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U.S. Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 1040 Individual Income Tax forms for the 2016 tax year are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. This week marks the last leg of Republicans' push to revamp the U.S. tax code, with both the House and Senate planning to vote by Wednesday on final legislation before sending it to President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Paper trial
“The paperwork associated with tax season is always my biggest problem,” said Brian Stoner, a CPA in Burbank, California. “I’m getting plenty of new clients because of my website and Google listing, as well as professional and client referrals [and] more and more requirements to document [Affordable Care Act] and other items always increases the paperwork. Still, trying to PDF and store online as much of this as possible, but I may have to get another admin person to keep up with it all.”
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Growth won’t wait
Ambition to grow a business doesn’t take a breather just because much of the Tax Code changed. “Our goal for this upcoming tax season is to double in size,” said Jake Alexander, an Enrolled Agent and owner of Alexander Financial, in Largo, Florida, “so I believe our biggest challenge will be remaining meticulously organized and coordinated.”
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(Real) help wanted
Finding quality help to handle the work flow is also the biggest challenge for John Dundon, an EA and president of Taxpayer Advocacy Services in Englewood, Colorado – that and the desired price tag. “Most everyone seems to think they are worth $100 an hour,” he said, “and very few people know how to work hard anymore.”
A printout of Congress's tax reform bill, "The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," alongside a stack of income tax regulations
The more things change
It only seems natural that clients might think the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act rewrote all the books for tax doings. But EA Laurie Ziegler at Sass Accounting in Saukville, Wisconsin, sees her biggest challenge as “educating my clients that, even though most individuals will no longer qualify for itemized deductions for federal purposes, if they were able to itemize for Wisconsin in the past, they’ll still be able to do so this year and going forward.”
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Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate
When one door closes …
“I’ve tried to prepare my clients as much as possible both by educating them and by doing withholding checkups – more than once, if changes merit it,” said New York EA Phyllis Jo Kubey. “With my current clients, I feel I’ve covered the withholding and tax planning for 2018 well. I expect that any new clients who haven’t done a paycheck or withholding checkup, we might have some nasty surprises with balance due returns. In such cases, if they cannot pay in full, they may need collection representation or at the very least advice on IRS payment options.”
A copy of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," a 1,097-page Republican tax bill, including 503 pages of legislative text.
A copy of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," a 1,097-page Republican tax bill, including 503 pages of legislative text, is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The bill is on the brink of passage and would vault Americas corporate tax rate into a much more competitive position globally and deliver temporary tax cuts to a broad range of people. Barring unforeseen surprises, the legislation is headed for President Trumps desk by midweek. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
What is in a name?
Even before it was law, the TCJA had picked up the nickname “The Accountants’ Full Employment Act.” The challenge from that? “Explaining to clients that their tax lives are not simpler, but more planning opportunities exist,” said Chris Hardy, an EA at Georgia-based Paramount Tax and Accounting. “And [that] they will need to pay for that extra service.”
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