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

Almost mid-stream

  • The Wandering Tax Pro: Where are you on this curve? Dept.: Blogger Robert Flach’s first “where the FAKAWI” of the season (“one month down, one and a half to go!”). He reports, as of February’s sunset, having “done, received or made arrangements with 55 percent of my client list – a bit ahead of last year.” Among other numbers: 84 returns notched (“same number as last year at this time”) with a three-per-day average that must double; receipt of tax prep income also up 39.5 percent from last year (“Fees have not increased but some returns cost more this year because of additional work”).
  • Our Taxing Times: An open letter to telemarketers who just don’t get what it’s like for tax pros this time of year (“Please understand that I am tired and swamped and the one reason I am addressing this issue now is that I want to post something to the blog …”). Seriously though, wouldn’t the 15th hour of your workday be a splendid time to think about how to insulate your home?
  • Bond Beebe’s It’s Taxing: Another cautionary look at the IRS “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2014, along with pre-emptive steps and a reminder that tax-related ID theft continues to grow – “Last year 1.6 million Americans were victims within the first half of the year.” Some people have too little to do in March.

 
Tips ‘n’ tricks

  • Taxes at About.com: A reminder about the deduction maze that sometimes turns state refunds taxable at the federal level.
  • John R. Dundon II EA blog: Do your clients, knees atremble out of fear of audits, know that every e-filed return “is subject to some form of matching protocol, inspection, examination or audit”? No? Make them feel better with Mr. Dundon’s accompanying advice: “Odds of attracting attention are slim unless you are a complete moron or … overtly fraudulent.” Historic note: Audits peaked in 1972 at one out of every 44 returns. As of 2012, the rate dropped to one in every 100.1, with about half zeroing in on the EITC.
  • TaxMama: Mama hears from a reader who “just figured out that if I have capital gains income, I am taxed by both the IRS and the state. If I live in an income tax-free state or overseas, should I sell my stocks before moving into a taxable state, like, say, New Jersey?”
  • Block Talk: As always, caution the unwary about having the government(s) withhold too much in taxes. A look at easy ways to “hack” (they said it, we didn’t) a W-4.
  • Liberty Tax: Baby, it’s deductible outside. Old Man Winter’s seemingly endless grip may offer some clients a chance to lower taxes by writing off property damage. 

 
The world outside your desk

  • Mauled Again: Brotherly love apparently doesn’t extend far into the middle class in Philadelphia, where those in the economic center fell from 59 percent in 1970 to 42 percent in 2010, according to the survey cited this week. “The study did not determine whether those who left the city’s middle class fell into the lower-income class, moved out of the city or died.” We know which one we’d pick for ourselves.
  • Tax Policy: Reform madness: A exam of U.S. Rep. Dave Camp’s tax-revamp plan that lowers rates and broadens the base. “Sounds like a win, but not far below the surface lurk a number of troubling aspects.” Funny how everything in Washington keeps mirroring the city’s professional football team.
  • Roth & Co.: Here’s what most courts say to most tax protesters: “We shall not painstakingly address petitioner’s assertions with somber reasoning and copious citation of precedent; to do so might suggest that these arguments have some colorable merit.” One taxpayer whose info showed up on a protester site and who marched against the Tax Court with righteousness in one hand and a copy of Cracking the Code: The Fascinating Truth About Taxation in America in the other, was recently deemed quite colorable.
  • Tax Girl: Question of the day: “Would you pay more for food if the money was supposedly earmarked to pay health care premiums for employees?” A look at who’s testing that idea. Also, examination of IRS huzzahs regarding faster refunds this season, especially considering the enigmatic “570” codes.
  • Due Diligence: In this week’s round-up: “Mortgage Servicers Ripe for Whistleblowers”; “Sales and Use Tax Audit Triggers” (from the former revenue commissioner of our home state!); “FBAR vs. FATCA: A Comparison of Filing Requirements”; and “Yes! The Government Really Does Pay Whistleblowers.”