Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee 2024 Annual Report includes recommendations to Congress and IRS

IR-2024-175, June 26, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee (ETAAC) released its 2024 annual report PDF today with a total of 12 recommendations – three to Congress and nine to the IRS.

Among the recommendations to the IRS, the committee recommended enabling application programming interface access to taxpayer information, removing barriers to electronic filing by developing an alternative to the current self-select PIN as well as promoting greater information sharing between the IRS, states and industry partners.

“ETAAC members serve as trusted advisors to the IRS on key issues of interest to tax administration and taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “The committee has helped on a variety of fronts to help improve tax administration. The IRS leadership team will carefully review the recommendations in this report.”

The recommendations to Congress included a request for authority for IRS to regulate non-credentialed tax return preparers, support for effective tax administration through consistent, reliable funding of the IRS and greater funding for the National Taxpayer Advocate.

The report PDF was released today at a public meeting in Washington, D.C.

At the session today releasing the report, IRS Deputy Commissioner Douglas O’Donnell thanked 11 members of the committee whose terms ended today:

  • Jared Ballew, vice president of government relations, Taxwell.
  • Peter Barca, former secretary, Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
  • Mark Godfrey, manager, digital tax administration and government services, Ernst & Young.
  • Robert Grennes, commissioner, Indiana Department of Revenue.
  • Jihan Jude, attorney, Trivergent Trust Company.
  • Jonathan Lunardini, section manager, California Franchise Tax Board.
  • James Paille, chief compliance officer, myPay Solutions, IRIS Worldwide.
  • Hallie Parchman, senior manager of product management, Amazon.
  • Andrew Phillips, director, H&R Block Tax Institute.
  • Terri Steenblock, compliance director, Federation of Tax Administrators.
  • Timur Taluy, ETAAC Chair and founder, FileYourTaxes.com.

About ETAAC

ETAAC members represent various segments of the tax community, including individual and business taxpayers, tax professionals and preparers, tax software developers, payroll service providers, the financial industry and state and local governments.

The ETAAC operates under the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. It works closely with the Security Summit, a joint effort of the IRS, state tax administrators and the nation’s tax industry, established in 2015 to fight tax-related identity theft and cybercrime.

For more information, visit IRS.gov/etaac.

So, You’ve Been Audited: Should You Go It Alone or Hire a CPA?

IRS Hire a CPA or Represent yourself?I sincerely hope you have never had to go through an IRS audit – and never have to in the future. But what if that dark day does arrive? Should you go it alone and defend yourself or hire a CPA to be on your side?

The temptation to handle this alone is usually prompted by one of two things. First, the notion is that this is not such a big deal. Other times, people think if they handle it themselves, they will save money.

Unfortunately, neither of these are good reasons to defend yourself in a tax audit against the IRS. While the decision to hire a CPA or tax lawyer does depend on the case and the issues at hand, the procedural setting plays an important role as well. The answer is nearly universal that you should hire a CPA to defend you – or even a tax lawyer if the situation warrants it (sometimes they are one in the same person).

Why it is a Terrible Idea to Defend Yourself in a Tax Audit

There are several reasons why partnering with a pro is a good idea. Let’s look at each one and why.

  1. Working with your CPA, you can go back and forth with your side of the story, dig into the facts, and challenge each other in formulating a response. You essentially have a thinking partner and someone to fact check your side of the situation. Plus, they know how to “handle” the IRS in the messaging of responses.
  2. It is prudent to create some space between you and direct communications with the government. For the same reason, defense attorneys do not want their clients talking directly to the police. It is best if you communicate via your CPA or tax lawyer. Whenever you are in direct communications with the IRS, the chance of making a misstep is greater. Once you have said or written something to the IRS, it is pretty much impossible to backtrack.
  3. CPAs are experienced in advocating for clients and documentation.
  4. Early representation is a must! One of the biggest mistakes taxpayers subject to an audit make is to start off on their own and then end up in an even worse situation than they started. One of the biggest reasons why an audit can cost a lot is because the taxpayer dug themselves into hole that a CPA then later had to get them out of.
  5. Most cases rest on fundamental accounting problems. Someone with expertise and good records can address these problems early and competently. Seeing your own facts and documents through an unbiased and objective lens is not easy for most of us.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the decision to hire a CPA to represent you in a tax audit is a personal one. Exactly how necessary this is depends on the facts and circumstances of each individual situation, but it’s almost never a good idea to go it alone. If you ever find yourself in an audit, seriously consider hiring a CPA – and do it early in the process.

