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

Even breaks

  • Backtaxeshelp: There’s a taxpayer born every minute, and recently more than 20,000 of them have fallen victim to post-season tax scams to the tune of more than $1 million in losses. Can’t say it enough: The IRS never contacts taxpayers by phone.
  • Taxable Talk: If someone promises a client ironclad audit defense, make sure the return address isn’t a prison. A look at how Oryan Management’s “simple, turn-key method” of securing tax credits while guaranteeing taxpayers’ protection simply resulted in keys being turned in ClubFed.

 
Never stop learning

  • John R. Dundon II EA: One preparer’s journey (guided by his wife) into asset classes related to the growing world of biomass refineries (“You go, girl”). Valuation in this area, the blogger has learned, “is all about the asset list, depreciation schedule, useful life, salvage value and the significance of having the assets properly categorized to clean up the tax returns. It is a mess. From my warped perspective, there is no better way to understand the business end of a refinery then to start with assets.”
  • H&R Block blog: Lesson for us all: ABCs of what does and doesn’t qualify for claiming the AOC and the Lifetime Learning Credit and how to find out if a given school or degree gets a passing grade. Also, are exam fees deductible?
  • Tax Vox: Can’t put it much clearer than this. “Appreciation for depreciation is really, really expensive. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the House Ways and Means Committee easily approved permanent restoration of bonus depreciation for capital investment … The Committee’s party-line vote would make permanent a measure to let companies write off more than half the cost of investments in the same year they are made. The break, which had expired at the end of 2013, has a ten-year price tag of $263 billion.” Overall economic growth? Not so much. Also, how far away are taxes on digital goods?
  • Roth & Co.: True, the IRS now pooh-poohs employers’ giving workers tax-free subsidies to buy health insurance in the online public marketplaces created by Obamacare. Nothing, however, and not surprisingly, checks employers from canceling company insurance plans and leaving workers to buy individual policies sold through the exchanges. Shackling health insurance to one’s employment may in fact be an idea now in the dust, but it’s a shame the little guy has to pick up the tab for the transition.

 
Order, order

  • Rubin on Tax: We don’t often see phrases like “Sword of Damocles” in tax blogs, but said sharpie now hangs over FBAR reporting violators in the wake of a recent verdict in the Southern District of Florida. We’re talking at least a 27.5 perceent penalty, with multi-years’ violations punishable with fines in the low three-figure percentages. To the point, indeed.
  • It’s Taxing: How a January Tax Court ruling changed long-standing IRS rules defining when and how often clients can roll over money tax-free from one IRA to another. 
  • Due Diligence: In this week’s round up: “Justice Dept. Casts Wide Net for Unreported Offshore Accounts”; “Former UBS Banker Gets Walk in Offshore Tax Evasion Case”; and “SwissPartners Insurance – Another Tax Scam Exposed.”
  • Tax Girl: The Odds Were Against Him Dept.: Las Vegas, the IRS and a guy who thought he could quick-deal homebuyer credits. Also, the Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments on whether states can tax money that clients earn in other states, and how threatening to kill an IRS agent almost never works.

 
Tag the toe already

  • The Wandering Tax Pro: The real end of the season (“After four months of doing not much else, I am tired of 1040s…”) The leftover papers, the late forms, the zombie-like clients who can’t seem to sleepwalk through your office door with all their forms short of July 4.
  • Tax Break: The TurboTax blog: Five tips for clients to boost next year’s refunds. Go solar. Get educated. Deduct job-hunting expenses. Invest in your future. Like they’ll remember to thank you.