Friday, November 6, 2015
WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’
* Do you want to know WTF is the AMT? Find out in my article at THESTREET.COM.
* Tax pros – the November 1, 2015 issue of my free email newsletter TAXPRO BUZZ is available. If you would like a copy email me at email@example.com with “Taxpro Buzz” in the subject line.
* A few BUZZ installments ago I told you about the Tax Glossary compiled by Kay Bell, the yellow rose of taxes. Jason Dinesen also has a blog series on tax definitions – click here to check out his Tax Glossary series.
* The TAX FOUNDATION has published an online “Income Taxes Illustrated: A Visual Guide to Income in America and How it is Taxed”.
* Have you ordered my “2015 Year-End Tax Planning Guide” yet? Why not! It will help you to make sure you pay the absolute least amount of federal, state, and local income tax for 2015.
* The WASHINGTON POST gives us some news we don’t need – “IRS customer service will get even worse this tax filing season, tax chief warns” -
“Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday that taxpayers should expect customer service to ‘get worse’ during the upcoming filing season unless Congress boosts the agency’s budget — worse, that is, than the new low set last year.”
During this past tax filing season – February 1 through April 15 for me – I received more emails from clients about delayed federal refunds than all past tax seasons combined! I will need to warn clients that refund delays will increase for the February – April 2016 season.
The members of Congress sure are idiots, aren’t they?
* Speaking of the idiots in Congress, Kay Bell tells us “U.S. House plans to work 111 days in 2016”.
As Kay puts it – “Nice work, or not, if you can get it”.
“The House's calendar for the upcoming second session of the 114th Congress includes the fewest amount of days the House has been session since 2006, according to those who track such numbers.
Nine years ago, Representatives were gaveled into session on 101 days.
That makes the 2016 calendar the second fewest scheduled House work days since 1975.”
* Russ Fox explains “Where I Agree (In Part) With IRS Commissioner John Koskinen” at TAXABLE TALK –
“Commissioner Koskinen is correct. Congress should get off its duff and pass the extender legislation. That said, the calendar hasn’t hit December so I don’t expect anything to happen for four weeks.”
Russ also agrees that budget cuts hurt IRS taxpayer service. But he blames the IRS itself – mismanagement (I certainly agree here) and illegal behavior - and not the idiots in Congress for the budget cuts. Russ does make a point – Congress should act to stop IRS FUs. But the words “Congress” and “act” are rarely used together.
I do believe that the idiots in Congress must take a lot of blame for reductions in IRS taxpayer service – since they continue to add social benefit and other non-tax administration duties to the IRS by using the Tax Code wrongly to distribute government benefits. This alone is bad – but they do not provide the appropriate funding to cover the erroneous additional duties.
As a fellow tax preparer said in response to the excessive due-diligence requirements for tax pros – “The IRS didn't ask to redistribute wealth, enforce and monitor healthcare, and alike.”
* Before I leave the subject of the IRS budget cuts – USA TODAY reports “IRS audit rates at more than decade-long low” –
“The audit coverage rate, the percentage of federal tax returns the IRS examined either in person or by mail correspondence, dropped to 0.84%, the IRS said. The rate was the lowest since 2004, and the decline marked the third consecutive year with audit coverage below 1%.
IRS personnel audited just over 1.2 million individuals during the fiscal year, the preliminary data shows. That marked a 1.1% decline from 2014, and a nearly 22.3% drop from fiscal year 2010.”
Why the drop in audits?
“The declines came amid cuts in IRS budget funding and employee headcount, as well as a rise in the number of individual federal returns filed for three of the last four years.”
* ICYI – I will send you free of charge as an email attachment my “What’s New In Taxes for 2016” (FYI, it is included in the “2015 Year-End Tax Planning Guide”). Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “2016 Tax Info” in the subject line.
* A 2014 post from Jim Blankenship at GETTING YOUR FINANCIAL DUCKS IN A ROW list “Types of Rollovers Not Subject to the Once-Per-Year Rule”.
* Tax pros – check out the new THE TAX PROFESSIONAL website revisions.
* Small business owners - ever wonder “How Do I Do My Own Payroll and Payroll Taxes?” Jean Murray tells you how.
Doing payroll “in house” is not difficult, especially with the help of Quickbooks or a similar program.
* Jason Dinsesen begins a blog discussion on “Taxation of Railroad Retirement Benefits”.
Because of the two-tiered system RR benefits can indeed be, as Jason suggests, “confusing to the uninitiated”. I look forward to reading his ongoing series.
* And finally, the CCH week-day daily Federal News Headlines e-letter reports “Brady to Head Ways and Means Committee”.