Category Archive: Accounting

7 traits to look for in a CPA firm

Consider the human lifecycle. No two are exactly alike. We can, however, credit the IRS for imposing at least one trait that unifies us all. That is the expectation that we taxpayers must boil down a year’s worth of financial events into one annual income tax return. If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that…

Does the IRS Call You?

Ring ring, ring ring…. have you ever been asked why aren’t you picking up your phone? Well, in my case it’s because the phone number from which I’m receiving the “call” appears to be following a pattern of repeating the first 6 digits of my number… and when it goes to voicemail, a nice automated…

As Proud As I Can Be!

I have always been associated with outstanding professional women. My mother is a CPA.  My wife is an acclaimed family law attorney and former judge.  Our two daughters are accomplished licensed professionals with graduate degrees. At HM&M, we have a lot of fine professional women.  Want proof?  Check out the “Latest News” page on our…

TurboTax Made Me Do It

Sometimes you should not do your own brain surgery.  Well, make that almost always.  Actually, I can’t think of an exception.  A recent Tax Court Memorandum reminds us of the perils of taking on complicated tasks for which one has no training or aptitude. Barry Bulakites is an insurance consultant whose clients are primarily accountants. …

Hey Vance, Can I Deduct the Costs of my MBA?

On occasion, I am asked if a taxpayer can deduct the costs of graduate education.  I consulted with a client about deducting the costs of his MBA as recently as a month ago.  I confidently tell my inquirer that, in the vast majority of cases, if the costs were deductible, the costs would be treated…

Alternative Investments in IRAs – Part II: Be Creative

WARNING:  Do not try the following strategy unless, at least: -Your daddy built a big company that exports products -You have the nerve to battle the IRS for many years -You have creative and careful tax advisors (like me!) -You have the money to hire white-shoe lawyers, who probably charge $1,000 per hour, to represent…

Unconventional Investments in IRAs – Part I: Be Careful

I remember when Individual Retirement Accounts (“IRAs”) were first established in 1974. (Yep, I’m no spring chicken.) At first, these tax-deferred IRAs were restricted to those workers who were not already covered by a qualified employment-based retirement plan. In 1981, that restriction was removed. IRAs became big business. Then Roth IRAs came along in 1997.…

What’s The Difference Between An Actuary And An Accountant?

An accountant looks at your shoes when he talks to you.  An actuary looks at his own shoes when he talks to you. There is a difference between an actuary and a mathematician, too.  This difference is well illustrated in a Tax Court case published last week. In Pizza Pro Equipment Leasing, Inc., the Tax…

When in Doubt, Fill it Out

Some of the most draconian financial penalties levied by the U.S. Treasury are associated with the Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report (“FBAR”).  This report is made on FinCEN Form 114 by U.S. persons having a financial interest in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts, if the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts…

Aw, the IRS has a heart

Today, the IRS issued Announcement 2016-25:  Tax Treatment of Payments made on Behalf of or Reimbursements Received by Residents Affected by the Southern California Gas Company Natural Gas Leak. Let’s refresh our memories.  The Aliso Canyon gas leak (also called the Porter Ranch gas blowout) was a massive gas leak from a well that was…

OUCH!

I agree with the IRS’ and Tax Court’s interpretation of the law, but Mr. Udeobong sure paid through the nose – twice, to be exact.  I’ll save you the gory details.  In fact, they might make you a little less sympathetic.  In any case, Mr. Udeobong still took a lickin’.  Here is the summary and…

Health Care Forms: They are Confusing – For Everyone, It Seems

Some of my confusion may come from the fact that I am following my spring busy season sleepless pattern.  Does the following make any sense to you? At 3:11 p.m. yesterday I received an “IRS Tax Tips” email entitled:  “Corrected:  IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-45:  Don’t Confuse Health Care Forms.” At 3:13 p.m. yesterday…