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CORRECTION: The AICPA Will Now Answer Your Last Minute Tax Questions

Correction: We regret to inform readers that no such assistance actually exists, the following is only meant for tax-stumped reporters who need help figuring out tricky tax rules.

Have no fear, little taxpayer, the AICPA is here to help you out if you’re stumped as to how to add up items H, K, L minus M x .412.

This year’s April 18 tax filing deadline is 13 days away, but approximately 59 million taxpayers still have to file their returns, the Internal Revenue Service said on April 4. These taxpayers are still collecting records, wrestling with forms and struggling to get answers to their last minute tax questions.

Edward Karl, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and other members of the AICPA tax staff are available to answer questions for end of tax filing season stories about credits, deductions, errors to avoid, what to do if you can’t pay the taxes you owe and what to consider if you need to file for an extension. Taxpayers should be sure to remember that their tax bill is due and must be paid on April 18, even if they file an extension; otherwise penalty and interest fees apply.

The IRS said about 58 percent of the approximately 141 million returns it expects to be filed this year have been filed. About 20 to 25 percent of returns are filed in the last two weeks and about 7 percent of taxpayers will file for an extension. The IRS’s numbers are based on filing statistics as of March 25.

If you are a taxpayer who needs helpyou’re more of the self-service type and prefer interacting with a website over an actual human being, check out the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Taxes for tax tips and suggestions. We found the Help! I can’t pay my tax bill article to be especially helpful for those who are in the delicate position of owing a bunch of money to the IRS but not actually having any to pay the piper. While the suggestion to take out a loan or borrow from family to pay a due tax bill seems offensive at first, it’s reasonable given that a bank loan will probably carry a smaller interest rate than fees and penalties associated with not paying the IRS promptly.

Sir David Tweedie’s Patience Is Wearing Thin

He may be on his way out the door but still IASB chair David “that’s Sir David to you” Tweedie is still sick of all our heel-dragging on IFRS in the U.S. He hasn’t gone so far as to say we’ll be left in the capital market dust if we don’t adopt tomorrow but he’s clearly fed up with our procrastination.


If they put off a commitment to international financial reporting standards beyond 2011, U.S. accounting rulemakers and standard-setters would impose “unnecessary costs and risks on U.S. companies,” Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board, said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering on the future of financial reporting.

The major risks are competitive ones, said Tweedie. U.S.-based multinationals already must fill numerous sets of accounting books. Many must file their financials under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles even as they report on the activities of their overseas subsidiaries under IFRS or the standards crafted by individual nations, he pointed out. At the same time, their foreign competitors can use IFRS for all purposes, even for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he added.

As is, the transition to IFRS is estimated to cost American companies $35 million per year (remember 3 years of restatements will be required). We’re not sure if he has access to different estimates that somehow make qualified IFRS monkey restatements more expensive in 2012 and beyond than they would be by the end of this year but it seems painfully clear that he means business.

I’m not sure if he missed the memo but we don’t seem as enthusiastic about convergence as we did when we delayed the release of a roadmap in 2008. Three years later, we don’t appear to be any more prepared for the transition than we were then and still have three (or make that four) more good years to drag our heels according to recent statements by the SEC.

How much clearer does Tweeds need it? We’re just not that into your standards.

Happy Last CPA Exam Testing Day of Q3 2010!

So we heard that some but not that many of you received your scores from this window, if so congrats (we hope) and do let us know how you did. For those of you stuck in Wave 2, um, sorry about that and here’s to hoping you get your 74 before the final window of 2010 gets too filled up to schedule before the dreaded CBT-e changes take effect January 1, 2011 in case you need a retake.

Remember, Q4 2010 could be the most difficult to schedule CPA exam testing window of all time so if you are in Wave 2 and want to take another stab at it before 2011 after you get a failing score towards the end of September, you better be sure to get your reapplication in for a new NTS as soon as you get your score. Be prepared to select an alternate Prometric location or date and time that you didn’t really want as it’s going to be rough getting in for some of you.

Of course, there are those of you in remote areas or CPA dead zones that may have no problems at all but for our little future CPAs in places like Texas, Illinois, California and New York (i.e. exceptionally large numbers of CPA exam candidates testing at any given time) be open to changing your dates or location if need be and don’t flip out if you can’t schedule where or when you want.

If you are testing today on this final testing day of Q3 2010 we’d love to hear what you’re taking. Jr Deputy Accountant’s unofficial poll of CPA exam candidates (really I’ve just been asking candidates I’ve talked to lately and not even taking a tally; sue me) reveals that a large number of you are actually going after BEC either today or before the end of the year to avoid written communication in 2011. That’s a bit of a shock, I assumed most of you would try to tackle FAR before IFRS hits but hey, whatever floats your boat. For those of you who pass BEC this year, you also have the advantage of getting a BEC exam with less economics and IT to worry about, not to mention no essays.

And if you don’t pass? Remember, there’s always next window, CBT-e or not and hopefully we have already calmed your fears surrounding the 2011 changes. It’s a little more to memorize with international standards thrown in the mix but you were already going to have to memorize a metric shit ton of information anyway so what are a few more standards going to hurt?

Good luck to all of you and don’t forget to get in your last minute CPA exam questions before it all changes in a few short months!

Three Important Filing Tips for Luddites

There is an immense body of law governing whether last-minute tax filings are timely. So often a cheap little postmark is all that stands between a taxpayer and tax catastrophe. With the IRS herding preparers and taxpayers towards e-filing, timely-mailed, timely-filed cases may seem like an arcane body of law, like piracy cases, but paper filing still has some proud hard-core holdouts, and sometimes only a paper filing will do. At the Tax Court, for example, where the website says “Initial filings, such as the petition, may be filed only in paper form.”

