Tuesday, September 14, 2021

WHAT’S THE BUZZ? TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENIN’

 

Finally – a substantive BUZZ!

* Jeff Stimpson reports that “Many tax pros are undercharging clients: NATP” at ACCOUNTING TODAY.

I know I am, and have been for decades.

* Speaking of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) fee survey - it once again proves that the most expensive option for choosing a tax professional to prepare your individual Form 1040 is the CPA.  The average fee for preparing a basic Form 1040 charged by a CPA is 15.7% higher than the fee charged by an Enrolled Agent (EA), who is more qualified and trained in tax preparation than a CPA, and a CPA charges 43.4% more than an “unenrolled” preparer (no initials).

No surprise here.

And remember, just because a person has the initials CPA after his or her name does not necessarily mean that he or she is knowledgeable, trained or experienced in preparing 1040s.

FYI, the average cost of preparing a basic Form 1040 (Schedules 1-3 only) in the northeast (where I am from) for 2021 was $136.00.  The average cost of a Form 1040 with Schedules 1-3 and a Schedule A was $187.00.  These numbers are for the federal return only and do not include the fee for preparing the state return.

* Some good advice from Kay Bell, the yellow rose of taxes, at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES – “Moving? Let the IRS know.”

* There is a new format for BOBSERVATIONS.  Click here to check it out.

*  TaxGirl Kelly Phillips Erb deals with the question “How Long Do You Need to Keep Your Tax Records?” at her BLOOMBERG.COM blog.

I have always told my clients and readers that you should keep the paper copy of your Form 1040, or 1040A, plus all supporting Schedules and Forms, and copies of all your Form W-2s, forever.  This provides a permanent record of your financial history.  You never know when the information on a prior year’s tax return or W-2 will come in handy for a variety of tax or financial related reasons, or just to satisfy personal curiosity. 

* The NJ Division of Taxation’s website identifies “NJ Tax Relief for Hurricane Ida Victims” (highlight is mine) -

Taxpayers affected by Hurricane Ida now have until January 3, 2022, to file their New Jersey tax returns and submit payments for any return and/or payment, including estimated payments, which have either an original or extended due date between August 26, 2021, and before January 3, 2022. This means that individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2020 returns, due to run out on October 15, will now have until January 3, 2022, to file.”

* A timely “Weekly Tax Tip” from JS TAX CORPORATION – “Reminder: Third Quarter Estimated Taxes Due”.

* Another item that comes as no surprise to me.  Michael Cohn reports “$16B in EITC payments in 2020 may have been improper” at ACCOUNGING TODAY.

A new report, released Thursday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said the IRS estimated that 23.5% ($16 billion) of EITC payments were issued improperly in fiscal year 2020.”

Refundable tax credits are one of the biggest sources of tax fraud.  And the US Tax Code should not be used to distribute social welfare program benefits. 

* And also at ACCOUNTING TODAY another item from Jeff Stimpson.  The IRS reminds us that “COVID tests are eligible medical expenses” -

As giant retailers prepare to offer cheap at-home COVID-19 tests in the wake of President Biden’s new vaccine rules for employers, the Internal Revenue Service has sent a reminder that the cost of home testing for COVID-19 is an eligible medical expense.”

Of course, you must be able to itemize to claim it, and your total deductible medical expenses for the year must exceed 7½% of your AGI.

TTFN












Saturday, September 11, 2021

NEVER FORGET

 


POLICE OFFICER MAURICE BARRY
PATH EMERGENCY SERVICE UNIT
POLICE OFFICER 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.


















Wednesday, September 8, 2021

WHAT’S THE BUZZ? TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENIN’

 

* Here is “a tax planning opportunity you may not be aware of” from S. Joseph DiSalvo and Marie Madarasz at THE STREET - “Employer Stock in your401(k)? You May be Sitting on a Big Tax Break”.

* Jim Blankenship explains “How do I claim Social Security from my ex’s earnings?” at MARKETWATCH.COM.

* Michael Cohn tells us “IRS updates per diem rates for travel expenses for 2021-2022” at ACCOUNTING TODAY.

* Also at ACCOUNTING TODAY Jeff Stimpson discusses “Tax relief for disaster victims in California, Tennessee”.

TTFN












Monday, September 6, 2021

Friday, September 3, 2021

WHAT’S THE BUZZ? TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENIN’

 

* At the interestingly titled TAX BUZZ blog Gordon McNamee answers the question “Tax Avoidance vs. Tax Evasion - What's the Difference?

