In the last five years, Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, has spent $11.5 million lobbying the federal government. One of the things they're lobbying against is something called "return-free filing." Never heard of it? That's weird. It's been successfully implemented in Denmark, Sweden and Spain, and only one of those countries is on the verge of financial […]
With only three weeks until April 15th, some of you might like to be reminded that there are other people out there who are going through busy season pains just like you are. Unlike you, they have taken their suffering to Twitter and smartly labeled their problems as #CPAproblems which allows us to share them […]
As everyone knows, today is usually tax day but thanks to Emancipation Day – a recognized public holiday in the District of Columbia, home of the IRS, since 2005 – we get an extra weekend to put off plugging our earnings into our 1040s.
The official holiday is April 16th but since Emancipation Day falls on a Saturday this year, the District gets Friday off. Buses run as usual but those heading to Tax Day events around DC (Federal Reserve Board protest, anyone?) can rest easy knowing the DC Parking Gestapo will not be out circling the streets for blood, er, expired meters.
Fact: slavery was legal in the U.S. from 1619 until 1865. By 1860, there were about four million slaves in the United States. On April 16, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed more than 3,000 slaves in the District of Columbia. Slavery did not officially end in the United States until the end of the Civil War in 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified by 30 of the then 36 states. Bet you didn’t know that Mississippi only ratified the 13th amendment in 1995!
This holiday is especially near and dear to my locale, which boasts itself as the wealthiest majority African American county in the entire country. Though don’t believe everything you read in Ebony, PG is far from the luxurious country club the magazine painted it as in this 2006 article.
April 15th falls on a Sunday next year so you’ll also get an extra couple days in 2012 but Honest Abe doesn’t get credit for that, maybe Copernicus or whoever came up with the 365 + 1 every four years calendar year.
Happy Emancipation Day!
On a day like today, words alone will simply not suffice. Things like “Thank God it’s over,” “I am getting cop-slugging drunk,” or “If I get asked to prepare one more extension I’m going to have a panic attack” are expected. Instead we’ll present you with the following clip of a certain taxpayer’s haul in 2009:
As you’re well aware, some Tea Partiers are out and about today (not everyone stayed at home) and the Mile High City was no exception.
Being in close proximity to the Capitol, I decided to run over and check out the festivities. While it was definitely a raucous (yet peaceful) bunch they didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t listening and was obviously more interested in sociological aspects of the gathering.
With the crowd oblivious to my mission, I was able to snap a few pics (yes, total amateur hour) of some of the more, shall we say, interesting signs.
[caption id="attachment_8580" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Child exploitation!"][/caption]
Tonight will be the 26th tax day party of my accounting career. Pardon me if I don’t stick around very long.
The only really memorable tax day party was my first one. The tax group of the “Big 8” firm where my career started went to across the street to old Busch Stadium in St Louis, where the firm rented a box for the Cardinals baseball game. I happily drank their beer, only to be canned exactly a week later. That sort of took the fun out of the whole thing (though if I did something at the party to get fired from good old PW, it was the best career move I ever made).
So I found a job with the Des Moines tax group of another big firm. There the tax day party doubled as a bachelor party for one of the other staff accountants, and we all (well, the boy accountants) went to a north side strip club. I didn’t have any spare dollars for the garters, and I slipped away home, where I could drink all night for the cost of a single beer at the girlie club. But I just went to bed.
Which is really about all I feel like doing by the end of the day on April 15. By noon today I had already worked a 65-hour week. I’ve been in close company with my co-workers here from early morning to late night for weeks, and, as much as I love them to death, I’ve had enough quality time with them.
There are other awkward things about the tax parties. Like auditors. You can identify them by their animation and their golf tans – a sharp and annoying distinction from us dazed, pallid tax zombies. Bonus annoyance points if they come to the April 15 party straight from the golf course.
These parties typically occur at a local bar, where you run the high possibility of a colleague embarrassing himself in front of a client. Or worse, a drunk client hitting on one of our staff accountants. Worse still, a staff accountant hitting on a client. Unless it goes really well, of course.
Finally, I’m a boss now. Nobody really wants to do serious drinking in front of a boss. So now I’m like the old guys who used to start the Masters with a ceremonial tee shot. I’ll take a ceremonial shot (Templeton Rye, try it sometime), and then leave the field to the youngsters.
So have a good time tonight. If you see me out, I’ll be at dinner with my wife (I think I’m still married). I’ll be the one snoring.
It’s here people. April 15th. It’s great for a lot reasons: A) you (or your grateful significant other) get to say good bye to that nasty-ass beard B) you can get some rest and C) all around, your life ceases sucking (or sucking less). And along with marching against all things taxation (regardless of representation) it has become tradition for giveaways.
Buzz around the Internet for a nanosecond and you’d think the entire universe was being given away.
