Any successful tax preparer knows how to navigate a constant state of flux, as financial regulations, laws, and client expectations can change at a moment’s notice. Staying informed, thus, is not just a preference – it’s a necessity. Clients rely upon your expertise as a tax preparer to help guide them through the complexities of the tax code, uncover opportunities for savings, and ensure compliance with regulations. In this constantly progressing environment, the role of trustworthy news sources becomes supreme. News is the compass that guides your practice, enabling you to provide the best service to your clients while maintaining professional integrity.
The reality of the dynamic tax industry underscores the need for tax preparers to stay abreast of legislative updates and tax law changes, but the scope of staying informed goes far beyond tracking changes in the tax code. In this post, your team at Drake Software hopes to delve into the practicalities of how staying informed can give you a competitive edge in your career as a preparer.
The Significance of News
The intricate nature of tax laws, regulations, and financial dynamics demands a constant awareness of the latest information and news within the industry. Remaining up to date isn’t merely a matter of maintaining pace; it’s about providing the best possible services to clients, ensuring compliance, and upholding professional standards. Staying ahead of changes ensures that tax preparers can navigate the complexities of the tax code with accuracy and confidence.
The significance of staying informed extends to industry trends and insights. Tax professionals must be attuned to emerging trends to remain relevant and competitive. For instance, technology updates play a pivotal role in shaping the efficiency and accuracy of tax preparation processes. In seeking knowledge about the latest software, tools, and automation options, tax preparers are empowered to streamline their workflow and deliver enhanced services.
Similarly, a focus on clientele is at the core of tax preparation, and personalized strategies are essential for catering to diverse financial scenarios characteristic of an assorted client base. In this way, the value of news that showcases client case studies comes into play, as well. Learning from real-life examples equips tax professionals with practical insights into tackling unique challenges and finding tailored solutions for clients. In seeking relevant news, tax preparers can be set up for success in better serving their own clients.
The IRS, as the authoritative source of tax regulations, announcements, and guidelines, also reinforces the importance of staying informed. As tax preparers receive timely updates from the IRS, they improve the likelihood of compliance with regulatory changes, avoiding penalties and errors that could arise from outdated information.
The importance of news for tax preparers is a fundamental precursor to success in the field, whether in the form of legislative updates, industry trends, client case studies, technology advancements, or ethical considerations. Staying informed is a demonstrated commitment to providing the highest level of service to clients, upholding professional integrity, and navigating the intricate web of tax regulations with finesse and confidence. As the tax industry continues to evolve, embracing news as a cornerstone of professional growth is a pathway to excellence in the realm of tax preparation.
Subject Areas of Importance
As mentioned in the previous section, there are a multitude of different subject areas on which tax preparers can receive industry news. We’ve highlighted a few high-level examples to aid you in seeking streamlined, personalized content that best serves you in your practice as a tax preparer.
1. Legislative Updates and Tax Law Changes
Applying to virtually all preparers in the industry, staying current with the latest changes in tax laws and regulations is essential. Accuracy and education in this area ensures accurate tax preparation, compliance, and the ability to offer clients up-to-date advice, ultimately safeguarding their financial interests.
2. Industry Trends and Insights
Explore emerging trends shaping the tax industry and adjust as needed to better meet evolving client needs. You may also learn about new strategies or practices which can help you maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly growing career landscape.
3. Tax Planning Strategies
Another source of news you might seek is effective tax-saving strategies and planning techniques. This area is crucial to optimize clients’ financial situations, maximize deductions and credits, and provide customized advice that minimizes tax liabilities within the bounds of the law.
4. Technology Advancements
Keep up with the latest technology tools transforming tax preparation. Staying informed about technological advancements enables you to leverage automation, AI, and streamlined processes, leading to greater efficiency, accuracy, and client satisfaction.
5. Client Case Studies and Success Stories
Learn from real-life scenarios and successful outcomes to supplement your knowledge of differing client circumstances, ultimately aiding your expertise in tax preparation. Understanding client cases helps you apply proven strategies to complex situations, delivering personalized solutions that resonate with clients’ unique needs.
