Don’t forget to do your taxes
March 8, 2011
So far, this tax season in Park City has been a real snoozer.
Local accountants report that nothing new in tax law is applicable for the 2010 year, so the rules are cut-and-dry. As the economic recovery slugs onward, people aren’t as desperate to get every exemption and receive an early return.
David Beemster, owner of H&R Block in Holliday Village, said President Barack Obama’s changes to the tax code don’t take effect until next year.
"It’s business as usual," he said.
He’s finding himself talking clients into getting their exemptions.
"People tend to not take everything coming to them. On taxes, people tend to be more conservative than they need to be. They qualify for things they don’t apply for," he explained.
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Certified Public Accountant Holly Carlin said she’s finding the Internal Revenue Service to be pickier in recent years. They want to see more accurate mileage logs for deductions, and timely receipts for large charitable donations.
"It’s a hot topic. They’ve been disallowing some stuff," she said. "They’re getting mean."
She believes it is because the IRS is under pressure to do a better job at collection for the federal government during these tight budget years.
Bill Brunson, regional spokesman for the IRS said that doesn’t happen. There are never concerted efforts to ramp up enforcement. Besides, he said, if citizens keep accurate records, they should have no problem getting the credits they deserve.
One thing the IRS has been emphasizing, and that Carlin said she’s warning all her clients about, is off-shore bank accounts. Press releases from Brunson outline the reporting schedule for these accounts and explain the penalties.
Carlin said some clients feel like it’s a privacy issue and don’t like disclosing certain information. The penalties, however, can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, she said.
"It’s information or a really big fine, what would you prefer to give them?" she said.
According to the press release, the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative is available through Aug. 31.
"Combating international tax evasion is a top priority for the IRS," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in the release. "The situation will just get worse in the months ahead for those hiding assets and income offshore. This new disclosure initiative is the last, best chance for people to get back into the system."
Carlin also encourages small businesses to contact their congressional representatives about proposals to require 1099 forms. This measure is still in debate some believe it will create an unfair accounting burden on small operations.
On Monday, the Park City Library wrapped up two days of tax help for the elderly and people filing simple returns for under $47,000 in income. Adult services librarian Jasmina Jusic said only about a dozen people took advantage of the free help organized by the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons.
If there is enough demand, Jusic said more session can be organized. The library has books and forms to help residents file their taxes.
The Salt Lake City IRS office at 50 South 200 East will hold an open house on March 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to offer advice.
Because regional holiday Emancipation Day will be celebrated on April 15 in Washington, D.C. this year, taxes do not have to be postmarked until April 18, according to the Utah Tax Commission’s website.