In the blogs: Feelin’ risky

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Year-end tips; why DIY; tolls, fees and taxes; and other highlights from our favorite tax bloggers.

Tick tock tax

  • Taxable Talk (http://www.taxabletalk.com/): That time of year already? Nominations now due for the Tax Offender of the Year.
  • Sagenext (https://www.thesagenext.com/blog): Happy holidays, clients! Now hit the taxes, starting with basic planning, health saving accounts and insurance (including Medicare) and company contributions.
  • Summing It Up (http://blog.freedmaxick.com/summing-it-up): More late-year planning moves.
  • Don’t Mess With Taxes (http://dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com/): What to remind clients who moved this year about filling in tax authorities about the change of address.
  • Taxbuzz (https://www.taxbuzz.com/blog): ‘Twas the Night Before the Audit Dept.: Income taxes are befuddling enough to preparers and clients, let alone to children. Still, it may be a good idea to sit down and have that discussion, especially if a dependent is earning income from a job or as a result of dividend or investment income.

Feelin’ risky

  • National Taxpayer Advocate (https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/about/nta-blog): How an IRS publication error may have caused certain MFSs to fail to file required returns.
  • Canopy (https://www.canopytax.com/blog) Taxpayers are more than twice as likely to use DIY software than use an accountant to file. Why?
  • Intuit ProConnect (http://taxprocenter.proconnect.intuit.com/): Accountants (at least those who aren’t in our blotter) are usually trained to be risk-averse. But technological and demographic shifts mean tax pros may need a more expansive, risk-taking mindset, what one psychologist calls “a growth mindset.”
  • Tax Foundation (https://taxfoundation.org/blog): German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has submitted plans for a financial transaction tax to ministers from nine other EU member states (Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain). Scholz proposes an FTT at a rate of 0.2 percent on the transaction value of purchases of shares in domestic companies valued at more than $1.11 billion in U.S. terms. Arising from debates triggered by the last recession, the tax is intended to make financial markets more stable by discouraging excessive risk-taking and, of course, to raise revenue.
  • The Income Tax School (http://www.theincometaxschool.com/blog/): Support for Windows 7 evaporates on Jan. 14. Good time to move to the cloud?

On the case

  • Federal Tax Crimes (http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.com/): In United States v. Agrawal, the Tax Court granted summary judgment to the government on its complaint for judgment on four years of non-willful FBAR penalty at $10,000 per penalty. The only defense to the non-willful penalty was reasonable cause; testimony quoted in the opinion is interesting and shows that one can be awful lucky sometimes to avoid the willful penalty.
  • Mauled Again (http://mauledagain.blogspot.com/): Though most people would consider a toll to be a fee, some call it a tax. Sometimes the definition doesn’t matter and in other instances it matters much. Take American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. Alviti, after Rhode Island enacted a bridge toll and the plaintiffs, mostly trucking companies and trucking associations, sued to enjoin implementation of the toll and argued that it violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
  • Procedurally Taxing (https://procedurallytaxing.com): As a result of Myers v. Commissioner, the Tax Court has been put in a bit of a quandary as to what to do with late-filed whistleblower award cases (whether or not the petitioners therein have any argument for equitable tolling). Five whistleblower cases are pending in which the IRS has moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction for being late filed.

Changes upon changes

  • Tax Girl (https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/): Negotiations slog on, but it looks like the fiscal year 2020 spending bill will include permanent repeal of up to three Obamacare taxes: the so-called “Cadillac” tax on health insurance benefits, an excise tax on medical devices and the Health Insurance Tax.
  • Sikich (https://www.sikich.com/insights/): A look at recent changes in borrower defense regarding student loans. Until 2015, there were a minimal number of claims to discharge loans annually — then came the collapse of Corinthian College and numerous smaller schools.
  • Avalara (https://www.avalara.com/us/en/index.html): Michigan has refined its nexus rules and makes a good study of when a remote seller must collect and remit sales tax or use tax.
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