What would you do with $84,000?

We’re a few weeks into tax season, and if you’re like most tax preparers, you’re already working long hours, ordering too many take-out meals, and not getting much sleep. But you’ve still had time to dream about that vacation you’re taking in late April, or maybe you’re even dreaming of an easier way to make a living.

Danish artist Jens Haaning may have found the easiest way of all. 

The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark, gave Haaning the equivalent of $84,000 to use in the re-creation of two of his earlier works, “An Average Danish Annual Income” and “An Average Austrian Annual Income,” to be delivered last year. Both used real money in their design. But instead of re-creating them, this time Haaning pocketed the money and supplied the museum with blank canvases titled, “Take the Money and Run.”1

In a statement, Haaning said, “Everyone would like to have more money, and in our society work industries are valued differently. The artwork is essentially about the working conditions of artists.”

That may have been his intention, but the end date of the intended exhibition passed last month, and Haaning is facing a lawsuit from the Kunsten Museum.2

But for now, he’s laughing (and listening to the Steve Miller Band?) all the way to the bank.

Business people on race track

If pets could create a Bill of Rights

A bill of rights outlines specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights; as tax pros, we’re familiar not only with the U.S. Bill of Rights, but the IRS’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

If someone is going to step up to the plate and extend this concept from humans to the furry friends that live with us, you know that’s going to happen in California. Two proposed bills (AB 702 and AB 1881) would establish a Cat and Dog Bill of Rights in California. These bills would mandate proper care and attention, defined as: appropriate food, water, health care, and mental stimulation and enrichment.

To further define animals’ needs, a focus group of Spidell pets has put together their Pet Bill of Rights wish list:


  • A mandatory wet food feeding at 6 am sharp followed by no less than 30 minutes of laser play time
  • All doors and windows open at all times no matter the time or weather and a lap always available
  • Tuna every day
  • All sinks must be accessible to creatures without opposable thumbs
  • Uninterrupted nibbling on all house plants, including the Christmas tree
  • Playtime no matter the time of day or night and half of whatever the human is eating


  • An entire rotisserie chicken for each meal of the day
  • Unlimited outside time to chase squirrels and lizards
  • Hours of uninterrupted sleep inside in any place of his/her choosing
  • Human food instead of dog food
  • Ability to choose preferred walking mates


  • Sun bathing
  • One Guinness Extra Stout a day (champagne will be accepted if Guinness is not available)

If there’s going to be one day you give in to these demands it’s this weekend; National Pet Day is February 20.

A literal fortune cookie

A North Carolina man who recently won a $4 million Mega Millions jackpot pulled the winning numbers from the fortune cookie he got with his dinner at the Red Bowl Asian Bistro in Charlotte.1 He and his wife eat at the restaurant about once a week, and he said that on a whim he used the numbers from the fortune when he bought his ticket online. When he later realized he had hit the $1 million prize and the 4X multiplier, he and his wife ran around the house “screaming like a bunch of banshees.” (The appropriate response to winning the lottery.)

So what are your odds of winning if you use the fortune cookie tactic? Actually, they’re pretty good. In a study done a few years ago,2 an analysis of 1,000 fortune cookie “lucky numbers” compared to Powerball numbers from a ten-year period showed that buying one Powerball ticket for every single one of the lucky number combinations over all 2,043 drawings netted $4.4 million on $4.2 million of ticket purchases. But using randomized digits got just $1.7 million on $4.2 million in ticket purchases.

I know where you’re going next, and I’ll save you the time: www.amazon.com/Golden-Bowl-Fortune-Cookies-350-Count/dp/B000I07O10

A whole Lotto tax

The IRS imposes a 24% federal withholding rate from lottery winnings.

New Jersey, Oregon, Minnesota, and New York are among the worst states for taxes on lottery winnings, and while California has the highest income tax rate in the country, it doesn’t tax California lottery winnings (although lottery prizes from other states are taxable).

Florida, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Tennessee, and Wyoming also don’t tax the winnings since they don’t assess a state income tax.

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, spends her non-Spidell hours on photography and watching horror films (and then sleeping with the light on). She also enjoys hiking, biking, and watching foreign films.

Austin LewisAustin Lewis traveled to four national parks in nine days last summer, and here he is at the Grand Canyon. Pro tip: The north rim has 10x better views and 10x fewer visitors than the south rim.

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