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Tips and Tricks for Tax Professionals

rose steel thumbHere are three quick tips and tricks to help tax professionals manage, enhance and expand their practice, including IRS and AICPA tax tools and a suggestion on how to apply them.

IRS Tax Tools

Reliable resources to answer common tax questions are worth their weight in gold. Two such tools are the  IRS Tax Map and the IRS Interactive Tax Assistant tool. The Tax Map provides tax law information integrated with related tax forms, instructions and publications. The Assistant Tool answers specific scenario questions but does not have 2015 included as this is being written. While both are slow to the point of timing out, they are reliable resources and worthy of a spot in a tax professional’s toolbox.

AICPA Marginal Tax Rate Calculator

Helpful tools are available to enhance the work you already perform. The AICPA provides a Marginal Tax Rate Calculator to show clients and new staff members the effect of deductions and tax credits on the actual tax rate: http://www.360financialliteracy.org/Calculators/Marginal-Tax-Rate-Calculator. Whether clients are in the 15% or 39.6% tax bracket, it helps to show them their effective tax rate of tax decisions, especially before year-end. This calculator is one of several provided by the AICPA at http://www.360financialliteracy.org.

Savers Credit

The marginal calculator is especially useful for seeing the impact of tax credits over deductions, which brings me to a tip to help expand your practice. You can offer to take a look at your client’s parents and adult children’s returns to show them the tax saving potential of the Savers Credit. If the child is over 18 years old and five months out of college this credit can work as an above-the-line deduction and a credit. Code Sec. 25B can potentially save a married couple filing a joint return up to $1,000 when applied to the limit of $2,000 of qualified retirement savings contributions. The 2015 limitations are 50% if the taxpayer’s AGI is below $36,500, 20% if the taxpayer’s AGI is between $36,500 and $39,500, and 10% if the taxpayer’s AGI is between $39,500 and $61,000 (Rev. Proc. 2014-70). Married couples with AGI exceeding $61,000 may not claim the credit. Take a look at form 8800 to determine the aggregate amount of retirement plan distributions that may reduce the credit.