California Issues Mandatory E-Pay Penalty Waiver

The California Franchise Tax Board has issued the following information for taxpayers who were unable to pay amounts with their tax returns, extensions, or estimated tax payments electronically due to problems with their website on April 15, 2013.

Due to the problems encountered by mandatory e-pay taxpayers with our website on April 15, we will waive the mandatory e-pay penalty for taxpayers that paid their tax, extension, or estimated tax payment by check.

Taxpayers may request a waiver of the mandatory e-pay penalty for the 04.15.2013 payment by:

Phone (Preferred Method):
• Tax Practitioner Hotline 916.845.7057
• Taxpayers 800.852.5711

Fax:
Complete FTB 4107, Mandatory e-Pay Election to Discontinue or Waiver Request. In Part 1, check the second box and enter 04.15.2013 Website Problem.
• Fax your request to 916.843.0468

Mail:
Complete FTB 4107, Mandatory e-Pay Election to Discontinue or Waiver Request. In Part 1, check the second box and enter 04.15.2013 Website Problem. In red, write 04.15.2013 Website Problem. Mail your request:

STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FRANCHSIE TAX BOARD
PO BOX 942840
SACRAMENTO, CA 94240-0040

Important:This is a one-time waiver of the mandatory e-pay penalty; your clients are still required to make future payments electronically unless they are granted a waiver. See FTB 4107 for more information or go to our website and search for mandatory e-pay.

 

Proposition 30 California Tax Increase –Tax Penalty Waiver.

The Franchise Tax Board has announced that taxpayers affected by the retroactive personal income tax increase (Proposition 30), may pay the amount due with their 2012 tax return.   Taxpayers subject to underpayment of estimated tax penalties may request relief by completing Form 5808 Underpayment of Estimated Taxes by Individual and Fiduciaries and completing Part 1, question 1 with the explanation that the underpayment is due to Proposition 30.

Have You Been a Bad Bad Taxpayer? No Worries California is Willing to Give You a Break

Even if you have been a bad taxpayer, California is willing to give you a break.

Voluntary Compliance Initiative 2 (VCI 2) is an opportunity for taxpayers who underreported their California income tax liabilities, through the use of abusive tax avoidance transactions (ATAT) or offshore financial arrangements (OFA), to amend their returns for 2010 and prior tax years and obtain a waiver of most penalties.

Filing period: August 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011

Applicable tax years: 2010 and prior

Eligibility

You are eligible to participate in VCI 2 if you (or one of your related entities):

  • Filed a tax return that underreported your income or tax liability through the use of an ATAT or OFA.

You are eligible even if you:

  • Are currently under FTB examination for an ATAT or OFA.
  • Are currently under administrative protest or appeal for an ATAT or OFA.
  • Participated in the IRS’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative.

Participation

You must take the following steps to participate:

  1. File a completed Participation Agreement form with us between August 1, 2011 and October 31, 2011.
  2. Attach the form to your amended return to report all income from all sources, without regard to the ATAT and including all income from the OFA.
  3. Pay all tax and interest by October 31, 2011. See payment options for more information.

Benefits

Participation in VCI 2 will allow you to avoid:

  • The cost of litigation.
  • Certain penalties and the associated interest.
  • Criminal prosecution.

Penalties

You can avoid the following penalties under VCI 2:

  • Noneconomic Substance Transaction Understatement Penalty
  • Accuracy Related Penalty
  • Interest Based Penalty
  • Fraud Penalty

If you are eligible but do not participate, you will be subject to the full range of penalties and interest, and may be subject to criminal prosecution.

The Large Corporate Understatement Penalty (LCUP) and the Amnesty Penalty cannot be waived under this initiative.

Preparer Competency Examination Update – It’s Time to Put In Your 2Cents

Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP Certified Public Accountants

If you want to tell the IRS exactly what you think the content of the competency exam should be, now is the time.  Notice 2011-48 invites comments.

Notice 2011-48 invites public comments on the content and administration of the registered tax return preparer competency examination (competency examination).  The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have published final regulations (TD 9527, 76 FR 32286) under 31 CFR Part 10 that require certain individuals to pass a competency examination to become a registered tax return preparer.  The IRS has selected a vendor to support the IRS in developing and administering the competency examination for the Form 1040 series tax returns and accompanying schedules.

Notice 2011-48 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2011-26 on June 27, 2011.

