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Another Dreaded IRS Reporting Requirement Gets Interim Guidance Today. Health Coverage Reporting Requirement on Form W2

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By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Well here it is, guidance on more reporting requirements.  If you are an employer providing health insurance coverage for your employees, Good For You.  And….. now the IRS wants to track it.  So add this to the long list of other reporting requirements dear business owners.  If you file 250 or more W2’s, starting in 2012 you will need to report employee health insurance premiums on Form w2.  Employers with less than 250 W2’s are exempt until further notice.  I guess there is always a small sliver of a silver lining.


WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued interim guidance to employers on informational reporting on each employee’s annual Form W-2 of the cost of the health insurance coverage they sponsor for employees. The IRS is also requesting comments on this interim guidance. The IRS emphasized that this new reporting to employees is for their information only, to inform them of the cost of their health coverage, and does not cause excludable employer-provided health coverage to become taxable; employer-provided health coverage continues to be excludable from an employee’s income, and is not taxable.

The Affordable Care Act provides that employers are required to report the cost of employer-provided health care coverage on the Form W-2. Notice 2010-69, issued last fall, made this requirement optional for all employers for the 2011 Forms W-2 (generally furnished to employees in January 2012). In today’s guidance, the IRS provided further relief for smaller employers (those filing fewer than 250 W-2 forms) by making this requirement optional for them at least for 2012 (i.e., for 2012 Forms W-2 that generally would be furnished to employees in January 2013) and continuing this optional treatment for smaller employers until further guidance is issued.

Using a question-and-answer format, Notice 2011-28 also provides guidance for employers that are subject to this requirement for the 2012 Forms W-2 and those that choose to voluntarily comply with it for either 2011 or 2012. The notice includes information on how to report, what coverage to include and how to determine the cost of the coverage.

The 2011 Form W-2, prior IRS Notice 2010-69 deferring the reporting requirement for 2011, and Notice 2011-28 containing the new guidance are available on IRS.gov.

For My Student Followers – an Explanation of IRS Guidance Sent Out Into The Cosmos

Are you looking for some information that will explain all the available IRS guidance sent out into the cosmos?

The following is a list of explanations/definitions should you be interested, need some reading material, or want something to put you to sleep at night.

 

For anyone not familiar with the inner workings of tax administration, the array of IRS guidance may seem, well, a little puzzling at first glance. To take a little of the mystery away, here’s a brief look at seven of the most common forms of guidance.

In its role in administering the tax laws enacted by the Congress, the IRS must take the specifics of these laws and translate them into detailed regulations, rules and procedures. The Office of Chief Counsel fills this crucial role by producing several different kinds of documents and publications that provide guidance to taxpayers, firms and charitable groups.

Regulation

A regulation is issued by the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department to provide guidance for new legislation or to address issues that arise with respect to existing Internal Revenue Code sections. Regulations interpret and give directions on complying with the law. Regulations are published in the Federal Register. Generally, regulations are first published in proposed form in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). After public input is fully considered through written comments and even a public hearing, a final regulation or a temporary regulation is published as a Treasury Decision (TD), again, in the Federal Register.

Revenue Ruling

A revenue ruling is an official interpretation by the IRS of the Internal Revenue Code, related statutes, tax treaties and regulations. It is the conclusion of the IRS on how the law is applied to a specific set of facts. Revenue rulings are published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin for the information of and guidance to taxpayers, IRS personnel and tax professionals. For example, a revenue ruling may hold that taxpayers can deduct certain automobile expenses.

Revenue Procedure

A revenue procedure is an official statement of a procedure that affects the rights or duties of taxpayers or other members of the public under the Internal Revenue Code, related statutes, tax treaties and regulations and that should be a matter of public knowledge. It is also published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin. While a revenue ruling generally states an IRS position, a revenue procedure provides return filing or other instructions concerning an IRS position. For example, a revenue procedure might specify how those entitled to deduct certain automobile expenses should compute them by applying a certain mileage rate in lieu of calculating actual operating expenses.

