Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WHERE THE FAKAWI?


For my clients, and those who are interested -

The, or I guess my, 2015 tax filing season (February 1 – April 14) is 1/3 over!

I have completed and mailed out 63 returns – which is not bad for the first third of the season.  I don’t remember if I saved my last year’s daily log – and if I did I don’t know where to put my hands on it easily – but I think I am, if not at the same point, a bit ahead of last season at this time.

I have either done, received in the mail, or made arrangements with 49% of the names on my mailing list – which I am sure is ahead of last year.

The “to be done” box is not “chock-a-block” yet.  And there are only a few “red files” (need more information), and they are completed as soon as the missing information arrives.

I have yet to do a return where I did not check the “full-year coverage” box, although there may be one in the red files.  And I have not done any returns, other than my own, that involved a Form 1095-A.  I received one, and was about to start it, when the client emailed to tell me his 1095-A was one of the 800,000 FUs.

We were told this was going to be one of, if not the, worst tax filing seasons ever – but it is actually been one of my better ones so far (as far as smoothness of operations). 

I do not accept any new 1040 clients.  But if I did I would most definitely not accept any new clients who would be applying for the Earned Income Credit or who did not have “full-year coverage”.

Let us hope I continue to be productive, and things continue to run smoothly, so that I can give a similar positive “where the fakawi” at the half-way mark.

TTFN

Monday, February 23, 2015

LBCD ALERT!


This post is for my 1040 clients.
 
I will be locked behind closed doors through Thursday this week to catch up.  My phone machine will be turned off until Friday morning.
 
FYI – A “Where the Fakawi” is coming on Wednesday!
 
TTFN

Saturday, February 21, 2015

BREAKING NEWS


This just in -
 
Oi vey!  Michael Cohn reports “800,000 Taxpayers Received Wrong Tax Info from Health Insurance Marketplace” at ACCOUNTING TODAY!

The government tells us –

About 20 percent of the tax filers who had Federally-facilitated Marketplace coverage in 2014 and used tax credits to lower their premium cost —about 800,000 (< 1% of total tax filers) —will soon receive an updated Form 1095-A because the original version they were issued listed an incorrect benchmark plan premium amount.”

And -

We are advising them to wait until the first week of March when they receive their new form or go online for correct information before filing. For those who have filed their taxes—approximately 50,000 (< 0.05% of total tax filers) —the Treasury Department will provide additional information soon.”

It seems this FU “only affects people who signed up through one of the 37 states using HealthCare.gov” and “taxpayers whose forms were affected will receive a phone call about the problem from the Marketplace by early March, in addition to letters and emails with additional information about the status of their forms.”

To find out if you received a FU-ed Form 1095-A you can check your account at www.HealthCare.gov.  
 
So far I have only had one client with a Form 1095-A - and he was told his Form 1095-A was FU-ed, so we have to wait to file his return.  I had been hoping to complete his 1040 this week-end.  When I first reviewed his 1095-A something seemed amiss - because even though his actually income was more than that estimated when applying it looked like he was due an additional credit.
 
FYI - I have only had one client so far who did not have "full-year coverage" for all members of his household (currently "red-filed" - need more info). 

And BTW - a “Where the Fakawi” for my clients is coming soon.

TTFN

Monday, February 2, 2015

THE TWELVE DAYS OF TAX SEASON


Now it is time for what you have been waiting a year for - the annual first business day of February tradition here at THE WANDERING TAX PRO of posting “The Twelve Days of Tax Season” -
 
On the first day of tax season my client gave to me a Closing Statement for the purchase of a home.

On the second day of tax season my client gave to me 2 W-2 forms.

On the third day of tax season my client gave to me 3 mortgage statements.

On the fourth day of tax season my client gave to me 4 Salvation Army receipts.

On the fifth day of tax season my client gave to me 5 Form K-1s.

On the sixth day of tax season my client gave to me 6 1099s for dividends.

On the seventh day of tax season my client gave to me 7 cancelled checks.

On the eighth day of tax season my client gave to me 8 useless items.

On the ninth day of tax season my client gave to me 9 medical bills.

