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(Anchorage Daily News)   Believe it or not there is a sick and perverted subculture of humans who actually enjoy volunteering their time to helping complete strangers fill out their tax forms for free   (adn.com) divider line 45
    More: Weird, North Slope, learning process, community of action, tax preparation  
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1427 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Mar 2014 at 9:47 AM (38 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



45 Comments   (+0 »)
   
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2014-03-30 09:11:37 AM  
I am good friends with one of these perverts. He reads tax code for fun, and no one is allowed to bring up money when we're out, because he will geek out on small details for HOURS.

He also lives at the beach, surfs like a champ, and lands a different girl about every third night. Helping others AND breaking stereotypes. Go figure.
 
2014-03-30 09:49:59 AM  
They do my taxes every year. The AARP brings a bunch in to our library to help oldsters, and my wife gets in on that action since she works there.
 
2014-03-30 09:50:12 AM  

whistleridge: I am good friends with one of these perverts. He reads tax code for fun, and no one is allowed to bring up money when we're out, because he will geek out on small details for HOURS.

He also lives at the beach, surfs like a champ, and lands a different girl about every third night. Helping others AND breaking stereotypes. Go figure.


still sounds better than hanging with Libertarians
 
2014-03-30 09:52:31 AM  
I'm not surprised, Subby.

Some people like to be whipped. Others have molten wax dripped on their body.

Granted, this is more extreme, but not that much out there.
 
2014-03-30 09:52:56 AM  
Do you see? Do you see now? This is the result of Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
 
2014-03-30 09:53:48 AM  

hardinparamedic: whistleridge: I am good friends with one of these perverts. He reads tax code for fun, and no one is allowed to bring up money when we're out, because he will geek out on small details for HOURS.

He also lives at the beach, surfs like a champ, and lands a different girl about every third night. Helping others AND breaking stereotypes. Go figure.

still sounds better than hanging with Libertarians


Shooting yourself in the dick with a nailgun is better than hanging out with Libertarians.
 
2014-03-30 09:55:23 AM  
Maybe they're actually sadists who deliberately include IRS red flag audit-triggers, like claiming 78 orphans in Nigeria as dependants and a boat as a floating office, so a deductible expense.
 
2014-03-30 09:56:30 AM  

El Freak: hardinparamedic: whistleridge: I am good friends with one of these perverts. He reads tax code for fun, and no one is allowed to bring up money when we're out, because he will geek out on small details for HOURS.

He also lives at the beach, surfs like a champ, and lands a different girl about every third night. Helping others AND breaking stereotypes. Go figure.

still sounds better than hanging with Libertarians

Shooting yourself in the dick with a nailgun is better than hanging out with Libertarians.


OUCH! I can't unsee that image in my mind.
 
2014-03-30 10:01:10 AM  

WTFDYW: El Freak: hardinparamedic: whistleridge: I am good friends with one of these perverts. He reads tax code for fun, and no one is allowed to bring up money when we're out, because he will geek out on small details for HOURS.

He also lives at the beach, surfs like a champ, and lands a different girl about every third night. Helping others AND breaking stereotypes. Go figure.

still sounds better than hanging with Libertarians

Shooting yourself in the dick with a nailgun is better than hanging out with Libertarians.

OUCH! I can't unsee that image in my mind.


Yeah, the idea of hanging out with Libertarians is pretty painful, isn't it?
 
2014-03-30 10:01:32 AM  
I am an IRS® tax prep volunteer (or whatever our formal title is called).  It provides a nice little break from theoretical physics.
 
2014-03-30 10:02:51 AM  
Two words people - identity theft.
That's really why they "volunteer."
 
2014-03-30 10:07:34 AM  
Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.
 
2014-03-30 10:07:34 AM  
I did this once, about 20 years ago.  It was some program called VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistant.  Kinda fun, actually.

Back when I was I self employed, I had an accountant handle my taxes.  Being the good nuke and lawyer that I am, I always double-checked, even going back to look at the IRS regs themselves rather than the publications.  About 2 of every 3 years, I'd find a deduction or credit that my accountant missed.  And I'm not bashing my accountant - I think the tax code is that complicated and nobody will be as focussed as you when it comes to your own money.
 
