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IRS Issues Guidelines For Tax-Exempt Groups Engaged in Public Advocacy

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded tax-exempt organizations that their public advocacy activity must adhere to tax rules as well as campaign-finance laws.On the eve of an election year, the IRS has issued Revenue Ruling 2004-6 concerning certain public advocacy activities conducted by social welfare organizations, unions and trade associations.Under the Internal Revenue Code, social welfare organizations, unions and trade associations generally are permitted to engage in advocacy or lobbying related to their exempt purposes.
Community News

Fannie Mae Chief Defends Charter; Questions Reform Proposal

Fannie Mae Chairman and Chief Executive Franklin Raines defended the benefits Fannie Mae gets from its federal charter, and said that changing the charter would signal a shift in the national commitment to home ownership.Raines, speaking at George Washington University Wednesday, argued that charter changes would "stifle the flow of low-cost mortgage capital," the Wall Street Journal reported.Raines spoke against a backdrop of intense scrutiny of Fannie Mae and the smaller government-sponsored enterprise, Freddie Mac, which last week agreed to pay a $125 million civil fine to

GAO Report: More Can be Done to Ensure Federal Agencies File Accurate Returns

What The GAO FoundFederal agencies do not always adhere to information return reporting requirements. About $5 billion in payments to 152,000 payees made during 2000 and 2001 by agencies within three federal departments were not reported to IRS. About 8,800 of these payees had received $421 million in payments, yet had failed to file a tax return for these years. In addition, about $20 billion in payments that were reported to IRS on 170,000 information returns for 2000 and 2001 included invalid vendor TINs.
AccountingWEB Life

Creating a 'Stress Free' Busy Season

You can thrive, not just survive, during this busy season. You just need to do five things: Keep your expectations rational.Take care of yourself.Take control of your time and limit your commitments.Create a positive work environment.Embrace your family and friends.These tips will help you reduce stress, relax, and breeze through the busy season feeling rested, grounded, and in control. 
Community News

Ochsenschlager Joins AICPA as Vice President - Taxation

Thomas P. Ochsenschlager will join the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as Vice President- Taxation, it was announced by the AICPA last week.In this role, he will work with the Tax Executive Committee in developing AICPA tax policy positions, shaping and communicating the Institute’s initiatives in tax matters, and providing tax products and services for members.

Justice Department Accuses KPMG of Withholding Documents From IRS

This week, the Justice Department accused KPMG LLP of hiding documents from the IRS in order to cover up tax-sheltering activities, according to the Wall Street Journal. The investigations panel of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee took more than a year to examine the role of accounting firms, law firms, banks and investment advisers in creating and selling tax avoidance schemes.

An Error or a Lie? Virginia Tracks Down Hundreds of Fake War Heroes

Only four men in Virginia have received the Medal of Honor, but 642 residents claimed a state tax deduction when it was first offered in 2001.Virginia tax officials are tracking down taxpayers who mistakenly — or perhaps purposely — claimed they received the highest citation granted to U.S. military heroes, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Medal of Honor recipients are allowed to deduct their military pensions when they figure their state taxes under a law passed three years ago. Taxpayers who made incorrect claims will have to pay their debts plus penalties.Janie E.

Feds File Suit to Stop Tax Avoidance Scheme

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to stop a Florida couple from selling counterfeit bonds and checks bound for the IRS.Federal court papers say that Eddie and Kathleen Kahn of Sorrento, Fla., also sold fake entities called “corporations sole.” The Kahns claimed that if customers used the corporation, declared themselves a ministry and took a “vow of poverty,” their income would be tax-exempt.

AICPA Chairman Responds to Foreign Outsourcing Concerns

In a recent letter to Scott Voynich, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the AICPA, the Executive Board of the Texas Society of CPAs expressed concern over the growing trend of CPAs outsourcing services to foreign countries. You may read the AICPA's response below. Nita J.

California Tax Board Continues Free Filing Program

Some California taxpayers will continue to be able to file their state taxes through a free link to the state’s Franchise Tax Board, but about 8 million others will not be eligible for the service.The Tax Board voted last Tuesday to continue its controversial NetFile program, which had come under fire from private sector software firms that include the free filing option with their packages.

