbated not only the pandemic but every single problem and issue America faced.
 
2021 is a year of hope.  Vaccines to combat the virus have been developed, tested and approved and will soon be available to all Americans.  And a new President, the polar opposite of Trump in terms of intelligence, competence, integrity, and humanity, will be inaugurated later this month.  Once again, after 4 years of a national nightmare, a person of honor who cares about something other than himself will occupy the White House – and the damage to American values and democracy done by Trump and his deplorable Administration will begin to be undone.
 
If things go well in Georgia, despicable McConnell and the Republican Party, which totally abandoned all integrity and credibility, and traditional Republican and conservative beliefs and policies, by embracing and enabling delusional, demented and dangerous Trump, will no longer control the Senate.
 
And hopefully 2021 will see the investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of Trump for his multitude of state and federal crimes.  
 
I look forward to a return to normalcy in 2021 – in our daily life and in the political life of America.
 
STARTING THE YEAR OFF RIGHT
 
Taxpayers are required to keep good, contemporaneous records of all items of income and deduction in the manner prescribed by the IRS and the Tax Code. 
 
For many years now I have been wanting to create a comprehensive tax return organizer for my clients, readers and the general public.  Being stuck at home during the pandemic I have finally been able to do it!
 
My 2021 INCOME TAX ORGANIZER, created for the federal income tax return (Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR), will help you keep track of all your income and deductions, and gather and organize the information you will need to provide to your professional tax preparer in 2022.
 
The Organizer, which comes in an expandable binder, contains -
 
* detailed text covering what is taxable and deductible and what information and documentation you will need to properly prepared your 2021 tax return,
 
* forms, schedules and worksheets for compiling and identifying the needed information, and
 
* pockets for you to keep statements, bills, receipts, and other documentation during the year by category.  
 
The text (current as of November 2020) covers –
 
 MY BEST TAX ADVICE·      
WHAT TO GIVE YOUR PREPARER
WHO MUST FILE A 2021 TAX RETURN
FILING STATUS
DEPENDENTS AND EXEMPTIONS
INFORMATION RETURNS
INVESTMENT SALES
2021 CONTRIBUTION LIMITS FOR TAX-DEFERRED RETIREMENT PLANS
REPORTING GAMBLING INCOME
ADJUSTMENTS TO INCOME
ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS (with specific details for each category)
DEDUCTIBLE RENTAL EXPENSES
CHILD CARE EXPENSES
ESTIMATED TAXES
HOW LONG MUST I KEEP MY TAX RECORDS
YEAR-END TAX PLANNING
 
The cost of the Organizer material is only $44.95 (includes shipping via Priority Mail).
 
Send your check or money order for $44.95, payable to Taxes and Accounting, Inc, and your postal mailing address to -
 
TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, INC
2021 TAX RETURN ORGANIZER
POST OFFICE BOX A
HAWLEY PA 18428
 
I have been writing the popular tax blog THE WANDERING TAX PRO - 
http://wanderingtaxpro.blogspot.com - since the summer of 2001. 
 
There are a lot of good posts coming at TWTP this January about getting ready to prepare your 2020 tax returns. 
 
THINGS NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU 
 
In 1972 I started my “apprenticeship” as a paid tax return preparer for my uncle’s tax pro James P Gill, whose office was located just off Journal Square in Jersey City NJ (where the “Jersey Bounce” started).  On my first visit to the office Jim took me to a desk in the outer office.  He gave me a copy of a client’s previous year’s tax return and a briefcase full of papers that constituted the current year’s tax “stuff” and told me to “jump in and swim”. 
  
Jim would play NYC radio station WRFM - home of "American Popular Standards" - all the time in our storefront office.  I learned the art and science of tax preparation listening to radio personality Jim Branch and the music of Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Mantovani, Henry Mancini, Jack Jones, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, and Frank, Dean and Sammy.
 
And discovering "Things No One Ever Told You" from Jim Aylward – “a collection of unusual facts, figures, and feats”.
 
So here, with a hat tip to Mr. Aylward, is my first thing no one ever told you –
 
NOT EVERYONE LOVES CATS (THE MUSICAL, THAT IS)
 
In 2019 the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s CATS was released, with a cast that included James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, and Rebel Wilson.  I did not see it, and really have no desire to do so.    
 
While it ran for years - 1982 until 2000 - and was a huge money-maker, the Broadway production of CATS was not loved by many members of the Broadway community.
 
Decades ago, I attended a class on the Broadway Musical at The New School in NYC, which happened to coincide with the ninth anniversary of CATS on Broadway.  Each week a different representative of a Broadway “team” – composer, playwright, producer, actor, theatre owner, etc. – spoke.  We heard from Wendy Wasserstein, Tony Randall, Charles Strouse, Manny" Azenberg, and Rocco Landesman among others.
 
Every speaker had something bad to say about CATS.
 
