By Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
John Bullis will work more hours and be in Saturdays, but he will not spend 12- to 14-hour days at the office like some accountants.
Too many hours and too little sleep can cause mistakes, he said, and he's in a business of small details and big consequences.
"There's also an issue called balance of life," he said.
But Bullis, who started Bullis and Company in 1965, is wide awake during his hours there to make sure tax returns stay legal and avoid common mistakes.
Some clients, for instance, get forms from their mutual funds but don't realize those forms might be drafts, he said.
The biggest mistake taxpayers make, said Kress Cave, who filed his first return of the season Dec. 31, is filing late or not filing at all.
Customers who use an accountant should also always review the work, the Carson City Certified Public Accountant said, and they should stay with a good accountant if they have one.
Cave said he's already been hit with a rush of customers even though returns aren't due until April 15.
"It's whatever I can physically take," he said. "I push myself until I'm just done."
Ernie Mayhorn of Mayhorn Financial Services said he'll work between 60-70 hours a week through the season to make sure tax returns are filed right.
The three to four months are "a blast" for him, though.
"This isn't a sentence," he said. "We chose this profession."
The biggest change in the law he's seen this year is for people with forms related to Alternative Minimum Tax legislation because they will have to wait file until Feb. 11 to file those forms.
Besides changes in law taxpayers can't control, there are a few things they can do to make the filing easier, he said.
People should keep all receipts, organize them by category and not try to do their own returns unless they're simple, he said. Some people organize their receipts by month, Mayhorn said, but that doesn't really help.
Incorrect forms could get people penalized, too, so that's why reviewing an accountant's work is so important, said Dewey Heimark of Crossley Sanada & Skibinski.
To deal with the rush, Heimark said he comes in on Saturdays but tries not to work too long. He could simply sleep less when he was younger, he said, "but now it doesn't work that way."
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
Free tax assistance is available:
• The Carson City Senior Center, 911 Beverly Drive. Call 883-0703 to make an appointment. Service begins Feb. 4.
• Friends in Service Helping (FISH), 138 E. Long St. Call 882-8448 to make an appointment. Service begins Feb. 2.
• The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for low and moderate-income taxpayers or the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program. Call 1-800-829-1040 for more information.
File for free:
For taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $54,000 or less in 2007, they can use Free File to prepare and e-file taxes online. Go to www.irs.gov and click on the "Free File" icon.
The Alternative Minimum Tax (ATM):
Congress passed a temporary exemption, or "patch" so this tax would not hurt middle-class taxpayers this year. However, the IRS needed more time to adjust for new tax rules, so forms related to the ATM legislation will have to wait until Feb. 11 to file.
These include: Form 8863, Education Credits; Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits; Form 1040A's Schedule 2, Child and Dependent Care Expenses for Form 1040A Filers; Form 8396, Mortgage Interest Credit; Form 8859, District of Columbia First-Time Homebuyer Credit.
- This information is from the Jackson Hewitt tax service. Go to www.jacksonhewitt.com for more information about the ATM.
Checklist of records needed for tax preparation
• Copy of 2006 tax return.
• W-2s from all employers.
• Forms 1099, 1099-DIV, 1099-R and 1099-G showing non-wage income, dividend or interest paid to you in 2007 as well as any refund, credit or offset of state and local taxes.
• Receipts indicating state and local taxes, real estate taxes and personal property taxes you paid in 2007.
• Form 1098 showing 2007 home mortgage interest and points, as well as mortgage insurance premiums on home acquisition debt that was new or refinanced in 2007.
• Receipts and documentation for all charitable contributions and gifts (cash and non-cash).
• Income receipts from rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporation and trusts.
• Records of unemployment compensation, Social Security benefits or other income.
• Records of medical and dental expenses if you think you can meet the 7.5 percent adjusted gross income threshold required for this deduction.
• Total paid for day care, and tax identification number for daycare provider.
• Identifying documents - such as a Social Security card or driver's license - for you and your spouse in certain tax situations, such as when claiming the earned income tax credit.
• A bank routing number and an account number for direct deposit of refund.
• Remember to keep a copy of your tax return and supporting documents for at least three years from the date you file the return. Many tax advisers say you should keep these for six years. Some records should be kept much longer. This includes anything needed to calculate a cost basis for IRAs and other investments that may be sold many years in the future. When in doubt, save.