just for fun


Everyone knows the 12 Days Of Christmas lyrics but with some pretty outlandish presents being given in the song, it’s the 12 Days Of Christmas cost that most people want to know about. The PNC Christmas Price Index measures the price of those 12 presents, pitting it against previous years to not only be a fun little anecdote but to help measure inflation. This year with the coronavirus pandemic impacting everyone and every business, the PNC Christmas Price Index looks quite a bit different.

What the PNC Christmas Price Index really means

On this week’s episode, Kelly is joined by Amanda Agati — one of the analysts/writers of the PNC Christmas Price Index — to discuss the process of creating the list and what it all means for consumers and businesses alike. Kelly and Amanda also talk about how the list has changed over the years, and how this year might bring some sweeping changes to how shopping is done and the cost of goods and services when the pandemic is over.

You can read the accompanying story here.

Listen to Kelly and Amanda talk about the PNC Christmas Price Index:

  • The PNC Christmas Price Index (CPI) is based on the 12 Days Of Christmas lyrics
  • The government’s Consumer Price Index and what it means
  • How COVID-19 impacted the CPI in 2020
  • What the CPI really tells us about the economy as a whole
  • The gifts that have seen the most inflation from last year
  • What trends have driven the change in prices
  • The price of gold vs. the price of gold rings
  • The difficulties of creating the PNC Christmas Price Index this year
  • Why the increase of e-commerce purchases this year could affect future years
  • The change from being a service-based economy to goods-based due to COVID-19 and whether it’ll change back in 2021
  • How the delivery of services and goods has changed during the pandemic and how that might alter pricing in the future
  • The economic outlook for 2021

About Kelly:

Kelly Phillips Erb created and hosts the Taxgirl podcast, your home for tax news, tax info and tax policy. In each episode, she shares conversations about taxes, money and the choices we make. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney who works with taxpayers like you every day. She helps folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

You can find out more about Kelly here and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

PNC Christmas Price Index – Website

Last week, I did a lot of writing about sandwiches.

Yep, that’s right, sandwiches.

First off, estate planning lawyer Victor Medina kicked off the week with a podcast episode about the sandwich generation. That’s the term that we use for parents who are simultaneously tasked with taking care – in some way – of their own parents. Those folks who often feel squished in the middle? They’re the sandwich generation. I had a great time talking with Victor about related challenges, including how to have those awkward conversations about money and long-term care. You can have a listen here.

Midway through the week, I covered a story where the Irish Supreme Court ruled that the bread used to make Subway sandwiches cannot be defined as bread. Yes, really. The ruling was the result of a tax case focusing on a value-added tax (VAT) exemption. The court ruled that the bread had too much sugar to be considered a true bread or staple food. You can read that story here.

All of those stories led to some fun conversations on social media about bread (you may know that I like to bake in my spare time, such as it is) and sandwiches. So, I thought it would be fun to start out this week with a question that really gets to the heart of the matter. Chime in!

[forminator_poll id=”53983″]

Chances are that you are spending today gathered around a grill or trying to soak in some sun. Labor Day weekend is considered summer’s last hurrah and ushers in fall and, including, in areas like mine, the beginning of the school year.

(You can read more about the tie-in to the school year and Labor Day weekend here.)

But Labor Day is actually less about sunshine and beaches than… offices and factories. Here’s a little Labor Day history mixed with tax trivia:

  1. The holiday falls on the first Monday in September each year. The earliest national recognition of Labor Day happened on June 28, 1894, when President Grover Cleveland signed a law making it a national holiday. The date was made official as part of a law signed by President Johnson on June 28, 1968, to “provide for uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays, and for other purposes.”
  2. The U.S. income tax – as we know it today – didn’t exist in 1894. Instead, Congress pushed through the Revenue Act of 1894, also called the Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894, considered the country’s first peacetime tax. It was a flat tax of 2% on corporate and individual income over $4,000 (about $120,512.09 in today’s dollars). The following year, the tax was found to be unconstitutional in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., 157 U. S. 429 (1895), and affirmed in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., 158 U. S. 601 (1895). For several years following, there was no formal federal income tax until 1913 when the Sixteenth Amendment to the federal Constitution was ratified, giving Congress the power “to lay and collect taxes on incomes.”
  3. The idea for what is a leisurely holiday today was actually inspired by less restful events. The American Industrial Revolution (sometimes called the second Industrial Revolution) quickly grew the American economy – spurred on by the expansion of the railroads. But it also came at a price. American workers toiled up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. An influx of immigrant workers, women, and due to the relative absence of child labor laws, children, worked for lower wages in mills and factories. Labor unions demanded change and began organizing strikes rallies. By summer’s end in 1882, there was a call for a “working man’s holiday” as a public show of solidarity.
  4. To counter the waves of immigration, that same year, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1882, which levied a head tax “for every passenger not a citizen of the United States” arriving by steam or sail vessel from any foreign port. The tax was fifty cents per person payable to the U.S. Treasury and deposited into the “immigrant fund.” The Act also blocked (or excluded) the entry of any “convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” The latter group mostly consisted of single women.
  5. We’re not quite sure who came up with the idea of Labor Day. Some say it was Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York, who proposed the holiday (he’s credited with saving the first parade – read on). Others claim that it was Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. McGuire is also considered the father of May Day, the international Labor Day.
  6. The Central Labor Union eventually broke up, and many former members rejoined as the American Federation of Labor (AFL), now the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO). The AFL was founded in 1886, and the CIO was founded in 1935. The two merged in 1955. Today, the federation represents 12.5 million working men and women in 55 national and international labor unions. It is supported by a per capita tax on affiliated unions and organizing committees (yes, it’s really called a tax).
  7. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. In 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon created the Labor Day holiday in their respective states. By 1894, most states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
  8. You may know that a federal holiday typically means a tax holiday (extra day to file and pay) for taxpayers. But a statewide legal holiday only delays a due date for filing a federal income tax return if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office where you’re required to file is located in that state. For individuals, a statewide legal holiday also delays a due date for filing a return for residents of that state. But, a statewide legal holiday doesn’t delay a due date for making a federal tax deposit.
  9. The first Labor Day parade almost didn’t happen. When it came time to start the parade, Grand Marshall William McCabe and a few dozen marchers were in place, but there was no music. They started out, intending to walk a few blocks when Mathew Maguire of the Central Labor Union of New York ran over to advise that 200 marchers from the Jewelers Union of Newark Two had just crossed the ferry and they had a band. They kicked off the tunes with “When I First Put This Uniform On” by Gilbert and Sullivan. By the end, reports of the total number of marchers ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 (more showed up for the after-party).
  10. Taxpayers sometimes foot the bill for parades and other gatherings in towns and municipalities. Some governments charge a fee to cover the cost of special services during these events. Still, not everyone is comfortable passing along the expense – especially to non-profit organizations that arrange for the festivities. There are also First Amendment issues. Famously, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled in Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569 (1941) that while the government cannot regulate speech in parades or gatherings, it “may charge a license fee reasonably adjusted to the occasion, for meeting administrative and police expenses.”
  11. I grew up believing that you can’t wear white after Labor Day (in the South, it’s a considerable fashion sin). How that evolved is somewhat controversial. According to Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, it was marked a social divide, separating those with old money from new money, with “insiders trying to keep other people out… and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules.” Or it could be something more logical: with the end of summer, it was time to put away breezy white dresses and vacation-oriented clothes in favor of more suitable work clothing which tended to run darker, like navy suits and gray sweaters.
  12. Like fashion rules, tax rules for clothing can vary depending on the state (or locality) and clothing type. There are special exemptions and definitions (what exactly is an accessory in Pennsylvania anyway?) which control whether and how much your clothing will be taxed at purchase. Fortunately – so far as I know – the color of your garb isn’t one of those factors.

