The Internal Revenue Service is preparing for its 2015 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums across the country this summer.
The three-day forums provide up to 18 Continuing Professional Education credits for enrolled agents, CPAs, certified financial planners, Annual Filing Season Program participants and other tax professionals. Attendees who pre-register two weeks before any of the five forums held throughout the country this summer will save $130 off the $360 price and will only pay $230.
The first is scheduled for July 7 to 9 in National Harbor, Md., near Washington, D.C. Next up is Denver from July 28 to 30, followed by San Diego from Aug. 11 to 13, Atlanta from Aug. 25 to 27, and Orlando from Sept. 1 to 3.
“The Tax Forums have been going on for over 20 years, and we’ve made a lot of good friends at the Tax Forum meetings with tax professionals as they’ve come by to talk to us at the information booth,” said Candice Cromling, director of the National Public Liaison Division of the IRS. “I’d like to think that we’ve provided a good service and we take their recommendations back with us. We do a survey at the Tax Forums every year and take their recommendations back about what topics they want to see in subsequent years. Tax Forums are a living, breathing thing.”
Hands-on workshops are among the most popular sessions, she noted, particularly the Form 990 workshop, which the IRS will again be offering this year, thanks to demand from participants. The IRS will also be offering seminars on the Affordable Care Act and how to represent a client during the appeals process.
More than 40 separate seminars and workshops are being offered at the forums. Attendees will also be able to download the slide presentations for the seminars they are interested in to print or to load onto their mobile device a few days before each location.
Members of several participating associations qualify for discounted enrollment costs if they meet the pre-registration deadlines: the American Bar Association, the American Institute of CPAs, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Society of Accountants and the National Society of Tax Professionals. Members who meet the early registration deadline pay $220 and can contact their association directly for more information.
“The forums are targeted toward tax professionals who are looking to earn continuing education,” said Carl Medley, Tax Forums branch chief of the IRS. “We provide a variety of seminars and other services at the forum. It also consists of an exhibit hall where some of the latest financial products and software are presented. There are also some workshops that vendors may participate in.”
In addition to the seminars, the forums feature a two-day expo with representatives from tax, financial and business communities offering their products, services and expertise designed with the tax professional in mind.
The forums have an average of approximately 70 vendors at each venue, according to Medley. The majority of them are software providers, but some are banks with financial products.
In a survey of 2014 attendees, the forums received an overall 95 percent satisfaction rate. This is the 25th year that the IRS has hosted the Tax Forums to help educate and interact with the tax professional community.
Tax professionals who have difficult, unresolved client cases can make appointments to meet face to face with IRS representatives at the IRS Case Resolution Program room. Between 2011 and 2014, the case resolution staff worked on nearly 3,000 cases with a resolution rate of more than 97 percent. Tax professionals need to bring a valid power of attorney for the case they wish to work with the IRS. The Case Resolution Program is very popular, the IRS noted, and tax businesses should bring only one client case per meeting with IRS representatives in the Case Resolution Program.
“Something that we had retired and then brought back because the people who attended the Tax Forums wanted it was the Case Resolution Program,” said Cromling. “The Taxpayer Advocate manages it, and we bring people from all parts of the IRS to work on cases. What we tell the tax professionals is bring your toughest case with you to the Tax Forum because then you’ll have an opportunity to make an appointment, sit down and actually talk to someone.”
Despite budget cuts in recent years, the Tax Forums have survived because they are mostly self-funded through registration fees and attendance fees. The IRS also partners with outside organizations like the AICPA and the American Bar Association in hosting the events. However, the forums haven’t taken place in recent years in New York City because of the high costs of the venues.
Some of the sessions will be available online for CPE credit. “Each year several of the programs are ultimately uploaded to the Nationwide Tax Forums online, and there individuals can review the programs,” said Medley. “Some of them may audit the programs or just review something that they saw at a face-to-face meeting, or if they missed them entirely they can take them for credit.”
For more information or to register online, visit www.irstaxforum.com.
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