In my line of work I frequently have clients who completely overreact when they get a letter from the IRS. Therefore, I would like to offer the following suggestions regarding what you should do if you find yourself in this situation.
Open the envelope. 1
Remove the letter from the envelope.1
Read the letter.1
Ask yourself, "Do I know what this means?"1
Ask yourself, "Do I need help with this?"1
Then, and only then, if you've determined that you don't understand or need help, take the letter to a professional.
I bring this up because a staggering percentage of our clients skip directly to step 16 and omit the "remain" in step 17.
The truth of the matter is that a lot of correspondence from the IRS is just to inform you that they made a minor change to your return or ask that you clarify a minor point. If you feel more comfortable getting professional help, that's fine. However, you should at least make an effort to understand the situation before calling your accountant in a panic.
Update: Another common approach, throwing the letter in a drawer (unread) and forgetting about it, is also not recommended.
1(This seems obvious, but many of our clients miss this vital step.)
"The IRA were terrorists and they murdered people and the reason
that the British security forces and police are so effective in
responding to terrorist attacks is the bitter 30 years' experience
of dealing with the IRA," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
"There was nothing heroic about the IRA campaign, although it is
still shrouded in romanticism in the eyes of some."
I couldn't help but notice Joe Carter's list of dangerous fads (that unfortunately became fixtures) among Evangelicals. We in the churches of Christ are not generally considered Evangelicals, but I can definitely relate with a lot of this so I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.
#1 The Sinner’s Prayer – The gates of hell have a special
entrance reserved for people who thought that they had a “ticket to
heaven” because someone told them all they needed to do was recite the
“sinner’s prayer.” Salvation, however, is not obtained by reciting a
magical incantation as many, many, “Christians” will discover after
it's far, far, too late.
I wouldn't be surprised if Joe gets a lot of grief on this one. (He didn't wait to go after the sacred cows, did he?) I can't disagree with him on this though. There are quite a lot of passages in scripture about salvation. However, the "Sinner's Prayer" isn't mentioned in any of them. Why can we not stick with the Biblical plan?
#2 The Altar Call – In the 1820’s evangelist Charles Finney
introduced the “anxious seat,” a front pew left vacant where at the end
of the meeting “the anxious may come and be addressed particularly…and
sometimes be conversed with individually.” At the end of his sermon, he
would say, “There is the anxious seat; come out, and avow determination
to be on the Lord’s side.”
Joe explains that the problem with this is that it seems to put the evangelist in the place of the Holy Spirit. (In that it seems to imply that people can come to the faith by sheer force of the evangelist's will.)
I can't entirely commiserate with him on this one. I'm not familiar with an "anxious seat" per se. However, we generally have what we call the "Invitation." This is a time set aside not only for the non-believer to confess their faith and be baptized, but for the believer to ask for prayers.
While I realize this probably isn't exactly what Joe was referring to, my experience leads me to believe that he may be overstating the case here. I would certainly agree that the presumption that an evangelist can simply tell people to have faith and suddenly they will have it is quite absurd. On the other hand, I have seen many occassions when a strong lesson, or series of lessons, can provide the tipping point in one's journey to faith. Shouldn't we provide such people an opportunity to make that faith manifest?
On the other hand, I've seen my share of evangelists who seem to think that it is their duty in life to convert every non-believer in the room on the strength of a single sermon. 1With these men I was uncomfortable with a lot more than just the invitation.
#3 “Do you know Jesus as…” -- In the fall of 1987 I began my
freshman year of college. I was far from home, overwhelmed and lonely
on a campus of 20,000 students. While sitting alone in the cafeteria
one afternoon, an older student walked up, smiled and asked if he could
join me. I was starved for conversation and thrilled to have the
company. He sat his tray down in front of mine and took a seat as I
prepared to engage him in a heady discussion of his choosing. Politics,
philosophy, science. I was mentally preparing for anything he threw at
Glancing up from his plate of spaghetti, he asked, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”
For a few seconds I was stunned, completely at a loss for a response. “Um, yeah, actually I have.” I finally managed in reply.
“Oh,” he said, visibly disappointed. “Okay, that’s good.” He wore a
look of minor defeat. He had chosen the wrong table; no soul would be
won for Christ over this lunch. We chatted politely while I finished my
burger. He ate quickly and excused himself. After that lunch, I never
saw him again.