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had restaurant owners calling “fowl” on new rules requiring bars to serve food with their drinks. The New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) issued guidance making clear that, “Pursuant to Executive Order 202.52, effective Friday July 17, 2020, all licensed establishments with on premises privileges (e.g. restaurants, taverns, manufacturers with tasting rooms, etc.) shall not serve alcoholic beverages unless such alcoholic beverage is accompanied by the purchase of a food item which is consistent with the food availability requirement of the license under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.”

Today, Cuomo ruffled feathers even more at a press conference when he appeared to suggest that sandwiches were more “substantial” than chicken wings, recalling that “To be a bar, you had to have food available. soups, sandwiches, etc.” He added, “More than just hors d’ oeuvres, chicken wings. You had to have some substantive food — the lowest level of substantive food were sandwiches.”

For some, those sounded like fighting words.

Under current law (NYS Alcohol Beverage Control Law, Article 5, § 64-a, Section 8), special on-premises licensees must have food available for sale. The new COVID guidance amps that rule, requiring that patrons are seated and order a food item if they want to have a drink outside. What constitutes “food” has become something of an issue, with some establishments serving less than the bare minimum. Cuomo has vowed to crack down on businesses that aren’t complying – which is what led to today’s controversy.

Under current guidance, establishments must sell “sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, precooked or frozen” if they also intend to sell alcoholic beverages. The Authority clarified that “Other foods’ are foods which are similar in quality and substance to sandwiches and soups,” further noting that “For example, salads, wings, or hotdogs would be of that quality and substance; however, a bag of chips bowl of nuts, or candy alone are not.”

A spokesperson later confirmed via Twitter that wings qualify as “substantive food.” And he did it not once, but twice:

But what about sandwiches? @CrimeADay (a must-follow on Twitter in my opinion) decided to resolve sandwich-gate by heading to the ultimate authority on food: tax law.

Tax law has actually been useful in settling a lot of “is it or isn’t it” debates including whether Pringles are actually potato chips (they’re not) and how many doughnuts constitutes a meal (no more than five in Virginia).

In New York, there is an actual Tax Bulletin on Sandwiches (it’s TB-ST-835). @CrimeADay posted a screenshot which notes that “Sandwiches include cold and hot sandwiches of every kind that are prepared and ready to be eaten, whether made on bread, on bagels, on rolls, in pitas, in wraps, or otherwise, and regardless of the filling or number of layers. A sandwich can be as simple as a buttered bagel or roll, or as elaborate as a six-foot, toasted submarine sandwich.”

The bulletin goes on to note examples of taxable sandwiches, including burritos (but not tacos), “cheese-steak sandwiches,” and hot dogs. There’s a lot to parse here, but I offer three things to consider:

  • I don’t understand how something that can also be purchased from a freezer (burrito) can be regarded as a sandwich;
  • You can’t trust a New York cheesesteak because you simply don’t hyphenate cheesesteak. Get your cheesesteaks from a city where they can both prepare and spell them correctly (Philadelphia); and
  • By law in New York, hot dogs are sandwiches (I don’t write the rules, I just report them).

So there you have it. You know what a sandwich is (and isn’t). And under the guidance in New York, sandwich or wings and booze, yes. Nuts/hors d’oeuvres/candy and alcohol, no.

Failure to follow the rules – and racking up three COVID-19 violations – can result in a suspension of an establishment’s liquor license. Cuomo reported earlier this week that the NYSLA has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules, including four in New York City and Long Island.

The new rules remind some of the Raines Liquor Tax Law, sometimes just referred to as “Raines Law.” The law, passed in New York in 1896, was named for legislator John Raines (you can read his thoughts here). Among other things, it made the sale of liquor illegal on Sundays. However, there was an exception: bars could sell liquor on any day of the week if sold at a hotel. A hotel was defined as a place that served food and had at least 10 rooms for rent. Bar owners scurried to bring in beds and served – and sometimes recycled – the barest of meals. You can imagine that it didn’t go well: the law was eventually repealed in 1923 (yes, three years after Prohibition began).

As Tax Day – and thus, tax season – ticks away, I suspect many of you are looking forward to a little relaxation. If a cocktail is in the cards, consider the Income Tax Cocktail.

1 1/2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. dry vermouth
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. orange juice
2 dashes Angostura (or Peychaud’s) bitters

Combine ingredients, and shake with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish: I opted for a lemon peel.

You can mix up the proportions a little if you’d like. I know some folks suggest less vermouth, but I’m going to disagree. I would, however, champion using good vermouth (it makes all the difference).

I suspect that it will come as no surprise that the Income Tax Cocktail is a prohibition-era drink. Rumor has it that the bitters represent the “bitterness” of tax season.

Since I’m always willing to go the extra mile for my readers, I tested this one out. It’s easy to drink, with a bit of sweetness. I would call it a satisfying ending to the season.

True confession: I didn’t have a beer today despite the fact that it’s National Beer Day. Honestly, in the midst of the quarantine – and with three kiddos at home – I’m doing good to remember what month it is. But, it’s true that it’s National Beer Day: April 7.

Today marks the day that beer was allowed to be legally manufactured and sold following a long, dry Prohibition. On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen–Harrison Act into law, which moved the U.S. away from Prohibition by allowing the manufacture and sale of beer that was approximately 4% alcohol by volume (just a little less than the average today) and some wines. After he signed, Roosevelt reportedly remarked to his aide Louis Howe, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

Prohibition would officially remain in place for a few more months, but the ability to drink beer and wine was worth cheering. Here are a few more facts about beer—and its close relationship to tax—to help you celebrate in 2020:

