Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April Legislative Watch

Legislative activities in the month of April include the House version and the Senate version of the Taxpayer Act:

House of Representatives
Taxpayer Assistance Act - (HR4994, The Taxpayer Assistance Act of 2010) Last week the House voted 399-9 in favor of HR4994. Although passage in the Senate is likely, it's not yet on the Senate calendar. One of the most important provisions in the bill would remove cell phones from the definion of listed property so that employees would not be required to account for personal-use of employer provided phones.

Taxpayer Protection Act - (S3215, The Taxpayer Protection Act of 2010) was introduced in the Senate on Friday, April 16th. This bill includes several important provisions:
  • Authorizes a $35 million grant program for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs. This is the grant money that pays for free volunteer tax preparation by organizations such as AARP. It is worth noting that a similar provision was removed from the bill in the House (HR4994) before it passed, so it's likely this will be eventually stripped from the Senate bill as well.
  • Enhances regulations placed on paid tax preparers. This would require unenrolled preparers to register and pass a competency exam and background check to enter the profession. It also requires annual continuing education and re-testing every 3 years.
  • Prohibits the IRS from providing a debt indicator for Refund Anticipation Loans before verifying that the refund won't be offset. This means that unless there is a specific reason for a previous IRS debt to be divulged, this bill will keep it private.
  • Provides an alternative payment method, such as a pre-paid credit card or debit card for unbanked taxpayers.

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