Kat Jennings

As I was attempting to check one of our members Kathryn Morgan on the flooding in Bossier City, Louisiana, I was stunned by this video. Although Kathryn has yet to get back to me, I now understand why.

I met Kathryn when she had just come out of the flood in 2012 and we sent her a complimentary membership to help her during this time. She is outstanding and a super smart tax advisor. Looks like everyone will need a lot more help than a complimentary membership as the devastation from the flood in Louisiana is stunning. Read More

TaxConnections Worldwide Tax Blogs gives our readers an opportunity to get to know these tax experts better through their writing. We highly recommend you read TaxConnections Worldwide Tax Blogs to stay informed of emerging tax trends. We highly recommend you interact with our bloggers through your comments on their blog posts. Commenting on a tax bloggers post is a great way to let them know you appreciate the knowledge they have shared. We also recommend you connect with our bloggers on their TaxConnections Microsite. Simply click on their name on their blog post and you will be guided directly to their Microsite where you can connect with them easily on the “ Connect With Me” button.

Here are TaxConnections Top Twenty Worldwide Tax Bloggers:

Peter Scalise
Daniel Erasmus
Harold Goedde
Kathryn Morgan
Hale Stewart
William Richards
Steven Potts
Virginia La Torre Jeker
Michael DeBlis
Annette Nellen
John Dundon
Manasa Nadig
Jerry Donnini
Ronald Cappuccio
Betty Williams
Claire McNamara
Robert McKenzie
James McBrearty

Congratulations to Peter Scalise of Prager Metis CPAs, LLP who received the highest number of searches to his tax professional profile page on TaxConnections during 2013. With more than 7125 views in the year, everyone would like to know how Peter had so many prospective clients paying attention to his tax services. The answer is he utilized every feature available on www.taxconnections.com to build visibility and trust for his tax services and expertise. Marketing experts know that you need to build familiarity with clients first, familiarity builds trust, and trust is why people come to you for tax services. There are many of our gold annual members who made it to the top of the search results in TaxConnections including: Brian Mahany, Hugo van Zyl, Kathryn Morgan, Howard Liebman, Larry Langdon, Steven Potts and so many others who took the lead in marketing their tax reputations online Read More

As with all good tax questions, the answer is: It Depends! The new 3.8% tax on your Net Investment Income (NII) only kicks in at the higher adjusted gross income (AGI) levels. So unless you are in the top 3% of earners then the answer is no.

But if your AGI is over the threshold then you will possibly have to pay an additional 3.8% on the NII. The thresholds are $200,000 if unmarried, $250,000 if married filing jointly, and $125,000 if married filing separately.

Once you have determined that your income is over the threshold, you must determine what types of income applies. The IRS, of course, has a handy new form, the Form 8960, for just that calculation. The long and short of it boils down to this. You will pay the additional tax on the lesser of the amount of your NII or the amount of your income over the threshold. Read More

TaxConnections Picture - helpful tipsHere are some tips for planning last minute tax savings for business tax payers.

As always there are ways to tweak your 2013 tax bill, but not very much time left to do so. Before making any decisions please see my last post “Wag The Dog: Don’t Let The Tax Tail Wag The Financial Dog!” and keep those items in mind.

There are numerous new rules that kicked in 1 Jan 2013 and more that will be coming into play for 2014. Remember these are as of today and we never know what changes in legislation will be passed at the last minute (or in last years case after the last minute).

One of the biggest changes for businesses has to do with depreciation of business assets put into service in 2013. Businesses have grown accustomed over the last several years to the very lucrative rules allowing up to 100% bonus depreciation of new items placed into service. That has gone away completely for 2013 and future years. Other depreciation related changes include things not going into effect until 1 Jan 2014 such as the dramatic drop in the amount of allowed Sec 179 expenses, the loss of the shorter recovery period for certain improvements, and the changes in capitalization rules. Read More

TaxConnections Picture - TIPSHere are some tips for planning last minute tax savings for individual tax payers.

As always there are ways to tweak your 2013 tax bill, but not very much time left to do so. Before making any decisions please see my last Wag the Dog blog and keep those items in mind. The two biggest ways to adjust your taxes for 2013 are to increase your deductions before the end of the year or to decrease your income.

You can increase your deductions by doing things like making additional charitable contributions, paying your health insurance premiums in December instead of January, paying your January mortgage payment in December, paying your 2014 property taxes in 2013 instead of 2014, making a contribution to a traditional IRA before the end of the year or balance that stock portfolio and reap the losses you would take after the first of the year now.

You can decrease your income by increasing the contributions to your 401(k) or other employer sponsored retirement plan before the end of the year, making a contribution to a Health Savings Account, joining or increasing your cafeteria plan contribution, getting your boss to push that bonus or pay raise into 2014, or hold off on balancing that stock portfolio until after the first of the year if you look to make some gains. Read More

TaxConnections Picture - 2014It’s that time of year again. Time to start planning for your tax situation for 2014. You might be saying, “Wait! I haven’t even finished my 2013 planning yet!”. If that’s the case, my best advice is to see your tax adviser right now. It’s already too late for most elections and planning to have much effect on the end result of your 2013 taxes. There are still things that can be done for the end of the year, but that’s another blog entirely. (See tomorrows article)

This time of year we see lots of clients coming in with questions about how they can lower their tax liability for next year. Your tax professional is great at handling just that situation. However, as with all in life, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. A slightly lower tax liability in this tax year may mean a much larger one in a following tax year. Structuring your income and deductions with only one year in mind is the road to long term disaster.

