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

Time to reflect

  • H&R Block blog: In the wake of Mother’s Day, a look at the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which mandates that employers provide 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to mothers of newborns, and how clients need to put their finances in order to take best financial advantage of this perk.
  • Taxes at About.com: Now that the season’s cooled, consider sitting down with clients and helping them adjust their withholding to avoid nasty surprises in early 2015. Also, tips for starting a business, from the proper organizational structure to the best tax software and deductions for new businesses.
  • TaxMama: Mama helps a disabled reader who withdrew money from his retirement plan and now wants to avoid paying taxes on this money.

Red flags

  • Tax Break: The TurboTax blog: Think Good Thoughts Dept.: The hard numbers – and long odds – regarding an average taxpayer getting audited by the IRS. “When you combine the small chance of actually being audited with being accurate and honest on your tax return, your anxiety about being audited should begin to diminish.” Indeed, just keep telling yourself, “It can’t happen here.”
  • Due Diligence: In this week’s roundup: “ ‘Billionaire Justice’ Feds Demand Prison in High Profile FBAR Case”; “Swiss Banker Pleads Guilty in U.S. Tax Evasion Case”; “IRS and Nova Scotia Subpoenas”; and “Eric Holder – Empty Promises?”
  • Tax Girl: A fresh timeline of the IRS tax-exempt organization scandal, complete with Lois Lerner’s contempt-of-Congress problem and new IRS filing deadlines for tax exempts. Also, are you showing any clients one or more of the “11 Reasons Your Tax Pro Wants to Call It Off” and how many ways does Spider-Man swing when it comes to moviemakers’ taxes?
  • Taxable Talk: How new IRS rules for tax professionals regarding e-filing should make paper-filed returns mushroom (for example, the blogger expects to go paper since running credit checks to ID clients seems illegal under his state law). Then there is the biggest problem with most new rules designed to fight crime: “The scamsters will ignore them.”

Globetrotting

  • John R. Dundon II EA: It’s a small world after all: “As we increasingly become more connected on this planet, U.S. taxpayers are compelled more than ever before to hold investments in multiple countries.” Da, ja and si, and here’s a reminder about Form 5471 and a summary of how this blogger has fared when handling clients’ international tax matters.
  • Rubin on Tax: After our favorite blog headline of the week containing the word “heck” comes a look at how U.S. persons with an interest in a non-U.S. account must annually file a FinCEN Form 114 (Report of FBAR) if the aggregate maximum values of the foreign financial accounts top $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. Warning: Mere signature authority over a foreign account can also trigger reporting requirements, with penalties for non-filing “quite substantial.”
  • It’s Taxing: “If you placed bets on this past weekend’s Kentucky Derby, you are either celebrating your good fortune or kicking yourself for making the wrong bet. Either way, as with most things in life, there are tax implications.” Our additional question: Are medical costs deductible if we punch the wall after our filly failed to show?

Fools on the Hill

  • Don’t Mess With Taxes: Smithers, release the hounds: How the Senate Finance Committee, via a provision in its tax extenders bill recently approved, seeks to once again unleash private bill collectors on delinquent taxpayers.
  • Tax Vox: Among issues covered: How most people do not move for cheaper taxes, the Senate’s imminent tackling of the research credit and whether Washington State can levy a sales tax on medical marijuana when the drug’s use is illegal under federal law.

Educationmatters

  • TaxProf: My Wallet’s Too Small for My Fifties and My Degree Dept.: Whirlwind, big-budget tours of colleges and other higher schools “for the 1%.” To wit, tours start at $43,500 – about twice the average cost per year at most in-state public colleges – though different sizes of private jets change the cost. Rah rah.
  • Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders: Who carries the bigger load: the mentor or the mentee? Easy – the one who stands to gain more.
  • Our Taxing Times: And who bears this heavier load: the preparer or the taxpayer? Related: the new IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System service to help businesses that use a payroll service file their payroll.