Wednesday, May 11, 2016
WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’ – NEW WEDNESDAY EDITION
Again, a day late, but not a dollar short. It looks like I will be posting only one BUZZ installment a week for a while, on Wednesdays, until the amount of appropriate BUZZ picks up.
* Over at FORBES.COM Ryan Ellis lists the “Top Five Reasons the Death Tax's 100th Birthday Should Be Its Last”. Some good reasons, especially the top 3, of why the “death tax” should be sentenced to death.
* Still at FORBES.COM, TaxGirl Kelly Phillips Erb explains “Fears Over Taxpayer Confusion Mount After It's Revealed IRS Might Be Calling You After All”.
As Kelly points out –
“For months, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been warning taxpayers to be vigilant and not fall victim to IRS impersonation scams. Thousands of victims have collectively paid tens of millions of dollars to scammers calling taxpayers and posing as IRS officials while phone scams remain on the IRS’ ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Tax Schemes and Scams for 2016.”
The IRS, and we tax pros and tax bloggers, have been telling you that the IRS will never initiate contact by telephone. But apparently “it ain’t necessarily so”!
In this instance Kelly is not talking about the incompetence of the idiots in Congress, who have stupidly forced the IRS to use outside collection agencies, despite the fact that previous attempts actually lost money for the government. Here she is talking about the incompetence of current IRS management –
“According to Tax Notes (subscription required), the IRS has been initiating some audits by phone. The issue was raised at one of a series of Taxpayer Advocate Service public forums, this one held in Iowa. At the forum, Robert McHugh, an Enrolled Agent (EA) in Kimballton, Iowa, told National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson that his client, an elderly taxpayer, was contacted by phone from an IRS auditor. There had been no prior contact with the taxpayer, including any letter. Another tax professional added, ‘It happens all the time.’”
“ . . .the Internal Revenue Manual did instruct revenue agents that the preferred method for initiating taxpayer contact for audit was by phone.”
My advice – if you are contacted via telephone by anyone claiming to be from the IRS tell them you refuse to discuss personal matters over the phone, and tell them you will only acknowledge and respond if they put it in writing.
* It seems that the IRS has responded to the problem discussed in the previous item. According to “IRS Modifies Audit 'Call-First' Policy After Taxpayer Complaints” by William Hoffman at TAX ANALYSTS -
“The IRS will begin notifying taxpayers first by letter when they are subject to in-person field exams, ‘in an abundance of caution and in light of pervasive phone scams seeking to extort money from taxpayers,’ the agency said in a statement May 6.
The IRS announcement follows reports in Tax Notes Today that attendees of a public forum held by the Taxpayer Advocate Service May 5 complained that they had received phone calls from IRS employees trying to set up audits. The claims seemed to contradict IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's repeated pledges to taxpayers that the IRS never calls first.
The IRS's May 6 statement said the agency ‘will implement a policy to notify taxpayers in this smaller exam category first via mail that their return has been selected for audit and then contact them to schedule an appointment.’”
My advice at the end of the last item still stands.
* Say what you will about the IRS and its current mismanagement - and there is a lot that can be said - the IRS website does have lots of good resources for individual and business taxpayers.
Here, for example, is it’s “Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center”, which provides “a variety of resources for taxpayers who file Form 1040, Schedules C, E, F or Form 2106, as well as small businesses with assets under $10 million”.
* And while for the most part competence is a rarity at the NJ Division of Taxation, it, too, has an excellent website full of helpful resources.
I expect most state tax agency websites are a good source of information and resources. You can link to your state’s tax agency website here.
* OUR BLOG at IRS Tax Pros warns “Receiving Cash Tips? The IRS Is Watching”.
This is a good review of how to handle tip income.
Thankfully I no longer have any 1040 clients who are among restaurant wait staff, so I do not have to worry about this any longer.
THE FINAL WORD
What has dangerous buffoon Donald Trump accomplished so far as a Presidential candidate? He has turned the Republican campaign into a three-ring circus – not much more than a farce. And he has seriously divided and damaged, if not destroyed, the Republican Party.
Think what he could do if, God forbid, he become President. This must never happen.