Here are four examples:

In 2012 your state income tax withholding was $100 more then your allowed optional sales taxes, so you take the state withholding and get a larger itemized deductions. Did you consider that in 2013 your are probably going to have to take the Read More

TaxConnections Picture - Louisiana FlagOn September 23, 2013 the Louisiana Tax Amnesty program started. The state has one of the harshest tax recovery programs in the nation. Many states have programs that will suspend your driver’s license and/or professional licenses if you have a large balance due for state income taxes. Louisiana has the same program, however, they start doing suspensions (aggressively) at the $1000 level and they will suspend not only your drivers and professional licenses, but also your hunting and fishing licenses, and that’s a big deal in Duck Dynasty country!

From 23 September thru 22 November 2013, taxpayers who owe the State of Louisiana Department of revenue back taxes can enter into an amnesty agreement. This covers all taxes except Motor Fuel Taxes, Prepaid 411 Sales taxes, Oil Field (Gas/Oil) Restoration taxes, and penalties for failure to submit withholding taxes. The taxes must have been due prior to 1 Jan 2013, all of your tax returns must be filed and up to date, the taxpayer may not be under criminal tax investigation by the state and you are eligible even if you are already in a payment plan or garnishment situation.

In order to qualify you must pay all the outstanding tax and 50% of the interest. The penalties and the other 50% of the interest will be waived. This is a great deal for folks who have outstanding back taxes from years ago that have Read More

TaxConnections Picture - Computer SoftwareNow that we have all learned how to do great research, I’m going to spend some time today showing you how to put it to use for other things then communicating with the IRS. Let’s see how you can build your reputation, referrals, and client base using good research techniques.

The best way to build your reputation among your fellow professionals and among prospective clients is to network. When you join those professional organizations, I mentioned in Part 1, be an active member. Get to know folks from all over the country and in all levels of the career fields. Be the “go to” person on specific subject matter. I’m the go to person among my network for military and veterans affairs. I get calls, consultations, and referrals from all over the country.

Get online! Sign up for some of the great professional websites for tax information out there. Websites like this one, TaxConnections.com. From this one website you can get recognized worldwide as a knowledgeable tax professional, blog about your passions in the field, market yourself and your material, take CPE, answer questions for clients that have the potential to become your clients, and so much more. I’ve gotten several clients and consults from this board. And this is just one website; there are tons of them out there. I’m a little biased towards this one as you may have noticed. Read More

TaxConnections Picture - Gold IRS ManAssuming that you, unlike me, actually have an end purpose to your research other than just learning new stuff; today we are going to look at some avenues to put this information to use.

Obviously, the most basic reason for someone in our profession to do in-depth research is to complete the tax return. But that isn’t the only thing we need to do with our material. If you are taking a position from one of the lower standards in Part 2 of our series you may need to cite your research material on an IRS Form 8275, Disclosure Statement. This is the IRS form to use when you need to explain why you did something on a return that may not make sense to someone without the details. You need to lay out you case for the deviation and then include your citations for the authority to do so.

That isn’t your only use for the research you have done. If you are assisting a client with an IRS letter or audit you may need to quote your citations. Make sure you use IRS titles for the citations. Instead of putting IRC XXX.XX(x) put Cod. Sec. XXX.XX(x). When using citations you should drill down to the most relevant paragraph in your correspondence as well. Instead of putting Cod. Sec. 162, which is approximately 14 pages long, use Cod. Sec. 162(g)(1).

Some of the things you will use as citations frequently should be identified as follows: Read More

TaxConnections Picture - Climbing a Pile of FilesHow many of you have ever had the frustrating job of trying to recreate basis on a stock or mutual fund for a client? Lots of fun isn’t it? The best place to start of course is in the clients records, because all of our clients keep well maintained documents and records and always bring us everything we need, right? What, no? OK, then where are some other avenues?

How about things like this:

1. Call the broker – Sometimes they have records that are not on the reporting documents or statements.

2. Trace back what records they do have – Have the client bring those stocks of unopened monthly statements or other communications from the brokers that they have stuffed in a drawer.

3. Call the employer if it’s Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESOP) or stock options – Most of the employers will either have records or can point you in the direction of the company that manages their plan.

4. Review prior year returns schedule D – Did they have some of the same stocks/funds on prior year returns? Where did they come up with that basis? Did they come up with a basis or just take $0 (possible amendment opportunity here).

These are all good options and great places to look at. How about the client who comes in who worked for AT&T for 30 years and has stock from the ESOP? AT&T has an investor relations site that can at least point you in the right Read More

TaxConnections Picture - BooksLet’s do a quick review of the levels of authoritative research sources for the IRS. We are always being told that IRS pubs are not binding or authoritative in scope by the IRS so when we do research we need to dig deeper. The pubs are handy for helping the layman understand the process and they have some pretty good examples and formula computations. But you always need the underlying internal Revenue Code (IRC) for the pub. The IRC is the Holy Bible for the IRS. It gives them their cans and cant’s. It gives them their authority and also limits that authority. It is from whence all things income tax flows. If the IRC is the Bible then the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) is the how-to manual.

The authority on this subject, and the person who I strive to emulate, is Peter J. Scalise. His article, Tax Research Techniques, used with his permission, is the basis for the rest of this post.

• Step 1: Establish the facts and circumstances (Joe Friday Style: Just the facts, Ma’am!)

• Step 2: Determine all tax issues (even if the IRS hasn’t brought them up yet)

• Step 3: Identify the specific authorities involved: (who are YOU dealing with?)

Statutory Authority – The Internal Revenue Code (IRC)

Administrative Authority Read More