In the last couple of days I am being asked as to where my information comes from (as in “I would like a citation”). The short answer is I get my information from lots of places. I am an enrolled agent. Among other things I am required by my license to study my field of taxation and to stay current with respect to the field’s best practices and procedures. The other short answer is I am not about to start footnoting my free tax blog with citations (although I am certainly willing to perform that service for my usual fees).
The longer answer is… The field of taxation is very broad, therefore I do not *know* everything. My area of specialization is small business and individual taxation, because most small businesses pass their income through to their personal tax returns. As such I try to pick up on tidbits related to small business. My clients often do think I *know* everything, so they will ask me about payroll, human resources, legal and financial planning issues. When ever I am asked a question outside my field or license I begin with a statement similar to “I am NOT a ____ and if you really want an answer to this question you can rely on, on talk to a _____. That said this is what I have read, heard or otherwise experienced.” There is a very large disclaimer paragraph (in font and size similar to the blog post itself) at the bottom of my posts and it is getting longer by the day. A similar disclaimer accompanies all my communications relating to taxation.
When I write about one of these issues, in general, I am trying to look at it from the small business owner’s angle or individual taxpayer’s view point-afterall I have some experience with that point of view (don’t we all?). I get my information from a variety of sources, but generally it is from experts and sources in the field. For example: Mindy Champman Esq. is a great source of employment law, but there are others. But I am not a lawyer, if you are seeking genuine legal advice, talk to a lawyer-not me; my blogs, such as they are cannot be relied upon for legal advice. Similar statements hold true for financial planning, human resource questions and any other area outside the field of taxation. I am sure most professionals can come up with citations if you are willing to pay for them. I bring up law because frequently discussion of taxation drifts over to the legal realm, and I frequently must remind people that I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice.
As for taxation the big grand poobah of all things tax-related is www.IRS.gov. The IRS cranks out a bunch of publications and notices. They have a series of e-newsletters, which one can subscribe to. As for official guidance http://www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0%2C%2Cid=98137%2C00.html is the page to start with if you want to read the actual Internal Revenue Code or Treasury (Tax) Code & other sources of official guidance. The IRS.gov’s website has a search feature, which works well enough if you ask the right question. Individual states also usually have state departments of revenue, which might be a starting point for all state related taxation issues.
In addition to visiting the IRS website regularly, I also am a member of several professional societies, which have their own newsletters and publications. I also subscribe to several commercially available newsletters. I attend classes to improve my knowledge of taxation as I am required to do by my license. I have my textbooks too. The last several years I have taught classes in preparing for the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE), which means once a year I spend several weeks catching up and writing on taxation outside my balliwick as well within as my area of specialization for the SEE class website. In other words I spend a lot of time and money staying current.
I have been blogging for about the last year-the act of writing something down has a way of illuminating issues, as there is nothing like trying to explain something to someone else for clarifying things in your own mind. The ideas for my blog posts come from my readers, my clients, my sources, and life in general. If you are looking for where I might have “cut and pasted” an article from, you won’t find it. I research and then I paraphrase, explain and otherwise write my posts-I try to explain the subject in plain english, from the viewpoint of people who might use the information. I am not even sure if I am good at it; I have good days and bad days like anyone. BUT, at the bottom of each post I put in my disclaimer. This blog is free, so for purposes of reliance it is worth exactly what you paid for it, which is nothing.
If find this information useful, that is fine, but if you would like more…
Call us before the IRS calls you. As always, small business services and taxation are our business. If you need help with tax issues, or require other services, Please give Art & Business Consulting a call. We would love to engage you as a client.