Denis Healey, former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, once correctly answered the question this way –

The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall”. 

* Kay Bell reports “IRS gives all Louisiana taxpayers Hurricane Ida tax relief” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES -  

“ . . . the IRS announced that its offering tax relief to Ida victims. That includes pushing the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline (and other tax dates) to Jan. 3, 2022.

The tax relief applies to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual or public assistance due to damages from Hurricane Ida. Right now, that's the entire state of Louisiana.

However, adds the IRS, taxpayers in Ida-impacted localities in neighboring states that FEMA ultimately designates as major disaster areas also will qualify for the same tax relief.

* The NSTP BLOG explains “Taxpayers Can Protect Themselves from Scammers by Knowing How the IRS Communicates” and identifies in detail the ways IRS contacts taxpayers.

TTFN  














Wednesday, September 1, 2021

JUST SO YOU KNOW


As a general rule I oppose traditional Democratic tax policy – punishing ambition and success and excessively taxing the rich simply because they can afford it, and using the Tax Code for social engineering, to redistribute wealth and to distribute government social welfare benefits.
 
I do not necessarily oppose the government providing social welfare benefits where appropriate – just using the Tax Code to distribute these benefits
 
FYI - I also oppose unique industry-specific tax loopholes and "tax expenditures".  I believe the one and only function of the US Tax Code is to raise the money necessary to fund the government, fairly and equally.  Period.
 
That said, I vocally and aggressively oppose, denounce and disavow the current Republican Party and will actively campaign to oppose all Republican candidates at all levels who do not vocally and aggressively oppose, denounce and disavow Trump and his lies.  Not because I am a Democrat or a liberal – I have supported and voted for Republican, Democratic and Independent candidates at all levels in the past based on the candidates and the issues - but because I am intelligent, I have a conscience, and I am a patriot.
 
The biggest danger to the future of America today is Trump and his core cult of ignorant racists, and today’s Trump-embracing Republican Party who court and pander to these ignorant racists.
 
TTFN
















Tuesday, August 24, 2021

TWENTY YEARS!

Oi vey!  And OOPS!  The day has come and gone and I forgot to acknowledge it.

The very first post of THE WANDERING TAX PRO was published on Sunday, July 22, 2001.  So, I have been writing TWTP consistently, except for the annual 2½ month tax filing season hiatus, for 20 years.

I first learned about “blogging” at a presentation on “The Future of Easy Web Site Design” by Internet Consultant Lenny Charnoff at the annual National Association of Tax Professionals National Conference in New Orleans on July 13, 2001.    

I originally decided to write a blog to provide year-round advice and information to my existing clients and to promote my tax preparation and accounting services. Back then I was still soliciting new clients. I have now officially retired after completing 50 tax seasons (actually I have one more 1040 left to do before it is truly official).  

Here is the very first post –

WELCOME TO THE NEW WEBLOG OF ROBERT D FLACH, THE WANDERING TAX PRO!

+++ The ECONOMIC GROWTH AND TAX RELIEF RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2001, signed into law by President Bush on June 7, 2001, has made Section 529 state college savings plans (named for the section of the Internal Revenue Code) an even better way to save for your child’s education.

Earnings on money invested in Section 529 Plans grow tax-free.  Beginning in 2002, withdrawals from state-sponsored plans will be tax-free is the money is used to pay qualifying college expenses.

+++ I recently returned from the annual conference of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TAX PROFESSIONALS, held at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, where the keynote speaker for the opening session was IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti 

This was the first time I travelled without having a paper airline ticket in advance.  I had no problem at check-in.

As I was walking down Bourbon Street heading for dinner at Tony Moran’s PASTA & VINO, I passed a nude bar where the hostess was offering passers-by the opportunity to “wash the girl of your choice”.  Good clean fun, “Nawlins” style!

While in the Crescent City I saw “CHERRIES JUBILEE”, a delightful comedy written by four local women, at the intimate and very company SOUTHERN REP theatre on the third level of the Shops At Canal Street upscale mall.  The show had the funniest and most innovative way to dress the set between scenes.”

An interesting coincidence.  The second post, dated July 23, 2001, talked about “advance refund checks” – Dubya’s first rebate check.  And in 2021 Americans received another “recovery rebate”, aka the Economic Impact Payment.  And that second post stated –

It is important to save the notice you receive from the IRS with the amount of your advance refund check.  The amount of the advance refund received will be needed to complete your 2001 federal tax return.”

Another 20 years?  Hey, its possible.

TTFN