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Tax Season Like Never before

Of the billions of problems that have been created by the current crisis, souswhere near the bottom of the pile is the one that is bothering us right now.

In Massachusetts, CPAs are required to have 80 hours of CPE every two years. The cutoff is June 30. That is part of the rhythm to tax pro life that is almost liturgical.

The year begins in late November or early December which is spent doing year-end planning and figuring fourth-quarter estimates. January begins with some meetings discussing current developments and the plan for the current tax season. At Joseph B Cohan Associates, Herb Cohan of blessed memory would read us notes from the NYU tax seminar and finish up telling us that we were the best crew that he ever had.

If things went well, April 15 was anticlimactic.

Well, coronavirus has knocked the heck out that routine. April 15th comes in July this year, but people are still going to want to get their refund returns. And there may be quite a bit of other work sorting out whatever changes are buried in the relief package with all this being done remotely. Hard to see when the offices might open up again. At any rate, it seems like an endless tax season. When does the CPE get done?

The obvious answer is that with the pace of actual work slowing somewhat, there will be plenty of time to take care of CPE online in a variety of forms. That is the approach that E. Martin Davidoff, National Managing Partner- Tax Controversy Practice at PraegerMetis is urging on his staff.

His is a different sort of tax practice without the seasonality that those of us focused on compliance face. People call him up when they get notices from the IRS those liens and levies are coming. He senses a slowdown. According to this story by Allyson Vesprille, there are indications IRS is stopping collection action.

At any rate, as Mr. Davidoff’s staff slows down working through the backlog, he expects that they will catch up on their CPE. Mr. Davidoff was at one time a vice president of the New Jersey Society of CPAs and expects the state societies will be looking for relief on CPE deadlines from the boards of accountancy.

Lu Gauthier is an inspiring tax guy. He is a lawyer and a CPA and he reads everything and retains it and can translate it into terms that people who have to relate to clients and actually get returns done can relate to. He has been at it a really long time. One of his jokes is how the Tax Reform Act of 1969 cut the value of his LLM in taxation in half.

He even was working on tax issues when he was a JAG Army officer from 1969-1973. Lu took note of Revenue Ruling 69-301 which held that combat veterans of the Korean War who died in Vietnam were exempt from tax not just for the year of death but for all open years. He devoted much of his spare time to preparing refund claims for widows.

As of now that does not change the June 30 deadline. If the state of emergency continues till the end of April, though, we will at least have a CPE deadline that is a couple of weeks after the end of this year’s extended tax season.