The unthinkable has happened. The one year estate tax repeal for 2010 that was enacted in 2001 is in effect, and now it appears that, if it is reinstated at all, the restoration will be prospective, not retroactive.
The IRS has announced that about 10,000 tax return preparers are receiving a letter reminding them of their responsibilities as a tax return preparer and common errors on income tax returns. In addition, a random sample of preparers are being visited by IRS revenue agents this tax season. The visits are expected to last about three hours.
The IRS professional responsibilities division has also lately been more heavy handed in raiding offices of preparers viewed as being abusive in claiming unsubstanted deductions and credits and imposing penalties, including suspending preparers from preparing income tax returns. A leading reason for suspending enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys from practicing before the IRS is failure to file their own income tax returns.
Taxpayers who “shop” for a tax return preparer based on “getting the maximum refund” or taking very agressive tax positions should be on notice. The IRS is serious about improving enforcement at the preparer level. The entire client file of a tax return preparer who is deemed to be “abusive” may be selected for tax audits. It has already happened.
When evaluating who to hire to prepare your income tax returns, you should try to assess whether this is an individual or firm who is making a priority of keeping you out of trouble with the IRS. If you are taking a position that could lead to litigation, you want to know about it in advance and what your risks are by taking such a position.
Also, ask if your tax return preparer is up to date in filing his or her own income tax returns.
Financial Insider Weekly is scheduled to begin broadcasts on Saratoga Community Access TV, Comcast channel 15, on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m., starting Monday, February 15, 2010.
Financial Insider Weekly interview of Professor Patricia Cain of Santa Clara University School of Law discussing estate and gift tax problems of same sex couples is scheduled for broadcast this Wednesday, 2/10/10 at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Comcast Channel 15 in San Jose and Campbell.
Community Media Center of Marin will be broadcasting Financial Insider Weekly on Comcast channel 26 and ATT channel 99 at 7 p.m. Thursdays.
The 1099 form is just the starting point for reporting cancellation of debt income. This is one time that hiring a professional tax return preparer who is familiar with the rules can be a worthwhile investment.
New federal partnership Form 1065, Schedule B-1 about partnership ownership is required for 2009 partnership income tax returns. In family partnerships, many partners could show up to 100% ownership because of "attribution rules".
Same sex married couples have different income tax filing status in California and other states. Michael Gray interviews Professor Patricia Cain of Santa Clara University for the details.
Starting with 2009 federal income tax returns, taxpayers will be required to attach certain documents in order to claim the New Homebuyer Credit. A new credit of up to $6,500 is available to taxpayers who have lived in a residence for more than five years, but they might have trouble finding documents to prove their residence during the five-year period.
Taxpayers can choose whether to deduct certain donations paid in 2010 to US Charities for Haiti earthquake relief on their 2009 or 2010 income tax returns.