2014-03-30 10:08:40 AM  

TheOther: Maybe they're actually sadists who deliberately include IRS red flag audit-triggers, like claiming 78 orphans in Nigeria as dependants and a boat as a floating office, so a deductible expense.


It's all consensual. There's a safeword ("eleemosynary") if things get too real for anybody. But my tax-biatches know that if they use it, we're 100% done, and they can finish themselves off.

/and by "finish themselves off" I mean assembling the tax documents in the correct IRS document priority order, including the payment voucher form 1040-V if applicable, and sending them by registered mail to the appropriate IRS processing center
//we don't e-file in The Lifestyle
 
2014-03-30 10:11:49 AM  

FizixJunkee: I am an IRS® tax prep volunteer (or whatever our formal title is called).  It provides a nice little break from theoretical physics.


i61.tinypic.com
 
2014-03-30 10:15:18 AM  

eyemarten: Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.


For some (but not all and maybe not even a majority) people, taxes really are that hard.  Here's an example:  Over the last few years, Congress has allowed either a credit or a deduction (but not both) for certain educational expenses.  A portion of the credit can offset tax owed, another portion can be cash back.  Plus you have to be an "eligible student," and the definition is complicated.  I had to go to the regs to figure out that it was legal for my wife, who has a law degree and a master's, to still get the credit intended for folks fresh out of high school.  Picked up $2500 that way.
 
2014-03-30 10:18:17 AM  
Gotta help gramps get the maximum deduction for all the used underwear dropped off in those grocery store bins.
 
2014-03-30 10:21:09 AM  

cgraves67: They do my taxes every year. The AARP brings a bunch in to our library to help oldsters, and my wife gets in on that action since she works there.


I've done it a few times for a non-profit in underprivileged areas. Mostly EZ forms, but took a 2wk class at the IRS that covered all the forms. Came in handy for my own filing since then. Some non-profits also have volunteers help people with yearly LIHEAP and Rent Rebate forms, some even with various social services forms.

Some people need help. No shame in that. Volunteering feeds the soul.
 
2014-03-30 10:24:04 AM  

eyemarten: Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.


2.bp.blogspot.com
 
2014-03-30 10:27:20 AM  
I think this is some kind of mutiny of preverts.
 
2014-03-30 10:30:34 AM  
It's pretty said when it takes a team of lawyers to decipher the library of tax code.

The conservative plan? One page.

You owe 10% send it in.
 
2014-03-30 10:33:11 AM  

Gentoolive: It's pretty said when it takes a team of lawyers to decipher the library of tax code.

The conservative plan? One page.

You owe 10% send it in.


Ah, going from a progressive tax system to a regressive tax system.

Great for the rich, crushes the poor and middle class.

/Which is why conservatives would love to go to such a system
 
2014-03-30 10:44:05 AM  

Rip Dashrock: Two words people - identity theft.
That's really why they "volunteer."


That'd be my guess, too.
 
2014-03-30 11:03:27 AM  

Gunboat: eyemarten: Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.

For some (but not all and maybe not even a majority) people, taxes really are that hard.  Here's an example:  Over the last few years, Congress has allowed either a credit or a deduction (but not both) for certain educational expenses.  A portion of the credit can offset tax owed, another portion can be cash back.  Plus you have to be an "eligible student," and the definition is complicated.  I had to go to the regs to figure out that it was legal for my wife, who has a law degree and a master's, to still get the credit intended for folks fresh out of high school.  Picked up $2500 that way.


Um, no it's not. Both the original hope credit and the current American opportunity credit are for only the first 4 years of college. If you are in grad school, your only eligible for the lifetime learning credit: 20% of expenses up to $10,000 for a maximum of $2,000. Subject to income lik
 
2014-03-30 11:05:58 AM  

Gunboat: eyemarten: Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.

For some (but not all and maybe not even a majority) people, taxes really are that hard.  Here's an example:  Over the last few years, Congress has allowed either a credit or a deduction (but not both) for certain educational expenses.  A portion of the credit can offset tax owed, another portion can be cash back.  Plus you have to be an "eligible student," and the definition is complicated.  I had to go to the regs to figure out that it was legal for my wife, who has a law degree and a master's, to still get the credit intended for folks fresh out of high school.  Picked up $2500 that way.


