Saturday, April 30, 2011


* Hey, there’s an Ap for that! A “tweet” led me to “IRS Goes Mobile With IRS2Go”.

IRS has launched IRS2Go, a smartphone application that lets you interact with the IRS using your mobile device. IRS2Go reflects IRS' commitment to help you get the information you need—whenever you need it, wherever you are.

You can check the status of your federal income tax refund using IRS2Go. Simply enter your Social Security number, which will be masked and encrypted for security purposes, then select your filing status and enter the amount of your anticipated refund from your 2010 tax return

* Speaking of “tweets”, here is a good one from Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics -

Look at U.S. history: Long line of Donald Trumps. There will always be a big market for snake oil in American politics.”

* After reading the BUZZ each Wednesday you should go to DON’T MESS WITH TAXES to read Kay Bell’s weekly tax tip – as she explains in “Weekly Tax Tip, Now Available Every Wednesday”.

* While I am an Anglophile, I had no interest whatsoever in Friday’s Royal Wedding. Apparently Kay did – hence her post “Marriage, Taxes and the Royal Wedding Costs of William and Kate”.

At the bottom of the post Kay links to a good selection of “Wedding and marriage tax and finance tips” from DON’T MESS WITH TAXES and other blogs.

* Michigan has announced a state tax amnesty program. According to the Michigan Department of Treasury -

The 2011 Tax Amnesty Program is an opportunity for delinquent taxpayers to pay their state taxes and have their penalty charges waived. Taxpayers who qualify would also avoid criminal prosecution by the Michigan Department of Treasury.

The Tax Amnesty Program runs from May 15, 2011 through June 30, 2011. The complete amnesty application and full payment, including interest, must be postmarked by June 30th to be eligible, but taxpayers are encouraged to apply early to avoid the continued accrual of interest.

All state taxes administered under the Revenue Act (PA 122 of 1941) are eligible for amnesty, including Income Tax, Michigan Business Tax, Sales Tax, Use Tax, Withholding Tax, and
others. Tax periods covered under amnesty are limited to tax periods ending on or before December 31, 2009. Local taxes, including property taxes, are not eligible for amnesty.”

Click here for more information.

* Joe Kristan weighs in on the subject of a year-round tax filing season in his post “Is This the Best of All Possible Tax Seasons” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG.

I still say – please keep it the way it is.

* And the beat goes on. USATODAY reported in yesterday’s Money Section that “Social Security Begins Phase-Out of Paper Checks”.

If you sign up for
Social Security benefits after April 30, be advised: The check won't be in the mail.

Starting May 1, everyone who applies for Social Security or other federal government benefits will be required to arrange for direct deposit of their payments. The government plans to phase out paper checks entirely by 2013

Direct deposit can be to an existing bank account or a prepaid debit card offered by Treasury Department through Comerica bank.

* It’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black – “Donald Trump Calls Leaders 'Stupid' in Vegas Stop”. Trump himself is an idiot, so he would be in good company in Washington. The fool’s only talent is self-promotion – a Presidential candidate needs more than that one ability.

To quote a “taxtweet” from Kay Bell –

I hope Trump the Rump doesn't release his taxes; if he does, it will just mean more of his assiness on my TV and computer screens.”

I have got to stop this – I am wasting too much space on an arsehole who does not deserve our attention.


Friday, April 29, 2011


Let me introduce you to Stacie Clifford Kitts.

Stacie is a partner at Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP of Irvine California, where she provides a variety of services including tax planning, tax consulting, tax compliance, pension audits, compiled financial statements, and business consulting. She writes the blog STACY’S MORE TAX TIPS.

Stacie has been a supporter of this Wandering Tax Pro in some of my occasional battles with offending bloggers (who think their word is gospel and that lawyers and CPAs walk on water).

(1) How did you become interested/involved in preparing tax returns or teaching taxes?

I started working in accounting as a teenager doing work for my parents business. I simply stumbled into the profession and realized that I like it - and I was also good at it. Taxes were a natural progression working in small CPA firms. Because they are small, you get to work on different types of engagements. Again, I fell into the tax area when I found that I was good at it and liked it.

(2) How were you educated/trained in preparing tax returns?

Training was on the job, and in school – I took classes in college that were tax and accounting related. And of course we keep up with continuing professional education.

