Friday, January 31, 2014


Joy to the world - tax season’s here.
I’ll soon be flush with cash!
Let every client be organized,
and give me all I need, and give me all I need,
and give me all I need to prepare their returns!

My 43rd tax season will officially begin tomorrow - let the deluge begin!

As is my custom, due to the demands of the filing season I will be taking my annual “tax season hiatus” from posting to THE WANDERING TAX PRO.

Between now and April 15th I will barely have time to relieve myself let alone blog!  Nor will I have time to respond to comments. If a comment requires a response I will do so after April 15th.


I am NOT accepting any new 1040 clients (or any other kind of tax preparation clients). So don’t email me asking if I can prepare your 2013 tax returns.  THE ANSWER IS "NO". 

I will be publishing a WHERE THE FAKAWI post at least every other week here at TWTP to keep my clients up-to-date on my progress during the season and to report changes or additions to my tax season policies and procedures. Clients can also keep track of my tax season progress by following me at TWITTER (@rdftaxpro).

My Tax Tips will be appearing regularly at the Tax Center throughout the season.  Be sure to check them out.

I realize that I am abandoning you at a time when you may need me the most – but I need to make a living!

I find it a bit amusing that the period of time when TWTP gets the most “hits” is during the tax filing season when I am not posting.

“Talk” to you when it is all over!


BTW – be sure to stop by tomorrow for the annual posting of my TWELVE DAYS OF TAX SEASON!


This will be the last BUZZ until after the end of the tax filing season.   

* Over at the TAX CENTER I tell you “What to Do If You Do Not Receive a W-2”, “Why You May Not Have to File A Tax Return This Year”, and “These Are the Most Important Numbers on Your Tax Return”.

* Kay Bell mentions a certain veteran tax pro some might consider eccentric in her post "Are You Ready to e-file Your Federal Return? Here's How" at DON'T MESS WITH TAXES.

Wait - it's me!

* ACCOUNTING DEGREE has a new infographic on “Obamacare and Your Taxes”.

* Joe Kristan tells us “IRS Gives Mulligan to Elect Portability for $5 Million Estate Exclusion” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG.

While I am on “hiatus” you can get some BUZZ from Joe’s daily “Tax Roundup”.

* The FISCAL TIMES lists “The 10 Worst States for Taxes in 2014”.  It is no surprise that New Jersey is number two (NJ is often referred to as “Number Two”) – the second worst state behind New York.

New Jersey’s per capita property tax is the most onerous in the country.”

The picture “identifying” NJ has absolutely nothing to do with NJ – it is the brain dead sluts and skanks of THE JERSEY SHORE, who are from NY.

* The TAX RESOLUTION BLOG explains the “Nuts and Bolts of an Offer in Compromise”.

* A client just emailed me to say that he could not afford health coverage in 2013 and to ask how much would he be penalized.  My answer was “nothing” – the penalty does not apply to 2013.  It begins this year – 2014.

Tax Guy Bill Bischoff discusses the Obamacare penalty in “Owe the IRS Money? Good News - The Obamacare penalty only applies to those who get a tax refund” at MARKET WATCH.  

* Here is a legislative proposal reported by ACCOUNTING TODAY that is along the lines of something I had thought about a while back – “Congressman Introduces Bill to End Tax Write-off for Lavish Executive Bonuses”.

My proposal would have also included the requirement that any such excessive bonus must come from current earnings and profits – so CEOs of companies with current losses could not give themselves eventually deductible ridiculous and unjustified salary payments.

* Barbara Weltman’s thoughts on the “State of the Union Address and Small Businesses” at BARBARA’S BLOG are similar to mine.  Like -

My problem with a corporate tax rate reduction is the need to simultaneously reduce tax rates on small businesses in which owners of pass-through entities pay tax on their share of business profits on their personal returns. It makes no sense to me to lower the top corporate rate from 35% to say 25% or so while retaining the top individual income tax rate paid by some small business owners of 39.6%.”

