Three Rules for Asking Great Tax Return Questions
Practice Builder

Three Rules for Asking Great Tax Return Questions

Asking clients great questions is central to ruthlessly efficient workflow (REW) management. Great client questions can save hundreds of hours of time during tax season and prevent projects from falling behind schedule. Here is an example of questions done badly. ... Frank Stitely, CPA

Lessons Learned From the 2018 Tax Season
Feature Article

Lessons Learned From the 2018 Tax Season

Now that the extended deadlines have passed for 2018 returns, we can take a moment to reflect on the lessons learned throughout a challenging year. Below we have put together five major takeaways we have come across to aid in planning for the 2019 tax year and beyond. To this end, please kee... Megan Bierwirth, CPA

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: New Tax Forms for 2019
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It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: New Tax Forms for 2019

Form 1040 changed significantly for the 2018 tax season. It is changing again for the 2019 tax year. It appears that the 2017 and 2018 forms had a baby — the 2019 form. In other words, the pendulum is swinging back a bit. Beth Logan, EA. 1040 and 1040-SR The cha... Beth Logan, EA

Demystifying §199A and Rental Activities
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Demystifying §199A and Rental Activities

I read Gil Charney’s analysis of the application of §199A to a rental activity in the September/October 2019 edition of EA Journal (“Your Questions Answered,” pp. 12-13) and I do not agree with it. In that case, I believe the taxpayer clearly qualifies to take the §199A deduction on th... Thomas A. Gorczynski, EA, CTC, USTCP

Minimum Standards for Return Preparers
Capitol Corner

Minimum Standards for Return Preparers

Ten years ago this December, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman announced the creation of a program to regulate paid tax return preparers. After years of pushing and advocating, IRS had finally picked up the ball and scored a touchdown. Rebecca Hawes

Tax Change Transforms Charitable Giving Landscape
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Tax Change Transforms Charitable Giving Landscape

Donor-advised funds are growing in popularity as a way for individuals and corporations to give to charities. Broad-sweeping changes to the tax code at the end of 2017 sent nonprofits into a state of panic. The doubling of the standard deduct... Kim Moore

When Is a State Refund Taxable
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When Is a State Refund Taxable

The TCJA Raises Some Questions. As anyone not living under a rock these last 18 months knows, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) imposed a $10,000 ($5,000 married filing separately) cap on deductions of state and local taxes (SALT)—including income, real estate, property, and s... Gil Charney, CPA/PFS, CFP, CGMA, CMA, MBA

Capitol Corner

Citizen Advocacy – NAEA Style

For the eleventh year, NAEA members traveled to Washington, DC, to meet with their congressional representatives and senators to advocate on tax issues important to enrolled agents. The Congressional Fly-In, held this year on May 14, is a foundational event for NAEA’s advocacy program an... Rebecca Hawes

Feature Article

Reconstructing Vehicle Mileage Logs

Reconstructing Vehicle Mileage LOGS By Bill Nemeth, EA Most examinations of personal tax returns involving Schedule C self-employment request information on car and truck expenses. IRS recommends contemporaneous mileage logs per IRC §1.274-5T(c)(1), but does not require them. The code makes the point that the records should be created in “close” proximity to the time of the activity. Adequat... Bill Nemeth, EA, NTPI

Feature Article

The Ins and Outs of Day-Care Provider Taxes: Part 1

The Ins and Outs of Part Day-Care Provider Taxes Part 1 By Laura Strombom, EA As the profession adapts to the changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, those who prepare primarily basic returns, such as a 1040 with only a Schedule A, may need to add additional areas to their practices. One strategy is to specialize in an area that will continue to demand expert preparation services.... Laura Strombom, EA, MBA, NTPI

Books to Tax in a Snap
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Books to Tax in a Snap

When clients hands over a QuickBooks (QB) file at income tax time, the expectation is you have what you need and tax preparation will be a breeze. Depending on the client, you are either elated or you want to cringe; there is not much in between. It is important for tax preparers to feel ... Geri Bowman, EA, CPA, USTCP

Mitigating Penalties for Filing Incorrect Forms W-2
Payroll Corner

Mitigating Penalties for Filing Incorrect Forms W-2

Forms W-2 were filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31, 2019, but that is the end of the story only if all those Forms W-2 are correct. While 100 percent accuracy is always the goal, it is rarely achieved. So, the second part of the year-end pro... Alice Gilman, Esq

Feature Article

International Representation: What You Should Know

Return preparation and representation of clients with offshore accounts and assets has become one of the hottest and fastest-growing areas in tax practice. It is a difficult and convoluted world of rules with high stakes that often lack definitive and clear guidance. Before taking on a taxpayer with foreign ties, be sure to read up on what needs to be filed, when it needs to be filed, and what defines “filed.” You will also want to know what ... Mary Beth Lougen, EA, USTCP

Feature Article

The Ins and Outs of Day-Care Provider Taxes: Part 2

IRC Section 162, Trade or Business Expenses Section 162(a) states: In general there shall be allowed as a deduction all the ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business... . In a home daycare, many of the expenses have personal and business elements. Te Audit Technique Guide for child-care providers (ATG for CC) states: The examiner needs to evaluate in a fair a... Laura Strombom, EA, MBA, NTPI Fellow®

Feature Article

I Spy Tax Fraud! Do You?

