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

And you’re off

  • Don’t Mess With Taxes: Just file it, baby. Who’s first out of the gate, who’s sticking with paper and who’s already hit Return to begin this season’s expected avalanche of more than 148 million filings – some of which won’t actually come across your desk.
  • The Income Tax School blog: It’s quarter to three in the morning. Do you know where your clients’ files are? A look at when, why and how to back up, inspired by everything from coffee on the hard drive to the apparently convenient and safe idea of keeping others’ Social Security numbers on some server somewhere.
  • Taxable Talk: A continuing look at the possible elimination of preparers’ ability to request transcripts through the Practitioner Priority Service. Like most, the blogger remains in limbo regarding the future of this useful tool and the apparent IRS answer: “a new ‘Get Transcript’ program that has at least one tax attorney worried that it will be yet another godsend for identity thieves.” The blogger’s Transcript test drive and impressions.
  • TaxMama: Mama helps Wayne, who received an IRS notice that his 2011 return omitted a 401(k) withdrawal and that he had to pony up a penalty. Is that penalty now deductible?
  • Tax Maven: Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You Dept.: The “Top 10 Tax Practice Areas Not to Dabble In.” Though practice expansion may be driven from your mind by the coming weeks, you will someday come up for air and want to add new work niches (FBAR, anyone?). What to ponder before you ink that temping new money-making client.
  • The Wandering Tax Pro: With all appropriate apologies to long-ago English composer Frederic Austin: “The Twelve Days of Tax Season,” including clients carrying in closing statements, W-2s and mortgage documentation. Fa la la la la.

Gimme an E, gimme an I, gimme a T …

  • Tax Break: The TurboTax blog: EITC Awareness Day already? Just so you can pass it on to clients, the EITC does more than pop up in our Tax Fraud Blotter a lot. It also helps millions of Americans escape poverty with a credit worth up to $6,044. Common EITC questions answered.
  • Roth & Co.: EITC Awareness Day “party edition” targeting “those of you not already taking the day off to observe it.” Let the festivities begin with a “true story of EITC awareness” regarding a preparer who falsified income figures to net clients a better shot at the credit. “Her awareness ended up earning a two-year prison sentence after she pleaded guilty to tax charges (and) her keen level of awareness isn’t uncommon.” So says this blogger – and so agrees a recent Treasury Inspector General analysis showing that as many as a fourth of the $13 billion in EITC money issued annually is claimed “in error.”
  • Tax Vox: How the EITC brought 10.1 million U.S. families out of poverty in 2012 and how workers with low incomes can receive up to an additional 40 cents for every dollar they earn; in his State of Union the president himself called for expanding the EITC for childless workers. Also a look at the necessary family structure and the “notable variation” in the take up of the EITC in various localities.

Media savvy

  • Mauled Again: Anybody remember Judge Wapner? “The People’s Court Meets Tax Record-Keeping” looks at a recent airing of what must be one of the first reality shows, in which an auto body shop – which supposedly makes no money – didn’t keep records of transactions back just two years.
  • TaxProf Blog: Newsweek’s take on high-level whistle-blowers and their growing place in “the vastly rich world of offshore tax evasion.” Neat note too on the tax gap, or what U.S. corporations underpay in federal income tax.

Indiana on your mind

  • Tax Policy: Huzza for Hoosiers: The Indiana House and Senate has “overwhelmingly” greenlighted bills to reform the state’s business personal property tax, a tax on business equipment, machinery and supplies. The nuts, bolts, plusses and minuses (mostly plusses) of what seems a smart and needed bit of local legislation.

Top dog

  • Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders: Keeping it when you’ve made it. Baring the bones of your fingers to make the top of bankers’ and attorneys’ go-to list only means you have to continue to work – maybe harder – to keep that prized position. Here’s what to know.