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Archive for the ‘preparers’ Category

Liberty Tax Service Busted By Feds

Posted by taxguru on December 12, 2019

Since they cater to a completely different kind of clientele than we work with, I haven’t made much effort to keep up with the latest workings of the big assembly line tax prep services.

While the long held stereotype for H&R Block has been that they don’t work as hard to use all of the tricks of the trade to legally minimize taxes for their clients, I had no idea that the guys who pay people to stand on street corners in Statue of Liberty costumes have had an established corporate culture of preparing fraudulent tax returns, as described in this recent news release from the U.S. Dept of Justice:

Justice Department Announces Settlement With Liberty Tax Service

With this heavy scrutiny on their tax prep practices, we can only guess as to how much longer they can stay in business.

It will also be very interesting to see if any of the other big assembly line tax prep services mention these legal problems that Liberty has been having in their ads.  That market is very competitive, so it is entirely possible that one or more of the other companies will contrast themselves as being free of this kind of scandal and government investigation.



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Pushing back against the IRS PTIN Fees

Posted by taxguru on September 10, 2014

Interesting article and comments regarding the IRS’s recently enacted policy of charging us preparers for the annual use of a PTIN, which used to be free.  It’s great to see other tax practitioners who are not afraid to publicly disagree with IRS practices. 

 CPAs Sue IRS over PTIN Fees

The main concern isn’t the amount of money IRS is charging for the PTIN, which is actually a small fraction of what we already pay to maintain our CPA licenses; but the increasing control IRS is trying to exercise over our relationship with our clients in regard to helping them legally reduce their tax burdens. 


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129 Year Stretch

Posted by taxguru on September 25, 2013

IRS is trying to use a 129 year old law to justify their overly-zealous regulation of tax return preparers.  If the first 1040 tax returns were for 1913, how does an 1884 law apply to that?

 IRS rides 1884 ‘dead horse’ law to defense of tax preparer rules


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Too many tax preparers?

Posted by taxguru on August 15, 2012

Interesting article from Drudge about the number of tax preparers in this country.

When tax complexity puts dinner on the table

Up to 1.2 million tax preparers make a living navigating the labyrinth US tax code for taxpayers. We have more professional tax preparers in the United States than law enforcement officers (765,000) and professional firefighters (310,400) combined.

What I find ironic is the fact that I frequently hear complaints from other tax preparers about the growing number of people who don’t use our services and use the do it yourself software products or online services to prepare their tax returns. Also, with the new stricter regulations on preparers, many are deciding to leave the profession. 

Update: Video of Lou Dobbs on this same topic.


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Posted by taxguru on March 3, 2012

From David Letterman via NewsMax:

It’s tax time. I switched to a new tax guy and I think he’s fantastic. He wants me to establish my full-time residence in Syria.

Every time I drive up to my new tax guy’s office, he says the same thing. “You weren’t tailed, were you?”

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Free tax prep at WalMart?

Posted by taxguru on January 13, 2012

Living here in the heart of official WalMart country for the past 19 years, we are big customers and supporters of theirs. However, I’m still not ready to trust them and their assembly line tax prep associates (H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt) with any complicated tax matters.

According to this WalMart press release, they will be providing free 1040EZ tax prep services this tax season.  In actuality, these taxpayers are the same ones who could also qualify for free tax filing under the programs run by IRS and several State tax agencies. 

As with any of the big assembly line firms, I don’t think any of us tax pros who work with regular 1040s have anything to worry about in terms of competition from WalMart.  Any client who would try to get us to drop our fees to match WalMart’s should be told where to find the nearest WalMart store.

Jimmy Fallon had a comment about this the other night:

Wal-Mart is now offering free tax advice at more than 3,000 of its stores. Finally answering the question, “Where can I get tax advice, kitty litter, and a shotgun all in one convenient location?”


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


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Wrong divorce advisor

Posted by taxguru on December 3, 2011

Even though he’s a clownish buffoon, the bone-headed accountant in the TV show, Life’s Too Short, cracks me up.  From the latest episode is this scene, where he is brought in to help with with divorce negotiations.



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Most idiotic idea of the week…

Posted by taxguru on November 16, 2011

Proposal to Let IRS Prepare Tax Returns Raises Concern as D.C. Looks Under the Cushions 

What a great deal for taxpayers.  They can save a few hundred dollars in preparation fees in exchange for paying thousands more in taxes.  Can anyone think of a bigger conflict of interest than allowing IRS to calculate your taxes?


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Wrong reason to choose a tax preparer…

Posted by taxguru on November 11, 2011

I just saw the complete first episode of Ricky Gervais’ new show, Life’s Too Short, and it had the full scene between the main star and his tax accountant.  It is even funnier than the clip I posted earlier; but it also gives more details of how things got in such bad shape.  As too many people do, he had been using the tax services of an incompetent accountant merely because he was a friend.  As is often the case in real life, he now doesn’t have the heart to stop using his friend and will go on paying hundreds of thousands in additional taxes as a result. I’ve lost track of how may times I have heard cases just like this in real life.

Here is the full scene from the first episode. 


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Posted by taxguru on October 24, 2010

New Online Registration System for Paid Tax Return Preparers Is Now Available –  The IRS’s online application system for all of us to obtain PTINs is now active.  Even those of us who already have PTINs need to renew them and pay the new fee of $64.25.

I decided to give it a spin to see how easy it was to use and if the promise was true that we could keep our existing PTINs.  In typical government fashion, it was less efficient than it needed to be. Rather than allow those us with PTINs to start from there, I had to enter my SSN and everything else from scratch, as if I hadn’t been preparing tax returns professionally for the past 35 years.  I had to type in the same address info twice. I entered my nine digit zipcode, which it accepted.  Then, a few screens later, it said the zip was in the wrong format and I had to go back to both address screens and change them to five digits.  It asked for my FEIN and CAF numbers, but not my existing PTIN.  My full CAF number wouldn’t fit in the allowed space, so I had to remove a zero from the middle.  I’ll see if that screws this up.  They don’t accept American Express, my favorite credit card; so I had to use a MasterCard.

The website estimates 20 minutes to fill it in, and that was about right.  I submitted everything and paid the fee on 9/28/10.  Now I’ll see how long it takes for my new or renewed PTIN to arrive.

Update – On 10/15/10, I received a postcard from IRS via  snail mail, saying that an online account had been created in my name.  Today (10/24/10), I logged in to my account and it showed my PTIN number as the same one I had been using for several years and an expiration date of 10/31/2011.  When I went in to check my details, I noticed that they had fixed the CAF section to allow the proper number of digits; so I added back the zero I had left out of the original application.

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