I think Joe's right on this one as well; If you have to ask this question, you probably don't know the person well enough to be trying to convert them. In this case I'm afraid that the fact that this method does generate some success is the reason it is so popular. Unfortunately, it fails to take into account the differences of personality; while some people are most gratified to be approached as Joe describes, there are a great many who could be turned off, maybe permanently, by this approach.
#4 Tribulationism -- Ask a non-believer to give a rudimentary
explanation of “the Rapture” and chances are they can provide a fairly
accurate description of that concept. Ask the same person to give a
basic explanation of the Gospel message, though, and they are likely to
be stumped ... I’m sure that
somewhere in the three dozen novels that comprise the Left Behind
series the Gospel message is presented. But there is something horribly
wrong when the greatest story ever told is buried beneath a third-rate
tale of the apocalypse.
In fact, I don't have much to disagree or expand on the rest of Joe's points so I'll let them stand.
I think the crux of what Joe is saying here is that a) we do better to stick to the Biblical example than to keep reinventing the wheel and b) if we want to bring people to Christ, we should spend more time living the life of Christ and less time chasing the newest ideas. (My apologies in advance if I got this wrong.) I can't say I disagree with any of that.
New York - A man who triggered a bomb scare and the evacuation of New
York's Penn Station has been arraigned on charges of making a terrorist
threat and falsely reporting an incident, prosecutors said Monday.
Raul Claudio, 43, was arrested on Sunday following a dispute with a
train ticket agent, during which he placed a bag on a counter and said
there was a bomb inside.
Security on New York's trains and buses has been tightened
significantly in the wake of the attacks on London's transport system
and Claudio's bomb claim prompted the immediate evacuation of Penn
Station, a major suburban and long-distance railway hub.
This incident only happened a few hours ago. I'm quite happy to see that charges have already been brought. If nothing else, given today's political climate, this guy is guilty of near terminal stupidity.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Her ebony hair perfectly parted and saucer-like
eyes perpetually staring, the life-size Betty Boop statue became a
local landmark on the city's Shore Drive. But Sunday morning, a patron
discovered the $1,600 figure a block away from its home in front of
Cool & Eclectic Furniture and Fashion — without its head.
The man shot dead by police in south London yesterday is not connected
to attempted terror attacks on the capital, Scotland Yard said today.
somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one
that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets,” said a spokesman.
It is both tragic and unfortunate that someone lost his life over an incident that began as a case of mistaken identity. Even so, the police were perfectly justified in their actions. The same story describeds the incident like this:
shooting happened in Stockwell at 10am yesterday when armed plain
clothes police officers shot a man as he tried to board a train at the
He had emerged from a nearby house that was
under surveillance because of a suspected link to Thursday’s attempted
bomb attacks on three Tube trains and a bus.
The man, who is believed to be of South American appearance, then bolted down an escalator, according to witnesses.
apparently tried to get on a train before he was, according to
witnesses, shot five times in the head by an officer with an automatic
As far as I can tell, the police acted the only way they could under the circumstances. The man was seen coming out of a house that they believed (rightly or wrongly is irrelevant) to be connected to previous train bombings. When challenged the man ran from the police and towards the train. Given their suspicions, it was vital that the man be kept as far from the trains as possible. They did what they had to do.
As for the man, as far as I'm concerned, he took his life into his own hands when he ran away from the police and towards the trains so close after two separate sets of train bombings.
however, like the National Taxpayer Union, are pushing for a vote
sooner rather than later. Earlier today they circulated a memo to their
members asking them to contact their respective senators and “demand”
they support full repeal of the estate tax. They listed numerous
reasons why such action should be taken.
“It discourages saving and asset accumulation and encourages
wasteful spending,” the group wrote. “It wastes the talent of able
people, both those engaged in enforcing the tax and the even greater
number engaged in devising arrangements to escape the tax. The death
tax is unfair and immoral, but due to Senate inaction, it remains in
effect. We need taxpayers to speak out now and to tell their senators
that it is high time to kill the death tax once and for all! Please
speak out today!”(Emphasis added)
Now, I happen to oppose the estate tax (despite the fact that it is a revenue generator for me), but I really don't understand where people are coming from when they state that the tax, not as it stands now, but in general, is immoral. I readily concede that current rates which hover around 50% for federal taxes alone could be immoral. (As they amount to state sanctioned theft.) However, I fail to see how the tax, as a concept, is any more immoral than any other tax.
