Saturday, May 1, 2010

Costly IRS Mandate Slipped into Health Bill

A recent post by Chris Edwards on the Cato Institute Blog, Costly IRS Mandate Slipped into Health Bill, reviews a mandate included in the recent health care bill that increases reporting requirements for businesses.
A few wording changes to the tax code’s section 6041 regarding 1099 reporting were slipped into the 2000-page health legislation. The changes will force millions of businesses to issue hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of additional IRS Form 1099s every year.
The current law requires businesses to issue 1099's to contractors, however the new law purchases to the requirements. As described by RIA, a firm that provides tax information, and quoted by Edwards,
The 2010 Health Care Act adds “amounts in consideration for property” (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act §9006(b)(1)) and “gross proceeds” (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act §9006(b)(2)) to the pre-2010 Health Care Act categories of payments for which an information return to IRS will be required if the $600 aggregate payment threshold is met in a tax year for any one payee. Thus, Congress says that for payments made after 2011, the term “payments” includes gross proceeds paid in consideration for property or services.
Edwards quotes Chris Hesse of LeMaster Daniels PLLC as saying, "Under the new law, businesses will be required to send a 1099 to other businesses for virtually all purchases."

The requirements are already being challenged. Representative Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) introduced legislation repealing the requirement. As reported by the On the Money, the Hill's blog on finance and the economy, Lungren thinks that the burden is not particularly wise.
"It is just one of the dumber things I have seen in Congress," he said, adding, "Imagine this: Goods and services purchased by a small business, from a supplier ranging from component parts of every American product, to phone and internet service, to the shipping service of Fed Ex or UPS, will now give rise to a new paperwork burden at tax time."
The proposal is apparently now waiting for the Ways and Means Committee.

Friday, April 30, 2010

High-Income Taxpayers Should Maximize Charitable Contributions, Itemized Deductions in 2010

The latest post on the Tax Policy Blog is High-Income Taxpayers Should Maximize Charitable Contributions, Itemized Deductions in 2010. It is the latest in a series that the Tax Foundation has written about the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. This post is about the likely expiration of  PEP and Pease, popular names for the personal exemption phase-out and a similar phase-out of itemized deductions for higher income filers. The post notes:
PEP and Pease have created significant problems, raising marginal tax rates and adding to tax complexity. In some cases, PEP and Pease push the marginal tax rate up substantially. Next year, under President Obama's budget, a married couple filing jointly with combined AGI of $254,550 would pay a 28 percent rate without PEP and Pease, but a 30.5 percent rate with PEP and Pease.
For more details, read the post, or check out the Tax Policy Foundation or the Tax Policy Blog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How to fix an error on your individual income tax return

Does this sound familiar?
  • You filed the return.
  • You cashed the refund check, or you wrote out the check for the taxes you owed.
  • When you were filing all of your tax paperwork you discovered you left something off of your return, or you received a notice from the IRS.
  • You panicked.
Good news. There is no need to panic. File an amended return. If your CPA completed your return, call your CPA and ask him or her to amend the return. If your return is simple, you can probably do it yourself.

What you will need
Whether you prepare the amended return yourself or send it to your CPA, you will need a few things before you can get started.

  • A copy of your return and instructions for the forms. (If you need prior year forms and instructions, you can call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). You can also download them from
  • Form 1040X and instructions (Do not simply re-file a new 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ!)
  • Any additional supporting documents
  • Any letters or notices you received from the IRS
How to get started
The first step is to organize your documents. It is a good idea to group your documents into categories such as income, deductions, or credits. You’ll want to separate out documents that go with specific schedules. Once you have done that review the original instructions for the forms you filed. This should help you be certain that you understand the changes that you want to make.

The 1040X is a multi-purpose form. Taxpayers have many reasons for amending returns. This means that you may not need to complete all of the lines on the form. Be sure to check the instructions.

The simplest way to make your changes is to make notes in the margins of your original return. Once you have made all of your changes and reviewed them, you can enter the changes onto the Form 1040X. If you use tax software, be careful to follow the directions provided by the software company. Typically you will make a copy of the original file and modify the copy instead of working on the original. The software will also have an option to prepare an amended return.

Once you file the amended return, file it and all of your supporting documents with your other important papers. If you have a CPA, you may also want to send a copy of the amended return to him or her to keep in your files.

File Form 1040X only after you have filed your original return. It is important to realize that the interest and penalty clock rarely stops ticking. If your changes result in a higher tax liability, then you should file an amended return and pay the tax as soon as you possibly can so that you can avoid additional penalties.

If your changes result in a lower tax liability, then you may be due a refund. Generally, for a credit or refund, you must file Form 1040X within 3 years (including extensions) after the date you filed your original return or within 2 years after you paid the tax, whichever is later. There are some exceptions to this time limit for people who are unable to manage their own affairs. Check with your CPA or review Publication 556 Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free online training from the IRS

Did you know that the IRS offers free online presentations and webinars? Check out the IRS Video Portal  for
  • Archived versions of live panel discussions
  • Archived webinars
  • Video clips
  • Audio archives of tax practitioner phone forums
The portal offers a wealth of material for individuals, small businesses and tax practitioners.