And -

The proposals on automatic retirement savings for the middle-class sound fine. By making savings easy it likely will help this group increase retirement savings (something I thought was intentioned by the retirement savers credit). Paying for this by taking away retirement savings tax breaks for wealthy individuals doesn’t make sense to me.”

And –

Overall, the old expressions—the devil is in the details—makes all the difference on whether or not the proposals are worthy of support. We’ll all just have to see!”

Some of the details of the “myRA” account are provided in a White House issued “Fact Sheet”.

ü  It would be a ROTH account – no deduction going in but no tax coming out. 

ü  Initial investments could be as low as $25 and contributions that are as low as $5 could be made through easy-to-use payroll deductions.  Savers have the option of keeping the same account when they change jobs and can roll the balance into a private-sector retirement account at any time.

ü  Savers will earn interest at the same variable interest rate as the federal employees’ Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Government Securities Investment Fund.”  This rate is nothing to write home about.
ü  This saving opportunity would be available to the millions of low- and middle-income households earning up to $191,000 a year.  These accounts will be offered through an initial pilot program to employees of employers who choose to participate by the end of 2014.  The accounts are little to no cost and easy for employers to use, since employers will neither administer the accounts nor contribute to them.

Any retirement savings is better than no retirement savings.  It would be good as a starting point, with the account balance being transferred to a “regular” ROTH account and invested in a mutual fund once it reaches perhaps $2,000.

* “Hate Doing your Taxes? Blame Congress, Not the IRS”!  Right on, Allison Linn of CNBC.

The item quotes the spot on assessment of Michael Graetz, a professor of tax law at Columbia Law School and a proponent of major tax reform -

"We have come to use the tax system as if it is a cure for every social and economic problem the country faces.”

But -

That's not necessarily what the federal tax system was intended for when it was introduced about 100 years ago.”

* Let’s end with what bloggers love most – another list.  This one, from Shana Norris at MODEST MONEY, is “10 Things A Parent Should Know About 529 Plans”.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I did not watch the State of the Union address last night.  Instead I watched the wonderful film GAMBIT with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine on TCM.  This morning I “wandered” the web for blogs and articles on the address.

As you might expect, I was interested in BO’s statements on 1040 issues.

In addressing tax reform BO said -

Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here and reward companies that keep profits abroad.  Let’s flip that equation.  Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home.”

This is about business tax reform.  The only reference to 1040 tax issues in the address was a call to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit –

So let’s work together to strengthen the credit. . .”

He referenced Senator Mark Rubio’s concerns with the EITC.  Rubio wants to take the EITC out of the Tax Code and replace it with perhaps a direct wage subsidy.  The President clearly wants to keep the credit as part of the 1040 – where it clearly does not belong.

Rubio had pointed up two of the biggest problems with the EITC –

One weakness of the EITC compared to the minimum wage, however, is the fact that low-wage workers only see the refundable tax credit once a year in a lump sum, rather than a small increase in their paycheck over a full year.”

And –

Currently the Earned Income Tax Credit has one of the highest payment error rates of all federal programs that cost between $11.6 and $13.6 billion in 2012. Whether these payment errors are due to intentional fraud and abuse or the program’s staggering complexity is up for debate (it is likely a mixture of the two).

Apparently the President is not concerned with these serious issues.

It is clear that President Obama does not want serious, substantive tax reform.  He wants to continue to complicate the already mucking fess that is the US Tax Code by expanding refundable credits – which are magnets for tax fraud.  Do not look for any real tax reform in 2014, or probably anytime soon.

The other item of interest in the address was his call for a “myRA” payroll withholding starter retirement account for employees without access to a 401(k) plan. 

It appears the “myRA” would be a kind of US Savings Bond.  Many employees already have the option of purchasing US Savings Bonds via payroll deduction. 

