Friday, May 31, 2013
WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’
* Fellow tax blogger Russ Fox EA, of TAXABLE TALK, explains “Why I’m an Amicus Curiae”.
Russ joined with Joe Kristan CPA and Jason Dinesen EA and the Tax Foundation to submit an Amicus Curiae brief in support of the court’s decision in the Loving case. I also offered my help to Dan Alban of the Institute for Justice, but I was too late. By then Dan was overflowing with tax pro support.
I wholeheartedly support the Loving decision, but not necessarily for all of the same reasons as my colleagues. The main reason - I agree that the Service does not have the authority to force its RTRP program on all tax preparers.
The recent scandal has proven that the IRS can’t even properly regulate its own employees, let alone try to properly regulate tax preparers!
* Speaking of the Service, “IRS Appoints Executive to Restore Integrity after Controversy”. So says ACCOUNTING TODAY.
“The Internal Revenue Service has appointed David Fisher, chief financial officer of the Government Accountability Office, as a senior executive to help the tax agency recover from the controversy over its scrutiny of small-government groups.”
* The TAX FOUNDATION gives us a map of the “Percentage of Tax Returns Claiming Charitable Gifts Deduction” for tax year 2011.
I was surprised to see that New Jersey was #2 – supposedly the 2nd most charitable state after Maryland. West Virginia was #50.
Of course this map does not truly indicate the states with the most charitable residents – just the states whose residents claim the most charitable deductions. It is skewed by the number of residents who itemize instead of claiming the Standard Deduction – which is based on high deductible items like taxes and mortgage interest – and the fact that, as a 40+ year veteran tax preparer, I do believe that the charitable deduction is among the most often overstated on returns.
* At ACCOUNTING WEB Mark Lee tells us “Social Media: Ten Things Accountants Should Never Do”.
I admit that I do use Twitter to promote my blog and products (but not my tax practice – since I do not want nor accept new 1040 clients). However its use to me is more as a source of tax information than as a promotional tool. I will never be on Spacebook or My Face. If I want to publicize my firm online I will do it via a blog or website. And if I want to share experiences or pictures with friends and family I will send them an email.
My practice, and that of my mentor before me, actually grew successful as a result of what used to be “social media” – word of mouth. One client telling a friend or co-worker of our good work. Neither of us ever took out a print, or any other kind, of advertisement anywhere (unless it was an ad journal for a fund-raising event – really a contribution). We didn’t need to. We were experienced, competent, and ethical tax preparers, who worked hard for our clients. And our reputation spread via word of mouth.
* I have a friend from college who is a stockbroker, but I agree with Roger Wohlner, THE CHICAGO FINANCIAL PLANNER, that “Your Stockbroker is Not Your Friend”.
Let’s face it - your stockbroker is just a salesman.
I am not saying all stockbrokers are not honest or ethical. I was lucky to find a stockbroker for first my parents and then myself who did us good, and whom I trusted. And I have no doubt that my friend who is a stockbroker is honest and ethical.
I am just saying – whenever you are given advice, financial or otherwise, consider the source and its motivation.
* Jason Dinesen of DINESEN TAX TIMES offers a holiday re-run with “Dinesen Tax Greatest Hits: When a Temporary Absence is Not a Temporary Absence”.
As Jason explains – “This story is about a Tax Court ruling over dependency exemptions relating to separated couples.”
* Kay Bell reports on another “rogue” IRS employee in “IRS Employee Charged with Going on a Years-Long Buying Spree with Uncle Sam's Credit Card”.
The IRS employee, a secretary, “racked up a total bill of $8,515” in personal expenses over a 46-month period.
Did I already say “the IRS can’t even properly regulate its own employees, let alone try to properly regulate tax preparers”?
* Oops, they did it again! “Phishing Again”, that is, according to Trish McIntire at OUR TAXING TIMES.
I, and my fellow tax bloggers, cannot say this often enough –
“The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.”
* According to Derek Thompson of THE ATLANTIC “Washington 'Spends' More on Tax Breaks Than on Medicare, Defense, or Social Security”.
“Tax expenditures are funny. They're not taxes, exactly, because they save us money. They're not spending, exactly, because the dollars are never actually spent. They're somewhere in between. So think of it as tax spending.”
The problem is they are not spending, but they are spending. Having these social welfare programs washed through the Tax Code takes away the accountability and skews the budget by not properly reporting the true cost of welfare, education benefits, etc.
* The ACCOUNTANTS WORLD daily headline service provided the following information, taken from a June 2013 JOURNAL OF ACCOUNTANCY article -
“IRS Extends Suspension of Examinations of “Repair Reg.” Issues
(JofA) - For examinations of tax years beginning before Jan. 1, 2012, examiners are instructed to discontinue current exam activity and not begin any new activity with regard to: Whether costs incurred to maintain, replace, or improve tangible property must be capitalized under Sec. 263(a).”
THE FINAL WORD –
The hosts of TODAY went through an “Extreme Mudder” obstacle course on the show yesterday morning. The concept emphasizes teamwork over individual achievement, which is good.
But, of course, considering the “reality tv” over-the-top mentality of today’s unimaginative idiots, the obstacle course was not just difficult and challenging, like the ones used by the various Armed Forces. It was excessively dangerous on purpose – with participants plunging into below freezing water (not just cold) and crawling on hands and knees through the mud under electrified barbed wire (after plunging into the water).
These “reality tv” trappings are certainly unnecessary and potentially very life threatening to participants. They certainly make a joke out of what may actually have started as a legitimate concept.