Lies and the Lying Liars in the Tax Business (with apologies to Al Franken)

I have the good fortune of having professional friends and colleagues around the country who have law practices or accounting practices which specialize in defending taxpayers whom the IRS claims owe back taxes.

And so, when some thorny issue comes up I might talk to a brother or sister tax pro in Florida or Texas or New Hampshire or Washington State or a smattering of other places around the country, in both red and blue states.

Recently, I was working on a tricky issue relating the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (to the uninitiated, this weird string of four words refers to one aspect of tax law that properly strikes fear into the hearts of business owners with employees everywhere or, if it doesn’t, either it should or the business owner has already dealt with the issue and taken steps to avoid or solve this problem; see, for example, http://lifelawandtaxes.com/not-just-for-bernie-madoff-or-king-tut-business-owners-build-devastating-pyramids-of-withholding-tax-debt-deducted-from-paychecks-but-not-sent-to-irs/).

After brainstorming a bit on strategy for my Trust Fund Issue, my colleague and I started talking about life, the world, and business, generally.

She complained bitterly (and hilariously) about our still-new president Obama (I couldn’t disagree with her more on this, yet we still are able to find common ground elsewhere and get along just fine – like the Jets and the Sharks go bowling together).

Then, to my surprise, she told me that she is doing less and less tax work.

Honest Analysis Loses Out to Empty Promises

Her explanation: We can’t compete with these tax resolution companies who promise the sun, moon and stars in their advertising and then have telephone sales people who don’t know anything about the tax rules and say whatever the taxpayers want to hear.

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Filing Your Tax Return Early Won’t Do You Any Good

Here we are in the thick of tax season and lots of people are getting their shoeboxes full of reciepts together, organizing their credit card statements and cell phone bills, so that they prepare their tax returns or go to their accountant to do it for them.

Some of us — the enviably well organized — may already be done. Maybe they’ve even prepared their returns already. So now, to file now and get it done? Or to wait until April 15th? Certainly you don’t want to be late (or if you have to be late, you want to file for an extension of time to file), but now the question is: on time or early?

What? No Gold Star? Three Ways Filing Early Might Help

Surprisingly, except three narrow situations, in most circumstances, filing early does you no good. You don’t get extra points or anything.

What you might get, if you are owed a refund, is your refund sooner than if you filed later. That’s one of the three situations: get your refund sooner.

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