Ten Tax Tips For Farmers at Tax Time

A dairy farm near Oxford, New York in the Unit...

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Farmers, does your tax preparer know these 10 important tax tips?  No?  Yes?  They should….

If you are in the business of farming, there are a number of tax issues that you should consider before filing your federal tax return. The IRS has compiled a list of 10 things that farmers may want to know before filing their federal tax return.

  1. Crop Insurance Proceeds You must include in income any crop insurance proceeds you receive as the result of crop damage. You generally include them in the year you receive them.
  2. Sales Caused by Weather-Related Condition If you sell more livestock, including poultry, than you normally would in a year because of weather-related conditions, you may be able to choose to postpone reporting the gain from selling the additional animals due to the weather until the next year.
  3. Farm Income Averaging You may be able to average all or some of your current year’s farm income by allocating it to the three prior years. This may lower your current year tax if your current year income from farming is high, and your taxable income from one or more of the three prior years was low. This method does not change your prior year tax, it only uses the prior year information to determine your current year tax.
  4. Deductible Farm Expenses The ordinary and necessary costs of operating a farm for profit are deductible business expenses.  An ordinary expense is an expense that is common and accepted in the farming business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the business.
  5. Employeesand hired help You can deduct reasonable wages paid for labor hired to perform your farming operations. This would include full-time employees as well as part-time workers.
  6. Items Purchased for Resale You may be able to deduct the cost of livestock and other items purchased for resale in the year of sale. This cost includes freight charges for transporting the livestock to the farm.
  7. Net Operating Losses If your deductible expenses from operating your farm are more than your other income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. If you have a net operating loss this year, you can carry it over to other years and deduct it. You may be able to get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid for past years, or you may be able to reduce your tax in future years.
  8. Repayment of loans You cannot deduct the repayment of a loan if the loan proceeds are used for personal expenses. However, if you use the proceeds of the loan for your farming business, you can deduct the interest that you pay on the loan.
  9. Fuel and Road Use You may be eligible to claim a credit or refund of federal excise taxes on fuel used on a farm for farming purposes.
  10. Farmers Tax Guide More information about farm income and deductions can be found in IRS Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide which is available at IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:

Stacie’s More Tax Tips Makes a Top Something or Other List

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Seems like I am always reading someones top something… tax/accounting/business  list and it always makes me wonder – just how does someone get on this list anyway?????

Like for example take  Accounting Today/Tomorrow/WebCPA.  This group publishes a top 100 most influential people in the accounting industry list.  Every year I read it over and wonder -  how do they decide who is “most influential” anyway?  I mean really, is this a scientific thing?  Are there compliance criteria – like a PPC guide “How to Determine the Most Influential People in Accounting” – we are talking about accountants here – I assume there’s a checklist?

I do hope its more scientific than just a bunch of journalists sitting around a conference table, sipping coffee and munching on donuts while someone writes names on a white board.   Just picture it, a bunch of bored staff writers some twisting slightly in their chairs, some lounging about, others lazily calling out names.  Then someone says, “hey cross off Sally Johnson, she was rude to me at blah blah conference. she doesn’t make it this year.” Yowser,I hope it doesn’t work like that!!!

Recently, I’ve been contacted by a “.com site” or two.  These sites were letting me know that I could be listed on a top something list….so –be sure to mention it at Stacie’s More Tax Tips- wont you?

While I get how this whole quid pro quo thingy works, I have declined 100% of the “link to us, we’ll link to you” offers.  I’ve even turned down click for payment offers because I didn’t think the link topics where appropriate for my my site.

But you know what, I’ve decided that gosh darn my blog is interesting.. And yes siree, I deserve to be on a top anything list.. And, it has absolutely nothing to do with quid pro quo.  Nope, they of course see the genius that is my blog and feel compelled to share. So thanks to bschool.com for naming Stacie’s More Tax Tips in the 50 best Blogs to Get You Through Tax Season.

Oh by the way, the picture is of me and the grandbaby enjoying Christmas day with the family!

Some Tax Payers Will Need to File Their 1040 Later Rather Than Sooner This Coming Filing Season

the taxman!

Image by vj_pdx via Flickr

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Heads up for all taxpayers eager to file your 2010 tax return.  The IRS has announced that last weeks changes in the tax law ie the  Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, extended three provisions that will need to be reprogrammed in the IRS’s processing system.  This means that the IRS will not be ready to process some individual returns Form 1040 until mid to late February 2011.

