In my earlier article, I mentioned about IRS John Koskinen lamenting the budget cuts by Congress which were seriously hampering the IRS' fight against identity theft and refund fraud.  While it is clear there is a link between the cut in funding and deteriorating service standard, Nina Olson the National Taxpayer Advocate gives her view about the other side of the coin.

According to Olson, from January 1 through February 14 this year, the IRS has only been able to answer 43 percent of calls made to its offices and the average waiting time per caller is 28 minutes.  This is a significant decrease from last year's figures of 77 percent of answered calls and only 10 minutes waiting time.

But Olson also says the IRS should pull its weight in this matter.  The agency should show to Congress that is is deserving of additional funds.

Read more about Nina Olson's charge to the IRS to prove to Congress it deserves more money.

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In a potentially major scandal that may be about to explode, the IRS is under the spotlight for claiming thousands of emails had been lost when in actual fact they were not.  Under sworn testimony, IRS Commisioner John Koskinen said in June last year that some 32,000 emails were lost in a hard drive crash in 2011.  The IRS staff tasked to look for the emails said they could not be found.  Even the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that retrieving the so-called lost emails may be "too onerous".

But now investigators have discovered more than 400 back-up tapes containing thousands of IRS emails supposedly lost with the hard drive crash, which means the "lost" emails were in fact not lost at all.  And the IRS never even asked their I.T. staff to look for them back in 2011.  These emails could potentially lend credence to allegations that the IRS is targeting certain conservative groups maybe for political reasons.

Read more about whether the IRS could face criminal charges over this scandal.

Here's the reaction of conservative groups targeted by the IRS over this discovery of the "lost" tapes.

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(Time.com) – From planning to scanning, there's an app for every accounting need.

Let me start by saying that I am not a tax professional. But I am a professional who pays his taxes, and I highly recommend getting expert assistance in navigating the bureaucratic machinations that are the state and federal income tax systems.

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(Herald-dispatch.com) – Even if you've never paid the Alternative Minimum Tax, before, you should not ignore this tax. Your taxes may have changed so that this may be the year that you need to pay AMT.

You may have to pay this tax if your income is above a certain amount.

AMT attempts to ensure that taxpayers who claim certain tax benefits pay a minimum amount of tax.

Here are some things that you should know about the AMT:

When AMT applies

You may have to pay the AMT if your taxable income, plus certain adjustments, is more than your exemption amount. Your filing status and income determine the amount of your exemption.

In most cases, if your income is below this amount, you will not owe AMT.

Exemption amounts

The 2014 AMT exemption amounts are:

$52,800 if you are Single or Head of Household.
$82,100 if Married Filing Joint or Qualifying Widow(er).
$41,050 if you are Married Filing Separate.
You will reduce your AMT exemption if your income is more than certain limits.

Use IRS e-file

Keep in mind that AMT rules are complex. The easiest way to prepare and file your tax return is to use IRS e-file.

The tax software you use to e-file will figure AMT for you if you owe the tax.

Read more at What to Know About the Alternative Minimum Tax.

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