Area Man Treats Colleague to Dinner, Drinks

The three-martini lunch has a long and mostly honorable history as a deductible business expense. As former President Gerald Ford once said, "Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful, and snootful at the same time?" Ford's successor, famed buzzkill Jimmy Carter, tried (and failed) to cut the deduction from 100% to 50%. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 succeeded in that goal, and today's business dinner has probably switched from martinis to white wine. But old habits die hard — check any happening lunch spot and you'll find happy diners eating partly on Uncle Sam's dime.

This Will Make You Love the Income Tax . . .

We Americans have fought with our internal revenue code since 1913. But slicing and dicing income, deductions, and a dizzying array of business and personal credits is hardly the only way that Uncle Sam could raise the money he needs to pay for guns and butter. State and local governments also use sales taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, and "gross receipts" taxes to fill their hungry coffers, too.

How Can I Reduce My Spending?

To reduce your spending, you first need to know where your money goes. Start out by keeping track of all of your expenses for a month. None are too small or insignificant: the daily newspaper, coffee on the way to work, an extra gallon of milk, that burger at the fast-food outlet. Next, categorize the expenses so you can see what you spend and where you spend it. Be sure to factor into your monthly expenses a prorated portion of the annual cost of your irregular expenses (e.g., clothes, gifts, car maintenance, insurance premiums).

Country Crooners Sing the Blues

Country music embraces a long tradition of songs about sadness and ruin, heartbreak and pain. It just makes sense, then, that country sometimes runs afoul of the tax system. Most famously, Willie Nelson found himself on the wrong side of a $16.7 million tax bill. And outlaw country icon David Allen Coe, who penned Take This Job and Shove It, drew three years probation and $980,000 in restitution for failing to report his income, which he insisted on taking in cash to hide from the IRS.

Two-Tired to Fight About It

When you think of "federal crime," you probably think of big-ticket offenses like mail fraud, identity theft, and tax evasion. But our criminal code is also full of, shall we say, lesser offenses. For example, according to the Crime a Day Twitter feed, "18 USC §1854 makes it a federal crime to cut, chip, or chop a government-owned tree to get turpentine out of it." 7 USC §8313 "makes it a federal crime to bring an imported camel's blanket into the United States without the permission of the port inspector." And 8 USC §1865 "makes it a federal crime to roller skate in Alaska's Sitka National Historical Park."

iTaxes Version 38 Billion.0

In 2016, SyFy debuted a new show called Incorporated about a dystopian future where corporations, not governments, rule the world. If that nightmare ever comes true, we all know which real-world corporation will rule them all. It's Apple, of course, which just took the shrink-wrap off their $5 billion ring-shaped headquarters in Cupertino, CA and is on the verge of becoming the world's first trillion-dollar company.

How Will I Know?

In 2012, the singer Whitney Houston died suddenly, drowning in a hotel bathroom after years of battling drug addiction. Yet the world will always treasure her musical legacy. The Guinness Book of World Records reports that she was the most awarded female artist of all time, with two Emmys, six Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards, among 400+ awards. Rolling Stone listed her debut album as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time. And VH1 put her number three on their "greatest women of the video age" list, behind Madonna and Janet Jackson.

NFL Playoffs: Blue States Versus Red

NFL playoffs have begun, and Wild Card Week featured some real competition. On Saturday, the red-state Tennessee Titans barbecued the red-state Kansas City Chiefs, 22-21, and the red-state Atlanta Falcons defeated the blue-state Los Angeles Rams, 26-13. On Sunday, the purple-state Jacksonville Jaguars pounced on the blue-state Buffalo Bills, 10-7, and the red-state New Orleans Saints marched past the purple-state Carolina Panthers, 31-26.