There were no specific details on the “myRA”.  BO spoke of a bond that “guarantees a decent return” – but what is a “decent return”.  Current savings bonds certainly do pay more interest than basic savings accounts – but do not provide what I would call a “decent return”.  Would employers, with or without 401(k) plans, be required to offer this savings opportunity to all employees?  Would employee contributions be tax deductible?  Would there be a ROTH-like option?

I have read that this account would possibly have a maximum lifetime contribution limitation.  When the maximum is reached the account could be rolled-over into an IRA account.

I support anything that encourages and assists Americans to save for retirement, but would obviously need to see more details before giving the “myIRA” a thumbs up.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Only 1 more BUZZ after this before I begin my annual tax season “hiatus”.

* Over at the TAX CENTER identify the information returns you may be getting soon in “The Forms Are in the Mail: Quick Tax Tip”. 

And before you begin to gather your 2013 “stuff” to give your tax preparer you should check out “What to Give Your Tax Professional”.
* I obviously understand and can support the financial argument behind avoiding large refunds, but over the years I have come to agree with Mark Steber, who, writing in THE BLOG at the Huffington Post, proclaims “BIG Tax Refunds Really Are Good”.

Mark lists 8 reasons.  My support of the concept is found in #3, #4, and #7.

* Kay Bell reminds us "Tax Season is Tax Scam, Tax Identity Theft Season” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES.

This fact from Kay needs to be constantly repeated -

Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. Official tax agency communications generally are in old-fashioned written form.”

* Beverly DeVeny and Jared Trexler cover the “Differences between 401(k), Roth 401(k) and Roth IRA” and provide a comparison chart.

* William Perez joins the bandwagon by offering suggestions and resources for “Finding the Right Tax Professional” at ABOUT.COM.

He has a good list of resources for your search – except, of course, for state CPA societies.  

Of course the best resources are your friends, family, and colleagues.

This is not good!

* “IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam”.  This sounds similar to a scam that recently targeted one of my clients.

* Manassa Nadig explains “Moving On In Life? How That Can Be Tax Deductible!!” at THE BUZZ ABOUT TAXES.


Monday, January 27, 2014


Here is the current message on my answering machine -


Friday, January 24, 2014

If you have found THE WANDERING TAX PRO helpful, informative, and/or entertaining I don’t want you to donate or to buy me a cup of coffee.

You can support TWTP, and help to keep it alive, by taking advantage of our January special offers -


Don’t you find this year’s tv ads for Henry and Richard are particularly stupid.

* Over at the TAX CENTER I report “The Start of Tax Filing Season Is Delayed”.

*’s “parent”, THE STREET, brings us “7 Tax Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making.”

* From 1040 GEEK (a new, to me, tax blog I recently discovered) – "5 Reasons to Hire Tax Professionals".

* And once you have decided to hire a tax professional, FORBES.COM’s Kelly Phillips Erb lists “11 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Tax Preparer”.

* Jason Dinesen explains “Deducting Miles Driven for Charity” at DINESEN TAX TIMES.

Apparently Jason’s home state of Iowa is more generous with its state tax deduction than the idiots in Congress, who has not increased the allowable standard mileage allowance for years.

* Bruce McFarland’s last “Tax Talk Tuesday” before its tax season hiatus discusses an apparently popular topic this time of year - “Finding a Tax Pro”.

For cash contributions of $250 or more, a cancelled check/credit card receipt is not enough.

You must obtain, by the time your return is filed (including extensions) in order to satisfy the contemporaneous requirement of the Section 170(f)(8), a written statement from the charity. It must:

·         Reflect the amount of the donation;

·         List any significant goods or services provided in exchange for the donation (other than intangible religious benefits); or,

·         Specifically state that ‘no goods or services were provided in exchange for this contribution’.”

Paul rightly suggests (highlight is his) -

So please review your charitable deductions now and look for the magical statement that:

No goods or services were provided in exchange for this contribution.’


Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Let me once again join my fellow tax bloggers by summarizing my advice on choosing a tax preparer.