  • 1. Egypt was likely the first civilization to tax beer. Queen Cleopatra imposed a tax on beer in order, she claimed, to discourage public drunkenness, though it is believed that the tax was used to raise money to fund a war with Rome.
  • 2. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the United States. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 38% of Americans who drink alcohol say they prefer beer. That’s down from a couple of points from 2018 but I totally expect that number to go up in 2020 (largely because of the number of parents forced to re-learn math to help with remote school). In 2018, the federal government collected $3.5 billion in excise taxes on domestic and imported beer.
  • 3. In 1695, Great Britain raised taxes on beer, making gin the cheapest beverage in England. Gin was taxed at 2d (about 2 pennies) per gallon, while beer was taxed at 4 shillings 9d (about 57 pennies) per gallon. The difference in price is considered the root of a serious drinking problem in the country in the 18th century, especially among the poor.
  • 4. In the United States, taxes on the production, distribution, and sale typically eat up 40% of the retail price of beer. That amount includes all taxes imposed on beer. In previous years, the federal excise tax was about 5 cents per drink (the nickel comes from the assumption that the average beer has an alcohol content of 4.5%).
  • 5. If you thought the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) only lowered income taxes, you’d be mistaken. The TCJA reduced the federal excise tax on beer according to output. Those rates were reduced to $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels for domestic brewers producing fewer than 2 million barrels annually and $16 per barrel on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers and all beer importers; the excise tax remains at $18 per barrel rate for those producing over 6 million. If those rates sound familiar, they closely mirror previously proposed legislation, including the BEER Act of 2013. There is one downside: Under tax reform, most corporate changes under tax reform are permanent and most individual changes are effective through 2025, the changes affecting the beer market will expire this year.
  • 6. German beers are often labeled “Gebraut nach dem Bayerischen Reinheitsgebot von 1516,” which translates roughly to “brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516.” The law originally limited the ingredients that can be used to make beer in Germany (barley malt, hops, yeast, and water) and allowed the government to tax beer. The Reinheitsgebot became an official part of the German tax code in 1919 but was largely gutted when Germany became part of the European Union.
  • 7. To help pay for the Civil War, Congress imposed an excise tax on beer. The Revenue Act of 1862, signed into law by President Lincoln, included a tax on “all beer, lager beer, ale, porter, and other similar fermented liquors, by whatever name such liquors may be called.” It may not be popular but taxing beer wasn’t a bad idea from an economic standpoint, as it generates billions in revenue each year.
  • 8. Arthur Guinness II—the father of Guinness stout—altered the family beer recipe to include unmalted roasted barley instead of black malt. The unmalted barley wasn’t subject to extra taxes (more on those here), which made it affordable for the Guinness family—and also made the beer’s taste distinctive. By the end of the 19th century, Guinness was the largest brewery in Europe.
  • 9. According to the Beer Institute, directly and indirectly, the beer industry employed nearly 2.19 million Americans in 2018, providing more than $103 billion in wages and benefits. 
  • 10. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill that raised taxes on luxuries such as furs, yachts, private jets, jewelry and expensive cars (despite the “no new taxes” pledge). That same bill nearly doubled the tax on beer. Bush called for the repeal of the tax just two years later, and while most of the taxes included in the bill were eventually repealed, the tax on beer remained in place and is still there today.
  • 11. The most expensive state to buy a beer may be Tennessee, where state excise taxes were $1.29 per gallon in 2019, plus sales tax, making it the highest in the country. The cheapest state to buy a beer? Wyoming, where the excise tax is just $.02 per gallon. You can see where your state ranks here.
  • 12. The oldest operating brewing company in the U.S. is D.G. Yuengling & Son, owned by Forbes billionaire Richard Yuengling, Jr. Yuengling (“Ying-ling” and not “Yoong-ling” or “Yang-ling”), based in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, is one of the country’s five largest beer companies, with an estimated $550 million in annual revenue in 2015. The company added a new location in Florida and won’t promise to remain in Pennsylvania, blaming the state’s tax climate in 2012: “Pennsylvania is a great location. But it’s not very business-friendly. You look for fair tax breaks, fair taxation. And the bottom line is more jobs. That’s what it’s all about.”
  • 13. What’s the best state for craft beer? According to C+R Research, the craft beer capital is Vermont. It probably helps that Vermont has a relatively low excise tax on beer (it ranks in the middle, but more than $1/gallon less than the top). You can see how your state ranks here.
  • 14. Sales of craft beer increased 8%, up to $26.0 billion, according to the Brewers Association, and now account for more than 23% of the beer market. California leads the way, boasting 2.2 breweries per 100,000 adults over the age of 21. You can see how your state ranks here.
  • 15. In addition to sales of beer, “beer tourism” is a real thing. Sites like help consumers plan road trips and vacations around visits to breweries, which bring additional travel tax dollars. States and regions have gotten into the spirit, offering info on their own “ale trail” recommendations.
  • 16. How does beer figure into the economy overall? The beer industry contributed more than $328 billion in economic output in 2018 —equal to nearly 1.5% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • 17Brewers are getting creative. In some states – like mine – with liquor stores, local brewers are ramping up takeout. Some, like 2SP Brewing, are offering delivery. Even breweries that aren’t serving food may be serving take out. If you’re looking for ways to keep your money in your neighborhood during the quarantine, consider supporting a local brewery. 
  • 18. Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty beer glass. Okay, that’s not a tax fact, of course, just a fact. Don’t live in fear: go, get a beer. 

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss as he is known to most of the world, was born on March 2, 1904. And though he passed away in 1991, his books and his poems are still as popular as ever.

I love the idea of combining silliness with reality and over the past few years, on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, I’ve mixed a little tax in with my Seuss.

You can see my previous efforts from 201220132014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

This year, I’ve re-written the first half of “One Fish, Two Fish” to be “One Tax, Two Tax.” I hope you enjoy it!

One tax, two tax, me tax, you tax,
Sales tax, sin tax, old tax, new tax.
This one has a little rate.
This one has a new due date.
Say! What a lot of tax to hate.

Yes. Some are yours, and some are mine.
Some on beer and some on wine.

Some on food, and some on clothes,
And some on bags now, I suppose.
Why on food and bags and clothes?
I do not know, it’s how it goes.

Some are flat, and some are tiered.
The tiered ones are extra weird.

From there to here,
From here to there,
We tax all things everywhere.

There are some who like to pay.
They pay for fun and pay each day.
Oh me! Oh my! Oh me! Oh my!
How these tax filing deadlines will fly.

Some have two rates and some have four.
Some have six rates and some have more.

Where do they come from? I can't say.
But trust me you will have to pay.

We see them come, we see them go.
Some will ebb. Some will flow.
Some are high. Some are low.

Not all of them are very PC.
Don't ask me why, go ask in DC.

Say! Look at his schedules!
One, two, three...
How many schedules do I see?
One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
He has eleven!
Eleven! This is something new.
Not postcard-sized or overdue!

Earn! Earn! Earn!
Did you get your tax return?
We got ours and have lots to learn.
But we know a man called Mr. Bern.
Mr. Bern does our annual return. So...
If you like to go Earn! Earn!
Just learn to yearn for a turn with Mr. Bern.

Who am I? I’m a tax pro.
I do not like what I don’t know.
This is no good. This is not right.
This tax law is not black and white.
And when I read the rules, Oh, dear!
I see why people so often fear.

We like our cash. It pays the bills.
But IRS give us all the chills.
We like our cash, and this is why:
Cash keeps us fed and that’s no lie.

Hello, tax pro. How do you do?
Tell me, tell me what is new?
How are things, how do they go?
What is new? Please tell, tax pro.
I do not like this form at all.
A lot of folks I have to call.
An IRS rep, PPS.
Oh! What a form! Oh! What a mess!

Oh dear, oh dear! I cannot hear.
Turn up the speaker, dear.
Will you please yell in my ear?
It’s quiet on the phone I fear.
Say look! Static was in your ear.
But it is out. So have no fear.
Again your ear can hear, my dear.

My laptop’s old, my phone is gold.
I have a pen I like to hold.
My light is off, my coffee’s cold.
My light is off, my coffee’s cold.
I have a pen I like to hold.
My laptop’s old, my hands are cold.
And now my story is all told.

There was a lot of tax talk in 2019 – especially on social media. From Bitcoin to stretch IRAs to tax refunds, Twitter streams were filled with news, links, and best practices focused on tax.

