Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Split Personalities

For those old enough to remember when gas hovered at 55 cents a gallon and many phones still had rotary dials, you  might recall a mid-1970s made-for -TV movie titled “Sybil” where Sally Field portrayed a troubled woman with 13 different personalities – some pleasant, some pretty far from that.

Having been affiliated with the public accounting profession for the past 13 years, I’ve always suspected there was a touch of Sybil in every CPA. For nine months of the year, most are pleasant, open, willing to chat on the phone for as long as you need and often send forth invitations for lunch, dinner or drinks next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Then like clockwork from late January through April, they become withdrawn, reclusive, short tempered and virtually unreachable by most modern communication methods.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Is Zumba Class Deductible?

When we last left off, I was understandably nervous about my taxes this year and whether I would come into some welcomed largesse, or help swell the coffers of either Uncle Sam or the two states where my spouse and I work – New York and Connecticut.

Well, it’s sort of a wash – yes, we’re getting a refund but we do owe the Nutmeg State some money. In any event, I did not try and use the Facebook early adopter strategy as a deduction as suggested in my last blog, but I read recently where some of  the state societies and other assorted groups compiled a list of the off-the-grid deductions some taxpayers had the temerity to try and claim.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If I’m on Facebook do I get a Tax Break?

I’m expecting a call from Roch, my accountant any time now.

Roch, who has been my tax preparer since 1989, is putting the finishing touches on my return and delivers either the most welcome call of the year, or one that is akin to an overseas telemarketer trying to sign me up for a magazine subscription.

This is the time of the year when I learn whether my 1040 will allow me to plan a vacation on some sun-drenched beach sipping an absurdly colored exotic drink, or relegated to drinking jug wine on a chaise lounge in my backyard.

If only my wife and I could be as fortunate as Facebook.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Even the Vatican Needs Succession Planning

Perhaps nowhere on the world stage did the subject of succession planning get more attention, readership, page views and clicks than this past week when it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI would resign the papacy at the end of February – the first pope in six centuries to do so since Gregory XII in 1415.

Age jokes aside, I can safely say that was a little before my time.

The 85-year old pontiff, who made the announcement in Latin no less before a small audience of cardinals, explained that he no longer had the energy or vitality to perform his duties.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Avoiding Nemo

I can say without reservation that my 2013 encounter with Nemo was far less pleasant than my experience roughly a decade before when I took my then much younger (and much less demanding of my ATM card) - offspring to see that delightful Disney movie.

No, this time around Nemo was not a cuddly little clownfish trying to find his way home, but rather an atmospheric demon in the form of a massive winter storm that buried close to 55 million people with anywhere from 12 to 41 inches of snow, gale force winds, not to mention downed power lines, impassable roadways and officially declared states of emergency in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Put a Stamp on That

The mammoth James J. Farley Post Office in New York City sits on an entire city block just behind the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.
With an expansive row of Doric columns lining the front, the structure is among the Big Apple’s most notable landmarks and etched high above its entrance is this now-famous pledge: “Neither snow nor rain.. nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
For those who delight in keeping track of arcane facts, the phrase is actually a translation of an ancient Greek work by Herodotus who described the Persian system of mounted postal carriers circa 500 B.C.
But with this week’s blockbuster announcement by the U.S. Postal Service that in August it will cease Saturday mail delivery, that famous quotation might have to be tweaked a bit.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Being “Super” Prepared

I imagine after Sunday’s climactic Super Bowl contest there’s an ad running in the classified section of several New Orleans newspapers that reads something like this:

“Experienced electricians for hire. Formerly employed at Superdome charged with overseeing operation of stadium lights and illuminating halftime shows. Only blemish on record was a recent game outage. Will trade Beyoncé tickets for work.”

Friday, February 1, 2013

Filing Season Follies

In a classic tax-season episode of “The Honeymooners,” Ralph is seen sweating out a notice from the IRS that instructs him to report immediately to the local office in order to clear up an important matter.

Thinking he made a mistake filling out his return and imagining draconian penalties such as prison time, he wife Alice lectures him about the danger of self-filing and how he should have “gone to the barbershop” and have someone who knows what they’re doing to assist him. As it turns out, all the hapless bus driver was guilty of was neglecting to sign his return.