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PCAOB Tackles Tax Shelters

In its top to bottom review of all aspects of the auditing business, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has turned its attention to tax shelters.Created in the wake of corporate scandals at Enron, WorldCom and others, the PCAOB is charged with reforming the auditors who oversee publicly held companies. Most of those audit firms have until October 22 to register with the PCAOB, which will guarantee an inspection by the board.To date, just 440 audit firms—half the number who audited public companies last year—have registered.

Office of Professional Responsibility: A Roadmap For Ethical Practice

Paying taxes is one of the most important tasks Americans face every year. Many entrust tax preparers with their most intimate financial details, and ask them to represent them before the government. But who keeps the preparers prepared—and responsible? That’s the job of the new Office of Professional Responsibility, launched early this year by the Internal Revenue Service. The expanded group, which replaces the Office of Director of Practice, sets and enforces standards for responsible and ethical practice.
Community News

H&R Block to Set up Shop at a Wal-Mart Near You

The company that promises "Always low prices. Always," will soon be able to offer it's customers low cost tax preparation services while they shop.H&R Block Chairman Mark Ernst announced the latest developments on a distribution arrangement with Wal-Mart at Block's annual shareholder meeting this week.According to a company spokesperson, H&R Block will operate modular office units in over 850 Wal-Mart stores around the United States. The kiosks will accommodate up to three tax preparers at any one time.H&R Block also offers tax season preparation services at Sears, Roebuck & Co.

IRS Accused of Improperly Disposing of Tax Forms

An employee of Cincinnati's Metro Recycling Company has contacted the news department of a local television station with the information that he regularly finds old tax returns in the bottom of recycling bins that come from the Internal Revenue Service."They send in containers for our company and when we open them up this stuff in the bottom falls out," said the informant who wishes to remain unnamed.

More Details Emerge on Charitable Giving Bill

Provided by CCHThe House Ways and Means Committee may ease restrictions on the costs that foundations can apply toward a five-percent payout of their assets, according to a rough draft of the final Charitable Giving Bill of 2003 (HR 7). The House Ways and Means Committee plans to mark up the bill on September 9.CCH learned of the document's contents on September 8 from an Internet posting by a private group in Washington, D.C., which obtained the draft from House Ways and Means staff.

House Fails in Effort to Stop EIC Pre-Certification Program

Democrats in the House of Representatives failed last week in their attempt to prevent the Earned Income Credit (EIC) pre-certification program that was approved by the Internal Revenue Service last month.The pre-certification program, scheduled to go into effect in 2004, will affect an initial test group of 25,000 possible candidates for the EIC.

Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on the Additional Bonus Depreciation Allowance

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have issued temporary regulations providing detailed rules on the additional first-year or "bonus" depreciation allowance.As a result of recent amendments to the Internal Revenue Code, taxpayers may deduct an additional 30- or 50-percent first-year depreciation allowance for certain depreciable property. This depreciation allowance is in addition to the amount of depreciation otherwise allowable in the first year.

IRS Ruling Permits Pre-Tax Reimbursement For Non-Prescription Drugs

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced new clarification of what expenses qualify for pre-tax reimbursement under health care flexible spending plans.

Treasury Department Investigators Find IRS Customer Service Inadequate

The good news is that taxpayers are using the 500 taxpayer assistance centers the Internal Revenue Service has set up around the country. The bad news is there’s about a 50-50 chance they will get incorrect answers to their tax law questions.The subjects of earned income tax credit, education credit and dependents generated the most incorrect answers from IRS employees, according to a study conducted by Treasury Department investigators between July and December of last year.
Education & Careers

Good News For Students From The IRS

IRS Press Release - Sept. 2, 2003 Worried about the rising cost of tuition? Well, the IRS has good news for students that may provide you with a little extra money while you're in school and even after graduation.Students are entitled to as much as $5,250 in employer-provided educational assistance -- tax free! This tax benefit applies to both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.Some people may deduct up to $3,000 of qualified higher education expenses, even if they don't itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A.

