Everybody has rituals that they perform in the tax season.

You can include IRS in that group. One of their rituals that I find interesting is the listing that IRS publishes every year of 12 of the current most notorious tax scams.

The first scam on the 2006 "Dirty Dozen" listing this year is where a taxpayer attaches to his or her return either a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a "corrected" Form 1099 that shows zero or little wages or other income. There is often an accompanying statement indicating the taxpayer is rebutting information submitted to the IRS by the payer.

Another scam on the rise is the increased use of tax-exempt organizations to improperly shield income or assets from taxation. The example that IRS gives is when a taxpayer moves assets or income to a tax-exempt supporting organization or donor-advised fund but maintains control over the assets or income, thereby obtaining a tax deduction without transferring a commensurate benefit to charity. Another example is an inflated deduction for a contribution of a historic facade easement to a tax-exempt conservation organization. IRS points out that local historic preservation laws had already prohibited alteration of the home's façade, making the contributed easement superfluous.

Another ritual back again this year is by H.R. Block. It offers a scratch-off card, with the most widely publicized prize being the "double the amount of your tax refund." What I find so fascinating is that the H.R. Block ads only focus on the possible prizes, not on the quality of the tax preparation.

Another ritual widespread this year is the most disturbing: Claims that software utilized by taxpayers via the Internet with deduction finders and other tools are all that a taxpayer will need. The distinct impression is given that a qualified human tax preparer is no longer needed and the software will prompt the taxpayer to insure the maximum tax saving and virtually guarantee a refund.

Existing traditions and the creation of new traditions are generally welcomed. But I think most busy CPA tax practitioners would agree with me that the above are exceptions.

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