We already told you about the Blizzardmobile setting up shop in DC but for those of you not in the Nation’s Capital, here’s a quick rundown of some other freebies that me be closer to you:
Starbucks – Bring in a reusable cup and get free coffee.
Dunkin’ Donuts – Although we can’t find anything on their website, DD is known to give you a free donut with a purchase of the best (chain) coffee on Earth.
Subway – Again, rumor has it that Casa de Jared is handing out free cookies today. Nothing on the site, however.
PF Changs – If you didn’t get enough Chinese cuisine during busy season, head over to PFC’s to get 15% off your tab.
McDonalds – Once again, supposedly you can purchase a Big Mac and get a second for $0.01. If you aren’t able to handle two (we don’t recommend one but whatevs), just give it to a homeless person.
Boston Market – Buy one plate and get one free with this coupon.
If you’ve got news of more freebies, or just (rumored giveaways) let us know or discuss.
UPDATE: Looks at least one Subway is balking. From a Salzberg Soldier:
The Subway in Raleigh right outside of Deloitte has advertised buy-one get-one subs on tax day for the last week or so…but when we went in and ordered, they told us they had decided not to do it. They also mentioned that they took down the posters they had in the windows because “they didn’t make sense”. No bargains at Subway today.
With a little more than just 24 hours to go until the end of the traditional filing season for 2010, some taxpayers might be freaking out. To help prevent this we got the chance to speak with Bob Meighan, TurboTax VP and CPA yesterday morning about what to do with just a few short hours away from the deadline, what taxpayers have been struggling with this filing season and if he had any special advice for a certain customer:
With less than a week until April 15th, it’s safe to assume that some people are finally getting a tad anxious about the upcoming deadline. If you live in New York and happen to be one of these procrastinators, it may be wise to check with your tax professional, not only because they hate it when you show up on the 13th – 15th with nary a clue about what you earned in 2009 but also because if you’re really unlucky, your tax pro instead was just total shiester and got caught up in “Operation Brass Tax.”
First off, we’ll just say that we’re not sure who at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York or the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division was given the modest charge of naming this particular operation but it obviously sucks. We’re not expecting you have an imagination like JK Rowling or anything but guys, c’mon.
But enough with trivial matters, the main concern is that there are many New Yorkers that are completely going batshit crazy because A) they recently found out that their tax preparer was a robbing them blind and B) they have no idea how they are going to get their tax return filed in less than a week without help because reading the instructions is NOT. AN. OPTION.
Twenty-six phony tax experts in Manhattan and the Bronx have been charged by the SDNY/IRS for pulling a smorgasbord of scams including, “stolen identities of children to falsely claim them as dependents on clients’ returns; claiming “business losses” from fictitious businesses; using stolen identities, including Social Security numbers, of deceased individuals to list as the ‘taxpayers’ on fraudulent returns, and taking the resulting refunds themselves.”
All this chicanery has U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara upset because these tax professionals are supposed to be the good guys!
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Patricia Haynes unsealed charges Thursday against the tax preparers. Sixteen were in custody, four had been previously charged and face new charges, and six remain at large. “Professional tax preparers are supposed to be gatekeepers, not facilitators of fraud,” said Bharara in a statement.
Some might argue that this is just another reason why regulating tax preparers is the best idea the IRS has ever had. Of course then you remember that these regulations will probably drive these tax prep lemonade stands underground anyway.
While that’s another matter entirely, there’s no cause for concern. There’s plenty of tax gurus in New York like the guy who got mixed reviews on Craigslist. If venturing to Queens isn’t a solution then you can always, you know, file the extension.
26 NYC Tax Preparers Charged with Tax Fraud [Web CPA]
More New York Tax Trouble:
Investigation Reveals that 30% of Tax Preparers in NYC Lied About Rapid Refunds
Are you dreading April 15th North Jersey? Thought so. With just over a week to go until deadline, it may have crossed your minds that you should start tearing your house apart for that W-2.
Well, you can postpone the treasure hunt for now because the IRS is showing mercy on you for the Biblical rainfall that poured on the Garden State last month.
The IRS announced on Monday that they are delaying the filing deadline “for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. This includes the April 15 deadline for filing 2009 individual income tax returns, making income tax payments and making 2009 contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA).”
The counties declared a disaster area by the POTUS include Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, and Union and thus qualify for the extended deadline, which is now May 11th.
New Jersey makes the third state allowed a prolonged procrastination period, joining counties in Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island.
Don’t try to get cute though, Garden Staters, if you’re thinking you can falsely claim residency in one of the affected counties, the IRS will be all over your shit, “IRS computer systems automatically identify taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and apply automatic filing and payment relief.” So appreciate the compassion if you can get it but don’t get any ideas; the IRS is still watching.
