THE TAX PROFESSIONAL

Subtitle

 

Below are comments received from readers, and my responses where appropriate, that continue a discussion begun in THE TAX PROFESSIONAL.

 

Your comments on the topics discussed in THE TAX PROFESSIONAL, and the comments thereto included below, are welcome and solicited.  I really want to hear what you have to say.  Email your comments to [email protected] with THE TAX PROFESSIONAL in the “subject line”.



TAX PROFESSIONALS BILL OF RIGHTS


Robert, I have read the proposed Tax Professionals Bill of Rights, and I agree with what you said. I think the items contained in the proposal are good ideas but I'm not sure that they need to be put into some sort of a "Bill of Rights". To get something like this incorporated into the IRS regs, would most likely require Congressional action and you can forget about the idiots in that outfit doing anything, when they can't even agree on basic items in the code.


Jim Kern, EA

New Jersey


I would welcome a voluntary independent industry-based tax professional credential program, like an RTRP credential, with more extensive testing (and educational hours/CE) NOT administered by the IRS or any other agency State OR Federal.

 

Yes, I do see the need for a unified lobbying organization of PTIN holders to represent the interests of tax preparers before Congress & the IRS.

 

John Maxwell

New Jersey

 

“I am somewhat concerned with an industry based designation. I had the LTCIS (Long Term Care Insurance Strategist) designation at one time. The issuing organization went the way of the carrier pigeon. So did the designation. Somehow, I see layers of additional requirements, fees and an organizational empire that we would need to support should an independent organization become formed.

 

As for a separate group to assist with lobbying, I am not so sure this is viable. Each of the existing national practitioner groups has a government relations arm. If the government relations people are used wisely, the existing organizations can present our case. Another organization would mean another governmental relations staff to support and more cost for the membership.

 

There is something to be said for grassroots movements. Most tax professionals have direct contact with the public. Think about the potential influence on legislation were letters to start appearing at the doors of Congresspeople between January and April! All it would take is some prepared letters, postage and three minutes to explain why the tax client should agree to send the letter. Some will and some won't.”

 

Marc Standig

New Jersey

 

To Marc from RDF –

 

One of the subsequent suggestions I put forward "was a Taxpayer Advocacy Cpuncil" made up of representatives of NATP, NSTP, NSA, NAEA, LTPA, and any other legitimate non-profit tax preparer membership organizations to act as a lobbying organization. No one organization has enough of a membership to yield any real power - but the combined memberships of these organizations would add up.

 

I have little faith in letter writing campaigns. The members of Congress are idiots who read from the script written by their respective Parties - and do not care about the opinions of the citizens they are supposed to represent.



MAY 26, 2015


"I have very few EITC tax returns and prefer not to get involved with them. The few that I do prepare, the new due diligence requirements take time that the public does not want to understand. Although the requirements take extra time, it's not as much as I had originally thought it would be. The "self-prepared" guy is around the corner. He is dirt cheap and inaccurate, but really really quick and has fantastic refunds. If I were to raise fees I would lose those few EITC clients I have and their referral sources.


One thing about EITC returns that really bothers me is the prospect of someone engaging in cash business activities. A few years ago an individual walked into my office. Apparently he did not own a car. He had two hand written W-2's and then disclosed his wife was paid off of the books at a nearby retail store. Out the door he went. He was looking for the EITC bonus income that you and I pay for with our taxes. The EITC is riddled with fraud and should be done away with. Social services should be administered by social service agencies, not tax agencies."


Marc Standig

New Jersey


"Like Marc, I have very few EITC tax returns, and they're the single clients with low income. So, those due diligence requirements haven't really impacted my practice.  I'm glad that my EITC clients from Block didn't follow me except for this one client who was NOT originally an EITC client back in the day but has fallen on hard times as of late.


I once had a client walk in the door beginning of April (back in my Block days) and didn't complete the return, had to go on hold, he didn't come back until the evening of April 15. He had a used car business, but no records, he kept changing his figures until he matched the highest amount of EIC. Back and forth we went until I blew a short fuse and he walked out the door.


