With tax season in full swing, some of your clients are likely panicking about the increasingly complex forms required by the Internal Revenue Service. Accountants are receiving tax questions about health insurance credits, tax penalties and a variety of other issues. What your clients should be asking is tax questions about simple issues, such as the integrity of the IRS and the safety of their personal information.
1. Is My Personal Information Secure?
In February 2015, Minnesota stopped accepting tax returns filed with TurboTax due to concerns about fraud. When some taxpayers tried to file their taxes, they found out their Social Security numbers had already been used to file fraudulent returns. As a result, you should be prepared to answer tax questions about the security of personal information. Explain the steps your firm takes to protect sensitive data and prevent hackers from accessing your electronic systems.
2. Why Is the Tax Law So Complicated?
The Internal Revenue Service takes a lot of heat, but Congress is actually responsible for the complexity of our tax law. If your clients ask tax questions about this issue, explain that Congress is responsible for passing laws that affect tax rules and rates. Tax reform isn't possible without the cooperation of those in Congress.
3. Do I Really Need to Worry About Contact With the IRS?
One of the most common tax questions relates to whether taxpayers should really be concerned about attracting the attention of IRS agents. Some taxpayers believe they won't ever have any IRS problems because they report all of their income and are honest when filling out their tax returns. Unfortunately, audits are not always triggered by dishonest behavior. Something as simple as taking a home-office deduction can trigger an audit, shining an uncomfortable spotlight on your clients' financial affairs.
4. Does the IRS Track Employee Activity?
In the past, a few bad apples in the IRS have stolen taxpayer information or seized refunds that should have gone to hard-working taxpayers. Fortunately, the IRS tracks its employees and makes the public aware of employee crimes. The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration publishes a report of all the complaints filed against IRS employees, making it easy to keep tabs on violators.
5. Is the IRS Fair When Dealing With Taxpayers?
This is one of the most common tax questions from people who have received audit notices. In most cases, the IRS is fair when dealing with taxpayers, but there is a chance a rogue employee will go against procedure and punish a taxpayer unfairly.
6. Do People Really Get Away With Tax Fraud?
Unfortunately, there are only so many IRS employees available to investigate suspected fraud. Some people get away with claiming tax credits they should not receive, while others use perfectly legal loopholes to reduce their tax liability. These problems also occur at the state level, so it's not an issue unique to the IRS.
Due to always-changing rules, many of your clients are likely to have some concerns about filing their taxes this year. If you answer these tax questions directly, clients are more likely to trust you and listen to your advice.
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