Tuesday, October 8, 2019


* At the coincidently titled TAXBUZZ blog Gordon McNamee reviews “Life Events and Taxes: A Complicated Combination.

These events are all occasions when you should contact your, or a, tax professional – and often before rather than after.

And, BTW, this blog also has a “Weekly Tax Buzz”.  Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery.

* Kay Bell reports “IRS announces fiscal 2020 perdiem rates” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

There per diem rates are amounts established by the Government Services Administration (GSA) that are used to reimburse federal employees for lodging, meals and incidental expenses (there is a separate rate for lodging and for meals and incidental expenses) while traveling on government business, but they can also be used as a basis for reimbursement by other employers.  And these amounts can be used by business taxpayers for claiming a federal tax deduction.  The fiscal period covered by these new rates is Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020.

Click here to find the per diem rates for a specific location

I will be going to Atlantic City in November for the annual NATP year-end tax update workshops, as I did last year.  The per diem for meals and incidental expenses has not changed – I could deduct $66.00 per day without receipts for my trip last November and I can deduct $66.00 for my upcoming trip.  I can also deduct actual expenses if I keep receipts – and I expect I will be spending more than $66.00 a day for meals alone in Atlantic City.

As a reminder - employee business expenses are no longer deductible on Schedule A, so the per diem is only for use by business entities.  The meal and incidental eexpense per diem can be claimed as a deduction by Schedule C filers.

I do believe that by the time the IRS is finally finished revising its forms, figuring out correct withholding and issuing final regulations on the changes made by the GOP Tax Act the act will have expired.

* More on reality tv morons the Chrisleys’ tax troubles from Robert W Wood at FORBES.COM – “With Chrisley Criminal Tax Charges, Prosecutors May Know Best”.

* TaxGirl Kelly Phillips Erb began a new weekly column at BLOOMBERG TAX that will “offer commentary on the latest in tax news, tax law, and tax policy”.  Her first post - “Don’t Follow Ex-Nets Star’s Playbook; Make Your Case to the IRS

* Attention fellow tax pros.  NATP’s “Taxpro Weekly” tells us –

In the next few days, the Return Preparer Office (RPO) will begin sending notices to PTIN holders informing them that the PTIN renewal season will begin Oct. 16, 2019.”

And some good news –

There will be no requirement to pay a user fee for anyone obtaining or renewing a PTIN.”

* Over at INVESTORS.COM Paul Katzeff explains “Roth IRA Beats Traditional IRA For Young Workers; Here's How”.

I agree with Paul.


The biggest question of the Trump Presidency –

Why do experienced politicians and government officials, who one would have thought to be intelligent, choose to abandon all honor, integrity and credibility to protect and defend an ignorant and incompetent delusional malignant narcissist and wannabe dictator instead of protecting and defending the country and the Constitution?

Of all the people intelligent and experienced politicians and government officials could choose to support out of Party or other loyalty Donald T Rump is the least likely. Trump, more than any other person, has not earned and does not deserve any such erroneous and misplaced loyalty.


Monday, October 7, 2019


That time of the year will soon be upon us when I say - Now is the time for all good men, and women, to come to the aid of their 2019 Form 1040!

Once the ball drops on One Time Square on New Year’s Eve and 2020 is rung in there is very little that you can do to reduce your 2019 tax liability.  But there is much that can be done during the last two months of the year to make sure that you pay the absolute least amount of federal and state income tax possible.

My 2019 YEAR-END TAX PLANNING GUIDE – which will “go to press” on October 15th - explains in detail what you can do during the last two months of 2019 to reduce your federal tax bill - in the context of the new rules for Form 1040 enacted by the GOP Tax Act.

It also contains a 2019 Preliminary Return Worksheet and details of what is new for federal individual income taxes for 2019.

The cost of this guide, delivered as a pdf email attachment, is ONLY $3.00.  A print version sent via postal mail is also available for $5.00.