LONDON, July 21 - Just two weeks after a string of attacks on buses
and subways in London that killed 56 people, the British police
evacuated three subway stations in the city today after explosions that
sent commuters into a panic. But casualty numbers appeared to be low.
The police said the Oval subway station in south London, Shepherd's
Bush in the west and Warren Street in central London had been
evacuated. There was also a small explosion on the No. 26 bus that blew
out the bus windows, police said.
Police with sniffer dogs took up positions outside some of the
stations and set up cordons, while sirens blared from ambulances racing
to the scene. Initial reports from witnesses said smoke had been seen
at one station.
"There were four explosions, or attempts at explosions," Sir Ian Blair, the head of Scotland Yard, said.
So far there have not been many serious injuries reported, which is the bright side.
... but I've been hooked on Star Trek for as long as I can remember. It makes me quite sad, therefore, to find that James Doohan is dead. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott was, without a doubt, one of the most likeable characters in television history. He was played by a war hero:(link via InstaPundit)
At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian
army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian
forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he
recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."
Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't
heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was
machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right
finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his
leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver
The spam has been driving me nuts so I've turned on comment registration as well as comment and trackback moderation. Sorry for the inconvenience, but that's the way it is. My comment policy is the same as always, but now any comments I would have deleted in the past will simply be blocked.
the opportunity to watch some of southern New England's finest local
news and it's merely reinforced my perception that just about all local
news is garbage. Last night, for example, the local newsreader -- I'd
be extremely hesitant to call her a "journalist" -- shared the fact
that one of the London bombers had at one time been investigated by
"Britain's intelligence service, M-Fifteeen." Yep, that's right, she'd
never read a single Tom Clancy novel, otherwise she'd know it was MI5.
I've had to start relying on other people's experience for this category since I never watch local news if I can help it.
... Congress will pass legislation mandating required procedures for brain surgery.
OK, so it's not that bad, but it's not good. Congress is considering overruling the Financial Accounting Standards Board's rules on expensing employee stock options. (Link requires registration.)
-- The ink is barely dry on new rules governing the treatment of
employee stock options and already opponents are preparing to lobby the
new Congress with an eye towards derailing them.
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is moving ahead with its
proposal, "we will continue to aggressively lobby the U.S. House and
Senate to seek an appropriate legislative solution in the 109th
Congress," said John Palafoutas, senior vice president of domestic
policy for the AeA, a Washington-based technology trade association. He
called the proposal "fundamentally flawed."
And why is Congress considering doing this? Because they have constituents throwing temper tantrums:
years of bitter fighting, the standards board published a 27-page rule
on Dec. 16 to force companies to deduct the cost of employee stock
options from profits. Many in the high-tech sector say it would
seriously curtail their operations and cut their reported profits
because of their heavy use of stock options as a compensation tool.
The board "is continuing to disregard the legitimate concerns of the high-tech industry," Palafoutas said.
[rant] OK, I'm not entirely sure I agree with the requirement that companies expense employee stock options, but I get so sick of people protesting accounting rules because it would make their income statements look worse. It's a stupid argument because that's often the whole point of the accounting rule. It is, as they say, a feature, not a bug. I don't mean that the FASB is targetting certain sectors or companies specifically, but when they pass a rule like this it means that they've decided the way people had been doing things doesn't properly reflect the true cost of their operations. In other words, it's designed to make their income look smaller; that's the whole point!
Second, issues like this are extremely complicated and require a detailed understanding of the established framework of financial accounting rules. In other words, if you haven't studied accounting theory, chances are you don't even understand what the issue is. Since most members of Congress haven't studied accounting at all, the chances that they would draft a rule that properly reflected income, to say nothing of even making sense, are remote. For Congress to get involved in something like this is just idiotic.
Not that that's likely to stop them.
Which brings me to my next gripe. Why is it that people seem to think that getting elected to Congress makes someone an instant expert on everything? Their just human beings folks. Getting elected doesn't get them an invisble hat that magically gives them immense wisdom and understanding of every issue. Most of them have no business meddling in, well, ..., anything.[/rant]
*** Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! Tax lingo ahead! ***
... the IRS could owe you taxes that they've collected even though the courts have struck them down:
switch: The Internal Revenue Service might owe you money. This is
because the IRS has collected a 107-year-old tax on long-distance
telephone calls that several courts recently have found invalid.
For individual consumers, getting some of your money back might prove to be more difficult than it's worth.