Accounting Considerations for Business Insurance Coverages

Business Insurance CoveragesWith more than eight million small businesses in America, and more than $776 billion in net premiums issued by the insurance industry in 2022 for commercial policies (according to the Insurance Information Institute), business insurance is big business. Along with protecting businesses from a myriad of claims, insurance expenses also have to be accounted for correctly.

When it comes to defining prepaid insurance, it’s essentially remittances that businesses (and individuals) make to an insurance company in advance. Normally, the usual time-frame for an insurance policy is 12 months. The time-frame is important when it comes to distinguishing between current and long-term asset classification.

If a prepaid expense, such as an insurance premium payment, is not utilized within 12 months of the remittance, it’s considered a long-term asset. Since it’s very uncommon for it to happen, it’s not seen in many financial statements, but is an important consideration to ensure that prepaid expenses are accounted for correctly.  

Important Accounting Factors

Since the coverage takes place in the future, but the payment is recorded in a preceding period, the prepaid insurance expense is considered a current asset on the balance sheet. Then, when the coverage is effective, the accounting consideration changes to the expense side of the business’ balance sheet.  

Here is an example of how businesses account for insurance expenses.

Company X pays an insurance premium of $3,000 on May 15 for the following 12 months starting June 1. The May 15 payment is recorded on the same date with a debit of $3,000 attributed to prepaid insurance along with a credit of $3,000 to cash. As of May 31, nothing has changed insurance-wise or accounting-wise for this policy, so the full $3,000 will be reported as prepaid insurance. However, once coverage is effective things change.

When June 30 rolls around, an adjusting entry will show a debit insurance expense for $250 (one-twelfth of the annual policy premium), and the same amount will see a credit to prepaid insurance. The June 30 debit balance for prepaid insurance will now be $2,750, leaving the remaining 11 months of insurance coverage that hasn’t yet elapsed – or eleven-twelfths of the $3,000 insurance premium cost.

This process repeats for the remaining 11 months. Depending on the business’ needs, coverage changes, policy changes, etc., the amounts may change but the process will likely remain the same.

Additional Factors

A related term, insurance payable, is another type of debt that is connected with an insurance expense. Listed on a company’s balance sheet, it represents a business’ outstanding premiums. This shows how much a company needs to pay the insurance company, and ideally by the end of the current period to remain current, avoid overdue fees, or have the policy canceled by the insurance carrier.

Along with giving businesses peace of mind, having the right mix of commercial insurance requires the right type of accounting considerations for the business’ internal and external accounting and tax reasons.

Sources

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-commercial-lines

Pre-Retirement Planning Guide Younger Adults

Pre-Retirement Planning Guide Younger Adults Step 2: Clarify Goals

You’re never too young to start a bucket list. That’s because some things (such as bungee jumping) you probably want to knock out in your twenties. Women may want to have children before their forties – that sort of thing. A bucket list is comprised of all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” It should be a running list that you add to and check off throughout your lifetime.

If you haven’t started a bucket list yet, a good time to do this is during your pre-retirement planning. It might be better to complete some items, such as expensive travel or home renovations, while you’re still working. That way, you can pay for them with your current income rather than take on debt or withdraw excess funds during retirement.

Another reason to develop your bucket list with your pre-retirement plan is to give life after work a greater purpose. Many people don’t think past the joy of simply not having to get up every morning and go to work. For some, the appeal of retirement is to no longer have to deal with exhausting corporate politics. However, if these are the only reasons you’re looking forward to retirement, they will not likely be as fulfilling a couple of years into it.

In fact, many retirees find they miss both the structure of the workday as well as the responsibilities and intellectual stimulation of a job. If you don’t establish additional and specific goals for your retirement years, you may end up bored, watching television most of the day, short on social stimulation, and wondering where the years went.

