Taxes

Free tax preparation services are now available for income-eligible taxpayers in eight southwestern Pennsylvania counties this tax season, thanks to the United Way of Allegheny County’s Money In Your Pocket Coalition.

Households earning up to $53,000 a year can get free, in-person assistance with 2014 tax returns from one of more than 300 IRS-certified volunteers. Taxpayers with $60,000 or less in annual income can take advantage of a free online tax preparation service.

A new report finds Pennsylvania remains on a list of the “Terrible 10” — states with the most regressive tax policies.

The non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy finds that the poorest residents pay nearly three times what the wealthy pay in taxes as a share of income. Middle-income earners pay twice as much as the richest residents.

State tax revenues for the first quarter of the fiscal year are up…slightly.

The Revenue Department reports that for the first three months of FY 2014-15, the state pulled in $6.6 billion— just $500,000 above expectations, or 0.007 percent. General fund collections in September totaled $2.6 billion, $11 million more than projected.  

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak is asking Mayor Bill Peduto to look into the sale of an apartment complex. She said how the sale happened could lead to a loss of tax revenue to the city.  

The Cork Factory Lofts in the Strip District were recently sold to GMH Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum. But instead of buying the converted lofts outright, GMH purchased the two companies that previously owned the converted lofts and associated properties. The sale included three buildings.

Pennsylvania tax collections last month fell short by about $108 million, or five and a half percent.

The report wasn’t unexpected, but still came as unwelcome news for state lawmakers facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. Less than a month remains to hammer out a spending plan for the next fiscal year.

Republicans, who control the General Assembly, still aren’t sure how they’ll bridge the gap.

Three months until the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, Pennsylvania’s revenue collections are 0.5  percent short of estimates.

The Department of Revenue reports  through the first nine months of FY 13-14 it has collected  $20.5 billion — $96.3 million behind approximations — but spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said that number “disguises the fiscal reality.”

401(K) 2013 / Flickr

With less than a week until the healthcare enrollment deadline, and tax season underway, Judith Herron, a CPA with Markovitz-Dugan and Associates in Green Tree explains how the Affordable Care Act will impact filing.

How will the Affordable care Act impact individuals?

Policy and research groups from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio have joined forces to urge their states’ governors to adopt a common severance tax rate for companies drilling for gas and oil in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations.

A local organization is making tax season a little easier for residents.

United Way of Allegheny County (UWAC) is providing free tax preparation service to low-and-moderate income individuals, families, and seniors.

Individuals who make less than $20,000, and households with an income of less than $40,000 are eligible for the Money in Your Pocket Coalition (MYPC). They also have a self-assistance tool to help families that make a little more.

The United Way of Allegheny County is looking for more than 200 volunteers for this year’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign.

Last year, 149 volunteers helped prepare more than 5,800 tax returns for low-income families and individuals, getting $10 million in refunds.

Angela Reynolds, director of programs for financially struggling adults and families for the United, said no prior tax experience is necessary to volunteer.

Pennsylvania’s tourism businesses want to see a change in the way counties tax hotel room stays and how they use the revenue.

The president of the Pennsylvania Association of Travel and Tourism told state lawmakers at a recent hearing the tax has gone too far afield from its original purpose to generate money to promote tourism.

Rob Fulton said some counties have been too quick to use the funds for other tangential expenses.

Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, and Rep. Dave Camp, a Republican from Michigan, have teamed up and taken a message of tax reform on the road.

The pair spoke in Philadelphia Monday as part of their “Tax Reform Tour,” an effort to eliminate loopholes in the federal tax code. Former governors Tom Ridge, a Republican, and Ed Rendell, a Democrat, are adding their support to the movement.

On the heels of news that Pennsylvania ranks 42nd in the nation for best places to do business, the CompetePA Coalition is calling on lawmakers to change the corporate tax structure. In particular, the group is asking that the $3 million cap on net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards be eliminated.

Lights, Camera But Where's the Action?

May 9, 2013
31 Street Studios / Facebook

In recent years the number of movies shot in Pittsburgh has some people calling us "Hollywood East."  However, it appears the city and state have become victims of their own success.

Filmmakers have gravitated to Pittsburgh over the years for a number of reasons, including affordability. But Pennsylvania's current tax credit allotment is capped at $60 million a year.  That money dries up quickly in the film industry. So how can Pennsylvania keep up with states like Louisiana, and Georgia, which have no tax credit limit? And what more can be done to lure film and television production to the state?

Guest

Chris Breakwell CEO of 31st Street Studios.

Pittsburgh Urban Initiatives (PUI) has been awarded $35 million in tax credits by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help spur investments in the city’s low-income communities.

The New Markets Tax Credit Program began in 2000 and allows individual corporations and investors to receive a credit against their federal income tax in exchange for making equity investments in Community Development Entities such as the PUI.

Investors can then receive 39 percent of their total investment in credits over seven years.

A bill crafted to close a corporate tax loophole in Pennsylvania in a way that’s most palatable to businesses is teed up for consideration by the state House.

The so-called Delaware loophole has bedeviled legislators and governors for years. Its name comes from the practice of corporations that transfer money from commonwealth affiliates to a company in Delaware — a state with no corporate taxes.

There are different ways to go about closing the loophole, and therein lies much of the conflict over a bill that’s passed a committee vote.

Pennsylvania's state government websites are back online after being dark for nearly three hours, but the tax-day outage is prompting a postponement of the filling deadline.

"In light of that outage the Department determined in the interest of customer service it is appropriate to not impose penalties or interest on any personal income tax returns so long as it is filed by midnight today, Tuesday, April 16th," said Pennsylvania Department of Revenue spokesperson Elizabeth Brassell.

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

As people trickled in and out of the U.S. Post Office in Squirrel Hill to mail in their taxes Monday, a small group of protesters stood outside to speak out against how the federal government spends tax dollars.

In particular, they said too much is spent on the military.

“We feel that by reducing the military budget, we could afford to put more money into healthcare, housing, mass transit, infrastructure, all those things,” said Eva Havlicsek, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

IRS Warns of Tax Scams

Mar 18, 2013

While most people have seen spam reading— “the IRS doesn’t want you to know about this!” or “So new, your tax professional doesn’t even know about it!”— the Internal Revenue Service is urging people not to open those emails or follow those links.

IRS spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins said, with tax season upon us, people can easily be scammed or have their identities stolen.

Jenkins said scammers get to people by sending them emails or messages through social media pretending to be from the IRS. She said they then gain access to sensitive information to steal an identity.

Swapping school property taxes for increased sales and income taxes could be the solution for the decades-long battle over how to fund basic education in Pennsylvania.

A bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers unveiled the latest version of the Property Tax Independence Act on Tuesday.