Tax preparers Feed

There's been one positive for the Internal Revenue Service this coronavirus-affected tax filing season. The agency says that Free File has hit a record percentage increase in new users. And there's still just more than a week before the partnership between the IRS and tax software manufacturers shuts down on Oct. 16. Free, but previously not that popular: The online tax preparation and e-filing products that, as the Free File moniker indicates, allows eligible filers to complete and electronically transmit their tax returns at no cost, has been available since 2003. However, despite the growing popularity of do-it-yourself tax filing... Read more →


Taxpayers and their tax pros have faced many and new hassles this filing season, primarily because of COVID-19 challenges. Do any of these 2020 tax season situations qualify as an acceptable reason to waive associated filing penalties? Maybe. Technology, and especially tax tech, is great. Until it isn't. That was my reaction when I learned that a lot of tax professionals were left in the lurch yesterday when their tax software provider's e-file system crashed just as they were submitting — or trying to — businesses clients' tax returns that were due Sept. 15. The issue, as you can imagine,... Read more →


Man signing papers (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.com) The Internal Revenue Service continues to go more digital, at least temporarily to make filings easier as we continue to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Late last month, the IRS announced 10 forms that previously had to be signed in ink on their printed paper version. You can read about this first group of forms to be granted digital signature status in my Aug. 28 post. On Sept. 10, the tax agency added another six forms to the digital signer list. They are: Form 706, U.S. Estate (and... Read more →


COVID-19 has forced taxpayers and their hired preparers to maintain social distance during return completion this year. Electronic tax processes have helped, but some forms require real signatures, meaning in-person contact. Until now. The IRS is temporarily accepting electronic signatures on certain documents that still must be snail mailed. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.com Some, including me and many in the tax professional community, have long argued that the Internal Revenue Service has been its own worst enemy when it comes to moving the agency into electronic era. Sure, Uncle Sam's tax collector has been encouraging, and in some... Read more →


If tax it the time of coronavirus taught us anything, it's that tax professionals are indispensable. On the heels of getting a handle on the 2017 tax reform changes, tax pros this filing season were handed even more jobs. They helped people understand COVID-19 economic relief payments, what tax tasks were delayed until when and the Paycheck Protection Program. And now, just days after Tax Day 2020 finally came and went, another coronavirus stimulus package, no doubt with more tax implications, is in the works. The bottom line is that tax help from a reputable tax pro is critical, in... Read more →


Image courtesy SimpsonsWorld via Giphy.com Do you remember your first phone number? I'm talking about the one when you were a kid. The one you parents made you memorize in case you needed to call home for any reason. For younger folks, that's not a problem. But when you reach a certain age, not that I'm confessing to any chronologically specific range, those early memories tend to fade. Despite that natural process, some of us still remember our childhood phone numbers. You'll have to trust me on my numerical recall. I'm leery enough of hackers, con artists and other assorted... Read more →


Do you have a big tax bill, but are down to your last bottom dollar? That's the worry of many taxpayers in this coronavirus-affected filing season. But you do have payment options. (Photo by cottonbro via Pexels) Tax Day 2020 is rapidly approaching and a lot of taxpayers are not ready for it. It's not just their Form 1040 filing that's an issue. They are concerned about paying any tax that's also due on this year's July 15 due date that was postponed by coronavirus precautions. The audit defense company TaxAudit reports that more than a third — 37 percent... Read more →


The tax agency has made it clear that the July 15 filing deadline is firm. But you still can get an extension to file, giving you until Oct. 15 to submit your Form 1040. Just ask for it by July 15. Plus, there other filing extension options (and forms on this Tax Form Tuesday!) for other tax circumstances. If you were hoping the Internal Revenue Service would push Tax Day 2020 beyond July 15, sorry. The agency says the already-delayed filing and tax paying deadline for 2019 returns is firm. When the IRS announced that decision late Monday afternoon (or... Read more →


Tax professionals have always played an important role in the lives of taxpayers. Their value has been underscored during coronavirus tax time, with the many new COVID-19 tax laws. (Yes, I'm looking at you Paycheck Protection Program.) But, as with just about every aspect of life, tax preparers aren't perfect. Specifically, some let their own tax tasks slide, according to a recently released Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) review. In reviewing Internal Revenue Service data, TIGTA uncovered 10,495 preparers who prepared more than 2 million 2016 tax year returns for clients, but who but did not file their... Read more →


The law that created coronavirus stimulus payments just took effect yesterday and we're weeks at best from getting actual money. But tax planners have been thinking about COVID-19 tax intricacies since the illness exploded in the middle of this tax season. These payments just add a new tax filing wrinkle, since what we put on our 2019 returns could be a key part in the relief amount's ultimate dollar calculation. Tony Nitti, a CPA and tax partner with RubinBrown in Aspen, Colorado, has a good preview of what our tax filing actions now could mean to our potential coronavirus payments... Read more →