I agree wholeheartedly, that the EIC does not belong in the tax code."


John Maxwell

New Jersey


"About 9 percent of the returns I do include EITC. I do scan all the birth certificates, ss cards and proof of residence. I lost a bunch of return as the people would not provide the info needed. I did not raise the fees that much as they are low income people. A lot is said that these people use the unqualified preparers, many can not afford the fees at an HRB or JH, or other qualified preparers. Once they have the papers there is not that much more involved. Just a note my client's aver s he income was $66,500."


Tom Delaney

New Jersey



MAY 12, 2015


The season was bad for me as the IRS wanted me to verify the income for two self-employed clients and it was a lot of work in the middle of tax season for all they wanted me to scan over. Also reconciling some of those credits and the penalties as well as many late forms this year created extra stress for me.”     


Susan Lynn

New Jersey



SOAPBOX - JANUARY 2015


"Wow, your January 2015 issue of "THE TAX PROFESSIONAL" is fantastic! I totally agree with your synopsis of selectively weeding out tax types. I have eliminated most, if not all, of the FBAR tax customers. There is just too much due diligence for the amount earned to prepare the tax return. I try not to attract the EITC crowd simply because of the amount of work; record keeping and the inability to charge enough for the risk of preparing the return."


Marc Standig

New Jersey



SOAPBOX - DECEMBER 2014

 

Good points, but they ignored lots of warnings. They wouldn't have heeded one from tax pros either.”

 

Joe Kristan tweeting as [email protected]

 

My response to Joe -

 

We may not have been able to stop the passage of ACA.  But if an organized and united 700,000 PTIN-holders refused to calculate the Obamacare penalty it would certainly be noticed.  

 

Robert, your article very good and clearly indicates the need for an organization to represent tax preparers. However, I have one change I would recommend: This would be to only have the organization for unenrolled preparers. CPA's should not be part of the group since they have their own powerful organizations.  I have been closely following the Loving case and during this time it seemed quite apparent that the AICPA was making some attempt to remove RTRP's from the tax preparation arena.”

 

Tony A

 

My respnse to Tony -

 

I do agree that the AICPA works solely for the best interests of the CPA and often against the best interests of the tax preparation industry and the taxpaying public.

 

When proposing a “Tax Preparer Advocacy Council” I did not include the AICPA as a “member”, saying -    


I hesitate to include AICPA because that organization certainly has its own agenda, and it is often contrary to the interests of the independent individual tax preparer and the “non-certified” accountant.  NATP, NSTP, and LTRPA all have tax-preparing CPA members.”

 

But if the national “lobby” were an independent membership organization I would not ban CPAs with PTINs who prepare 1040s from membership.  There are many CPAs who are knowledgeable, competent and current in the preparation of 1040s and who put the welfare of the tax preparation industry and the taxpaying public above the selfish interests of the AICPA - and their numbers would add to the strength of the lobbying group.

 


OBAMACARE – GOOD CONCEPT BUT BAD LEGISLATION 

 

I particularly like your view on the Affordable Care Act. It's about 26,000 pages of mess.”

 

Marc Standig

New Jersey

 

CPA Joe Kristan had this to say in his post “Tax Roundup, 10/2/14: The IRS Helps Fulfill a Vow of Poverty. And: ACA – Good in Theory?” at THE ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG -

 

Nothing to disagree with in this sentence*, but Robert misses the main point.  His flaw is his assumption that it is even possible for any Congress to enact well-conceived legislation to restructure 1/6 of the economy.  While I grant that this legislation is extraordinarily bad, there is no set of 535 humans born wise enough, and with enough information, to design a top-down system for 300 million people with 300 million different needs.  That’s why I can’t agree that this is a “good concept” to begin with.

