Friday, April 18, 2008


The United States is the only country where it takes more brains to figure your tax than to earn the money to pay it.”

A “thank you” to Edward J Gurney for recognizing that fact.

To paraphrase the Stephen Sondheim number from FOLLIES – I got through all of the tax season (my 37th) and I’m here!

First off, let me join Dan Meyer of TICK MARKS in offering congratulations to fellow working tax professional tax bloggers for surviving another tax season.

I ended the season by filing 38 GD extensions – a bit more than last year. About half is made up of returns where I received absolutely no “stuff” and was asked by the client to file an extension, returns that were not “in my hands” by March 31st, and returns for which all the information necessary to complete the returns was not “in my hands” by March 31st. The other half were workload-related - but they were returns that I received at the end of March, most during the last 5 days. And many of them will require additional information. Only one set of returns was “lost in the shuffle” this season – and they are already completed and in the mail to the client.

And of course there are at least a half dozen returns where the client has filed the Form 4868 himself/herself, or not, and will send their “stuff” to me when they get it together. I got one of them in the mail on April 16th.

I am pleased that the workload-related GD extensions were all for “last minute Charlies”. It means that I kept on top of things during the season, especially the “red files” - completing them as the missing information was received.

In the past I would tend to put off “projects” (involved returns) till the end of the season and work on the more “normal” returns first – going for volume. Unfortunately as the end of the season approached I was still backed up and many of these projects ending up extended, as I did not want to rush through them at the last minute or I just did not have the energy to go on. This year I completed the “projects” as they arrived – so there were none hanging over my head as it got closer to April 14th.

As for the LMCs – as I began work on them on Friday, April 11th I was frustrated to find that every return I started, including those that I would have expected to be "simple", proved to be somewhat "involved". Each one had one or two "quirks" that would require research, multiple questions, and other detail work. None could be completed with what I had been given – so I would go on to another. But there was not a "basic" return in the bunch. Oi vey - my head was spinning. It was at that point that I “ran out of steam” and decided that was it for the season.

I have always estimated that I do 400 sets of returns each year, but have never actually sat down and counted. This tax season I had a sheet taped to the end of my desk and I recorded the number of returns completed each day. Between the end of January and April 14th I did 345. With the outstanding GD extensions I do believe that I will make the 400 mark.

A “set of returns” could be anything from the simple one-page NJ TR-1040 tenant rebate application and/or a “0” liability 1040A filed solely to get George W’s “stimulus” rebate check (last year it was the special form to request the telephone excise tax refund) to a federal return with multiple supplemental forms and schedules and multiple state income tax returns that takes a full day (12+ hours) to complete. In the case of a married couple filing separately I count that as two (2) sets of returns.

My major complaint of this tax season was not with clients but with the Internal Revenue Service. For some unknown reason the CAs (the “C” is for “cheap” – and I was initially much more harsh in the next initials) at the IRS decided not to send out the 2008 estimated tax package this year. I know of only one client who actually received the pre-printed vouchers, envelopes and instructions as per usual. At first we thought they were just late, but when they never arrived I had to waste extremely valuable last-minute tax preparation time typing up and mailing out 2007 federal estimated tax payment coupons for my clients.

The NATP TAXPRO Weekly email newsletter had the following entry on the subject:

The IRS has discontinued mailing paper Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, vouchers and envelopes to your 1040-ES clients who file electronically. 1040-ES filers who file a paper return will receive only one mailing instead of quarterly mailings.”

None of my clients file their federal returns electronically – as I prepare all 400 sets of returns by hand each year. To my knowledge they had always received only one mailing per year and not “quarterly mailings”. They did not receive the promised "one mailing".

I noticed that even though I had ceased posting for the tax season THE WANDERING TAX PRO remained popular. I have now exceeded 63,000 visits since moving back to Blogger in December of 2006.

And, despite the fact that I clearly stated I would not be reading or responding to ASK THE TAX PRO questions during my “hiatus” I received more submissions during the past 2½ months than during the regular year. I have “stockpiled” those submissions that were appropriate and will be setting up the weekly ASK THE TAX PRO WEDNESDAY as a separate blog once I have “recovered”.

I am truly glad that the season is over. I can now get on with more normal matters like bathing, sleeping and doing laundry - it will be nice to allow the sun to rise before me and to wear clean underwear each day again.

I had planned to leave for my annual post-tax season trip to the Jersey shore yesterday – but my elderly cat’s illness (at least she waited until the end of the season to get sick) has caused me to postpone, and I am not sure what I will do yet. I will devote today to quarterly payroll tax returns and this week-end to GD extensions that I can complete in “one sitting”.

I am still waking up too early in the morning (hence I am writing this post at 5:30 AM). And I am still doing tax returns in my sleep – actually dreaming about preparing specific tax returns. I guess it will take a while to “wind down”.


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