[IMGCAP(1)]It’s just not in the nature of most accountants to make hassle calls to taxpayer clients who are late coming in to get their returns prepared and filed.

They feel it’s a little “pushy” to assume someone who has used their services before wants to rely on them again. Reluctantly, they might have a helper call the tardy clients during the week before the filing deadline, but if the calls generate no response, most don’t follow through.  

Of course, CPA advisers will tell them that scheduling preparation times ahead of the deadline is part of doing business. It’s the way to build a successful practice and manage your tax season time so there’s no last-minute squeeze. A recent Tax Court case illustrates the service that preparers can do for their clients by prodding them to come in ahead of the tax-filing deadline.

In Poppe v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2015-205, the court held taxpayer William Poppe was not entitled to use the mark-to-market accounting method under section 475(f) of the Tax Code for the 2007 tax year to report his securities and trading activity on the basis of an election he purportedly made in 2003.

In addition, the court examined whether Poppe was liable for additions to tax under sections 6651(a)(1) and (2) and 6654 where he claimed he failed to file his federal income tax returns on a timely basis because he suffered from an autism spectrum disorder known as Asperger’s syndrome.

The amount of the addition to tax for failure to pay on a timely basis equals 0.5 percent for each complete or partial month a taxpayer fails to pay the tax, not to exceed 25 percent in the aggregate.

A witness for Poppe, a licensed psychologist, testified that the condition he suffered from was a chronic, pervasive, lifelong neurological disorder that manifests itself in impairment of some executive function, poor social cognition, and high dependence on routines. She also said that Poppe did not fully appreciate the seriousness of his failure to file his tax returns. The court said that since she was not treating him during the years at issue and is not a medical doctor, it would give her testimony minimal weight.

“We are sympathetic to petitioner’s plight,” the court stated. “We cannot find, however, under these circumstances that petitioner’s mental condition prevented him from managing his business affairs. Thus, petitioner’s failure to file the 2007 tax return timely and pay any taxes due on said return was not due to reasonable cause. Petitioner is liable for additions to tax under section 6651(a)(1) and (2).”

The court language does not mention whether Poppe used the services of an accountant, who might have called to make sure his client's return was filed on time.

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