Twitter is an easy way to find out what’s happening in the tax world – for tax professionals, taxpayers and tax geeks. You can join in with live twitter chats or simply look for hashtags like #IRS, #taxtwitter and #womenintax. Or, you can follow some of the folks who are most engaged in sharing tax news and information. To get started, check out the top 100 must-follow tax Twitter accounts for 2020:

IRS* (Twitter list):

  1. @IRSnews – IRS – IRS news and guidance for the public, press and practitioners. 
  2. @YourVoiceAtIRS – Taxpayer Advocate – The Taxpayer Advocate Service is your voice at the IRS.  
  3. @IRStaxpros – IRS – IRS news and guidance for tax professionals. IRS does not collect comments or messages on this site.
  4. @IRStaxsecurity – IRS Tax Security

Forbes Tax Writers & Regular Contributors (Twitter list):Today In: Taxes

  1. @ashleaebeling – Ashlea Ebeling – Associate Editor, Forbes
  2. @janetnovack – Janet Novack – Forbes Washington Bureau Chief & Personal Finance Editor / I follow tax, budget and retirement policy & planning.
  3. @nittiaj – Tony Nitti – tax guy @rubinbrownllp. writer @forbes. Tax Prof @uofdenver. Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.
  4. @peterreillycpa – Peter Reilly – We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.

Tax-Related Orgs (Twitter list):

  1. @ABATaxSection – ABA Tax Section – The ABA Section of Taxation
  2. @AICPA – AICPA – The official Twitter account of the American Institute of CPAs
  3. @NATPTAX – NATP – The National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) serves professionals through tax education, research, updates, publications and office supplies.
  4. @NSAtax – NSA – National Society of Accountants (NSA) is the association for Main Street tax and accounting professionals.
  5. @Tax_Experts – NAEA – NAEA is the membership organization advocating for America’s Tax Experts®. Use #EnrolledAgents to join the conversation with tax professionals.
  6. @WomenInTax – Women in Tax – Women In Tax is a network for women working in tax – in the profession, in-house, academia, HMRC, NGOs or anywhere else. Tweets currently by @hselftax

Tax Professionals, Firms & Companies (Twitter list):

  1. @AlloyCPAs – Alloy Silverstein – Empowering businesses with accounting, tax & advisory services since 1959 | Best of Accounting 2019 Award Winner | #Xero Partner | Managing Partner @RenCicalese
  2. @AmieKCPA – Amie K – Iowa tax girl • Came for the TaxTwitter, stayed for the sarcasm and gifs • Your weird is your strength.
  3. @Aprilshowerstax – April Walker – #AICPA Lead Manager- Tax Practice & Ethics Team | #CPA | #UNC Tarheel | Wife & mom to a mini me and 2 fur babies | Proud #IMMT finisher | Views are mine
  4. @Avalara – Avalara – Tax compliance done right. Cloud-based solution for various transactional taxes, including sales and use, VAT, excise, communications, and other tax types.
  5. @BDO_USA_Tax – BDO USA Tax – Our professionals help companies and individuals navigate complex tax issues. A 2019 @Forbes Must-Follow Tax Twitter Feed.
  6. @BrandonHarbeke – Brandon Harbeke, CPA – Tax CPA specializing in partnerships and corporations; sci-fi watcher and reader; classical and country music listener
  7. @BrightTax – Greg Dewald – CEO of Bright!Tax, the go-to cloud based US tax services firm for the 9m Americans living overseas. Expat Tax Provider of the Year. Forbes Top 100 Tax Tweeters.
  8. @bstonercpa – Brian Stoner, CPA – Award-Winning CPA; Forbes 2019 top 100 Twitter Tax Acct; Quoted on MarketWatch CNBC & CNN; #TaxPlanning & #TaxPrep for Small Business! Laker Ram & Dodger fan!
  9. @CariWestonCPA – Cari Weston – Living my life, finding my passion, learning and leading…
  10. @cbriancpa – Brian Streig, CPA – CPA focusing on tax planning, compliance, start-ups & entrepreneurs. Plus tweets about Austin, TX, food and my puppy. 
  11. @DebFoxFinancial – Deborah Fox CPA – Strategic Tax Planning. Startups. ProForma Financials. Cash Flow.
  12. @DonnaLCPA – Donna Laubscher – Tax CPA, especially fond of Form 1040; avid outside-of-tax-season reader, live theater, baseball & football spectator; iced tea addict (hydrate in the desert)
  13. @edzollars – Ed Zollars, CPA – Tax CPA & CPE Lecturer for Kaplan Financial Education. Author of material on Current Federal Tax Developments website.
  14. @HowardGinsberg – Howard Ginsberg, CPA, Tax, Financial & Accounting Services. Wealth Management. Forbes Top Must Follow Tax List. Voted Best of Long Island.
  15. @JodyPadarCPA – Jody Padar, CPA – Tax Quickbooks CPA Adjunct Professor Xero Firm Partner Sage Networker MACPA Professional Speaker Accounting Today Freshbooks The Radical CPA
  16. @joebwan – Joe Kristan – Tax guy. Former proprietor, Tax Update Blog. Currently with Eide Bailly LLP. Views are mine (who else would want them?)
  17. @JPorterCPA – Jeffrey A. Porter, CPA – Tax Practitioner, Tax policy aficionado, Past Chair—AICPA Tax Executive Committee, Past Chair—AICPA Tax Reform Task Force & fan of Kiawah Island
  18. @JustinMillerEsq – Justin Miller – Bad tax jokes and even worse puns. National Strategist at BNY Mellon, Adjunct Professor at GGU Law, and ACTEC Fellow. Tweets ≠ legal or tax advice.
  19. @kerryfreemanea – Kerry Freeman, EA – Tax Professional, Member of National Association of EAs, Arizona Society of EAs and owner of Freeman Income Tax Service in Anthem, AZ. Licensed by U.S. Treasury
  20. @LoganGrafTax – The Tax TeleGraf with Logan Graf, CPA. Pioneering the tax landscape one tweet at a time.
  21. @LTWLAW – Tax return preparation. Email now to get started!
  22. @lypierceCPA – Lykethia Pierce, CPA – CEO of Pierce, CPA & Advisors| Check out what I have a flair for (e.g., accounting, business, sunsets, life…)| Phone no. (205) 370-4508/@AuthenticCPA
  23. @MelindaNCPA– Melinda Nelson, CPA – CPA, explainer of all things tax, mom of 3, musical theater geek, fan of soccer & Iowa State basketball, just an Iowa girl at heart.
  24. @MissTaxCat – Jina Etienne – #Speaker, trainer & facilitator engaging with passion, clarity & humor | Accounting Today #Top100 2016 – 2018 | #CPA with personality 
  25. @NathanPClark – Nathan Clark – Tax geek, beer consumer, dog lover, boardgamer, runner. Prone to extreme sarcasm and dry humor. Opinions are my own.
  26. @NayoCarterGray – Nayo Carter-Gray, EA – Savvy virtual Accountant by day who loves a corny joke, funky glasses, and is passionate about financial literacy…
  27. @raniacombs – Rania Combs – Attorney with a completely web-based law firm who helps Texans prepare their wills, trusts and estate plans online, without the usual overhead.
  28. @Roberg Tax – Jan Roberg – I specialize in individual and small business (one or two owner) taxes.  she/her
  29. @RobKovacev – Rob Kovacev – Tax attorney, DOJ alum. #Tax controversy & taxation of #innovation/#AI/#robotics. Forbes Top 100 #TaxTwitter to Follow. Views my own.
  30. @RyanLEllis – Tax lobbyist/preparer. Prez of @CFEconomy. Go @patriots@examiner contributor. Freedom/fiscal, paleo/foreign, Catholic/social. Senate unconfirmable. DMs open.
  31. @SalesTaxInst – Sales Tax Institute – Sales & use tax news, education, and expert training • Forbes Top 100 Tax Twitter Accounts For 2019 • Fearless leader: @YetterTax – the original #salestaxnerd
  32. @ShaunHunley – Shaun Hunley – Sketch comedian turned tax attorney and author (not a stretch). Click for my latest thoughts.
  33. @ShaynaCPA – Shayna Chapman – CPA.CITP, CGMA, Tech addict. Forward thinker. Smiler. Mom. Trying to control my addiction to chocolate chip cookies. 
  34. @SylviaDionCPA – Sylvia F. Dion -Founder-Managing Partner State #Tax Advisory Firm, #CPA#EconomicNexus Guru, #SALT #SalesTax Blogger, Happy Mom, Passionate Cook, PROUD Mexican-American LATINA
  35. @TallyCPA – Adam Watson – Husband, Dad and Stepdad, CPA (tax guy), nerd, knitter, Gator fan, and a big fan of my adopted hometown of Tally. Him/He.
  36. @TaxBuzzOnline – – Forbes Top 100 #TaxTwitter to Follow. Get #tax & #accounting help from highly-rated professionals. Easy & free service for individuals & #smallbusiness.
  37. @taxguru – Amit Chandel CPA CTC – Certified Tax Planner/Exit Strategies/Tax Resolution
  38. @TaxHatchet – Brent A. Auberry – Attorney, Faegre Baker Daniels, focusing on State & Local Tax, Sec., American Property Tax Counsel (Tweets are my own & not legal advice; RTs not endorsements)
  39. @TaxJar – Tax Jar – Making sales tax compliance simple for more than 20,000 online businesses & developers
  40. @TaxPro10018 – Patrick Murphy -Enrolled Agent. Forty-four years of tax professional experience.  2019 Forbes Top 100 Tax Twitter Account
  41. @taxtherapist505 – Amber Gray-Fenner, EA – Easing tax pain and providing peace of mind! I read; I write; I knit; I solve tax problems. I take my business seriously. Myself? Not so much. (she/her)
  42. @TheSETaxGuy – Tyrone Gregory, The Self-Employed Tax Guy – On a mission to save the Self-Employed and creator of the Self-Employed Tax Academy Online Course. Go ahead… shamelessly steal a copy of my ‘Cheat Sheet’:
  43. @TropicalTax – Jerry Gaddis, EA, MBA – Founder/CEO Tropical Tax Solutions: Founded in Paradise, Serving Clients Everywhere | #EnrolledAgent | @DaveRamsey ELP | @Forbes Must-Follow Tax Account
  44. @VertexInc. – Vertex – The official Twitter account of Vertex, Inc. the company that allows you to unleash the strategic power of tax.
  45. @VLJeker – V. La Torre Jeker – US Tax – Dubai since 2001. NYS Bar 35 yrs; admitted US Tax Court. US/int’l tax planning, expatriation, FATCA. Forbes Top 100 Tax Twitter Account 2017-2019

