Income Averaging and Transitions in Tax Law

Over the years tax law has been quite fluid based on changes and incentives Congress intends to provide to taxpayers in each session. This amoeba-like quality is what makes comparisons between different generations of the tax code difficult. It's more… more »

Volunteer Tax Assistance Resources

During tax season each year I occasionally come across issues that I need to research or verify. That's when I think a complete list of resources would be handy. I've started developing such a list and am making Volunteer Tax Assistance Resources available on-line. The page is at http://www.tylerhosting.com/voltax/. This is a collection of resources I've developed to assist me and others with our volunteer work at VITA and AARP Foundation Tax-Aide programs and includes … more »

Common IRA Traps

This tax season has been one for IRA traps. IRAs are great, but meeting the rules can be a challenge. With hefty penalties on large sums, any mistake can be disastrous. Here's a few issues I've encountered this year. Don't Forget to Take RMDs. With most… more »

Continuing Education: Duty of Professionals

Certification is at the heart of many professionals. While CPE is the duty of many professionals, the real duty is to keep abreast of the changes in the profession in order to meet the expectations of clients, even in areas that they may not expect you to be knowledgeable. Being a professional is more than getting a qualification… more »

Tax-Aide Repents on Education Credits: I Win!

Last year I confronted someone at Tax-Aide corporate headquarters about a spreadsheet on the support website that limited the amount of scholarships by the amount of the taxpayer's own money…This year the new Tax-aide worksheet for preparers has no mention of own money, and maximizes AOTC much like my own AOTC Worksheet… more »

Educational Components of H. R. 2029

In mid-December Congress passed the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, including amendments titled Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) H.R. 2029. That bill addressed a wide array of concerns but it may be best known as the tax extender bill. Those interested in education credits welcomed the extender package because it made the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) permanent. Unlike many AOTC proposals made during the year that would rewrite the AOTC, unfortunately this package only makes AOTC permanent by removing the phrase "and before 2018" in IRC Section 25A(i). The amounts are the same… more »

Education Tax Credits: And Other Educational Incentives

The final Education Tax Credits book is now available. I published an abbreviated version in May that I titled Education Tax Credit Essentials. I wanted to make the most crucial content available for extended filing season and to encourage feedback as I worked on the full version. Education Tax Credits is a guide for tax professionals to better understand the many complexities related to education tax credits and other tax incentives for education. This systematic analysis guides preparers in the steps required to process education credit claims, from researching scholarships and calculating the maximum credit to coordinating with educational savings accounts and Pell grants. more »