Friday, June 30, 2017

5 Reasons Tax Preparation is a Great Career for Service Members and Military Spouses

Finding a career path can be hard if you or your spouse is in the military. You never know when your schedule is going to change or when you’re going to have to relocate. When both your schedule and location is at the whim of someone else, your options can be limited.

In our 30+ years of teaching tax preparation and running a tax preparation business, we’ve found that tax preparation is a great career for military members, veterans, and their spouses! Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. It’s portable.
  2. You have flexibility.
  3. It’s an affordable fast track to a professional career.
  4. It has high income earning potential.
  5. There’s a military discount!

You Can Do It From Anywhere

For military members and their spouses, relocation is inevitable. Finding a job or career you can take with you is not always easy to come by. Tax Preparation is a great option because of the portability! You can be a tax preparer anywhere – wherever there are U.S. taxpayers, there is a need for tax preparers. That includes bases overseas.

If you’re a military spouse, a great way to start getting clients is to offer your services at the military base and then expand your client list from there. Tax clients typically continue to ask their tax preparers to do their returns remotely if they or their tax preparer relocates. Remote tax preparation is very easy using the Internet, phone and e-mail. Real-time interviews can also be conducted by web-cam, Skype, or FaceTime.

You Have Flexibility (+ Summers and Holidays Off!)

Since most tax preparation offices are open days, evenings and weekends, tax preparers have options when it comes to schedules. If you decide to go out on your own, you can choose your own hours as well. In addition to the flexible schedule, many tax preparers also have their summers off and don’t work on major holidays since tax season is mid-January through mid-April. This works great for military spouses with children at home in the summer months and holiday breaks! This is also great for retired military and veterans who no longer can/want to work full-time and/or year-round.

Fast Track to a Professional CareerFast-Track-Tax-Education

So many career paths today require years of schooling and are very expensive – leaving you burned out and in debt! A career as a tax preparer is possible in as little as 10-weeks by completing The Income Tax School’s online 60-hour Comprehensive Tax Course, which starts at just $497.

In addition, you don’t need to know accounting or high level math. You don’t even need a college degree! We teach you everything you need to know. The most important attributes for success as a tax preparer are the ability to read and comprehend the tax laws and excellent people skills. If you’ve got that going for you, you’re golden!

High Income Potential

As an experienced tax preparer working for someone else, you may earn $25 per hour or more, and self-employed tax professionals can earn more than $100 per hour. During the 3-month tax season (mid-January to mid-April) it’s possible for a self-employed tax preparer to earn $50,000 or more.

Year-round income opportunities also exist for tax preparers who provide taxpayer representation or related services such as small business bookkeeping, payroll and financial planning. In addition, the more tax knowledge you acquire, the more complicated returns you will be able to prepare, and the more income you can make!

Learn more about how to get started as a tax preparer today!

5. We offer Active Military and Veteran Discounts

Active Military Personnel and Veterans, as well as their spouses, save 20% on e-learning tax courses, seminars and certificate programs.

Not valid with any other offers. To qualify, please scan valid military ID and email or fax (1-877-787-1040) to The Income Tax School. Please call 1.800.984.1040 to register for discounted elearning tax courses or programs once valid ID has been received at The Income Tax School.

What are your waiting for? Get started on the fast track to a rewarding career as a tax professional today!



Georgia cancels its 2017 back-to-school sales tax holiday

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Senators introduce bill to punish prescription price gouging

The Common Denominator In Most Tax Scams

There’s a new tax scam on the rise that is being reported across the country. Fraudsters are getting extremely creative and will stop at nothing to fool the public into getting what they want: your money. In these new scams, criminals are calling taxpayers over the phone and demanding they make an immediate payment via prepaid debit card, claiming it’s linked to the EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payer System). The person will claim to be from the IRS and insist that they have already sent two certified letters that have been returned as undeliverable. They threaten arrest if they do not pay immediately. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney, or the local IRS office until after the payment is made.

We know, reading this sounds so bogus but remember, lots of people fall for scams. We wrote about this recently: Would You Take the Bait? Why Phishing Scams Should Concern You.

The common denominator for tax related scams is the instruction to make a payment, usually to a debit card.

According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “Scams and schemes don’t take the summer off.” It’s important to stay vigilant and to keep your clients in the loop about the latest scams. That’s why we created the Tax Scam Roundup, a list of scams as they come up (we’ll be adding this recent one to the list). Check it out here: Tax Scam Roundup: Know What You’re Up Against.

Here are some facts to share with your clients:

While the EFTPS is a system for paying federal taxes, it does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. The system is automated and taxpayers will never receive a call from the IRS about it.

