Thursday, July 12, 2012
MORE FROM BALTIMORE
This morning I returned to the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront for more educational sessions at the NATP National Conference – although I did not have to arise as early as I did on Monday morning.
I had scheduled one session before the free box lunch break and two after – but ended up with only one afternoon session. I had originally planned to attend the session on Current Developments – Business, but after reviewing the session workbook I determined there was really nothing new for me to learn. Rather than sit around the hotel for the 50 minutes between sessions I decided to head back to my Mount Vernon Cultural District located hotel to check email and work on my post.
While there are a multitude of educational sessions to choose from at Conference each year, I am in a unique situation. I do not accept any new 1040 clients, and do not accept any “entity” clients (partnerships and corporations). I have no desire to represent taxpayers before the IRS (other than to attend audits of returns I have prepared). And I will be sleeping through the required 2 hours of ethics preaching at the NATP year-end update in November – so no need to waste the 2 hours (actually 100 minutes) now. In reality there are only so many sessions of interest, or actual value, to me – one reason why I often find the annual National Conference not cost effective.
My morning session was another attempt at “Stump the Stars” (actually Stump the Instructors). Over the years NATP has tried this type of format in various incarnations – Panel of Experts, Ask the Research Director, Frequently Asked Research Questions, etc – with an individual or panel addressing a variety of questions on all aspects of taxes either submitted prior to the session or from the floor. I have always liked this kind of session, and always attended when offered, and wish it were an annual offering (like Current Developments).
This session had three of the current instructors (one of whom was Beanna Whitlock, who was more serious this time around) answer questions, some previously submitted via email (I had received an email solicitation last week, and did not submit a question) but most from the floor.
One question from the floor concerned the reason for one of my “eccentricities”.
A preparer thought she had taken care of a client issue with an IRS representative over the phone, and had submitted via fax all required information to facilitate the settlement as per what she had been told by the IRS person. However a few months later the client received an IRS notice that a lien had been placed on his business property – which ended up FU-ing the mortgage refinancing process that he was going through. So the issue was not settled as the preparer had thought – the IRS staffer lied and totally ignored what had been agreed upon.
Over the years I, and my clients, have been lied to left and right over the telephone by IRS employees and NJ Division of Taxation representatives. I decided several years back never to address a federal or state tax issue over the phone. If an issue arises I will never initiate contact via a federal or state “practitioner hotline”, but will always contact the IRS, or NJDOT, in writing – so I have a written record of my contact and the agency’s response. It takes longer – but it usually ends in a satisfactory resolution and minimal, if any, agita.
Nobody was able to “stump” the instructors – who gave good (and in my opinion correct) answers to all questions.
The afternoon session was “Audit Proof Your Client’s Return” – with every seat filled and several attendees sitting on the floor. The instructor was new to me, and I think NATP as well, and provided some good suggestions.
I have three more sessions tomorrow. I do believe I will meet my 15 hour CPE requirement at Conference, although I will be short 1 hour of “updates” (more than covered by the year-end class in November) and the 2 wasted, but required, hours of “ethics” preaching.