Voluntary debt reduction contributions aren't going where donors intended
Summer time is tax pro time

IRS Tax Forum random observations

I survived the first full day of the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum that kicked off today in Dallas.

I attended five good sessions -- the IRS' current online offerings and future plans; ensuring Earned Income Tax Credit claims are legitimate; tax audit preparation tips; what's up with tax preparer registration; and highlights of 2011 tax law changes. I'll be blogging about at least parts of each seminar later.

But now, with my brain still a little overloaded, I'm just going to make some random conference observations.

I'll start with a message to some of the tax folks here in Big D:

Dear fellow conference attendees, please, please, please don't bathe in perfume (or aftershave, guys). The seating is tight and the room is closed and some of us are more sensitive than you to fragrances. Thank you.

Fortunately, the scent-impaired are the minority among the hundreds of tax preparers here. I just got an unfortunate seat in one session.

But I did notice a larger trend: there aren't many young tax preparers. Perhaps the primarily older ages doesn't mean anything. But it's got me wondering whether these kids today just don't like doing taxes. I also suspect that tax preparation is a second career for some retirees.

Just like on airplanes, no one likes the middle seat. Except here, it's lots of middle seats. In most sessions, people are seated on each end of a row with most of the middle section open. I know it's a pain squeezing past people. Those on the end could help by standing up when others want to get through.

Please don't walk and text. Yes, it's not as dangerous as the roadway version, but you still clog up hallways.

Staying with conference etiquette, don't leave before the session is over. Yes, the scanner has already counted you as present so you'll get your continuing education credit, but I wouldn't be happy to learn my tax preparer was cutting class. Plus it's rude.

Speaking of rude, it's just as bad to talk through a seminar. Again, you're really not getting any educational value and you're annoying people in your immediate vicinity.

Presenters, if you take questions from the crowd make them go to the microphones. Yes, those devices on stands strategically placed around the conference room. Failing that, at least repeat the question before you answer it so the whole audience can be in on the discussion.

David Williams once again proved why he's the Internal Revenue Service's best public relations asset. I've never heard a bad or boring presentation from the current director of the IRS Return Preparer Office. Plus, he's really funny in his live shows talks to tax groups.

And finally, I'm loving the eclectic music between sessions. The IRS (or Hilton Anatole) deserve major props for playing AC/DC, Johnny Cash, a Reggae tune (sorry, not my genre), the Ting Tings (this was my favorite one) and Paul McCartney in one tuneful interim.

That's it for now. I'm going to catch the local news -- once again leading with Dallas Cowboys news; Thank goodness Roy Williams is outta here! -- eat dinner, review my seminar notes and do one last check on the debt ceiling standoff.

Admit it, you're jealous of my dashing tax geek life.

Then it's to bed relatively early. More tax forum fun awaits tomorrow!

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Megan M.

While we certainly encountered our share of "seasoned" tax pros, there were a goodly number of younger folks represented at the Orlando forum - perhaps location played a role there. I know my kids were THRILLED we were heading to the money sucking capital of the universe!

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