MARCH 2023 CLIENT NEWSLETTER
Wonderful News for all: The Spring weather has brightened our lives after the recent rains. Three feet of rain this year, three times as much as last year, has leached lawn sprinkler salt out of the soil resulting in Spring flowers and weeds galore! It is now time to relax and clear the dead plants and trees to renew the green landscape we all enjoy in Southern California. My small banana grove is blackened by the frosts but will recover after this year has lapsed. Other plants and trees harmed by the drought will be removed and one day soon the sprinklers will enable the garden and lawn to survive the coming heat.
Extension Tax News: April 18 is the original filing date for most returns by the IRS and FTB. The deadline has been automatically extended to Monday October 16th for the citizens of Southern California and most of the other Counties experiencing flood disasters this year. The extensions do not change the quarterly estimates for those who owe taxes on a regular basis. If a taxpayer owes money on last year's taxes, interest [now at 7%] will be charged from the original filing deadline until the date received by the IRS. There are still penalties to be added to the interest if the amount owed is considerable. Returns from out of state taxpayers and the few small Counties not covered by the automatic Flood Disaster extensions, will still be subjected to the 5% per month late filing penalties.
In all cases, we will gladly file extensions for any clients requesting them. Please keep in mind, sending money for last years taxes will require an extension to deposit it correctly for the 2022 tax year.
Last, but not least, is that IRS now makes unannounced house calls on taxpayers: The March 28, 2023 WSJ had an article on the First Amendment about Freedom of Speech [and the press] which noted an unannounced invasion of the residence of Journalist Matt Taibbi for researching Twitter internal communications and publicizing the results. There had also been demands by the Federal Trade Commission targeting Twitter to “Identify all journalists granted access to Twitter files”. The files had exposed an actual FBI office in the headquarters which politically controlled the user listing. This is reminiscent of when I was in the Airborne and the NCO’s would listen in to private conversations in the evening barracks and if they heard something they didn’t like they would summarily sentence the soldier to battery punishment. Freedom of speech remains our most precious gift.
We have been very busy and hope everybody returns this year. It is always a wonderful experience to meet again with clients, many who have gone a long way to visit. Please call for an appointment to have all your returns filed or a physical extension if you wish. Many people now mail or electronically send their work to avoid driving or inconvenience of visiting.
Best wishes from Phil & Staff.
FEBRUARY 2023 CLIENT NEWSLETTER
Great News from both the IRS and FTB: The Counties of Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego have been officially declared Federal Disaster areas. Not for economic disaster but for flood damage. The object of this proclamation is that automatic extensions for residents and businesses in these areas [and some others] will be extended without application until October 15, 2023. Amounts due by March 15 for business returns, or April 15th will still be due with an extension form. Estimates for 2023 will still be due for the current year at the regular quarterly intervals or made up with later deposits.
Other California Good News: The California gas refund checks we received a week before the last election [Gavin Newsome’s picture was missing] was declared taxable by the IRS late last year. After heated sessions in Washington several weeks ago the status was changed to non-taxable, the same as the refund received a year before.
Immigration Help from the US Department of Health and Human Services: In 1921 the US Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Vera Institute of Justice $168,000,000 more to provide free legal services to help illegal immigrants avoid deportation. They have been awarded 1.1 billion to date. According to the “Festivus Report” on your tax dollars at work. There are now 5.5 million illegals in the country.
Another gift from the Feds to make new mortgages more appealing: It was exactly 15 years ago when the housing and real crash occurred. The major cause was the Feds goal of financing houses for everybody with unaffordable mortgages which were available with no income verification, no down payments deferred payments and reduced interest rates. It worked for a few years until the mortgages were reset to the real world of defaults and foreclosures. The crash went far beyond the mortgage lenders with the stock market crashing 50% along with real estate prices and the government bailing out financial firms to sustain liquidity in the economic collapse. Now, we have a new crisis growing with a forgotten element, the PMI. Most everybody knows This is the extra insurance assessed to new mortgages with no or low-down payments. This is a risk assessment which insures the mortgage lender for the inherent risk of loss from a bad mortgage loss. The Biden Administration last month announced that the Federal Housing Administration is now reducing the annual premium on FHA insured mortgages 35% from .85% to .55% for new mortgages. The people in Washington have a very short political memory.
