Things are Getting a Little Seated at Yahoo!; IRS Has Close to $1 Billion Up for Grabs; Wall Street’s Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp-Dressed Man

Board to tears……

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Yahoo added two directors to its board, bringing the grand total to nine seats, all in the hopes of making things that much more difficult to deflect attacks from hedge fund Starboard Value. Starboard Value has not been shy about expressing its disapproval over the way CEO Marissa Mayer has been handling matters at the tech giant. Starboard is on a mission to make an attack and win seats on the board so it can run the company in its own special way. The new folks coming to fill those seats are former Morgan Stanley executive Catherine Friedman and former Broadcom Corp CEO Eric Brandt. The seats originally belonged to tech entrepreneur Max Levchin and Charles Schwab. Yes, that Charles Schwab. But both vacated their seats amidst all the squabbling at Yahoo over how to run the company without losing tons of cash in the process. Board re-election comes later in the year but nominations are due this month and the process should be a fun little corporate spectacle as Yahoo has been under some fierce pressure to sell off its core web assets, including Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Mail. Among the potential suitors who are rumored to be interested in picking up those core assets are Verizon and Time, And now, instead of looking to grow the company, Marissa Mayer has switched courses and would be really happy to just execute a $400 million cost-cutting plan. That’s in addition to shareholder pressure of trying to spinoff of the company’s sizable share in Alibaba, without actually having to pay any taxes on the deal. That effort should be entertaining in and of itself.

In it to claim it…

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The IRS is sitting on close to $1 billion in outstanding refunds from 2012. The question is, can you claim any of it? Well there are an estimated one million taxpayers who qualify for a piece of that pie since they apparently failed to file their 2012 IRS tax return. Taxpayers get a three-year window to file a claim based on the return due date which this year happens to be April 18, 2016. All you’ll need to do is fill out the 2012 1040 form and collect the w-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 from that same year. Just check out the IRS website if you don’t believe me. But filer be warned: If you didn’t bother filing your 2013 and 2014 return, then don’t bother collecting your refund just yet as it may just get withheld. The IRS, however, wants you to claim your refund, otherwise all that cash goes into the hands of the U.S. Treasury. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “We especially encourage students and others who didn’t earn much money to look into this situation because they may still be entitled to a refund.”And I guess the IRS just isn’t that into the treasury if they are so eager for you to claim that money. Texas and California are the states with the most unclaimed refunds. And the average refund that could be collected clocks in at $718. So what are you waiting for?

A little less dapper…

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Tailored Brands, a.k.a. the company that owns Men’s Wearhouse and Jos A. Bank, finally experienced some Wall Street lovin’ as the stock jumped more than 11% today. The company hasn’t had a jump like this in two years and it’s all because the company announced that it would be closing about 250 of its stores this year out of over 700 that are dotted all over the country. It’s not that Wall Street didn’t care for the company’s merchandise, it’s that Wall Street didn’t like that consumers weren’t buying enough of it and the company was bleeding money. The company’s revenue took a nasty beating after brass decided to chuck Jos A. Bank’s “Buy One Get Three free” promotion back in October. This move apparently upset consumers who shopped at the chain for just that reason. Executives felt, however, that the promo cheapened the line, especially when the promo ended up in an “SNL” skit where the apparel was called “effectively cheaper than paper towels.” Ouch. Cheap or not, customers let the company know how they felt by sending sales down 32%, while Men’s Wearhouse managed to take in a 4.3% gain. The stock lost 30 cents a share in its fourth quarter, which was miraculously not as bad as the 37 cents analyst predicted the stock would lose.

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Worthless?