Making payments electronically is risky. If you make a payment to the IRS by mail, make sure to verify the IRS address in Washington, DC and make the check payable to “Internal Revenue Service” (not “IRS”). A check issued to IRS might be changed to a different name, such as MRS MARY JONES.

The IRS will never angrily demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

For more on protecting yourself and clients from tax scams, check out this post: Protect Yourself and Clients from Cybercrime.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

One Year Anniversary of House Republican Tax Reform Blueprint

On June 24, 2016, the House Republicans released their "A Better Way" blueprint for tax reform. Obviously as part of an election strategy. On November 9, 2016, with Republican victories all around, I thought there would be fast track activity to draft legislative language to be released early in the 115th Congress.  We haven't seen any legislative language yet although I suspect some exists.

The details of the plan can be found in the full report of the Republicans and a July 2016 article I have on it. The blueprint seems to have hit a few roadblocks, most notably the tax on imports. Note that this is not a tariff. Instead, imports are taxed by not allowing a deduction for them. Likewise, exports are tax-free by removing export revenue from the tax base. The goal is to make the business tax a consumption tax that can be border-adjustable (per the report).

Many taxpayers are not in favor of the import treatment, most notably retailers with lots of imports, as well as oil companies (and others). For example, see the National Retail Federation's website on "BAT is a Bad Tax." [BAT = Border Adjustable Tax]

The import tax though generates a lot of revenue to help pay for lowering the corporate tax from 35% to 20% and the maximum tax on passthrough business income from 39.6% to 25%.  So, it is an important part of tax reform.

The blueprint includes several simplifications and several open questions to be resolved. Drafting legislative language is difficult as changes have effects on several other parts of the law, transition rules must be addressed, and there were several questions left open in the report.

Meanwhile, it it not identical to President Trump's plan and the Senate doesn't yet have a formal plan. However, this past week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch formally asked for suggestions - due by July 17.

Also, on June 20, Speaker Ryan delivered a speech on tax reform to the National Association of Manufacturers. He would like to see tax reform by the end of 2017 [CNBC, "Speaker Paul Ryan tries to save 'crown jewel' of GOP agenda: Tax reform," 6/20/17.]

There are additional agenda items for Congress and President Trump for this year, including work on the Affordable Care Act, passing a budget, and dealing with the debt ceiling.

What do you think? Will we see tax reform by the end of the year?


Bill collectors accused of using financially dubious tactics to collect unpaid IRS debts

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fee-free PTINs are available again at IRS website

2017 IRS Tax Forums

The 2017 IRS Tax Forums are approaching. Have you registered for one yet? Dates/locations include:

Orlando, FL: July 11-13 

Dallas, TX: July 25-27

National Harbor, MD: August 22-24

Las Vegas, NV: August 29-31

San Diego, CA: September 12-14

As you may already know, attending the IRS Tax Forums provides you with the opportunity to earn up to 18 CE Credits from over 37 seminar classes. But you can get that from multiple other sources. In our minds, there are 2 unique benefits to attending the Tax Forums.

Peer to Peer Interaction

Thousands of tax professionals attend these seminars each year. Where else can you get that kind of interaction with fellow tax professionals and tax business owners from various other parts of the country? Having peers to talk to about the challenges you face in the industry is extremely important for growth and sanity.

Learn about the latest products

The IRS does a great job of wrangling up tax vendors from across the country. Attending the forums gives you an opportunity to visit with multiple tax industry vendors, all in one place, and obtain detailed product and service information and demonstrations. Where else can you learn about the latest products and get to test them in person?

Here’s another bonus: our team attends all of them. Come learn more about The Income Tax School and meet our team in person!

Click here for details on the forum.

Hope to see you there!



Thursday, June 22, 2017

Senate mostly follows House plans to kill Obamacare taxes

Testimony to Senate Small Business Committee for AICPA

On June 14, 2017, I had the privilege to testify on behalf of the AICPA before the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. The title of the hearing - Tax Reform: Removing Barriers to Small Business Growth. A goal of the hearing was for this committee to help the Senate Finance Committee know that they want to be sure tax reform helps small businesses and that such businesses are not forgotten in efforts to reduce the corporate tax rate.

The AICPA's written testimony is at the hearing page and AICPA website. There is a good summary of the hearing in Accounting Today, "AICPA tells Senate corporate tax cuts should also go to small business," Michael Cohn, 6/14/17.