(3) When and why did you decide to write a blog on tax issues?

When I decided to start my own practice and became a stay home tax preparer I needed a cost effective way to get my name into cyber space. Because the web is one of the first places people go to research service providers, I wanted there to be information on the web that branded me as a tax professional.

(4) How has blogging helped your business?

I’d say that the branding element has worked. It helps people to remember who I am and that I am a tax professional. People I meet often mention that they read the blog.

(5) What do you consider the “best tax advice” you can give anyone?

To hire a professional to guide you through your personal and business financial decisions so that you are not surprised by the tax consequences.

(5) Do you think the regulation of tax return preparers is a good thing?

I think regulation can provide a false sense of security. However, I think it’s a good thing when bad preparers are prosecuted. If regulation can help to get the bad guys off the market, then I think it could be a good thing. However, the jury is still out on that one.

(7) Do you think CPAs and attorneys should be exempt from testing and required CPEs in taxation?

I think that tax professionals should be required to take CPE in the area they practice. I think CPA’s and attorneys prove some level of competency in their ability to pass their licensing exam. There is a tax section of the exam for CPA’s so that at least is a start. I’m not opposed to taking an exam to prove I have some idea about what I’m doing. However, I don’t believe the problem is with uneducated tax preparers. I think regulation will do nothing to stop the unscrupulous preparers that choose to help their clients evade taxes by preparing tax returns that are works of fiction or that do not apply the rules.

(8) What is your favorite Broadway musical – and why?

Recently, WICKED - because it’s fun, full on energy, and a great slant on a popular story. I wish I was that creative!

While I agree that regulation of tax preparers will do nothing (or very, very little) “to stop the unscrupulous preparers that choose to help their clients evade taxes by preparing tax returns that are works of fiction or that do not apply the rules”, I do believe that uneducated tax preparers are a problem (although not “the” problem).

I have never seen WICKED, although I have heard much of the score. I believe it is still running on Broadway, so maybe I will get to it someday (via TDF). I would have liked to have seen it with its two original witches.


Thursday, April 28, 2011


I am a bit late with my annual review of the tax filing season – but I have been working away on GD extensions, payroll tax returns, and just plain catching up.

There was nothing special or significant about this tax season.

No new tax “gimmicks” – just a repeat of last season’s refundable Making Work Pay credit; it continued to FU withholding, especially for those receiving pensions.

No car, computer or other problems that took valuable time away from 1040 preparation – although my car was stuck in ice and buried under snow for three weeks early in the season causing me to rent a car on week-ends.

And I did not notice any recurring “theme” this season - one year every third client won the lottery, another had a lot of sales of residence, and recently a ton of refinances.

Because of the procrastination of the idiots in Congress the IRS was delayed in processing certain returns until mid-February, but this did not affect me in the least.

My main concern at the beginning of the season was being able to get enough 1040, 1040A, Schedule A and Schedule B forms. The local Post Office branch usually has a generous supply of all these forms – but this year when I went looking I found that only certain forms were sent to certain branches. Only Schedule M, Schedule B and 1040EZ were at my local branch. I had to travel to various other branches to find the 1040s, 1040As and Schedule A. Eventually, late in February, my branch got all the forms.

I continued to prepare all my federal returns manually, as I have always done (and always will – e-filing only when it is available free of charge, without benefit of flawed software, via the IRS website). To cover my arse under the new federal electronic filing mandate I had my clients sign a brief statement that I do not “file” their returns for them, I give them the finished return and they “file” the return themselves, and attached this to my file copy of the return. The IRS did not contact or penalize me for not e-filing. Neither did New York State, because it was obvious that I do not use flawed tax preparation software and therefore exempt from their mandate (one thing that NY actually does right).

I also continued to encourage my clients to request direct deposit of their federal and state refunds wherever possible. In the case of NY returns this was an absolute must, as we were told that taxpayers who did not request direct deposit of NY state refunds would have to wait months to get a paper check in the mail.

Speaking of New York State, this year the DFBs in Albany decided not to sell bulk copies of their tax returns to preparers any more. They had stopped sending out booklets to taxpayers a few years ago, but I was able to buy copies of the state’s forms from the Department of Taxation and Finance. For 2010 returns I had to download the forms from the Department’s website. And NY continued to waste valuable time by making me handwrite the information from W-2s on an IT-2 instead of just including the W-2 with the mailing of the return like everyone else.

