Berlin looks to build $21 million police department

WFSB 3 Connecticut

BERLIN, CT (WFSB) -

The Berlin police department is looking to build a new facility, but some residents don’t think spending $21 million should even be considered.

Berlin Deputy Police Chief John Klett said the department has been running out of space for years.

“We have equipment stacked everywhere. A lot of this stuff is not excess,” Klett said. “We took a classroom and split it in half to use half as a classroom and half as support services.”

There is a growing need for additional equipment as well, like body armor and riot and swat gear. This is one of the several reasons Klett said the department needs the $21 million building.

William Brighenti is a member of the Berlin Property Owner’s Association, and said that while he admires the work Berlin police do, getting rid of some of the equipment would help to alleviate the $21 million price tag.

“I question, do we need military equipment for a peaceful neighborly suburb as Berlin,” Brighenti said. “I can’t recall there ever being a riot in Berlin, and if there is in Berlin don’t we have the National Guard?”

Klett said there isn’t necessarily military equipment in the department, but after 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security issued that all police departments need some kind of chemical protective gear.

He also said that the equipment is needed in case of emergencies.

“We have patrol rifles in the cars, which are the standard in the industry. That’s largely due to the possibility of an active shooter incident,” Klett added.

The Berlin town manager recently said that the renovations at the police department were on hold because the town is building a new high school.

Brighenti said he thinks the issue should be put out to the voters.

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Residents Oppose Cost of Berlin Police Department Move to Bigger Space

Voters in Berlin are expected to decide if police really need a new place to call home.

The town hopes to put a proposal for a new police department on the November ballot.

Police said they are currently being handcuffed by a lack of space.

Police command has been pushing town leaders, most of whom are on its side, for a new $21 million dollar headquarters built on a piece of property on Farmington Avenue which Berlin bought in 2011 for $2 million.

William Brighenti, who founded the Berlin Property Owners Association, argued that the town can’t afford a new police headquarters, and police should look to clear space in their current building. He thinks one way to accomplish this is to get rid of tactical gear.

“I’m concerned that they have this military equipment, that’s taking up a lot of storage, body armor, riot helmets, swat rifles, bullet proof vests and chemical equipment,” Brighenti said.

An informational session on the new police station is set for September 16 at 6 p.m. at the town hall.

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Is Hillary Clinton an elitist? Do you charge $300,000 for a speech, and get a private jet, presidential suite at a luxury hotel, meals, etc.?

Is your standard charge for a speech $300,000?  According to an article appearing on the website of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and a May 31, 2013 email, Clinton’s standard contract usually includes:

  • Round-trip transportation on a chartered private jet “e.g., a Gulfstream 450 or larger jet,” plus round-trip business class travel for two advance staffers who will arrive up to three days in advance.
  • Hotel accommodations selected by Clinton’s staff and including “a presidential suite for Secretary Clinton and up to three (3) adjoining or contiguous single rooms for her travel aides and up to two (2) additional single rooms for the advance staff.”
  • A $500 travel stipend to cover out-of-pocket costs for Clinton’s lead travel aide.
  • Meals and incidentals for Clinton, her travel aides and advance staff, as well as all phone charges.
  • Final approval of all moderators or introducers.

However, Hillary Clinton, to her credit, agreed to a discounted fee of $225,000 for a speech on October 13th at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation fundraiser, even though her husband spoke at the 2012 UNLV Foundation dinner for $250,000.

Although Hillary Clinton stated that she and Bill Clinton were dead broke when they left the White House, according to Politico, between 2001 through 2012 Bill Clinton has been paid $104.9 million for 542 speeches.  That averages out to $193,542 per speech.  Not a bad recovery, heh?

 

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Another reason why I will not renew my subscription with Intuit for ProSeries tax software

ProSeries Tax Software

I am very unhappy with ProSeries Tax Software

Since 2009 I have been using Intuit’s ProSeries as my taxpreparer’s software program; however, I have been very dissatisfied with the quality of this product and will be changing my tax software vendor for the tax year 2014 even though it will entail considerable work on my part to convert all of my existing client data to a new tax program as well as become familiar with another tax software program.

I have conveyed a number of complaints to Intuit about the quality of its product.  And I even contacted the office of Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit.  Unfortunately I have not received any satisfaction from those communications.

The latest issue that I discovered with ProSeries concerns the processing of Form 4592, Part V, Section B for a Schedule C client.  If all of the vehicles of a client are used exclusively for business and not at all for personal purposes, then it is unnecessary to track and report business mileage for those vehicles in Section B of Part V of Form 4592.

Neverthess ProSeries generates an error message if one does not enter business mileage even when it is unnecessary to disclose such.  I just called a ProSeries support representative who informed me that error messages would be generated by ProSeries if business and total mileages is not entered for a vehicle even though 100% business usage is entered by one.  But if one enters mileage, even though all questions determining business usage in Section C of Form 4592 are checked affirmatively, obviating the necessity of completing Section B, those mileages are still reported in Section B by ProSeries.

This is a serious software glitch in my opinion as a taxpreparer.  If information is not required to be reported by the IRS, then clients should not be required to volunteer such information.  No one wishes to run the unnecessary risk of committing perjury and fraud by entering incorrect business mileages instead of the actual business mileages.

Previously I have posted a number of concerns that I have about the quality of Intuit’s products and services.  I hope this post helps other Certified Public Accountants, accountants, taxpreparers, and bookkeepers, in the evaluation of their software needs for their tax, accounting, and bookkeeping services.

Sincerely,

William Brighenti, CPA

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Town of Berlin, Connecticut’s Annual Budget and Democratic Process

I wish to thank the members on the Town Council for devoting their time serving on Council and particularly their time working on the annual budget.  We have a very distinguished body representing us Citizens in Berlin in terms of credentials, education, ethics, and civic mindedness.  We have attorneys, management from Corporate America, and small business entrepreneurs.  You are indeed the best of Berlin.