Court Rules IRS Must Disclose Tax-Exempt Rationale

A U.S. Appeals Court ruling announced last week and reported by the New York Times puts more scrutiny on Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status decisions and could help to stem fraudulent activities by would-be nonprofits.The ruling seeks to shine the light on IRS decision-making and to ferret out those organizations seeking nonprofit tax status fraudulently.The District of Columbia Circuit Court ruled that the IRS must give its reasons for denying a tax-exempt status request or revoking a tax-exempt status.

Businesses Using to Get Employer Identification Numbers

Businesses and tax professionals are turning to an online application form on to get new employer identification numbers. The Internal Revenue Service has issued more than 498,081 of the numbers through its online application since it became available in April.The online application form immediately issues a new employer identification number, or EIN, eliminating both paperwork and the usual four-to-10 day wait to receive an EIN through paper processes. The IRS assigns the nine-digit numbers to identify taxpayers.

Maine Payroll Service Company May Cost Clients Millions

The collapse of a southern Maine payroll services company may cost dozens of businesses millions of dollars in additional taxes, the Portland Press Herald reported.The firm, Harmon-Baert Associates in Saco, Maine, is being investigated for failing to pay $1.1 million or more in payroll taxes for at least 34 business clients, papers filed in federal court say. The clients started receiving IRS notices this fall that say they owe tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes.

California Tax Cheats Urged to Fix Returns or Pay Penalties

About 7,500 Californians who may have used illegal tax shelters will soon receive letters from the Franchise Tax Board, urging them to fix their state tax returns or face new penalties."During these difficult financial times, when we are making tough choices, everyone needs to play by the rules,” board chair and state Controller Steve Westly said Wednesday.The board now has more enforcement tools to curb the use of abusive tax shelters. Legislation signed in October created seven new and greatly increased penalties for investing in illegal tax shelters.

Treasury and IRS Shut Down Abusive Tax Avoidance Transaction

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service has issued guidance to bar transactions in which taxpayers dispose of a pair of offsetting options, claiming a loss on one of the options but contending that they never have to recognize the corresponding gain on the other.

Ten Tax Tasks For December From The PICPA

April 15 may be the best-known tax date of the year, but if you want to save on next year's taxes the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants recommends that you start planning in December. Here are 10 tasks to consider before year-end to minimize your 2003 tax bill.Balance Gains and LossesTally up your investment winners and losers for 2003.

SEC Fee 'Just Another Tax'

In an effort to pump more money into the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), fund managers are demanding that the so-called "SEC fee" go entirely to the industry watchdog agency and not at all to the U.S. Treasury.The International Counsel Association of America is angry that a large part of the SEC fee has been appropriated in the past by the U.S.

Comprehensive Tax Guide Available at

The IRS comprehensive tax guide for individuals has been updated for tax year 2003 and is now available at IRS Publication 17, "Your Federal Income Tax," has been published annually by the IRS for more than 60 years and has been available on the IRS Web site since 1996.Publication 17 has been updated with important changes for 2003, including tax breaks for men and women serving in the military resulting from the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003, which was signed into law on Nov. 11.

IRS Helps Military Personnel Get New Law’s Tax Breaks

The Internal Revenue Service is helping taxpayers use a new law providing income exclusions for death benefit payments and certain home sales. Both provisions are retroactive, so some qualifying taxpayers must file amended returns to claim these tax breaks. The IRS asks them to put the words “Military Family Tax Relief Act” in red at the top of such returns to speed processing.The new law doubled the gratuity paid to survivors of deceased Armed Forces members to $12,000, made the entire amount tax-free and made the changes effective for deaths occurring after Sept. 10, 2001.

PCAOB Vows to Look For Abusive Tax Shelters

The new accounting regulatory board plans to take a hard look at abusive tax shelters and a “very heavy-handed” approach with the firms that sell them.William McDonough, head of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), said in Senate testimony last week that policing tax shelters was not Congress' motive in establishing the PCAOB in the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. However, he said PCAOB staffers will look for evidence that firms have marketed abusive tax shelters during their annual inspections of major accounting firms.


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