The Tea Partiers (not to be confused with tax protestors who are way more delusional) have made their names known all across this great land for hating on taxes. They’ve marched pretty much everywhere but do you know where they haven’t marched? On the Internet! That’s right, nothing like a virtual march with politicians up for reelection joining the cause (can’t be seen with those nutjobs in person).
The “march” will occur on, you guessed it, April 15th and it will occur “in” Washington DC.
Some of the other cartoon leaders that will be in “attendance” are
• Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey
• Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
• Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist
• Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
• Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan
• The Tea Party Express – A red bus.
We have to admit that we’re impressed with this risky move by this group that we would otherwise shun a technological feat of this magnitude. Does anyone think that Dick Armey or John McCain even knows what an avatar is? What lucky member of their respective staffs got the responsibility of creating those?
This is especially fun for the tea p’s because since this particular march is virtual, it is likely that certain actions and/or methods that the tax haters could only dream of before, will now be allowed. These may include but not limited to:
• Leaving flaming bags of shit on White House’s front steps.
• Protestors showing “video” of President Obama walking around wearing a Sandwich Board saying “I love taxes.”
• Resurrecting the Founding Fathers (zombie TJ!) to get their testimonials about how the Obama Administration is ruining America.
• Portray Nancy Pelosi giving a speech on the Capitol steps in one of those olive-colored Castro outfits.
• Bring Ronald Reagan back to life, just because.
• Other portrayals of “taxation without representation” taken wildly out of context.
All we ask is that you keep it non-violent. Tea p’s that aren’t too good with them computers need not worry though, actual marches will be held around the country on April 15th where you’ll be allowed to shout, march and carry signs with plenty of misspelled words.
Greetings, red-eyed accountants. I hope those of you who celebrated yesterday’s sign-off didn’t drink the local watering holes dry last night. The markets are closed tomorrow, so hit the town again tonight and find yourself a Wall-Streeter (or is it a midtowner now?) to shack up with!
Who am I kidding? You’re probably going to sleep like babies for the first time in months.
Regardless of how you spend your first few days of re-born freedom, you need to be sure not to get caught up in the whirlwind slow season.
These short drops in production need to be stretched to maximum gain. Here’s are few ways to make the most of your slow hours:
• Cash in that vacation time – One of the (few) perks of a public accounting gig is the incredible amount of personal time. Five to six weeks of vacay is simply unheard of in the private sector (three weeks are standard issue). So why not do something with your time? Sign up for the mass emails from travel sites and pick a random location to cash in those hotel points that have accumulated over the last three busy seasons.
One GC reader told me, “I’m going to Bermuda in a few weeks. Why? Because JetBlue had a special, I’ve never been, and I’ll be damned if I lose out of my vacation time.” FWIW, many of the airlines are running specials now for flights in the next few months. Pick a random location and get the hell out.
• Recharge your batteries and your resume – Pick a Friday or Monday in the coming weeks and call in sick. Book yourself a day of relaxation; hit the spa, the golf course, or work on that rusty ‘72 Chevy taking up room in the garage. Whatever you do, keep the Blackberry on your nightstand and spend your day away from the office. After a day of mental relaxation, pick up your resume and make your time in public start working for you.
• Shop around for new work – So you want to work at a hedge fund but are currently auditing depositories – what the hell are you wasting your time for? Now is the time to talk to your mentors and work with staffing to really push your accounting career in the direction of an industry that interests you. Volunteer to do clean up work on a client that is decimated by team members taking vacation. Do what you need to do to begin getting the exposure to work that is relevant to your career aspirations.
For those of you done with busy season, have a drink and enjoy your weekend, but don’t forget about your comrades with 4/15 deadlines. The end – after all – is near.
There’s a slew of “reasons” that people have for hating on the Internal Revenue Service. They’re responsible for discourse on television, they don’t observe Shabbos, perverts (alleged!), etc.But every now and again the IRS gives you a reason to say, “well, that’s nice of them,” even if it takes rainfall that makes you consider cobbling an ark together and rounding up the animals in the neighborhood.
The Service is not unreasonable. Apologetic? Never. But not unreasonable. Accordingly, if you live in eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island the IRS took notice of the rising waters and is extending the April 15th deadline to May 11th (?).
It’s unlikely that this will garner much favor with the IRS haters outside of the Northeast but at least the Service won’t have to ignore the flood of calls from Bay State and Ocean State residents about whether they’ll still be expected file on time. Grab a bucket.
IRS will delay April 15 deadline for many in Mass. [Boston Globe]
Flood weary Rhode Islanders get tax extension [AP via Globe]
*For the militant atheists – Calm down, wouldja? It’s a religious week. Just sub “Nature” and move on.
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 – TurboTax.com
Houston, We Have a Problem [Tax Break]