I have questions about the annual budget and its process.

1)      Why are raises being given to virtually all, already well compensated public employees:

a)      When Berlin citizens in the private sector are desperately trying to hold onto their jobs at Sikorsky, CL&P, and elsewhere?

b)      When a number of Berlin citizens have been desperately seeking jobs since 2008?

c)      When your Berlin neighbors are having great difficulty paying their mortgages, utilities, sewer and water bills, insurance, grocery bills, and taxes?

d)     When over 30% of all mortgages of Berlin residents remain underwater?

e)      When so many here in Berlin and elsewhere desire these municipal jobs at their current compensation along with their job security, great benefits, ideal working conditions and hours?

f)       When it will increase taxes, hurt local small businesses that create 80% of our jobs, and that are unable to obtain commercial bank loans.

g)       After just passing tax sales to make it easier to put Berlin families out into the streets?

h)      Why are we replacing police officers when government freezes exist at state and federal levels and when we have approximately 50 employees in the police department here in our Town of Mayberry?

i)        Why are we giving raises to school administrators and teachers when it will not benefit our students, and when we already pay our school admins six-digit salaries and teachers a median salary of nearly $80,000?

2)      Perhaps the answer lies outside the budget.  Please consider the following:

a)      Why are we assured the Town Council will work together and reach across the aisle, but on the bread and butter issues, wallet and pocketbook issues, continues “voting in seeming lockstep”along strict party lines?  4 Democrats to 3 Republicans on tax sales; 4 Democrats to 3 Republicans on this budget. Doesn’t working together and reaching across the aisle mean more than being civil to one another?  Does it not mean not voting along strict party lines?

b)      Why is there this voting in seeming lockstep to party when 5,000 unaffiliated voters outnumber 4,000 Democrats or 3,000 Republicans.  Is this why many of us unaffiliated voters feel disenfranchised?

c)      If everything is to be determined by the majority party, why bother with Town council meetings at all?  Just have one party make all the decisions. Why insult the intelligence of voters with a pretense of a democratic process?

d)     I look at the School Board responsible for 60 to 65% of the budget, and ask why has it been reported the members of the Board of Education have been “voting in seeming lockstep” 9 to 0 on major issues?  Why is the Board President targeting citizens 10 months before elections to serve on the BOE?  Could this account for all of these 9 to 0 votes?

e)      Why are as many as 75 coaches, not wussy by temperament, fearful of reprisals?

f)       Why do citizens attending a Board of Education meeting not feel at ease to speak up?

g)      Why do eight board members go into executive session rather than discuss openly the issue of concern?  Is this transparency in government?

h)      Why is attendance at Town Council meetings so poor?  Could it be that we all know the results beforehand and our voices do not matter?

i)        Why are referendums ignored or dismissed?

3)      Is not the real issue tonight bigger than an annual budget? Does it not include our entire democratic process?

a)      If we are to fix our National government, when only 15% of Americans approve of Congress, does not change have to begin here tonight in the Town Square?  Wasn’t the Town Square the cradle of our democracy?

b)      If we are to repeal Citizens United, close Gitamino, stop the NSA from wiretapping and eavesdropping, stop drones killing innocent civilians, stop endless wars, reinstate Glass-Steagall, prevent PIPA and SOPA from infringing upon freedom of speech on the internet, overturn the NDAA violating habeas corpus, stop Fastrac from being negotiated behind closed doors to outsource 40 million more jobs overseas, does not the change have to start here tonight in the Town Square?

4)      This budget is not merely a financial report.  It represents a lot more.  It’s a social contract involving the lives of all Berlin Citizens.  It’s a testament to our values.

5)      I am here tonight not to ask you to perform a miracle involving 2 fishes and 7 loaves.  Rather I am asking you to be at your very best tonight as good citizens and to consider your neighbors’ well-being. I ask you tonight to pause and reconsider all of the ramifications of this budget, vote your conscience, and help restore our faith in the democratic process.  I intended no disrespect to any of you by expressing my feelings tonight.  I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.

.

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Summary of Staff Discussion Draft: International Business Tax Reform

Senator Max Baucus Unveils Proposals for International Tax Reform

Senator Max Baucus Unveils Proposals for International Tax Reform

Chairman Max Baucus, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, 11/19/13

Overview

As part of his work towards tax reform, Chairman Max Baucus is releasing a staff discussion draft today on international business tax reform. The Chairman and his staff are grateful to the Joint Committee on Taxation and Senate Legislative Counsel for their assistance with this draft.

Many of the major features of our current international tax system were created in the 1960s. While the international tax rules have been frequently revised, they nevertheless address a world that no longer exists. For example, over the past 45 years, income from intellectual property has become much more important in the world economy. The number of foreign subsidiaries owned by U.S. corporations has grown from fewer than 20,000 to more than 80,000 during that period. And U.S. investment overseas has grown from $52 billion to $4.2 trillion, while aggregate investment in tax haven jurisdictions has grown even faster, rising from $3 billion to $1.7 trillion. Today, one in four U.S. private sector workers is employed by a U.S. or foreign multinational corporation. Failure to react to this changing world has stifled U.S. business and contributed to slow job growth.

