Taxpayer Advocate’s Sage Advice

So here comes the National Taxpayer Advocate with her annual report to Congress, containing some eleven legislative recommendations on ways to make life easier for taxpayers.

            Advocate Nina Olson cites the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code as issue one.

            Really.

            Others of Nina’s recommendations include:

  1. The “Gotcha” problem – the tax system should not “entrap” taxpayers.  (Isn’t it about time somebody recognized this?)
  2. The IRC should be simple enough that most folks can do their own tax returns, on a simple form, and have their questions fully and accurately answered by IRS folks.  (We don’t know about the “simple form” idea, but why has it never been the case that questions referred to those who are supposedly in charge can be answered directly and with assurance?)
  3. The system should incorporate a periodic review of the IRC.  (What’s new here?  The IRS reviews and tinkers with things at least annually – and sometimes, like in 2010, more than once per year!)

Meanwhile, the Revenooers now find it necessary to get more deeply involved in the

banking business.  (Why not?  Obama has found his way into just about every other business, including this one!)   Last week, the Treasury Department announced it would launch a “pilot program” whereby it would provide some taxpayers their refunds via prepaid debit cards, instead of in cash.

            Seems some 600,000 low and moderate income taxpayers across the U.S. of A. will soon receive letters “inviting” them to activate a debit card that can receive direct deposits.  The government justifies this departure from longstanding history on the theory that this new game plan will give recipients an alternative to costly check-cashing outlets – as if there’s nobody around who actually has their own bank account, and who may very well just want to save that refund, instead of immediately spending it!

            “They can use it in an ongoing way to pay bills, save money, get cash and have a real basic, robust, safe and convenient transaction account,” quoth Treasury Financial Access Innovations Director (Yes, of course the government has one of those!) Joshua Wright.

            And finally, this week, comes word from California that the Great State has conformed to the Federal rule permitting folks 70-1/2 or over to directly contribute some of their IRA dough (up to $100,000) to charities (without having to run the distributions through income). 

How nice – yet another California bone tossed to taxpayers, for chewing through the end of this year.

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, with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He is also a contributor to the recently published 14th edition of Tax Savvy for Small Business, published by Nolo.  He can be reached at 831-7288, and welcomes comments below or at jquinn@ashleyquinncpas.com.

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