Tax Writers, Bloggers & Gurus (Twitter list):

  1. @alexparkerDC – Alex Parker – Taxsplainer for @Law360. Fan of Purdue, Butler, Colts, Pacers, Indians & free thinkers. Views here are my own, or Batman’s. Retweets are endorphins.
  2. @BillSheridan – Bill Sheridan – Cuba, NY, native. University at Buffalo alum. Adopted son of Baltimore and St. Louis. Not a CPA, but I play one on TV. EOS implementer, speaker, author, writer.
  3. @CentristinIdaho – David Morse – Tax Policy Director @cpa_tradereform; Total Geek. Forbes Top 100 #TaxTwitter to Follow 2019 and 2018. All opinions are my own. RT not endorsement
  4. @CPA_Trendlines – Rick Telberg – Live links to breaking news for tax, accounting and finance professionals. Upgrade to premium and start profiting today  
  5. @Darla_Mercado – Darla Mercado, CFP – Reporter, @CNBC‘s personal finance team. Mom. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Triathlete. A regular shmegular degular girl from The Bronx. 
  6. @dashching – Chye-Ching Huang – Tax, budget, economy, law, policy. US & NZ. Director Federal Fiscal Policy @CenteronBudget. Tweets not about US fiscal policy aren’t for CBPP.
  7. @jberryjohnson – Janet Berry-Johnson – I’m Janet Berry-Johnson. Freelance writer and CPA. Contributor at Forbes, Credit Karma, FreshBooks, Magnify Money, Accounting Principals & more.
  8. @JoeTaxpayerBlog – Joe Taxpayer – Father, Husband, Puppy Person, Friend, Financial Blogger, in that order, mostly. Likes are good, ReTweets are Great!
  9. @LenBurman – Len Burman – Father, grandfather, @taxpolicycenter cofounder, Syracuse University prof. For fun, I cycle, cook, and sing. Retweets≠endorsement.
  10. @M_SullivanTax – Martin Sullivan – Chief Economist, Tax Analysts. Former Treasury, JCT staff. Grateful for bio by Steven Pearlstein.
  11. @ManasaSogNadig – Manasa Sogal Nadig – Enrolled Agent&Chief at MNTaxBiz;Tax Geek & Blogger at ;Mom&Wife @ Chez Nadig;Forbes Top 100 #TaxTwitter Accounts 2018 & 2019
  12. @MariaKoklanaris – Maria Koklanaris – Senior tax correspondent @Law360. Steelers fanatic. Proud Penn Stater. Tweets mine only. RTs not endorsements #Ijustmetagirlnamed #Howdoyousolveaproblemlike
  13. @njagoda – Naomi Jagoda – Tax reporter @thehill@Penn alum. N.Y. native. My last name is pronounced like Pagoda with a J.
  14. @NKaeding – Nicole Kaeding – Vice President of Policy Promotion & Economist @NTUF. Mom. Wife. Federal and state fiscal policy wonk. Views expressed are my own.
  15. @RenuZ – Renu Zaretsky (Tax Hound) – #TaxHound and #DailyDeduction writer @TaxPolicyCenter. Indian-American wife, parent to 2 kids, 1 Scottish Deerhound. Views mine alone, RTs not endorsements
  16. @RichardRubinDC – Richard Rubin – I cover U.S. tax policy for the @WSJ. There is ALWAYS a tax angle. Retweets are not endorsements or tax advice.
  17. @Saunderswsj – Laura Saunders – I write about taxes for The Wall Street Journal
  18. @SoongJohnston – Stephanie Johnston – Chief correspondent, @TaxNotes Today International, ex-fashion editor, @MedillSchool MSJ06. RTs≠endorsements
  19. @TaxAddict – Tracy Shannon Levey – All Things #Tax#Accounting & #Finance. Forbes Top 100 #Tax Twitter to Follow 2019. Co-Founder Parker Tax Publishing. Opinions are my own.
  20. @TaxMama – TaxMama® – Award winning author – Top 100 accountant and tax blog – dean of TaxMama’s® #EnrolledAgent (EA) Time for Self-Study! 
  21. @taxmOuth – Free Tax Help – Tax help, answers, tips and news from federal and state tax officials, gurus, experts & authors for CPAs, tax attorneys and other tax pros. #taxes #tax #IRS
  22. @taxtweet – Kay Bell – Native Texan. #Tax blogger. Journalist. @Astros & @Cowboys fan. Birder. Wife. Order subject to change. Tax scoop at Don’t Mess With Taxes (link below).

