Tax | Taxation

New laws bring huge changes for taxpayers, preparers

Taxes Now might be a good time to say "so long" to our CPAs.

They're packing up their tax guides and NoDoz and heading to the office in preparation for another grueling filing season. We'll see them again when they re-emerge, tired but triumphant, on April 16, so we'd better wish them well while we have the opportunity.

Before they go, though, let's give them one more weapon for their tax season arsenal.

An astounding number of changes have been made to our tax laws in the past few months, mostly as a result of the federal government's economic recovery package. The Emergency Economic Stablization Act of 2008 "serves as one of the largest tax bills in recent years. The new law makes almost 300 changes to the Internal Revenue Code," reports CCH in a recent tax briefing. "While roughly $150 billion in tax breaks had to be computed over a requisite 10-year period for budget scoring purposes, the lion's share of that outlay provides taxpayer relief immediately in 2008 and 2009."

That's a lot of information to digest in a short period of time, but Bill Smith is up to the task.

Smith is director of the National Tax Office for CBIZ, and I spoke with him over the phone recently about all the new stuff facing CPAs and taxpayers this year. Among the changes are:

  • a revised tax preparer penalty standard;
  • a patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax;
  • mortgage debt relief; and
  • a credit for first-time home buyers.

And that just scratches the surface. In a CPA Spotlight podcast, Smith takes a closer look at all the major changes and offers some insight into what the near future holds taxpayers under President Obama's policies.

And don't forget to check out our other tax season tools as well:

  • The MACPA's tax listserve: Ask questions and share resources and advice with hundreds of MACPA members.
  • 1040 Central: The IRS's tax-filing resource center.
  • CCH tax guides: The best-selling guides are available to MACPA members at 30-percent discounts.
  • Tax resource center: All of the MACPA's online tax resources in one place.
  • Money Management columns: Free columns that offer great advice for taxpayers.
  • Tax seminars: All of the latest tax developments from the MACPA. Pick "Taxation" under "Fields of Study" in our online catalog.

Bill Sheridan