The word “fraud” conjures up many images, none of which are positive. As Circular 230 tax professionals, we never knowingly jeopardize our credentials while serving clients. Ever cautious, we could, nevertheless, find ourselves representing a client who has engaged in fraudulent activity. Can you recognize the signs of tax fraud? How do you handle a client’s matter with potential or actual fraudulent transactions? According to the Interna... Alan L. Pinck, EA, Ann E. Kummer, EA, CPA

Tax Court

Can a Taxpayer Rely on Tax Preparation Software to Claim Deductions Recommended by the Software?

Barry Leonard Bulakites, Petitioner v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent Many taxpayers prepare their own tax returns, without professional help, by using off-the-shelf retail software programs. These programs often offer recommendations based upon the information that is inputted by the taxpayer and may also provide one-toone answers... Steven R. Diamond, CPA

Feature Article

Adding Client Value, Divorce

The first in a series on using tax planning to guarantee satisfied clients and grow your business By Beth Logan, EA People think of tax season as running January through April. But most people make their biggest tax mistakes from May through December. There are two reasons for this. First, they aren’t thinking about taxes. Second, there are more days in which to err. This is my tax mantra. If you tell clients this, they ... Beth Logan, EA

Feature Article

Ethics Rules, Penalties, and the Tax Preparers Engagement Letter

Perhaps one of the most important, but also one of the most overlooked, parts of the 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return is the section near the bottom of the second page that states: “Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct and accurately list all amounts and sources of income I received duri... Anthony Santullo, EA

Feature Article

Strategies for Avoiding CP2000 Notices

Let’s start at the beginning. What is a CP2000 Notice, and when is it generated? Here’s what happens. The IRS Automated Underreporter Unit (AUR) matches income reported on individual tax returns with the income that is reported to the IRS from various third parties (e.g., employers, financial institutions, and banks) and recorded in its wage and income transcript file. If there is a difference, the IRS “flags” the tax ... Bill Nemeth, EA

Feature Article

The Adoption Tax Credit and Foster Care Adoptions

Do you have clients who are foster parents? Do you have clients who have adopted from the foster care system? If you have answered yes to either of these questions, you need to know about the Adoption Tax Credit. Many taxpayers who are adoptive parents have been told they do not qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit because they had no expenses. As tax professionals, we often hear our clients say, “My friend told me something different.” Wi... Becky Wilmoth, EA

Feature Article

Affordable Care Act For The 2017 Filing Season

This may be the final year for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The incoming administration has vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare as quickly as possible. With that being said, the purpose of this article is to update you on the ACA changes affecting your clients for the 2017 tax filing season. The changes that began in 2013 are intensifying in 2017. So strap yourself in and get ready for the new changes. Since this article was written in De... Ben A. Tallman, EA, USTCP

Feature Article

Tax Appointment Worksheet

The Tax Appointment Worksheet is a tool to help you gather the needed information for new and returning clients for the 2016 tax year. This year’s worksheet has been enhanced to reflect the changes in tax law. Now that the American Opportunity Credit is permanent, the need for the proper Form 1098-T and the educational expense evidence is increasingly crucial. Type of plan Amount of contribution Form 1099-... Mary Mellem, EA

Feature Article

Gearing Up For Tax Season Promote Your Practice and Your Credential

Autumn is the perfect time to begin promoting yourself and your EA credential in preparation for the upcoming tax season. Many members already know that NAEA provides tools to help them attract new clients and raise awareness of their EA credential, but many may not know that these tools are regularly refreshed. It’s time to take another look. Last year, NAEA formed a new partnership to present the improved “Find a Tax Expert... Gigi Jarvis, CAE

Feature Article

How to Maximize Penalty Relief For Your Clients

There are a number of ways delinquent taxpayers (your clients) can potentially reduce their overall debt to the IRS. There is the offer in compromise (OIC), that oft-dangled carrot and so-called “pennies on the dollar” settlement that many tax resolution firms pitch to lure negligent taxpayers to their companies. There is an innocent spouse resolution that can prevent one member of marriage from being liable for a tax debt caused by h... Jim Coleman, EA

Feature Article

Portrait of a non-filer

What is a non-filer? A non-filer is defined as a person (individual, corporation, estate, trust or partnership) who has met certain thresholds but has yet to file a tax return by the statutory or extended due date. As enrolled agents, we have to figure out how to help these people get compliant. Aft er all, besides making sure our clients do not pay more in taxes than they are required to, part of our job is to make sure that they are complia... Jeffrey A. Schneider, EA

Feature Article

What’s Your Process – How to Work a Collections Case

Introduction Coming into collection representation work in the late 90s, much of the disparity between practitioners rested in sorting out who knew the most rules and laws. A representative’s ability to answer questions relating to technical aspects of IRS enforcement (such as how many days exist before I lose levied money? or how long do I have to appeal a Trust Fund Recovery Penalty assessment?) were commonplace. Yet today with al... David Miles, EA