While taxpayers still want the IRS to offer assistance in person and by phone, they're relying on it less.
By Joe Mont, TheStreet
Despite placing less value on the Internal Revenue Service's assistance programs, taxpayers are likely to be heartened by the government's planned crackdown on paid preparers, according to an annual survey of attitudes by the IRS's Oversight Board.
The Oversight Board, created by Congress in 1998 to serve as a watchdog, has been surveying taxpayers annually since 2002. This year's report was based on 1,000 interviews conducted in August, evenly split between men and women.
The IRS expects the number of people who file electronically to top last year's record of 95 million. While people still want assistance to be available in person and by phone, they're relying on it less.
When Congress changes the law late in the year, the agency doesn't alway update its publications.
I recently got a phone call from my editor, Charley Blaine. It was 9:30 p.m. so I figured it was important. Charley is the ultimate professional. Look up “credibility” in the dictionary and it says “see Blaine, Charley.” This time he was really disturbed.
When MSN posts a tax column, it links to appropriate IRS tax publications about the issues being discussed. Part of Charley’s job is to insure the accuracy of what’s posted. But, he complained, the relevant IRS publication on the tax aspects of home ownership and sale was wrong. It hadn’t been updated for the latest changes in the law.
You can give anytime if you want to deduct it from your 2010 taxes, but special provision for 2009 deduction ends Feb. 28.
People living in Haiti have it tough. Haiti is one the poorest countries in the world, politically unstable and in the path of numerous hurricanes each year.
On Jan. 12, the latest disaster hit: a massive earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left more than a million people homeless. You’d have to have a heart of stone to ignore the need.
In addition to good karma, those answering the call maybe also get a good tax benefit. Monetary contributions are deductible on either 2009 or 2010 income taxes.
- Video: Getting the best tax break
Normally, donations made after Dec. 31, 2009, wouldn’t be deductible on a 2009 tax return. But a special provision enacted Jan. 22 allows you to do pick which year in which to take the deduction. In addition, donations to foreign organizations normally aren’t tax-deductible. But an exception to this rule has also been granted for Haiti relief.
But time is running out.
IRS sues 2 Miami tax preparers, saying their clients' claims were bogus.
Continuing its long battle against tax preparers it considers incompetent or dishonest, the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday sued a pair of Miami practitioners, saying they wrongly claimed the first-time homebuyer credit for dozens of clients.
In separate civil lawsuits, IRS lawyers said both preparers claimed the credit for clients who had not even bought homes. One preparer, Paula O. Patrice, who operates To the Max Professionals Inc., allegedly listed nonexistent addresses for purchased property, while Henry E. Medina Jr., who runs Medina Group Inc., also known as Medina & Associates, purportedly listed the same bought-property address on tax returns of different clients.
It will depend on whether you are an 'innocent spouse' who couldn't have known.
It was clearly Barbara’s fault.
The mutual fund was in her name and she didn’t report the dividends and capital gains as income. Her story was that she never got a 1099. But, the IRS got its copy. What I got was a new tax bill, wrapped in interest and penalties.
Strapped states are keeping taxpayers' money longer to solve cash-flow problems.
Remember when everyone was snickering at California for issuing IOUs instead of tax refunds?
Quit laughing. More strapped states are holding on to their residents' tax refunds longer.
North Carolina's Revenue Secretary Kenneth Lay has announced that his office is delaying refund checks that both individuals and businesses are due. Holding on to the money is a cash-flow necessity, Lay said, because the state is facing a shortfall due to "anemic" collections, a common problem across the United States.
- Video: Getting the new tax breaks
Even paradise is having refund-money issues.
The auditor was not amused when the taxpayer removed his eye and then removed his -- never mind.
We all have our stories about audits from hell.
I’ve had cases where auditors refused to meet with me and disallowed all of my client’s business deductions. We had to go to court, where we easily won every issue -- except for the cost for my poor client.
I’ve even had a case where an auditor took my client’s Law Diary and removed stapled substantiation. Fortunately, Appeals noticed the staple holes.
But, in over 40 years in the tax business, one audit stands out as my worst.
Scammers caught after collecting $2 million in tax returns using identities of the deceased.
I hear heavenly music from the grateful dead.
I’d be grateful, too, if I were getting $2 million in tax refunds.
No stiffs themselves, Haroon Amin of Upland, Calif., and Ather Ali of Diamond Bar, Calif., filed more than 250 tax returns for deceased individuals.
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