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

Help’s on the way

  • Fast Forward Academy blog: How a big -- and beloved, if you do it right -- part of the work of an Enrolled Agent is watching for client-audit landmines. Phrase of the week: “Comfort about survival of an IRS audit …”
  • TaxMama: Mama helps a reader who is frustrated (“Can you blame him?”) with an IRS notice that stated that if the individual’s income were to be higher than the one that had been proposed for a subsidy, the individual would face a tax liability for that difference. And we’re off and running with another IRS notice season!
  • Rubin on Tax: Everybody Has a Client Who Asks This Dept.: Can you travel the world and deduct your expenses? Yes, under certain conditions that the Tax Court and an appeals court found did not apply to Intel exec Michael Oros, who took a four-month sabbatical and visited South America, Asia, Africa and Australia with every intention of writing a book. Too bad he wasn’t a travel writer by official vocation.
  • Backtaxeshelp: It Isn’t Nagging When You’re Right Dept.: Top five reasons to file early. Reason 1: They’ll get their refunds sooner. Number 2: It’s one more client off your to-do list.
  • Taxes at About.com: 401(k) contribution limits for 2014 as set by the IRS, plus rate changes for this filing season, including the new self-employment tax of 15.3 percent, the new 0.9 percent Medicare surtax on earned income and the 3.8 percent surtax on net investment income. Also, “Reporting One Million Dollars of Income is a One-Time Event Half the Time.” Sometimes not even half.
  • Block Talk: Reminders to shoot along to clients, including “Schedule a Time to Prepare Your Taxes”, “Gather Your Documentation”, “Check for New Tax Rules” and add your own reminder here.
  • Our Taxing Times: “It’s always amazed me,” says blogger Trish McIntire, “how many people walk into my office and hand me their W-2s because I was the first open office they found.” Let them know the points of this entry, “Choosing A Tax Pro,” including how clients need to assess what’s needed in a preparer, complexity of the return, affordability of fees and other factors.

Pontification on the Potomac

  • Mauled Again: Don’t sling around blame for the complex Tax Code like Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who blames the Obama administration. Now we all have to sit here and try to guess which political party Toomey belongs to.
  • A Taxing Matter: The debate continues to rage, or at least reach new volumes. How minimum wage bumps would “boost (the) economy and lift all boats.”
  • Tax Policy: A look at the recent deadline for submitting formal comments to the Senate Finance Committee in response to tax reform staff discussion drafts -- which, in this blog’s view, generally “go in the wrong direction … damage economic growth, hurt investment and, in many instances, violate the principles of sound tax policy: simplicity, transparency, neutrality and stability.”

Business as unusual

  • Tax Maven: “Partnerships can grant profits interests or capital interests for services. Do you know the difference? Do you understand the tax consequences of each? Not sure?” This blog can help.
  • John R. Dundon II EA blog: In case you couldn’t make it, here’s a summary of the IRS’s most recent stakeholder liaison get-together, packed with procedural information and status updates from line managers and group leaders of the various IRS operational functions, including Collections, Examinations, Appeals, Tax Court and others. “A worthy read for any practitioner navigating the seemingly troubled waters of IRS operations. Enjoy!”
  • Liberty Tax blog: Are young taxpayers any special challenge for preparers? Some say yes and some say no, and here’s a reminder of how to prep and advise your young-adults clients before beginning tax prep.
  • Due Diligence: In this week’s roundup: “New Profits for Big Banks? -- Great News for Whistleblowers”; “Think Bank Secrecy Still Exists? Read This!” (a FBAR lawyer post); “Nebraska Woman Gets 5 Years Prison For Tax Evasion”; “Court Overturns $11 Million Stockbroker Fraud Arbitration Award”; “Italy Newest Country to Sign FATCA Accord”; and “Real Life ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Broker Gets the Boot.”
  • Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders: Tips from this year’s Winning Is Everything conference in Vegas. The best firm leaders are proactive, flexible, adaptive and collaborative by nature; have regained the trust of their clients and the public at large; have successfully bridged the profession’s “leadership gap” by focusing on succession planning, personal growth, and generational cooperation; and have created the profession’s premier global industry standards and best practices, among other qualities.
  • The Missouri Tax Guy: A refresher on businesses methods for recording financial transactions: purchases, sales, payments and receipts. The daily bookkeeping has multiple entry systems, one of the most popular being the double-entry bookkeeping system.
  • Tax Blawg: A look at the recent Quality Stores employment tax refund case before the Supreme Court, including a link to an explanation about the issue at stake and how “the possibility of a taxpayer victory means that employers should start thinking about the need to satisfy an important prerequisite to qualify their claims for refund.”

Over there

  • Tax Girl: How the U.K. will likely reverse its idea on taxing bitcoins and will the U.S. follow suit? Also, the kickoff of IRS Free File, and “Another Legal Threat to Obamacare Shot Down in Federal Court.”
  • Tax, Society & Culture: Ireland, case in point of what happens when an economy gorges “on a panoply of tax reforms meant to lure in multinationals” then wanders the alleys of global opinion “starved under austerity under financial crisis.” A look at Eire’s mirror economies: one dominated by American high-tech companies and the other by the majority of Irish workers, like their counterparts everywhere, trying to make a living.