On the tenth day of tax season my client gave to me 10 stock sale confirms.

On the eleventh day of tax season my client gave to me 11 employee business expenses.


On the twelfth day of tax season my client got from me a finished tax return, 11 employee business expenses, 10 stock sale confirms, 9 medical bills, 8 useless items, 7 cancelled checks, 6 1099s for dividends, 5 Form K-1s, 4 Salvation Army receipts, 3 mortgage statements, 2 W-2 forms, and a Closing Statement for the purchase of a home.


And, of course, on the thirteenth day of tax season the client gave to me a corrected Consolidated 1099 from Wells Fargo Advisors!
 
TTFAW

Friday, January 30, 2015

WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’


FYI, this will be the last BUZZ installment before my tax season hiatus.   

So you don’t suffer from BUZZ withdrawal while I am “away” I suggest you check with Joe Kristan’s daily Tax Roundup at THE ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG, and look for the weekly “In the Blogs” recap from Jim Stimpson at ACCOUNTING TODAY.

And while I will not be posting to TWTP during the tax season, my Tax Tips series will continue at Main Street.

* Fellow tax pros - if you have not already done so please check out the January “issue” of THE TAX PROFESSIONAL and PLEASE send me your comments on my editorials.

* Have you seen this week’s post at BOB’S BABBLINGS yet?  I talk about superheroes on Broadway.    

* MainStreet.com continues with my filing season Tax Tips – “What to Ask a Potential Tax Preparer Before You Start a Working Relationship

* Looking for a tax professional to prepare your 2014 returns? Start your search at FIND A TAX PROFESSIONAL.

* It was one of BO’s SOTU tax proposals that I did not talk about in my TWTP posts – and it was just as well.  The WALL STREET JOURNAL reports “Obama Drops Plan to Raise Taxes on ‘529’ College Savings Accounts” -

The Obama administration said it would drop a plan to tax so-called 529 college savings accounts, after the proposal sparked widespread criticism over its potential impact on the middle class.”

Anywho - it is all academic, as none of BO’s SOTU tax proposals will become law.

* Jason Dinesen tells us “What I’m Asking My Clients Regarding the ACA” at DINESEN TAX TIMES.

In “ACA Due-Diligence” from the January “issue” of THE TAX PROFESSIONAL I talk about this issue –

And I do not have to verify that a client has health insurance coverage.  I simply ask the client and he or she tells me yes or no.

If they tell me yes I do not need to do anything more.  Unless I have independent personal knowledge or information to the contrary I assume he or she has told me the truth.  To repeat I do not need to “verify” via independent documentation that the client does, in fact, actually have coverage.”

And-

In most cases I will know if a client had full-year insurance coverage without even asking the question – based on the forms, returns and information he normally gives me every year.”

* My post on an interesting, and unintended, way New Jersey screws retired residents is included in this weeks “In the Blogs” installment at ACCOUNTING TODAY titled “If You’ve Told Them Once …”.

* “In the Blogs led me to “Why Learning to Prepare Tax Returns by Hand is Crucial” by Charles McCabe at THE INCOME TAX SCHOOL blog -

While established tax preparers will be putting their tax software into overdrive this season, we’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the importance of NOT using tax software as a student learning to prepare taxes.”  

Great minds do think alike.  I have always said that the best way to learn how to prepare tax returns is to prepare tax returns – and by hand.

* Before I go – one more plug for my “Tax Professional Forms, Schedules, Worksheets, and Client Memos”.

THE FINAL WORD-

It looks like I am screwed.  A sign on the door of a library in suburban NJ said that it would not have many tax forms available during the season due to IRS budget cuts.

So I will have to get my 1040 an 1040A forms for clients online.

I remember the days, 40 years ago, when I would take a suitcase to an IRS warehouse in Newark NJ and fill it up with paper tax forms and schedules.

As other bloggers have observed – the IRS has cut customer service in response to the budget cuts. 

The notice on the library door said that if you are unhappy about the lack of tax forms you should write to your idiots (my word) in Congress – and it listed the addresses of the applicable idiots.