* IMEO (experienced, not humble), you really should not use a “fast food” tax preparation chain, like Henry and Richard, to prepare your tax return.  Fast food tax preparation chains ain’t cheap, and they certainly do not provide the quality of service that an individual independent tax professional does.  See my post from last January “Just Say No to Henry and Richard”.

* Contrary to the popular “urban tax myth”, unfortunately perpetuated by uninformed journalists and bloggers, just because a person has the initials “CPA” after his/her name does not mean that he/she knows his arse from a hole in the ground when it comes to preparing 1040s.    

* Only those individuals who possess the IRS-issued “EA” (Enrolled Agent), “RTRP” (Registered Tax Return Preparer), and privately administered ATP (Accredited Tax Preparer) and ATA (Accredited Tax Advisor) designations have demonstrated competency in 1040 preparation by passing a test (varying levels of difficulty), and (except for RTRP) are required to remain current in 1040 law by taking continuing professional education (CPE) in federal income taxes each year.

* An “EA” is NOT an employee, representative, or “agent” of the Internal Revenue Service.  An “EA” is an independent tax professional who has passed a very comprehensive and difficult test in federal tax knowledge.

* Just because a tax professional does not have any of the above listed initials after his/her name does not mean that he/she is less expert in taxes than those who do.  There are many, many “unenrolled” preparers who are educated, experienced, knowledgeable, and current in 1040 preparation.

* Do not use a preparer (1) who has not registered with the IRS and received a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), (2) will not sign the finished return, or (3) whose fee is a percentage of your refund.

* And, of course, no tax preparation software is a substitute for knowledge of the tax code. And no tax preparation software is a substitute for the services of a trained tax professional!  Garbage-in, garbage-out says it all. 

The best way to find a tax preparer for your specific situation is to ask friends, family, and co-workers or colleagues for referrals.

The usual disclaimer - it may actually be possible that the best tax preparer, at the best price, for your particular situation is either a CPA or an H+R Block, or other fast-food chain, employee. But this is only because of the education, experience, ability, temperament, and other factors that are specific to that individual preparer.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I saw a great headline at Yahoo Celebrity – “Is This the Beginning of the End for the Kardashians?”  My fingers are crossed!

* Over at the TAX CENTER I identify “What to Give Your Tax Professional”.

* Kay Bell explains “Filing Patience Can Prevent a Big Tax Mistake” at DON’T MESS WITH TAXES. 
Her “tweet” promoting the post says it all – “Don't make the stupid tax mistake of getting refund related financial product.”

You do now – thanks to TECH CRUNCH.

* Duh!  Who’s to Blame for Tax Code Complexity?  The idiots in Congress, of course.

Professor Jim Maule reminds us of this fact at MAULED AGAIN, and offers some good suggestions for a Congresscritter who recently complained about the complexity of the Code (highlight is mine) -

First, repeal the complex provisions that exist because special interest groups purchased the enactment of those complex provisions. Second, repeal the complexity that arises from using the income tax law for social policy purposes. Third, restructure, rewrite, and simplify what remains. Most of all, join with the other members of Congress in standing up and taking responsibility for what Congress has created.”

* Ashlea Ebeling of FORBES.COM gives some advice on “Maximizing 529 College Savings Plan Tax Breaks”.

She suggests you make your 2014 contribution early in the year –

Almost a third of contributions to 529 college savings plans are made in the fourth quarter, but there are good reasons to contribute in the beginning of the New Year. The earlier you get the money in, the longer it has to grow tax-free.”  

I recommended the same thing in “Tax Tip -Your Small Assignment for Today” at MAINSTREET.COM.

Another reason to make the contribution early –

Also, some states will let you take a 2013 state tax deduction for contributions made up until April 15, 2014.”


Monday, January 20, 2014


Oi vey – by accident I came across this bad news from the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development website over the week-end (highlights are mine) -

Tax Form 1099-G ‘Certain Government Payments’ will no longer be mailed to recipients of Unemployment Insurance benefits in New Jersey.  You will be able to obtain this information by using our online 1099-G Income Tax Statement application.