In recent years, House Ways and Means Chairman Camp and a number of Senators have released thoughtful and detailed international tax reform proposals. Committee members Enzi and Wyden have introduced full-scale international tax reform legislation, and Committee members Brown, Carper, Crapo, Portman, and Toomey have proposed conceptual reform plans. And Committee members Bennet, Burr, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Cornyn, Grassley, Hatch, Isakson, Menendez, Nelson, Roberts, Rockefeller, Schumer, Stabenow, and Thune have sponsored legislation in specific areas of international tax policy. This staff discussion draft draws extensively from these proposals. In addition, the Finance Committee has held a number of hearings and issued a paper on general international tax reform options under consideration. These efforts have highlighted the following problems:

  • Current law creates incentives for many multinational corporations to invest and create jobs overseas. This is partially due to the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the developed world. It is also due to our deferral-based international tax system, which generally allows U.S. companies operating through foreign subsidiaries to choose if and when foreign profits are subject to U.S. tax. This can result in lower effective tax rates on U.S. companies investing abroad rather than in the United States.
  • Current law allows multinational corporations (both domestic and foreign) to shift earnings to tax havens and to take advantage of differences between U.S. and foreign laws to reduce their U.S. tax bill.
  • Current law makes it difficult for U.S.-based multinational businesses to compete with foreign-based multinationals. U.S. businesses are held back by tax rules that are complex, inefficient, and unfair. In addition, many foreign multinationals are based in countries with significantly lower corporate tax rates and with dividend exemption systems instead of the deferral and credit-based system that the United States uses. These impediments to competitiveness hurt job creation and economic growth.
  • Current law creates incentives for U.S.-based multinationals to keep the earnings of foreign subsidiaries offshore and not repatriate such earnings to the United States (the lock-out effect).

Goals of the Staff Discussion Draft

This staff discussion draft proposes a modern, competitive international tax system that promotes U.S growth and job creation and is simpler and fairer than the current system. Specifically, the discussion draft promotes the following objectives:

  • Reduce incentives for U.S. and foreign multinationals to invest in, or shift profits to, low-tax foreign countries rather than the United States.
  • Reduce incentives for U.S.-based businesses to move abroad, whether by re-incorporating abroad or merging with a foreign business.
  • Increase the ability of U.S. businesses to compete against foreign businesses in foreign markets.
  • End the lock-out effect by taxing the foreign income of U.S. businesses either immediately when earned or not at all.
  • Simplify the international tax rules so that firms with the most sophisticated tax advisors are not advantaged.

Summary of the Staff Discussion Draft

The staff discussion draft advances these goals through the reforms summarized below. While the Chairman believes tax reform as a whole should raise significant revenue for deficit reduction, the package of reforms in this staff discussion draft is intended to be revenue-neutral in the long-term (i.e., in a steady state). Some figures below are bracketed because we expect to adjust them or other aspects of the draft to meet this revenue goal. These reforms are also intended to be coupled with a significant reduction in the corporate tax rate that is financed by broadening the corporate tax base in a manner that is revenue neutral in the long-term. These proposals are meant to be considered as a package and not as stand-alone proposals.

Tax All Foreign Income of U.S. Companies Immediately or Not at All. The staff discussion draft ends the lock-out effect and replaces the deferral system with a new, more competitive system under which all income of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies is taxed immediately when earned or is exempt from U.S. tax, after which no additional U.S. tax is due. Specifically:

  • Passive and highly-mobile income is taxed annually at full U.S. rates
  • Income from selling products and providing services to U.S. customers is taxed annually at full U.S. rates with limited exceptions
  • The staff discussion draft includes two options for taxing income from products and services sold into foreign markets:
    • A minimum tax that immediately taxes all such income at [80%] of the U.S. corporate tax rate with full foreign tax credits, coupled with a full exemption for foreign earnings upon repatriation
    • A minimum tax that immediately taxes all such income at [60%] of the U.S. corporate rate if derived from active business operations but at the full U.S. rate if not, coupled with a full exemption for foreign earnings upon repatriation
  • Earnings of foreign subsidiaries from periods before the effective date of the proposal that have not been subject to U.S. tax are subject to a one-time tax at a reduced rate of, for example, 20%, payable over eight years
  • Unless otherwise noted, credits are allowed for taxes paid to foreign jurisdictions to the extent the associated income is subject to U.S. tax

Eliminate Opportunities to Avoid U.S. Tax on U.S. Income. The staff discussion draft:

  • Limits interest deductions for domestic companies to the extent that the earnings of their foreign subsidiaries are exempt from U.S. tax and to the extent that the domestic companies are over-leveraged when compared to their foreign subsidiaries
  • Limits income shifting through intangible property transfers
  • Denies deductions for related party payments arising in a base erosion arrangement
  • Repeals the domestic international sales corporations rules
  • Limits the extent to which foreign tax credits can eliminate U.S. tax on income from investments in foreign companies that are not controlled foreign corporations
  • Restores withholding taxes on interest paid by domestic corporations to residents of countries not providing similar benefits for U.S. investors
  • Prevents foreign investors from using partnerships to avoid U.S. taxation

Modernize and Simplify Other International Tax Rules. The staff discussion draft:

  • Eliminates parts of the “check-the-box” rule under which U.S. multinationals can disregard certain foreign subsidiaries for U.S. tax purposes, but does not change the domestic application of the “check-the-box” rules
  • Simplifies the foreign tax credit rules
  • Apportions interest expense on a worldwide basis for purposes of matching interest expense to income generated by borrowed funds
  • Modernizes the rules applying to overseas banking and insurance businesses
  • Simplifies the rules for taxing passive foreign investment companies
  • Modernizes the rules addressing foreign investment in U.S. real estate

Unaddressed Issues and Request for Comments

Comments are requested on all aspects of the staff discussion draft as well as other areas of international business tax reform. Specific requests for comments on certain narrow technical and policy issues are contained in a separate document issued today by the Chairman’s staff. With respect to more general and conceptual issues, comments on the additional issues listed below are of particular interest. All comments should be submitted to tax_reform@finance.senate.gov. While comments will be accepted at any time, the staff requests comments by January 17, 2014, in order to be able to give them full consideration.