6. IRS Announcements and Guidelines
Continuously seek and stay up to date with official IRS announcements and guidelines. Pursuing information from the IRS consistently will help you remain compliant with IRS regulations, report accurately, and avoid costly penalties that could result from outdated or incorrect information.
7. Ethical and Professional Standards
Research news in this subject area to increase your knowledge of ethical considerations and professional standards. Staying informed about ethics helps you maintain integrity, uphold confidentiality, and navigate potential conflicts of interest, fostering trust with clients and peers.
8. State and Local Tax Updates
Depending on your location, you may also want to stay informed about state and local tax laws and regulations. This knowledge is essential when serving clients across different jurisdictions, ensuring accurate compliance and preventing potential errors.
9. Continuing Education Opportunities
Another excellent subject area to pursue is ongoing learning through various educational resources. Staying informed about continuing education opportunities allows you to sharpen your skills, stay updated on industry developments, and maintain professional certifications.
10. Personal Finance Insights
Finally, you may seek news specifically targeted to help you gain insights into personal finance, investments, and retirement planning. Understanding personal finance helps you provide holistic advice to clients, addressing their financial concerns beyond tax preparation.
By exploring each of these subject areas, tax professionals can enhance their expertise, offer more value to clients, and navigate the complexities of tax preparation with confidence.
Where To Go
Now that we’ve established the type of news you may want to pursue as a tax preparer, we also want to provide a few resources so that you know where to find such information.
The official news source from the Internal Revenue Service provides updates on tax law changes, regulations, and announcements. Alternatively, another IRS webpage that is helpful for tax preparers specifically is the Tax Pro News and Resources page.
A publication of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) providing in-depth articles on tax planning strategies and insights.
Published by the AICPA, this journal includes real-world case studies and success stories relevant to tax professionals.
This resource for National Association of Tax Professionals members is filled with relevant articles, tax code updates, Q&As and special industry announcements, guides and studies. This TAXPRO Weekly email newsletter covers the most pressing tax law updates, current developments and resources.
Our comprehensive blog offers multiple posts per week, intentionally strategized to serve tax preparers on a range of subjects. Whether you’re a seasoned professional in the industry or seeking to begin your career as a tax professional, we are guaranteed to have a post for you to help you better serve your clients, streamline your processes, and provide timely information regarding industry updates.
In the ever-evolving field of tax preparation, the significance of staying informed cannot be overstated. Consistently staying informed from a variety of news platforms offers necessary guidance and direction for your practice as a tax professional, from navigating tax codes and changing regulations to prioritizing your clients’ dynamic needs. By immersing yourself in legislative updates, industry trends, technological advancements, and ethical considerations, you can empower yourself to provide accurate guidance, innovative strategies, and unwavering professionalism.
– Article provided by Taxing Subjects.
As recovery efforts are underway for victims of the devastating wildfires in Hawaii, the Internal Revenue Service is moving to give survivors one less thing to worry about.
The agency has launched its tax relief package for victims in Maui and Hawaii counties that basically delays an array of federal individual and business tax deadlines until February 15, 2024.
Relief is available to any taxpayer who lived or operated a business within the federal disaster declaration issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A list of towns and other localities currently included is available on the disaster relief page of the IRS.gov website.
Wildfire Victims Have Until February 15 to file 2022 Returns and Pay Tax Due.
The postponement period covers a wide range of filing and payment deadlines that would otherwise have occurred between August 8 of this year and the new deadline of February 15, 2024.
The new 2024 deadline includes:
- Taxpayers with a valid extension that is due to expire on Oct. 16, 2023. It should be noted, however, that since payments for 2022 tax due were required before the wildfire event, those payments aren’t covered by the new 2024 deadline.
- Quarterly estimated income tax payments normally due on Sept. 15, 2023, and Jan 16, 2024.
- Quarterly payroll and excise tax tax returns that otherwise would have been due on Oct. 31, 2023, and Jan. 31, 2024.