The Senate also addresses this year's tax filing and payment deadline, as well as those for 2020 estimated tax payments, in its coronavirus relief bill. Keep reading for more on this latest change and check out this Q&A for elaboration from the IRS on some specific tax considerations under the new mid-July deadlines. 2019 tax year returns and any due payments now will be due on July 15, 2020, according to a Treasury Department announcement this morning. And yes, I drew that sloppy circle and scribbled the info on my own calendar. I should have had a cup of coffee... Read more →


UPDATE, March 24, 2020: As the coronavirus spread across the United States, the Internal Revenue Service and many associated tax programs have been adversely impacted. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites were among those affected, with most closing earlier this tax season. If COVID-19 conditions improve in some clinic areas before the new July 15 tax filing and payment deadline, some VITA and TCE operations may reopen. Meanwhile, some are offering phone help. Check with your local clinic (details on how to do that in the post below). Volunteer tax preparers help Florida... Read more →


Ah, March. The days get longer. The weather gets warmer. And we've got about six weeks before our tax returns are due. I know it feels like these 31 days of March is plenty of time to take care of all the tax tasks still on your to-do list this filing season. But it's easy to get distracted by the charms of early spring. To keep you at least partially on tax track, here are six March tax moves you can make. Most are easy, so you can soon be back to less taxing activities. 1. Contribute to your 2019... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers finally got their tax statements this week and promptly filed their returns. Millions more of us are still in the data gathering stage — Hey, it's not my fault! One of my 1099s still isn't here. — and will file soon. But all of us still are potential tax identity theft targets. Yes, even early filers. Crooks know these taxpayers generally are expecting refunds, so they tailor their deceptive approaches accordingly. Look out for IRS pretenders reaching out to you to say there's a problem with your filing. It can only be fixed, say these scammers who... Read more →


The shortest month of the year is a little longer in 2020. It's a Leap Year. What will we do with that extra day, Feb. 29? Of course, we're going to devote those additional 24 hours to our taxes. OK, maybe not. For many, this first full week of February is getting off to a slow part, thanks to the annual Super Bowl Sunday hangover. Others simply aren't ready to think taxes yet. It's not their fault. They, and that includes me, are still waiting for necessary tax-filing statements. And some eager and on-the-ball taxpayers don't want to think about... Read more →


What would you do with an extra $2,504? That's the average amount received by taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2019. Overall, the Internal Revenue Service says that across the country last year, 25 million taxpayers received more than $61 billion from this tax break for lower-and middle-income workers. Every tax year, however, folks who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit don't claim it. Many don't know about the tax break. Others don't realize that changes in their marital, parental or financial status means they now qualify. That's why for more than a decade, the... Read more →


Yes, I bought a ticket for the Jan. 29 Powerball. I always do when the jackpot of that and the other national lottery, Mega Millions, gets into the, well, mega million-dollar range. No, I didn't win. Again. Last night's Powerball payout, which had climbed to $396.9 million, is going to the lucky person who bought the winning ticket in Florida. Yes, I am contacting my Sunshine State friends and relatives! In addition to the one big winner, three other Powerball tickets worth $1 million each went to ticket holders in Ohio, Virginia and, again, Florida. If you're one of the... Read more →


Yes, that's a photo of my filing season mess, er, process, which explains why I never seem to be able to submit our joint Form 1040 early in the filing season. Getting your tax stuff together is just one of the reasons to not file early. The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting 2019 tax year returns next Monday, Jan. 27. A lot of folks already have filled out their 1040s and put them in the queue for IRS processing next week. Good for them. Their annual tax task is done. But there also are some reasons why you might... Read more →


IRS building by David Boeke via Flickr CC A lot of former Internal Revenue Service employees take the lessons they learned on that job and create second careers as tax advisers and preparers. That's a nice professional segue. Going from being part of the U.S. tax collection machine to helping folks pay Uncle Sam as little as legally possible. But it needs to be done after IRS employees leave their government job. One current IRS staffer in the agency's Andover, Massachusetts, service center was, to borrow a tax term, double dipping. Worse, federal prosecutors say she filed almost 600 false... Read more →


Taxpayers got their first experience with new filing forms with last year's 2018 returns. There are more changes to the 1040 for 2019 taxes, too, but the revisions actually could be helpful. Tax season is about to start in a less than two weeks. Jan. 27, in case you forgot. Many of us are already working on our 2019 returns, either by working with a tax preparer or filling out our forms on our own. Doing taxes has never been a fun job for most folks. But filing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made that job... Read more →