By Howard M. Romaine
Tribune legal correspondent
Free tax preparation assistance offered through the Nashville IRS office is now available. Passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (AFTRA) by Congress last month meant forms had to revised to reflect the changes made, according to David Boone. Also, the extensive changes made in the tax law by ATRA, extends provisions for those claiming the higher education tuition deduction,and educator expense deduction, along with the deduction for claiming state and local sales tax.
Tennessee Taxpayer Good news
One of the changes favoring all Tennessee taxpayers is a standard deduction on the federal forms for sales and use tax paid in Tennessee,which is the major source of revenue for the state, which has no income tax.
This was added to equalize the deduction obtained in other states for the amounts paid states under their state and local income taxes, which are imposed in a majority of states, such as North Carolina.
Some Forms Delayed
Several changes in the tax code will take additional time for computers to be programmed, and appropriate paper forms printed to utilize the additional information. One is the Residential energy credit, (Form 5695), the Depreciation and Amortization deductions, (Form 4562), and the General Business Credit, (Form 3800) It is estimated that these forms will be available in late February and into March, and dates will be given.
As it becomes available, updated information will be available on IRS.gov.
Taxpayer Preparer Regulations of IRS overturned
In order to limit defrauding of taxpayers by unethical, unprepared, or negligent storefront ‘tax preparers’ the Internal Revenue Service had issued
regulations affecting thousands of non-attorney, non-CPA tax-return preparers, who prepare and file tax returns for compensation.
The new regulations required such preparers to take and pass exams, pay registration fees, and take annual continuing education courses, However, several of the
preparers filed suit claiming that these regulations were beyond the IRS’s jurisdiction, and prevailed in a recent decision by the District of Columbia District Court.
In Sabina Loving, et al., v. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. District Court held that the IRS had exceeded its statutory mandate, and enjoined enforcement of these regulations. However, the government may appeal or take other actions, and issued IRS Tips on Choosing a Tax Preparer:
Here’s the list by the service:
“1.) Choose a Tax Preparer who has good credentials – Enrolled Agent, CPA, Accountant, or Attorney
2.) In business all year, not just at tax filing season,
3.) Recommended by a professional tax organization, trusted friend
4.) Gets good marks from the Better Business Bureau and state consumer affairs office
5.) Is an IRS authorized Electronic Return Preparer”
Warning Signs of a Dishonest Preparer
An honest preparer will not fabricate information on your tax return, promise a higher refund than anyone else, or tell you to take a deduction or credit
which the government says you are not entitled to.
An honest tax preparer will not give you a credit or deduction they claim is “secret” or claim to show you how legally to quit paying taxes
An honest preparer won’t tell you that African-Americans or any other ethnic group are entitled to a ‘special refund’ or use invalid or “borrowed tax ID Numbers.”
An honest tax preparer will not ask you to sign a blank tax return, refuse to sign the return on the “tax preparer’ line, or give you a copy of the return.
An honest tax payer will not charge a fee that is a percentage of the tax return amount.