you think you have tax problems?
INFORMATION NEEDED TO
PREPARE TAX RETURNS
What about poor old Uncle Sam? He is undergoing the struggle of his life trying to contend with all the Congressional nonsense that has found its way into the Tax Code. I have no kind words for our political leaders. I just hope and pray they have not screwed the rest of our Country as they have screwed up the Internal Revenue Code. Consider the following:
- According to CCH there are now over 80,000 pages in the Internal Revenue Code. There were only 400 pages when the Code was first enacted in 1913. It is impossible for an ordinary taxpayer to comprehend, no less comply with, such a myriad of unintelligible regulations. Uncle Sam is having trouble keeping pace with the forever changing and exponentially expanding Internal Revenue Code. He tries by sending Revenue Agents back to school for an assortment of "training programs." However, by the time the Revenue Agents learn the new rules, our fickle Congress changes their minds again.
- It is time to take the word "Service" away from Internal Revenue Service. They can't even answer their phones, so how are they going to provide any service? Uncle Sam has been understaffed for years. So what did Congress do about this? They cut the IRS budget even further!
Now you know where the sarcastic phrase, "infinite wisdom of Congress" comes from. IRS estimates that for every one dollar spent on hiring new Revenue Agents they earn $4.00 in additional revenue. Our political leaders know this, but they are afraid to allocate additional funds to IRS. How would they explain a vote in favor of IRS to their constituents?
Understaffing at IRS might appear to be a good thing for you and me as individuals. After all, who needs a Revenue Agent knocking on your door, asking questions? But this is no way to run the business of our Nation. Billions of dollars go uncollected because of your Congressperson's weakness and ineptitude.
- I can't begin to tell you the complications Obamacare has created for IRS. As if Uncle Sam didn't have enough to do! Now our leaders have forced IRS to get involved with virtually every American's health insurance. This has created a garguantuan amount of paperwork. For example, many lower income taxpayers will no longer be able to prepare their own tax returns online because of the complex procedures required to compute their "Premium Tax Credit" or "Shared Responsibility Payment." There is a myriad of new tax forms for this purpose. I predict 2016 will be a banner year for commercial income tax return preparation services as those with modest incomes are forced to pay hundreds of dollars to get their taxes done.
In addition to the insurance requirements and penalty taxes, wealthy taxpayers also have to deal with a couple of new Obamacare taxes, or the Additional Medicare Tax and the Net Investment Income Tax. The latter is particularly complex. In a way, it creates a totally separate set of tax rules that will be subject to interpretation, litigation, and no doubt - further regulation for years to come.
I love my Country, I love our President, and I love Uncle Sam. I am in favor of universal health care. Nevertheless, I had better health insurance coverage before Obamacare. I believe the entire program is destined for failure and Obamacare will become known as Obama's Folly. Moreover, Obamacare is the worst thing that ever happened to IRS. Administration of this massive program is going to literally cripple an already overburdened system.
Unfortunately, Uncle Sam is getting too old to bare all these additional responsibilities. I fear he is going to collapse under the weight of all the paperwork he now has to carry. Then, maybe, our leaders will be forced to consider a more coherent tax system.
Masullo has developed a detailed Tax Return Organizer to help clients avoid tax problems. Information from your prior year tax return is printed on this organizer to remind you about relevant income and expense items. Tax return organizers are usually emailed to existing clients in early January.
Use of the tax return organizer is optional. However, use of the organizer is highly recommended as the best way to insure you file a complete and accurate income tax return.
While every case is different, the first thing I usually try to determine is whether the tax that IRS is trying to collect is accurate. There are many reasons why your tax bill may have been overstated, especially if IRS estimated your tax for you. Also, when in doubt, IRS has a bad habit of first sending you a bill and then asking questions later.
To be fair, IRS may not know if you had valid reasons for filing late or other justifications for avoiding harsh penalties. Also, IRS can be very helpful in providing details of your W-2 and 1099 forms in the event you can not locate all your documents.
Failure to file your income tax return is a crime. However, criminal prosecution is generally reserved for high profile cases. IRS figures if Wesley Snipes gets enough publicity for his tax crimes the rest of us will fall in line out of fear.
This fear of IRS is not always irrational, for IRS has vast power to enforce tax collection. If you dread the mere act of opening mail from IRS you are not alone. But our intense fear of IRS has given rise to a vast assortment of taxpayer rights. Congress has enacted one "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" after another to protect taxpayers from IRS abuse. Thus, while IRS still possesses vast power, the taxpayer now has an arsenal of effective weapons to fight back.
Perhaps the greatest weapon of the taxpayer is the right to appeal. Virtually all IRS actions can be appealed. During a tax audit if you don't agree with the Internal Revenue Agent you can request a conference with his or her supervisor. If you still can't reach agreement you can request an Appellate Conference. After that, you can take your dispute to the Tax Court.
It is important to note that time may be of the essence because certain appeals must be filed within 30 days of the IRS action.
ID theft is currently one of the biggest problems facing both IRS and taxpayers. There are just too many unseen bandits who steal your personal information from unknown sources (like a department store, your employer's files, your credit card company, your medical records, your trash, and so on), and then file a false tax return to get a refund in your name.
Obviously, we all have to be more careful with our personal information. I recommend all clients consider an ID theft protection service.
DO NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION TO ANYONE ALLEGING TO REPRESENT IRS OVER THE INTERNET. IRS does not demand payment or credit card information by email. This is a common scam. I believe IRS has a hotline to report this type of abuse on their web site.