The issues of particular interest are listed below:

  • The pros and cons of the two options for taxing foreign market activities of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. businesses.
  • The Chairman’s staff continues to consider the overall approach in Chairman Camp’s Option C. The staff views Option C, including the proposal regarding the taxation of intangible property held by domestic corporations, as a potential alternative framework for international tax reform. Comments are requested on the relative merits of Chairman Camp’s Option C as compared with the proposals in this staff discussion draft.
  • The staff discussion draft does not change the current treatment of foreign branches (that is, overseas business conducted directly by U.S. corporations as opposed to those undertaken through a foreign subsidiary). Comments are requested on the merits of this approach and what transition rules should apply if foreign branches are treated like foreign subsidiaries.
  • The Chairman’s staff is considering additional ways to address U.S. base erosion by foreign multinational companies beyond the proposals in the staff discussion draft. Under current law, foreign multinational corporations have substantial opportunities to avoid taxation through financing and licensing arrangements involving their U.S. subsidiaries. For example, foreign multinationals can take advantage of differences between U.S. and foreign tax laws to qualify for income tax treaty benefits while paying little or no U.S. or foreign tax on income earned in the United States. Comments are requested regarding appropriate rules to limit such opportunities beyond the limitations imposed by current law or proposed in the staff discussion draft. For example, the Chairman’s staff is considering whether deductions for payments to related foreign companies should be disallowed if the payment is taxed at a low rate in the foreign jurisdiction or whether to provide rules subjecting to U.S. tax income generated by customer-based intangibles related to sales in the United States by foreign multinationals.
  • U.S. businesses have made and continue to make significant decisions based on current law. Businesses should be allowed reasonable opportunities to transition to the modernized international tax system. Comments are requested regarding appropriate transition rules and effective dates that allow for an equitable and orderly transition that is neither punitive nor results in windfalls. For example, the provisions are generally effective for taxable years after December 31, 2014, but comments are requested regarding whether more time would be necessary to effectively implement any provisions of the staff discussion draft.
  • While not a uniquely international provision, the Chairman’s staff is considering whether the current law “thin capitalization” rules (addressing domestic companies that have excessive debt owed to foreign affiliates) should be tightened and expanded to apply to interest on all debt owed by a domestic corporation. Comments are requested on the need for such a rule and on the appropriate scope and mechanics of such a rule.
  • The Chairman’s staff is considering a temporary transition rule to allow U.S. multinationals to bring intangible property held by their foreign subsidiaries back to the United States on a tax neutral basis. Comments are requested regarding the appropriate scope and mechanics of such a provision.
  • The staff discussion draft does not separately address the taxation of foreign subsidiaries doing business in the U.S. territories. Comments are requested regarding the appropriate scope of U.S. taxation of such territory operations in light of the changes proposed in the staff discussion draft.
  • The staff discussion draft does not address the international tax rules addressing individuals, whether for U.S. citizens living overseas or foreign nationals moving to the United States. The Chairman’s staff is considering reforms to simplify the rules in this area while appropriately taxing such individuals. Comments are requested regarding the scope and mechanics of reforms in this area.
  • Other opportunities for simplifying the international tax system in a manner consistent with the proposed changes.

The Barefoot Accountant

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Have you ever noticed that the Internal Revenue Service’s regulations often are illogical?

IRS logicHave you ever noticed that the Internal Revenue Service’s regulations often are illogical?

For instance, I have a corporate client with a fiscal year end of March 31, 2013. I filed its Form 1120 for that year end. However, in May, it dissolved its corporation, and the IRS requires a short year Form 1120 to be filed two and one-half months following the month in which it dissolved, or by August 15, 2013. The instructions for Form 1120 read as follows:

A corporation that has dissolved must generally file by the 15th day of the 3rd month after the date it dissolved.

The problem is this: 2013 IRS tax forms, as well as my 2013 tax software, will not be available until the end of 2013. Duh?

Why doesn’t the IRS just require the filing at its normal year end dates instead of creating another quandary for tax professionals?

Of course, I will file an extension and file the return then; and there is the alternative of filing on 2012 forms and crossing out the years on the tax forms, but that might create more mayhem at the Internal Revenue Service.

The Barefoot Accountant

Update:

Someone was kind enough to bring to my attention that in the instructions to Form 1120—not anywhere immediately near the instructions for “When to File” and hidden in a passage entitled, “Period Covered”—the instructions of what to do when a corporation has a tax year of less than 12 months that begins and ends in 2013, and the 2013 Form 1120 is not available at the time the corporation is required to file its return:

The corporation must show its 2013 tax year on the 2012 Form 1120 and take into account any tax law changes that are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2012.

The moral of this story is one has to read the entire instructions in an IRS publication before interpreting any statement of tax law in any tax regulation.

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Are you experiencing long waits calling the IRS?

sleeping phoneI am still holding on a call to the Internal Revenue Service, even though I called (800) 829-0115 two hours ago. This telephone number is the one often included in notices from the Internal Revenue Service for overdue business taxes.

I had called Friday and held on the phone for over 90 minutes before realizing that perhaps no one was available because of the sequester. I had become accustomed to 30 minute waiting times when calling the IRS, but it appears that they have been increasing dramatically over the recent past.

Also the processing time of Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, appears to have been increasing dramatically, too. Currently it is assigning applications received in April of 2012. Hello: is it not August of 2013 now?

Back in 1992, the Internal Revenue Service had in its employ 210,000 agents; the last time I checked several years ago, the number employed was approximately 190,000. There appears to be a serious problem involving staffing at the Internal Revenue Service, and it needs to be addressed.

The Barefoot Accountant

Chris
I’ve been trying to get through since last week.  I experienced the same results last week and earlier this week – giving up each time.  The past two days were even better – I entered all my information and they told me they were too busy to even put me on the line to wait and to call back another time!  The timer is about to hit two hours as I am waiting now.  This is amazing….

Tiv
I totally agree. I thought it was just me, having this issue. I am currently on hold, and my phone is saying 130 minutes has passed. This is so unprofessional, especially dealing with taxes and IRS business related issues. Hope they rethink this Customer Service, and correct this big problem.

