Monday, January 16, 2017


I didn’t think Henry and Richard’s tv ads could get any more stupid than the ones they ran last year – with the buffoon in the bow-tie jumping out of a plane.  But I was wrong.  This year’s ads are even dumber!

Be aware that Henry and Richard ain’t cheap.  Another reason why H&R needs to overcharge for its services – it is paying John Hamm to appear in the ads!

Obviously I do not believe anyone should use Henry and Richard to prepare their tax return.  You will get more and better personal service from an independent tax professional – and may actually pay less.

* Once again “Taxpayer Advocate Urges Congress To Reform The IRS And Overhaul The Tax Code”, according to Ashlea Ebeling at FORBES.COM.

Nina Olsen, in her annual report to Congress, explained her “#1 legislative priority is for Congress to overhaul the tax code

Ashlea tells us –

Olson recommends that Congress start with a tax code without any tax expenditures, and then add a provision back in only if lawmakers decide that the public policy benefits of running the provision through the tax code outweigh the tax complexity burden the provision creates for taxpayers and the IRS.”

It sounds like Nina has visited my website “A Tax Professional for Tax Reform” or read my frequent posts on tax reform.  I have been saying exactly the same thing for years.

Some of Nina’s recommendations for tax reform include –

“• Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax for individuals
• Consolidate the family status provisions in the tax code
• Consolidate at least 12 incentives to save or spend for education
• Consolidate at least 15 incentives to save for retirement
• Simplify worker classification determinations to minimize employee-versus-independent-contract disputes
• Eliminate incentives to enact tax laws that expire or sunset
• Eliminate phase-outs of tax benefits as income rises
• Streamline the more than 170 civil penalties in the tax code

Good recommendations all.  I have also called for the elimination of phase-outs of tax benefits as income rises for years now.

From Nina’s mouth, via her report, to God’s ears!

 * Kay Bell, the yellow rose of taxes, talks about the importance of “Keeping track of tax deductible miles” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

Excellent advice in the bottom line to the post –

. . . keep up with your miles as you travel. It's easier than trying to recreate them months later at tax-filing time.

Plus, your contemporaneous mileage records will be much more convincing if the IRS ever questions your driving deductions.”

* KB had a post titled “Where to find your perfect tax preparer”.  If you want to find the perfect tax preparer for your situation begin your search at FIND A TAX PROFESSIONAL.

* A post on Spacebook from a NY state tax professional explains –

New York residents: If your tax professional asks you for your DRIVER'S LICENSE as part of your tax return filing this year, they are not crazy.

NY now requires the taxpayer and spouse to include their driver's license on all e-filed resident and non-resident income tax returns.”

Part of new regulations to protect taxpayers from identity theft.  NJ also asks for a driver’s license, but I do believe this is still voluntary.

Thanks, John Sheeley EA, for the word!

* At STIKKS TALT TAXES “Stikks” (aka Jamaal Soloman) continues his series of “Quick Tax Tips For The Tax Season” with Tip #5 – “Tax Credit for Saving Money!!!”.

The post tells you how to “Plan Now to Get Full Benefit of Saver’s Credit; Tax Credit Helps Low- and Moderate-Income Workers Save for Retirement”.

* TaxGirl Kelly Phillips Erb reports “New Taxes Send The Price Of Gas Soaring In Some States” at FORBES.COM.

My home state of PA is on the list of the most expensive states for gas, actually slightly more expensive than New York.  Luckily I live close to NJ border and travel into the “Garden State” at least every-other week, so I usually fill-up there.  However, thanks to a state gas tax increase at the end of 2016, NJ is no longer on the list of the least expensive states for gas – although still much better than PA and NY.

* And KPE brings back her popular series “Getting To Know You Tuesday” by introducing us to Enrolled Agent “Stuart Hack”.

An interesting personal anecdote from Stuart provides some good advice –

When my daughter was born 19 years ago, I read in Money Magazine that if I invested $200 a month in an index fund, I would have $100,000 by the time she's ready for College. I did, the account had over $100,000 and since she goes to a Public State University not only is College paid for, but she will have money left over to invest once she graduates.”

* Attention fellow tax pros - the IRS has announced the dates for the 2017 Nationwide Tax Forums:

Orlando, FL = July 11-13
Dallas, TX = July 25-27
National Harbor, MD = August 22-24
Las Vegas, NV = August 29-31
San Diego, CA = September 12-14

* Ever wonder “Why Does the IRS Care So Much About Employee vs. Contractor?  Jason Dinesen provides the answers, including a cynical one, at DINESEN TAX TIMES.

* A good reminder from Professor Jim Maule at MAULED AGAIN – “Don’t Forget to Sign the Return”!  

* From the CCH weekday-daily news headlines e-letter – “Ryan Says Repeal and Replacement of ACA to be Concurrent; Democrats Question Components”.

Let us hope that is true and that both repeal and replacement are included in the same legislation.

* The NSTP BLOG provides a “quick primer on medical account options” in “Comparing Tax-Favored HAS, HRA & FSA Medical Options”. 

The Last Word –

Trump’s plan to supposedly avoid conflict of interests while in office is totally unacceptable.

Blogger Daniel Shaviro has identified three ways a President can make money through his businesses, absent a blind trust –

One is to shape government policies, procurement decisions, etcetera, to favor his businesses. A second is to get business from others who seek to curry favor (the emoluments issue). A third is to have the businesses act on inside information about impending news before it becomes public.”

You can be sure Trump knows about, and will take full advantage of, all three if he can.

Write to your Congresscritters and tell them to support the bill discussed in “Elizabeth Warren and Democrats introduce bill to push Trump to divest businesses”.

Nothing less than what this legislation calls for should be acceptable for any President of any party.  It had been standard practice by Presidents in the past, who acted out of ethical responsibility.  The law now becomes a necessity because of Trump’s arrogance and greed.

The legislation looks to require ‘the president, vice president, their spouses and minor or dependent children to divest all interests that create financial conflicts of interest placing those assets in a true blind trust,’ according to a fact sheet from Warren's office. It ‘will be managed by an independent trustee who will oversee the sale of assets and place the proceeds in conflict-free holdings.’

It also includes a symbolic statement that the president skirting ethics rules constitutes ‘a high crime or misdemeanor under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution.’"


 NO tax software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for knowledge of the Tax Code, and NO tax software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for a competent, experienced tax professional.
Do you need to find a qualified and competent tax professional?

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