In the blogs: The fun’s back in ‘refund’

Advice

Phishing and the season’s latest scams; FBAR whistleblowing returns; best sales-tax questions; and other highlights from our favorite tax bloggers.

The fun’s back in ‘refund’

  • Don’t Mess with Taxes (http://dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com/): The good word on processing returns — and the even better news about refunds — from the Office of Management and Budget, leaked first by the chief White House correspondent for MSNBC. Seems one key in the whole refund constipation was an “indefinite appropriation,” the OMB’s determination that issuing tax refunds is not something that needs annual congressional approval. Pity anything that does.
  • Tax Girl (http://blogs.forbes.com/kellyphillipserb): “Traditionally, the IRS hasn’t issued refunds to taxpayers while the government is shut down. That appeared to be the case this time when the Department of Treasury posted its Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan for the IRS last month.” Said plan covered about nine days, an at-once optimistic and pitiful blueprint for functioning when your agency depends on Washington money these days.
  • Taxable Talk (http://www.taxabletalk.com/): Back to Reality Dept.: “Meanwhile,” the blogger writes, “other IRS services are closed. I cannot fax Powers of Attorney forms to the IRS; those fax numbers are down. I have an outstanding IRS audit where we’re waiting for information from the IRS auditor; he’s not working right now so the audit is on hold. I need to set up a payment plan for another client; I have no one to call at the IRS right now…”
  • Tax Foundation (https://taxfoundation.org/blog): Rep. Nita Lowey and Rep. Peter King, representing both parties and both representing New York, have introduced a bill in the House to repeal the $10,000 SALT cap. Repealing this provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would reduce federal revenue by more than $600 billion over the next 10 years — and almost exclusively provide tax relief to the top 20 percent of income earners, the largest tax cut going to the top 1 percent of earners.

Spear itself

  • Sagenext (https://www.thesagenext.com/blog): Tax season (now that we’re going to have one) is also phishing season. Risks and warnings here cover attack via email links or attachments; spear phishing using the lure of a few actual details about yourself; whaling attacks on the higher management of a company; and vishing and smishing via phone and texts.
  • John R. Dundon II EA (https://www.johnrdundon.com): Do you have a data protection plan involving malware, encryption and other protection?
  • Boyum Barenscheer (https://myboyum.com/blog/): A look at economic damages in a business (say, one of your client’s), including defining them and recovering what was lost.
  • The Wandering Tax Pro (http://wanderingtaxpro.blogspot.com/): A look at the big change with the 1040, “replaced with the ridiculous new ‘postcard’ 1040 and six new supplementary schedules — probably the stupidest thing I have ever seen in my almost 48 years in the tax preparation business.”

Open FBAR

  • Mahany Law (http://www.mahanyertl.com/mahanyertl/): Whistleblowing on FBAR violations laid low for a variety of reasons for a while, but Congress has re-opened the door to FBAR whistleblower claims — with potentially billions of dollars on the line.
  • Federal Tax Crimes (http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.com/): A circuit court affirmed a district court order of contempt for compelling the wife of a grand jury target to produce records of her foreign bank activity for the years 2011 through 2016, despite her assertion that the spousal testimonial privilege protected her from compelled production of the documents.
  • Mauled Again (http://mauledagain.blogspot.com/): Philadelphia’s soda tax may well have doomed the sales at a Shoprite grocery store just inside that city’s limits — and in what the owner pointed out was a food desert, i.e., an urban area where groceries both healthy and unhealthy were hard to find. The soda levy in this case would’ve done less harm, the blogger contends, had the tax been dispersed over a wider variety of all unhealthy products.
  • Wolters Kluwer (http://news.cchgroup.com/): A look at New Jersey’s recent granting of automatic extensions to some fiscal-year corporate filers.
  • Rubin on Tax (http://rubinontax.floridatax.com): Reform imposed a penalty on excess compensation paid to employees of an ATEO, an excise tax of 21 percent on compensation paid to a covered employee in excess of $1 million and on any excess parachute payments paid to a covered employee. A look at the recent IRS Notice 2019-9 and its interim rules on how the tax will apply.

Remote control

  • Summing It Up (http://blog.freedmaxick.com/summing-it-up): Critical questions to ask about 2019 sales tax obligations. Note: “In a short period of time, there have been numerous state reactions that will undoubtedly affect your sales tax liability in an adverse way… if you have not made it a priority to address these issues, revenue-hungry states will be sure to pursue these tax dollars…”
  • Taxjar (http://blog.taxjar.com/): And incidentally, what’s the economic nexus in Washington, D.C.?
  • Liberty Tax (http://www.libertytax.com/tax-lounge): What to tell them about reform and charitable giving, including bunching, IRA transfers and use of appreciated assets.
  • Dinesen Tax Times (http://dinesentax.com/blog): A look back at the top five posts of 2018 from the blog, including the need for filing after age 72, deductible credit card purchases and an overview of S corporations and charitable contributions.
  • TaxProf Blog (http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/): The most popular tax articles of 2018 for this site include federal income tax treatment of charitable contributions entitling the donor to a state tax credit, understanding reform, pass-through rules and are we all becoming independent contractors?

In remembrance

  • Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders (http://ritakeller.com/blog/): A look back at the recently deceased Herb Kelleher, who brought a unique approach to being a company leader. “Start with employees,” he once said, “and the rest follows from that.” CPAs often make things way too difficult in managing their firms, spending days talking about and drafting a strategic plan that gets distributed to staff and is never seen again. Here’s some advice from Herb.

Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson is a veteran freelance journalist who previously served as editor of The Practical Accountant.

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