Keith
Yes, I was hold two hours yesterday and figured I fell out of line somehow……so I even had the nerve to disconnect and recalled, stayed on hold about another hour until I had to leave for day.   Today, I’ve been on hold 62 minutes thus far……what to do next ??   I’m ready to hear a different back ground song if nothing else

The Barefoot Accountant
LOL! Those are my wife’s sentiments exactly: the same jingle, over and over again, drives her completely nuts. If only it would allow you to select your hold music. Personally, I prefer the 1950s and 1960s oldies. Hey, I got one: “Hold On, I’m Coming”, by Sam and Dave!

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Thinking of using TurboTax to file your tax returns? Think again. The Minnesota Department of Revenue advises against using Intuit software to file tax returns!

intuitCiting “multiple issues with the products”, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has posted an “important notice” on its webpage advising tax payers and tax preparers not to use Intuit tax software, including TurboTax, Lacerte, Intuit online, ProSeries.  It warned that use Intuit’s tax software could “jeopardize the accuracy” of one’s tax return or “delay”one’s return.

According to Jane Friedmann of the “Whistleblower”, Terri Steenblock, an assistant commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Revenue, said there were multiple issues with the software including assigning political contributions to the wrong party, failing to give an education credit for multiple dependents, incorrectly calculating property tax refunds, and a variety of other calculation errors. Some of these issues surfaced just in the past several days.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue found these errors “unacceptable”.

Here is the notice as it appears on the website of Minnesota’s Department of Revenue:

Important Notice for Taxpayers Using Intuit Products (TurboTax, Lacerte, Intuit online, ProSeries)

The Minnesota Department of Revenue advises you not to use Intuit (TurboTax, Lacerte, Intuit online, ProSeries) to file your Minnesota taxes electronically or on paper. Intuit has discovered multiple issues with their products. The issues could jeopardize the accuracy of your return or delay your refund.

What should I do?

IF YOU… ?

THEN?

Have NOT prepared or filed your return ? File using a different software product. See a list of approve vendors below.
Prepared your return using Intuit but did not file? Wait to file until Intuit communicates the problems are corrected.?
Have filed your return using Intuit? Call Intuit at 1-866-888-4609.

The Department of Revenue is not affiliated with Intuit and we find these errors unacceptable. We expect Intuit to correct these problems immediately. If they fail to do so, the department will stop processing returns filed using Intuit.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Concerned taxpayers may contact Intuit at 1-866-888-4609

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Amy Goodman interviews Tavis Smiley, Cornel West on the 2012 Election & Why Calling Obama “Progressive” Ignores His Record. Democracy Now: Friday, November 9, 2012.

AMY GOODMAN: We are on the road in Chicago. I’ll be at noon in San Francisco on Saturday, speaking at Green Fest, and Sunday, 1:30, with Noam Chomsky and University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole in Princeton at the Nassau Presbyterian Church.

But right now we’re in Chicago, and as the most expensive presidential election in U.S. history has come to an end, we turn to an issue that impacts more and more people in this country but was rarely mentioned during the campaign: poverty. The price tag for combined spending by federal candidates, along with their parties and outside groups like super PACs, totaled more than $6 billion. This is especially striking at a time when one in six Americans is poor, with over 16 million children living in poverty. Poverty rates for blacks and Latinos are twice as high as the rates for whites. There is greater poverty among women than men, and the rate of women living in extreme poverty has reached record highs.

But a study released by the media watchdog group FAIR—that’s Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting—they reveal that poverty as an issue has been nearly invisible in U.S. media coverage of the 2012 presidential race. It found just 17 of the 10,489 campaign stories studied—that’s 0.2 percent—addressed poverty in any substantive way.

Critics have pointed out that President Obama was viewed as the anti-poverty candidate in 2008, but his re-election bid four years later has barely mentioned the poor, even though their numbers have gone up.

Well, for more, we’re joined by two guests who have worked diligently to get poverty back on the national agenda. Dr. Cornel West is with us, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York and professor emeritus at Princeton University. He’s a New York Times bestselling author of numerous books and co-host of the radio show Smiley & Tavis — Smiley & West with Tavis Smiley. Together they’ve written the new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. Tavis Smiley is a TV, radio broadcaster, philanthropist, New York Times bestselling author. He hosts the PBS show Tavis Smiley and two radio shows, The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR and Smiley & West with Cornel West.

We welcome you both back to Democracy Now!

TAVIS SMILEY: Thank you. Good to see you, Amy.

CORNEL WEST: [inaudible] blessing to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to be with you. So we’re right here in the president’s city. In fact, he just flew out on Wednesday after his re-election. Cornel West, the figures—who is ahead? Who isn’t? As your book is titled The Rich and the Rest of Us.

CORNEL WEST: Well, one, I think that it’s morally obscene and spiritually profane to spend $6 billion on an election, $2 billion on a presidential election, and not have any serious discussion—poverty, trade unions being pushed against the wall dealing with stagnating and declining wages when profits are still up and the 1 percent are doing very well, no talk about drones dropping bombs on innocent people. So we end up with such a narrow, truncated political discourse, as the major problems—ecological catastrophe, climate change, global warming. So it’s very sad. I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s a pretty rough assessment of President Obama.

CORNEL WEST: Oh, that’s what we have. That’s what we have. Richard Nixon is to the left of him on healthcare. Richard Nixon is to the left of him on guaranteed income. And the same policies in terms of imperial foreign policy is at work. And so, I was glad to see that Romney didn’t win. We pushed back a right-wing takeover. We’ve got a right-wing mentality: cut, cut, cut, austerity, austerity, austerity. Where is the serious talk about investment in jobs, fighting the privatizing of education, and the empowerment of trade unions? And so, our battle is just beginning. We have yet to take off the gloves. You know, we’ve been fighting intensely.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama said to Harry Belafonte, according to Harry, “Why don’t you and Cornel West cut me some slack?” And Cornel—and Harry Belafonte responded, “What makes you think we’re not?”

CORNEL WEST: That’s exactly right.

AMY GOODMAN: I want ask you about Bill O’Reilly, Tavis Smiley. I don’t know if you were watching Fox on election night, but this is what Bill O’Reilly had to say about the outcome of the election.