Businesses, however, might consider going after a refund from the IRS
-- especially companies that spend hundreds and even thousands of
dollars each month on long distance. Still, don't expect the federal
agency to cough up any money anytime soon.
At issue is the
federal telephone excise tax, a 3 percent levy on the long-distance
portion of your phone bill. It fills the federal government's general
coffer to the tune of about $5 billion each year.
The basic issue here is that the tax on long distance calls defines the type of call to be taxed as one whose charge is based on the "distance and duration" of calls. However most long distance calls are no longer taxed based on the distance between the two points participating in the call. Consequently, several courts have found the tax to be invalid. That hasn't stopped the IRS from collecting it though.
However, if you're wanting to get this money back you need to see if it's worth the trouble. If you spent $500 on long-distance you'd only be talking about $15 in refunds. For those who spend several thousand a year, or more, it might be worth it.
... but it's kind of hard to not think about stuff like this. Every time something like this happens I just want to scream. In a way that's good. It means that I've not grown used to these types of attacks. Anytime carnage like this starts seeming "normal" is, in my opinion, a very bad thing. We should never just casually accept things like this.
I've seen lots of speculation regarding whether this was related to an economic conference Netanyahu was attending or the G8 summit. Personally, I suspect they've been waiting to hit whatever city was awarded the 2012 Olympics. To me, it seems logical that if they really want to strike fear in the world populace at large, singling out international events like this would be a likely target.
We may never know the reasoning that went into this attack. At the moment I take solace in the fact that these were not nearly as devastating as the Madrid bombings.
Update: Well, I might have spoke too soon. Early reports I read put confirmed fatalities between 2 and 10. Fox is now reporting 33 confirmed deaths and I've seen numbers as high as 70. Unfortunately, these numbers may go up further.
An Islamist website has posted a statement - purportedly from al-Qaeda - claiming it was behind the attacks.
This could just be bluster; my recollection is that the Palestinian Liberation Front briefly, until realizing that was not a line they wanted to cross, claimed responsibility for 9/11. Still, if we find that al-Qaeda was responsible, I don't think anyone will be surprised.
Al Qaida terrorists today claimed
responsibility for the London blasts on an Islamic website and said
that "Britain is burning with fear".
unverified claim, made on the Al-Qal'ah - Fortress - internet site, was
posted by a group calling themselves the Secret Organisation Group of
Al-Qa'ida of Jihad Organisation in Europe.
The message, posted this morning, said: "The heroic mujahidin have carried out a blessed raid in London.
"Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters."
"We have repeatedly warned the
British Government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and
carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our mujahidin
exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the
success of the raid," the website posting read.
continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the
Crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they
do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He who warns is
This is pretty typical ranting, but it seems the group mentioned in the warning has not been previously heard from. I guess we'll see if this is for real soon enough.
The last sentence seems the be their way of justifying future attacks. I don't know the exact contents, but I know that the phrase appears in several Islamic tales. This phrase has been used to justify other attacks in the past.
GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- President Bush has named former Tennessee
Sen. Fred Thompson to help shepherd his yet-to-be named Supreme Court
nominee through the Senate, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said
Thompson, a Republican and actor on the NBC television
series "Law & Order," agreed to accept the post in a telephone
conversation with the president on Monday, McClellan said.
He said Thompson would serve as an informal adviser to shepherd the nomination through the Senate.
"Senator Thompson will guide the nominee through the confirmation process," McClellan said.
Personally, I wouldn't mind it if he were the nominee.
Well, the wedding is over! Yay!
We're still in the process of unpacking though. It will probably be a few more days before things get back to normal around here. (Assuming I can figure out what normal is.)
was refused insecticide spray by one of the world's biggest accountancy
firms after emailing for help tackling a fly in her office.
worker, known only as Victoria, emailed the facilities service desk at
KPMG telling them the fly had been bugging her office for six days.
was messaged back by Susan who said: "Due to Health & Safety
regulations aerosol fly killers are no longer permitted. If you wish to
take this further I can log a call with the cleaning company for
someone to come and try to swat the fly, but as I understand it a fly's
lifespan is less than a week, so a natural death may soon occur."
then asked for fly swatters at KPMG's HQ in London but none were sent.
The emails sent earlier this month were leaked by an annoyed worker.
yesterday admitted the email reply lacked common sense. Its spokeswoman
said of the fly: "I think I'd have trapped it in a glass."
Don't look now, but it sounds like we may have our next deep throat!