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

Child’s play

  • John R. Dundon II EA blog: What’s a ‘qualifying relative’ for tax purposes? Believe it or not, it is, among other things, that screaming little creature who won’t let you watch “American Idol” in peace. Seriously, “wading through the convolution required to identify specifically who qualifies as a relative for income tax reporting purposes oftentimes can be difficult,” writes Dundon, who then refers to “mixed company,” “hazard pay” and “cockles.” Client quote of the week: “Today a husband/wife came in and the husband asked point-blank whether ‘that mouth being fed across the table every night is a qualifying relative’ for federal tax purposes.” Yes, and we’re sure that relative will come back to thank his dad about 30 years from now.
  • TaxMama: Nuances of education and taxes. Mama helps Mel “with this reasonable question. ‘I have a client who sends their five-year-old to a private Christian school for pre-K. Can this be deductible like day care? Is private school deductible at all in the upper grades?’”
  • Our Taxing Times: Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be Dept.: Preventing IRS notices, particularly in terms of talking to your young ones about what to avoid long, long before they file their first tax return. Also, “Please understand that just because they are your kids and live in your house that you might not get to claim them as a dependent. And if they can be claimed as your dependent, you want to make sure that they understand that they can’t claim themselves.”
  • Mauled Again: A sobering scenario of declaring deductions and credits for children removed from a home. Specifically, a 2006 California case in which parents slammed into an IRS denial when they tried to claim dependency exemptions and child tax credits after the state removed four children.

 
Answer, man

  • Backtaxeshelp: Remind clients yet one more time of the benefits of maxing retirement contributions, including the tax benefits that you live and breathe, but that clients may still not know.
  • Taxes at About.com: A trove of client questions answered, including such subjects as personal exemptions, filing statuses and the ever-popular “Where the [blank] is my refund?” No, you likely don’t know, but remember you can explain the (many, this year) reasons their money might be hung up in Washington.
  • Tax Girl: Is your client filing early with eyes aglow at the prospect of an early refund? Here’s two entries as to why that glow may fade. Also, when tax forms are absolutely anywhere but in the mail.

 
Practice, practice, practice

  • Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders: As the blizzard intensifies with the nearing of tax day, remember to cross such Ts as your out-of-office e-mail message and voicemail greeting. Your client who’s now fearing an audit, remember, probably doesn’t care that you won’t return to the office until Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.
  • Liberty Tax blog: Free tax prep calendar for upcoming commemorative weeks, including those for Military/Vets Appreciation (Feb. 17-23), Teacher Appreciation (Feb. 4-March 2) and Police and Firefighter Appreciation (March 3-9). Consider a promotion for your own practice?
  • Clientwhys blog: It’s Not Just a Traffic Ticket Dept.: The latest tip and trick to bolster appearance of your site in search engines is the citation. These are instances of your name, address and phone number being mentioned on other sites such as major directories (Yahoo Local, Yelp) and industry-specific directories (accounting societies, region-specific sites such as Patch.com, mention of your name by a local blogger). How to improve your citations, including data accuracy. Note that 40 percent of addresses and contact information is wrong on most directories.

 
All the news

  • Tax Policy: How former NFL center Jeff Saturday got bull-rushed by (the city of) Cleveland over an appeal of an income tax assessment. Seems the home of the Browns taxed Saturday for a game even though he was injured and did not travel to Ohio but remained in Indianapolis for rehabilitation. More unknown than the rules for who kicks off after a safety, these regs are known as jock taxes.
  • Block Talk: A look at the mushrooming buying power of the Hispanic community, which grew last year to $1.2 trillion. Even as tax prep works to reach deeper than ever into the Hispanic population, Yoly Mason of Cuponeando.net predicts 2014 will be yet another big year for this purchasing segment and here’s what clients in that segment need to think about.
  • Due Diligence: In this week’s round up: “Details Emerge About Proposed Barbados FATCA Agreement”; “New FATCA Risk – Inadvertent Public Disclosures?”; and “It’s Official – Expatriations in 2013 Set New Record” (a FATCA post).
  • Tax, Society & Culture: A look at the long-expected agreement on FATCA between Canada and the U.S. The U.S. Treasury has added Canada to the list of jurisdictions deemed to have an agreement in effect. More analysis to come.