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The verdict is in and it’s a big giant “NO.” As in, NO!, Yahoo will not spin off its pricey stake in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba. The stake, which is reported to be worth an estimated $30 billion, will stay put and instead, all of Yahoo’s assets and liabilities will be cast-off into the sunset to go and form their very own company. That, my friends, is what they call a “reverse-spin off.” Turns out, the IRS couldn’t be trusted NOT to tax an Alibaba spin-off, which would potentially leave shareholders to foot a $10 billion tax bill. Yahoo, whose shares are currently trading at under $34 yet is apparently worth nothing, will keep its internet biz and its 35% stake in Yahoo Japan. The company, despite being one of the top five most-visited websites every single day, just couldn’t seem to compete with Google and Facebook when it came down to selling search and display ads. Although shares of Yahoo are down 30% this year, this reverse spin-off is likely to draw a lot of interest for companies looking to make an acquisition. But don’t hold your breath as this reverse spin-off process could take a year to complete.

Bad day, mate…

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In other parts of the world, Australian police raided the home and office of Craig Steven Wright – a name that in all likelihood means absolutely nothing to you. Unless of course you’re a bitcoin enthusiast. Following leaked emails and other assorted information, investigations by both Wired magazine and Gizmodo have concluded that Wright is likely Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym for the creator of bitcoin, the crypto-currency that has captivated the world. Sort of. In March of 2014, a Japanese American man who goes by the name Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was falsely identified as bitcoin’s reclusive creator while he also steadfastly denied it. As for the police raid, well, here’s where things get weird-er. Australian Federal Police are saying that the bitcoin reports that have been surfacing about the creator’s true identity have nothing to do with its current operation and raid and referred media calls to the Australian Tax Office, which also could not comment. Naturally.  The home in question, which was being rented by Wright, is considered to be relatively modest, especially for someone who is potentially sitting on about one million bitcoins.  Incidentlly, the Australian government doesn’t much care for the crypto-currency. As stricter rules were imposed for Australian banks to impede money laundering and terror financing, bitcoin operators bore the brunt and major banks in Australia closed the accounts of bitcoin companies back in September.  If Wright really and truly is Satoshi Nakamoto, then his bitcoin stash amounts to about $400 million, which should be more than enough to pay his legal fees.

Get your resume ready…

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If you’re currently not working at Airbnb, then maybe you need to ask yourself why. According to Glassdoor’s 2015 list of best places to work, the home-sharing company takes the number one spot with one employee quoted as saying, “Fast growth, amazing people.” Can you say that about your company? Hmmm. Airbnb wasn’t even on the list last year but this year more than made up for it as it not only pushed Google out of the top spot but kicked it down to number eight. Or maybe Google did that all on its own. In any case, business management consulting group came Bain & Company came in at number two, while Guidewire snagged third place. Social media giant Facebook took the five spot, while LinkedIn ranked number six. Curious to see where else you’d rather be working? Well, there are 50 companies listed and surely you could find gainful employment by at least a few of them.

Greece’s Chance to Save Itself; BofA Banks Big; It Figures: IRS Numbers Need Work

Come on Greece, you can do it…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras isn’t down with the reforms proposed by Greece’s creditors in order to get his country the financial aid it so desperately needs. Tsipras even went so far as to call the reforms “irrational.” But you know what’s actually irrational? Letting your country’s banking system collapse as your homeland dives head-first into financial ruin. So instead Tsipras has decided to take one for the team, embracing the strict reforms and urging his MP’s to the same.  Aw. Isn’t that sweet of him? What a guy. Those reforms, which are putting frowns on the faces of many Greeks, include imposing higher taxes on just about…everything. Early retirement would not only now be off the table, but the retirement age would also go up to 67. And while Tsipras may do his political best to get his MP’s to agree to these measures, he’s already getting some heated opposition from the Syriza Party who have no intention of allowing the reforms to easily pass.

Legal-ease…

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Image courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bank of America is having a very good day. Make that a very good quarter. After some unimpressive quarters, the bank had a major rebound in large part because it doesn’t have to pay as much money to a bunch of lawyers anymore.  Because of the bank’s sketchy role in the 2008 fiscal crisis, BofA already had to fork over $13 billion to both federal and state regulators. That was just for the settlement. The bank’s legal fees this time last year were a staggering $4 billion. However, this quarter, those fees went down to only $175 million. It probably would have been a whole lot cheaper for Bank of America to just admit its shifty involvement from the get-go. But, oh well. BofA took in close to $5 billion in profit this quarter, with $22 billion in revenue and 45 cents per share, when analysts only expected 36 cents a share. What is down from a year ago are delinquent mortgages. Those fell by more than half to an almost respectable 132,000.  And nobody is complaining about that drop.