In my 5 minutes, our AICPA testimony focused on:

  • Any rate reduction should apply not only to C corporations but also to other entity types (sole propreitors and passthrough entities).
  • The cash method of accounting should not be limited.
  • Small businesses should be allowed to continue to deduct interest expense.
  • The Section 195 start-up expensing amount should be inccreased.
  • The AMT should be repealed.
  • IRS should be modernized and a new executive-level practitioner services unit formed.
  • S. 540, mobile workforce legislation should be enacted (note that HR 1393 passed in the House on 6/21/17)

There is a video of the hearing at the committee website. It was an enjoyable experience and a nice opportunity to discuss tax reform and small business and hear of the concerns of the committee members.

What do you think about tax reform and small businesses?


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Disney: Unhappiest property tax place on Earth

Walt Disney World balloon seller_Davidlohr Bueso Flickr CC 111914
Walt Disney attorneys contend that the values of its properties are as inflated as these Disney World balloons and have gone to court to get new assessments. (Photo by Davidlohr Bueso via Flickr)

Walt Disney's namesake recreational areas have built their vacation reputations on being the happiest places on Earth.

But the company's tax lawyers are in decidedly bad moods after getting what they say are excessive tax year 2016 property value assessments of their Sunshine State parks.

So Disney is taking the Orange Country, Florida, property appraiser to court.

Dozens Disney tax suits: Disney Parks and Resorts have filed nearly a dozen tax-related lawsuits in Orange Circuit Court, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The legal actions contend that Orange County Appraiser Rick Singh's analysis exceeded the Disney properties' fair market value and incorrectly "included the value of certain intangible property in the assessments."

The tax assessments in question, according to court documents, include are Disney's Epcot at $446 million, Magic Kingdom at $437 million, Hollywood Studios at $339 million, Caribbean Beach Resort at $209 million and Animal Kingdom Lodge at $153 million.

In a statement to the Orlando newspaper, a Disney spokesperson said:

"The increases in the assessments of our property are unreasonable and unjustified. Similar to other property owners in Orange County, we have no choice but to take action to dispute these errors by the property appraiser. We look forward to presenting our case in court."

In addition to Singh, the Disney lawsuits name as defendants Scott Randolph, Orange County tax collector; Leon Biegalski, executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue; and the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Disney-controlled government agency that collects its share of taxes from the Disney properties.

Disney is seeking "proper" fair market and assessed values to be determined so it can receive a new tax bill. The company also wants to be reimbursed for courts costs.

Standard tax operating procedure: Singh declined to comment on the latest pending tax litigation, but it's not the first time he's done tax battle with Mickey and friends.

Last fall, Disney, as well as other Orlando-based theme parks operated by SeaWorld and Universal, took the property appraiser to court over allegedly incorrect property values upon which their 2015 real estate taxes were based. Those suits are still pending.

You also might find these items of interest:




DREAMers, other undocumented workers make major tax contributions to Uncle Sam, state treasuries

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

6 Reasons to Operate Your Own Tax School in the Off Season

Are you making the most of the off season? Trying to think of ways that you can? Beyond offering additional services, you could also run your own tax school. We’ve found it to be a great business model. In fact, it’s how The Income Tax School got started!

Here are 6 reasons to operate your own tax school in the off season.

Increase Revenue

This is obviously the main reason. Revenue significantly decreases during the off season. Running a tax school provides another revenue stream for your business. Students pay to receive tax training so that they can earn employment or learn to prepare their own taxes.

Recruit Quality Preparers for Next Season

Running a tax school is a great way to find tax preparers for next season. You can incentivize student recruitment with the possibility of a job through your firm once they’ve completed the course. Once students finish the course, you have a better idea of their personalities and skills, and can offer the best students employment. This will save you hours of interviewing time and avoid costly hiring mistakes.

Increase Your Expertise

There’s an old saying, “If you really want to learn something, teach it!” When you become a tax teacher you really develop a deep knowledge of tax preparation beyond what you learn from experience. This makes you a better tax preparer, and gives you a bit more clout that can be used to market your firm.

Provide Full Time Employment

Running a tax school can mean full time employment for some of your tax preparers as you will need at least one instructor to teach the course.

It’s Easier Than You Think

You don’t have to invent an entire curriculum or write text books in order to seize this opportunity. The Income Tax School can provide all of that for you! Our content has been created by seasoned tax professionals with teaching techniques from our experienced instructors. From curriculum to text books and even marketing materials, we can get you all set-up and ready to go.

It’s a Best Practice

National tax firms use this approach to fuel business expansion and grow their tax business. Our turn-key package gives you tools and techniques comparable to those used for the world’s largest tax service providers.

If you’re interested in learning more about running a tax school as an ITS licensee, check out our website here: How to Start a Tax School.