TTFN

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

OBAMACARE AND 2014 TAX RETURNS


In the course of researching my MainStreet.com Tax Tips on how Obamacare affects 2014 tax returns (which will be published in early February), and preparing my first 1040 involving the Premium Tax Credit, I have come across the following items of interest -

(1)  The Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) used to determine the individual shared responsibility penalty and calculate the Premium Tax Credit begins with Adjusted Gross Income and adds excluded foreign income from Form 2555 or 2555-EZ and tax-exempt income report on Line 8b of the 1040 or 1040A.  However when calculating the Premium Tax Credit you must also add any nontaxable Social Security benefits (including tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits).

(2)  Because the calculation of the individual shared responsibility penalty and the Premium Tax Credit begins with AGI, you can reduce the penalty or increase the credit by making, or increasing, a deductible IRA or self-employed retirement plan contribution.

(3)  The IRS does not have the power to enforce the collection of the individual shared responsibility penalty.  There is no enforcement mechanism for collecting the individual shared responsibility penalty other than reducing a taxpayer’s current and future refunds.  The Affordable Care Act does not permit the IRS to levy or attach a lien to wages, bank accounts or personal assets to collect the penalty, and no criminal prosecution or penalty may be imposed on anyone for refusing to pay the penalty.
 
(4) The IRS has announced some penalty relief for returns that include a payback of excess advance premium credits.  Trish McIntire goes into detail in her post "Premium Tax Credit Penalties" at OUR TAXING TIMES. 

TTFN

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

WHAT’S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT’S A HAPPENNIN’


* Check out the January “issue” of THE TAX PROFESSIONAL – the last word from TTP until after the tax filing season.   

And fellow tax pros, PLEASE send me your comments on my editorials.

* Did you see this week’s post at BOB’S BABBLINGS?    

* MainStreet.com continues with my filing season Tax Tips –



* Looking for a tax professional to prepare your 2014 returns? Start your search at FIND A TAX PROFESSIONAL.

* Words of wisdom from Trish McIntire in “Waiting Game” at OUR TAXING TIMES -

So no, I can’t use your last paystub to file your return. First, it’s illegal. Secondly, the paystub may not have all the info I need. Nor can I do a return based on your insistence that everything is the same as last year. Believe me, it never is. I need this year’s numbers.”

* Jason Dinesen talks about “Ridiculous IRS Situations I’ve Recently Dealt With” at DINESEN TAX TIMES.

Considering the IRS budget cuts it doesn’t look like things will b getting any better soon.

I expect the multiple “45 days” letters that we all get before the Service fixes its FUs will become “60 days”.

I, too, have noticed post-dated letters from the IRS.

However one thing can be sad for the IRS.  As Jason tells us (highlight is mine)–

Finally a few weeks ago, the IRS sent a letter saying they found the payment, it had accidentally been misapplied in their system, and apologizing for any inconvenience.”

This is not unusual – but those who deal with the NJ Division of Taxation know that receiving an apology from the Division is a true rarity.

* It looks like what I feared will probably happen.  INC reports “Treasury Secretary to Congress: Focus on Business Taxes, Not Income Taxes” –

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew dismissed efforts in Congress to overhaul the nation's tax laws by lowering the top income tax rate paid by individuals, saying lawmakers should instead focus on simplifying taxes paid by businesses.”

I had given up on any substantive individual income tax reform happening during the remaining years of the BO presidency anyway.

* Jean Murray thinks “Using Cash to Pay Employees and Independent Contractors” is not a good idea, and explains why at ABOUT.COM.

* As tax filing season is almost here (it begins on February 1st), Robert W Wood reminds us of “10 Crazy Sounding Tax Deductions IRS Says Are Legit” at FORBES.COM.  Actually in most cases it was the Tax Court who said the deductions were legit.   

* RWW’s fellow FORBES.COM tax blogger Kelly Phillips Erb (aka Taxgirl) reports that you can now “Track Tax Refunds, Obtain Tax Transcripts This Filing Season With Free IRS App”.

* My discussions on BO’s SOTU tax proposals are referenced in ACCOUNTING TODAY’s weekly BUZZ-like “In the Blogs” series post titled “Fail, Caesar”.  

TTFN