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Tax Relief

Because tax doesn’t have to be taxing. A less-than-serious look back at some of the quirkier tax stories from the past month.

Please, not my dog! (I have a cat, too)

You want to do what?

Tax Relief's ears perked up and it started wagging its tail when it heard this month's most bizarre piece of tax news. Just as we were hunting for a lead, the tax authorities threw us a bone.

According to German media, barking mad municipality officials in the town of Ahlen seized a family dog over an unpaid tax bill – then sold the hapless hound on eBay!

While we're not sure the sale would have the OECD's dogged approach to taxation of the digital economy, it turns out that the authorities' approach to 'ruff' justice was completely legal. This is despite an off-duty police officer trying to put the seller in the doghouse, suspicious of the low sale price (€750; $848) for the pedigree pug.

The authorities would be barking up the wrong tree if they came to Tax Relief's house – there is no dog to steal and sell. However, I am considering inserting a few mistakes into my housemate's tax return. Her cat won't stop scratching the furniture.

Tampa tax take tumbles

Budget cuts at the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may have gone rather too far if a story coming out of Tampa, Florida, is anything to go by.

While completing tax returns is an arduous task tinged with sadness for most hard-working citizens, one individual found a way to make the process more fulfilling – by claiming a $980,000 refund he was not entitled to, and laughing all the way to the bank as the IRS rubber-stamped it.

Ramon Christopher Blanchett had a reported income of $18,497, but this apparently didn't ring any alarm bells for the tax authority.

Blanchett received the money and after a brief misunderstanding with his bank, which thought he had acquired the money fraudulently, used his tax refund to buy a Lexus. Unfortunately for him, by this point, the IRS realised its mistake, seized the Lexus and the remaining $919,251 balance, and is still chasing the $809 that Blanchett spent to insure the car.

If anyone from the IRS is reading this, you're six months behind on your subscription. The outstanding balance is $1 million. Please make the cheque payable to Tax Relief.

Lotto spending cuts

State troopers will be deployed on April 1 to check down the back of every sofa in South Carolina if the prize is not claimed

The state of South Carolina is facing a funding gap after a winner of the $1.537 billion US lottery jackpot failed to come forward.

Officials estimated the winner would have to pay $61 million in state income taxes – more than 0.5% of South Carolina's $9 billion budget – and have already put the money in the state coffers.

If no winner comes forward by mid-April, the prize will be returned to the 44 states that play the lottery and South Carolina will have to remove the $61 million from its budget.

Quotes of the month

"This is worthy of the Ministry of Truth."

Green Senator Peter Whish-Wilson on the Australian government cancelling its commitment to bring in a registry of beneficial ownership, by claiming it had never made such a commitment.

"When we talk about basing anything on the BEAT, I feel a sense of terror. As someone who has now spent the last year or two of my life almost completely consumed by the BEAT, the idea of using it as a model for the world makes every single part of me hurt. So: thank you for making my hair hurt."

Jesse Eggert of KPMG speaking at the Paris OECD meeting on taxing the digital economy.

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