Thankfully New Jersey still mailed out tax return booklets to those who filed manually for 2009. But the booklets were not available at local Post Offices this year.

I used the NJWebFile system to submit full-year resident returns online where possible, and when a client did not specifically “opt out”. However I could not submit the returns for clients with NJ Gross Income of more than $150,000. For 2009 returns $150,000 meant something – it limited the property tax deduction. But for 2010 this restriction was no more and $150,000 meant absolutely nothing. The cafones in Trenton were too cheap to pay someone to update the system’s software. Each day from February 1 through April 16 found me at my desk from at least 4:00 AM till around 5:00 PM, with brief breakfast and lunch breaks. I "hit the hay" each night at 8:00 PM (or earlier). I strictly enforced my “read my lips – no new clients” rule. I also enforced my new cut-off date for accepting returns to be prepared by the deadline. Any returns that were not literally in my hands by end of business on March 25th (regardless of the postmark) were automatically extended.

I tried to maintain a FIFO (first-in, first-out) system of preparation, but, as usual, this was not always done. I did, once again, make sure that all returns (with the exception of one that fell victim to the “Curse of the Red File”) received in my hands in February, with all the necessary information, were completed before tackling the returns received in March. Red files (those that needed more information), with the one exception, were completed once the missing information was received.

In the first two weeks of February turn-around time is quick – sometimes only one or two days. By mid-February this increases to at two weeks and becomes three by the end of the month. For returns received in March the turn-around is really 4 weeks – so returns received after March 15th, if involved at all, are most likely extended.

I did not notice any more late corrected Consolidated Form 1099 Statements from brokerage houses than usual this year, as has been suggested by NATP and others. But the issuance of one, or more, corrected statements as late as mid-March continues to cause serious delays, sometimes resulting in extension.

The additional 3 days of this year’s tax season – a result of Emancipation Day in Washington DC – really did not help me much this year. I still “ran out of steam” around the 14h, as always happens. For 2009 my biggest 1040 extended, but did not do so for 2010. This set of returns took away about a day and a half – canceling out the addied days. The season ended for me on Saturday, April 16th.

Despite the relative smoothness of the season I still ended up with 40 or so GD extensions – some of which were due to my workload and not late or no receipt. Unfortunately this means I really need to “thin the herd” a bit for next year – and not just say I need to.

Several long-time clients went to their final audit this year – a few way too soon. That is not how I want to “thin the herd”. They will truly be missed.

While I did go to the Jersey Shore from April 17-19 to recover, once I returned home I hopped right on the GD extensions. I will continue to work on the GDEs, at a relaxed pace, through next Tuesday (May 3rd), hoping to have at least 20 done by then. On May 4th I leave for a few days of relaxation on Long Beach Island.As usual I was "on hiatus" from posting to TWTP or my NJ TAX PRACTICE BLOG during the season, although I did write a tax season column of initially twice-weekly and eventually week-day daily TAX TIPS for It is good to get back to the tax blogosphere.

So fellow taxpro bloggers - how was your tax season? TTFN

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


* My run of tax season TAX TIPS at ended with “Dude, Where’s My Refund?”. I will continue to write on taxes for MainStreet during the year, and will let you know when articles appear here at the BUZZ.

* I like to use the Form 941 that is sent to my payroll tax clients each quarter because it is pre-printed with the employer's name, address, EIN, etc, has certain information keyed in via barcodes, and includes a pre-addressed envelope.

Now I just learned that the DFBs at the IRS (clean version is Damned Fool Bureaucrats) are no longer sending out Form 941 packages, and other payroll and business packages, in an attempt to save money. See “More Business Package Mailings End Following Growth of e-File”.

The fools! If I just found out, think of the thousands of small employers who do their own 941s that are waiting to receive them in the mail – and will end up filing late and getting penalized unnecessarily.

* Eric Toder has a good post on the difference between tax loopholes, tax earmarks, and other “tax expenditures” in his excellent post “Tax Expenditures are not Loopholes” at TAXVOX, the blog of the Tax Policy Center.

