Roger Russell of Accounting Today posted an excellent article recently that sums up our challenges during last year’s tax season. While always a hectic time of year, Congress’ last minute legislation made a tough situation worse. As a result, there were many hurdles including programming errors, computer crashes, and other delays that resulted in filing extension requests. Here is the excerpt with a link below for the full article:
Let’s Never Do That Again – Lessons learned from a difficult tax season.
BY ROGER RUSSELL
Virtually all tax preparers were adversely affected by the late start to the 2013 filing season, with the added complications of late forms, late information from brokerage houses and, in some cases software glitches.
“Tax return season as always is hectic, but Congress this year provided a case study on how last-minute legislation can make the situation even worse,” said Bob Scharin, senior tax analyst at Thomson Reuters. “And the result was that a lot of filing extension requests were made because the returns could not be filed until later, and with all those delays, preparers could not file until later, so they needed to file more extensions.”
“The bottom line,” Scharin said, “is that many return preparers will have less summer fun as tax return season was pushed ahead to cover all the filing extensions. Usually after April 15 they can take a breath, but they won’t get to do it this year. Return preparers are continuing to operate in a semi-crisis mode.”
As a result of the late enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, this year’s filing season did not get underway until Jan. 30, 2013. It took the Internal Revenue Service additional time to update forms and computers to reflect changes for 2012 returns, with the result that all 2012 returns were not accepted by the IRS until March 4, 2013, just six weeks before the April 15 due date.
This filing season was unique, according to Brad Hall of Irvine, Calif.-based Hall & Co. CPAs. “In my 36 tax seasons, it was probably one of the most difficult. The challenge was created by the fiscal cliff, pending legislation, and the fact that we didn’t have answers for our clients. They would call and ask if they should buy more equipment, and we had to tell them we didn’t know. We had no answers.”