Saturday, August 9, 2008

WHAT’S THE BUZZ? TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’

* What we residents of the Garden State have known full well for a long time is now official! The AccountantsWorld.com article “Tax Foundation Study: New Jersey Edges New York for Nation's Highest State-Local Tax Burden” reports that “New Jersey taxpayers bear the heaviest state-local tax burden in 2008”.

The article goes on to say “New Jersey residents paid 11.8%, topping the charts. New Yorkers were close behind, paying 11.7%, and Connecticut was third at 11.1%. The top ten were rounded out by Maryland (10.8%), Hawaii (10.6%), California (10.5%), Ohio (10.4%), Vermont (10.3%), Wisconsin (10.2%) and Rhode Island (10.2%).”

Alaskans have the lightest tax burden at only 6.4%.

This is also discussed on the Tax Foundation’s TAX POLICY BLOG.

* An article at MarketWatch.com reports “A new calculator on Social Security's Web site gives users a much-improved picture of what their benefits could look like in retirement. And coming in October: a faster and easier way to file for Social Security benefits online.”

* FYI, the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel has issued its 2007 Annual Report.

According to TAP, “This annual report highlights important actions of the Panel and summarizes 59 new recommendations for improvement that TAP generated for IRS consideration in 2007. The Report also provides a five-year retrospective on Panel activities and an update on the status of the 305 recommendations submitted to the IRS since TAP was established in 2002, many of which have been partially or fully implemented.”
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The Panel describes itself thus – “TAP is a Federal Advisory Committee made up of citizen volunteers, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, who are dedicated to helping the IRS identify ways to improve customer service and responsiveness to taxpayers needs. By analyzing a large number of issues, setting priorities and conducting research, TAP has made important recommendations to improve the IRS and reduce taxpayer burden.”
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Another FYI – The yellow rose of taxes – Kay Bell of DON’T MESS WITH TAXES fame – is a member of the panel.

* TAX GURU Kerry Kerstetter reports of a new website devoted to the new First-Time Home Buyer Credit – FederalHousingTaxCredit.com – which is run by the National Association of Home Builders (“NAHB exists to represent the building industry”). The website has a good FAQ section.

* Tax professor Jim Maule asks an excellent question – one that I have asked myself – and makes some excellent points in his post “Why This New Tax Provision?” at MAULED AGAIN. He is talking about the new additional standard deduction amount for real estate taxes for 2008 only. In response to who will claim the deduction, as I have mentioned here before I do see several of my retired senior clients receiving the very small benefit of this deduction – taxpayers who have paid off their mortgage and have an inflated standard deduction which is more than their deductions due to 2 additions for age 65 or over.

* NATP’s Taxpro Weekly email newsletter reported that “Texas Hurricane Victims Qualify for Relief”.”Following Hurricane Dolly on July 22, the federal government declared Cameron, Hildalgo, and Willacy counties Presidential disaster areas qualifying for individual assistance.As a result, the IRS is postponing certain deadlines until September 22 for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. The postponement applies to return filing, tax payment, and other certain time-sensitive acts otherwise due between July 22, 2008 and September 22, 2008.
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In addition, the IRS will waive the failure to deposit penalties for employment and excise deposits due on or after July 22 and on or before August 6, as long as the deposits were made by August 6. Additional details are available on the
IRS website.”
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* TAX GUY Bruce McFarland discusses still more reasons to avoid like the Plague going to “the brothers” to have your taxes prepared in his post “More on ‘Finding a Pro’. .” I know I said in an earlier post somewhere that I “never say never” any more – but I think this is the exception. You should never have your tax return prepared by the minions of Henry and Richard!
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* Xin Lu adds his 2 cents to the discussion in her post “Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?” at WISE BREAD. While Xin decides she “would still go with a regular 401k” the post provides good coverage of both sides of the argument.

* As a “companion piece” to my recent 1040 FYI on charitable contributions, the IRS has issued a “Summertime Tax Tip” on the topic.

* Joe Kristan of the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG brings good news for taxpayers who received “free” shares of stock in insurance companies as a result of something called “demutualization” in his post “IRS Loses Demutualization Argument in Court of Claims”. While I do believe much of the “demutualization” took place more than three (3) years ago, this decision will still prompt lots of 1040X filings – more money for us tax preparers!

I will not have enough time this week-end to properly review this issue (due to personal activities – a wedding Friday evening 8/8/08, a post-wedding lunch cruise later today, and a day trip to PA to see a show tomorrow) – but I will definitely devote more blog space to this issue in the near future.

TTFN

1 comment:

lrtaxprep said...

I see I am not the only hater of these. Thanks.