Private Letter Ruling

A private letter ruling, or PLR, is a written statement issued to a taxpayer that interprets and applies tax laws to the taxpayer’s specific set of facts. A PLR is issued to establish with certainty the federal tax consequences of a particular transaction before the transaction is consummated or before the taxpayer’s return is filed. A PLR is issued in response to a written request submitted by a taxpayer and is binding on the IRS if the taxpayer fully and accurately described the proposed transaction in the request and carries out the transaction as described. A PLR may not be relied on as precedent by other taxpayers or IRS personnel. PLRs are generally made public after all information has been removed that could identify the taxpayer to whom it was issued.

Technical Advice Memorandum

A technical advice memorandum, or TAM, is guidance furnished by the Office of Chief Counsel upon the request of an IRS director or an area director, appeals, in response to technical or procedural questions that develop during a proceeding. A request for a TAM generally stems from an examination of a taxpayer’s return, a consideration of a taxpayer’s claim for a refund or credit, or any other matter involving a specific taxpayer under the jurisdiction of the territory manager or the area director, appeals. Technical Advice Memoranda are issued only on closed transactions and provide the interpretation of proper application of tax laws, tax treaties, regulations, revenue rulings or other precedents. The advice rendered represents a final determination of the position of the IRS, but only with respect to the specific issue in the specific case in which the advice is issued. Technical Advice Memoranda are generally made public after all information has been removed that could identify the taxpayer whose circumstances triggered a specific memorandum.

Notice

A notice is a public pronouncement that may contain guidance that involves substantive interpretations of the Internal Revenue Code or other provisions of the law. For example, notices can be used to relate what regulations will say in situations where the regulations may not be published in the immediate future.

Announcement

An announcement is a public pronouncement that has only immediate or short-term value. For example, announcements can be used to summarize the law or regulations without making any substantive interpretation; to state what regulations will say when they are certain to be published in the immediate future; or to notify taxpayers of the existence of an approaching deadline.

Ten Tax Tips For Farmers at Tax Time

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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:

IRS Reminds Taxpayers How To Provide Earthquake Relief For Japan

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

The IRS today issued a reminder for individuals, businesses and charitable organization that wish to provide assistance to the victims of Japan’s devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake.

Its important to remember, if you make charitable contributions to qualified U.S. charities that provide assistance to foreign country’s, your contribution is tax deductible.  Making contributions to an organization or individual that is not a qualified U.S. organization will not get you a tax deduction.

Many individuals, businesses and charitable organizations wish to provide assistance to the victims of Japan’s recent earthquake. Consult Disaster Relief Resources for Charities and Donors on IRS.gov to get information about how to provide assistance to victims through a charitable organization.

Contributions to domestic tax-exempt, charitable organizations that provide assistance to individuals in foreign lands qualify as tax-deductible contributions for federal income tax purposes, provided that the U.S. organization has control and discretion over the use of funds. Donors should ensure that they make contributions to qualified charities. Use the Search for Charities function on IRS.gov to see if the charity you intend to support is a qualified charity listed in Pub. 78.  Certain organizations, such as churches or governmental organizations, may be qualified to accept charitable contributions, even though they are not listed in Pub. 78.

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!

Are You All a Twitter About Tax News? Now You Can Follow The IRS @IRSnews

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Oh Yippee, the IRS has joined the Twitter fray.  The social media storm has engulfed the treasury.

But maybe – do you think – someone might have given Timmy Geithner a copy of  Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms by Michelle Golden also named by Accounting Tomorrow as one of the top 100 most influential people in the accounting industry today.

Who knows – this book is on my Christmas list anyway!

The Internal Revenue Service is using Twitter and other social media tools to share information with taxpayers and the tax professional community.

The IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews, provides the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers. The focus of the IRS Twitter messages will be on easy-to-use information, including tax tips, tax law changes, and important IRS programs such as e-file, the Earned Income Tax Credit and “Where’s My Refund.” Anyone with a Twitter account can follow @IRSnews by going to http://twitter.com/IRSnews

Another important IRS Twitter feed, @IRStaxpros, is designed for the tax professional community. Follow @IRStaxpros by going to http://twitter.com/IRStaxpros.

The IRS also tweets tax news and information in Spanish at @IRSenEspanol. Follow this Twitter feed by going to http://twitter.com/IRSenEspanol.

The IRS Twitter feeds will work in conjunction with http://www.irs.gov and the IRS YouTube channels to bring IRS information direct to taxpayers. Since August of 2009, there have been more than 1 million views of videos on the IRSvideos ( http://www.youtube.com/irsvideo), IRS Multilingual (http://www.youtube.com/user/IRSvideosmultilingua) and IRS American Sign Language (ASL) ( http://www.youtube.com/IRSvideosASL) channels.

In addition to Twitter and YouTube, the IRS provides additional social media tools to inform and assist taxpayers.

IRS Patrol: IRS Provides Help For Small Employers Eligible to Claim the Small Business Health Tax Credit for the 2010 Tax Year.

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Help is always nice to get – specially with all the new tax rules out there – and more on the way.  I can hardly keep them all straight.  If you are wondering if you qualify for this credit read on.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released final guidance for small employers eligible to claim the new small business health care tax credit for the 2010 tax year. Today’s release includes a one-page form and instructions small employers will use to claim the credit for the 2010 tax year.

New Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, and newly revised Form 990-T are now available on IRS.gov. The IRS also posted on its website the instructions to Form 8941 and Notice 2010-82 , both of which are designed to help small employers correctly figure and claim the credit.

Included in the Affordable Care Act enacted in March, the small business health care tax credit is designed to encourage both small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations to offer health insurance coverage to their employees for the first time or maintain coverage they already have.

The new guidance addresses small business questions about which firms qualify for the credit by clarifying that a broad range of employers meet the eligibility requirements, including religious institutions that provide coverage through denominational organizations, small employers that cover their workers through insured multiemployer health and welfare plans, and employers that subsidize their employees’ health care costs through a broad range of contribution arrangements.

In general, the credit is available to small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees. It is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ moderate- and lower-income workers.

Small businesses can claim the credit for 2010 through 2013 and for any two years after that. For tax years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible small businesses and 25 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations. Beginning in 2014, the maximum tax credit will increase to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations.

The maximum credit goes to smaller employers –– those with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees –– paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less. The credit is completely phased out for employers that have 25 or more FTEs or that pay average wages of $50,000 or more per year. Because the eligibility rules are based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, employers that use part-time workers may qualify even if they employ more than 25 individuals.

Eligible small businesses will first use Form 8941 to figure the credit and then include the amount of the credit as part of the general business credit on its income tax return.

Tax-exempt organizations will first use Form 8941 to figure their refundable credit, and then claim the credit on Line 44f of Form 990-T. Though primarily filed by those organizations liable for the tax on unrelated business income, Form 990-T will also be used by any eligible tax-exempt organization to claim the credit, regardless of whether they are subject to this tax.

More information about the credit, including a step-by-step guide to claiming the credit and answers to frequently asked questions, is available on the Affordable Care Act page on IRS.gov.



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!

IRS Patrol: IRS Releases Draft W-2 Form for 2011; Announces Relief for Employers (Optional Reporting of the Cost of Health Coverage in 2011)

 

Engraving of the U.S. Treasury building in 1804.

engraving of the US Treasury building in 1804

 

Stacie says:  Doesn’t good news come in three’s?  Well here is good news number two for the day – the IRS announced that it will defer the new requirement for employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.  The reporting is now optional in 2011.

WASHINGTON — The IRS today issued a draft Form W-2 for 2011, which employers use to report wages and employee tax withholding. The IRS also announced that it will defer the new requirement for employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan, making that reporting by employers optional in 2011.