BRET BAIER: So what’s your sense of the evening? I mean, you look at these exit polls. You look at the, you know—

BILL O’REILLY: My sense of the evening is if Mitt Romney loses in Ohio, the president is re-elected.

MEGYN KELLY: How do you think we got to that point? I mean, President Obama’s approval rating was so low. And obviously this is hypothetical: we don’t know who’s—who’s even winning right now, never mind who won. But how do you think it got this tight?

BILL O’REILLY: Because it’s a changing country. The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore. And there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it—and whereby 20 years ago President Obama would have been roundly defeated by an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney. The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that this economic system is stacked against them, and they want stuff. You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama, overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things. And which candidate between the two is going to give them things?

AMY GOODMAN: That was Bill O’Reilly, Tavis Smiley.

TAVIS SMILEY: Yeah. Well, you asked a moment ago whether I was watching Fox on election night, and the answer is no. This is precisely why I wasn’t watching Fox on election night. It’s also why I don’t watch a lot of MSNBC, either. I don’t like being spun to the right, and I don’t like being spun to the left. What I prefer is to get at some truth, and that’s why I appreciate Democracy Now! and other programs that are trying to get at the hard truths that Americans don’t want to deal with.

I don’t know where to start in terms of deconstructing and dissecting what I just heard. I will tell you this: this is precisely why the Republicans lost. And if they think this is the narrative that’s going to help them win into the future, then they need to put down the crack pipe. They’re stuck on stupid if they think this strategy is a winning strategy. The reality is simply this—and you’ve discussed this on this program, so this is nothing new, obviously: in the most multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic America ever, that dog just won’t hunt. If they cannot figure out a way to expand their base, the GOP is going down.

Now, I don’t like the two-party system. I surely don’t want to live in a one-party state. So I appreciate competition. I wish there were more parties, obviously. But again, if this is the narrative they think they can sell to the American people into the future and help them win elections, I don’t know what they’re thinking. So, this is a—it’s tragic to listen to. It’s really—it’s an echo chamber to our right, because this really sounds like Mitt Romney on the videotape that came out about the 47 percent.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh recently claimed that President Obama and Vice President Biden want to grow the portion of the 47 percent who are, quote, “wards of the state.” This is from the October 9th edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Whatever number of the 47 percent are wards of the state, they’re happy. Not all that 47 percent wants to be in that group. But the people in the 47 percent who are content to be there, Biden, Obama would love to grow it. The more people dependent on government, the better. The more people angry, resentful of the rich, the better, as far as they’re concerned.

AMY GOODMAN: Tavis Smiley?

TAVIS SMILEY: Well, again, if that’s the kind of rhetoric that they’re going to continue to engage in, go for it. I have no problem with Fox or Bill or Rush continuing to push that kind of agenda, because, again, it is not a winning strategy in this country to attack Hispanics, to attack African Americans, to attack women, to suggest that we’re all a part of a welfare state, that we’re all dependent on government. And in nowhere—at no point in either of those diatribes did you hear the truth, which is that the majority of Americans on welfare are white Americans. They are not black. They are not Hispanic. And so, that truth just gets lost in the matrix.

This was a campaign for the White House of extremes, a campaign of extremes. Too much money, as Dr. West already said—morally profane that we’d spend $6 billion, so too much money.

Too much time. I think, you know, we’ve got to get to a point of rethinking how we do presidential politics in this country, from the Electoral College to the money, to the debates, but too much time is spent on the campaign. It used to be that the campaigning would stop and the governing would start. Now there’s no line between the two.

And thirdly, too many lies told. And these were examples, again, of the lies that we heard in this campaign. The fact checkers had to work overtime in this campaign to try to get the truth to the American people. So a campaign of extremes. It’s time for us to rethink how we do presidential politics. But again, if this is the storyline that they want to run, let them run it, because they’re going to run themselves into oblivion with this.

CORNEL WEST: You know, but the lie at—

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. West.

CORNEL WEST: The lie at the center of both of them—Brother Rush and Brother Bill—the white liberal establishment is not a majority. The elite white liberal establishment is a minority. The white poor is not part of that. The white working class is not part of that.

If you really want to talk about being dependent on government, $16 trillion for Wall Street, not one of them gone to jail involved in the criminal activity linked to predatory lending, market manipulation or insider trading. The government protects them. Jamal gets caught with a crack bag; he going to jail. But Mr. McGillicuddy gets caught on Wall Street; he’s protected by the government. Neither administration—Bush, Obama—have any investigations, no prosecutions at all. So the folk who are really dependent, they get interest-free loans from the Federal Reserve. Wouldn’t it be nice if students could get interest-free loans?

So, Rush and Bill, they got to tell the truth: the white elite is very dependent on government. They get welfare anytime they want it, with no strings attached. So that’s the lie at the center of both of their views. And it’s not majority. White brothers and sisters are catching hell who are not part of the 1 percent.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to the issue of the whole discussion that you’re engaged in, pushing President Obama from the left. In September at the Democratic convention, Democracy Now! hosted a debate on Obama’s record, with Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda, and Michael Eric Dyson, the author and MSNBC analyst, Georgetown University professor. This is what Michael Eric Dyson had to say.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: The reality is, is that the American left will never be able to participate not simply in the pageantry of American politics and the light and airy stuff that conventions engage in. Of course, the fluff and the desiderata may be absolutely true, as Mr. Ford has indicated. But the reality is, is that Obama is as progressive a figure who has the chance of being elected in America. Friedrich Engels is not going to be the secretary of labor, and Marx will not be the secretary of treasury, bottom line. [...]

