Major change will always result in the spread of rumors, myths, and misconceptions. It’s just human nature. The new tax law is no different – it even has the tax industry worried!
We’ve been getting lots of questions from tax pros, tax students, and potential tax students about the future of the industry. In an effort to dispel the myths and put people at ease, Tynisa Gaines, our Assistant Tax School Director, has compiled and answered the most common questions.
With the tax law changes, shouldn’t I just wait until next year to take your tax course?
You will need to know how to prepare or amend those prior year returns based on the laws of each particular tax year. Also, spoiler alert! Everyone does not file taxes by the deadline. Some people may not even file for years. Many times, clients need multiple years prepared at once. Usually when someone wants to purchase a home or apply for a business loan, they are required to provide a few years of tax returns. Other times, the IRS or their state sends them a bill because they filed a return for the taxpayer based on 3rd party information that they received.
Why would I need to know 2017 returns if I’m not going to work in the tax field until 2018?
Many tax offices offer a free review of prior year returns. This is beneficial for the taxpayer as well as the preparer. The preparer needs to know what was filed the prior year so that they are familiar with all of the income and deductions reported last year. It is easier to explain how things change from year to year if the client has questions. Lastly, it will be helpful to identify any errors in prior year returns. Especially those that can carry over to future years.
What if I just choose not to prepare prior year returns?
If you are an EA, CPA, tax attorney or other circular 230 preparer with unlimited rights to practice before the IRS, you can represent clients on returns that you didn’t prepare. If a new client is audited for a prior year that you did not prepare, you would need to know the rules that existed for that particular year in order to help that client.
I can always learn prior years later, why start now?
Many preparers are retiring. The new AFSP rules, PTINS, ID theft and security woes have already prompted many tax pros to retire and sell their practices. Tax pros not interested in learning things the new way will retire even sooner. This provides opportunity for new preparers to obtain new clients, but they will have to understand how to do taxes under the current tax code, and implement any new changes as they occur.
If I take your course which is based on a prior year tax law, how will I learn the new tax reform changes?
We will include alerts throughout the material for topics being affected by the new tax law changes. Until the IRS starts releasing “official” information through Publications and form instructions, we really can’t use 2018 information to teach the course. We need forms, instructions and publications relevant to the changes in order for students to complete reading assignments, tax returns and answer research questions.
Editor’s note: Tax laws are always changing. The best way to learn taxes is to learn now, and adjust to changes. At the time of this publication in January 2018, the IRS had not finalized 2017 tax forms. Therefore, any tax courses taken will always be a year behind. Tax updates are always provided to review any current tax year changes that will be implemented.
Tynisa “Ty” Gaines, EA, B.S, Industrial Organizational Psychology, M.P.A.,Public Personnel Management, Ty is Assistant Director of The Income Tax School
Ty’s tax career began as office manager in a CPA firm. A few years later she became District Manager for Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, overseeing multiple tax offices and 100+ employees. She eventually started her own practice specializing in military clients. She has developed standard operating procedures as a program manager for the Department of the Army, and as a Claims Operations Supervisor, oversaw the operations for ProAssurance, where she streamlined work processes to increase productivity and operational efficiency. Ty’s teaching experience includes being a Certified Instructor for Army Family Team Building, Tax Course Instructor for Jackson Hewitt, Adjunct Instructor for Northern Virginia Community College teaching the IRS Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) Preparation, and Tax Instructor for Virginia Tech Income Tax School.