Federal Restaurant tip changes: The tax people are worried about people tipping too much at restaurants, money they somehow may have missed with their levies on tip income they already include in wages. Their excuse is that some people may be working at less than the federal minimum wage [only $7,25 per hour] when tips reduce their wages. No matter how it is calculated or reported it will probably result in restaurants charging higher prices and paying employees more to cover the tips. More restauranteur time and energy to satisfy the taxers and the purpose of the tip will hardly satisfy the good or bad tippers.
Now, local news: The best part is that this coming week will bring us up to three times the rainfall as last year. I am still replacing trees and plants from the droughts from the past and am thankful to Mother Nature to provide abundant rain, which is a five-year occurrence in these parts.
We cannot miss the worst part of receiving both natural gas and electricity proposals to increase price notices in the mail this month. Everybody has experienced huge increases in their bills these past few months. Problem with this occurring budget-tearing experience is that the WSJ last month noted Natural Gas prices plunging and drillers scaling back. Much electricity is made with natural gas and now coal since the nuclear plants are shutting down. It appears that our gas and electricity costs are really based on high European fuel costs from shipping our precious fuels to offset Russian closure of pipelines. We have internationalized our energy costs, especially since we are now importing oil again after shutting down pipelines all around the country and slow-walking permits for the oil and gas industries. The gas price request covers four years at only 4.7 billion dollars. You are invited to attend a public forum to protest. Be careful though because the FBI is now invited to find terrorists in the crowd speaking out against proposals here or at public schools.
International News: The economic giant of Europe, Germany, after slow-walking military aid to the brave Ukrainians, finally authorized a brigade of tanks to them after Biden conceded a brigade of Abrams [31 tanks], with the caveat that it would take two years to make them. With 5,000 tanks in storage and after our Marine Corps giving back to inventory all of their Abrams, you would think they could scrounge up a few tanks for the people fighting the Western War against the Russians. They can never win the war without these, more, and old reconditioned obsolete F16 fighters. It is obvious that our and German allies want Russia to win, otherwise the excuses don’t pan out at all.
Now, the very best news is that Mark Cuban, the Shark TV show millionaire has started a generic prescription, “Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs Company.” This is real. In thirteen months [only a year] they have over two million subscribers. They have over 1,000 generic drugs listed. I experienced huge asthma inhaler costs some years ago and it was about $450 for a month through Kaiser with Medicare paying a hundred of it. I used to go through the Canadian Pharmacy for half the cost. It was made overseas by the same American Drug company that developed it. [Now, the generic version is only $10 through Kaiser Pharmacy]. The price through costplusdrugs.com is their cost plus 15% markup, a $3 pharmacist fee and $5 shipping. That is incredibly cheap and eliminates a lot of middle-people who float prices all over the landscape. This is truly a public service announcement for my people. Thank you Mark and the Washington Examiner.
One last thing. My Author’s Instagram site [Instagram.com/phillipbchuteauthor/] has over 1,200 followers and I would like you or your family to follow the wisdom of this old guy with Sarah, my granddaughter’s assistance.
Please call for appointments or e-mail. We are booking solid for a week in advance now with many new clients.
Best wishes to all!
Phil Chute, EA & Staff
JANUARY 2023 NEWSLETTER
GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE: Our client who was lost in the U.S. Tax Court maize finally received a check back from the IRS with a NO CHANGE conclusion of our 27-month-old petition after his audit results. It was a combination of great record keeping by the client who had completed and correctly filed his tax returns five years ago, and endless endurance. The IRS audited and disallowed the many miles he drove as an Uber driver to earn a living. Here was a case of an ordinary taxpayer who was treated with malice and incompetence. IRS was hoping he would pay the big bill [$30K with penalties and interest] and disappear. The client and I hung on by answering the repetitious telephone inquiries and responding to their demanding communications until we finally won our case. A thousand hoops and whistles to get through the circus of needless bureaucracy. During the whole period, we never met a human behind a desk or telephone, ever. We communicated with people in at least six states. It is a faceless and mindless experience.
