Friday, December 17, 2010


Next up in my weekly Friday series of mini-interviews with fellow tax bloggers is Professor James Maule of MAULED AGAIN. A fellow “Wandering Traveler in the Internet Wilderness”, Jim has been a professor at Villanova University School of Law in Pennsylvania since 1983, and has been blogging since 2004. I enjoy reading Jim’s, appropriate for his profession, scholarly posts on tax policy. We have both made the extreme error of disagreeing with a certain multi-initialed blogger.

(1) How did you become interested/involved in preparing tax returns or teaching taxes?

I first met tax return preparation observing my father doing my parents’ returns at the kitchen table when I was a youngster. I became more interested after I started working while in high school and insisted on doing my own returns. When I was in college, I worked for an accounting firm that prepared returns, and shortly after being hired I was assigned not only to prepare returns but to review prepared returns. I also worked for H&R Block.

(2) How were you educated/trained in preparing tax returns?

Pretty much I taught myself. When I was hired by the accounting firm, I read the CCH US Master Tax Guide cover to cover twice. H&R Block provided some training materials.

(3) When and why did you decide to write a blog on tax issues?

The then dean of the law school where I teach, Villanova, started the Mirror of Justice blog and wondered why I, known for my attachment to digital technology, did not have a blog. So one could say I was encouraged, or shamed into, starting MauledAgain.

(4) How has blogging helped your business?

There’s no business as such to help, but the blog has brought me and Villanova’s law school visibility in several segments of the professional tax world.

(5) What do you consider the “best tax advice” you can give anyone?

If you are unsure, make sure, by checking with someone who can provide certainty or confirm that the answer is uncertain. Be honest, be diligent, be careful, be sensible.

(6) Do you think the regulation of tax return preparers is a good thing?

Yes. I have seen, and I have been shown, too many tax returns that are improperly prepared, with significant errors, by preparers who don’t seem to know and understand what they need to know and understand to prepare returns properly.

(7) Do you think CPAs and attorneys should be exempt from testing and required CPEs in taxation?

No. Having a law degree does not translate into having good tax return preparation skills. There are lawyers who never took a tax course, and even one tax course is woefully insufficient. Having a CPA certificate is more valuable in this respect, but the tax law is ever-changing and there are tax issues not within the scope of the taxation portion of the CPA exam. Everyone in every profession should be required to demonstrate that he or she is up-to-date with developments affecting the profession.

(8) What is your favorite Broadway musical – and why?

I don’t have a favorite. There are too many that I like, and I’ve never tried to single out one for the top of the list, because there is no list.

Next week I will feature Russ Fox of TAXABLE TALK.


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