Form 1099-G reports the total taxable unemployment compensation paid to any individual who received New Jersey Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for a specific calendar year.

The online 1099-G application will be available in late January 2014 and it will provide you with your New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) 1099-G Income Tax Statement, which you can view and print through the online application.  LWD will update our website when this information becomes available.

To use the online 1099-G application, go to the Unemployment Insurance page of the LWD website at  Once you have signed into the application, click on View/Print 1099-G Tax Statement and then simply click continue after reviewing the instructions.

You will need your online user ID, password and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access your tax information.  Before trying to access your tax information, you must have a PIN.   If you cannot remember your PIN or are having difficulty with it, please contact one of our Regional Call Centers for assistance.

If you received Disability Benefits During Unemployment (DDU) or Paid Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits during the tax year 2013, you will still receive your tax information on form 1099-G by mail.  If you also received unemployment benefits during that same period, you will have to visit the website to obtain the 1099dG tax information.”

What brain decided on this?  A very bad idea!

NJ stopped mailing out 1099-Gs for state income tax refunds a few years ago.  But this is not a problem.  It is easy to see if a client should have received a state tax refund by simply looking at the prior year return.  And it is easy to access these 1099-G forms online for verification with basic taxpayer information.  It is a different story with unemployment benefits.

I will now have to ask every single client if they received NJ unemployment benefits at any time in 2013, and tell those who did to go to to download the form, or ask if they still have, or know, their user ID, password and PIN so I can access the form ourselves.

More work for me, and my fellow NJ tax pros, and more wasted time when there is no time to spare!

This is going to cause a lot of agita for the IRS.  Many taxpayers erroneously believe that you only have to report income if you get a Form 1099 – so there is going to be a lot of non-reporting of unemployment benefits by NJ taxpayers on 2013 Form 1040s and 1040As!

I only learned it by accident.  It was not reported by the NJDOT speakers at the recent NJ-NATP state tax update.  How will taxpayers know that they must go online to get their 1099-G?  Is the NJDOLAWD going to mail a notice to all unemployment recipients?  And if so, why not just mail out the 1099-Gs?

I predict there will be tons of CP-2000 notices sent to NJ taxpayers in 2014!

NJ does not tax unemployment benefits.  So this does not affect the NJ-1040.  It is obvious that the cafones in Trenton do not give the proverbial tinker’s damn about the substantial inconvenience this decision will cause NJ unemployment recipients, NJ tax preparers, and the IRS.

Regular visitors to TWTP probably know by now that I do not suffer fools well – hence my disgust with the idiots in Congress.  It seems that Washington is not the only city full of idiots – there are apparently a lot in Trenton as well!



EA Anthony DiPierro had this to say in a comment on my The Future of the RTRP Designation – The Conversation Continues post -

"’There is no change to the EA credential, except for a better name.’  {quoting a statement I made in the post – rdf}

Is this referring to the name "Enrolled Tax Return Preparer"? If so, this is a worse name. Status as an enrolled agent has nothing to do with tax return preparation. It has to do with the ability to act as an agent - to represent taxpayers in front of the IRS.

As I said on Jason's blog, the only way I'd possibly support this is if the RTRP test (or whatever you want to call it) is just as hard as the SEE (the EA exam), and no one is grandfathered in except possibly those who have passed the SEE.

If you give people who are less expert in taxes than EAs a special designation, that absolutely *will* hurt the EA credential. There's nothing magical about the term "Enrolled Tax Return Preparer" which tells the public that it's a higher status than "Registered Tax Return Preparer". The latter would quite plainly dilute the value of the former. And if the test isn't mandatory, what's the point of making it easier than the SSE?"
My response to Anthony -

The Enrolled Agents I know of are primarily tax preparers.  While there are obviously EAs who restrict their practice to representation, it is my opinion that the “bread and butter” of the average EA is tax return preparation.

I am aware of several Enrolled Agents who, prior to the Loving decision, actually sat for the RTRP exam in order to be granted the RTRP designation.  The reason is the confusion with the EA credential.

