Saturday, January 8, 2011


* Oi vey! Kay Bell tells us that “Romanian Witches Face Curse of Taxes” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

How are the witches reacting to this?

Witches who must pay an income tax for the very first time are planning to use cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government officials.”

If it works for the witches in Romania maybe we should try it here.

* The IRS HITMAN has some good advice in his post “The Top 5 Ways to Save on 2010 Tax Filings”.

My only exception to what he has to say comes in item #4 “Get Help If Needed”. Hitman says, “Use a tax program or a reliable professional”. My advice – skip the tax program and go directly to a reliable professional.

As I always say at this time of year – no tax software package is a substitute for actual knowledge of the Tax Code, and no tax software package is a substitute for a competent tax professional.

* This is nothing new – but it is the first I have heard this idea mentioned in a while. Jonathan Berr puts forth “A Modest Proposal: A (temporary) IRS Amnesty” at 24/7 WALL STREET. It is good to see this being discussed again.

I proposed a federal TAX AMNESTY program years ago. See “Tax Amnesty”. I even wrote to my “representatives” in Congress about it. See “Hey, a Politician Actually Responded to My Letter!”.

Here is Berr’s plan.

Under the 24/7 Wall St. plan, individual and business taxpayers who owe less than $100,000 in back taxes would be able to come clean with the IRS and not be subject to penalties. Those above that threshold would see their additional costs for compliance cut in half. They would still owe the taxes, which they would be able to pay off over time. Anyone under civil and criminal investigation would not be eligible. It would last for about a month.”

The objection to such a program in the past has been concerns that amnesty would ultimately hinder tax collection and reduce net revenue - individuals would become less likely to pay their taxes in future years, perhaps in expectation that the government would once again write off interest and penalty fees.

I deal with this objection in my above referenced posts.

* Not that I would ever suggest that you should use tax preparation software if you do not know what you are doing – or use it as a substitute for going to a tax pro (see my comment on the IRS HITMAN post above). But if you are interested in free tax software you may want to participate in the “Tax Trivia Giveaways” conducted by Kelly Phillips Erb (the subject of yesterday’s TAX BLOGOSPHERE BUDDIES installment) at TAXGIRL.

I have 20 access codes for free CompleteTax online tax prep software to give away to taxgirl readers, thanks to the good folks at CCH. Each code is good for online tax preparation and filing for one 2010 federal and one 2010 state tax return using CompleteTax’s top-level Premium MVP.

And here’s how the giveaway will work. Over the next several days, I will randomly post 15 tax trivia questions. The first reader to submit the correct answer wins

For the complete rules check out Kelly’s post.

* As I reported yesterday, the Taxpayer Advocate is looking for suggestions on how to reform the Tax Code. Jeff Beckley CPA of Texas kicks off his new THE TAXX MAN blog with a “Quick List of My Proposed Changes to the Tax Code”.

Welcome to the Tax Blogosphere, Jeff!

* Peter Reilly discusses the “parsonage exclusion” and related Tax Court case Philip A. Driscoll, et ux. v. Commissioner, 135 T.C. No. 27 in “Blowing My Own Horn”, a follow-up to his post “Parsonage Exclusion – Shouldn’t Enough Be Enough?”, at PASSIVE ACTIVITIES AND OTHER OXYMORONS. I need to review this issue and comment on it in a future post.

* Joe Arsenault uses an emotional personal experience to answer a tax question in “The Dependency Exception of Life” at CAFÉ TAX.

* MSNBC brings us the “11 Most Common Tax Mistakes”.

I especially like #10 – “Preparing your return yourself when it would be more efficient to hire a professional”,

* Some good news on the tax reform front. POLITICO reports “Tax Reform Jumps the Line in Senate”.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that he and Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee would hold hearings on reform“very, very soon’.”

And -

About an hour later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he welcomed discussions about how to improve the country’s tax code.”

And finally -

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters that tax reform was one issue that he believes could garner bipartisan support and hopes Obama addresses it in the State of the Union Address at the end of the month.”

* As for BO, Ryan J. Donmoyer and Rich Miller report at BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK “Obama in Political, Economic Quandary as He Weighs Tax Overhaul”.

President Barack Obama and his economic team are torn over whether to make overhauling the tax system a priority or relegate it to a brief mention in his annual State of the Union address, a top administration official said.”

Don’t be such a wimp – make it a priority!

* TAX MAMA Eva Rosenberg lists some “Stupid Tax Tricks – Things Not to Do”.

* If I might be able to end on some Reality TV bashing: The title of the new book allegedly written by Snooki, the slut from THE JERSEY SHORE, is “A Shore Thing”. It is obviously a play on the phrase “a sure thing”. I expect it is a reference to Snooki’s “easiness”. Get her drunk at a local bar and she is “a sure thing”.


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