The draft Form W-2 includes the codes that employers may use to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.  The Treasury Department and the IRS have determined that this relief is necessary to provide employers the time they need to make changes to their payroll systems or procedures in preparation for compliance with the new reporting requirement. The IRS will be publishing guidance on the new requirement later this year.

Although reporting the cost of coverage will be optional with respect to 2011, the IRS continues to stress that the amounts reportable are not taxable. Included in the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March, the new reporting requirement is intended to be informational only, and to provide employees with greater transparency into overall health care costs.

IRS Presents:Ten Things Tax-Exempt Organizations Need to Know About the Oct. 15 Due Date (This is a how to on keeping your exempt status)

 

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Stacie says: This tax tip is some particularly good information from the IRS for tax exempt organizations to help them keep their exempt status.   The time period to fix your delinquent Form 990 filings for years 2007, 2008 or 2009 will expire on October 15.  That’s just a few more days.  You are encouraged to take advantage and keep your tax exempt status.

A crucial filing deadline of Oct. 15 is looming for many tax-exempt organizations that are required by law to file their Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service or risk having their federal tax-exempt status revoked. Nonprofit organizations that are at risk can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010, under a one-time relief program.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 mandates that most tax-exempt organizations must file an annual return or submit an electronic notice, with the IRS and it also requires that any tax-exempt organization that fails to file for three consecutive years automatically loses its federal tax-exempt status.

Here are 10 facts to help nonprofit organizations maintain their tax-exempt status.

  1. Small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010.
  2. Among the organizations that could lose their tax-exempt status are local sports associations and community support groups, volunteer fire and ambulance associations and their auxiliaries, social clubs, educational societies, veterans groups, church-affiliated groups, groups designed to assist those with special needs and a variety of others.
  3. A list of the organizations that were at-risk as of the end of July is posted at IRS.gov along with instructions on how to comply with the new law.
  4. Two types of relief are available for small exempt organizations — a filing extension for the smallest organizations required to file Form 990-N, Electronic Notice and a voluntary compliance program for small organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax.
  5. Small tax-exempt organizations with annual receipts of $25,000 or less can file an electronic notice Form 990-N also known as the e-Postcard. To file the e-Postcard go to the IRS website and supply the eight information items called for on the form.
  6. Under the voluntary compliance program, tax-exempt organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ must file their delinquent annual information returns by Oct. 15 and pay a compliance fee.
  7. The relief is not available to larger organizations required to file the Form 990 or to private foundations that file the Form 990-PF.
  8. Organizations that have not filed the required information return by the extended Oct. 15 due date will have their tax-exempt status revoked.
  9. If an organization loses its exemption, it will have to reapply with the IRS to regain its tax-exempt status and any income received between the revocation date and renewed exemption may be taxable.
  10. Donors who contribute to at-risk organizations are protected until the final revocation list is published by the IRS.

Links:

One-Time Filing Relief for Small Organizations That Failed to File for Three Consecutive Years

Filing Relief – 990-N Filers

Filing Relief/Voluntary Compliance Program – 990-EZ Filers

IR-2010-101: Taxpayers Face Oct. 15 Deadlines: Due Dates for Extension Filers, Non-Profits Approach

YouTube Videos:

Small Tax-Exempt Orgs Revised Deadline: English

Time Is Running Out – Three Deadlines: English

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

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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.

The IRS Announces: No More Paper Coupons It’s Time to Learn How To Use EFTPS

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Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

It’s time for those taxpayers who are fighting the electronic age to step it up.  The IRS today issued proposed Regs to discontinue the use of paper coupons as early as next year.  If you try to send in a paper coupon after December 31, 2010, there wont be anyone at the Treasury Department to process it.  More information about the proposed Regs is presented below:

Proposed Regulations Expand the Use of Electronic Payment System and Discontinue Paper Coupons Next Year

Consistent with a Financial Management Service initiative announced in April of this year, the IRS today issued proposed regulations to significantly increase the number of electronic transactions between taxpayers and the federal government.