Some common goals set by retirees include:

  • Volunteering
  • Home renovation/redecoration
  • Gardening
  • Reading/book club
  • Babysitting/spending time with grandchildren
  • Traveling
  • Writing a book/memoir
  • Learning another language
  • Painting/arts & crafts
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Carpentry
  • Regular socializing with friends/game night
  • Culture (theatre, symphony)
  • Regular exercise routine
  • Mentoring
  • Taking classes

Aim For Local

Not everyone wants to see springtime in Paris, so recognize that your bucket list is unique to you. If you’re running low on bucket list items, think locally and personally. For example, there might be places nearby you haven’t visited in years (or ever), such as a museum, art gallery, zoo, symphony, or opera. Even if you do attend regularly, consider taking your grandchildren with you during retirement to expose them to your passions and develop memories they will hold onto for life.

As you develop your bucket list, think about how activities could achieve additional goals, such as fitness and socialization. Some of the risks of growing older are increased health problems and potential isolation – particularly if you lose a partner or outlive your friends. Constantly expand your social network to include younger folks, particularly neighbors. Helping them out with occasional babysitting or taking care of pets while they are out of town help “pay it forward” for those elder years when you could use a bit of help yourself.

Achieving a successful retirement is all about good planning and preparation. You want to have money to enjoy your life, good health to keep staying active, and friends and loved ones to spend time with. These are the core elements that contribute to a long life, so start planning today by developing goals and seeing them through.

Summer Reading List for Personal Finances

Summer Reading List for Personal FinancesSince it’s summer and reading lists are at the top of your mind, now’s the perfect time to expand your knowledge of money management and wealth building. So, whether you’re a retiree, a beginning saver, or even a child, we’ve got a book for you.

The Classics

If you haven’t had a chance to dive into these titles, you might want to grab them, starting with The Millionaire Next Door. Authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko published this in 1996 and learned something critical: most millionaires were those who don’t blatantly flash their wealth but live below their means and save, save, save. Other great books like The Psychology of Money and Same As Ever, both by Morgan Housel, explore how human emotions trigger spending decisions that aren’t always the best for us. (Not surprising, right?) Finally, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham advocates a “disciplined approach to investing.” He’s someone who you might want to listen to – he was a mentor to Warren Buffet.

New Books

For those who want to align their personal values with their financial decisions, The Social Justice Investor by Andrea Longton is a good read. Her thesis is simple: she reminds us that no matter how big or small, every investment impacts humanity. Another new book by an author who has a big presence on social media, Kyla Scanlon, is In This Economy? How Money and Markets Really Work. Using the model of short, bite-sized clips made famous by TikTok, she presents macroeconomic concepts like interest rates in digestible chunks. Even if you’re not into the socials, you can glean important fiduciary principles in a short time – especially if you have a busy life.

For Young Folks

Check out this powerful title, Stop Acting Rich…and Start Living like a Real Millionaire, also by Thomas J. Stanley. In a nutshell, this is a cautionary tale that details the pitfalls of overspending on a house or other major purchases while also emphasizing that just because you look rich doesn’t mean you are. Another great pick is Financially Stupid People are Everywhere – Don’t Be One of Them by Jason Kelly. This narrative shines the spotlight on dangers that parents might not discuss with their kids, such as consumer debt and large mortgages. It shares how “not to be a sucker.”

For Students and Kiddos

This is a long one: Debt Free U – How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching Off My Parents by Zac Bissonnette. According to the reviews, the story is motivating and inspiring for high school students and does an excellent job of paying off the title. For younger children, there is Lily Learns About Wants and Needs by Lisa Bullard, who reads it weekly to her kids. In her story, she focuses on gratitude and succeeds in explaining that “budgeting” isn’t negative but a necessity for success. From the sounds of this narrative, other age groups might benefit from it, as well.

These are just a few books you can pack into your suitcase or beach bag this summer. If you don’t finish them, you can take them with you for the rest of the year. Learning how to be smart about your finances never goes out of season.

Sources

Personal-Finance Books to Put on Your Summer Reading List (msn.com)