Flag sales tax savings on Flag Day

Friday, June 9, 2017

Trump budget could solve IRS PTIN payment problem

4 Stories Every Tax Preparer Should Be Paying Attention To

There’s been a bit of a shake up in the tax industry the past couple of weeks! Lots of changes are beingTax-Stories made (or trying to be made) that could have serious impacts on our roles as tax preparers and tax business owners. Here are 4 stories you should be aware of and following closely.


Early this week the IRS announced the suspension of PTIN registration and renewal. This is due to a court ruling that the IRS does not have the authority to charge fees for PTIN registration and renewal, and was ordered to refund the money collected in PTIN fees to tax preparersThe IRS is still allowed to require registration, however currently the system is down. This will likely not be the end of the PTIN issue as the IRS is working with the Department of Justice and has filed an appeal.

What you should know: 

  1. Registration and renewal of PTIN fees is currently suspended and the PTIN system is down.
  2. There is a class action lawsuit that PTIN holders are automatically part of, with potential for a refund of PTIN fees.

Accounting Today has a great overview on the case for more details.

President Trump Wants the IRS to Regulate Tax Preparers

Meanwhile in the White House, the Office of Management and Budget released President Trump’s 2018 budget. This proposal includes several tax related items, one of which would allow the IRS to regulate tax preparers. The proposal would “Increase oversight of paid tax return preparers.”

According to the proposal, “Incompetent and dishonest tax return preparers increase collection costs, reduce revenues, disadvantage taxpayers by potentially subjecting them to penalties and interest as a result of incorrect returns, and undermine confidence in the tax system. To promote high quality services from paid tax return preparers, the proposal would explicitly provide that the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to regulate all paid tax return preparers.”

What to know:

This could mean the IRS will start requiring tax preparers to complete their Annual Filing Season Program, which is currently voluntary.

Impending Tax Reform

Reforming the tax code is a priority right now for the White House. In fact, according to the White House website, the President wants to lead “the most significant tax reform legislation since 1986 – and one of the biggest tax cuts in American history.” The changes proposed include:

  • Simplifying the code by reducing it to 3 brackets
  • Doubling the standard deduction
  • Repealing the Death Tax
  • Eliminating most tax breaks

What to know:

Currently, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is pushing his own tax plan, one that only Ryan seems to be excited about.

Repealing Obamacare

Senate Republicans are still working on a bill that will repeal the Affordable Care Act. Repealing could mean a few things. For one, there’s the individual mandate to have health insurance (and the penalty if you don’t). There’s also the employer mandate that requires employers to offer affordable coverage. The IRS was charged with enforcing those mandates, which meant tax preparers had to submit additional paperwork in each case. All of that could change if the ACA is repealed.

What to know:

A lot of things are still up in the air as there is yet to be a plan to replace the ACA.

  1. In May, the House passed a Bill to Repeal Obamacare but it still has to go through the Senate.
  2. According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, they’re getting closer to having a bill.
  3. According to the United Nations, repealing the act without an adequate substitute would be against the law.

All of these stories could have a major impact on our industry and businesses. It’s important that we stay on top of them and offer up advice and updates to our clients as we learn more.



Sunday, June 4, 2017

IRS Says FAQs Not Legal Authority - Finally!

In May 2017, the IRS Small Business Division issued a memo to field directors to remind them that FAQs and other items posted to the IRS website are not legal authority unless published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB)! [SBSE-04-0517-0030(5/18/17)]


I've been writing about this issue since at least 2010 and in 2012 had the opportunity to discuss the issue with IRS, Treasury and congressional staff.

  • Nellen, How Heavy is an IRS FAQ?AICPA Tax Insider, 11/11/10
  • Horwitz and Nellen, FAQs: Problems with InformalGuidance from the IRS (2012) by Horwitz and Nellen, presented to staff of House Ways & Means, Senate Finance, Joint Committee on Taxation, IRS Chief Counsel, Treasury, as well as to National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson and her staff, as part of the California Bar Tax Section DC Delegation activity of May 2012.
My concern with so many FAQs (see the paper above with Robert Horwitz) is that it means less time is spent on issuing binding guidance. There are numerous examples, such as CCA 201504011 (1/23/15) that holds that in measuring cost of sales for a marijuana business, the inventory rules in existence when IRC Section 280E was enacted (1982) apply rather than current rules, such as Section 263A. Section 280E is the provision that disallows expense deductions for marijuana businesses, but does allow cost of sales. Some try to lessen the impact of this rule by using the Unicap rules of Section 263A to treat more type of costs as inventoriable rather than as period costs. Why wasn't the CCA issued as a revenue ruling to be binding. Yes, more IRS and Treasury time would have been required, but it would have greater effect.

What do you think?


American expatriates don't like paying U.S. taxes