This seems like a very common topic where shoppers ask about taxes.
There are many wonderful posts out there already that should be stickied and a dedicated forum is the best place to stick em!.
If I have a question about taxes, the first thing I do is search on the term 'Taxes' and have to go through gobs of posts, several of which someone happened to mention taxes but is not really the thread topic. Eventually I find the really good posts. However, I see the same questions and discussions coming up over and over - having a single forum would help avoid redundant threads.
If allowed, it would also be a great place where shoppers who are also tax preparers or have a favorite tax preparer could let other shoppers know which region they work in and are available to assist. I know mystery shoppers would like to be able to discuss their tax situation one-on-one with someone who has experience in mystery shopping and can provide advice on the financial aspects of their business.
Things I've been learning about but took a while include Home office deduction, commuting vs. work mileage and other deductions, hobby vs. business, Cash vs. Accrual accounting, getting an EIN and its impact, and more.
I don't agree with providing an area for tax providers to promote their services. Our forum has typically not allowed self-promotion or advertisement of services. I also don't think it's a good idea to have a tax provider on an anonymous internet forum offer one-on-one help to discuss a tax situation.
The major problem I have with it is that anyone who says he is a tax provider (have we a way to know whether he is or not?) can post and all tax providers are not knowledgeable. Those who have time to stop and offer one-on-one assistance to build their clientele may have 3 days experience ..... or none. We have had a number of posters over the years tell us that they are tax providers (one even told us he was a tax attorney) and their posts are contrary to IRS rules. Getting help for complicated matters on an anonymous internet forum can be dangerous.
I'd like to see our forum stay away from endorsing legal, financial planning, and tax advice.
edited because spell and grammar checker have proven they are not my friends.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/30/2016 05:27PM by AustinMom.
I also don't think it's a good idea to have a tax provider on an anonymous internet forum offer one-on-one help to discuss a tax situation.
Totally agree and did not mean to imply anonymous one-on-one help over a forum. I meant to say that mystery shoppers who want to file in person with someone who is a trained tax professional AND has experience with mystery shopping can find someone they can sit down with and discuss their situation in detail.
Right now the only resource we seem to have are old threads and we have to figure out what may be reliable or not. Someone not comfortable with taxes and don't have the resources to use (or even find) a CPA (which seems to be the most common response - talk to your CPA) may want to talk face-to-face with a tax professional but not necessarily a full blown accounting professional such as a CPA. Some shoppers may have this as their career and warrant a CPA to manage their financial affairs but I suspect most shoppers do not.
Of course, someone saying they are an experienced professional is a risk. It seems a forum is an opportunity for other shoppers to reply with their experience with that tax preparer.
Have others suggested a CPA? My recommendation is using a tax professional knowledgeable on the rules as they apply to independent contractors working out of their home unless the shopper is comfortable enough to file with a program such as Turbo Tax.
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A member posting that s/he is a tax preparer and available to prepare is inadvisable. Liabilities top the list. Spamming is next in line. We do have tax threads, old and new. However, it is up to each of us to do our due diligence, regardless of who posts what. This is a forum for mystery shoppers to talk about mystery shopping, not introduce, identify, recommend, review or report on tax preparers, or any other professional.
Anyone considering doing a tax prep shop, with an unknown preparer, should research and proceed with care. Mystery shoppers are well equipped!
If a Mystery Shopper is able to become highly skilled doing shops from very picky MSCs, they can learn to do their own taxes using modern day software because its not as complicated as you think. I've used professionals and soon learned to mimic how they did mine, soon I was saving $500 a year doing my own taxes. There is no reason why someone doing a Basic 1040 EZ or 1040 can't do their own taxes. You spend more time doing shops than you would teaching yourself to become self efficient on basic taxes. Mystery Shoppers have proven they can do jobs and get things done on deadlines, learn how easy and empowering doing your own taxes is!
I agree that I wouldn't want to see a section on the forum where tax professions hawk their skills. But I'd be in favor of a section where people can talk about their tax issues and ask general questions and get advice about where to look for the answer. I agree that having it in one section would make it easier to search for your topic to see if it's already been discussed before creating a new thread.