The proposed regulations (REG 153340-09) would eliminate the rules for making federal tax deposits by paper coupon because the paper coupon system will no longer be maintained by the Treasury Department after Dec. 31, 2010.  The proposed regulations generally maintain existing rules for depositing federal taxes through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Using EFTPS to make federal tax deposits provides substantial benefits to both taxpayers and the government.  EFTPS users can make tax payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week from home or the office.

Deposits can be made online with a computer or by telephone.  EFTPS also significantly reduces payment-related errors that could result in a penalty.  The system helps taxpayers schedule dates to make payments even when they are out of town or on vacation when a payment is due.  EFTPS business users can schedule payments up to 120 days in advance of the desired payment date.

Information on EFTPS, including how to enroll, can be found at EFTPS website or by calling EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477.

Some businesses paying a minimal amount of tax may make their payments with the related tax return, instead of using EFTPS.  More details regarding taxes required to be deposited using EFTPS, dollar thresholds and other specific requirements are in the proposed regulations.

Additional Information:

  • Publication 4132, which explains the process of enrolling and paying via the Internet
  • Publication 966, The Secure Way to Pay Your Federal Taxes for Businesses and Individuals
  • Publication 4169, Tax Professional Guide to Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
  • Publication 4320, EFTPS Toolkit, which contains PDF(s) and descriptions of EFTPS educational materials and their intended target audience, and is for use by tax professionals and financial institutions to assist in educating their clients on the benefits of EFTPS.
  • Publication 4275, Express Enrollment for New Businesses
  • Electronic Payment Options Home Page
  • IRS Patrol:IRS to Hold Special Open House Saturday, Sept. 25 for Veterans and Persons with Disabilities

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    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service will host a special nationwide open house on Saturday, Sept. 25 to help taxpayers –– especially veterans and people with disabilities –– solve tax problems and respond to IRS notices.

    One hundred offices, at least one in every state, will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. IRS staff will be available on site or by telephone to help taxpayers work through issues and leave with solutions.

    In many locations, the IRS will partner with organizations that serve veterans and the disabled to offer additional help and information to people in these communities. Partner organizations include the National Disability Institute (NDI), Vets First, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Council on Independent Living and the American Legion.

    “Taxpayers have tremendous success solving their tax issues at our open houses,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “I want to encourage veterans and people with disabilities to come in on Sept. 25. Just like we reached out earlier this year to small businesses and victims of the Gulf Oil Spill, we want to help other taxpayers put their toughest problems behind them.”

    IRS locations will be equipped to handle issues involving notices and payments, return preparation, audits and a variety of other issues. At a previous IRS open house on June 5, over 6,700 taxpayers sought and received assistance and 96 percent had their issues resolved the same day.

    At the Sept. 25 open house, anyone who has a tax question or has received a notice can speak with an IRS employee to get an answer to their question or a clear explanation of what is necessary to satisfy the request. A taxpayer who cannot pay a balance due can find out whether an installment agreement is appropriate and, if so, fill out the paperwork then and there. Assistance with offers-in-compromise — an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s debt for less than the full amount owed — will also be available. Likewise, a taxpayer struggling to complete a certain IRS form or schedule can work directly with IRS staff to get the job done.

    Taxpayers requiring special services, such as interpretation for the deaf or hard of hearing, should check local listings and call the local IRS Office/Taxpayer Assistance Center ahead of time to schedule an appointment.

    The open house on Sept. 25 is the third of three events scheduled after this year’s tax season. Plans are underway for similar events next year. Details will be available at a later date.

    Reminder for Small Tax-Exempt Organizations

    The IRS also encourages representatives of small tax-exempt charitable community organizations, many of which serve people with disabilities and veterans, to file Form 990-N before the Oct. 15 deadline. Community organizations that fail to file a Form 990-N by this date risk losing their tax exempt status. As of June 30, more than 320,000 organizations were at risk of losing their exempt status.

    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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