Highlights of some of our favorite tax-related blogs from the past week.

Numbers to watch

  • Roth & Co.: How the latest IRS data show that  e-filing from paid tax professionals fell 0.3 percent from the same time in 2013 – following a drop of 1.8 percent in April 2013 and a 1.7 percent drop in April 2012. “By contrast, the IRS said, self-prepared e-filing of returns rose 4.5 percent through April 11 compared with last year, 3.1 percent in April 2013 and 5 percent in April 2012.” Seems sobering and maybe changes your mind about those clients who come in with shoeboxes.
  • Tax Break: The TurboTax blog: In these days of rampant direct deposit, good reminders for clients on reviewing their federal and state withholding (we vouch for this tip, as we know someone who lives in NYC and sometimes works in Connecticut and who recently learned that Albany and Hartford are two really different cities). Also, the endlessly thorny question of what to do with tax records and “4 Spring Cleaning Tips to Help You File Your Taxes Next Year.”
  • Rubin on Tax: Applicable federal rates for May 2014.
  • Tax Vox: Costly Enough to Make You Sick Dept.: A look at an article in the current Milken Institute Review calling for a value-added tax  to pay for government health-care costs. The director of the Tax Policy Center “argues that a dedicated – and fully transparent – health-care VAT would increase public support for efforts to slow the growth of medical costs.”
  • TaxProf Blog: Favorite headline of the week: “Et tu, Peter Orszag?” The subject covers (and we understand if you need a pointer here) the newly released data on dangers of drinking diet soda and how guzzlers are cutting back.
  • Tax Policy: Gift cards do more than bulk up your wallet: They can also teach us about tax policy. To wit, “If you purchase a gift card at a grocery store … you might be surprised to see that there is no sales tax charged on the gift card. If that’s true, then congratulations!” Nice to know Aunt Whatshername didn’t completely blow us off with that plastic from Pottery Barn.

 
After the party

  • Liberty Tax: You know as well as anybody how clients remember important tax info after April 15. A look at the ins and outs of that document hardest to put to rest: the amended return.
  • Tax, Society & Culture: A look at a new paper by Josh Blank on U.S. tax penalties, “of broad interest given the increasing role of penalties in corralling a global diaspora into the U.S. tax net.” Also included, and surely you wonder about this, a section entitled “Why Do People Pay Taxes?”

 
Long arm of the law

  • Mauled Again: You can’t swing a dead deduction in your home without hitting something affected by a tax law and Julian Block’s newly revised The Home Seller’s Guide to Tax Savings (and newly subtitled A Tax Guide for Buyers, Sellers, Foreclosures, Short Sales and More) offers a “plain-English description of the tax law as it applies to typical taxpayers engaging in typical residence transactions.”
  • Procedurally Taxing: Will Wonders Never Cease Dept.: How our legendary do-nothing Congress actually passed in recent years “a law … that makes complete sense and has the ability to change the game in collecting from taxpayers convicted of tax crimes: the amendment to IRC 6201(c)(4) in the Firearms Excise Tax Improvement Act of 2010.” Blogger notes that the impact of the law has already produced “a number of interesting cases.”
  • Taxable Talk: Naughty, naughty: How the IRS has resuscitated the practice of dunning taxpayers (with the dreaded CP14 notice) who filed before April 15 but didn’t pay taxes until that date.

 
Voices both small and important

  • Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders: That little voice in your head just won’t stop with the tack hammer: Where are we taking this firm? If we did this or that, would our people be upset? Are our competitors actively trying to steal our people or clients? You may find the hammering stops if you voice these concerns to your staffers and seek their input.
  • The Income Tax School: Time to reflect on tax season (and buy a new bottle of aspirin) and who better to help you than your clients? The import of answering not only quantifiable questions about new clients and referrals or marketing metrics but also the soft stuff from clients. How did your clients feel after leaving your office? If you really want to know (and for the good of your practice, let’s face it, you need to know), the best way to find out is client surveys.