Thursday, July 19, 2007

GOOD READING

Over the years I have subscribed to many tax-related newsletters and publications of various prices and levels of quality and value. The one tax newsletter that I have consistently received for more than 20 years now is TAX HOTLINE, published monthly by Boardroom, Inc. It is currently the only print tax newsletter, other than the publications of NATP and NSTP that I receive as a member, to which I subscribe.

Not only does TAX HOTLINE provide lots of valuable information for individual and business taxpayers and tax professionals alike, but the cost is very reasonable. While the current subscription price is $59.00 as a long-time subscriber I pay only $39.00 per year. In the past I have paid more than twice that for newsletters with less than half the information and about 1/4 the value of the information reported.

The current (AUGUST 2007) issue is an excellent example of its value:

* As I have pointed out in the past, what is now the dreaded AMT was originally created when it was reported that 155 individuals with incomes over $200,000 had a “0” federal income tax liability in 1969. The issue quotes the IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin as reporting that “2,420 individuals with income of more than $200,000 owed no income tax for 2004” – despite the fact that the dreaded AMT now claims millions of victims each year.

* It points out that “The Check Sent with Your Return May Be Paying a Different Tax” and advises, “When you send a check to the IRS, always write on it specifically what tax it is to be applied against, for example ‘2007 Form 1040’." It discusses Fred A. Windover, TC Summary Opinion 2007-50. Fred filed his 1999 Form 1040 with a check for $13,178.00 – the balance due indicated on the return. However, the IRS applied $12,000+ of this check to other tax bills allegedly owed by Fred. The IRS did not tell Fred that it had done this – he only found out when he got a bill for $17,000 in tax, interest and penalties for 1999. Fred lost in Tax Court because he “didn’t provide any written instructions on or with his check as to what tax it was applied against”, so the IRS was “free to apply the check sent with the return as it wished”.

* The August 2007 also reviews the provisions of the Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007, tells you how to “Trim the Tax You Owe on Inherited IRAs”, and compares the “traditional” 401(k) to the ROTH 401(k).

Not every issue is as chock-a-block full of helpful advice and information as this one – but every issue provides at least one or two items that you can “take to the bank”.

Boardroom Inc is offering a special introductory rate of just $39 for 12 monthly issues of TAX HOTLINE. It is well worth the price.

The National Association of Tax Professionals provides members with a weekly email newsletter, a monthly print newsletter, TAXPRO MONTHLY, and a quarterly print magazine, TAXPRO JOURNAL, to which I have contributed in the past. The National Society of Tax Professionals publishes a monthly (for the most part) print newsletter titled FEDERAL TAX ALERT.

In addition to reporting on IRA actions, tax law updates, tax court decisions, and ethics the FEDERAL TAX ALERT also has sections titled FYI and Inside Washington to discuss non-tax issues and topics of interest to the financial professional. The July 2007 Inside Washington section leads off by telling us that the Citizens Against Government Waste has spotted 2,658 individual items of unnecessary spending, or “pork”, in the 2007 federal budget, including $1.6 Million for a project to improve the shelf like of vegetables. The “pork” totals $13 Billion, but it is down from last year’s $29 Billion, a record high.

TTFN

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