First, the auditor ignored our documents which were sent certified mail with required signature. How could they not receive a 125 pages carefully prepared set of documents which was referenced and summarized in the attached response letter? They had trashed it. We sent another and they refused it. Instead, they sent the bill with a 90-day letter. We petitioned the U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C. as a Small Tax Court Case. The venue was shuffled to the Court in San Diego. After a year the Tax Court somehow failed to put a stay on the collection from the audit. The IRS kept ignoring and sending threatening letters while we were in proceedings. The client paid the full amount to save his credit and property to get them off his back. There should have been no need to do this if the IRS had followed the law and waited for the conclusion and settlement. It took 18 months to win the case, and almost another year to return the funds the client overpaid to the IRS. I hate to think of this as an example of what to expect with 87,000 INEXPERIENCED new hires coming on board this year.
This was our seventh U.S. Tax Court Case and another winner.
We are aware of tax preparers who now prepare tax returns without ever meeting their clients. And we know there are services overseas which prepare those taxes. It may not be a good experience because many of these are ghost preparers who are not legally authorized to do returns.
This is the main reason why all these years, our practice is to face the clients in an interview to first get to know them and input their data correctly in the computer. We get better answers to questions and a good way of knowing our clients better. We become personally accountable, too. Then, for later years, if they wish, they can just send their data by mail or computer. I have always preferred the one-on-one interview each year unless you now live out- of-state. When I was a Stockbroker-Principal the first law of the N.A.S.D. was to know your client. It still works well.
FEDERAL TAX CHANGES FOR TAX YEAR 2022
Charitable contributions for non-itemizers were eliminated.
The dreaded new 1099-K form annual threshold of $600 from third-party payors has been put on hold until next year. The old limit of $20,000/200 transactions are still applied.
The maximum amount of childcare expenses is now $3,000 for one and $6,000 for two or more qualified persons. This phases out when AGI exceeds $15,000.
The maximum refundable Additional Child Tax Credit amount is now $1,500 per child.
The Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit now renamed Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit, has been extended to property placed in service thru 12/31/2011. It appears that we have a very insecure bureaucracy dedicated to changing the names of all past legislation and popular human beings.
The Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit renamed Residential Clean Credit is upped to 30%.
Child Tax Credit age limits reverted from age 18 to under 17 and the amount changed to $2,000 per child. Phaseout begins when M.A.G.I. exceeds $2,000/$4,000 joint.
Pension Required Mandatory Dividends, aka R.M.D., changed from age 72 to 73 beginning 01/01/2023.
Mileage rates for charitable driving remains a lousy $.14 per mile. Mileage for business beginning January 1 thru June 30 is $.585 per mile and from July 1 thru 12-31-2022 is $.626. Mileage for medical or moving is $.18 for the first half of the year and $.22 for the second half.
Section 179 for business use of new sports utility vehicles must not exceed cost of $27,000. If you can find one.
Subchapter S corporations can now apply for the Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit [aka QPIEDMVC] subject to the newly debated laundry list of qualifications.
Taxpayers who are employees cannot deduct unreimbursed employee expenses unless they are one of the following:
*Armed Forces reservist.
*Qualified performing artist.
*Fee-based state or local government official
*Employee with impairment-related work expenses.
Exceptions for home office do not exist and will cause audits.
The latest minimum wage effective January 1st this year is $15.50. The Federal minimum is only $15.00 but California is always at the top for everything. Wrong because New York City taxes added to their state beat California to become the highest taxed state in the nation.
