Taxing Tax Time Times Two

Two months and counting, your yearly burden of supporting the government made twice as hard. First, the turmoil of the transformed form:

US News — The new cosmetic look of the 1040 form belies all the changes within. The redesign squishes what used to be 79 lines of information into just 22, on two half-sheets of paper.

But things did not get streamlined and simplified. All of those missing lines now correspond to six new numbered schedules and several worksheets. And that is in addition to the existing alphabetical schedules (A for itemizing deductions, B for interest and dividends, etc.)
Phyllis Jo Kubey, an enrolled agent in New York, has basically given up trying to process the changes visually. Her tax software even comes with a “1040 reconciliation worksheet,” which takes everything on this year’s tax form and makes it look like an old 1040.
“It’s easier for me to find things on the old form than to look at six different schedules,” Kubey said.
Kubey is especially concerned for senior citizens, who might be among the last of those who fill out the 1040 by hand.
“Can you imagine if you have been doing taxes every year of your life on paper, and then all the sudden you get this? I’d go nuts,” Kubey said.
For taxpayers who file electronically, the new form might not have that much of an impact. A professional tax preparer will take your information the same as always and deal with the changes for you.
DIY tax software will prompt you for the information needed in a similar manner to previous years, with just a few new questions.
It is when the results are printed out that most people will notice the difference.

Second, the thought of your hard-earned treasure going down the Trump administration hole.

High noon Texas style -El Paso vs Baby Trump

Supporters, protesters prepare for President Trump’s rally in El Paso

Many locals questioned why Trump said the city was once one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, prompting a written response from El Paso’s Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar.
In her penned letter to the White House, Escobar asked the president to apologize to the residents of the city for the comments.
“These distortions about our vibrant community are harmful to our reputation and degrade our spirit,” Escobar wrote. “I urge you to treat this visit as your opportunity not only to correct the record and ensure that the misinformation you stated on the national stage is retracted but also an opportunity to apologize to El Pasoans for the disparagement of our community.”
Escobar is set to join Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic congressman from Texas, who will join a 1-mile march past the president’s rally and give a speech across the street around the same time Trump plans to take the stage.
Trump’s rally comes just four days before the possibility of another government shutdown.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are also expected to attend.

A Bark-out to the Bark-in

Washington Post — It’s unclear whether the initial incursion happened stealthily at night or brazenly during the day — though authorities are almost certain the invasion occurred by sea.

And federal employees who returned from the month-long partial government shutdown decided that it was probably not worth the effort to relocate the roughly 90 individuals involved. That’s because some of them were pregnant or newborns, and all of them were opportunistic elephant seals that have taken over what used to be the tourist area of Drakes Beach, Calif.
Across the nation this week, returning federal workers slogged through backlogs of voicemails, sifted through bursting email inboxes and tried to remember the name of the childhood pet at the beginning of their log-in passwords.
At Drakes Beach, part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, employees had a much bigger problem. Literally. Some of the elephant seal squatters weigh as much as a car.
A colony of nearly 1,500 seals inhabits nearby Chimney Beach, which is protected from binocular-wearing tourists by 100-foot-tall cliffs. But Drakes Beach, with its wide swath of sand and spectacular views of the Pacific, has been claimed by humans. Park officials have used a decidedly low-tech method to enforce an armistice between the mammal species: They waved blue tarps to annoy the seals away from the areas most popular with Homo sapiens.
“It doesn’t scare them, and it’s a standard technique used with elephant seals,” John Dell’Osso, chief of interpretation and resource education for the seashore, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This would have kept them farther away from tourists.”
The annoying tarps were an effective plan, usually chasing all but a seal or two away from the beach, which is a 90-minute drive from San Francisco.
But the federal government apparently does not regard the tarp-wavers as essential federal employees, so the workers who did it were among the 800,000 furloughed.
During that time, according to the Chronicle, high tides and storms battered the seals’ normal habitat.
So the seals showed up at the suddenly deserted Drakes Beach, and they brought friends and apparently family, too. Seals give birth during winter, and the unoccupied Drakes Beach appears to be an excellent place to raise pups.

The Nation will come to order!

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) on Sunday released the text of four bills meant to end a partial government shutdown, now in its third week.

The House will first consider an appropriations bill that funds the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, Lowey’s office said. Other bills cover departments including Agriculture, Interior, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.
Lowey’s office said the four bills are virtually identical to bills that passed the Senate overwhelmingly last August, adding that text of the bills was included in H.R. 21, which passed the House last week despite a White House veto threat.
Her office also said that the only substantive change between those bills and the four new pieces of legislation is language to ensure that furloughed federal workers receive back pay.
“Unless Congress acts, the American people will not receive their tax refunds, families will lose food stamps, homebuyers seeking mortgages will remain in limbo, and our National Parks will continue to accumulate garbage and waste. These bills will stop this chaos, get many federal employees back on the job, and ensure that key parts of the government are working for the American people. After we pass these four bills, the Senate should clear them and the President should sign them into law,” Lowey said.
[from The Hill]