Tax preparers Feed

CBS/NFL clip via Giphy.com Any sports fan will tell you that penalties often ruin not only their teams' chances of winning, but also make the game itself worse. Taxes certainly aren't a game, but penalties in this part of our financial lives also are frustrating. Worse, they can be costly, to both taxpayers and the tax professionals they hire for filing help. Some tax penalties are set by law. Others are adjusted each year because of inflation. Penalties add more to tax bills: Paying taxes is bad enough. Paying a penalty for not filing on time makes that worse. Recent... Read more →


Tax identity thieves apparently are paying close attention to official security moves that the Internal Revenue Service is making and using that information to create new schemes. The latest effort by crooks to steal taxpayer personal data comes in the form of a new phishing scam designed to steal tax professionals' passwords and data. e-Services is hook for latest ID theft effort: In an email alert sent this (Oct. 11) afternoon to tax pros, the IRS warned that this latest scheme tries to trick them into signing a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing email claims to be from "e-Services... Read more →


"Dear IRS, …" — If you have a question about how a tax law or regulation affects your particular set of circumstances, you can ask, in writing, for the Internal Revenue Service to weigh in. But be prepared to pay for the advice and, effective Aug. 15, pay electronically. Taxes are complex. That’s why it’s often wise to get professional help. In some cases, however, even tax pros need some guidance. This is particularly true when taxpayer circumstances are such that the individuals and their advisers feel the need for further interpretation as to how tax laws or administrative rules... Read more →


Every computer user is familiar with the constant updates to software. So are identity thieves. And now these crooks are targeting tax professionals in a new phishing scam designed to steal usernames and passwords. The Internal Revenue Service and its state and tax industry Security Summit partners say that this latest impersonation scheme variant is a sophisticated scam designed to get information that can be used to file false tax returns and collect fraudulent tax refunds. It's the latest in a series of scams this summer that have targeted professional tax preparers. Software upgrade hook: This is the time of... Read more →


Alfred Hitchcock nailed it in his 1955 cat burglar-turned-romance starring Grace Kelly and Gary Grant. The pair teamed up, with Grant's character using his expertise as a former jewel thief, to catch a new criminal in the wealthy playground of Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Click film screenshot to watch the movie trailer on YouTube.) The Internal Revenue Service apparently is taking a hint from a Hollywood classic. It's thinking like identity thieves to catch identity thieves. That was among the messages from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in July 25 media teleconference. Cybercriminals are showing increasing savvy and tax expertise, particularly in... Read more →


Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring. The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns. Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete. Dressing up your... Read more →


This post was updated Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Paid tax return preparers must sign their clients' 1040 forms and include their IRS-issued professional ID number. The IRS lost a court case to charge a fee for the identifiers, known as PTINs, but is seeking a stay of that order pending possible appeal of the case. If you're a tax preparer who's hoping to get back fee you paid for your IRS-issued special identification number, you could be waiting a bit longer. The Internal Revenue Service on July 24 formally asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to... Read more →


Feeling left out because tax scammers have been focusing lately on tax preparers? Don't. Crooks likely will be calling or sending you an email soon enough. The Internal Revenue Service says that everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros alike, are potential victims of identity theft schemes as we head into what used to be a slower time for taxes. "We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an alert issued today, June 26. "Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands... Read more →


Based on the fast and furious pace of tax scams this month, you'd think it was high tax season instead of summer. For the second time in just more than a week, the Internal Revenue Service has issued a new tax scam alert. (In case you missed it, the pervasive tax telephone scam was recently tweaked.) This latest scam warning is for tax professionals, who are receiving phishing emails purportedly from a tax software education provider. The fake communication asks for the tax preparers' help in repairing a failure in the message sender's sham database. To that fake end, the... Read more →


After a brief hiatus, the Internal Revenue Service has reinstated its online tool where professional tax preparers can obtain the official identification numbers required to file returns. On June 1, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a mixed ruling in a class action lawsuit against the IRS, Adam Steele, et al. v. United States of America (Case No. 1:14-cv-01523-RCL). The federal judges said that while ruled that while the IRS has the authority to require tax pros to get Preparer Tax Identification Numbers, or PTINs, the tax agency cannot charge for the ID numbers. The... Read more →


Many professional tax preparers say that giving the Internal Revenue Service added regulatory ability over their jobs isn't warranted. The tax agency and Trump Administration disagree. (Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr CC) The Trump Administration has continued the current trend of cutting the Internal Revenue Service's annual operating funds, but a provision in the new White House's fiscal year 2018 budget also could solve a new IRS problem. On June 1, the Internal Revenue Service got the bad news from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that the tax agency can't collect fees from... Read more →


Another online Internal Revenue Service tool has been taken offline, but this time it's not security related. Instead, the IRS has shut down the online method by which tax professionals can apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, in the wake of a court ruling against the federal tax agency. When you hire a tax pro to help you file your annual return, that paid preparer has to include his or her PTIN on your 1040. But a recent court ruling says the IRS no longer can charge preparers for this special identifying number. Since the fall of... Read more →


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 →