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

Withhold me close

  • Our Taxing Times: Helping them tax plan for the rest of this year, starting with the big little Form W-4. How to explain its importance clearly.
  • TurboTax blog: More on reminding clients how revisiting the little form can help clear up some big recurring tax problems.
  • Taxes at About.com: What to tell clients about the best way to set up their small business.
  • Taxjar: In this week’s report, “Is Shipping Taxable in Washington?” and why you can’t file your sales tax any ol’ time you want.
  • Don’t Mess with Taxes: What’s the matter with kids today? Little, at least in terms of tax breaks and credits, if you know where to look.

Trapdoors

  • Bond Beebe’s It’s Taxing: Back door or trapdoor? The downsides of converting contributions to a traditional IRA to a Roth – often hidden until too late.
  • John R. Dundon II EA: When does the pitch end and the fun begin? The devil’s in the details regarding M&E expense.
  • The Wandering Tax Pro: What your client can expect when he or she writes to the IRS, in 45-day chunks.
  • Burbank CPA Tax Musings: Tax troubles for the self-employed have jumped to legend in recent decades. Here’s what such a client can do to avoid penalties for late taxes – plus other eye-opening little minuses that come with getting to sleep until 11.

Changes

  • Rubin on Tax: Proposed “steps in the right direction” for modernizing FIRPTA by expanding exemptions for foreign pension funds and interest-holders in REITs.
  • The Tax Times: More Swiss banks are striking deals with the DOJ than there are holes in your sandwich cheese. The latest: Vadian Bank AG, of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
  • Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders: How can you move your practice ahead this year? Start by asking your staff.

To a boil

  • Procedurally Taxing: We all know what we think and what we think we should think about the EITC and fraud. “Reading quotes or headlines about fraud in EITC can make the blood boil, especially if you do not believe the government generally should play a role in redistributing wealth or if you think that Congress should not task the IRS with administering transfer programs.” A look at Cowan v Commissioner, illustrating the nuanced issues relating to erroneous claims of the EITC and other family-status benefit provisions.
  • Taxable Talk: Why is the IRS crying budget woes when the agency’s own house is in such disorder? A laundry list of troubles, including taxpayers’ and preparers’ frustration.
  • Tax Girl: What blogger Kelly Phillips Erb learned about taxes from her mom. We especially like No. 3, “Neatness Counts.” This kind of piece gets all of us thinking about our inherited homespun strength.  From our own mom, for instance, we learned that you can fight the tax man, or at least lowball him: Once she got a call from the State of Maine claiming that she hadn’t filed a return that year. She claimed she had. The state man asked if she could send a photocopy. “No, that costs a dime!” she said, and hung up.

Back to square one

  • Tax Vox: The Illinois Supreme Court’s recent nixing of the state’s proposed pension overhaul that would have limited COLAs for public employees, raised the retirement age for some and capped pensions for those with highest salaries. The move may be at odds with the Illinois constitution. “This sends Illinois back to square one, with a budget crisis, an underfunded pension, and no plan.” Also, Colorado marijuana retailers pay the piper, Kansas lawmakers consider a state sales tax hike and Nevada ponders raising the cigarette tax.
  • Mauled Again: Up in Michigan, Down in Potholes: How Great Lake State voters jettisoned a proposal to fund road repairs with an increase in the sales tax and replacement of a sales tax on fuel with an increased fuel tax. “So Michigan returns to the drawing board, while its drivers continue their demolition derby encounter with some of the worst roads and bridges in the country.” 
  • Tax Policy: Seemed like a solid idea at the time: A 2009 law included a large increase in federal excise taxes on tobacco to pay for the cost of children's health insurance. Revenues are now declining as the need remains constant. Notes blogger Alan Cole, “A real-life illustration of one of the best-known aphorisms of tax policy: If you tax something, you get less of it.”

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