IRS Goes Green

            Not to be outdone by all of the other greenies ever present these days, and in celebration of Earth Day, no doubt, the Revenooers have issued their “broad new initiative” to encourage even more electronic transactions.

            “Treasury must lead the way in developing methods to deliver payments that are safe and secure in a manner than is efficient and reliable,” quoth that noted tax compliance guru Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently.  “by moving to all-electronic payments, Treasury will save hundreds of millions of dollars and substantially reduce our environmental impact, making this a win-win for all Americans.”

            So get ready for the e-filing onslaught—among other things, your business which may presently be permitted to use paper Federal Tax Deposit coupons will have to make those deposits electronically beginning in 2011, unless you fit within a narrow band of exceptions.

            And if you live in Pennsylvania, Big Brother is apparently lurking at every turn—an ominous reminder of the ever-present tentacles of government, and a possible warning of what the IRS just might be resorting to some day soon.

            Seems the Keystone State has embarked on one of those amnesty programs—an effort to shake down tax malingerers.  But this one’s different, including what some view as “threatening” TV ads which depict camera shots from the heavens, zooming in on the typical taxpayer target with the ominous narration, “Your name is Tom…You live just off of 5th Street…nice car, Tom…nice house.  What’s not so nice is you owe Pennsylvania $4,212 in back taxes.  Listen Tom, we can make this easy.  Pay online by June 18th and we’ll skip your penalty and take half off your interest because, Tom, we do know who you are.”

            Notes Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, “Clearly the government is trying to intimidate and threaten people, which I don’t think is something government should do.  These Pennsylvania ads are irritating, a waste of money and government bullying.”

            Depends on your perspective.

            “The ads are intentionally edgy,” notes Pennsylvania Department of Revenue spokeswoman Stephanie Weyant.  “Ninety-seven percent of Pennsylvanians pay their taxes.  This advertising campaign is targeted toward the three percent who avoided the department’s efforts to collect back taxes from them.”

            Where are you, George Orwell?  And wherever that is, can the IRS be far behind?

            And finally, this week, cometh the disturbing news from a recent Fox News poll which found that some 79% of voters think it is possible the U.S. economy could collapse.  And it’s not just Republicans commiserating about this one—even 72% of Democrats surveyed are worried.  In general, Fox concludes that most Americans believe it is possible the economy could go down, and elected officials aren’t equipped to avert such a result.

            Overall, 35% of voters think the Obama administration has a clear plan for fixing the economy, down from 42% last summer.

            Have a nice day.

CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters.  You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your own particular situation.

            Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He is also a contributor to the recently published 13th edition of Tax Savvy for Small Business published by Nolo.  He can be reached at 831-7288, and welcomes comments below.

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