Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

Your Tax Dollars NOT at Work: 293 Ultra Low Mileage Priuses in Miami

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

My partner, Aaron, has a Toyota Prius (actually, two of them, if you count his wife’s car). I like the car a lot, and I’m certain Aaron won’t misplace his car. Aaron, though, does not manage the vehicle fleet of Miami-Dade County (Florida). That city/county managed to “misplace” 293 Toyota Priuses.

A television station in Miami, Channel 41, spent eight months investigating and found the cars in a parking garage in Miami. This news report stated the cars were “rusty.” I can’t imagine having the cars sit in a garage for four years could do them any good. An auto blog speculates that this relates to the previous Mayor, Carlos Alvarez. (He was recalled in 2011.)

The good news is that 123 (or 135) of the Priuses are now in use. That only leaves 170 (or 158) left to go!

Hat Tip: Instapundit

Heaven Can’t Wait

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

My understanding is that we can’t take it with you: Our worldly possessions won’t be with us in the hereafter. One Florida man believes he is already a resident there, and is thus exempt from trivialities such as the income tax. The results are what you might expect.

That said, if you read the terse statement from the Department of Justice you wouldn’t know of the underlying issue. The statement does note that Russell Gentile of Melbourne is accused of:

[C]orruptly tried to obstruct and impede the IRS in performing its duties by sending a series of letters claiming that he was not a taxpayer, that he was an American National but not residing in Washington, D.C., that he was not subject to the tax laws, and by threatening individual IRS officers with lawsuits against them.

Mr. Gentile is correct that he is an American but not residing in Washington, DC. What the press release doesn’t tell you is where he thinks he resides: The Kingdom of Heaven.

Of course, I could add that Mr. Gentile’s threats are an especially good way to be sure that his case is referred to Criminal Investigations. I could also add that the idea that only citizens of Washington, DC are subject to the US income tax is as useful as a $3 bill.

Mr. Gentile is looking at another hearing in February. If he continues down the road of allegedly threatening federal officials and not paying income tax, he will likely soon be residing at ClubFed.

Ignoring Tax Advice and then Suing the Attorney who Gave the Advice Isn’t Brilliant

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Let’s assume you talk to your attorney, and he advises you that you should create a reserve fund for taxes. Usually, it’s a good idea to listen to your attorney. If you don’t like his opinion, perhaps get a second opinion.

Of course, there’s also the Bozo method. The Miccosukee Tribe runs a successful casino near Miami, Florida. The tribe is exempt from taxes (it’s a sovereign nation). However, its members must pay taxes. They decided that they knew better than their attorney, and didn’t report distributions to its members or create a reserve fund in case their opinion was wrong. The Miccosukees filed a malpractice suit against their longtime attorney in a Florida court. The attorney had copies of his advice which pretty much (to this layman’s eyes) throws the malpractice case in the trash can.

Taxdood has more. Hint: The Miccosukee Tribe is the first nominee for the Bozo Tax Offender of the Year.

Finally, California Doesn’t Lead the Tax World In Something

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Officials in California sighed with relief when the recent IRS report on jailhouse tax fraud came out. In a delightful change, California finished second to Florida.

Enough with the humor. The reason I wrote this is that Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) is rather upset about this. This past Friday, Senator Nelson said in a speech in Jacksonville,

I am concerned that more than eight months after Congress passed a measure to crack down on tax fraud by prison inmates at state correctional institutions, the Internal Revenue Service and Florida Department of Corrections have yet to reach an information-sharing agreement that will help state prison officials identify prisoners filing false tax returns.

While the IRS’ public response is that they are working hard on the problem, one fraud ring in a Key West jail was stopped only because, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel, “…one of [the inmates] left a how-to note in his cell.”

Most of the time, criminals don’t stoop to that level of Bozo behavior. Senator Nelson and other Senators wrote IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman complaining about the laxness of IRS efforts in stopping this fraud. In Florida, it will be the state corrections officials who will be doing some of the stopping; soon, all envelopes containing tax returns that will be filed from Florida prisons will be stamped with a notation noting that it came from an inmate. Hopefully, the IRS will read that.

Of course, tax professionals see the IRS’ efforts in making sure that every tax professional gets a license, and that continuing education programs are under an electron microscope for their curricula. Perhaps the IRS should look at utilizing some resources on prisoner fraud as it is costing the government and taxpayers money.

Raising Taxes Can be Hazardous to Being Mayor

Friday, December 24th, 2010

The City of Miami has had financial difficulties, and faced a large budget deficit. The economy in South Florida isn’t doing well, so raising taxes would be a last resort, right?

Of course not–it’s the first choice. Mayor Carlos Alvarez proposed a 14% property tax increase, and Dade County Commissioners approved the increase (Miami and Dade County share government). Voters were not amused.

Bankrolled by automobile dealer Norman Braman, citizens forged a recall effort. This terse announcement in the New York Times notes that there will be a recall vote early in 2011. People aren’t happy about tax increases, and that’s especially true when the economy is down.

The real villain in South Florida (and in California) are wages for public employees. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. When I was growing up, public employees didn’t make a lot of money but did have generous benefits and pensions (pension relative to their salaries). Today, many (most?) public employees make better salaries than comparable employees in private industries, have better pension, and better benefits. That’s not sustainable, and there’s no way this can continue–in South Florida or in California.

Jerry Brown is basically saying the same message as Mayor Alvarez did: Either raise taxes or I’ll have to cut what the state (of California) does. There’s an alternate solution, but that’s not what his constituency wants, and that’s to cut pay and benefits for state employees.

Meanwhile, Miami also has possible corruption problems. Mayor Alvarez may not be around to see the end of this investigation, though.

Marlins Vote Delayed

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

The Florida Marlins play at Joe Robbie Pro Player Dolphins Stadium in South Florida. It’s a football stadium, and with the usual afternoon showers that plague South Florida it’s not an ideal place for baseball. Add in the heat and humidity of South Florida and it’s no wonder the Marlins are near the bottom in attendance.

The Marlins want a new stadium, and the Orange Bowl was just torn down. So there’s a natural location for the new stadium. Just one problem: New stadiums are expensive, and sports teams don’t want to pay for them. The estimated cost is $515 million, and the local officials (both city and county) want assurances from the team before tax money is raised. The Miami-Dade County Commission was going to vote on Friday but the vote has been delayed at least another month.