Wednesday, January 23, 2013
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’ – WEDNESDAY EDITION
"I think we have to reform our complex, burdensome tax code. It's 10 times the size of the Bible with none of the good news." - House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp
It is truly rare that I quote as wisdom something said by one of the idiots in Congress! But, as with any politician, what they say and what they do are usually two different things. Let us hope that is not the case with tax reform.
* Check out my Tax Tip “What to Give Your Tax Preparer” at MAINSTREET.COM.
* By now we have all heard that the IRS tax preparer regulations have been shut down, at least temporarily. Even if the IRS appeals, as I expect it will, and wins (which would not end the Institute for Justice anti-regulation campaign) it will take time, and the service will be forced to postpone the 12/31/13 deadline for passing the competency test for at least another full year.
From my point of view, pragmatically speaking, this means that I will not have to worry about having to deal with the RTRP competency test until after the 2014 tax filing season.
Did you see my responses to the court decision at THE TAX PROFESSIONAL? Click here and here and here.
* In its challenge of the IRS tax preparer regulation regime, the Institute for Justice argued that the cost of attending just the 15 hours of training would range between $675 and $1012.
To quote fellow tax blogger Trish McIntire – “Bovine excrement!”
As I pointed out in one of THE TAX PROFESSIONAL posts linked abote, the National Association of Tax Professionals, one of the best providers of tax CPE around, offers two days, 16 hours, of CPE, which includes the required 3 hours of updates and 2 hours of ethics, at several locations in each of the 50 states (so there is no need to incur costs for travel or lodging) in November-January of each year. The cost of the 2 days for 2012 was $349 (which included a continental breakfast).
There are several very reasonable online and self-study options. Trish McIntire tells us –
“In 2012, I paid $428.50 for 32 hours of course work. That averages to $13.39 an hour. I could have spent less. I’ve seen free CPE and companies that offer packages under $10 an hour. I’ve also spent more for special courses I wanted to take. But working from an average of $15 an hour for 15 hours equal $225 a year for continuing education.”
I respect the argument that the IRS is not authorized to regulate tax preparers and the Institute’s objection to the regulation regime on libertarian grounds. But to say the cost of CPE alone will force serious tax preparers out of business is nonsense.
* Jason Dinesen’s post “Further Thoughts on Preparer Regulation” at DINESEN TAX TIMES shares, in 600+ words, his “opinion on the apparent death of the RTRP designation, and what the future holds, especially for Enrolled Agents like me”.
Jason rightfully complains –
“We’re equals to CPAs (in the tax world) but I guarantee that most people think EA is a lesser designation than CPA.”
There is just one error in that statement. In the tax world EAs are certainly superior to CPAs. EAs have passed an extensive test in federal taxation, more so than the RTRP competency test, and must take more than the 15 hours of CPE in federal taxation that was required of RTRPs.
With the “death” of the RTRP, the initials EA are the only ones that identifies tax knowledge and currency.
* Annette Nellen, author of the 21st CENTURY TAXATION blog, has written a piece identifying, and describing in detail, her picks for the “Top 10 Tax Developments of 2012” at AICPA TAX INSIDER.
* EA Jamaal Solomon continues his series at TAX FACTOR with a “Tax Organizer for Educators”
* Over at FORBES.COM Howard Gleckman tells us of “Another Absurdity Of The Fiscal Cliff Deal: A Tiny Tax Bracket Covering 500 People”.
“The fiscal cliff deal (aka the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012) created what may be the world’s tiniest tax bracket. Under the new law, singles face a rate of 35 percent if their taxable income falls between $398,350 and $400,000. The bracket covers a grand total of $1,650.
The Tax Policy Center figures fewer than 500 taxpayers fall into this group, which makes it a very exclusive club indeed.
Matters are a little less strange for married couples filing jointly. For them, the 35 percent bracket covers a $51,650 income range.
* OLSEN TAX CONSULTING LLC has produced an “infographic” of “10 Common Income Tax Snafus”.
Take special note of the last one –
“Many people assume that their tax preparer is responsible for mistakes.
However, in the eyes of the IRS, YOU are responsible.”
* Some good timely advice from the IRS in “Topic 154 - Form W-2 and Form 1099-R (What to Do if Incorrect or Not Received)” -
“Employers/payers have until January 31 to issue certain informational documents. If you do not receive your Form W-2 or Form 1099-R by January 31, or your information is incorrect on these forms, contact your employer/payer.
If you do not receive the missing or corrected form by February 14 from your employer/payer, you may call the IRS at 800-829-1040 for assistance. You must provide your name, address (including zip code), phone number, Social Security Number, dates of employment, your employer/payer's name, address (including zip code), and phone number. After February 14, the IRS will contact the employer/payer for you and request the missing form. IRS will also send you a Form 4852 (PDF), Substitute for Form W-2 or Form 1099-R, along with a letter containing instructions.
If you do not receive the missing form in sufficient time to file your tax return timely, you may use the Form 4852 to complete your return. If you receive the missing or corrected Form W-2 or Form 1099-R after you file your return and a correction is needed, use Form 1040X (PDF), Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.”
* MISSOURI TAXGUY Bruce McFarland provides “a few facts you should know about the tax implications of an early distribution from your retirement plan” in his post “Tax Issues with Early Distributions from Retirement Savings”.
* Back to Trish McIntire of OUR TAXING TIMES, who warns taxpayers about the latest ploy of the fast food tax prep chains to pick your pocket in “Can You Use the 1040EZ?” -
“You've heard the commercials; one of the national chains will prepare your taxes for free-if you can use the 1040EZ. They're targeting young adults who might be tempted to do it themselves online or with tax preparation software. Is it a good deal? It depends on if you qualify to use the form and what other charges might you get stuck with?”
Her bottom line -
“Free can be good as long as you're getting the same quality return as the customer who are paying for their return. And you aren't paying more in taxes because you skipped a credit or deduction to stay on the 1040EZ form.”
THE LAST WORD
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. But guns make it easier to kill more people more effectively.
I wish the NRA would explain to me why a hunter needs an “assault weapon” to kill a deer. It would seem to me a rifle, or a bow and arrow, is enough “fire power”.