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

Round one

  • Don’t Mess With Taxes: The IRS has processed more than 26.9 million returns and already mailed refunds to more than 19.4 million taxpayers, the average refund hitting $3,317 – 4.6 percent larger than the 2013 early season average refund amount. You won’t be hearing from those clients for a while.
  • Block Talk: Rotate the refund bay door, please, Hal: Another look at early-season numbers from the IRS, along with another reminder that the service won’t be home during Presidents’ Day week, “chiefly, representatives will not give you information on the status of your return if it has not been more than 21 days since it was received. And oh yes, what’s “Code 1121” on Where’s My Refund?
  • Tax Girl: Yet another look at the opening bell from the IRS perspective, “despite dire warnings that tax refund delays could happen if Congress didn’t address the debt ceiling crisis (the same worries we had last year).” Also, “The IRS, the Refund Process and That Pesky 1121 Code.”
  • The Income Tax School: Any preparer ever really succeed this time of year in shoehorning “tax homework” between getting home from work, making (see “microwaving”) dinner and spending time with the family? How to preserve those evaporating 2014 work resolutions.

 
Clients say the darnedest things

  • Liberty Tax: Laundry list of this year’s deductions for your clients, from health insurance premiums and child care expenses and others.
  • Tax Break: The TurboTax blog: Infographic on four ways filing early can pay off big for a client. For the sake of your spring let’s hope they listen.
  • Tax Maven: Been There Done That Dept.: “Your client Marge asks ‘What’s my marginal tax rate?’ It turns out Marge is making some significant financial decisions.” How Marge’s question is basic and she can’t be faulted for wanting to know and “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could give a reasoned, succinct reply?” If you wanted to do that you probably wouldn’t have gone into tax prep.
  • Irina N. Goldberg: The ins and outs of getting a Hardship Status excuse for not setting up an installment agreement to pay taxes, including the service’s Currently Non-Collectible (CNC) category and similar breaks available in California.
  • Rubin on Tax: Do asset-protection trusts deliver all they guarantee?
  • Fast Forward Academy: Accountants still frequently face clients’ requests for creating S corporations despite IRS court victories challenging such tax-reduction techniques. Here’s what to know.

 

In the news

  • Taxable Talk: Favorite opening of the week: “Here’s a scheme for you…” How all refundable tax credits attract those who think they’ll never be nabbed targeting the impoverished individuals to inflate refunds and pocket ill-gotten cash, and a look at one recent such caper in Dallas.
  • Due Diligence: In this week’s round up: “TARP Fraud or Bad Luck?”, FATCA Next Gen,” “FHFA Remains Critical of Mortgage Industry” (a whistleblower post), “FATCA Is Old News … Here Comes GATCA,” “IRS and the Power to Detain – Writ Ne Exeat Republica” and “Olympic Medals Taxable? The Answer Might Surprise You!”
  • Tax Vox: All that glitters: Another detailed look at the recent back-and-forth over whether our Sochi gold medalists should be taxed on their winnings. Hard to imagine this is the most pressing tax question for our nation right now, but nonetheless an interesting argument.
  • Taxing Subjects: The IRS claims Michael Jackson’s estate “severely undervalued” his image and music catalog and maintains that the late luminary’s estate owes an extra $505 million in taxes, plus $197 million in penalties. Will the estate try to beat it? Should be a thriller. We’ll stop now.

 

New to us

  • Bond Beebe’s It’s Taxing: How estate tax has a “permanent” playing field now that federal legislation “exists in such a way that the rules will remain consistent.” A look at the recent history of the estate tax’s grey areas because of expiring Bush-era tax rules, followed by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and its estate and gift-transfer tax laws. “A federally-taxable estate is one above the current exemption where the decedent’s gross assets exceed allowable deductions,” among other details.