As one EA put it (the story is hers, but the words are mine) –

A taxpayer who is looking for someone to prepare his return considers two tax pros. 

He asks the first person if he has any professional credentials and is told that the tax pro is a “Registered Tax Return Preparer”.  The very name identifies that the person is a tax return preparer and has done something to indicate that he/she is competent in preparing tax returns.

He asks the second person and is told that he/she is an “Enrolled Agent”.  “What is that?  An “agent” of the IRS?  What does that have to do with preparing my tax return?”  The EA tries to explain, which only adds to the confusion.

If the EA had said upfront that he/she was a “Registered Tax Return Preparer” (or an “Enrolled Tax Return Preparer”) there would be no further questions and the two tax pros would be starting out on equal footing in the eyes of the potential client.  

You and I both know that the EA is a better credential than the RTRP – but the average taxpayer does not.

If the EA tells the potential client that he/she is an “Enrolled Tax Return Preparer” then the potential client can see that he/she has clearly done something to indicate that he/she is competent in preparing tax returns.  If the taxpayer asks the ETRP what is the difference, he/she can say that he/she is authorized to represent the taxpayer before all levels of the IRS.

I have proposed that the voluntary RTRP candidate pass a much more extensive test than the original RTRP basic competency exam – perhaps the portions of the Special Enrollment Exam that deal with 1040 preparation, and also touching on basic business tax issues.

If the IRS had a two-tiered voluntary credentialing program, which includes the EA, the Service would need to promote the entire program and identify the increased value of the ETRP component.

I take exception to one of Anthony’s statements.  Just because a tax professional does not possess the EA credential does not mean that he/she is “less expert in taxes than EAs.  I am not accusing Anthony of anything, but over the years I have encountered an “arrogance” among some of those with initials - in taxes, accounting, and other professions and trades – who believe that, and act as if, they are superior to those who are not “initialed”.

There is no question that a person who has received the EA credential should be proud of his/her accomplishment.  But it does not automatically make him/her “better” than an unenrolled preparer, or a current or potential RTRP. 

Anthony Amelio posted the following comment at the NJ-NATP Spacebook group (because of NJ-NATP Board member Jaimee Hammer I broke my longstanding promise and joined Spacebook, without listing any personal information or profile, for the sole purpose of joining the NJ-NATP group).

In regards to this RTRP, I have (or had) the designation. I did my studying, had my 30 plus years’ experience and passed. At first I was annoyed to have to take an exam, but when I was still in the study phase I began to change my opinion in that it would be nice to have a designation after your name. At the time it would also mean I had some authority to deal with certain grade levels of the IRS.

In regards to the EA designation I have to tell a quick story. When I was first starting to study I came across a YouTube video and I do not recall the name of the guy, but he was giving a sample study class for RTRP. He back then made the comment in detail in essence stating that the EA title was becoming less and less of an important designation for EA's and that in future years RTRP would overtake the EA's. He was very knowledgeable and his point was that the EA lack of visibility was not just starting but has been decaying over the years.

In so far as the RTRP voluntary program, I may be prejudiced since I passed the exam, but I believe it is a valuable program and benefits everyone, including the IRS and prospective clients. I can understand the response we are getting from the EA since they worked hard to get the distinction. Quite frankly I would rather be an EA than an RTRP, but I took what was best for me considering age, etc. If you take in total the number of returns prepared by an EA and the RTRP people I think this tells the story of where the masses are.

In conclusion I think the EA continues on, the Voluntary RTRP is created and continues on. With the millions of people in this country there is enough client potential out there. We all need to work together since we all have the same goals and objectives. If there is any real concern out there we better start looking at the obvious problems that are beginning to confront tax preparers. I see in my own practice that many older clients are not around anymore and this includes to baby boomers and after them the new generation wherein many many people are turning to software programs, TurboTax, TaxCut etc., to do their taxes. Ironically these are the same companies that are selling us their professional software at premium prices and at the same time cutting in to our businesses.