* Trish McIntire explains the often confusing difference between two different programs that provide tax relief for spouses filing joint returns in “Injured Vs Innocent” at OUR TAXING TIMES.

Trish tells us -

The IRS has two programs to help spouses who are victims of debts they didn't create; Injured Spouse and Innocent Spouse. The Injured Spouse can help a spouse get their part of their refund back while the Innocent Spouse program helps a spouse who could be saddled with a tax debt of which they had not knowledge.”

* The Energy Star website provides an excellent resource for information on the “2011 Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency”.

The residential energy credit is still around, but is much less and more restrictive than the credit allowed for 2009 and 2010. This credit is more like the one that was available in 2006 and 2007.

The site also has information for the credit allowed for 2010.

You can check to see if your state has any energy tax credits or incentives at the “Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency”, a “comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency”,

* A “tweet” led me to “Fraudulent Tax Returns Surge 181%” at CNN.MONEY.

The number of people trying to cheat on their taxes rose 181%, according to a study of 2010 tax returns as of March 4. The Internal Revenue Service found 335,341 returns that claimed $1.9 billion in fraudulent refunds, usually from taxpayers claiming deductions or credits for which they didn't qualify.”

* Speaking of “tweets”, here is a recent one from fellow tax pro Bruce “The Missouri Tax Guy” that bears repeating -

Tax Professionals - Tell your clients how H&R preparers are instructed, encouraged and trained to up sell services like Audit Protection even when circumstances mean that they provide no benefit to their clients. For example, young person with a W-2 and standard deduction is NEVER going to get audited. Tell your clients to read their H&R engagement letter that strictly says over and over again that they are NOT tax return professionals, merely preparers. Let them know what the difference is (Say it nicely though).”

* Ok – I give up. Spend the extra $5.00+ if you want. It seems that the IRS does actually give some weight to a green return receipt card when it comes to tax returns lost or delayed in the mail. Russ Fox adds his personal experience with the IRS in “Pound Wise, Penny Foolish” at TAXABLE TALK. It is just that in 40 tax seasons I have never used certified mail with return receipt for 1040s, and never had a situation where I needed to produce a green card.

* When explaining our tax system I have always said “The Tax Code says everything is taxable except . . . , and nothing is deductible except . . .”.

Kelly Phillips Erb, the web’s TAX GIRL, lists some of the “excepts” of income in her article “Seven Checks You Can Cash Free of Federal Income Tax” at WALLET POP.

She ends by correctly pointing out “These rules apply to federal income tax only. There may be different rules for your state or local taxing authorities.” I seem to recall from past experience of many years ago that some states tax federal refunds, because federal income taxes are deductible on the state return.

* Right on, my brother! I agree with the bottom line to Joe Kristan’s post “Zombie Tax Notices” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG -

Fair's fair. When state agencies ignore taxpayer responses, we should be able to impose penalties on them, just like they impose on us if we ignore them.”

* Joe also has a great post in “That Mileage Log Isn’t Worth Much If You Don’t Fill It Out Right”.

I like how the Tax Court described the H+R Block preparer in the case Joe discusses -

It is not clear whether the return preparer made any attempt to distinguish deductible from nondeductible expenses or whether the return preparer simply added up the receipts and deducted the sum as unreimbursed employee business expenses.”

Joe’s moral deserves repeating in full -

The moral? The tax law has very specific substantiation requirements for deducting travel and entertainment expenses, including vehicle expenses. You must substantiate:

(1) the amount of the expense or item;
(2) the time and place of the travel, entertainment, or expense;
(3) the business purpose of the entertainment or expense; and
(4) the taxpayer's relationship to the person or persons entertained.

The mileage log needs to include this information, or you need to be able to be able to support it with other items, like a travel calendar. The tax law doesn't allow you to make a good guess. No substantiation, no deduction

* William Perez tells us about “Obama’s 2010 Tax Returns” at ABOUT.COM TAX PLANNING:US.

* CPA Allan S. Boress suggests a change to the “tax season” that I have heard before over the years in his blog post “Let's Kill Tax Season Before it Kills Us” at ACCOUNTING WEB.

I have always been against this change. I am used to the 12-hour-a-day. 7-day-a-week tax filing season – and can put up with it knowing that on April 15th or so it is over – and I can work maybe 2 or 3 days a week at most the rest of the year.

