Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Despite the 4-day week-end there is a lot of BUZZ to report.

* William Perez of WILLIAM’S TAX PLANNING BLOG reminds us that “The third estimated tax payment is due on September 15th" and answers a question about “Paying Estimated Taxes for a Side Job”.

* Mary O'Keeffe touches on another serious problem involving tax preparation software and the need to register and license tax preparers in the interestingly titled “Tax Software and Barriers to Entry: Are Tax Pros More Like Physicians or More Like Hair Braiders?” Over the years I have been called and compared to a lot of things – but never a hair braider.

Mary echoes the concerns of Trish McIntire in a post from OUR TAXING TIMES (referenced in an earlier BUZZ entry), saying -

Right now, there are very low barriers to entry in tax prep industry. As I've mentioned before, in 48 states anyone (even an illiterate and innumerate convicted criminal) can go into the tax prep business. No need to show any qualifications, no need even to register before hanging out one's shingle.

As Trish's post makes clear, in almost all states, anyone with an inexpensive laptop and out-of-the-box software can go door-to-door making house calls doing paid tax prep--and possibly fool unsuspecting and hapless clients into thinking that he knows what he's doing. Thanks to inexpensive boxed software, it's easy for a well-meaning but quite incompetent person to appear to be a knowledgeable tax pro

* Congratulations to Dan Meyer on his blog TICK MARKS’ upcoming milestones - 1000th post and the 60,000th view.

Dan, keep up the good work!

* Oregonian Kathy Howell, a Senior Tax Specialist for Internal Revenue in the Wage and Investment Operating Division, answers a question from a taxpayer whose spouse “disappeared over three years ago and I do not know his/her whereabouts” in the post “Can I File Single” at her TAX Q+A WITH KATHY HOWELL blog.

*Florida attorney Charles Rubin, of the RUBIN ON TAX blog, tells us about BO’s proposed changes to make it easier for employees to save for retirement in the post “Obama To Make It Easier For Employees To Save For Retirement”.

Two new proposals are –

- “Taxpayers will be able to buy U.S. savings bonds with their tax refunds just by checking a box on their tax forms” and

- “Employees will be allowed to contribute their pay attributable to unused vacation time to their 401(k) plans

* While it has nothing to do with taxes, Monica Lawver’s post “Who Calls the Shots” at CONFESSIONS OF A CPA (a companion blog to her THE TAX CPA) is one that is definitely worth reading and pondering.

Are you a Worker, a Wisher or a Winner?

* According to the EZEE TAX TAX AND ACCOUNTING BLOG you can “Download MS Office Accounting Express 2009 for FREE”!

* Jeremy Vohwinkle of ABOUT.COM: FINANCIAL PLANNING talks in depth about borrowing from your employer’s pension plan in “Should You Take a 401(k) Loan?”.

Jeremy reminds us that -

One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking that tapping into their retirement plan is the same as going to the bank and taking some money out of a savings account. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you borrow money from your 401(k), you are taking out a loan. Just like an auto loan or a home loan, this means you promise to pay back what you borrow.”

And tells us about the worst case scenario -

When you default on a 401(k) loan and have not reached the age of 59 1/2, the IRS treats the loan as a distribution which would not only be subject to income taxes, but an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty as well.”

* My Comcast homepage led me to an article on Forbes’ "500 Most Expensive ZIP Codes" annual list titled “America's Most Expensive ZIP Code Belongs to… The Garden State

According to Forbes, the most expensive zip code in the US is 07620, belonging to Alpine, New Jersey, where the median home price for a mansion is $4.14 million.

The top 25 zip codes are mostly in New York (several in NYC) and California (90210 is #5) with two each in Colorado and New Jersey and Las Vegas, Nevada thrown in for good measure.

I don’t think I have ever been in Alpine. I think it is in Bergen County.

* John Sheeley perfectly describes the benefit of attending the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in his post “One Idea to Decrease the Tax Gap: More Examinations” at JOHNSHEELEY.COM -

Access to IRS personal above the ‘front lines’ represents the true value of attending the IRS Forums each year. Some small snippets of information, such as the increase in examination personal, while presented to support information in the session, offer insight into what practitioners see in the field. This information cannot generally be found through any other medium.”

I wish the IRS would return the northeastern Forum to Atlantic City – but I expect that it is not in the cards. How about Boston for a change?

* Every Friday Rob Teuber posts a “Friday’s Tax Quote” at his blog TAX LAW FORUM. Let’s end today’s edition of the BUZZ with last Friday’s quote, a new one to me –

Of course [the Orthodox Jewish dietary laws] are inconvenient at times, but not nearly as inconvenient as paying the federal income tax." - Herman Wouk

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