- Calendar-year partnerships and S corporations with 2022 extensions due to expire Sept. 15.
- Calendar-year partnerships with 2022 extensions due to expire on Oct. 16.
- Calendar-year tax-exempt organizations with extensions expiring on Nov. 15.
- Business taxpayers should remember that penalties for failure to make required payroll and excise tax deposits between Aug. 8 and Sept. 7 are abated, as long as deposits are made by Sept. 7.
Complete details are available on other returns and payments on the Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses page on the IRS website.
Relief Package Also Covers Others Affected by the Disaster.
What about others who are affected by the fires, but aren’t residents of the disaster area? Consider the case of a taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but lost the records necessary to meet a tax deadline in the disaster. These victims should call the IRS at 866-562-5227 to find out what relief the agency may have available for them.
Conversely, taxpayers who live within the federal disaster area do not need to call the IRS in order to qualify for the tax relief package. The IRS says benefits are tied to the taxpayer’s address of record on file with the agency, and so are enabled automatically when their returns are received.
In some cases, taxpayers may not have an address of record on file with the agency, because, for example, they may have moved into the disaster area after they filed their return. Due to circumstances, these taxpayers could find a late-filing or late-payment notice in their mailbox. These taxpayers should call the phone number stated on their printed notice letter to get the penalty abated, per the IRS.
Filing After the Fire Explained.
When it comes down to how to claim their losses on a tax return, it is the taxpayer’s choice.
Individual and business taxpayers within the federal disaster area can claim their uninsured or unreimbursed losses from the disaster in one of two ways. The loss can be claimed on the return for the year the loss occurred (in this case, on the 2023 return, normally filed in 2024) or on the return for the prior year, which would be 2022.
Any return claiming a disaster loss should have the FEMA declaration number, DR-4724-HI, displayed on the return. For more details on claiming a loss, check out Publication 547.
In general, qualified disaster relief payments are excluded from gross income. This usually means money received from a government agency for reasonable and necessary expenses, whether personal, family, living or funeral expenses, for repair or rehabilitation of a home, or for repair or replacement of a home’s contents.
More information on disaster payments is available in IRS Publication 525 on the IRS website.
Source: IRS: Hawaii wildfire victims qualify for tax relief; Oct. 16 deadline, other dates postponed to Feb. 15
– Article provided by Taxing Subjects.
The 2023 Software Survey conducted by the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) unveils insightful findings regarding tax professionals’ experiences with their chosen tax preparation software. Covering attributes ranging from reliability to customer support, the survey provides a comprehensive view of the quality of service users can anticipate from the different software platforms.
In the NATP 2023 Software Survey which uses a scale of 1 to 5, Drake Software received 4 stars and above in every survey category. Drake claimed an impressive Net Promoter Score rating of excellent and received standout rankings:
- Overall Satisfaction: 4.5
- Software conversion package: 4.3
- Software compatibility with user network: 4.5
- Reliability of software: 4.5
- Reasonable price: 4.5
- Ease of software installation: 4.75
- Ease of learning software: 4.5
- Ease of working with software: 4.5
- Ease of reviewing tax returns: 4.5
- Ease of e-filing: 4.75
- Timely software updates after federal tax law changes/updates: 4.75
- Timely software updates after state law changes/updates: 4.5
- Technical support from software company: 4.4
- Customer service from software company: 4.5
- Accuracy of software in regards to federal tax law: 4.6
- Accuracy of software in regards to state law: 4.25
Drake Software users made up an astounding 41% of the survey respondents; the next highest was 15%. We are so grateful to everyone who participated and shared their experiences. We are proud to stand by our industry-wide reputation for delivering award-winning tax preparation solutions, from comprehensive tax preparation software to seamless software conversion and ease of use.
For more information on tax preparation solutions from Drake Software, visit our Products page or download a Free Trial today.
Source: NATP 2023 Software Survey
– Article provided by Taxing Subjects.
Is contactless tax preparation the future of the industry?