But if you ain’t in the game—Miami Heat is playing the—talking about sports—is playing the Oklahoma Thunder. It’s not “I’d prefer it be the Los Angeles Lakers.” This is the game we’re talking about. And if the American left can’t be involved in the actual practice of government to offer the critical and salient insights that are available—take—take 2000, when siding with Nader, then Al Gore, who should have been president, who would have prevented some of the stuff that we see now happening, didn’t occur. The left won’t take responsibility for the fact that, with the extraordinary intelligence of a Glen Ford and many other leftists notwithstanding, the reality is that he’s the most progressive president, as Gary Dorrien, an American leftist who teaches at Union Theological Seminary argues, since FDR.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s author, professor, commentator Michael Eric Dyson. Tavis Smiley, your response?

TAVIS SMILEY: I’ve known Michael Eric Dyson for a long time, and I love him with all of my heart. It is so disappointing, though, to hear Michael, Professor Dyson, advance that kind of argument. He comes out of a black prophetic tradition that is rooted in speaking truth to power—and, I might add, to the powerless. But to somehow try to suggest in any way that this president has been progressive or is the best example of progressivism that we could put forth in this country is just inaccurate.

This is precisely why Dr. West and I and others—you know, we don’t have a monopoly on the truth, and we’re not the only ones—but this is why we believe that the president has to be pushed. I’ve said so many times across the nation that great presidents aren’t born, they’re made. They have to be pushed into their greatness. There is no Abraham Lincoln—I just saw the movie coming out this weekend, I think, the Lincoln project. And Lincoln isn’t Lincoln if Frederick Douglass isn’t pushing him. FDR isn’t FDR if A. Philip Randolph and Eleanor Roosevelt aren’t pushing him. LBJ isn’t LBJ if MLK isn’t pushing him.

And so, what I hear in Professor Dyson’s critique is that there is some excuse to be made or that we have to settle for this as the best example of progressivism that we can find. And Doc and I just don’t believe in settling. We don’t believe in making excuses. We believe that if he is not pushed, he’s going to be a transactional president and not a transformational president. And we believe that the time is now for action and no longer accommodation. But that doesn’t happen unless you’re pushed.

So, the excuse making and the settling for the fact that this is the best that we can do—can you imagine what this country would be if women had settled? “This is the best that we can do”? If black folk in slavery and segregation had said, “This is the best that we can do”? That’s not—that’s not even the spirit of America, much less the spirit of those who come out of the black prophetic tradition. So that’s disappointing to hear, even though I love him with all my heart.

CORNEL WEST: And Brother Tavis is being very kind, because he’s right. I love Brother Mike Dyson, too, but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale. Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother Sharpton and Sister Melissa and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, he’s—Michael Eric—

CORNEL WEST: And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way, given the kind of critical background that all of them have had at some point.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Eric Dyson isn’t saying that Obama is progressive, but he’s the most progressive of the presidents that we’ve had.

CORNEL WEST: When FDR says, “Bring the economic royalists on; they are my foes. I’m fighting on behalf of poor people,” has Obama not just said that, but done that? Did LBJ, who declared a war on poverty, that generated the kind of legislation against American terrorism called Jim and Jane Crow for voting and—come on, Dyson. But it’s not just what he said there; it’s what he’s been saying as a whole. Brother Glen Ford crushed him in that debate. Listen to what the arguments are. You see what I mean? And again, we’re sending out our love for Dyson, because he’s been our partner, and he can be our partner again. But these kind of lies, we can’t live with.

TAVIS SMILEY: And to me, the most progressive—I want to add right quick, to me, the most progressive means that you’re taking some serious risk.

CORNEL WEST: That’s right.

TAVIS SMILEY: And I just don’t see the example of that. Even the healthcare debate, the president compromised against himself. He watered down what he promised on the campaign trail before we got serious. The promising—the promise of an open debate on C-SPAN never really quite materialized. So, I’m not suggesting that I’m unhappy with the fact that we got something done on healthcare, but it’s nowhere near what it was supposed to be.

And again, if you’re going to label somebody “the most progressive,” you’ve got to show me where the risk was taken. Lincoln took risk. FDR took risk. LBJ took risk. We know, famously, LBJ said, “I know that advancing this legislation, voting rights and civil rights, is going to lose my party the South for two decades.” And he turned out to be right, but it was the right thing to do at that time. And so, that’s what we’re saying.

In the president’s forward motion in the second term to establish a legacy—and I don’t think that being president ought to be about a legacy; it ought to be about advancing the best for the American people. But in this conversation about his legacy, I want to see what risk he’s going to take. Is he going to put himself on the line for poor people? Is he going have an honest conversation about drones? As Doc said earlier, you know, is he ever going to say the word prison—the phrase, “prison-industrial complex”? Reagan wouldn’t say “AIDS.” Bush wouldn’t say “climate change.” Will Obama say “prison-industrial complex”? I mean, I want to know where the risk is that equates to being the most progressive president ever. That’s the—I don’t get that.

CORNEL WEST: Is it progressive to sign the National Defense Authorization Act, in which you can actually detain American citizens with no due process, no judicial process, to assassinate American citizens based on executive power? That’s not—that is authoritarian. That’s autocratic. It’s crypto-fascist. We have to call it for what it is. Drones are war crimes. We have to call it for what it is. That’s the tradition that produced us. That’s what Frederick Douglass is about. That’s what Ida B. Wells is about. That’s what Abraham Joshua Heschel at his best was. That’s what Dorothy Day was. That’s our tradition. Now, if one doesn’t want to be part of that tradition and be inside of the White House, then stay in the White House and have a good time and breakdance. But don’t lie. Don’t try to tell us that lies are the truth.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to come back to this conversation in a minute. Our guests are Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. You like that music, Dr. Cornel West.

CORNEL WEST: Oh, that’s Curtis Mayfield, “Keep on Pushing.” He’s on the love train. We on the love train.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Cornel West is with us, and Tavis Smiley, and they have a radio show called Smiley & West. That’s every week. It’s a weekly program. You were just having a debate with Jeffrey Toobin on it around the issue of third-party candidates and what we need in this country. Do you think movements are shaping up? And what do you think the movements that brought President Obama into office the first time—what do you think they are doing now after the second time? Tavis?