Playwright Wendy Wasserstein, famous for “The Heidi Chronicles”, told the class, “Anyone can put a cat on a tire.  It takes wit to write dialogue.”

WORKS FOR ME

I am always seeing fancy looking organizers on home improvement shows and in the aisles at STAPLES.  It appears that some are rather expensive.

I get all my business and personal organizers absolutely free!

I have found that the various containers that food and household products come in are perfect organizers for holding different sized paper and binder clips, various sizes of sticky pads and smaller lined paper pads, stamps, pens and pencils, erasers, and other office and household supplies.

For one, there is the plastic containers that many “tv dinners” come in (the aluminum ones are no good).  And the brown container that holds three crème-filled cupcakes in a package.  They provide multiple sections for organizing clips.

The green, blue, and black containers that hold the Swiffer wet pads, or the generic alternative, come in several sizes and have many uses in the kitchen, bedroom, and office.

The round plastic containers that contain potato or macaroni salad from the supermarket or Blimpie are also good for holding small supplies.

I even make use of the metal Altoids containers.

Not only am I saving money, but I am recycling as well!

POLITICS AND RELIGION
 
A sad development over the past few decades is the appropriation of the conservative movement and the Republican Party by the “Evangelical” political movement.  In today’s political discourse, conservatism is wrongly aligned with the anti-gay, anti-abortion and other Evangelical political policies.
 
The political agenda of the Evangelicals and the Religious Right is contrary to true conservative philosophy and politics.
 
The most basic principles of conservatism are to Protect & Maximize Individual Rights and Ensure a Limited Government.  In "Five Principles of American Conservatism" at THE COLLEGE CONSERVATIVE Matthew Dragonette explains principles –
 
“Individual Rights
 
First and foremost, society has a duty to protecting the fundamental individual rights of its members. In American politics, this means permitting individuals to pursue their interests and enjoy freedoms that do not infringe on the rights of others.
 
Limited Government
 
In the same spirit as individual rights, conservatives must commit to a limited government. In the American context specifically, this means a commitment to constitutionally-assigned government responsibilities. The scope of government must be narrow for two reasons. First, a narrower scope maximizes individual rights and prevents government from dominating its own people.”
 
Conservatism holds high the rights of the individual citizen and calls for minimal involvement by the government in the personal and business life of the citizen.  The Evangelicals of the Religious Right want the government to tell citizens how to live their lives by legislating their specific religious beliefs.

Regarding the Supreme Court, the Republican Party does not want true “conservative” judges.  What it really wants is “evangelical” judges.
 
The Evangelical agenda is also contrary to the separation of Church and State that is a cornerstone of the Constitution.  
 
Freedom of religion and the separation of Church and State are among the basic cornerstones of America, American values and American “philosophy”.  Every American has the right to worship and believe as he or she so chooses – or to choose not to worship or believe.  The government cannot force anyone to choose one religion and set of beliefs over any other, or to choose any religion or beliefs.  No specific religion or church can dictate government policy or legislation.  The Evangelical political agenda calls for ignoring this basic Constitutional freedom. 
 
Iconic conservative Barry Goldwater, the politician often credited with sparking the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s, explained decades ago –
 
I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state. The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don't hurt anyone else in the process.”
 
And warned us –
 
Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy.”

Ronald Reagan explained –
 
We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever.  Church and state are, and must remain, separate.  All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.”
 
Acting on your belief refers to your specific individual behavior.  If the religious beliefs of your chosen sect or religion tells you that abortion is wrong – don’t have an abortion.  If the specific religious beliefs of your chosen sect or religion tells you that homosexuality and same-sex marriage is wrong – don’t practice homosexuality and do not marry someone of the same sex.  But you cannot force someone with different religions beliefs, or no religious beliefs, to act in accordance with the specific religious beliefs of your chosen sect or religion - most definitely not via legislation.
 
Unlike “love and marriage”, politics and religion do not go together.  A bumper sticker I saw a while ago says it all – “The last time we mixed politics with religion people got burned at the stake.” 

SURFIN’ USA

Back when I was growing up, we had 7 broadcast channels and there was always something to watch.  Bruce Springstein once told us “57 Channels (And Nothin' On)”.  But today’s reality is there are over 200 channels and there is still nothing on.

As an alternative to broadcast and cable there are several free online live tv options.  Here are three that I watch regularly.

PLUTO-TV - http://pluto.tv  

STIRR - http://stirr.com

PEACOCK TV - http://www.peacocktv.com/watch/home

PLUTO and PEACOCK allow you to watch shows from their “inventory” on demand as well as live.

ALWAYS LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING! 

Last night there was an accident and Trump's personal library burnt down.  

This is a huge catastrophe because BOTH of his books were lost, and he had only colored in one of them so far.  

TALK TO YOU NEXT MONTH
 

Please share this “issue” with your friends and family.  Your comments on this issue are welcomed – email me at rdftaxpro@yahoo.com with BOBSERVATIONS COMMENT in the “Subject Line”.