Media, Publishers, Networks and Think Tanks (Twitter list):

  1. @AccountingToday – Accounting Today – Accounting Today, a SourceMedia brand, is the independent news and information resource for tax and accounting professionals.
  2. @Bloombergtax – Bloomberg Tax – The best access to expert analysis, primary sources, practitioner-developed tools, & technology for planning/compliance. | Follow our journalists & news: @tax
  3. @OECDTax – Latest #tax news & data from the #OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. Follow our senior leadership @PSaintAmans & @GPerezinParis
  4. @Tax – Bloomberg Tax – Leading source of accounting & tax news #TaxTwitter 
  5. @Tax_Alerts – Tax Alerts – News and guidance covering all Tax issues – corporate, personal. Written by the nation’s leading tax lawyers for CPAs, financial planners, etc. A @JDSupra feed.
  6. @taxfoundation – Tax Foundation – America’s leading tax policy resource, informing smarter tax policy at the federal, state, and global levels since 1937.
  7. @TaxNotes – Tax Notes – Your #1 source for everything tax. News, commentary, analysis. Nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. #letstalktax
  8. @TaxPolicyCenter – Tax Policy Center – Independent, timely, accessible analyses of current and emerging tax policy issues. (Links/RTs/favorites/follows/etc. are not endorsements.)

Tax Professors and Other Learned Tax Geeks (Twitter List):

  1. @BW_Johnson – Ben Johnson – Associate Dean/ Accounting Professor @UEBusiness. Tax guy. I live life in a highly caffeinated state.
  2. @book_leslie – Leslie Book – Villanova Law Prof. Tax,poverty law and tax procedure/admin Author: Saltzman & Book, IRS Practice & Procedure.
  3. @EOTaxProf – Philip Hackney – #TaxProf, fmr DC IRS chief counsel atty, fmr Baker Botts atty; #nonprofits, IRS, public policy, tax, campaign finance, #darkmoney, Art Law; #LawProf @Pittlaw
  4. @JudithFreedman – Judith Freedman – Oxford Professor of Tax Law, British Tax Review editor, school governor, grandmother of 4. Here in personal capacity, not representing views of any organisation
  5. @lilybatch – Lily Batchelder – Robert C. Kopple Family Professor of Taxation at @nyulaw. Former Deputy Director @WhiteHouse NEC; former Chief Tax Counsel @SenateFinance.
  6. @Narfnampil – Francine Lipman – Tax & poverty law prof/CPA & lawyer4tax-justice at Boyd Law School @UNLVLaw @UNLVLawLITC @surlysubgroup & NVTaxCommissioner All views&comments are solely my own
  7. @ProfAfield – Ted Afield – Director, Philip C. Cook Low Income Taxpayer Clinic and Mark and Evelyn Trammell Associate Clinical Professor of Law, @GeorgiaStateLaw@GSULawClinics
  8. @ProfRuthMason – Ruth Mason – Tax professor at UVA Law. I write on U.S. state and EU taxation.
  9. @realtimtodd – Tim Todd – Assoc Dean for Academic Affairs & Law Professor (@LibertyLaw @LibertyU) teaching tax, business, & transactional law | @Forbes Contributor
  10. @SeanSteinSmith – Dr Sean Stein Smith – @LehmanCollege Prof, Member @WallStreetBTC Advisory Board, Member @GildedFinance Advisory Board, Author @IBMBlockchain @NJCPA ‘19 Ovation Award @AIER Fellow ‘19
  11. @smbrnsn – Sam Brunson – Georgia Reithal Professor Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Author of God and the IRS,

And don’t forget me: @taxgirl.

To subscribe to all of the accounts in a category, click on the Twitter list link following the category head. Note that the category heads are for convenience – in practice, some folks could fall in more than one category. To subscribe to all 100 Twitter accounts on the list, click here.

Keep in mind that this list is subjective. There’s no fancy algorithm or poll. I don’t count tweets or followers, though I do take into consideration type and timeliness of tweets, as well as engagement. I also target feeds with a clear focus on tax as opposed to finance or economics. The goal is to present a wide range of tax professionals from different parts of the world, offering different perspectives (I’ve even included Cowboys fans).

Each year, I receive emails critiquing and questioning the list. I do take suggestions and the list is constantly changing. And this year, it changed a lot – which is a good thing. If you’ve been on lists in prior years but aren’t on this year, don’t take it personally. This year was extremely tough, since there’s a lot of great information being shared.

One more thing: if you tweet about tax and I’m not following you, please @taxgirl on Twitter and let me know. Additionally, if you are a tax pro and are not included on my Twittering Tax Pro list, please @taxgirl and let me know to add you. Thanks and tweet on.

* The IRS has a number of media spokespersons, including some for individual regions. Here are some of the most active on Twitter:

  • @BillB_IRS – William Brunson – IRS Spokesperson for AZ, MT, NM & UT.
  • @ChristopherIRS – Christopher – IRS Media Relations for Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska.
  • @David_IRS – David Tucker – IRS Media Relations – WA, AK, HI, OR and Northern CA.
  • @KC_IRS – Karen Connelly – IRS contact for CO, ID, WY, ND, SD, MN media.
  • @Luis_IRS – Luis Garcia – IRS Spokesman for MI, IN, OH, KY, PA, NH, RI, WV, NC, SC & MD
  • @raphyIRS – raph t – San Diego-based IRS Spokesman for So Cal, SF Bay Area & NV.
  • @MichaelD_IRS – Michael Devine – IRS Media Relations.
  • @IRS_Patricia – Patricia Russomagno – IRS Public Relations Specialist. 
  • @Sanford_IRS – Clay Sanford – IRS Media Relations.

Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer. For more, check out my About page, like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Here’s my Halloween confession: we didn’t give out candy this year. We were out with two of the kiddos, and the third was at a party. It was very last minute, which means that since we bought candy, we still have candy. And let’s not forget the booty from trick or treat. It’s a challenge to figure out what to do with all of the sweets. This dilemma inspired a post a few years back. It’s back again, with updates, including those under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Here are 13 uses for leftover Halloween candy—complete with the tax consequences, of course:

1. Give the really good stuff to your favorite tax pro just because.

Non-tax consequences: Everybody loves a gift, including tax geeks. Just be sure to pony up Reese’s peanut butter cups and Milky Way bars—don’t try to sneak in your butterscotch stragglers.

Tax consequences: None. If you’re handing over the candy out of the kindness of your heart (or with “detached and disinterested generosity”) and not expecting anything in return, it’s a gift: gifts are not taxable for income tax purposes. And unless you make a habit of giving your tax pro gifts worth more than the annual gift tax exclusion ($15,000 for 2019) – which I am in no way discouraging – you’re fine when it comes to gift tax, too.

2. Pay your tax professional in chocolate.

Non-tax consequences: Depending on costs, this could be a lot of candy. If your tax pro has a sweet tooth, he or she might appreciate some treats, otherwise, they’ll probably insist on payment in the way of cash, check, credit card or bitcoin.

