I adore board games. I like to think I’m decent at backgammon and checkers. I’m pretty good at Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. And I can hold my own in Risk for a while, though I’ll never win—it is not a game built for a middle child. But one game that I’ve never been able to figure out? Chess.
You’d think that my lack of chess-playing prowess wouldn’t come up very often. But you’d be wrong. You see, chess is having a moment.
The game—thought to have been around for over 1,000 years—has witnessed a recent surge in popularity thanks to Netflix’s miniseries, “The Queen’s Gambit,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy. The show debuted in October of 2020 and became Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries in just a few weeks.
The show’s name comes from an opening move in the game of chess—when the white side sacrifices a pawn to try to draw the black side out of the center.
I know this not because I’ve seen the show—I have not—but because of my daughter. She became a fan of the show and, subsequently, of the game.
She’s not alone. Retailers have reported increased interest in the board game out of the box and online. From “The Queen’s Gambit’s” debut to April 2022, Chess.com saw its monthly active users increase to nearly 17 million from roughly 8 million.
So what’s the appeal? I think there are lots of reasons that folks learn to love chess. For starters, physical characteristics don’t matter much—you can play as easily at age 8 as 80. Being taller, stronger, or bigger doesn’t give you an advantage.
Ditto for external factors, like wealth. Unlike with some games, you don’t need a lot of money to prepare for or play chess—you can make the same moves with a plastic piece as a marble one. Having fancier gear doesn’t give you an advantage.
There’s no language or travel barrier for chess players, especially in the age of the internet. My daughter regularly plays chess online against players from all over the world.
No matter who you are, everyone starts at the same place, and you can get better if you keep trying. That’s not because it’s a physical skill that requires fine-tuning, but because you can look at it critically, figure out what you did wrong, and learn from those mistakes. José Raúl Capablanca, world chess champion from 1921 to 1927, noted, “You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win.”
And while you can learn from your mistakes, you don’t have to know everything about the game of chess to do well. You don’t have to guess at every single potential move on the board. You just have to figure out the ones not to make. Once you’ve done that, you can focus on the remaining possibilities. It works the same way in tax. None of us knows everything, even if you’ve been practicing for some time.
The key in tax, as with in chess, is to weed out what looks wrong and focus on making the best choice out of the remaining options. And at Bloomberg Tax, our experts offer great commentary and insightful analysis on federal, state, and international tax issues that can help you figure out your next move—and stay in the game.
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Which former world chess champion defiantly spat on a US Treasury Department order prohibiting a rematch against former Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky?
Answer at the bottom.
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In the latest article in the “In Focus” series, Maria Figueiredo and Tiago Graça of CMS provide an overview of the tax framework in Angola, including incentives for businesses, and consider opportunities for local and foreign investors in the country.
Andrew Faulkes of Abacus Trust Group examines the English law concept of domicile and the steps British expats should take to avoid UK inheritance tax traps.
A tax on financial accounting, or book, income puts Band-Aids on perceived tax flaws instead of fixing them. Congress should simply amend the tax code they created rather than fashion an entirely new system of patchwork, say the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Fabio Gaertner and the University of North Carolina’s Jeff Hoopes.
A Closer Look
Proper estate and succession planning is key to Middle East families’ long-term financial security. However, care must be taken to navigate this relatively new world, Esquire Group’s Jimmy Sexton says in this edition of “A Closer Look.”
At The Exchange, we welcome responses from our readers and encourage diversity and civil discussion. We are especially interested in responses that add to the conversation, or introduce a different point of view. If you have a response to one of our published Insights, we’d love to hear from you.
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The crypto industry has faced a number of challenges over the past few months. Even so, crypto enforcement remains an IRS focus—and more changes are on the way. I take a quick look at what the IRS has done to beef up reporting, as well as what’s coming up.
The idea of a tax holiday during either widespread or sector-specific market disruptions makes sense at first blush. But a tax holiday is bad policy says Bloomberg Tax columnist Andrew Leahey. It decouples the cost of the tax paid from the value that society receives and suggests the tax is unnecessary. Plus, he says, sales tax holidays don’t work.
The accounting world has been shaken up by several high-profile mergers and acquisitions among firms in recent years, reflecting the growing needs of clients.
On this episode of Talking Tax, Bloomberg Tax Reporter Jeffery Leon speaks with Abe Schlisselfeld, senior managing director of CBIZ Marks Paneth, about his experience of overseeing an accounting firm merger, focusing on the challenges faced and lessons learned, as well as sharing advice about how to retain talent and manage major changes.
Get Caught Up
It’s been a busy week in tax news from state capitals to Washington. Here are some stories you might have missed from our Bloomberg Tax news team.
*Note: Your Bloomberg Tax login will be required to access Tax News.
- US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen directed that new funding to the IRS will not be used to raise audit rates for Americans making under $400,000 a year, according to a statement.
- Corporations will pay nearly $296 billion more in US federal taxes over the next decade, and middle-income households will see some tax cuts, under the tax-and-climate bill that is likely to become law in the coming days.
- UK Conservative leadership front-runner Liz Truss has ruled out a fresh windfall tax on energy companies if she becomes prime minister, insisting profit is not a “dirty word.”
- States challenging federal restrictions on nearly $200 billion in Covid-19 aid have come out ahead so far in court on their right to sue, notching wins in five of the six cases. But the cases are still in early stages, and pending appeals court decisions on the merits of the aid limits could upset that lead.
Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on David Farhat, a tax partner in the Washington office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Kristin Bagull has joined Dykema Gossett PLLC as a member of the taxation and estates practice group in Chicago, the firm announced.
If you are changing jobs or being promoted, let us know. You can email your submission to TaxMoves@bloombergindustry.com for consideration.
Quick Trivia Answer
Bobby Fischer. Fischer was warned that he would violate American economic sanctions if he played Spassky in Yugoslavia.
He went anyway, declaring, “This is my reply to the order not to defend my title here,” before spitting on a letter from the US Treasury Department that warned him he could face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment up to 10 years for “trading with the enemy.”
He subsequently was indicted and never returned to the US to face charges.
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