 

It would have been far wiser to examine the barriers that the government itself has put in place to affordable health insurance. Obvious problems are the government-imposed restrictions on interstate sales of health insurance and the restriction of tax benefits for health coverage to employer plans. Remove the barriers to developing and marketing insurance, then leave it to consenting adults to decide whether to buy insurance, and to determine what policies they need and are willing to pay for. But because reforming these things would reduce government power, not expand it, these fixes don’t have much support among grasping politicians and bureaucrats.

 

Robert also gives an excellent example of a huge, whimsical inequity in how ACA works.  No doubt the upcoming tax season will teach practitioners everywhere what a “fess,” as Robert would say, we now have.”


{* = From my text – “However, for solely political reasons, the Democratic Party wanted a victory for President Obama early in his first term and rushed through poorly conceived legislation that turned out to be a total mess, instead of allowing for sufficient time to properly think through the correct and efficient application of the concept."}


My response to Joe -


Thanks for adding your more than 2 cents worth to the discussion.


The concept of universal health coverage is truly a good one.  I suppose, however, as Joe suggests, it may be like world peace and abolition of prejudice. 

 

I certainly agree that the idiots in Congress have not had the intelligence to properly enact appropriate legislation in this or any other area for decades.  Though, unlike world peace and abolition of prejudice, I do believe it is a goal that is attainable.  Joe’s suggestions for the answer should certainly be a consideration – and are proof that an answer is attainable. 


Unfortunately it will take time, and cooperation, and a true desire to fix the problem.  And the current idiots in Washington do not have the desire or time to do anything other than get themselves and their fellow party-members re-elected, and have proven that they are incapable of cooperation.


The first step is, of course, to vote the current bastards out of office.


 

WE NEED A VOICE IN WASHINGTON

 

"Robert - Thank you for the high praise of our 1040 update workshops, we appreciate it! As far as your questioning of Kathy's statement, she meant that not all of our tax professional members agree as to what is in the best interest for the profession. If NATP ‘picks a side’, then it could alienate a member who has a differing opinion."

 

National Association of Tax Professionals

via Facebook comment


My response to NATP:


I do understand the Association’s point, but it does not negate the tax preparer’s need for a unified voice. 

 

It is certainly in the best interest of the profession to reduce the “subsidiary” workload, and increased potential for agita, during the tax filing season that results from the EITC excessive due diligence and ACA administration.


RDF



THAT’S RIDICULOUS!

 

Ethics CPE would be a lot more interesting if we actually did ethics: applying moral principles to sticky cases.

 

William Perez, EA

@AbtTaxPlanning


CPA Joe Kristan had this to say in his post “Tax Roundup, 10/6/14: Nine More Days, Folks. And: Four Hours of Ethics to Rule Them All!” at THE ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG -


I" am trying to find four hours of 'ethics' courses to take before year-end, because the Iowa Board of Accountancy requires it for license renewal. Robert D. Flach sums up my feelings.

 

In real life, 'ethics' courses really seem to be CYA seminars — how to document your file and prepare engagement letters to help ward off frivolous lawsuits. That can be useful, but I’m not sure “ethics” is the right name for it.



WHAT IS OUR LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY?

 

Jason Dinesen adds his more than 2 cents to a discussion I began in the September issue of “The Tax Professional” in his blog post

"What Responsibilities Do Tax Preparers Have in Assessing ACA Penalties?".


Please click on the post title to read his post, and my comments there to.

 


TAX PRO PRACTICE TIPS

 

I read the part of your post about ‘marking’ the documents presented for tax prep.  I started doing that a few years ago after a client did exactly what you described. 

 

I use a specific rubber stamp for each preparer in the office. I also staple the paperwork into the client folder.  Sooooo – when a client told me I missed a 1099-B this year, we asked for the original file I gave him.  Funny how the paper I missed didn’t have my stamp on it nor did it show staple marks.   Hmmmmmm. And – oh yeah – it came out of a pristine envelope…….

 

Good advice.

 

Sherry Diamond, EA

Cherry Hill, New Jersey