The Master's Tax & Financial Services
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Tax Education in Autumn 2008

As tax professionals we are continuing taking education to enhance our skills. From time to time we are asked about what classes we take. Recently at a 2-day seminar we took the following classes:

Day 1

Federal and California Update
A full day spent examining the changes in tax law affecting 2008, whether from new legislation passed this year (and there has been plenty) or provisions of older laws scheduled to now go into effect. Also a review of recent key court cases that will impact the administration of tax law.

Day 2

Foreclosures and Debt Relief
It is unfortunate that this is such a hot topic, but as everyone knows, currently it is. The IRS continues to supply guidance on handling these issues and yet there continues to be variations in how lenders are reporting this.

Certainly within the last year there has been new legislation to provide temporary relief for some homeowners. Yet everyone is not included in those provisions. And of course, California does not conform to the federal law (as usual).

There are several other provisions for providing either relief from taxation caused by debt relief of in some cases simply delaying the tax effects. These are each handled differently and the more common scenarios were examined.

Divorce and Tax Law
Divorce is not part of the original design God provided for marriage, but it does happen. Most people recognize that there are usually some messy issues involved in a divorce, and those continue in the area of taxation.

This is often complicated when a settlement agreement attempts to outline (or consider) tax treatment that does not align with tax law. In all such cases, tax law prevails. (Those involved in the divorce process would do well to have the proposed settlement agreement reviewed by a tax professional. Often these agreements do not consider after-tax consequences.)

Of course there are usually some upset people when they are told that their taxes will not match what the court documents indicated. But we're accustomed to delivering bad news. (That doesn't mean we enjoy it.)

Alternate Minimum Tax (AMT)
This session focused on the pecularities of AMT and what causes a taxpayer to be subject to AMT. As the instructor commented, there is nothing "alternate" about it when it is required and "minimum" hardly applies either when the maximum of two tax calculations must be paid.

But knowing how the system works can allow some creative planning in a few cases to reduce the final tax due. There are also AMT credits which are sometimes generated and those can require special treatment.

"Tax software is no substitute for tax knowledge."

Any views expressed herein are based on our best information. The content of this web site was written as general information without specific individual information and thus may not apply in all situations. This material was not written, and cannot be used by the taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.

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Janelle Ogg, EA
Richard Ogg, EA