Who is affected:

  • People who itemize deductions on Schedule A
  • People who claim sales tax deduction, higher education deduction, educator expense deduction

Read on for more detailed information regarding your 2011 tax return filing:

WASHINGTON — Following last week’s tax law changes, the Internal Revenue Service announced today the upcoming tax season will start on time for most people, but taxpayers affected by three recently reinstated deductions need to wait until mid- to late February to file their individual tax returns. In addition, taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A will need to wait until mid- to late February to file as well.

The start of the 2011 filing season will begin in January for the majority of taxpayers. However, last week’s changes in the law mean that the IRS will need to reprogram its processing systems for three provisions that were extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that became law on Dec. 17.

People claiming any of these three items — involving the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education tuition and fees deduction and educator expenses deduction as well as those taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A — will need to wait to file their tax returns until tax processing systems are ready, which the IRS estimates will be in mid- to late February.

“The majority of taxpayers will be able to fill out their tax returns and file them as they normally do,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We will do everything we can to minimize the impact of recent tax law changes on other taxpayers. The IRS will work through the holidays and into the New Year to get our systems reprogrammed and ensure taxpayers have a smooth tax season.”

The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the late tax law changes. In the interim, people in the affected categories can start working on their tax returns, but they should not submit their returns until IRS systems are ready to process the new tax law changes.

The IRS urged taxpayers to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to minimize confusion over the recent tax changes and ensure accurate tax returns.

Taxpayers will need to wait to file if they are within any of the following three categories:

  • Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacted Dec. 17, which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes and is claimed on Schedule A, Line 5. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students — covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution — is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23, and Form 1040A, Line 16.

For those falling into any of these three categories, the delay affects both paper filers and electronic filers.

The IRS emphasized that e-file is the fastest, best way for those affected by the delay to get their refunds. Those who use tax-preparation software can easily download updates from their software provider. The IRS Free File program also will be updated.

As part of this effort, the IRS will be working closely with the tax software industry and tax professional community to minimize delays and ensure a smooth tax season.

Updated information will be posted on IRS.gov. This will include an updated copy of Schedule A as well as updated state and local sales tax tables. Several other forms used by relatively few taxpayers are also affected by the recent changes, and more details are available on IRS.gov.

In addition, the IRS reminds employers about the new withholding tables released Friday for 2011. Employers should implement the 2011 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than Jan. 31, 2011. The IRS also reminds employers that Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, containing the extensive wage bracket tables that some employers use, will be available on IRS.gov before year’s end.

Related Item: Forms Affected By the Extender Provisions

Jason Blumer CPA, He’s a Funny Guy

Jason Blumer CPA, the managing shareholder of Blumer & Associates is a funny guy.  No really.  It’s true. There is proof.

I also really like his website:

We believe your numbers are simply telling stories about the relationships, processes and knowledge running deeply through your business and life. The production of numbers is not the end goal of our firm.  We are here to bring clarity to the reasons why your numbers are what they are. We are a next-generation firm, and we are doing this all over the dang world!

That’s some nice copy – wish I had written it!  AND according to Accounting Tomorrow – Jason is the second place winner in the Atom’s Got Talent Video. Congratulations Jason!

Problems with PTIN Online System? Don’t Wait to Register

The IRS building on Constitution Avenue, Washi...

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By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Tax preparers heads up, according to the new IRS rules, you have until January 1, 2011 to register for your PTIN (preparers tax identification number).   I’m getting a little concerned about the IRS’s ability to GET IT DONE by the January 1, 2011 due date.

Robert Flach of the Wondering Tax Pro, describes his frustration with trying to register on line in his post  WHAT A MUCKING FESS!

Before I could submit the PTIN application I first had to create an “account”. I completed this process and was “told” that I would receive an email from the IRS with a temporary password for my account.

It never came!

Two hours later I went online to try again, stating that I needed help with my password when “logging in”. After properly answering the security question I had established in my initial try I was again “told” that I would receive an email with a new password.

It never came!

I gave up for the day.

Ultimately Robert decided to mail in a Form W-12 IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application,  the alternative to applying on line.  If you choose this option beware, the IRS indicates that it could take 4 to 6 weeks to process.  The IRS has also posted the following warning on their site:

**The PTIN sign-up system and toll-free number are experiencing high volumes of users. We appreciate your patience and encourage you to try again later if you encounter delays.**

Good luck preparers, and my advice, don’t wait to GET IT DONE!

