3 Things I Learned on Blog-cation

by Joshua on March 27, 2011

Yes, I know. It has certainly been awhile. In my first post back, I thought I would fill you in on a few things I have learned while on my blog-cation (vacation from blogging – a.k.a. my lame play on words).

1. Patience is a virtue. When I first started law school, I assumed, like many others, that I would have a full-time job lined up by the time I started my 3L year. Times have certainly changed, and what I have learned since attending an LL.M. Tax Program is that patience and persistence will eventually pay off. Rather than doing a lot of hiring in the Fall, I have seen an increase in the number of interviews for Tax LL.M. students this semester. If you are considering an LL.M. program next year, be ready to wait until Spring to have your job lined up.

2. iPad 2 is great. Yes, I am the proud owner of a new iPad. Although I have certainly gotten my Angry Birds fix, there are plenty of apps that I have been using that are great for school, especially, tax students. One app in particular is LawToGo’s Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations. This app aims to replace those heavy code and reg books that you are required to have with you at all times in the Graduate Tax program. Below is a video demonstration of the app.

3. March Madness Brackets > Tax Brackets. Around this time of the year, individuals are gathering information to complete two important documents: A March Madness Bracket and a Tax Return. Fortunately, for ESPN, CBSsports, Yahoo and the like, everyone seems to get their brackets filled in on time. Unfortunately, for the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury, some people don’t want to pay to play. As I watched President Obama fill out TWO brackets (a Men’s and Women’s bracket) on ESPN, I thought to myself, “What if a tax return were as easy as filling out an NCAA Tourney Bracket?” Obviously, the guess work that is involved in filling out an NCAA Bracket would have to be taken out of filling out your “bracket-style” tax return. But I think there is something to be said for the fact that thousands of people pay money to fill out a bracket sheet with little or no knowledge about the teams competing. While I don’t think we will be seeing new tax forms anytime soon, one thing is for sure: I will be leaving the University of Pittsburgh out of my final four as long as I continue filling out a March Madness bracket.


In Case You Were Worried…

by Joshua on March 7, 2011

Tax Docket Readers –

February was a crazy month for me and I will be regularly posting starting soon.


Apparently there is life after death and taxes. Well, at least according to the band Relient K.  In any event, the band’s song “Life After Death and Taxes” is this week’s tax track. Enjoy.


As a Graduate Tax student, I would wait in line to get my hands on “Tributin” (or “Little Tax”), a new video game planned by the Cuban government to teach kids about fiscal policy and the importance of paying taxes. No details have emerged as to what the game play will be like, but with a name like Tributin, it must be good. According to a phone interview with Reuters, the project director of the game, Dagoberto Marino, said that “It is a fun software to help children learn about fiscal policy, because since they were born in a socialist society with some gratuities, they don’t have all the elements needed to understand taxes.”

MSNBC, Cuba Plans children’s video game to promote taxes.


Click on the picture below to see if you can find the word tax in the word cloud of President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text according to Wordle.

Wordle: President Obama's 2011 State Of The Union


Apparently Jack Donaghy knows a little something about estate planning.


This week, I was determined to retrieve the perfect song for Tax Tracks Volume 11. I wanted a song that was powerful. It needed to have  just the right message that would send everyone into tax season on the right note. Ben Franklin once said that “the only things certain in life are death and taxes.” Well, Celine Dion only agrees with part of that statement. In her opinion, it is rain and taxes that are inevitable. This week’s  Tax Track is Rain, Tax (It’s Inevitable). Turn it up!


iPad is…Tax Return Preparing?

by Joshua on January 10, 2011

Taxsoftware.com announced today that an application that permits a taxpayer to file six of the most often used federal tax returns is now available for purchase for $9.99 for use on Apple’s iPad. According to the press release, the app is the first of its kind.

Further, the app includes unlimited tax preparation and printing. There is an e-filing charge of $4 for an iPad 1040 and a $15 fee for any iPad business return (1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S and 1099-MISC.)

Visit the app’s site here for more information. Finally, by no means does this post mean that I am narrowing the scope of Tax Docket to Apple Products that assist individuals in handling their tax matters (see my previous post Mac App Store Opens Today — With a Useful Estate Planning App?).

Also, if you do get frustrated with the filing of your return or the amount of your refund (or lack thereof) we do not suggest you do what the video below demonstrates.

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Pop Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Tax Cheats?

by Joshua on December 15, 2010

As I continue to find things to distract me while studying for my remaining LL.M. Tax finals, I came across this humorous quiz on Howstuffworks. Enjoy. I look forward to being able to post more frequently once finals are over.


Jump Ball: Lamar Odom v. IRS

by Joshua on November 10, 2010

Lamar Odom, the 6- foot-10 Los Angeles Lakers forward, is challenging his IRS bill, arguing that certain expenses he deducted are related to his work as a professional athlete and therefore are “ordinary and necessary expenses” paid in carrying on a trade or business which are deducible. Specifically, Odom sought to deduct expenses associated with fines handed down from the National  Basketball Association (NBA). Odom also claimed expenses incurred in training and conditioning arguing that his contract with the Lakers requires him to be in sufficient physical condition. The IRS views these expenses as personal, rather than business expenses, and therefore not deductible.

The fines for which Odom is arguing should be deducible are not excluded from the regulations pertaining to the deductibility of fines and penalties. See Reg. 1.162-21. Therefore, this case likely turn on whether these expenses are truly personal in nature, or incurred in connection with Odom’s “trade” as a professional athlete.

Forbes, Lamar Odom Seeks Tax Deduction For NBA Fines and Fitness Fees