TAVIS SMILEY: Doc?

CORNEL WEST: Well, one, I draw—

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. West.

CORNEL WEST: —distinction between campaigns and movements. Movements are highly sophisticated forms of bringing power and pressure to bear on the status quo. Campaigns are attempts to mobilize in order to support candidates inside of a system. And they play a role and so forth, but there was not a social movement.

We haven’t had a social movement really since the gay brothers and lesbian sisters tried to break the back of homophobia, going—before that, the feminist movement and then the great black freedom movement called the civil rights movement. Those are very rare. Usually the leaders are repressed and diluted—or diluted, so that right now, the left, we are weak. We are feeble. The Occupy movement was a tremendous expression of voices, but it was not a movement that was crystallizing in any way.

But we are bouncing back. A democratic awakening is taking place, thanks to Democracy Now! and Tavis’s show and so forth. But at the moment, we’re still dispersed and scattered.

AMY GOODMAN: I talked about Smiley & West, your weekly radio show, which was just canceled here on WBEZ in Chicago, though it’s being picked up by other networks. Tavis, can you talk about this and the controversy around this? It’s been written up in the public radio and television—

TAVIS SMILEY: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: —newspaper, Current, and other places.

TAVIS SMILEY: I’m now in my 20th year in the broadcast business, and most of that time has been spent in public media spaces—NPR, PBS, PRI—and that’s by choice. I could be in a commercial space if I chose to be, and I’ve done that before, but I—

AMY GOODMAN: You came from BET.

TAVIS SMILEY: I came from BET, came from CNN. I came from ABC. I’ve done the commercial thing. But I love the public radio and public TV space, because it allows us to get a different kind of truth, and I don’t have to respond to all the pressures from corporate media when you’re playing that particular game. And I have respect for my friends who do it; it’s just not for me at this point in my life. So I’ve done this for a long time.

This has been an uphill battle all along for me. It’s tragic to consider that, at my age, I’m the first person of color in the history NPR to have his own daily show. And that started in 2002. 2004, I become the first person of color in the history of PBS to have his own show every night on PBS. That’s how late to the game public TV and public radio have been in terms of giving people of color a space to operate inside of, so that when a station like WBEZ in Chicago—a great station—but when a station like WBEZ in Chicago starts making excuses for why they drop Smiley & West, when we believe and know this was all about the politics—this is the president’s home town, and they didn’t want us on the air in the last six weeks of the campaign talking about holding the president accountable and pushing him on why he’s not talking about poverty and why he’s not talking about the drones. So a decision was made here in his home town, without our knowledge, without our consultation, to just simply pull the plug on the Smiley & West show, again, without any forewarning. When that happened, you know, the citizenry here in Chicago who supports BEZ and listens to our program went crazy. And—

AMY GOODMAN: What was it replaced by?

TAVIS SMILEY: It was replaced with a repeat of Car Talk, which is not—which, as you know, is no longer even in production. Car Talk was a very popular show for years, but it’s not even in production anymore. So they pulled us off and started running repeats of Car Talk. So, that got a lot of conversation going in the city.

To make a long story short, this is not about Smiley & West being canceled. This is about the democratization of public media. It’s about the lack of diversity in public media. Something is wrong when a black man from Chicago has a better chance of being president of the United States than he does of hosting a talk show in prime time on public radio in Chicago. So all these excuses continue to be made. I’ve been fighting this battle for years. And when I talk about diversity, I don’t mean just ethnic diversity. I mean ideological diversity. For all the criticisms that public media takes for being part of the liberal media bias, we ain’t so liberal, when you listen to the ideology, when you see the lack of ethnic diversity.

And so, the good news is, without going, you know, on so long, because I don’t believe in spending too much time on what’s prologue, the reality is that within 24 hours a number of stations in Chicago called and said, “We would love to carry Smiley & West.” And so, part of our being in Chicago alongside you last night was to talk about democratizing public media and to celebrate with our listenership the fact that there are two stations in Chicago now—WCPT, Chicago Progressive Talk, and WVON, the Talk of Chicago—two stations now that are carrying the program. So we lose one station and pick up two. So, if every time I get canceled by somebody, if I can pick up two in the place of one, keep canceling me. I can live with that.

CORNEL WEST: Keep canceling. Keep canceling. You know, but Brother Tavis makes the point with great insight that when public broadcasting was first initiated under Johnson, it was for children and people of color. But it has become a white liberal elitist bastion, as if white liberal elitists own it. And so, the voices of red, our indigenous brothers and sisters, Latino, black, Asian, don’t play a fundamental role. That needs to be radically called into question. And our white liberal elitists, they need to understand that this is part of the critique that they have to come to terms with.

AMY GOODMAN: So, where do you go from here? Tavis, you still have your PBS show. Your show continues here in Chicago and all over the country. Inequality globally and here in this country is growing.

TAVIS SMILEY: Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. One of the things that—to answer your question expressly, where do we go from here, we continue using these platforms every week and every night to try to speak truth, again, to power and to the powerless. And I’m about to start my 10th year on PBS, so that show is going extremely strong. I’m 13 years now on the public radio. So I’m very blessed to be where I am with these platforms.

And with regard to poverty, specifically, where we go next is January the 17th in Washington. We are having another national symposium, just three days before the president gets inaugurated, talking about poverty. The confirmations are coming in. We’re bringing together this time the leaders in the poverty—the anti-poverty movement. We’re talking Marian Wright Edelman, confirmed. We’re talking Jeffrey Sachs, confirmed. We’re talking Cornel West, confirmed. We’re talking Jonathan Kozol, confirmed. We’re bringing together leaders in this movement, and we’re going to talk about the president calling a White House conference to eradicate poverty.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to do part two of our conversation with Smiley and West in just one moment, and we’ll post a web-ex.

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