Saturday, November 15, 2008


* The TAX DOLLARS AND SENSE blog provides a complimentary post to my offering “What Happens If You Do Not File Your Federal Income Tax Return” with “Help Yourself by Filing Past Due Tax Returns”. The post provides even more reasons why you should always file a federal income tax return.

* “Taxes suck.” So begins the post “5 Infallible Ways to Lower Your Income Taxes” by Jim at BLUEPRINT FOR FINANCIAL PROSPERITY. I suppose one can’t argue with that statement (although taxes do put food on my tray table). However, by the time you finish reading this tongue-in-cheek entry you will be glad you pay taxes – considering what Jim tells to do to avoid them. Check out Jeremy’s comment.

* Professor Jim Maule provides an interesting commentary in his post “Tax, Emotionally”.

Jim points out that “For tax practitioners, tax is a rational subject. So, too, is tax law. Occasionally afflicted by illogical provisions, it nonetheless contains a variety of rules, marked by definitions, computations, and limitations, that can be applied, in most instances, by that most rational thing, the computer. Where objectivity fails, it involves issues such as valuation and purpose, raising questions that can be resolved through objective analysis of facts and circumstances.”

However, “For many taxpayers, tax appears to be an irrational subject, one that triggers emotions in a serious way. The recently concluded presidential campaign demonstrated that tax is no less a hot-button topic as are the several other issues that can polarize discussion and threaten to polarize a nation. Though it may appear that the principal emotion evoked by the mention of tax is anger, the underlying feeling almost certainly is fear.”

I agree with Jim that for those in “the business” tax is a rational subject (but take exception to his implied reliance on tax software). However, because I am in “the business” I find that I, too, can get emotional about taxes at times, as any professional can about his profession.

* You can read what IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman had to say when addressing the Independent Sector Annual Conference in Philadelphia at “Remarks of Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, before Independent Sector, Nov. 10, 2008”.

* Peter Pappas brings us some good news from the recent “Don’t Call it a Bailout” Act for those who owe, or would owe, dreaded ATM on stock options in his post “ReformAMT Group Wins, Get’s Stock Option AMT Relief included in Bailout Bill”.

* Have you seen the new and improved NJ Division of Taxation’s WebSite? It looks good. Even so, I expect some politician’s relative or crony got a nice check for the redesign.

* The IRS will no longer be sending out a special package to employers for ordering bulk copies of 2008 information reporting returns such as W-2s and W-3 and 1099s and 1096, as they have always done in the past. You must order online at the IRS website. Click here to place your order.

It is very easy to order your information returns online. It took me about 5 minutes total. Now I just have to wait and see if my order will be processed promptly and correctly. The order confirmation said “typically orders take 7 to 15 days for delivery".

* For those of you who are interested, the IRS information release IR-2008-127 (“For Individual and Business e-File, 2008 Is a Record Breaker”) reports that “Individual taxpayers e-filed almost 90 million tax returns during 2008, an increase of more than 12 percent over the prior year. Of the 155 million tax returns filed, about 58 percent were filed electronically.” IRS statistics indicate that the % of electronically filed returns has more than doubled since 2000.

None of the returns I prepared during the 2008 tax season are included in the above figures.

The information release also reports that “almost 4.8 million tax returns were filed through Free File, an increase of 24 percent over last year’s total of almost 3.9 million returns” and “the agency made 66 million direct deposit payments in 2008, up 8 percent from 61 million payments at the same time in 2007”. Check out the release for more statistics.

* TAX GIRL Kelly Phillips Erb continues her State Tax Primer from A to W with Alaska.

* Joe Kristan of the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG tells us of a babe with balls in his post “Mozart is Easy; It’s the Taxes That Are Hard” about the Tax Court troubles of a woman who gives piano lessons at home.

Case in point - “Petitioners argue that $2,446 spent for pool supplies and maintenance are related to Mrs. Langer's piano teaching because the parents of the students would sit by the pool while waiting for their children to finish a lesson.”

BTW, thanks, Joe, for the plug!
* The NATP TAXPROWeekly e-newsletter reminds us that –

Recent legislation changed the due date for furnishing Copy B of certain information returns to recipients for returns required to be filed after 2008. The new due date is February 15 of the year following the calendar year for which the return is required to be filed. This change applies to Form 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, and Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions. This change also applies to Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, but only if substitute payments in lieu of dividends and tax-exempt interest or payments to attorneys are reported.”

So don’t panic if you do not receive your Form 1099-B or Form 1099-S by February 1st, as had been the case in past years.

* Do you want to work for the Obama administration? TAX PROF Paul Caron discusses the
seven-page, 63-item questionnaire that the Obama transition team is requiring prospective cabinet members and other high-level officials to fill out in his post “There Goes My Job in the Obama Administration”.


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