Remote control takes on a whole new meaning

In this age of Alexa, we are becoming increasingly reliant on all of our various gadgets and digital assistants to maintain order in our lives. And in a perfect world our family members all live in unity around our perfectly controlled and programmed lives. But what happens when a current or former family member (think ex-spouse, angry teenager, etc.) decides that simply leaving home won't have nearly the dramatic impact as reprogramming your Alexa, resetting your security systems, or God forbid, hacking into your programmed coffee maker? Think of the havoc that someone who is so acutely familiar with all your programmable devices could unleash?

We assume that's the reasoning behind AB 455, a recently introduced bill in the California Legislature. The bill would allow persons to go before a judge without the other party knowing it to obtain a court order to have a former household member banned from remotely controlling any connected devices in the person's home.

Are you as curious as we are as to what the backstory is behind this bill?

How much is that 800-pound bear in the window?

Aspen, Colorado. Where the beer flows like wine and California governors instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. In 2009, then-Governor Schwarzenegger was at a fundraiser in Aspen and an 800-pound bronze bear statue, reminiscent of the bear gracing our state's flag, caught his eye in a gallery window.1 The Governator immediately shelled out an alleged $20,000 of his personal money to install the bear where it belonged:2 at the Capitol building in Sacramento for the California public to enjoy.

Look with your eyes, not with your hands!

And enjoy, they do. Visitors and children with sticky little fingers touch the statue so often that the CHP officers on security detail at the building have nicknamed it… Bacteria Bear. What's worse is that the bear's positioning also makes it a convenient mic stand for reporters during press briefings that occur just outside the Governor's office.

I'm reaching for the Purell just writing about this.

Bacteria Bear still officially belongs to Arnold, but for now it remains at the Capitol building. You can follow the bear's musings on Twitter @BacteriaBear (but I recommend washing your hands afterward).

Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker

TCJA vs. 1986: war stories

In this ongoing series of comparing the TCJA to the tax reform of 1986, James N. wrote to us last week and said:

"The most wacky provision I can remember is the Proportionate Disallowance Rule on installment sale gain deferrals which were part of the 1986 act. This theoretical tax provision lasted all of one year before being repealed. It was forcing the average taxpayer to prepare a "net worth" on their business and non-business assets and liabilities and then "deeming" payment was made on the installment when it possibly was not and this just to prepare their tax return.

I was so lucky I did not have one installment sale back then (which was unusual for that time) as if you did, they were requiring you to continue to use the Proportionate Disallowance Rule provisions until the installment sale was gone. Talking with friends working at the IRS disclosed that the Revenue Agents were not even trained in that area. Talk about crazy!

However, the TCJA has caused much delay in getting the forms out where states are still struggling to adapt as most do not conform to many of the provisions. And lastly, this is the worst time I have encountered (preparing since 1982) regarding the vast withholding W-4 problems where taxpayers are really upset with their results this year."

A few fun facts about this week's writers:

Sandy Weiner, J.D.Sandy Weiner, J.D., as California editor, loves all things California. Whether it's hiking at Big Sur or playing at the beach in San Diego where she lives, Sandy takes full advantage of all that California has to offer as a way to clear her head after trying to comprehend and explain California's Revenue & Taxation Code.

Kathryn Zdan, EAKathryn Zdan, EA, is living in the past, still using an old film camera and writing real letters to friends. She loves classic, foreign, and horror films, and has watched Frasier in its entirety at least five times. Sherry, Niles?

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