Tax preparers Feed

Happy Mother's Day! What a perfect day to talk about tax audits. You don't see the connection? Then you missed the season finale last week of the CBS show "Mom." I'm not really a fan, but it was on in the background as we were fixing dinner. Scene from the May 11 season finale of CBS sitcom "Mom," where the characters portrayed by Anna Faris and Allison Janney consult an attorney, played by Leonard Roberts, about some tax trouble. (Photo courtesy CBS) But as I was chopping veggies I heard "the IRS put a lien on my account." So naturally... Read more →


The president is back in Washington, D.C., after spending the weekend not at Mar-a-Lago in South Florida, but at a closer family property, Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. A view of the Trump National Golf Club course at Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Trump International via Twitter) It was the 14th weekend since his inauguration that Donald J. Trump has headed to one of his eponymous real estate holdings. Trump explained his weekend travel decision twice on, of course, Twitter. First, on May 5, he Tweeted: "Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be... Read more →


How do I celebrate each May 5th? With guacamole, cerveza y tax tips! That means here in our Texas casa, every day basically is Cinco de Mayo. Yes, there really is a tax component to Cinco de Mayo beyond the use of my poco Español as a framework for this list. That's why I feel justified in urging you — before you lift a glass, be it brimming with Dos XX or a margarita, to commemorate Mexico's victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla on this day in 1862 — to check out these five tax-smart tax moves.... Read more →


Click image to watch Stephen Colbert's character Otto Sanchez "advise" H&R Block customers. Stephen Colbert has assumed a variety of personas during his comic career. On his April 5 CBS late night show a new, sort of tax-focused character appeared. Hello Otto Sanchez, hoax H&R Block tax professional. As the company itself asked on its Facebook page, what could go wrong? Plenty. From singed and mistakenly shredded tax documents to an impromptu serenade to beer during the consultation, three customers of the country's largest franchised tax preparation service were amazingly good-natured victims of Colbert's skewed tax humor. I hope the... Read more →


Ah, youth. The excitement. The energy. The illusion of immortality. The first-ever filing of a tax return. Boom. Taxes often are the first indication of young adulthood. And apparently it's a grown-up responsibility that many millennials are turning over to other grownups, specifically their parents. Real mom-and-pop tax help: More than a third (37 percent) of millennials relies on their parents at least in part for tax help, according to a new study released by TaxAct. The survey, conducted by ORC International earlier this year on behalf of the tax software company, also found that young men are more likely... Read more →


Is this how you're feeling today after losing an hour of sleep to the shift to Daylight Saving Time? I'm right there with you. GIF via PR's Tumblrdome Daylight Saving Time (DST), which most of us in the United States switched to overnight by moving our clocks one hour forward, ostensibly was created to make better use of daylight. Basically, for the next seven and half months we'll get more daylight in the evening when we are home from work and/or school. But the annual adjustment of an hour's loss of sleep is difficult for a lot a folks. Every... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers prepare their own returns using tax software. Even the Internal Revenue Service encourages this do-it-yourself approach with Free File. So it's no surprise that many tax professionals are looking at ways to retain and add to their client base. Unfortunately, crooks know this, too, and are taking advantage with a new phishing scam in which they target accounting and tax preparation firms and pose as potential clients. Instead of looking for help in completing their returns, the cybercrooks are trying to gather sensitive information from tax professionals that the criminals then will use to file fraudulent tax... Read more →


Tax filing season 2017 really is here. Some folks have already filed their tax year 2016 federal return (soooo jealous!) even though the Internal Revenue Service won't start processing the submitted forms until Jan. 23. Others of us are still waiting for the tax documents we need to fill out our forms. If you're in the still-waiting group, now's a good time to consider just what you will need to accurately and easily complete your return. To help, here's the 2017 version of the ol' blog's tax filing checklist. It's a good idea at the start of each filing season... Read more →


Tax filing season is about to start. Most tax returns -- almost 90 percent, according to the Internal Revenue Service -- are filled out using tax preparation software. A tax preparer helps a client file her taxes. (U.S. Army photo) But most of those electronically prepared 1040s actually were completed by tax professionals. No kidding. Of the almost 132 million e-filed returns last year, around 60 percent were filed by tax professionals. DIY vs. professionally prepared taxes: Yes, the do-it-yourself e-filing segment is growing. IRS statistics from 2016 show that the self-prepared segment of e-filers increased by more than 5... Read more →


Tax season is here. You know what that means. Tax scams are here in full force. Even before the official 2017 filing season started, the Internal Revenue Service warned tax professionals to be on the lookout (sorry, I know that the BOLO phrase is a touchy one when it comes to the IRS) for yet another tax scam. This one, according to the IRS and its Security Summit partners, is a new e-mail phishing scheme aimed at tax pros that has the subject line "Mails on Hold!" It comes just two months after the crooks tried to get tax preparer... Read more →