Subject to income limits, that's supposed to be. Regardless, there is no way for a law school student with a college degree to claim a $2,500 credit. You claimed that incorrectly.

/tax preparer
 
2014-03-30 11:07:50 AM  
I think they are just autistic, subs.
 
2014-03-30 11:10:46 AM  

Fallout Boy: I think they are just autistic, subs.


Hey, I resemble that remark!
 
2014-03-30 11:42:07 AM  

suburbanguy: Regardless, there is no way for a law school student with a college degree to claim a $2,500 credit. You claimed that incorrectly.

/tax preparer


Take a look at 26 CFR 1.25A-3(d)(1)(iii):  "Whether a student has completed the first two years of postsecondary education at an eligible educational institution as of the beginning of a taxable year is determined based on whether the institution in which the student is enrolled in a degree program (as described in paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section) awards the student two years of academic credit at that institution for postsecondary course work completed by the student prior to the beginning of the taxable year."

and at Example 2 in the same section:  "Prior to 1998, Student B attended college for several years on a full-time basis. Student B transfers to College V for the 1998 Spring semester. College V awards Student B credit for some (but not all) of the courses he previously completed, and College V classifies Student B as a first-semester sophomore. During both the Spring and Fall semesters of 1998, Student B is enrolled in at least one-half the normal full-time work load for his degree program at College V. Because College V does not classify Student B as having completed the first two years of postsecondary education as of the beginning of 1998, Student B is an eligible student for taxable year 1998."

For those reasons, I disagree with the comment that I claimed the credit incorrectly.
 
2014-03-30 11:43:09 AM  
I went to the library's AARP free tax help thing and they couldn't help me. Apparently helping me back file for a year where I earned money abroad and figure out this foreign bank account reporting thing was beyond them.
 
2014-03-30 11:45:19 AM  

Gunboat: For those reasons, I disagree with the comment that I claimed the credit incorrectly.


To be clear:  She took the credit for going to culinary school, which did not credit the law school or college towards the culinary degree.  I think my initial post was not clear on that.
 
2014-03-30 12:13:16 PM  

El Freak: WTFDYW: El Freak: hardinparamedic: whistleridge: I am good friends with one of these perverts. He reads tax code for fun, and no one is allowed to bring up money when we're out, because he will geek out on small details for HOURS.

He also lives at the beach, surfs like a champ, and lands a different girl about every third night. Helping others AND breaking stereotypes. Go figure.

still sounds better than hanging with Libertarians

Shooting yourself in the dick with a nailgun is better than hanging out with Libertarians.

OUCH! I can't unsee that image in my mind.

Yeah, the idea of hanging out with Libertarians is pretty painful, isn't it?


When did Fark become /b/? All we need is an actual picture of said dick, and we're there...
 
2014-03-30 12:24:57 PM  

eyemarten: Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.


Instructions require about a tenth grade reading level and 5th grade math ability.

And no, there actually a not-insignificant number of people with neither.

...

And that's why we can't have nice things as a country.
 
2014-03-30 12:49:37 PM  
thbman.s3.amazonaws.com
 
2014-03-30 01:47:11 PM  

suburbanguy: Gunboat: eyemarten: Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.

For some (but not all and maybe not even a majority) people, taxes really are that hard.  Here's an example:  Over the last few years, Congress has allowed either a credit or a deduction (but not both) for certain educational expenses.  A portion of the credit can offset tax owed, another portion can be cash back.  Plus you have to be an "eligible student," and the definition is complicated.  I had to go to the regs to figure out that it was legal for my wife, who has a law degree and a master's, to still get the credit intended for folks fresh out of high school.  Picked up $2500 that way.

Subject to income limits, that's supposed to be. Regardless, there is no way for a law school student with a college degree to claim a $2,500 credit. You claimed that incorrectly.

/tax preparer


As a pro, how do you feel about Turbo Tax?  My taxes are simple (I don't own a house or a business) and I get big refunds every year for education expenses/student loans using it.  I tend to think of human tax preparers as useful only if I'm going to itemize deductions, (which NEVER ends up in my favor), or if I were a contractor or had tons of investment income or something.  Am I doing it wrong?
 
2014-03-30 01:50:25 PM  
I volunteered through VITA for a few years. I really enjoyed it - the people coming in for help were really nice and I felt like it used my skills well. I haven't been able to do it the last few years due to the scheduling not working out, but I'm hoping to go back someday.

