Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Are Your Suggestions for Improving the IRS?

The New York Times posted an interesting article today about the Taxpayer's Advocacy Panel. Their job, as you may now, is help make the IRS more accessible. An ongoing Memember, Herb Bohrer, spoke with Ann Carrns about his expereiences in making the IRS more "user-friendly".

Why Don't People Like the IRS?

Herb talked in detail about why the IRS remains reviled. Here are some of the points he covered.

You can't contact them: It's notoriously difficult to get anyone on the line when you call the IRS. You can wait for hours on hold before you issue is finally resolved...and that's only if you're lucky. Resolving any IRS issue will typically take multiple phone calls.

No E-mails: The IRS does not communicate with taxpayers by e-mail due to security concerns. He claims the IRS is working on ways to fix this, but in the meantime, you have to rely on slow telephone communication.

Taxpayer Advocate IRS Advice

Herb suggests you have as much information as possible before you call the IRS. He warns that in addition to having all of your facts right and as much documentation as possible, you'll need a heaping helping of patience to get through the call!

You Can Always Rely on Professional Help

It's intimidating and difficult to get through an IRS call, and of course, no IRS issue is resolved with a phone call alone. If you don't even know where to begin, seek assistance from a professional. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

News of the Weird in the IRS World

There was so much bizarre IRS news in our radar this morning that we've decided to share a little bit of everything that's going on in the IRS world these days! Things get crazy in the final days before your taxes are due.

Kansas City IRS Attack

An IRS complex in Kansas City was under siege this morning. The fire department was called to the complex to investigate a suspicious envelope. The envelope was said to be leaking a mysterious substance. The envelope was taken away by the authorities for further investigation, and the IRS employees went right back to work. Story Source.

IRS Selling a Thieving Lawyer's Home

The IRS is working on selling the home of a former New Hampshire lawyer who stole over $1 million from his clients. James Hobbes is the attorney's name, and he's serving a 10 to 20 year sentence for perjury and theft. Some of his crimes, like stealing $500K from a deceased client's disabled daughter, are heartbreaking. You might be on the IRS's side in this one! Story Source.

EA Founder William Hawkins Proves Bankruptcy isn't a Tax Debt Solution

EA founder William 'Trip' Hawkins has racked up a massive tax debt in excess of $20 million! His story is a cautionary tale for those who hope to resolve their tax debt through bankruptcy. A US district judge was quoted saying: "Hawkins planned to defeat his taxes via bankruptcy and continue living the lifestyle to which he had grown accustomed...he continued to spend money extravagantly with knowledge of his tax liabilities. Story Source.
Stop with the IRS Packages

And finally, a funny story on why you should stop sending your suspicious packages to the IRS. "Take the time you'd normally spend putting your leaky substance into an envelope and e-file those taxes. Sending baby powder is not the way to get an extension." Story Source.

March is almost out like a lamb. The tax filing deadline is April 18th for your 2010 taxes. If you've yet to file, read these Top 10 IRS Tax Filing Tips to help you get started. Thinking of hiring a tax professional? Use these 5 Tax Preparer Questions to ensure you pick the right pro for your case.

Monday, March 28, 2011

5 Questions For Your Tax Preparer

If you're hiring help this tax filing season, make sure you choose the best help available. Sit down and ask your tax preparer the following questions to make sure you're choosing the right one:

What type of training have you received?
You want a qualified and educated tax preparer.

What professionals organizations are you a part of?
You want your tax preparer to be a part of professional organizations. Professional organizations require tax preparers to meet stringent regulations, and sometimes even receive continuing education so they're on top of all the tax laws.

How much do you charge?
Some tax preparers will charge you a flat fee, while others will charge by the form. If you have a particularly complex tax case, they may charge by the hour.

Can you represent me if I am audited?
Your tax preparer must be a lawyer, CPA, or IRS licensed enrolled agent in order to represent you before the IRS when it comes to audit, collection actions, or appeals.

Is your office open year-round?
You'll want your tax preparer available all year so you can ask pertinent questions if necessary!

Final Tip: Watch out for a tax preparer that charges a contingent fee, or a percentage of your projected refund. The preparer may be tempted to get you the largest refund possible- even if it gets you in serious trouble! Remember, you'll get the blame if something goes wrong!