Tax Guru – Ker$tetter Letter

Helping real people win the tax game.

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Archive for April 9th, 2002

Posted by taxguru on April 9, 2002

Black Tax Scam

I am really tired of debunking the story that blacks are entitled to a special tax credit. However, it is still floating around like a lot of Internet supported urban legends. So, let Thomas Sowell try to get make the point, in his so eloquent way, that anyone stupid enough to fall for this will be hit with serious fines from IRS.

This is as good a time as any to remind everyone to check out stories with Snopes.com before passing them on. A friend of Sherry’s sent her the Bonsai Kitten spoof yesterday as if it were real and they were all upset. It’s just a joke.

KMK

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Posted by taxguru on April 9, 2002

Due Dates For 2000 Tax Returns

There is a lot of confusion regarding the later allowable due dates for 2000 tax returns because of the disruption caused by the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and the resulting aftermath. I admit that I added somewhat to the confusion; so I want to clear things up…at least until the law changes again.

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, with the normal extension due date of October 15 approaching, IRS announced that it was extending that due date for 120 more days, the longest it had authority to do at that time. This moved the due date to February 12, 2002. Having been through literally thousands of messy IRS confrontations over the past 26+ years, I understand the value of official documentation of as much as possible. For that reason, before 10/15/01, I sent IRS extension forms for several clients documenting the new due date of 2/12/02 for their 2000 tax returns. As I mentioned earlier, this caused a lot of confusion with IRS personnel, and for some of my clients.

Then, there was another change. On January 23, 2002 the President signed into law H.R. 2884, the Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act of 2001 (Public Law Number 107-134). The new law provides income and estate tax relief for victims of the terrorist attacks in Oklahoma City in 1995, the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C., and those affected by the anthrax attacks between September 11 and the end of 2001.

You can see the full explanation of this law here.

The provision that applies to the due dates is as follows:

IRS Authority to Postpone Tax-related Deadlines:

IRC �7508A was amended to allow the IRS to postpone certain tax-related deadlines due to a Presidentially declared disaster or terroristic or military action. Under the old rules, the IRS could postpone deadlines for up to 120 days. Under the new rules, the IRS can postpone deadlines for up to 1 year. In addition to Presidentially declared disasters, the IRS can also postpone deadlines due to terroristic or military action as defined in section 692(c)(2).

This new authority moves the deadline for 2000 income tax returns to October 15, 2002, one year after their original extended due dates. I am still working on a number of 2000 tax returns; but I have no intention of waiting until 10/15/02 to finish them because we can’t work on the 2001 returns until the 2000 ones are completed.

That is how things stand now. If the MidEast conflict goes nuclear, as some people are predicting, it will most likely change yet again. It is an almost certainty, given the legendary (lack of) efficiency among IRS personnel, that many of them are unaware of this new law and will have to have it pointed out to them, as is so often the case.

KMK

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Posted by taxguru on April 9, 2002

Not the Cheapest

For my entire 26+ year career in the tax business, H&R Block has always been considered the bargain basement low end provider of tax prep services; always with the proviso that you get what you pay for. They cater to a very different clientele than I have and I have never considered them to be competition, especially in regard to the fees. I have always charged based on time and not on a per schedule basis as Block does.

The other day, I clicked on one of their ad banners to see how their new online prep service functions. Before you start giving them actual data, they provide you with a rough idea of what the fee will be. You click on the types of forms you will have. At $29.95 each, with just a few basic forms, I was up to almost a $600 projected fee in no time. Considering that the software automatically prepares the forms with very little effort for most of them, this is quite a racket. Since the average return I prepare costs costs around $500, I’m not sure how to take this, being less expensive than H&R Block. It’s a little embarrassing and may require a review of my fee structure before next year’s tax season.

KMK

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Posted by taxguru on April 9, 2002

Chill Out

It never ceases to amaze me how panicky people get this time of year. They feel that if they don’t get their tax returns finished and in the mail by April 15, they will be hauled off to prison on April 16. I have been preaching the benefits of extensions for decades.

Give yourself another four months to ensure that you do everything properly. Here is the Federal extension form, 4868. It is the easiest form IRS has and doesn’t even require a signature.

Most states piggy back on the Federal extensions and only require their own extension forms if there is a payment accompanying it. You can reach all of the State tax websites via SisterStates.com.

KMK

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Posted by taxguru on April 9, 2002

Bragging About Spending

Last night, I saw the first TV commercial for our US Senator Tim Hutchinson’s re-election campaign. I have met him on a number of occasions since moving here to the Ozarks and have always considered him to be a very nice guy. That’s why I was so surprised by the tone of his commercial. From the accomplishments he was touting, it’s impossible to tell which party he is affiliated with. His very first topic was to brag about helping to increase Federal spending on education by $20 billion. I know I have a twisted view of the world, but I couldn’t help translating that statement in my mind to say “I took $20 billion more money from the taxpayers to give to the incompetent schools.” Here’s my question to believers in the GOP. How would that campaign commercial be different if Tim Hutchinson were a Democrat?

Where is the political party that brags about spending less money and stealing less money from the people? The only one I am aware of is the Libertarian Party, but unfortunately there is no LP candidate for US Senate here in Arkansas.

KMK

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Posted by taxguru on April 9, 2002

Robbing Peter To Pay Paul

George Bernard Shaw had it so right when he said “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on Paul’s support.” One of the sneaky strategies our rulers in DC have been doing over the past several years is shifting the tax burden off of the lower income masses and onto the back of the few evil rich. This capitalizes on the widespread envy and hatred of successful people in this country.

I was glad to see the fairly widespread coverage of this AP story showing that the evil rich pay most of the taxes in this country. The “progressive” tax rate structure in this country confiscates a much higher percentage of the income form the top producers than of the lower income people.

When it comes to sheer voter power, the Pauls (lower income) vastly outnumber the Peters (evil rich). Is it any wonder who the politicians pander to?

For newcomers who don’t understand my use of the term “evil rich,” please check out this explanation.

KMK

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