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

Are there any volunteers?

  • The Income Tax School: A look at the spanking new (or at least re-shined as “voluntary”) IRS certification program. Also, “Do-It-Yourself Marketing Tips for Tax Offices.”
  • Procedurally Taxing: Another look at the voluntary education program for unlicensed return preparers. Also, “The Intersection of Preparer Penalty and Taxpayer Examinations,” highlighting “informal e-mail advice” from the IRS that considers the intersection of preparer penalties, an examination of the taxpayer’s liability and the statute of limitations to impose preparer penalties under Sections 6694 and 6695.
  • The Wandering Tax Pro: Don’t Hold Back Dept.: “The IRS’s newly announced voluntary ‘Annual Filing Season Program’ is one of the stupidest things I have ever come across,” writes blogger Robert Flach. “The program does not provide those who meet the testing and CPE requirements with an identifiable designation, with accompanying initials, like ‘Registered Tax Return Preparer’ (and ‘RTRP’) that the recipient can use in advertising and promotion to identify his/her competence and currency in 1040 preparation.” How ‘bout just a straight-up credential?

 
 

On the road again

  • Tax Vox: Lead Me to Your Door Dept.: A look at how Congress hit the road for a week-long recess and left the Highway Trust Fund nearly empty. “The Senate Finance Committee didn’t support Chairman Ron Wyden’s $9 billion tax-raising patch, in spite of Wyden’s willingness to drop some tax increases. He hopes to work out a compromise with House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp and both would like agreement in early July. About 112,000 construction projects and almost 700,000 jobs are on the line.” In the meanwhile, just start your summer getaway by dodging those potholes; elected officials will probably be flying. Also, a look at budget wrangling in various states.
  • Tax Policy: The Cornhusker State recently tried to pin down the goals of the state’s existing business tax-incentive programs and create a process to evaluate the programs. A look at what is shaking out in Nebraska on this matter and what other states (and their legislators) can learn from the process.
  • Taxes at About.com: How spouses in community-property states need to follow state law to determine how much income to include on each separate federal tax return. Also, deductions for community property.
  • Don’t Mess With Taxes: School is very far from out in Congress, which wants to consolidate the many education tax breaks with an eye to making that sheepskin less staggering for parents and students who have to pay for it (this contains our favorite quote of the week: “mindlessly-complicated tar pit.” Also, the Starbucks employee tuition bender as it relates to Arizona State University’s online classes.

 
Age-old questions

  • It’s Taxing: Breakdown of the Roth-vs.-traditional 401(k) debate, “with many employers now offering a Roth 401(k) component with their retirement benefits” and clients wondering which option works for their retirement. A look at the differences between Roth and traditional as well as Roth IRA and Roth 401(k) and some tax consequences.
  • Mauled Again: In an ancient age the gods did look down upon the earth and declare that taxes should be confusing, ripe and rich aplenty with half-truths and rumored regulation. Part one of a rundown of tax myths: How do tax myths start and why, once established, are they harder to eradicate than poison ivy?
  • Rubin on Tax: A percentage point every minute: “Learn Most of What You Need to Know About the New Streamlined Foreign Account 5% Penalty Disclosure Procedure in 5 Minutes” covers key points and requirements and the principal advantages and disadvantages of using the new procedure versus the regular OVDI program route.
  • Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders: Hard to Get Happy After That One Dept.: Who among your clients would truly miss you if you were, let’s say, gone? No, not dead (at least not yet) but abruptly retired? Gloomy is as gloomy does, but face the idea that today’s key player is tomorrow’s forgotten face. How to make a true impact in your profession –- and find the clients to help you get there.

Healthy, wealthy, wise

  • Liberty Tax blog: Most of your clients with access to an FSA for health-care expenses probably bit into the idea eagerly – and it is a good one, socking away pre-tax money to pay for the fiddly yet pricey co-pays and other bills of contemporary medicine. But how exactly do you use FSA money? This blogger can tell you for a solid reason: “When you have two boys that often play ‘Superman’ and try to beat all odds … well, the (medical) outcome usually isn’t the best. Let’s just say that my flexible spending account gets used quite often.” Also, getting started in small business and the IRS proclaims on defining written tax advice.
  • Tax Break: The TurboTax blog: For every taxpayer the ACA insures, another taxpayer seems to have a bunch of questions. These entries cover claiming deductions for health insurance and how to initially purchase insurance in the marketplaces.

 
Block those notices!

  • Tax, Society & Culture: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s “Super creditor” – at least according to attorney and taxpayer rep Bryan Skarlatos’s recent testimony to the House Ways & Means Committee about the IRS’s federal tax lien power. “Given the global nature of the U.S. tax jurisdiction over non-residents with U.S.-person status, the powers of the IRS to seize assets in satisfaction of tax debts is of increasing interest.” To say the least.
  • Our Taxing Times: E-filing a return comes with a lot of benefits beyond having to hunt down your stamps or stand in a Star Wars-length line at the P.O. For one, e-filing cuts chances of a nasty note from a taxation authority, like the blogger’s example of $14 grand in expenses disallowed by Wichita because of a lost paper schedule.