Tax consequences: It used to be the case that fees for tax advice or tax preparation – even if made in candy—could be deductible as a miscellaneous deduction subject to the 2% floor. That’s no longer the rule under tax reform. The deductions for tax-preparation expenses and other miscellaneous deductions that exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) have been eliminated through 2025.

3. Pay your plumber or electrician in Snickers bars.

Non-tax consequences: See #2 above.

Tax consequences: None. The costs of most personal services are not deductible for individual taxpayers.

4. Take a bowl (or two) of candy to hand out to your colleagues.

Non-tax consequences: Your colleagues will thank you for making them happy. Also fat. But mostly happy.

Tax consequences: Giving candy to your colleagues isn’t deductible. Even if they could be couched as ordinary and necessary in your line of work (and who doesn’t think that M&Ms are both ordinary and necessary?) unreimbursed employee expenses are no longer deductible. As noted above, deductions for miscellaneous expenses that exceed 2% of your AGI have been eliminated through 2025.

(You can find more on the elimination of the deduction, including what it means for home offices, here.)

5. Keep a filled candy bowl at the office for your employees.

Non-tax consequences: Your employees will think you’re awesome, assuming that you give them the good stuff. Leave out a bowl of unrecognizable nougats, and you’ll have a whole group of folks posting nasty comments to before you can say butter brickle.

Tax consequences: None. There’s no out-of-pocket cost to the employer for candy that was gathered by trick or treaters, though candy purchased at a store to feed employees would be a business expense. Occasional snacks offered to employees at their workplace are de minimis and are not includable for tax purposes: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers these items “so small as to make accounting for it unreasonable or impractical.” In fact, the Latin phrase de minimis translates roughly to “of little importance” – which means that the IRS clearly doesn’t know how I feel about Junior Mints. But if you were touting hand-rolled truffles a la Google, it could be considered a taxable benefit. Stick to what’s in the trick or treat bags.

(For more on IRS guidance regarding meals and entertainment, click here.)

6. Exchange your Whoppers for other stuff.

Non-tax consequences: If you use a program like Halloween Candy Buy Back, participating businesses will “buy” back your candy in exchange for cash, coupons, and other creative exchanges; businesses may then work with groups to send candy to our soldiers, children’s hospitals, homeless shelters or other deserving folks. That should give you a reason to smile.

Tax consequences: Property held for personal use is considered a capital asset, and you have to report any gain from a sale or exchange as a capital gain. Assuming that your candy is exchanged for a similar item, there should be no gain and no tax consequences. But what if you lose out by trading a stash of Reese’s cups for a gift certificate to a restaurant that you’ll never patronize? You can’t deduct losses from the sale of personal property (more on losses here). And don’t get fooled into thinking you can take a charitable donation: you can only claim a charitable deduction for gifts made to a qualifying organization to the extent that you don’t receive something in return (more on quid pro quo here).

7. Donate your candy to charity.

Non-tax consequences: Warm fuzzies. You did a good thing.

Tax consequences: Assuming that you contribute to a qualified charitable organization (check with IRS using the new search tool if you’re not sure), you can deduct the value of the goods as an itemized deduction. Document your gift and get a receipt. There’s one more caveat: In addition to making sure that the organization actually wants your extra candy, if you’re donating property that’s not related to the charity’s exempt purpose, your donation may be limited. In other words, if you’re giving candy to an after-school program, you can be reasonably sure that the program will use the candy to accomplish its charitable purpose. But if you donate that same candy to an art museum, not so much. So, use common sense—and a little courtesy (ask first).

8. Use candy as prizes for bingo and card games.

Non-tax consequences: Kids, including big ones, love bingo. We play at our house because it’s fun, it’s easy, and notwithstanding some tricky advice from the seniors in my hometown, it doesn’t require much skill.

Tax consequences: Our family bingo games don’t have tax consequences because we play for peanuts—well, literally for peanut M&Ms, but you get the point. In general, bingo winnings are taxable to the winner as income on line 21 of your federal form 1040: It does not matter whether the winnings are in cash or property (though clearly if you eat the winnings, they’re pretty hard to trace, not that I’m suggesting you evade taxation by this method). And in case you’re wondering if your unorthodox means of play really qualifies as bingo, there is a tax statute for that: 26 C.F.R. § 1.513-5 in the Treasury Regulations.

9. Use candy for tips.

Non-tax consequences: I’m not suggesting that you not give the paperboy a cash tip. But why not hand over some yummy candy as well? It can’t be a bad thing to be known as the house on the block that gives out the best tips ever. But that means you have to give out the good stuff (giving out Necco wafers isn’t going to win you any kudos).

Tax consequences: It depends on who you’re paying. You can’t deduct tips to the paperboy or the pizza delivery girl. However, to the extent that you’re tipping the babysitter or other employees, tips are taxable to them (and thus possibly deductible to you) – but see #10.

10. Make gifts for the babysitter, maid, etc.

Non-tax consequences: Who doesn’t like getting a nice gift now and again? With a little ingenuity, you can fill a cute gift bag filled with candy. Voilà! Minimal cost and effort to let folks know they’re appreciated.

Tax consequences: No matter what you want to call it (a thank you, a bonus, a perk), a gift made to an employee is considered compensation. There’s an exception for small noncash gifts considered de minimis: Those gifts are not taxable. So, a few Hershey bars in a gift bag would be de minimis and non-taxable—a tower of Godiva truffles, likely taxable, though clearly still delicious.

11. Recycle your stash of candy at Christmas.

Non-tax consequences: If you put leftover candy in the freezer, you can recycle it for later. Money saved. Just be sure to sort out the candy with ghosts and pumpkins; otherwise, you’ll have to explain why Santa and the elves are handing out Halloween candy. (Note to new parents: Trying to make up a story about the rarely seen “Christmas bat” almost never works.)

Tax consequences: None. Even if you had paid for it, you can’t claim tax deductions for personal expenses like food or candy.

12. Conduct science experiments.

Non-tax consequences: Candy is pretty awesome, and science is pretty awesome, so why not combine the two? There are all kinds of experiments on candy to keep your budding scientists interested, from melting Starbucks to floating Skittles (you’ll find details on those and more at

Tax consequences: There’s no allowable tax deduction for tutorials and extras to keep your kids at the top of the class since they’re considered a personal expense (exceptions exist). If you’re a teacher, however, the results are different. Despite threats that the deduction would be eliminated as part of tax reform, teachers may still deduct up to $250 if they use out-of-pocket cash to buy classroom supplies (depending, candy could qualify as “supplementary materials that you use in the classroom”). It’s an above-the-line deduction, which means you don’t need to itemize.

13. Eat it.

Non-tax consequences: Halloween candy is delicious. You might, however, have to explain to your son why you ate his Butterfinger without asking (pro tip: there is no suitable answer). If you decide to sneak an extra treat, remember that there could also be potential long-term effects like cavities and an extra pound or two.

Tax consequences: No immediate consequences. Dealing with some long-term consequences of eating candy, however, might be deductible. While you can’t deduct the cost of going to the gym or joining a weight loss program to get rid of those extra pounds, dental and medical expenses are still deductible. You can deduct out-of-pocket expenses paid for medical care that exceed 10% of your AGI. That means that you can deduct dental expenses if you end up with a mouth full of Skittle induced cavities – but even I’ll admit that’s one heck of a way to squeeze out a deduction.