Tax Professionals Must Now Pay The IRS For The Right to Prepare Tax Returns PTIN’s Are Now For Sale

People filing tax forms in 1920

People filing tax forms in 1920

Stacie Say:  Well, now a tax professional must buy the right to prepare a tax return.  I suppose this isn’t any different from having to pay a fee every year to renew my CPA license.  Just one more thing to add to my overhead costs.

WASHINGTON — As part of an initiative to ensure that tax return preparers are competent and qualified, the Internal Revenue Service today issued final regulations requiring paid tax return preparers to register with the IRS to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A new online application system to obtain a PTIN is now available.

All paid tax return preparers who prepare all or substantially all of a tax return are required to use the new registration system to obtain a PTIN.

Access to the online application system will be through the Tax Professionals page of IRS.gov. Individuals who currently possess a PTIN will need to reapply under the new system but generally will be reassigned the same number.

“Getting a new, industry-wide registration system in place is essential to our efforts to improve the standards and oversight of tax return preparation,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “These efforts are essential to the future of the nation’s tax system. This will create higher standards for the tax preparation community and ensure quality service for taxpayers.”

The IRS set up a special toll-free telephone number, 1-877-613-PTIN (7846), that tax professionals can call for technical support related to the new online registration system.

Applicants will pay a $64.25 fee to obtain a PTIN, which will be valid for one year. As part of that fee the IRS will receive $50 per user, as authorized by final user fee regulations issued by the IRS today, to pay for technology, compliance and outreach efforts associated with the new program. And a third-party vendor will receive $14.25 per user to operate the online system and provide customer support.

Receipt of a PTIN will be immediate after successful online registration. Or a paper application may be submitted on Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application, with a response time of four to six weeks. Before registration, applicants should consider that the date the PTIN is assigned is established as the annual renewal date.

Individuals without a Social Security number will also need to provide one of the following: Form 8945, PTIN Supplemental Application for U.S. Citizens Without a Social Security Number Due to Conscientious Religious Objection, or Form 8946, PTIN Supplemental Application for Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number.

The new online registration system and final regulations are part of a series of steps underway to increase oversight of federal tax return preparation.

In January, Shulman announced the results of a comprehensive six-month review of the tax return preparer industry, which proposed new registration, testing and continuing education of federal tax return preparers. With 60 percent of American households using a tax preparer to help them prepare and file their taxes, higher standards for the tax return preparer community will significantly enhance protections and service for taxpayers, increase confidence in the tax system and result in greater compliance with tax laws over the long term. Currently, many return preparers do not have to meet any government or professionally mandated competency requirements before preparing a federal tax return for a fee.

Work on Testing, Continuing Education Components Continue

The start of the PTIN registration process begins as the IRS continues to review the testing and education components of the return preparer initiative as recently announced in proposed regulations that would amend Treasury Circular 230.

The proposed Circular 230 regulations announced that attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents would not be subject to additional testing or continuing education requirements in order to obtain a PTIN. These professionals are currently subject to strict professional standards of conduct and ethics.

Pending finalization of guidance, the IRS has under serious consideration extending similar treatment to a discrete category of people who engage in return preparation under the supervision of someone else — for example, some employees who prepare all or substantially all of the return and work in certain professional firms under the supervision of one of the above individuals who signs the return.

The IRS will provide guidance defining this area in the coming months, and will continue to seek feedback during this process to help ensure the creation of a fair, equitable oversight system that minimizes burden.

On the continuing education requirements, the IRS recognizes the need to have transition rules in place and plans to issue additional guidelines by the end of the year.

For more, see the Tax Professionals page on IRS.gov, which features an FAQ page on the new registration system and who needs a PTIN.

Preparer Terror – It’s Real – How to Prevent It

Figure 20 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

Image via Wikipedia

By Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA

A phenomenon affecting tax return preparers often proceeded by recurrent nightmares centered around tax return preparation. People experiencing Preparer Terror may exhibit the following symptoms:

  1. Extreme anxiety  and temporary inability to remember simple tasks such as how to spell your name
  2. Being jolted from sleep accompanied by an overriding desire to run to the office
  3. Weight gain or if you’re lucky weight loss
  4. Constant fear that you are forgetting something  - like what return was I working on, where did I put that piece of paper, who am I – ya know stuff like that.