* I’ve always wondered why anyone would abandon all self-respect and share their lack of intelligence, arrogance and bad behavior with the public on a reality tv show. I found the answer in “Who’s Made the Most Money Off Reality TV”.

If you would like to be rich perhaps you might want to answer the following ad –

“Wanted – individual to participate in new reality tv show. Must be excessively greedy. Below average intelligence and high self-importance required. Must not be able to work or interact well with others. Individuals with any self-respect or common courtesy or decency need not apply.”


Monday, April 25, 2011


Last Friday was Earth Day (how time flies – I remember painting a sign to hang in the back of my high school auditorium for the first Earth Day), and it got me thinking . . .

With the possible exception of the novel allegedly written by reality tv slut "Snookie", the biggest waste of paper, and killer of trees, I can think of is the 1099 instructions sent out each year with brokerage and mutual fund “Consolidated 1099 Statements”. I dare anyone to identify a single person, other than the proof-readers at the brokerage and mutual fund houses, who has actually read any of these multi-page, usually small-print instructions.

Clients will send me, often unopened, envelopes containing the Consolidated 1099 Statements (original and one or two subsequent corrected copies - each copy with the instructions included). I encourage them to send me the attachments that come with these statements, as there are actually some items of value – Average Cost Statement, list of the percentage of fund income from US Government Obligations, and allocation by state of the income from municipal bond funds. But I would expect that during the season I fill up at least a half dozen garbage bags (for recycling) with the instructions for the Form 1099.

My clients have obviously not read these instructions, and I certainly do not read them. Are they required by law? Or are they merely to cover the arses of the brokerage or mutual fund houses?

Imagine how many forests of trees could be spared if these statements were not printed.


Saturday, April 23, 2011


Buzz – Buzz – The Buzz is back! I was good to get back to visiting the tax blogosphere.

* Peter Reilly tells us about the holiday that extended this year’s tax season by three days in “Happy Emancipation Day” at PASSIVE ACTIVITIES AND OTHER OXYMORONS.

He ends the post with “I'm looking forward to the return of
The Wandering Tax Pro”. It is nice to know that I was missed.

* While April 15th was Emancipation Day, Trish McIntire tells us, in “Tax Freedom Day” at OUR TAXING TIMES, that -

According to the Tax Foundation, April 12th is Tax Freedom Day for 2011. This is the day that the average American has earned the money to pay all their federal, state and local taxes for the year. This isn't your actual, personal taxes for the year but the national average for the year. The Tax Foundation also breaks it down by state.”

Tax Freedom Day for residents of New Jersey is yet to come – April 29th. No surprise that it is the second latest state Tax Freedom Day, being beaten for last place by Connecticut on May 2nd.

* Did you follow my TAX TIP columns at during my tax season posting hiatus? The final entry is “How Long to Keep a Copy of Your Tax Records”.

* Check out the April 20 TIP OF THE DAY titled “Matching Expense Records” at the SMALL BUSINESS TAXES AND MANAGEMENT site.

* The Tax Foundation’s “Monday Map” for this past Monday at the TAX POLICY BLOG is about “State Sales Tax Rates”. It shows “state sales tax rates as of January 1st of this year. This includes only the statewide rate. Many cities and towns impose a local rate on top of the statewide rate, which is not reflected in these numbers.”

* Joe Kristan responds to my Thursday post about sending tax returns via certified mail being a waste of money with “Chasing Pennies With Dollars” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG. Be sure to read the comments.

* Kay Bell, the Yellow Rose of Taxes, tells us that “N.C. Storm Victims Get State and Federal Tax Relief, Extended Deadlines” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

* Janet Novack, who writes the TAXING MATTERS blog at, is holding a contest to determine "The Most Confusing Part Of The Income Tax Code”.

Janet points out that “
the basic 1040 instruction booklet now runs to 179 pages and National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has branded tax complexity the most serious problem facing taxpayers”.

Go to Janet’s blog to cast your vote.

* Jim Wang, author of the BARGAINEERING blog, writes on “Presidential Tax Returns: Obama vs. Bush vs. Clinton” at MSN MONEY.

As Jim explains – “I'm going to compare President Obama’s return with the returns of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, using their first year in office.”

* Check out Joseph J. Thorndike’s post “Think Taxes are Too Complicated? They Thought So in 1915, Too” at TAX.COM.

