Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Advantages to Early-Bird Tax Filing

New year rings in sales tax for Amazon shoppers in three states
According to a Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger, shoppers in Indiana, Nevada, and Tennessee will now have to pay sales taxes on their purchases.

“Amazon agreed to begin collecting sales tax in the three states in 2014, bringing to nineteen the states in which it automatically adds tax to purchases,” he wrote. “Those nineteen states have a combined population of roughly 180 million, more than half of US residents.”

Five reasons to file your taxes early
Geoff Williams of US News and World Report wrote about the top five reasons to file your taxes early. Did he miss any? Send me an e-mail or tweet @bramweller if there are some others you would recommend to your clients, and I might publish some in a future “Bramwell’s Lunch Beat.”

Six developments for CPAs to watch in 2014
Journal of Accountancy Senior Editor Ken Tysiac wrote: “If you enjoy change, 2014 should be a good year. The months ahead will see the accounting profession gearing up for new regulations and handling significant financial reporting developments, including preparing to implement changes in accounting for revenue.”

American consumers in 2013 most upbeat since before recession
An improved job market, higher stock prices, and rising home values lifted consumer confidence at the end of 2013, according to a Bloomberg article on January 2.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index averaged minus 31.4 for 2013, the highest since 2007 when it was minus 10.5. Also, the weekly index fell for the first time since mid-November, dropping to minus 28.7 for the period ending December 29, 2013 from minus 27.4.

In addition, Americans’ views of their personal finances fell to 4.1 from 6.4. The gauge, which has been positive for six weeks, is 1.2 points higher than the 2013 average.

Moguls rent South Dakota addresses to shelter wealth forever
In case you missed this around the holidays, Zachary Mider of Bloomberg wrote that one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate among the nation’s billionaires is a quiet storefront in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“Don’t look for any heiresses in this former five-and-dime,” the article stated. “Most days, the small offices that represent these families are shut. Even empty, they provide their owners with an important asset: a South Dakota address for their trust funds.

“In the past four years, the amount of money administered by South Dakota trust companies like these has tripled to $121 billion, almost all of it from out of state,” Mider continued. “The families needn’t actually move to South Dakota, or deposit their money at a local bank, or even touch down in the private jet. Little more than renting an address in Sioux Falls is required to take advantage of South Dakota’s tax-friendly trust laws.”

Congress letting fifty-five tax breaks expire at end of year
A package of fifty-five popular tax breaks expired on January 1, even though they save businesses and individuals billions of dollars, according to an Associated Press article in the USA Today.

Lawmakers let these tax breaks lapse almost every year, and Congress eventually renews tems, retroactively, so taxpayers can claim them by the time they file their tax returns.

“No harm, no foul, right? After all, taxpayers filing returns in the spring won’t be hurt because the tax breaks were in effect for 2013. Taxpayers won’t be hit until 2015 when they file tax returns for next year,” the article stated. “Not so far. Trade groups and tax experts complain that Congress is making it impossible for businesses and individuals to plan for the future. What if lawmakers don’t renew the tax break you depend on? Or what if they change it and you’re no longer eligible?”

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