Tax Break

Essential reading: FBI, Secret Service deepen Romney tax mystery, and more

September 6, 2012

Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.

* FBI, Secret Service deepen Romney tax mystery. Delvin Barrett – The Wall Street Journal. The two local Tennessee political leaders who received envelopes claiming to contain long-secret Mitt Romney tax returns said they didn’t believe the strange claims in the anonymous letters and didn’t take it seriously until the Secret Service knocked on their doors Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said it had no evidence that anybody had gained access to Romney’s old tax returns, following a report that hackers claimed to have broken into a PwC office in Tennessee and were threatening to release the tax information. Link  

* Online buying surges as tax deadline looms. The San Francisco Chronicle. Chris Cheng doesn’t need 40 hand warmers right now, but the longtime Amazon.com customer is loading up on them anyway. With the Internet retail giant set to begin collecting sales taxes on California purchases Sept. 15, the San Francisco resident is among many tech-savvy consumers trying to cram in some last-minute tax-free shopping. Link

* Soda tax war taking shape in two California cities. Lisa Baertlein and Martinne Geller – Reuters. Two small California cities are the latest battlegrounds in the $111 billion U.S. soda industry’s fight to defend a near-perfect record of defeating proposed taxes on sugary drinks. In November, voters in cash-strapped Richmond and El Monte will decide whether to pass penny-per-ounce taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks to bolster municipal coffers and fight obesity. Link 

* Should nude lap dances be tax-free? N.Y. court to decide. Rene Lynch – The Washington Post. Nude lap dances are no different from a ballet performance or musical arts performance and should be exempt from sales taxes, according to an attorney for a New York strip club. That’s the argument scheduled to be made before the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, and just the latest example of New Yorkers squabbling over where to draw the line between lewd behavior and high-brow art. Link 

* Osborne rejects Barclays’ ‘damage’ claims. Vanessa Houlder – The Financial Times. George Osborne has dismissed claims by Barclays that the Treasury caused “unnecessary damage” to its reputation in its handling of a tax dispute. In a letter to MPs, the chancellor robustly defended the exceptional use of retrospective legislation in February to block a “highly abusive” tax scheme. Link  

* More tax tricks, private equity style. The New York Times editorial. The best way to end the management fee waiver problem is to get rid of the special rate for capital gains. As long as income from investments is taxed at a lower rate than income from work, there will be no stopping the search for ways, legal or otherwise, to pay the lower rate. Link

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