It’s National Ice Cream Day. And in case you think that it’s a holiday made up by scheming kids to convince parents to give them ice cream (I wouldn’t put it past mine), it’s a real holiday. Well, real-ish.

National Ice Cream Day, as well as National Ice Cream Month (I’m not kidding), are “official” holidays designated by then-President Ronald Reagan following a joint resolution from Congress. The resolution, S.J.Res.298, was signed into law on July 2, 1984. The text of the declaration is as follows:

Whereas ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over 90 per centum of the people of the United States;

Whereas the ice cream industry with approximately $3,500,000,000 in annual sales provides jobs for thousands of citizens and uses nearly 10 per centum of the milk produced by United States dairy farmers, thereby contributing substantially to the economic well- being of the Nation’s dairy industry; and

Whereas ice cream enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food, and over eight hundred and eighty-seven million gallons of ice cream were consumed in the United States in 1983:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That July 1984, is hereby proclaimed as “National Ice Cream Month”, and July 15, 1984, as “National Ice Cream Day”, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe ice cream month and ice cream day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

So there you have it: it’s the law that you should observe the day with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.” For most of us, that means eating a little ice cream. And boy, do we ever: according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream each year. The result is an $11 billion industry that supports 26,000 direct jobs and generates $1.6 billion in direct wages. And, the IDFA found that the majority of U.S. ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers have been in business for more than 50 years: many are still family-owned businesses.

Ice cream has long been popular in the United States. Ice cream made its debut in America even before we declared independence. President George Washington shared a love of the frozen treat, designating approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790 – adjusted for inflation, that works out to an ice cream budget of about $2,862.54 (we should all be so lucky).

Presidents Jefferson and Madison likewise enjoyed a good scoop or two of ice cream. President Jefferson’s recipe for vanilla ice cream was so important that he wrote it down. It’s now on display in the American Treasures of the Library of Congress (you can see a copy of the recipe here.)

Despite the fact that our politicians enjoyed the good stuff, ice cream was pretty much a treat for the rich until the mid-19th century when technology (like freezers and steam engines) made it more available to the masses. Nearly a hundred years later, Americans were consuming over 20 quarts of ice cream per person annually.

Ready to grab some ice cream now? Before you run out to the ice cream truck, hold onto your wallet. Whether you’ll pay sales tax on top of the price of that ice cream depends on where you live.

Five states do not have a state sales tax (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon). Most states, however, do have a sales tax on prepared foods, but the rules can be complicated.

In Arkansas, for example, ice cream purchased at an ice cream shop is likely taxable, but if purchased at a grocery store, ice cream (packaged, not made or served by the seller, including toppings and novelties) is generally eligible for a reduced sales tax rate. Similarly, in Virginia, certain types of vendors are presumed to be sellers of food for immediate consumption, including ice cream stands and trucks. In Washington, prepared foods are taxable and include foods sold with utensils provided by the seller, including yogurt or ice cream cups that are packaged with wooden or plastic spoons.

In some states, including Alabama and South Carolina, groceries are generally taxable. What’s considered a grocery item, however, can vary from state to state.

Not surprisingly, some states have more of an incentive to get you to buy. In Iowa, the 4th state in the country for ice cream production (and 12th in total pounds of milk produced), milk and milk products, including packaged ice cream products are exempt from sales tax. Similarly, Indiana, the 2nd state in the country for ice cream production, also generally exempts ice cream from sales tax.

California leads the nation in ice cream production and yes, they also generally exempt “milk and milk products, including ice cream, ice milk and ice cream and ice milk novelties, sherbets, imitation ice cream, and imitation ice milk, dried milk products, sugar of milk, milkshakes, malted milks, and any other similar type beverages composed at least in part of milk or a milk product and requiring the use of milk or a milk product in their preparation.” Another quirk? In California, tax applies to “sales of sandwiches, ice cream, and other foods sold in a form for consumption at tables, chairs, or counters or from trays, glasses, dishes, or other tableware provided by the retailer or by a person with whom the retailer contracts to furnish, prepare, or serve food products to others.” But beware: while it includes drive-ins, a passenger’s seat aboard a train or a spectator’s spot at a game, show, or similar event is not a “chair,” and tax doesn’t apply.

Plain ol’ ice cream is the most popular category of frozen desserts: U.S. ice cream companies made more than 898 million gallons of regular ice cream in 2015. But what about mix-ins? That’s a whole other level of complication. In Wisconsin, prepared foods for immediate consumption are taxable. But ice cream used in other forms – like cake – is not considered taxable.

Sales tax rules are incredibly specific. Sometimes, all it takes is leaving the premises or adding a topping to make something go from nontaxable to taxable (and vice versa). Numerous exceptions apply – and sometimes, these exceptions, like California’s “80/80 rule” are based on a formula that is practically invisible to the consumer. But even crazy sales taxes haven’t dampened enthusiasm for ice cream lovers in this country.

When it comes to flavor, most folks prefer plain vanilla. For some inexplicable reason, the most popular flavor in my state (Pennsylvania) is brownie; those of you who know me would agree that my home state of North Carolina’s favorite flavor (coffee) makes more sense. You can find out what your state prefers here.

No matter where you live, if you’re looking to grab some ice cream today and don’t want to put a dent in your wallet, take advantage of some free offerings:

  • Baskins Robbins is offering 2 for $7.99 pre-packed quarts or 2 for $9.99 56 oz. containers. Offers may vary. See store for details.
  • Carvel is offering customers a BOGO (buy one, get one) cup or cone, any size any flavor. Offers valid on an item of equal or lesser value only. See store for details.
  • Cold Stone Creamery is celebrating by offering a FREE $10 bonus eCard* for every $30 in Cold Stone Creamery® Gift Cards – but hurry, this offer is only 7/21 and only online!
  • Cumberland Farms is celebrating by offering customers $1 off any of the brand’s Ultimate Scoop Ice Cream flavors for a price of $3.99/pint versus the regular price of $4.99/pint.  Text the word SCOOPS to 64827 to receive $1 off any pint of Ultimate Scoops at any of Cumberland Farms’ nearly 600 retail locations across the Northeast and Florida. Existing members of the text database will receive the coupon on the morning of 7/21 automatically, and the offer is redeemable through Sunday, 7/28.
  • My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream is partnering with UNIQLO for an in-store pop up in honor of National Ice Cream Day. On Sunday, July 21st, both brands will come together to deliver fashion, flavor, and fun by offering consumers free My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream at nine U.S. UNIQLO stores across New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston, Seattle, and Chicago from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 p.m.
  • If you tweet “#SensodyneforIceCream (ice cream emoji) on July 21st you can receive same-day delivery of (1) pint of ice cream, Sensodyne Rapid Relief, soft pack cooler, and insulated tumbler to celebrate accordingly. Offer is applicable in select cities, while supplies last. Participating cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.
  • Not to be outdone, King Arthur encourages you to make your own, offering free shipping on some ice cream makers.

And let’s not forget about our four-legged friends! PetSmart® is offering a weekend of free, dog-friendly ice cream topped with dog biscuit treats at PetSmart PetsHotel® locations across North America on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21. Dogs can get a four-ounce, complimentary serving of dog-safe ice cream and toppings during normal business hours at PetSmart stores with PetsHotel facilities while supplies last. The frozen treats are customarily offered as an add-on treat service at Doggie Day Camp and during overnight stays.

However you celebrate the day, stay cool!

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