Tax Season Tribune

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Spidell’s Tax Season Tribune: Farewell until 2024!

This is it: the final issue of Spidell’s 2023 Tax Season Tribune. It was another brutal tax season, so hopefully we have provided you with some levity over the last few months. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram — you’ll get great information and fun tidbits there, too (like our bi-weekly Fraud Friday posts, if you still need an escape from it all).

We’ll continue to provide you with more analysis, seminars, and breaking tax news. Next Sunday, Spidell’s California Minute® podcast returns for its eighth season, and Spidell’s Federal Tax Minute podcast will be back starting April 25.

Do as I say, not as I do

By Sandy Weiner, J.D.

Contributing Editor

A recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that close to 149,000 federal civilian employees (4.93% of the federal civilian workforce) had not filed their federal tax returns for 2021, a 32% increase in the number of nonfiling federal employees since 2015.1 Of these 149,000 employees, 42,000 of these hadn’t filed for multiple years, and over 7,900 of these repeat nonfilers had incomes over $100,000 per year. As of 2021, the total unpaid tax balance equaled $1.5 billion.

How can that be?

While IRS employees can be terminated for willfully failing to file a tax return,2 there is currently no similar provision for other federal employees. To add insult to injury, due to the IRC confidentiality provisions, the IRS can’t even report nonfiling federal employees to the agencies for which they are working.


If we’re concerned about budget shortfalls, there’s a $1.5 billion immediate fix right at hand. If you don’t pay your federal taxes, you can’t work for the federal government. Fortunately, the IRS has agreed to follow the TIGTA recommendations to address this situation.

It is just this type of absurdity that feeds into the lack of confidence in our government.

It’s like telling someone to go to:

  • A vegan butcher;
  • A hairdresser who prefers the “bald” look;
  • An obese (for nongenetic reasons) physical trainer or dietician; or
  • An accountant who can’t add (or more importantly, subtract).
TGIF Mozzarella sticks bag

Flipping the bird is crude but not illegal

By Kathryn Zdan, EA

Editorial Director

A judge in Montreal has ruled that giving the finger to your neighbor is a protected expression under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.1 The case involved two feuding neighbors, one of which had accused the other of uttering death threats and criminal harassment. It turned out the death threats and harassment were really just one neighbor giving the finger (although, with both hands) to the other.

In his decision,2 the judge barely masks his annoyance at the case before him, writing, “It is deplorable that the complainants have weaponized the criminal justice system in an attempt to exert revenge on an innocent man for some perceived slights that are, at best, trivial peeves.” He also stated in his decision that being told to f--- off should not prompt a call to 911. He elaborated, “The complainants are free to clutch their pearls in the face of such an insult. However, the police department and the 911 dispatching service have more important priorities to address.”

But what about US?

In the United States, giving someone the finger is a protected expression under the First Amendment.

Most recently, an appeals court ruled in 2019 that giving the finger is protected free speech, even if the recipient is a police officer.3 In that case, a woman had been pulled over for speeding but was written a lesser ticket for a non-moving violation. After giving the officer the finger as she pulled away, he pulled her over again and changed her ticket to reflect the more serious violation of speeding. The court ruled that the first stop was justified because she had committed an infraction, but the second stop was not justified because it was only a response to her vulgar gesture. The judge noted, “Fits of rudeness or lack of gratitude may violate the Golden Rule. But that doesn’t make them illegal or for that matter punishable.”

The Los Angeles mansion tax selling frenzy

By Kathryn Zdan, EA

Editorial Director

In an attempt to avoid paying Los Angeles’s new real estate transactions tax (aka the mansion tax), several celebrity homes were put on the market, some slashing prices and throwing in Lamborghinis to try to sell before the tax went into effect on April 1.1

According to the New York Post, celebrities who rushed to sell to avoid the tax were Jim Carrey, Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Lopez, and James Corden.

Months before the tax even passed, Mark Wahlberg put his 30,500 sq. ft. home on the market for $87.5 million. But in February, as April 1 loomed, he dropped the price to $55 million. In terms of tax savings, at $87.5 million, the tax would have run $4,812,500. Instead, at $55 million, the tax was “only” $3,025,000, but he also lost out on $32.5 million to make the sale happen.

The mansion tax

In November 2022, voters in Los Angeles approved Measure ULA, which imposes the new Homelessness and Housing Solutions Tax on transfers of real property valued at more than $5 million.

The new tax is:

  • 4% of the full consideration paid or value of the property transferred when the consideration or property value exceeds $5 million but is less than $10 million; and
  • 5.5% if the consideration or value exceeds $10 million.

The $5 million and $10 million thresholds will be adjusted for inflation.

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, EA

Kathryn 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.

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