Here is what one lawyer had to say about the relatively new federal income tax back in 1915 –

"It is so complicated that it is utterly impossible to understand its meaning save by consulting a palmist."

* I am not the only one who thinks that the members of Congress are idiots. Felicia Sonmez reports in 2CHAMBERS (Inside the 112th Congress), a Washington Post blog, that “Congressional Approval Rating Down Since January”.

Felicia tells us that “Seventeen percent of adults polled by Gallup approve of the job Congress is doing”. If 17% approve that means that 83% disapprove.

The post points out –

Congress’s 17-percent rating in the latest poll is lower than the approval rating for any other Congress in the April after a House election.”

Friday, April 22, 2011


What is this nonsense about self-absorbed idiot Donald Trump being taken serious as a candidate for President? Hey, we have idiots in Congress, why not in the White House?

When Rosie O’Donnell, not exactly one of my favorite people, seriously and correctly brought up the Donald’s history of screwing his stockholders the Dumpster, er I mean Trumpster, responded by calling Rosie “fat”.

How will he handle foreign relations? If a foreign leader questions or criticizes an action by President Trump will his response be “you’re short” or “you’re ugly” or “you smell”?


The return of this popular series begins with CPA Joseph Arsenault from Tempe, Arizona. Joe works for Shurwest Financial Group, a financial marketing firm, as an expert in retirement taxation with a focus on pension and estate law.

Joe writes the CAFÉ TAX blog (“Business Java in Today’s World”), which features a regular BUZZ-like series called “BlogRoll Beans”, which often recognizes TWTP posts.

1) How did you become interested/involved in preparing tax returns or teaching taxes?

Actually, I became interested and involved in tax preparation on accident. I thought I was bound for the financial accounting world as an auditor. I decided that I did not want to move to LA or NY to work as an auditor, so I stayed with a local/regional firm that prepared taxes and performed audit engagements. I got cornered into preparing taxes and the rest is history. I never thought I would enjoy taxes the way I do.

2) How were you educated/trained in preparing tax returns?

How do you say it - "trial by fire"? I had little training. Tax returns were dumped on my desk and I prepared them. They were always returned with notes and I learned by making mistakes. I actually learned more after I left and started working in a consulting role, as well as preparing taxes on my own and with other individual CPAs. Once I was out of the public accounting firm, my accountability increased and it forced me to really learn how to discern tax issues, not just prepare taxes. Understanding how to get answers and make determinations; accurate ones, is more valuable then the preparation part.

3) When and why did you decide to write a blog on tax issues?

I decided to start writing a blog about a year ago. I love being creative, even if I am not always so good at it. I created some literature and material for the organization I consult with and realized I was capable of helping others understand taxes. Blogging is a new addiction. I have also started writing my first book, and sometimes I feel like I am drowning in the difficulty, but I don't mind.

4) How has blogging helped your business?

Blogging helps me network more than anything. Many clients visit the blog regularly and I try to be as helpful as possible. I have met CPAs, EAs, attorneys and other tax professionals all over the country through my blog. It also forces me to stay current on issues I write about, which adds to my competency in dealing with applicable tax issues.

5) What do you consider the “best tax advice” you can give anyone?

The best tax advice I can give someone? That is like asking someone what the most important part on a car is. Can a car run with a missing part? If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to maintain a high level of proactive behavior with their tax preparer and everything in-between. The more proactive someone is relative to tax matters, the more likely they are to achieve favorable, efficient tax results year after year. Tax law changes frequently, it is one of the most convoluted legal systems that exists, and there are few absolutes (until you end up in court).

6) Do you think the regulation of tax return preparers is a good thing?

I do think regulation of tax preparers is a good thing. I am not sure what level of regulation is effective without costing the consumer more money (I feel ultimate value is the end goal). That is my main concern. For example, attorneys, EAs and CPAs are all exempt from the new tax preparer requirements (except the PTIN requirement). The reality is that not all of these professionals have performed tax work or have a background in taxation. Does this regulate "tax preparers" or just the non-designated professionals? I am in favor of taxpayer regulation. I would like to think anyone preparing taxes should be required to have a proper level of aptitude and experience so customers and clients are not deceived. My only problem, I don't have a concrete opinion or argument on how to really achieve proper tax preparer regulation.