While the 2020 filing season jettisoned the tax industry into a virtual arena, the 2023 season seems to indicate that contactless tax preparation has some staying power as tax professionals continue to adapt to the needs and preferences of their clients.
Drake Software has been keeping an eye on the contactless prep trend through a yearly survey of tax professionals. More than 900 participants from tax offices around the nation (including attorneys, CPAs, EAs, and preparers) shared their preferences and insight in the 2023 Contactless Tax Preparation survey.
Participants answered more than 20 questions addressing topics such as the following:
- Client interest in no-contact, completely virtual preparation
- Client-facing portal systems
- The number of returns prepared with no in-office contact
- Preparer interest in providing contactless services post-pandemic
For the results, download the Drake Software 2022 Contactless Tax Preparation Infographic.
– Article provided by Taxing Subjects.
The Internal Revenue Service says it has constructed a blueprint for its future called the Paperless Processing Initiative. The plans are aimed at eliminating up to 200 million pieces of paper every year, while cutting processing times in half and speeding up refunds by weeks. The agency says it will realize these benefits by fully embracing digital filing and processing – the sooner, the better. The plan is a two-step process with work starting now and extending past filing season 2026. It’s funded by the Inflation Reduction Act.
When it comes to speeding up the taxpaying process, paper is the enemy.
Every year, the IRS gets about 76 million paper tax returns and forms, and another 125 million pieces of correspondence. Each one of those pieces of paper requires a human being to enter its information into the IRS computer systems.
This process can lead to a filing logjam as outside of the annual 1040 tax return and a relatively few other forms, taxpayers are currently limited to sending in forms and correspondence to the IRS on paper. Meanwhile, the agency can’t digitally process the mountain of paper it gets. In fact, just storing the paper returns and correspondence the agency receives costs a tidy $40 million every year. The plan is to push all tax filing into the digital world, and to devise a system to automatically scan any paper documents on arrival.
Step One: Taxpayers Can Go Paperless in Filing Season 2024
The first step is a big one in itself: taxpayers will be able to send all their correspondence, non-tax forms, and notice responses to the IRS in digital form. This may appear to be a small action, but it will take millions of paper documents out of the processing backlog every year. The IRS estimates that this initial step alone will mean some 94% of individual taxpayers will no longer ever need to send a piece of mail to the agency.
Some 20 additional tax forms, meanwhile, will be added to the digital availability list. This will include amendments to Forms 940, 941, and 941SSPR. The most popular non-tax forms – at least 20 of them – will also be moved over into the digital world and optimized for mobile devices. This includes the Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance.
Note, however, that in this first phase taxpayers who have a need to file a paper form or send paper correspondence may still do so.
Step Two: IRS Starts Paperless Processing for Tax Returns in Filing Season 2025.
In this phase, the IRS takes aim at the avalanche of paper it receives, whether tax forms or correspondence.
The agency timeline calls for all paper-filed tax and information returns to be digitally processed on arrival. Half of all non-tax forms, notice responses and other correspondence should start being digitally processed by this period, with full digital processing in place in a year’s time. Once in place, digital processing will also enable up to a billion historical documents – filed tax returns and other files – to be digitized, freeing up millions of dollars in storage costs.
Also, in this step, an additional 150 of the most-used non-tax forms will be available in digital form and optimized for mobile devices. This reflects the move by the IRS to make more of the most popular forms available for smartphones as the they estimate that some 15% of Americans rely on their phones for main internet access, and do not have broadband at home.
IRS: Digital Processing Key to Agency’s Future.
The benefits of paperless processing are huge. First, it stands to speed up customer service by making filed returns and other information available digitally, reducing the possibility of human error in data entry as well as granting customer service representatives improved access to information for addressing taxpayer questions. Taxpayers could expect to see their refunds sooner, since all the data and tax forms will be processed faster. Finally, successful implementation could also have financial rewards from lower paper storage costs, which can be leveraged into other technical improvements within the IRS.
– Article provided by Taxing Subjects.