One of the big sticks that the Internal Revenue Service wields is penalties for our mistakes or willful disregard of tax laws. Some of the penalties were increased in 2016 thanks to law changes. Others are hiked each year if inflation so warrants. Here's a roundup of some major tax penalties changes ahead in 2017. Don't file, pay more: The biggie for individual taxpayers is the charge for late filing. In 2016, if you filed a return more than 60 days after the due date or any extension to file that you got, then you faced a penalty of the... Read more →


They're back. OK, they never really left. They are tax scammers. And they are once again targeting tax professionals. Specifically, says the Internal Revenue Service, tax con artists have their sights on tax pros who use the agency's e-services. Phishing for tax pro data: The crooks are sending these tax pros an email asking them to update their accounts and directing them to a fake website. The subject line for the fraudulent email is "Security Awareness for Tax Professionals," purportedly coming from "Your e-Services Team." The scam email tells recipients that information was stolen from certain user accounts in 2015... Read more →


"An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means. There is no such thing in the country." That observation on the American penchant for (over)sharing was made by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw long before reality TV shows and social media. It's taken on new significance this election year as we have a major party candidate who, years before he launched his White House quest, was introduced to the electorate as star of his own television program. Donald Trump's former accountant, in an interview with CNN, refutes the Republican presidential candidate's claim of his... Read more →


One of the things I always suggest to folks who are having tax trouble, be it with filling out a return or dealing with Internal Revenue Service questions about an already filed 1040, is to consult a tax professional. By tax professional, I mean a qualified, reputable person who's up to date on the tax laws and who will help clients comply with them in a legal way that also produces the lowest possible tax liability. Every tax pro I know personally falls into this category. So do, based on what I've read by and digitally discussed with them over... Read more →


Cyber criminals are getting added attention this week in the wake of Democratic National Committee emails that hackers stole and then leaked to the world. But the Internal Revenue Service has been concerned about hackers for a while. It formalized its cyber security worries last year with the creation of its Security Summit, a coalition of federal and states tax officials, as well as the tax industry. One of the Security Summit's goals is to alert and tax professionals about tax identity theft threats and encourage their involvement in fighting the electronic epidemic. The most recent IRS warning was to... Read more →


Millions of folks are working diligently these last few days before the April 18 (19th in Maine and Massachusetts) tax filing deadline. Unfortunately, that tax-focused group includes criminals. This afternoon the Internal Revenue Service issued a warning to tax professionals of a new scam that's just started showing up in some tax prep offices. In this latest iteration of tax identity theft, cyber-criminals obtain remote control of preparers' computer systems, complete and file client tax returns and redirect refunds to the thieves' accounts. The IRS says that although it knows of only a handful of cases to date, it wanted... Read more →


Everybody loves a bargain, even when it comes to paying someone to prepare our taxes. But, say consumer watchdogs, too often taxpayers don't have a good way to comparison shop for a tax pro and find the one that provide them the best service for the price. "The price of preparing a tax return is often only disclosed to a consumer after the return is completed," according to the report "Public Views on Paid Tax Preparation," released on Jan. 20 by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). The CFA says that mystery shopper tests have found tax prep fees that... Read more →


Hello 2016! Some of us (not me) got up early to welcome you. Others (me, as you can tell from the posting time on this item) are still easing into this brand new year. But one thing that most of us soon will be doing, regardless of our post-New Year's Eve celebration energy level, is making New Year's resolutions. Yeah, I know making resolutions is the annual, and usually temporary, victory of hope over experience. Most of our attempts to make ourselves and our lives better, at least within the strictures of quick and catchy Jan. 1 lists of goals,... Read more →


H&R Block explores virtual tax preparation

H&R Block sees about 13 million people a year in its retail offices across the country. But there is a physical limit for everything. So H&R Block is, once again, looking into virtual reality as a way to reach more taxpayers. H&R Block revealed its foray into virtual tax offices to CNBC's Jane Wells, who reported that a couple of weeks ago in a room in Los Angeles, "three women put on Oculus virtual reality headsets (and so did this reporter) in order to experience what the new office might look like." John, the virtual tax pro: The testers found... Read more →


If you didn't get acceptable Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, medical coverage last year and owe the health care law's shared responsibility payment, make sure it's being handled properly. The Internal Revenue Service is getting reports that unscrupulous tax preparers nationwide are instructing clients to make these penalty payments directly to the preparer. Wrong. If you owe this penalty, it should be made only as part of your tax return, not as a separate payment to the person who helped you complete that return. Correct payment processes: In most cases, the shared responsibility payment comes out of a taxpayer's expected... Read more →