Saturday, May 22, 2010


* I was represented at MAINSTREET.COM this week with “Planning A Deductible Vacation – Part 2”.

* Joe tells us about the “Revised 941 for 2010 2nd Qtr” at his CAFETAX blog.

* Another Joe, Mr Kristan of the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG, tells us that his earlier post, mentioned in this past Wednesday’s BUZZ installment, was premature in “Estate Tax Deal? Not So Fast”.

As Joe excellently puts it - “Well, Congress has been botching the estate tax for almost ten years now; why should they start getting anything right now?

* Joe makes up for his “prematurity” with the post “Oh, THAT $658,447”, which talks about a taxpayer who failed to report a huge capital gain because he had repurchased the stock which was sold for a gain and thought the “wash sale” rule applied.

Joe properly points out that – “There is no 'wash sale' rule for stock gains. While wash sale rules disallow stock losses if you buy the stock back within 30 days before or after the loss sale, you normally can't undo gains.”

And, perhaps more importantly, “Oh, and if you omit 98.6% of your gross income from your 1040, don't expect to pin the whole blame on your preparer.”

* Kelly Phillips Erb, the internet’s TAX GIRL, brings us some great news in “H&R Block Takes Hit, Announces Lay-Offs”.

Kelly reports – “Overall, H&R Block reported a decline in tax preparations at its tax offices. The number of returns prepared fell by 6.6% while tax preparation fees decreased 5.5%.”

What has caused this drop. Kelly says – “High unemployment rates and fewer numbers of taxpayers who owe have translated into more than just headaches for IRS: many tax preparers across the country saw a dip in 2010.”

I have personally not seen a dip in business this past filing season. While I have lost clients due to death, I doubt few, if any, of my clients decided to try preparing their own return this year. I have always said that my profession is inflation-proof. People will always need to, if not actually pay taxes (thanks to GWB and BO), at least tile tax returns. The Tax Code does not get any less complicated during times of economic downturn – probably the opposite.

I can only hope that Henry and Richard’s drop in income is the result of taxpayers realizing that these guys charge gourmet restaurant prices for fast food service (again apologies to fast food chains – I have found good service and true value at Burger King and McDonalds locations that does not exist at H+R Block).

* Some good advice from Michael Rozbruch at the TAX RESOLUTION UNIVERSITY blog – “Taxpayers Must Beware of Tax Relief Firms That Misrepresent Their Ability to Resolve IRS Problems”.

Remember – NOBODY can guarantee to resolve your tax debt for pennies on the dollar, and any firm that suggests this is possible is full of reality tv (we all know what word reality tv is a synonym for)!

* Jean Murray discusses taxes and bartering in “6 Things to Consider About Barter Transactions” at JEAN'S BUSINESS LAW / TAXES: U.S. BLOG.

As Jean says – “While barter is a legal way to do business, barter is considered taxable by the IRS. The IRS says: ‘Barter dollars or trade dollars are identical to real dollars for tax reporting’."

* Kelly, the TAX GIRL, also touches on the topic of barter in “Ask the taxgirl: Swaps and Payments”.

* Ben Harris suggests “An Alternative to the Alternative Minimum Tax” at TAXVOX, the blog of the Tax Policy Center.

Congress could improve the current system by creating a true "minimum tax": Adjusted-gross income (AGI) above a certain threshold—perhaps the $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married filers that President Obama favors—would be subject to a minimum tax rate. High-income taxpayers would lose the benefits of various deductions and credits if their average tax bill on AGI above the threshold fell below the minimum rate.”

If we must have a minimum tax this is certainly “more better” and less convoluted than the current dreaded AMT, which, as Ben points out, “isn’t a minimum tax at all; it’s simply a parallel tax”. But why have any kind of minimum tax, alternative or otherwise? Just fix the damned Tax Code!

I still say there should be a true “minimum” tax – every single American citizen who is over the age of 18 and not a full-time student should be required to pay a minimum tax of $100.00. This way there would be no more “non-taxpayers”.