A house is more than a home: It is an investment. Chances are good that the value of the home will change from the time you purchase it to the time you sell it. California's foreclosure crisis aside, most of us believe that the value will go up so we can make a profit. When you sell a capital asset like a house, you realize a capital gain or a capital loss.
The National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson, recently issued the list of priorities for the Taxpayer Advocate Service. The TAS is the independent internal watchdog of the IRS, and Olson's annual priorities address the agency's shortcomings. For example, in our last post, we were talking about victims of tax preparer fraud and the IRS' failure to issue replacement refunds to them. The IRS has that authority -- the agency just hasn't done anything with it.
When we left off in our last post, we were discussing the Taxpayer Advocate Service's first annual report to Congress. This report, one of two prepared by TAS every year, outlines the office's priorities for the 2015 federal fiscal year.
It may feel as if the IRS and the federal government are in league against American taxpayers at times. The rules change, new taxes appear and old taxes expire -- when taxpayers expire, in fact, they still have to pay taxes. There is an agency that watches out for taxpayers, though: the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
As we said in our last post, we do have a point, and it is this: Women earn less than men, and that has a direct impact on their retirement and estate planning. Nationwide, women earn about $16,000 a year after age 65. Men? Men earn almost $27,000. While working, women earn 77 cents on the dollar, but in retirement women earn about 60 cents on the dollar (the dollar earned by men, that is).
Change is slow, says the Institute for Women's Policy Research, especially when it comes to closing the gender wage gap. Considering how much progress the country has made since the Equal Pay Act was passed 50 years ago, the IWPR figures we will finally reach our goal -- women and men will actually earn equal pay (on average) for equal work -- in 2058. It will have taken 100 years of baby steps to close the 40 cent gap identified in 1963's "American Women: Report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women."
We have been talking about offshore assets and some changes the IRS has made to reporting procedures. The best idea is always to report any foreign assets you hold with your annual tax return.