Tax Guru – Ker$tetter Letter

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Tax Research

Posted by taxguru on April 8, 2007


Subject: tax research
Dear Mr. Kerstetter,
Hello.  I am a CPA located in Miami, Florida.  This e-mail might sound a little strange but I found your web site, I think via Google, and it appears very informative so I was wondering if I might be able to pick your brain a little.
Background I have about 18 years experience as an accountant but I have not prepared taxes in many many years.  I worked for about 6 years at Coopers & Lybrand in the early/mid 1990s before they merged with PW.  However, I was an auditor the entire time at C&L and did not get a chance to learn corporate/partnership taxation.  I currently work as the CFO/Controller for a medium sized general aviation firm here in Miami.  However, I want to start doing tax returns to make additional income and transition out of the corporate world.  Initially, I would like to become qualified to prepare more complex personal, corporate and partnership returns and maybe eventually do some estate work.  I have purchased the Lacerte tax software and I am currently building a small base of clients.
Issues The main problem is that I have already run into some tax questions that I cannot readily answer.  One question regards a current cash basis C Corp that is interested in converting to a cash basis S Corp (I think this is how I found your company) Another question is an accrual basis S Corp that wants to convert to a cash basis S Corp.  Another issue that has been raised is how far back can the IRS go to request payroll data one of my clients lost most of their payroll records from 2002 and prior during a hurricane in 2005 and now the IRS is asking for records for 2000 and 2001.  These are just 3 examples of the questions that I have already run across and I have only been trying to build tax clients for a few months now.  Anyway, my main question is what is the best way for me to research these more complex issues?  How do you do your tax research and what resources do you use?
I would greatly appreciate any help and insight you can provide to me as I do not want to erroneously advise these new clients.  Thank you in advance for your help.



I used to waste a lot of money subscribing to the expensive tax research services, only to use them maybe one or two times a year.  I have had much better success using the reference books from QuickFinders and the new TaxBook from the former QuickFinder writers.  I use those practically every day.

The message boards on both the QuickFinders and TaxBook websites are very active, with tax pros helping each other answer tricky issues.  You should be able to get a lot of help there.

For the past several months, I also have been subscribing to the TaxCoach Software online service and have found it to have a very useful and growing wealth of information for clients, as well as people to whom I am making presentations.

For the super difficult issues, you may want to consult with a more experienced tax pro.  I pay a tax attorney in Fayetteville his regular rate to help me on cases that go beyond my expertise. Likewise, I have some other tax pros as clients, who pay me my regular rate for advice on how to proceed on sticky cases.

Building up personal knowledge and expertise does take time; but these resources should reduce the learning curve by quite a bit.  I have links to the sites I mentioned in the blogroll on the right side of my blog.

Good luck.

Kerry Kerstetter



TaxCoach Software: Are you giving your clients what they really want?


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