The tax law says that a tax return is considered timely-filed if it is mailed on the due date, but the shift to e-filing can make things awkward for paper filers. For example, few post offices still offer late April 15 hours for last-minute paper filers. Stepping into the last-minute filer void are authorized private carriers of tax documents, like FedEx and UPS. A proper shipping document by an authorized private carrier can document timely filing. That gives taxpayers new ways to meet disaster, as the Tax Court illustrated this week.

A California couple wanting to take the IRS to Tax Court had a July 20, 2009 deadline for filing their petition. They filed by FedEx, perhaps at a FedEx/Kinkos location. They generated a shipping label on their home computer with a July 20 date. But FedEx spoiled everything, as the Tax Court explains:

The petition, which was sent by FedEx Express (FedEx), was received and filed by the Court on Thursday, July 23, 2009. The envelope containing the petition bore two shipping labels. The first shipping label, which had been placed inside a clear plastic pouch adhered to the envelope, had been electronically generated by the sender using FedEx Ship Manager (customer generated label). The second shipping label, which had been affixed to the outside of the clear plastic pouch, had been electronically generated by FedEx (FedEx-generated label).

Of course the FedEx-generated label had a July 21 date. And that, says the Tax Court, is the date that counts, and our couple was out of luck.

So what does that mean to you?

• File electronically if you can. You get a nice electronic confirmation that you can beat up the IRS with, and you don’t have to worry about your valuable tax forms going awry.

• If you must paper-file, Registered Mail or Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, are still the best deal in town. They’ll generally be cheaper than a private carrier, and that hand-stamped certified mail postmark has the same effect on IRS agents as sunlight on Dracula.

• If you find yourself at FedEx/Kinkos late on April 15, make sure the clerk knows that you need them to stamp it before midnight. If you use private delivery, be sure to use the proper street address, as the private carriers can’t deliver to post office boxes.

Otherwise, you might find yourself trying to reach Jiffy Express.

The Top Ten Tax Procrastinating Cities

So capital market servants, filed your tax returns yet? No? Too busy, you say? Fine. We’ve all got our excuses. Personally, we’re holding out until Doug Shulman and/or Tim Geithner start returning our calls about their compliance efforts for 2009. Since we’ve been encouraged to not hold our breath on this, we’ve already filed our extension.

But where are most of the kings of putting off the 1040 until the last minute? The greatest concentration of “I’ll do it this weekend” types? The engineers of procrastination station?

Well if you guessed Houston not only are you correct but you’ve got more useless knowledge in your brain than Ken Jennings.

TurboTax’s rankings are based on the largest number of people that file between April 14 – 17. Here are your biggest putter-offers for 2009 (with previous year ranking in parents):

1. Houston – (#2)

2. Chicago – (#4)

3. New York – (#3)

4. Austin, Texas – (#11)

5. San Francisco – (#1)

6. Seattle – (#7)

7. San Diego – (#5)

8. Los Angeles – (#8)

9. Dallas – (#9)

10. Las Vegas – (#10)

This marks the fourth time that H-town has topped this list but we’ll be damned if we can figure out why. Does the humidity and obesity cause a hibernated state that we’re not aware of or is just good old fashioned, “we’re Texans and we hate taxes”? California too. What the hell is their problem?

In order to get to the bottom of this, we asked a friend (and strangely enough, a tax guru) who is a current Los Angeles resident and former resident of Houston to explain and she put in this way:

“Well.. Californians are selfish and think they can do whatever they want to get theirs…and pretty much Texans are the same, but they do it with a smile and an accent.”

Makes total sense now.

Free Tax Filing, Efile Taxes, Income Tax Returns –

Houston, We Have a Problem [Tax Break]

>75: Procrastination

Procrastinate.jpgEditor’s note: This is the latest edition of >75, our weekly post on questions that you have related to the CPA Exam. Send your questions to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer as many of them as possible. You can see all of the JDA’s posts for GC here and all our posts related to the CPA Exam here.
First of all, I have to give it to all of you little future CPAs of America, you REALLY know how to put things off until the last minute, don’t you?
I’m going to let you in on a tiny little secret: the exam never goes away.
Let me paint an “imaginary” scenario where CPA Review classes are starting in less than 48 hours. Classes have been on hold for over two months and suddenly, within this 48 hour period, there is a rush of panicked CPA exam candidates realizing they’ve got less than a day left to figure out a plan. Anyone else see what’s wrong with this picture?
I’m not talking about a handful of people, I’m talking about a significant chunk of you. You know who you are and you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So what is it? Do you believe that the exam will pass itself? Or if you put it off long enough somehow you’ll wake up one day a CPA? I hate to break it to you but that’s really moronic.
There are students in our classes that are 50-some years old. Think about that. They graduated 30 years ago and are STILL putting this stupid ass exam off. So don’t think you’re some hero of procrastination just because you let 18 months go by and started losing exam scores, you aren’t special.
The bottom line is this: it is all about what you want to do with your life. Do you really want to be a CPA? Then you’ll suck it up and finish. Don’t do it because your parents want it or your girlfriend wants it or it’s your grandma’s dying wish. You are only setting yourself up for a life of half-assed failure, misery, and disappointment.
Which is kind of like what you’re setting yourself up for with a CPA and a career in public accounting except + tchotchkes. Win* (I think).
Point is, stop. In the time it takes for you to come up with 1000 excuses, you could have already booked your exam and gotten through at least 150 MCQ. Yes, it sucks but guess what? You picked it. You can make it worse on yourself and be that 50 year old guy in the back of our Live class or you can just get through it and stop bitching.
/end rant. Do it.
*I’m obligated to say that because of my day job