Northern California produces most of the water supplies in the state from rain and snowfall during the Winter season. Unfortunately, 95% of storm water is flushed into the Pacific Ocean due to a lack of storage reservoirs to store runoff and prevent flooding. The state has authorized 8 water bonds since 2000 for water projects totaling almost $27 Billion, with most of the money going to ecosystem restoration and pet environmental clauses. No new dams have been built since then.
Meanwhile, 531,000 acres were left unplanted in the Great Central Valley due to bad or lacking water concerns. California State reimbursed the farmers $2,500,000 to leave the fields fallow. The Valley is also known for very high unemployment.
California’s New State Council Law to dictate wages, working conditions, and benefits for the benefit of the Service Employees International Union took effect on January 01, 2003. A referendum, Save The Local Restaurants, petition has now gathered over a million signatures to qualify for the November election. The state legislature has allowed the law to take effect, instead of holding the action, by declaring the votes must be verified first. This new law allows triple damages for lost wages and benefits, plus attorney’s fees for discrimination for workplace complaints. That would be lawyer’s paradise. The law also allows mandated pay raises to $22 hourly which would be worker’s paradise.
California, Never a Slave State, Considers Reparations: A State Reparations Commission discovered that slavery is the real issue of black poverty. To settle accounts, they determined that California taxpayers owe each of their black neighbors $223,000. A method of collection was not given. [Wall Street Journal article.]
Governor Newsome’s New California Budget: This addresses shortfalls of $20 to 40 Billion (your city/county) dollars this coming fiscal year. Many social programs will be shifted to local accountability. But Medicaid to all eligible residents, regardless of immigration status, and universal preschool, social safety net spending, will be maintained and reinforced. What shortfall?
Other Miscellaneous Investment Concerns: The Biden’s Labor Department has a new rule that will permit pension money managers to play politics with trillions of retirement fund savings. They want environmental, social, and governance investing instead of securing high returns on worker’s lifetime savings. “Simply put, retirement savings will be used as leverage to force companies to reduce their carbon emissions and establish racial and gender quotas and other social justice fads. [from the Washington Examiner] Big Brother has spoken.
Gas-fired stoves, water heaters, and home heating are under fire by the overseers of California Air Resources Board. A federal appeal won a case with the Ninth Circuit Court over resistance to the Berkley’s ban on gas usage which stated, “It is a hidden hazard.” “Cities and states should be able to exercise police powers to prohibit the use of dangerous or unsafe items.”
New hookups for residences and some businesses are now not approved in many counties. For some unknown reasons natural gas is detrimental to our health and we must send it all overseas to Europe which had been shut down from Russian supplies. A recent WSJ article reported that the Biden appointed Consumer Product Safety Commissioner recently announced that “Banning gas stoves are in the works because of public health harm. They are a hidden hazard and products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” Same for gas-powered autos in the future. A new gas increase notice was just mailed to state residents recently to cap the whole situation. At least we can lead the nation in home gas prices again.
Lastly, Education News: Fairfax County Virginia High School gives us the latest War On Merit aka W.O.M. article. The National Merit Commended Students in the top 3% of their high school sent certificates of honor students to the Superintendent’s Office on 9/16/2022. Their cover note asked that the letters of commendation should be presented ASAP since it is the student’s ONLY notification. The Administration held the certificates and did not notify parents until over a month had passed and the time for students to apply for colleges had passed. When they finally were, the Superintendent’s Office issued the statement that “There was a plan for equal outcomes for every student, without exception, with equitable grading, giving students 50% for just showing up.” An administrator later admitted that the honors were hidden on purpose stating, “We want to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements. They don’t want to hurt the feelings of kids who don’t get the award.” Equal outcomes over academic excellence sounds like perverted Communism. [The City Journal has provided this information over Twitter.] Are we all created equal?
Best News of All: The IRS is now accepting electronically filed tax returns and we have added additional staff to cope with the business this year. At least we have survived another year and will be happy to see old friends and clients returning.
Best regards to all,
Phillip B Chute, EA & Staff