Those who order the pdf email attachment will also receive a free copy of my “What’s New in Taxes for 2020” – also as a pdf email attachment - when it is available!

Send your check or money order for $3.00 of $5.00, payable to TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, INC, and your email or postal address to –



Tuesday, October 1, 2019


* Kelly Phillips Erb, the FORBES.COM TaxGirl, tells us “IRS Releases Updated Version Of Tax Form Just For Seniors.

KPE says the updated 1040-SR has “larger print and less fussy boxes”.

The IRS also issued an updated version of the 2019 Form 1040 – both new drafts were released on 9/11.  The content of the new draft 2019 1040-SR and 2019 1040 are exactly the same – line for line and word for word.  The only difference is that the 1040-SR has substantially bigger print and includes a Standard Deduction Chart.

The 1040 is now a 2-sided form that is 2/3 of a full 8½ x 11 sheet, instead of a ½ a full sheet like the ridiculous 2018 “postcard” 1040.  The 1040-SR is a 2-sided form that takes up an entire 8 ½ x 11 sheet – although Page 2 does not fill up the entire sheet.  The format is clearly much better than the 2018 Form 1040, with a more logical flow of information. 

I do believe I said the exact same thing about the original draft versions of these 2 forms.

What is the reason for a 1040-SR – other than it was mandated by Congress.  If you ask me the 2019 1040-SR format should be the 2019 Form 1040 and used by all.

* And KPE reports on a report with some good news – “IRS Report: Most Taxpayers Pay Their Taxes In Full And On Time”.

A report released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicates that the nation's tax compliance rate is holding at 84%, the same as in prior years.”

* Staying with FORBES.COM tax bloggers, Tony Nitti moves on to “Joe Biden” in his “Reviewing The Democratic Candidates' Tax Plans” series.

* The TAX FOUNDATION answers another question – “Does Your State Have an Individual Alternative Minimum Tax?

Very few do.  NJ, PA and NJ do not.  


Friday, September 27, 2019


While I am stable, I am not a genius.  I am not an expert on politics or government or history.  I am just a relatively intelligent citizen who cares about my country. 

I am not a registered Republican or a registered Democrat.  I have, in the past, voted for Democratic candidates, Republican candidates, and 3rd party candidates for various elected offices.  I vote based on the person and the issues and not based on Party.  I am liberal on some issues and conservative on others.

It is clearly obvious to me, based on my knowledge of his words, deeds and “tweets” both before and after throwing his hat in the ring for the Presidency, that Trump is an ignorant, incompetent, delusional, and mentally unstable narcissist and sociopath who cares only about himself and absolutely nothing else.  These are, to me, proven facts that are obvious to anyone with a brain.  

He was an unethical businessman, consistently, unapologetically and gleefully screwing his shareholders, investors, lenders, vendors, contractors, employees, and customers while lining his pockets.  I am personally aware of specific anecdotal evidence of his unethical behavior as a businessmen. 

He is a proven crook and conman for his despicable Trump University scam and for using his family charitable foundation to make purchases of sports memorabilia and other items for his personal use and to pay bribes to government officials.

He lies to everyone every day about everything.  This is a proven  and indisputable fact.  It is very literally impossible to believe a word that comes out of his mouth.

Trump has clearly abused the power of the office of the President.  He has certainly damaged and diminished the honor, integrity and credibility of the office of the President of the United States and the honor, integrity and credibility of the United States in the eyes of the world.

And has also clearly obstructed justice multiple times.  He has absolutely no respect or concern for the rule of law or the Constitution.

As a human being Trump is a totally worthless piece of garbage.  He has never performed a single completely unselfish positive act in his adult life.  It is impossible to find good or positive to say about Trump.

Trump is the worst, most ignorant and incompetent, most unfit and unqualified, and most mentally unstable President in my lifetime, and probably in the history of the United States.

There is no issue more important for the security and future of the United States and the world than removing Trump from the White House.