Unlike the article, the program I volunteered through had strict income limits, but didn't restrict everyone to easy returns - We had some seriously convoluted schedule Cs that would come in that required special training. I mostly stayed away from those. I was also helping out during the worst of the downturn so we'd get formerly economically stable people cashing out stocks or retirement to stay afloat. Sometimes when I hear people make comments about the poor or what poverty "looks like", I wish I could force them to volunteer in a similar capacity, even if temporarily. It's an eye-opening experience.
 
2014-03-30 01:56:17 PM  
My
dad  is a retired I.R.S. agent, and he volunteers to do this. Once, about 20 years ago, he volunteered to do mine. Completely messed it up. In his defense he said he didn't make mistakes. I told him he did mine once and messed it up, so for me, that's a100% failure rate. Had to append my return for the almost 2k back. Previously, I opened my refund, it was 10 bucks. What a letdown. Right before my Vegas trip.
 
2014-03-30 01:56:45 PM  

Gunboat: Gunboat: For those reasons, I disagree with the comment that I claimed the credit incorrectly.

To be clear:  She took the credit for going to culinary school, which did not credit the law school or college towards the culinary degree.  I think my initial post was not clear on that.


You are wrong. The AOC is. available for the student's Boobies-secondary degree. If your wife changed occupations from a lawyer to a chef and needed more schooling, she is a lifetime learner - which is what the lifetime learning credit was created for. You claimed the credit incorrectly by claiming it was her first years of post-secondary.
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch02.html
 
2014-03-30 01:59:47 PM  

Z-clipped: suburbanguy: Gunboat: eyemarten: Are taxes really that difficult for most or are they just lazy?

I have never understood how average joe simply cannot do his own taxes.

FFS there are step-by-step instructions the whole way through.

For some (but not all and maybe not even a majority) people, taxes really are that hard.  Here's an example:  Over the last few years, Congress has allowed either a credit or a deduction (but not both) for certain educational expenses.  A portion of the credit can offset tax owed, another portion can be cash back.  Plus you have to be an "eligible student," and the definition is complicated.  I had to go to the regs to figure out that it was legal for my wife, who has a law degree and a master's, to still get the credit intended for folks fresh out of high school.  Picked up $2500 that way.

Subject to income limits, that's supposed to be. Regardless, there is no way for a law school student with a college degree to claim a $2,500 credit. You claimed that incorrectly.

/tax preparer

As a pro, how do you feel about Turbo Tax?  My taxes are simple (I don't own a house or a business) and I get big refunds every year for education expenses/student loans using it.  I tend to think of human tax preparers as useful only if I'm going to itemize deductions, (which NEVER ends up in my favor), or if I were a contractor or had tons of investment income or something.  Am I doing it wrong?


I'm a tax pro. What do you think? Turbo Tax is fine on your own but if you have any questions, you might as well pay for a tax pro.
 
2014-03-30 02:15:02 PM  

suburbanguy: You are wrong. The AOC is. available for the student's Boobies-secondary degree. If your wife changed occupations from a lawyer to a chef and needed more schooling, she is a lifetime learner - which is what the lifetime learning credit was created for. You claimed the credit incorrectly by claiming it was her first years of post-secondary.
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch02.html


The publication is a summary of the regulations.  To the extent the publication is unclear, and it is in this case, the regulations trump.  The Example from the regulations I quoted are exactly on point and make it clear that I can claim the credit.

Man up and admit you're wrong.  That's what my accountant did when I walked him through it.
 
2014-03-30 02:51:05 PM  

suburbanguy: You are wrong


<sigh>  Please forgive my post above.  I'm re-reading the statute and can see how the argument can be made that the AOC only applies to the very Boobies-secondary degree and that Example 2 does not necessarily conflict with that reading.  So my snarky, in-your-face comment above was ill-placed, and I'd like to take it back, if I could.

I think it's still arguable, and I am going to take the credit, but I can see your point, and it would be disingenuous of me to say that you're totally wrong.
 
