One of the advantages of writing a tax blog and maintaining an up-to-date website is that I learn of new federal tax legislation and developments as they occur, so that the annual year-end seminars I used to look forward to have become redundant and really not worth the expense.
Unless substantial tax legislation is passed in the fall of 2008 I think I will skip the updates next year. I certainly will not return to Atlantic City, especially if the seminar is again at Resorts. I do not gamble – this year I did not even throw away my usual $20.00 or $40.00 in quarters in the slots – so that is not a consideration. The timing is bad, and there is nothing to do or see in AC. Plus it is too cold. While last year’s stay at the Tropicana was worthwhile due to the multiple shopping and dining choices, Resorts had limited, more expensive options.
One of the comments by the seminar leader, with which I agree, is that, as a result of the new strict documentation requirements for deducting cash contributions, we preparers should expect to see lots of “correspondence audits” (written requests from the IRS for copies of back-up) regarding charitable contributions claimed on 2007 Schedule As later next year. Consider this a warning.
Another thing was pointed out at the NSTP seminar. While, as previously posted, my tax filing season will not be affected by the irresponsibility of the Congressional cafones, I can see why that of most other preparers will be delayed and most will become backed up. I prepare all my federal returns by hand – always have and, as it now stands, probably always will. I do not use tax preparation software (when asked what software I use I point to my brain). Just as it will take the IRS 7 to 10 weeks to rewrite its software programs once the AMT fix is finally signed into law by George W, the various tax preparation software providers will also face similar delays in getting corrected updates to their clients.
The IRS has determined that there are at least 15 forms, 6 publications, and 9 credits that are affected by the AMT. Click here for a listing. The IRS Oversight Board has developed an report on the “Impact of Late AMT Legislative Changes on 2008 Filing Season” that outlines the seriousness of the problem.
Speaking of the cafones in Washington, as mentioned in my WHAT’S THE BUZZ posting, it appears that the Senate has passed a hastily written one-year AMT fix while I was in AC. As I understand it, the bill that was passed did not include any of the extensions of popular tax breaks that were in the House version. The Senate bill also does not provide any tax increases or loophole closures to pay for the AMT fix.
The worst is not over yet. The Democrats in the House want to pay for the fix, so that the bill is “revenue neutral”, while House Republicans, and George W as well, do not want any of the “offsets” the Democrats have proposed. There will be a battle, with posturing on both sides. However, I do think chances are that the Senate version will finally sneak by in the House at the last minute, if for no other reason than expediency and public, and IRS, pressure.
So Congress will pass a hastily written quick fix so it can adjourn for the year with the immediate problem taken care of. It will have to deal with the “extenders” again at some time next year, hopefully at the same time that it finally kills the dreaded AMT. For all of our sakes let this happen early in the year and not next December!
By the way, my blog has topped the 25,000 hit mark (and 37,500 page view mark) since I moved back to Blogger,com last December 1st.