I do agree with the person in the referenced YouTube video that, unfortunately, the EA credential's lack of visibility been decaying over the years. This is the fault of the IRS and the NAEA for not properly promoting and explaining the credential. I have done my best to explain the EA here at TWTP.

FYI, Chuck McCabe of the Income Tax School adds his voice to the conversation in “Will Tax Preparers Be Regulated in the Future?” at the School’s TAX INDUSTRY TALK blog.

Jason Dinesen “tweeted” -

If you want to get a 3rd party to oversee RTRP, I say go for it. I'm still not seeing where there's a need or demand, though.”

I do see a need and demand, and feel I have explained this sufficiently in my post.

Fellow “unenrolled” tax preparers – would you apply for a voluntary RTRP-like credential is it was offered, either by the IRS or an independent organization?


Friday, January 17, 2014


* Over at the TAX CENTER I talk about “What's New on the 2013 Form 1040?”. 

* MISSOURI TAXGUY Bruce McFarland suggests “Let’s Talk About Tax Software”.

Bruce is spot on when he says -

when it comes to software, the software is only as smart as the person using {it}”.

Bruce makes a lot of good points – including verifying that even tax preparation software for the tax professional is flawed.

The takeaway for taxpayers is what I have been saying for years – no software package is a substitute for knowledge of the Tax Code, and no tax software package is a substitute for a competent, experienced tax professional.

* And Bruce’s TAX TALK TUESDAY covers “Afffordable Care Act: Now it is Personal”.

* Isaac M. O'Bannon lists the “Top Tax Credits & Benefits for Members of the Military” at CPA PRACTICE ADVISOR.

* Here is an odd post from ACCOUNTING TODAY whose title caught my attention – “Bronx Laundromat Offers Tax Prep Services”.

It reminded me of the following anecdote I have often used to illustrate that any Tom, Dick, or Harriet can hang out a shingle as a tax preparer –

One morning, not too long ago, while walking on Central Avenue in my former home town of Jersey City I saw a sign in the window of a barber shop that read “tax returns prepared here”. You could apparently get a haircut and a manicure and have your 1040 prepared all in one sitting! Many years ago, before I had my own office, I had considered renting a desk in an insurance or real estate office – it never occurred to me to rent a chair at a barbershop.

While the tax preparers working at the laundromat are supposedly legitimate, one statement in the article is truly suspicious -

The company said customers’ taxes will take between 30 to 45 minutes to prepare, about the time of a wash or dry cycle, provided customers bring the proper identification and the necessary paperwork.”

It is only the simplest 1040A that could be prepared in 30-45 minutes, especially for a client about whom you have no prior knowledge.  The actual client interview and review of the prior return would take almost 30 minutes.

New data from TD Ameritrade Holding Corp reveals the worrisome state of the retirement savings of independent workers. The brokerage company's Self-Employment and Retirement Survey found that 28 percent of the self-employed were not saving anything at all, and another 40 percent were only saving occasionally, when they said they were able.”

* Susan B Weiner has a “Blogging Q&A with Jim Blankenship” (of “Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row” fame) at her INVESTMENT WRITING blog.
* Trish McIntire is posting again at OUR TAXING TIMES.  She offers some advice on “Choosing A Tax Pro”.

* Kay Bell, the yellow rose of taxes, tells us “California Has $16 million in Undeliverable 2012 Tax Refunds” –

Were you due a refund last year from the Golden State's tax collector? Did you get it?

Nearly 48,000 Californians didn't. The state is holding around $16 million in snail mailed refund checks that were returned as undeliverable.

The returned refund checks range from $1 to $54,000. However, Most of the returned tax refunds (nearly 45,000) are for $1,000 or less.”

* Jason Dinesen asks “Got 1099s to Issue?” at DINESEN TAX TIMES.

* ACCOUNTING TODAY reports “Court Rules in Favor of IRS on Obamacare Tax Credits”.