Tuesday, July 10, 2012
GREETINGS FROM BALTIMORE!
I am here to attend the annual National Conference of the National Association of Tax Professionals (the 31st, I think) – being held at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
NATP had informed me that I am now a 25-year member, and I have attended probably to 20 of these conferences in my 25 years as a member. It used to be an annual event – but I have found lately that with the increased costs (and general PITA) of flying and increased costs of lodging it is not cost effective.
Baltimore is nearby, and accessible by train, and I found an alternative hotel that is less than half the cost of a room at the host hotel, and so I am here.
My other ongoing complaint about the conference – it is always held in a hot location (I am referring to the heat from the sun) at the hottest time of the year. Why not have the conference in late September or early October – or have it in Seattle or Portland, Maine?
In its favor, the conference is always chock-a-block with great education on all aspects of tax practice.
It seems that my reputation preceded me this year. When checking in with NATP staffers Greta and Cindy at the registration desk yesterday (Monday) morning, before proceeding to the Annual Meeting, I was greeted with “Robert Flach is a name we know – welcome Wandering Tax Pro!”
During the opening ceremonies I was pleased to learn that my soon to be former home chapter, the New Jersey chapter, was selected as Chapter of the Year (again) and its former president Marilyn Ayers was the 2012 Chapter Person of the Year. I have been told that my blogging, and other writings on issues of concern to tax pros, had contributed to the chapter’s winning of the award.
The keynote speaker was David Williams, the IRS’ tax preparer regulation czar, who spoke on, what else, the new IRS preparer regulation regime. I discuss David’s presentation over at THE TAX PROFESSIONAL blog.
I attended the general session discussion of “Current Developments – Individual Issues” in the morning, and “A Choice of Options” (which was actually on puts and calls, a topic that has always somewhat confused me over the past 40 years – although I had initially thought it concerned the various options offered to taxpayers in different situations) and “Tax Potpourri” in the afternoon.
There were not many current developments for 2012, as compared to past years, because of the procrastination by the idiots in Congress. 2012 being a presidential election year almost guaranteed that nothing would be done in the area of taxes – or any other area.
The session highlighted some of the many provisions that expired at the end of 2011 and have not yet been extended for 2012 or beyond –
· general sales tax deduction on Schedule A,
· above-the-line tuition and fees deduction,
· $250 educator expense deduction,
· mortgage insurance premiums as interest expense,
· 100% bonus depreciation,
· 15-year recovery for qualified leasehold improvements,
· tax-free direct distribution from IRA to qualified charitable organization,
· personal non-refundable tax credits allowed to offset the dreaded AMT,
· increased dreaded AMT exemption amounts, and
· non-business energy property credit.
And it looked at some of the tax increase provisions of the recently upheld “health care reform” bill that take effect beginning in 2013.
Such as the .9% Hospital Insurance tax on individual wages (and self-employment earnings) in excess of $250,000 for joint filers ($125,000 if married filing separately) and $200,000 for single and head of household filers.
And the “Medicare Contribution Tax” of 3.8% on the lessor of net investment income or the excess of “modified” Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) over, again, $250,000 for joint returns ($125,000 for separate filers) and $200,000 for single and head of household filers. This is the tax that right-wing idiots have been lying about for the past couple of years – calling it a “sales tax” on the profit from selling one’s personal residence.
My buddy Beanna Whitlock, who once told a gathering of tax pros that I was the only person in the room who really knew how to prepare tax returns when I raised my hand to indicate that I still prepare 1040s by hand, had us rolling in the aisles at her “Tax Potpourri” session.
In between laughs she detailed an example of one of the truly egregious inequities in the Tax Code – how $7,500 in gambling winnings (and $8,000 in documented gambling losses) increased the taxable income of a couple with one spouse collecting Social Security by over $13,000! The bottom line – about $2,000 in additional federal income tax on $0 of net income.
I have the day off today (Tuesday) - with no educational sessions. So look for the mid-week installment of the BUZZ tomorrow.