Teachers Should Save Receipts for Educator's Deduction

IRS Press Release - Sept. 2, 2003 As the new school year begins, the Internal Revenue Service reminds teachers and other educators to save their receipts for purchases of books and classroom supplies. These out-of-pocket expenses may lower their 2003 taxes.The deduction is available to eligible educators in public or private elementary or secondary schools.
Education & Careers

Back-to-School Tax Breaks, Educator's Deductions

Another school year is in full swing. Whichever side of the desk you sit on, you may find some tax benefits waiting for you.

Tax Lawyers Exit Big Four, Head For Law Firms

Six high profile tax attorneys have left the Washington National Tax Services office of Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, and have landed at DC law firm Shaw Pittman. Is this the start of a trend? Shaw Pittman thinks it is."We are thrilled to be on the cutting edge of the trend of top attorneys moving from a Big Four accounting firm to an AmLaw 100 law firm," said Stephen B. Huttler, managing partner at Shaw Pittman. The firm has just added the six lawyers to its national tax law practice.Michael F.

Virginia Tax Amnesty Program Underway

The State of Virginia has launched a tax amnesty program with hopes of padding the coffers of an overstretched budget. The program, which runs from now until November 3, offers some enticing incentives for those who owe back taxes to the state.Amnesty for Delinquent Taxpayers allows Virginia taxpayers the option of paying back taxes during the amnesty program. Penalties on such payments will be waived and interest will be cut in half. If taxpayers can't pay the full amount of back taxes, they can apply the amnesty incentives to just the part of tax that they are able pay.

Debit Cards Facilitate Use of Flexible-Spending Accounts

Flexible spending plans offered by some corporations just got a whole lot easier to use with new rules allowing debit cards to track the use of pretax dollars employees put away to pay for medical expenses not covered by health plans. The IRS recently permitted the use of debit cards to cut down on the paperwork usually involved in taking advantage of these flexible-spending plans offered by many employers. These plans allow employees to put a portion of their pretax salary away for anticipated medical expenses during the year.

Colorado Surpasses Expectations With Tax Amnesty Windfall

When officials from the State of Colorado announced a tax amnesty program for the month of June, they were hoping that the program would collect over $5 million in back taxes from delinquent taxpayers. The results are now in, and officials are delighted.The final tally for Colorado's "Deadline: June - Pay the Tax or Pay the Max!" amnesty program is $23.4 million collected from almost 3,000 individuals and businesses.

RIA's GoSystem Teams up With India-Based Tax Preparation Outsourcer

RIA, the publisher of GoSystem Tax RS, a Web based tax compliance software for tax professionals, has formed a strategic alliance with G.K. Management Services (India) Pvt Limited (GKM) to provide outsourcing services for tax professionals.Because of high labor costs and staffing challenges facing CPA firms during tax season, outsourcing U.S. tax returns to tax preparation services in India has been a growing trend for a number of years. U.S.

IRS Offers Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Tax Professionals

Press ReleaseThe IRS is now publishing the Digital Dispatch on a weekly basis instead of biweekly. By sending the e-mail dispatch out each week, the IRS can better help tax professionals stay current with important new developments. The Digital Dispatch is a newsletter for tax professionals e-mailed to 100,000 subscribers, free of charge.

Tax Protester Wins Battle Against IRS

Last week a Federal Express pilot won a battle with the IRS over the popular tax protester issue of where it states in the law that people are required to pay income taxes. A federal court in Memphis ruled in favor of Vernice Kuglin who has refused to pay federal income tax for nearly a decade.The issue decided by the Memphis jury was actually not whether or not Ms. Kuglin owed taxes on $920,000 of income earned in the years 1996 to 2001. While Ms.

IRS Announces Application Fee for Offers in Compromise

IRS Press ReleaseBeginning November 1, 2003, the Internal Revenue Service will charge a $150 application fee for the processing of offers in compromise. The IRS expects that this fee will help offset the cost of providing this service, as well as reduce frivolous claims.The law authorizes federal agencies to charge fees to defray the costs of providing certain services. Guidelines encourage such fees for benefits beyond those provided to the general public.


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