In case you were wondering…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

U.S. taxpayers filed a whopping 126 million tax with 94 million of those filers even having health insurance. $249 billion were awarded in refunds to 92 million filers. The average refund came in at $2,711.  A total of 7.7 billion in subsidies was claimed and 6.6 million taxpayers paid an average of $190.00 in fines for not having insurance. As for the IRS’s customer service, or lack thereof, the agency received 50 million calls, although 8.8 million of those calls were disconnected by the IRS. Oops. 20 million filers requested to speak to a real live person at the IRS and 37% actually got to do just that. They only had to wait an average of 23 minutes. Clearly they possess the virtue of patience.

Michael Bolton: IRS = Anus of Our Country; NY AG Schneiderman Takes Issues With Shifty Shift Practices; Rank and File: Airlines Get Graded

How am I supposed to live without you?

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Image courtesy of hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With tax day on Wednesday, John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight thoughtfully explained our national aversion to taxes and the IRS: namely, they involve “someone taking our money and math.” To further complicate things and strengthen our aversion, Congress has drastically cut funding to the IRS, causing activity at the agency to come to an almost virtual standstill. Mr. Oliver urged us to redirect our anger, rage and frustration at Congress and not the folks at the IRS who perform “a dangerously boring job.” So what better way to pay tribute to the IRS than to call it the “anus of our country” which is precisely what, crooner Michael Bolton did, on John Oliver’s show, when he sang a not-so-moving ballad that was sort of meant to be a show  “… of reluctant support for their appropriate funding.”  To help taxpayers truly grasp the anus/IRS comparison, Mr. Oliver articulately explained that we should, “Think of our government as a body. The IRS is the anus: It’s nobody’s favorite part, but you need that thing working properly or everything goes to s–t real quick.” Pure poetry.

Oh shift!

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Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

More than a dozen retailers are getting probed for some shifty shift scheduling practices that are not only downright rude, but according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, might just be illegal, as well. The practice in question, dubbed”on-call shifts” basically lets hourly wage employees know if they will be working only hours before they need to show up for work. The practice is not cool for so many reasons. First, for many employees, the practice does not give them ample time to make care-giving arrangements for children and and elders in their care. “On-call shifts” also don’t allow for employees to make other arrangements for alternative sources of income.  If an employee reports for work for which they had been scheduled, then according to New York State law, that employee is entitled to be paid for four hours of work at basic minimum wage. Some of the big retailers who were sent letters about their shift scheduling practices include Target, The Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, J.C. Penney and J. Crew.

Would you like some pretzels with that?

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Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The 25th annual Airline Quality Report is out and the least shocking observation on it is Virgin America taking the top spot for the third year in a row. If you’ve ever flown Virgin America, and also American Airlines, then you’ll clearly see why Virgin America gets the top spot while American – which merged with US Airways – doesn’t. However, American still managed to snag the number seven spot. A bit high, if you ask me. In fact, I am shocked that American isn’t in last place. Its regionally operated Envoy/American Eagle airline does place last, though. Yikes. The report, which measures airline performance quality, takes into account four major aspects – or as the pros say “core elements”: on-time performance, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled baggage and customer complaints. No doubt, if the AQR measured how travelers were treated, I am certain American/US Airways would have claimed the last spot. In any case, Hawaiian Airlines came in at number. Too bad it doesnt fly anywhere I need to go. Delta took the number three spot, the only large carrier to break into the top four, while some were left scratching their heads over JetBlue’s fourth place ranking, since the airline came in second last year.

