Tuesday, May 2, 2017


* Most of the recent BUZZ about taxes revolved around the skimpy details of the tax “plan” proposed by the idiot in the White House, and announced by Treasury Secretary Munchkin (apologies to Mnuchin; I realize this is juvenile, but whenever I see his name in print that is all I think of).

I provided my initial reaction to what information was released in the post “My More Than 2 Cents Worth”.

As I said at the end of my post –

. . . do you find it a coincidence that the largest tax breaks in the skimpy details released would benefit idiot Trump and his family ‘bigly’?

I do like what Tony Nitti had to say about the “plan” in “Devoid Of Details, Trump's Latest Tax Plan Nothing But Empty Promises” at FORBES.COM, calling it -

“ . . . a rushed, half-hearted gesture meant merely to meet his minimum obligations.

NY Times columnist Paul Krugman gets to the heart of the matter and explains the real story behind the release of the tax “plan” in “Living in the Trump zone” -

No, what we’re looking at here isn’t policy; it’s pieces of paper whose goal is to soothe the big man’s temper tantrums.”

I certainly welcome and encourage substantive tax reform (click here).  But I do not take anything idiot Trump says seriously, and I will wait until an actual bill, with actual specific details, including how cuts will be offset, is presented by the real Republicans before engaging in any further discussion of the issue. 

Before we leave this topic – check out my comment on the post “6 things to learn from the Trump tax plan proposal” at BANKRATE.COM.

* Fellow tax blogger Russ Fox of TAXABLE TALK has borrowed my title to present his own version of “That Was the Tax Season that Was”.

It seems we both had less GDEs this year than in the past. 

I agree with Russ on the following statements from his post (highlight is mine)–

·   The new law mandating interviews with taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Credit is annoying for tax professionals and will only stop the lowest of low hanging fruit of tax cheats. Most tax professionals know their clients, and simply aren’t committing tax fraud.”

·   Tax software is great in automating the mundane but not so great in thinking for you.” (although I cannot confirm that tax software is great at doing anything – and would use the word horrible at doing your thinking for you).

·   We need tax reform, and soon. The Tax Code is far, far too complex.”

·   If you’re using a tax professional to prepare your returns, he almost certainly has also set a deadline for receiving paperwork prior to the October 16th extension deadline. You should pay attention to that, and get your paperwork in to your professional timely.”  (my deadline was March 18th this season – and all returns received, with all the needed information, by March 18th were completed in time for an April 18th filing).

* I feel Jason Dinesen’s pain expressed in his tax season in review post titled “My Tax Season Recap: Business is Booming, But I’m Starting to Hate this Crap” at DINESEN TAX TIMES.

Jason is correct that “Being a Perfectionist is Not an Asset in this Field”.  I, too, have sleep interruption issues during the season – but not worrying about what I may have done wrong.  My mind is often so involved with what has to be done on certain returns that are or will soon be “on the table” that I cannot fall back to sleep, and sometime find myself getting up to work after only 4 or 5 hours of actual sleep.  And I find that beginning at the end of February I am doing tax returns in my sleep!

Fortunately my practice is different from Jason’s, and that of most other tax preparers.  I have not accepted new clients for several years, so I have history of varying lengths with all my clients.  Many have been with me, and my mentor before me, for decades, and I now do several generations of a family.  A substantial % of my 1040 clients are, or have become, actual personal friends.

I work alone out of my home 50-100 miles from my clients.  Only a handful of true long-timers are permitted to actually make the trip up to NE PA to see me – and then I never do the return while they wait.  I receive, and return, most of the returns I do via the mail.  On many days I forget to turn the phone on (it is always off on Wednesdays) – and when it is on the answering machine often is not, and I only answer the phone when it suits me (I have caller id so I know who is calling – and never answer “cold” if it is an unknown or unidentified caller).

I don’t “hate” the business yet – although I will admit I do not cherish it as much as I did when I worked with my mentor.

Jason ends the post by telling us his wife has recommended that he “disappear for a while” after April 18th.  I have been doing that at season-end – going to the Jersey shore for several days to recover – since almost the very beginning (there was a time, when my uncle was alive, that I boarded a cruise ship and crossed the Atlantic after the season was over to recover).

* Staying with Jason, we learn that he agrees with me that Quickbooks is the best bookkeeping software (although, to be fair, I have not tried any other software) in “Bookkeeping Software is Deceptively Simple”.

However, Jason tells us -

Here’s the problem with Quickbooks, or any other software solution for bookkeeping: it’s deceptively simple.”

Why is that a problem?

The problem is, the simplicity is deceptive. It’s easy to enter transactions, but it’s also easy to enter things the wrong way, thus creating trainwrecks that people such as I have to fix.”

In answering the question “Should I Keep My Own Books” Jason explains –

“. . . when you’re keeping the books yourself, know your limitations and when to stop and ask for help.

Because again, Quickbooks will accept whatever you put into it, and it’s not going to tell you if you’re doing something wrong.”

As with any software program – garbage in, garbage out.  This is just as true for bookkeeping software as it is for tax preparation software.  If you don’t understand bookkeeping and accounting and payroll you should not be doing your own books, and if you are not familiar with the intricacies of the mucking fess that is out Tax Code you should not be using DIY software to prepare your tax returns.

I “keep the books” (make all software entries) for my few remaining business clients using Quickbooks, with one exception (the client attended the official Quickbooks training class with me – and he knows to ask me if he is not sure about an entry), just so I do not have to fix any “trainwrecks” after the fact. 

* “Having a Garage Sale or Yard Sale? What to Do First” is explained by Jean Murray at THE BALANCE.

Jean explains –

Several issues are involved with the "business" of holding a garage sale:

1. Local permits and licenses for garage sales or yard sales
2. Income taxes on the profits from the sale, and
3. Sales taxes on the cost of the items sold.

Before you decide to have that garage sale or yard sale, consider these local, state, and federal laws, taxes, and permits.”

* Have you checked out the May 2017 “issue” of THE LIBERTY TIMES yet?

* Good news from Kay Bell in “Lewis aims to end latest private tax debt collection effort” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

Kay quotes Lewis as correctly saying (highlights are mine) -

"For the record, I want to be crystal clear — in today's world, private debt collection will only make a bad situation much worse.  We have been down this road before. It has been tried and tried again. Each and every single time, private debt collection fails. It creates confusion and wastes taxpayer dollars. Most importantly, the program does not help or serve the American people."

Using private collection agencies is wrong for many reasons.  Let us hope that H.R. 2171 - "Protection of Taxpayers from Abusive Tax Collection Practices" – is passed by Congress. 

* I wholeheartedly agree with the advice of Peter J Reilly at FORBES.COM - “You Should Just Hang Up On IRS Collection Calls Legitimate Or Not”.

I have always opposed the erroneous practice of the IRS, and state tax agencies, using private collection agencies for alleged tax debt.  You should refuse to deal with an outside agency – and deal only directly with IRS or state agency.



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