Ways to prevent Preparer Terror:

  • Set the proper level of client expectations.

Let your clients know the drop dead due date for receiving 100% of their tax documents. If I receive tax documents after my due date, I let the client know that I might not be able to file the return on time. I will try my best. I’ll even stay up all night. But there are only so many hours in a day. If your stuff arrives late so might your tax return.

  • Evaluate your level of staffing.

If you have a tax practice, the notion is that you have some idea how long it takes to prepare a tax return. Um maybe not. Sometimes partners are so far removed from the daily prep grind that they have NO idea how long it should take a staff to prepare a return. The general rule for me is if I can prepare a return in 8 hours, a new staff may take 3 to 4 times that amount of time. So partners, listen to your staff when evaluating your staffing levels.

  • Be organized.

Well duh, you say. Well ya this is a duh moment. When your mind isn’t working and you are on the verge of losing it, knowing how and where to find the information you need might save you. So if your administrative staff is responsible for filing stuff away, you had better make darn sure your processes, and procedures are being followed like their lives depend on it!

  • Set clear expectations of your staff.

The other day I was visiting a CPA firm, it was pretty late at night, and there were partners and staff in the office working away. Then an extraordinary thing happened, the staff up and left before the partners.

In my day, leaving the office before the partners created a clear and present career danger. It just wasn’t done. I am all about work life balance, heck my kids grew up in my office. However, if you want to have some sort of lasting career in this industry – might I suggest that you get permission before leaving the office during busy time?

Making sure your staff understands what it really means to OWN a project and take responsibility for its completion is an important part of not only managing your firm but also helping to prevent Preparer Terror.

Snubbed Again! And a Sincere Apology

By Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA

I don’t get it. I didn’t make Accounting Today’s top 100 most influential people a-g-a-i-n. I mean, they don’t appear to think that my stay home tax practice or my quirky blog posts are influential enough to name. But I guess I should have been tipped off when I wasn’t contacted to supply a cute pic or provide a snappy bio.

*Heavy sigh* I guess there is always next year….

This year’s list includes many predictable faces. It also includes some fun new ones. Some of which I include in my list of Facebook friends.

Michelle Golden of Golden Practices makes this year’s list. Yeah Michelle. Michelle is the lady you want to know if you are looking for some social networking techniques that will benefit your CPA firm.

Geni Greer Whitehouse also makes the list – Geni is an expert in accounting technology and shares this with her accounting clients through her consulting services.

Other influential women listed are:

  • Teresa Mackintosh,  General Manager and Senior Vice President, Workflow & Service solutions, Americas – Professional, Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. (Good job, but might I suggest that you think about shortening up that title – what a mouthful!)
  • Krista McMasters, CEO Clifton, Gunderson
  • Gale Crosley, Present of Crosley &+Co.
  • Cindy Fornelli, Executive director, Center for Audit Quality
  • Rita Keller, President Keller Advisors
  • Judy O’Dell, Chair FASB Private Companies Financial Reporting Committee
  • Nina Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate IRS
  • Rebecca Ryan, Founder Next Generation Consulting
  • Mary Schapiro, Chair SEC
  • Sue Swenson, President, and CEO Sage North America
  • Jennifer Warawa, Senior director of partner programs Sage North America
  • Sandra Wiley, Partner, senior consultant and COO, Boomer Consulting
  • Jennifer Wilson Co-founder and owner, Convergence Coaching

My personal congratulations to all the professionals who made this year’s list.

On another note – Dear Geni – I screwed up.

Geni Greer Whitehouse provided me a copy of her fabulous book How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting so I could post an interview on my blog. To date I haven’t sent her any questions – this does not speak well for my follow through skills. Which really are good – I swear – or I wouldn’t have the client base that I have?

Regardless, I owe Geni an apology so let’s make it public -

Dear Geni

I want to send you my sincere apologies for failing to send you the list of questions for the interview. You may notice that I have ordered another copy of your book. This is because the initial copy that you so gracefully sent was “barrowed” by a client. It was apparently so helpful that I never saw it again. I will get those questions over to you. I found your book to be quite helpful. It played a key role in helping me to win a best speaker ribbon.

So there it is my lame excuse. If there was any good to come from my failure, it was what I learned  1) never lend out a book before I’m done with it, 2) don’t forgot – branding is important but consider the time investment and follow through necessary to pull off your strategy.

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