 

Not Paying Dues at the IRS, Wrinkle Free Buyout? and No Home Run This Month

Taxing behavior…

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Image courtesy of sdmania/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you don’t feel like complying with Federal tax policies then be prepared to face the penalties. Except if you work for the IRS, in which case, expect a bonus and some time off. A just released report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is going to shatter all those boring, monotonous ideas you had about the IRS nor give you any comfort as you just sent in your tax forms. From Oct. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2012 IRS employees – about 2,800 of them –  were getting big bonuses and other nifty perks even though they were written up for tax and misconduct issues. Apparently their bad behavior was no impediment to $2.8m in cash compensation and 27,000 hours in extra time off. I guess the tax code isn’t the only thing in need of a major overhaul at the IRS.

Botox this!

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Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Activist investor Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital,  just teamed up with J. Michael Pearson, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and what went down is the stuff that HBO original movies are made of. Sort of. Following his partnership with Pearson, Ackman goes and buys a 9.7 % stake in another pharmaceutical company. But not just any pharmaceutical company. Why buy into just any pharmaceutical company when you can buy into Allergan, the pharmaceutical company that makes everybody’s favorite wrinkle remedy, Botox! That’s what I’m talking about. Then Mr. Ackman and Mr. Pearson decided they wanted to purchase Allergan for  $46 billion. Of course, not everybody on Wall Street agrees that this does not violate securities law. But what’re you going to do? Anyways, Allergan doesn’t necessarily want a new boss, even if it is for $46 billion. So they adopted a “poison pill” aka a shareholder rights plan because they don’t want Ackman buying any more Allergan stock and with this “poison pill” they can buy themselves some time to decide how they’d like to proceed  A little convoluted, but that’s what makes a Wall Street drama so riveting.

Home not so sweet home…

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Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What do high mortgage rates, home shortages and bad weather have in common? If you guessed a 14.5% sales plunge (which, no offense, but I’m guessing you didn’t) then you are 100% correct. New single family home sales haven’t been this low in eight months. Experts originally predicted (and hoped) for an estimate of 440,000 home sales. But alas, that number only reached 384,000. Spring was supposed to bring with it tulips, daffodils and higher sales, but so far, just the flowers are the only things that have given us growth. The notable exception was in the Northeast where sales were up by 12.6%. Go figure. With that, median home prices rose to $290,000 from March of last year. Good news for the seller, I suspect.

Why Is This Coin Different From All Other Coins, It Was the Cover-Up, Stupid and Literacy Literally Pays Off

All is not certain in bitcoin EXCEPT taxes…

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Image courtesy of lamnee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bitcoin, the hottest most talked about virtual currency since..well, ever, has been officially deemed NOT a currency. According to the taxman, bitcoins are property, for tax purposes anyway, and will be treated as such. Instead, the IRS defines crypto-currency as “convertible currency” which probably sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. Got a virtual stash of coins? You could – if you really wanted to – exchange them for US dollars and you wouldn’t have to worry about them being taxed as a foreign currency gain or loss. If you trade the coins, expect a capital gains tax. If your paycheck is being paid with bitcoins (I guess that’s a thing now), that information needs to be reported on your W-2.  And if your accountant is not bitcoin savvy, then get a new accountant.

In the grand Ponzi scheme of things…

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Image courtesy of sdmania/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It comes as no great surprise that Bernie Madoff did not single-handedly pull off one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history. Yesterday five of his former employees were finally convicted of a very very very long list of offenses, including conspiracy to commit fraud. US Attorney Preet Bharara said “These defendants each played an important role in carrying out the charade, propping it up and concealing it from regulators, auditors, taxing authorities, lenders and investors.” Now it’s up to a judge to determine their prison sentences which could last decades. Something tells me they wont be missed.

It pay$ to read…

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Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There was a reason why you were always encouraged to READ READ READ and today that mantra might literally pay off for you – but only if you are a regular e-book subscriber. Turns out a court ruled that publishers were a tad bit greedy by inflating prices and taking advantage of avid e-readers like you. So to make it up to you, or rather reimburse you, you can expect a credit. Are you one of the lucky recipients of the $166 million settlement? Check your account and details of the settlement at www.sagsettlements.com.