It is my firm belief that it is impossible for any patriotic American with a brain and a conscience to support and defend Trump.

And it is my firm believe that it is the patriotic duty of every American who cares about our country to vocally and aggressively oppose and denounce Trump and work for his removal from office and his eventual prosecution.

Thursday, September 26, 2019


What is perhaps the most disturbing fact we have learned from the Trump Presidency?

The national Republican Party believes pandering to Trump’s core cult of ignorant racists is more important than protecting and defending American values, American democracy and the Constitution.

It is impossible for any person, regardless of their political philosophy, with a brain and a conscience who cares anything about America, American values, American democracy, and the Constitution to support and defend Trump.

Anyone who affirmatively supports Trump’s continuance in office is either, like Trump, a racist and a white supremacist, or, like Trump, a clueless moron, or, like Trump, puts his or her personal self-interests above the law and above the interests of the country.

The national Republican Party has clearly put its self-interests above the rule of law and the interests of the United States of America.  


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To order your copy of this book send your check or money order FOR $5.45 OR $9.45, payable to TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, INCORPORATED, and your email or postal address, to –



Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Let me review some truly basic tax “stuff” – things that I would have thought everyone knows, but still get questions about.

(1) Your filing status for the tax year is determined by your status on the last day of the year – December 31st. 

a. If you are legally married on December 31, 2019, even if your wedding was December 30, you must file your 2019 tax returns for as either Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. 

b. If you are legally divorced on December 31, 2019, you must file your 2019 tax returns as either Single or Head of Household.

(2) If a person is alive for at least one day of the year he/she is considered for tax purposes to be alive for the entire year, and receives all the appropriate tax benefits, whether a dependent or an independent filer, for the entire year. 

a. If your spouse passes away at any time during the year, including January 1st, you can file as Married Filing Joint for that year. 

b. If a child is born at any time during the year, including December 31st, you can claim that child as a dependent, with all the applicable tax benefits (Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit), for that year.  

c. If a child is born on May 1st and passes away on May 2nd you can claim the child as a dependent for that year.

(3) You will only receive a tax benefit for an expense or action that qualifies as an itemized deduction if you itemize your deductions by filing a Schedule A – if your total itemized deductions exceed the applicable Standard Deduction amount for your filing status and situation.

Charities advertise that you can get a tax deduction for donating your car to their organization.  This statement is true – but only if you are able to itemize. 

If you donate a car with a deductible value of $2,000 to, for example, Kars 4 Kids, and you are in the 22% federal tax bracket and -

a. you itemize on Schedule A, and the full amount of the $2,000 deduction is in excess of your Standard Deduction, you will put $440 in your pocket (plus any state tax savings).   $2,000 x 22% = $440.

b. your total allowable itemized deductions, including the $2,000 for the car, is $11,000 and your Standard Deduction is $12,200 (the Standard Deduction amount for a Single filer for 2019) you put absolutely nothing in your pocket – you get no tax benefit from donating your car to the charity.  $11,000 less $12,200 = $0.00.

c. your total allowable itemized deductions, including the $2,000 for the car, is $13,000 and your Standard Deduction is $12,200 you out only $176 in your pocket (plus any state tax savings).  $13,000 less $12,200 = $800 x 22% = $176.

The above item (3) is actually inspired by a true story from my practice.  Years ago, a client came to see me and was happy as a pig in reality tv.  She said she had donated her car to charity and was told she would get a big tax deduction.  She could not itemize, even the car deduction, and got zip.  Clearly, she was not pleased.



Tuesday, September 24, 2019


* Do your wonder “Does Your State Have a Marriage Penalty?”.  The TAX FOUNDATION provides the answer.

NJ = yes.  PA = no.  NY = yes.  

* Another question answered – “Does working past 70 affect my Social Security benefits?” – at USATODAY.

Earnings at any age from the year a person turns 22 and onward are used in the calculation of your Social Security benefit.”