2014-03-30 02:57:39 PM  

Gunboat: suburbanguy: You are wrong

<sigh>  Please forgive my post above.  I'm re-reading the statute and can see how the argument can be made that the AOC only applies to the very Boobies-secondary degree and that Example 2 does not necessarily conflict with that reading.  So my snarky, in-your-face comment above was ill-placed, and I'd like to take it back, if I could.

I think it's still arguable, and I am going to take the credit, but I can see your point, and it would be disingenuous of me to say that you're totally wrong.


I'm also not sure what you're quoting, but it references 1998, and you're discussing a tax regulation from the 2000s.
 
2014-03-30 03:04:39 PM  

suburbanguy: I'm also not sure what you're quoting


http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/26/1.25A-3

I'm relying on this, from section 1.25A-3(d)(1)(iii): "Whether a student has completed the first two years of postsecondary education at an eligible educational institution as of the beginning of a taxable year is determined based on whether the institution in which the student is enrolled in a degree program (as described in paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section) awards the student two years of academic credit at that institution for postsecondary course work completed by the student prior to the beginning of the taxable year. "

I'm hanging my hat on the "that."  If it said "an" or "any," that'd be a different story.
 
2014-03-30 03:21:31 PM  

Gunboat: suburbanguy: I'm also not sure what you're quoting

http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/26/1.25A-3

I'm relying on this, from section 1.25A-3(d)(1)(iii): "Whether a student has completed the first two years of postsecondary education at an eligible educational institution as of the beginning of a taxable year is determined based on whether the institution in which the student is enrolled in a degree program (as described in paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section) awards the student two years of academic credit at that institution for postsecondary course work completed by the student prior to the beginning of the taxable year. "

I'm hanging my hat on the "that."  If it said "an" or "any," that'd be a different story.


This is from the IRS regarding the American Opportunity Credit. See point 3. It doesn't say your current study is limited to your current study. If you've completed earlier post secondary work, you don't qualify. The point isn't to see how you think you can pigeon-hole you situation to fit the requirements. It's to read the requirements and see if your situation meets that. It doesn't. That you convinced you CPA is immaterial. In an audit, your credit would almost definitely be disallowed.

"Who Is an Eligible Student?

1. To claim the American opportunity credit, the student for whom you pay qualified education expenses must be an eligible student. This is a student who meets all of the following requirements.

2. The student did not have expenses that were used to figure an American opportunity credit in any 4 earlier tax years. This includes any tax year(s) in which you claimed the Hope Scholarship Credit for the same student.

3. The student had not completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education (generally, the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years of college) before 2013.

4. For at least one academic period beginning in 2013, the student was enrolled at least half-time in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential.

5. The student has not been convicted of any federal or state felony for possessing or distributing a controlled substance as of the end of 2013."

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch02.html#d0e1756
 
2014-03-30 03:30:09 PM  

suburbanguy: The point isn't to see how you think you can pigeon-hole you situation to fit the requirements. It's to read the requirements and see if your situation meets that.


This is probably the crux of our disagreement.  I'm working to pigeon-hole my situation to the requirements.  To the extent that there's any ambiguity, I'm going to side on my bottom-line.  I am uninterested in the "intent" of the tax code; I'll go verbatim if helps me.

I agree the pub is not helpful to me, but the regs are.  In an audit, I'll rely on the regs.
 
2014-03-30 04:26:47 PM  

dustman81: Gentoolive: It's pretty said when it takes a team of lawyers to decipher the library of tax code.

The conservative plan? One page.

You owe 10% send it in.

Ah, going from a progressive tax system to a regressive tax system.

Great for the rich, crushes the poor and middle class.

/Which is why conservatives would love to go to such a system


I could go for a plan that says, "Add up all your sources of income, subtract this amount per non-working person (student, retired, child), divide the remainder by the number of family members, and then use this lookup table that is based on a complex mathematical formula, which we've already done the math for you.  Compare that to what you paid in last year, and Boom! A) here's a check, or B) here's what you owe."

Individual income taxes for the most financially sophisticated people should be no more difficult to complete than a single person with one income.
But in the interest of attempting fairness and social shaping, we've created a multi-billion dollar industry of paid professionals.  Any dollar that H&R Block and their associates make is actually a deadweight loss to the economy.

I did the VITA thing at Nellis for three years until I separated.  It sickened me how much money people had thrown away in years' past because they were afraid of the consequences of a little mistake.
 
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