Saturday, December 1, 2012


* Not about taxes, but . . . a client who was without power at home thanks to SANDY stayed at a motel in North Bergen and complained to me about price gouging.  There is apparently something that is being done about this issue, as per this item from NJ.COM titled “N.J. Attorney General Files 10 More Sandy Price-Gouging Suits Including West Windsor Hotel”.  I think the motel my client stayed at in on the list.   

* And from ENTERTAINMENT ON TODAY “Reality Check for Reality TV Fans: You're More Neurotic”. surveyed nearly 19,000 people and found those who watch reality TV consider themselves more extroverted, more neurotic, and say that they have lower self-esteem than folks who aren’t fans of the genre.”

No surprise here – “the survey revealed that some viewers actively turn to reality shows to make them feel better about their own lives.”

According to psychiatrist and frequent TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz (highlight is mine) –

"That’s clearly about schadenfreude -- taking pleasure in the misfortune of others.  On the one hand, what’s wrong with feeling a little better about your house when you see someone on TV with a mess and 50 cats? On the other, it’s not a helpful defense mechanism when you have your own things going on that you should be attending to.”

As I have thought all along - the members of Congress are not the only idiots out there.

* Tax pros, be sure to check out my THE TAX PROFESSIONAL post on “The NATP Annual Tax Update Seminar” .

* More proof that they are idiots (Congresspersons, that is).  NBC reports “Congress to Make History -- But for the Wrong Reason” -

By passing just 196 bills into law so far, it is in the running to become the least productive Congress since the 1940s.

In fact, that amount is 710 fewer public laws than was produced by the 80th Congress (from 1947-48), which first earned the moniker ‘Do-Nothing’ Congress.”

* Great advice from Trish McIntire at OUR TAXING TIMES – “You Can't and You Shouldn't” -

I just took a call from someone asking if once he gets his final check for the year (and accompanying check stub) if he can file his tax return. No he can’t and neither can you.

The IRS requires that a copy of the W-2 must be attached with a paper filed return and a copy of the W-2 must be kept with the signature sheet of any electronically filed return. You have to wait until you receive all your W-2s and other informational documents to file your returns.”

As Trish points out in the post, the caller was thinking about “an ad they’ve heard on television about a using a paystub to get a holiday loan”.  These holiday loans gouge you with high fees and more often than not are just attempts to rip you off.  Like Refund Anticipation Loans (RAL), avoid these usurious products.

* I was once again included in TAXPRO TODAY’s “Recent highlights from some of our favorite tax bloggers” via “Gone to the Blogs”.

* YAHOO FINANCE lists “The Best - and Worst - Run States in America” according to a 24/7 Wall St survey.  NJ is not, like Oliver Twist, last on the list – but it is among the 5 worst at #46.      

The state’s median household income and poverty rate were both third best in the nation. On the other hand, the state’s tax burden on its residents was second highest in the U.S. in 2010. Residents paid 12.4% of their income in state and local taxes, higher than any other state except New York.”

* At the Tax Foundation’s TAX POLICY BLOG Scott Hodge tells us “Buffett's Case for Minimum Tax on the Rich Fails on All Accounts”.  

* And the TAX POLICY BLOG reminds us that “The Tax Rate Paid by the Top 1% Is Double the National Average”.

* The TAX POLICY CENTER has a new “Fiscal Cliff Tax Calculator that lets users “examine the effects of four potential outcomes of negotiations over the upcoming fiscal cliff”.

* The Beyond 4/15 IRS ALERTS blog reminds us that “It’s CP2000 Season” -

In the first week of December, the IRS starts the first of two rounds of underreporter inquiries for 2011 Forms 1040. Last year, the IRS sent 4.7 million CP2000 notices to taxpayers. For 2012, the IRS has reformatted the CP2000 notice to make it easier to understand. Although the letter format changed, there were no procedural changes in responding to CP2000 notices.

This year, the IRS also began an underreporter program for businesses: the CP2030/2531 program for business underreporting. In this program, the IRS is matching Forms 1099 to business returns and is proposing adjustments to the return. According to the IRS, these letters started at the beginning of October. The Internal Revenue Manual was also updated in October to reflect the new program.”

I do believe that I had already seen, and responded to, CP-2000 notices from clients for 2011 returns earlier in the year.

As I say time and again – more than half of all notices received from the IRS or a state tax agency are INCORRECT.  If you receive a notice from the IRS or your resident or non-resident state give/send it to your tax preparer IMMEDIATELY.

Taxpayers who did not get their refund in the mail as expected and believe their refund check may have been returned to the IRS should use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.”

The release also reminds us (very important – highlight is mine) –

Taxpayers should be aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail. E-mail informing taxpayers of pending tax refunds and asking for personal information are phishing scams. The agency urges taxpayers receiving such messages not to release any personal information, reply, open any attachments or click on any links to avoid malicious code that can infect their computers.

* Check out The Tax Foundation’s “Weekly Tax Update”.

* I began with a timely non-tax issue – so let’s end with one.  Angela Colley provides “30 Tips to Save $500 by Christmas” at MONEYTALK NEWS.

Personally, I do not believe in #8 – Haggle.


If I ever have the misfortune of meeting Donald Trump I would give him the following advice –

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

There is no doubt that “the Donald” is a fool!


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