And –

If you're still working while receiving your Social Security benefits, each year the earnings from the previous year are added to your record. If the earnings in that year are greater than one of the earlier years, your benefit may be increase.”

* Jeffrey Levine provides a detailed discussion of “Hiring Children In The Family Business For Tax (And Other) Benefits” at Michael Kitces’ NERD’S EYE VIEW.

* Ashlea Ebeling tells us “Need Cash? Hardship Withdrawals From Your Retirement Plan Just Got Easier” at FORBES.COM.

* Also at FORBES.COM, Tony Nitti continues his series on “Reviewing The Democratic Candidates' Tax Plans” with “Elizabeth Warren”.

* Matt Lebo discusses “Taxation at Birth/Taxation at Death – The Circle of Life” at the new to me Drucker & Scaccetti TAX WARRIORS blog.

* Attention procrastinators.  Russ Fox tells it like it is at TAXABLE TALK -  It’s Time to Panic!


Forget about Trump’s alleged political positions, as bad as they may be.  All patriotic Americans, regardless of Party or political beliefs, must oppose and denounce Trump because he has been proven to be -

·         Ignorant and incompetent, unwilling to listen or learn

·         Totally self-absorbed, caring about absolutely nothing but himself and his perception, whose only agenda is feeding his ego and lining his pockets.

·         Enamored with and envious of dictators and authoritative leaders.

·         Incapable of dealing with criticism like a mature adult.

·         Incapable of admitting and accepting responsibility for errors.

·         Delusional and mentally unstable.

·         Do you need any more reasons?


Tuesday, September 17, 2019


OOPS!  I almost forgot to post today’s BUZZ.

* It didn’t hit me until the day itself – but last Friday was Friday the 13th.  Key Bell celebrated with “Don't fear, or fall for, these 13 seemingly scary tax tidbits” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

Pay special attention to #6, 7, 12, and 13.

* This has nothing to do with taxes, but WALLETHUB identifies “2019’s Happiest States in America”.

There is something wrong with this survey.  New Jersey is #5 and Pennsylvania is #26.  I am happier in PA than I was in NJ.

* This is not official, and I debated whether or not to include this item, but Kelly Phillips Erb provides “Your First Look At 2020 Tax Rates: Projected Brackets, Standard Deduction Amounts And More”, “projected” being the operative word, at FORBES.COM.

The actual inflation-adjusted numbers will be announced next month, and I will let you know when they are available and compile my annual “What’s New For 2020” when they are.

* In this week’s new post at BOBSERVATIONS I explain that “The Second Amendment is Obsolete” and has no relevance today.

* A la the old DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW (the only part of the show I found funny), Andy Ives presents “Top 10 RMD Goofs, Gaffes and Blunders” at THE SLOTT REPORT.

* Tony Nitti begins a series on “Reviewing the Democratic Candidates' Tax Plans” at FORBES.COM.  First Up: Bernie Sanders”.

I will wait till the end of the series to provide my thoughts on these plans and proposals.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019


 Police Officer Maurice Barry - PATH Emergency Service Unit - P.O. Shield #1038

A Port Authority officer for 16 years, Maurice "Moe" Barry, 48, was assigned to the PATH commuter train system. The resident of Rutherford, NJ, upon hearing the reports of the terrorist attacks, was one of the first on scene when he rushed from Jersey City to Lower Manhattan and then into the North Tower to help in the rescue efforts. As thousands fled the searing flames and smoke of the Towers, Officer Barry was attempting to reach trapped and frightened workers on the upper floors. The last time he was seen, he was on his way to the higher floors to get people out.
Moe had a history of heroism - he was involved in rescue efforts during an airplane crash at La Guardia airport; he once climbed a bridge to retrieve the body of a person electrocuted there; he was involved in the rescue effort during the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; and he rescued a woman from her home, by boat, during Hurricane Floyd. Moe was also a volunteer for the Rutherford Ambulance Corps.