7) Do you think CPAs and attorneys should be exempt from testing and required CPEs in taxation?

I guess I touched on this question in the last question. I think CPAs and attorneys should only be exempt if they can prove that they operate as a tax professional prior to regulation. For example, if you already have a PTIN and sign tax returns, or have an interest in a registered firm, you are "more likely than not" to be qualified. As far as timing, if someone becoming a CPA or attorney works under a registered tax preparer who signs the returns, this would give them the experience they need when they become a CPA or attorney, effectively allowing that exempt status. Otherwise, how do you know a CPA or attorney actually knows how to prepare a tax return?

8) What is your favorite Broadway musical – and why?

Can I plead the fifth here? I don't have one. Perhaps I am too young to appreciate the art in Broadway musicals?

Trial by fire is a great way to learn taxes.

And Joe, you are never too young! I saw my first Broadway musical (THE MUSIC MAN with Robert Preston), and learned to appreciate the art, at age 5.


Thursday, April 21, 2011


I realize I am too late to make a difference for this tax filing season, but I must take exception to the advice provided by my blogging buddy Joe Kristan in his post “Don’t Waste Your Tax Prep Fee by Cheaping Out on Postage” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE, a true rarity (except for the issue of tax preparer registration).

Joe says –

If you aren't filing electronically, now isn't the time to cheap out. You ought to spring for the extra $5.10 to file your return ‘
certified mail, return receipt requested’. It's well worth the time and trouble of going to the post office to get that postmarked receipt.”

I agree it was very important to make sure that your tax returns, or extension applications, were postmarked by midnight on April 18th. I point out the importance in my April 18th TAX TIP at However you shouldn’t waste your time by waiting on a humongous line or your money by paying extra for ‘certified mail, return receipt requested’.

You should not simply have put your envelopes in a mailbox on the street. You should have gone to a post office branch and mailed the envelopes inside the branch – more better actually handing the envelopes to a postal clerk at the window (if the line was not out the door).

But the extra you spend to get a return receipt is a total waste of money. It means absolutely nothing – only that the IRS received an envelope from you that was postmarked on April 18th. It doesn't hurt to do this (except your wallet) - but it really doesn't help either.

At one of the many continuing education seminars I attended years ago a participant told the story of a colleague who sent an envelope to the IRS, and his state tax agency, on the 15th of every month of the year, paying for “certified mail, return receipt requested”. This way, he believed, if any correspondence or form was ever actually sent late, or lost, or actually never sent, he would have a green card signed by the IRS or the state to prove that it had been timely filed and received by the IRS. The participant did not say if this strategy ever worked.

I believe the IRS will give more weight to a statement, given under penalty of perjury, that the envelope was delivered to the post office by the due date than to a return receipt card. As the above story indicated, all the green card indicates is that an envelope sent on the 15th, or 18th, of the month was received by the IRS – it does not indicate that the envelope contained the actual return or form in question.

I would be interested to hear from fellow tax preparers of any instances where the green return receipt card actually worked in proving timely filing to the IRS?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I just wanted to report on some breaking news that occurred during the last days of the tax filing season.

On April 14th I received an email from Beanna Whitlock, Executive Director of the NCPE Fellowship (a membership organization for tax professionals). Here is what it reported -

The Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011 was signed into law today by President Obama.

1. It repeals the requirement for rental property owners to issue Forms 1099 starting with 2011 payments. Landlords will not be required to issue 1099's.

2. It repeals the requirement for businesses to issue Forms 1099 for products beginning with the 2012 payments.

3. The requirement for businesses to issue Forms 1099 to corporations beginning with 2012 payments is also repealed

This is obviously great news – and removes a great anticipated burden on small business owners and landlords.

The idiots in Congress were finally able to accomplish something that both Parties have wanted to do, and made several unsuccessful attempts to accomplish, for over a year now – ever since they realized what they had passed in the health care “reform” bill – a bill that they had not bothered to read in full before voting on it.


Sunday, April 17, 2011


The Wandering Tax Pro will be returning to the tax blogosphere - with more of the witty, informative and insightful posts you have learned to love - after a few days of much-needed and well-deserved recuperation at the Jersey shore.

"Talk" to you soon.